Armadale UCA

4th October 2020

Full of Eyes - Romans 10: 4, 9
`Law, life and ultimate love` Pentecost 18

Welcome and Grace

Scripture sentence
`For Christ is the end of the law
so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.`
Romans 10: 4

TIS 100 `All creatures of our God and King`
Congregation singing https://youtu.be/YCCpj1x-vvg
King`s College choir - https://youtu.be/jNaxSR6nGxI
A folky version sung in Assisi - https://youtu.be/9tevVTnYvss

All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing: Alleluia! Alleluia!
O burning sun with golden beam and silver moon with softer gleam:
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O rushing wind and breezes soft, O clouds that ride the winds aloft: Alleluia! Alleluia!
O rising morn, in praise rejoice, O lights of evening, find a voice.
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O flowing waters, pure and clear, make music for your Lord to hear. Alleluia! Alleluia!
O fire so masterful and bright, providing us with warmth and light,
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day unfolds rich blessings on our way, Alleluia! Alleluia!
The fruits and flow'rs that verdant grow,
let them God's praise abundant show.
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O ev'ry one of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
All you who pain and sorrow bear, praise God on whom you cast your care.
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

And you, most kind and gentle death, waiting to hush our final breath, Alleluia! Alleluia!
You lead to heav'n the child of God,
where Christ our Lord the way has trod.
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless, and worship God in humbleness,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Oh praise the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One!
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Text: St. Francis of Assisi, 1182–1226;   trans. by William H. Draper, 1855–1933

Prayer

God of justice and mercy -
Who gave us the law of life,
commandments, rules and regulations, to order our lives and teach us the best way to live,
Who sent Jesus, Your only Son, to fill full the law of love,
as no one before and no one since has,
and Who gave the Spirit of hope and joy and peace
to guide us out of slavery and illusion into freedom and truth,
to accompany us through all the changing scenes of life,
to prompt and provoke us to choose a different way,
the more loving way, as more loving people -
we are amazed at what You have done, what You are doing and what You will do
as we seek to honour Your law, receive Your love, live in the light.
In dark days and shadowed valleys
we hold to Your ways, to Your truth, to Your Word.
There is no other god like You.
+++
Forgive our casual idolatry – whatever it may be –
money, status, health, longevity, relevance…
Help us be whole hearted and single minded
for Christ alone, that His kingdom may come. Lord have mercy…
Forgive our inability to recognise Christ when He comes…
Open our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds
to His presence among us and in the world.
Help us make Him welcome. Christ have mercy…
Forgive the twist in us that makes us want our own way and not Your way.
Humble us and help us listen for Your Word.
And then help us live it out in our lives. Lord have mercy…
`God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me/us from stupid sins, from thinking I/we can take over your work;
Then I/we can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.` Ps. 19:11-13 (The Message)
We hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us `Your sins are forgiven` Thanks be to God. Amen

Readings:
Exodus 20: 1-20; Ps. 1; Matthew 21: 33-46

The Ten Commandments
1Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them…You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
18 When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that
you do not sin.

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes’?
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”[h]
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Song (a version of part of Ps. 19)
`The law of the Lord is perfect`
https://youtu.be/SkiSbRFyUYQ

The law of the Lord is perfect
Converting the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is sure
Making wise the simple.
Refrain:

More to be desired are they than gold
Yea, than much fine gold
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb

The statues of the Lord are right
Rejoicing the heart
The commandment of the Lord is pure
Enlightening the eyes

The fear of the Lord is clean
Enduring forever
The judgments of the Lord are true
And righteous altogether
Refrain:

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be acceptable in Thy sight
O Lord my strength and my redeemer
Refrain:

Moreover by them
is Thy servant warned, is Thy servant warned,
and in the keeping of them,
there is great reward.
Joanne Roberts Graham

Reflection and Q and A

Law, life and ultimate love

Philippians 3: 4-11 NRSV
`If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.`
Paul can boast of his Jewish credentials. His start in life was as an exemplary Jew. He does not and cannot discount this – although he is willing to jettison any kind of legalism or false religious observance if they distract from or obscure the beauty and truth he has come to see in Jesus Christ – His death, His sufferings, His resurrection.

Do we see Christ in this way?
If so – why? If not – why not?

All Paul has come to see and understand about Christ is because of his experience and understanding of the Law – following on from his experience of the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. All the stories, all the prophecies, all the rules and regulations, all the rebellion and wilful, waywardness, all the struggles endured, coalesce, have come to make sense, in Jesus Christ, the One promised, the One anointed and set apart to herald and bring in the kingdom.

Paul writes about Jesus through the lens of his learning and understanding, having been taught the Law and the writings of the prophets from his youth. He has come to see that Christ is the fulfilment of the Law; that it is the Law which leads us to Christ. And it is Christ who truly and ultimately matters.

It is important to remember that the only scripture Jesus had was the Hebrew bible. Jesus Himself said `Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.` Matthew 5: 17

Jesus is about fulfilment of the Law. So we are not permitted to ignore, replace or negate the Law: because the role of the Law is to bring us to Him.

What do you think that means? What does it mean for your faith?

Without the Law, if we are Law-less – well, take a look at the world around…The rule of Law is meant to bring justice and mercy and freedom and fulfilment…order and boundaries in order to have room to grow, be fruitful and live life to the full.

Where the rule of law is berated, undermined and disregarded it is a different story. What do you find there? Fear and distrust. Suffering and suspicion. Trouble, chaos, anarchy…Take a look around…

Marcion, a second century heretic, wanted to get rid of the Hebrew bible and the God of the Old Testament.

The heresy is alive and well today. There are congregations where the Old Testament is not read, in a muddle headed sentimentalised view of Christianity and the Gospel. First and foremost, it is important to point out that the Old Testament is not a Christian document but as Christians who seek to follow Christ, who was Himself a Jew, to deny or seek to expunge the Old Testament, the Law, the prophets, the Ten Commandments – however `nice` and supposedly inclusive the intentions - is to be on a dangerous path and ultimately it is to keep worrying company.

Here is a newspaper headline from a German paper April 7th 1933 - `NAZIS DEMAND BAN ON OLD TESTAMENT; Suggest That German Sagas and Fairy Stories Replace Part of Bible in Churches. STATE RELIGION IS LIKELY.`

Rabbi Hugo Gryn who was a child in a Nazi concentration camp said that Auschwitz was where every one of all of the Ten Commandments were broken…

We wouldn`t want, and we wouldn`t want anyone we love, to live there – would we?

Joys and concerns

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

TIS 431 `Thanks to God whose Word was spoken`
(music only) https://youtu.be/JQ3KGdoOBcs

Thanks to God whose Word was spoken
in the deed that made the earth.
His the voice that called a nation;
his the fires that tried her worth.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.

Thanks to God whose Word Incarnate
heights and depths of life did share.
Deeds and words and death and rising,
grace in human form declare.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.

Thanks to God whose Word was written
in the Bible's sacred page,
record of the revelation
showing God to every age.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.

Thanks to God whose Word is published
in the tongues of every race.
See its glory undiminished
by the change of time or place.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.

Thanks to God whose Word is answered
by the Spirit's voice within.
Here we drink of joy unmeasured,
life redeemed from death and sin.
God is speaking:
praise to God for the open Word.
R. T. Brooks

Blessing
May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
guide and keep you on the right path,
bind and liberate you from all your fear,
lead you into well watered pastures of refreshing hope,
today and always,
Amen