Armadale UCA

14th June 2020

`He never said it would be easy`

Pentecost 2

(Rev Fiona Winn)

Welcome and Grace

Scripture sentence

`Therefore, since we are justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.`
Romans 5: 1,3-5

Opening prayer

God of gods, Lord of lords,
God with us in Jesus Christ, God alongside us by the Holy Spirit,
We come to You today to voice our gratitude
and express our wonder at the God You are –
Creator, Saviour, Companion.
We are in awe.
We acknowledge the freedom we have to worship You,
to speak of You and work for You
when many throughout the world are not free to speak about You and who suffer for expressing their faith.
Come among us. Teach us. Help us to listen. And forgive us.
We take our freedom for granted…
We forget those who suffer and are persecuted
for being a Christian…
We rest comfortably while others live in fear…
Forgive us our sins.
Help us to be true disciples of the One who loved us, loves us,
and gave Himself for us, even Jesus Christ,
our suffering Saviour and risen Lord. Amen

Hymn 72`For all who dwell below the skies`

https://youtu.be/Q5QxnDYwxWs

https://youtu.be/utyO5WINW5o

.From all that dwell below the skies,
Let the Creator’s praise arise; Hallelujah!
Let the Redeemer’s name be sung
Through ev’ry land, by ev’ry tongue.
Hallelujah!

2.In ev’ry land begin the song;
To ev’ry land the strains belong. Hallelujah!
In cheerful sounds all voices raise
And fill the world with loudest praise.
Hallelujah!

3.Eternal are thy mercies, Lord;
Eternal truth attends thy word. Hallelujah!
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
Till suns shall rise and set no more.
Hallelujah!

Text: Isaac Watts, 1674–1748 Music: John Hatton, d. 1793

Prayer

Readings

Genesis 18: 1-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

18 The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

Psalm 116 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the 
Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the 
Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the 
Lord!

Matthew 9: 35-10: 23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

The Mission of the Twelve

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’[c] Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Coming Persecutions

16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

Song `He said it wouldn`t be easy` (St. Michael`s-le-Belfry – York)

https://youtu.be/K9mS3rk0BKY

He said it wouldn`t be easy.

He said it wouldn`t be easy.
Slander and hatred will come our way.
So let us all draw close to him
He`ll lead us and guide us and be with us always.

Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness.
Blessed are those who trust the Lord.
Blessed are
those who are persecuted for their faith
Who are filled with His love
and who spread the good news of his grace

`Lift up your cross and follow me`
Those are the words our Lord said to us.
If at this moment we are suffering -
Comfort and peace he promises.

Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness.
Blessed are those who trust the Lord.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for their faith
Who are filled with His love
and who spread the good news of his grace

Russell Hodgson

Reflection and Q and A

 `He never said it would be easy`

Here is part of the passage from Romans set for today and as it is found in The Message.

`We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling short changed. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!` Romans 5: 3-5 The Message

Paul knows about suffering: physically beaten up, shipwrecked, imprisoned – not to mention the guilt of having been a zealous persecutor of the early Church. Remember the `thorn in his flesh` from which he longs to be free? He pleads with God three times to be released from it, he tells us, but he is not. What is God doing?

Abraham and Sarah know about suffering: longing for a child, God having promised them, and future generations – great blessing through their offspring – and there is no child. What is God doing?

Jesus knows about suffering: the hostility, the misunderstanding, the threats and fear - `If it be possible…` He prays in Gethsemane. `My God, my God why have You forsaken Me?` He calls out, abandoned on the cross. What is God doing?

And in the Gospel reading today as Jesus` disciples are named and sent out, He says it as it is. He tells them as He sends them, it is not going to be easy. They are going to be abused and they are going to suffer in the world, a world that is hostile to a different sort of kingdom and a different sort of power structure - where the first are last and the last are first; where the least are the greatest and where those who think themselves great will have to think again...And this is how they are going to be received by their own people, among the Jews. Jesus is not sending them out to the Gentiles. That is for another time. What is God doing?

I am assuming and I may be wrong, so do put me right, but our experience of being a Christian has not involved discrimination or poverty or torture or persecution as some in the world have endured and are enduring. (See the YouTube videos.) That`s not to say that we won`t…How prepared are we for a time of trial? What would prepare us? Is this time not, in some way, a time of trial? What sustains us? What sustains our faith?

The motto for Leith where I was ordained and worked initially in ministry is `Persevere`. A wonderful word mostly forgotten today! Persevere. Persist. Keep going. Keep on keeping on.

Today – the 14th June 2020 – is the beginning of Refugee Week. In the comfort of our homes, however modest they are, it is hard for us to identify with those who have left everything and find themselves with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. In the world, in our own country, in our own communities people are suffering greatly. What can we do? What can we give? (Take a look at the material at commongrace.org.au/refugee_week_2020. We can join in prayer and we can become better informed.)

The needs of the world are great:

    • The groanings of the created order – the created dis-order
    • The cries of humanity – the inhumanity
    • Fragile hopes for the future – the strong disappointments of the past

It is to the disordered, the inhumane, the disappointed that Christ calls us, us, to go, to be among, to speak to, to lift up and en-courage, to share the Good News He offers to all who know their need – which is us too. He said it wouldn`t be easy…

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

Hymn 378 `The head that once was crowned with thorns` https://youtu.be/3g_ryz_A848

          1. The Head that once was crowned with thorns
            Is crowned with glory now;
            A royal diadem adorns
            The mighty Victor’s brow.
          2. The highest place that heaven affords
            Is His, is His by right,
            The King of kings and Lord of lords,
            And heaven’s eternal Light;
          1. The Joy of all who dwell above,
            The Joy of all below
            To whom He manifests His love
            And grants His name to know.
          1. To them the cross, with all its shame,
            With all its grace, is given;
            Their name an everlasting name,
            Their joy the joy of heaven.
          1. They suffer with their Lord below,
            They reign with Him above,
            Their profit and their joy to know
            The mystery of His love.
          1. The cross He bore is life and health,
            Though shame and death to Him:
            His people’s hope, His people’s wealth,
            Their everlasting theme.

Lyrics by Thomas Kelly (1769 – 1855)

Blessing

The blessing of God the Father comfort you in difficult days.
The blessing of God the Son grant you courage
and increase your faith.
The blessing of God the Holy Spirit inspire you
to live out the Gospel of Christ
in humility, without embarrassment. Amen