Armadale UCA

8th November 2020

The Parable of the Ten Virgins by Jorge Cocco

`Ready or not?`

Pentecost 23

Rev Fiona Winn

Welcome and Grace

Scripture sentence

`In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.` I Timothy 4: 1-2

TIS 156 `Morning has broken ` https://youtu.be/we-n-Zmglt0

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing. Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight. Mine is the morning
Born of the One Light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Eleanor Farjeon

Opening Prayer written by Bishop Arthur Malcolm
(Australia’s first indigenous bishop) and his non-indigenous wife, Colleen.
A Collect (prayer) for Reconciliation.
(A Collect is a brief prayer, which gathers together or ‘collects’ certain concerns appropriate to a particular occasion or issue.)
Lord God,
Bring us together as one.
Reconciled with you and reconciled with each other.
You made us in your likeness;
You gave us your son, Jesus Christ.
He has given us forgiveness from sin.
Lord God,
Bring us together as one.
Different culture, but given new life in Jesus Christ;
Together as one, your body,
your church, your people.
Lord God,
Bring us together one.
Reconciled, healed, forgiven,
Sharing you with others, as you have called us to do.
In Jesus Christ,
let us be together as one.
Amen.

In a world so divided, so polarised and afraid
Lord in Your mercy…Hear our prayer.
With gratitude for Your great love for us and all people
here in Australia and throughout the world,
with praise in our hearts and on our lips we ask You to forgive us.
Forgive our inability to respond to the hurts we have caused,
our inability to reach out with compassion to those we have dispossessed,
our inability to acknowledge wrongdoing and to commit to a different way,
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
Christ have mercy…Christ have mercy…
Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy…
`If we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness` 1 John 1: 9
We hear Christ`s words of grace `Your sins are forgiven`
Thanks be to God. Amen

Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge First Nations peoples and recognise their continuous connection to Country, community and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and honour the sharing of traditional stories passed down through generations.

Readings

Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25 - The Tribes Renew the Covenant

24 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many.

14 “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.

Psalm 78

God’s Goodness and Israel’s Ingratitude

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
    that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
    we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the 
Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done.
He established a decree in Jacob,
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their ancestors,
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
    whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Matthew 24: 1-13 - The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids[a] took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids[c] got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids[d] came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

TIS 609 `May the mind of Christ my Saviour` https://youtu.be/gE5fOXSymBc

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self-abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Katie Barclay Wilkinson

Reflection and Q and A

Reflection – Ready or Not? – 8.11.20

`Control the things you can control.`
Isn`t that what we hear from footy coaches week by week?
There`s not much you can do about the things you can`t control.
But there are always some things you can control…
In these crazy days of political, national and international upheaval – COVID 19, the polarised and polarising US election, Chinese trade embargoes - in a world of increasing division, disturbance and disruption when all seems unsure, unsteady and unstable – perhaps the most important thing for us to do is to control the things we can control – and let go of all the things we can`t.
No matter what the nature of the circumstances that surround us, the situation in which we find ourselves, there are always things we can control: what we read, what we listen to, to whom we listen, how often and for how long.
In these days – to whom are we listening?
What are we surrounding ourselves with?
In Joshua chapter 24, at the end of Joshua`s life, having crossed the Jordan and established themselves in the promised land, in no uncertain terms, Joshua lays out for the Israelites what is expected of them as God`s chosen people. He reminds them of how they have been led thus far (Joshua 24: 4-13) and that, as the covenant people, nothing less than total commitment is what is required for them to prosper and live well in the land. The ground rules are clear.
Unflinchingly, Joshua tests their resolve, spells out the consequences of not being faithful to the one, true God and brings them to a point of decision.
In response to Joshua`s tough talking, the people reaffirm their desire to serve this God, forsaking all other gods. This is a moment of truth, a situation in which the people find themselves: find out who they are, who they are meant to be and become. They articulate their declaration of faith and their commitment to serve.
What are we finding out about ourselves in these days?
What are we finding out about our faith, our commitment to Christ and our understanding of what it means to follow the Christian way?
The Gospel reading today echoes these themes of radical candour. The parable is one of those uncomfortable parables set within the gathering gloom of Jesus` imminent trial and eventual execution.
In it five wise bridesmaids are found ready and prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. They will be able to enter into the joyful celebration.
However the other five foolish bridesmaids are found wanting. They will not be able to enter into the wedding feast. They could have been ready. They had the time. They had the same opportunities as the others to get ready – but, for whatever reason – laziness, indifference, carelessness? - they chose not to.
Whatever the reason, they will live with the consequences of their decision and their inactivity when they could have controlled the outcome of their future.
It`s easy to blame others.
It`s easy to use others.
It`s easy to deflect and deny our own responsibility when things don`t go the way we want, hadn`t expected or for which we had not prepared.
But we can`t say we haven`t been told. We can`t say we don`t know what is at stake when we`ve been called – and have agreed - to serve the Bridegroom.
There are things we can control. There are actions we can take.
In these days, each of us is responsible for our actions/inaction because our actions/inaction shape life now and into the future. What we do - or fail/choose not to do - makes a big difference. We are to be as ready as we can. Even today, we can do something to get ready…to become wise...or not. You choose…

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
``We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him``
Joshua 24: 15, 24

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

There are two important components in our prayers this morning. One is the recognition that this week is NAIDOC week with its theme – Always was, always will be. As our prayer for NAIDOC Week I have chosen to use a prayer written by Aunty Betty Pike

Creator Spirit,
All creation once declared your glory,
Your laws were honoured and trusted,
Forgive us our neglect as our country approaches, the most critical moment of its history.
Listen to our prayer as we turn to you.
Hear the cry of Jesus, your Son on the Cross.
Help us to replace our national shame, with true National pride by restoring the dignity of our First Peoples whose antiquity is unsurpassed.
May our faith and trust in you increase.
Only then will our Nation grow strong and be a worthy place for all who wish to make their home in our LAND.
Amen.

The second is that on Wednesday we observe Remembrance Day – so today on this Remembrance Sunday we pray for all who have been impacted by the ravages of war – returned veterans suffering from injuries and mental disorders resulting from their active service, and those engaged in active service today. We pray for widows and bereaved families; for orphans; for refugees who are displaced from their homelands and who live in appalling conditions in refugee camps. We pray for the leaders of our country and ourselves who have been happy to see young men and women engage in acts of war on our behalf and have treated the survivors of war so badly on their return home. Lord, we need to do better.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of love, have mercy on the world of human affairs where the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged seems to be ever widening. We pray for all victims of this growing injustice:

  • For the sick, the maimed and the aged who cannot afford the latest in medical care and technology.
  • For the hungry millions who have been denied basic dietary needs and access to clean potable water, because of the operations of global markets.
  • For indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities whose health, education and employment prospects lag far behind that of the general population.
  • For the unemployed who have been cast aside in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by the electronic revolution in industry and commerce, globalization, and for whom the changing nature of employment means their skill set is no longer in demand.
  • For small nations who are being exploited or shut out of markets by the strong and aggressive, and those island states who are the front line of the effects of climate change brought on by human activity in wealthy states.
  • For the common people who cannot afford to pay the cost of obtaining justice in courts of law.
  • For those on the land suffering the ravages of drought, flood, bushfire and depressed prices for their produce due to international competition, politically driven trade wars and the unrelenting consumer driven quest for cheaper prices so willingly embraced by major retailers.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Lord there is much beauty and goodness in our world, and an abundance of resources if shared fairly among all. Help us to be good stewards of our planet. But we also live in a world dominated by the politics of powerful ruling cliques who think only of their own personal gain, who lack compassion for those in need, who play war games and practice the psychology of fear, who engage in shabby deals, who turn a blind eye to acts of corruption, antisocial behaviour and inhuman acts to maintain their position of power and influence. Lord, we humans are better than this – help us to reject and stamp out this evil in our midst. May we always be ready to uphold the values of human decency, of love and compassion, forgiveness and respect; to live out the commandments to love God and our fellowman. Bolster our spirit of generosity and goodwill, cast out our groundless fear and suspicion of those who are different to us, to new ideas, innovation and change. Keep us from being judgemental and parochial.

We pray for those recently elected to public office in this country and around the world, that they will govern and lead wisely and with equity.

God of justice and mercy, keep your church faithful and compassionate. As we deal with our failures of management, duty of care, unfaithfulness and apathy, do not permit us to become so concerned with our own weaknesses that we neglect to love our neighbour even as Christ Jesus has loved us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

This week in our church family, we pray for Mike Lovell, Margaret Leach, Yvonne Smith, Pat Tolson, Keith and Lyn Ferguson, Cheryl and Stephen Mason. We pray also for those known to us personally to be in need of care, companionship and support. We pray for our parish here in Armadale as we begin to find a way out of the restrictions imposed to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic. We give thanks for our minister Fiona and for her leadership

For ourselves we pray for the strength, courage, forbearance and readiness to continue to live our lives according to your will.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Let us summarise our petitions in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray
Our Father in Heaven....

TIS 595 `O Jesus I have promised`
https://youtu.be/trs17OEHe7E

1. Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

2.Oh, let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
I dare not trust my judgment: Thy way shall be my will;
Oh, speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
Oh, speak, and help me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

3.O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end—
Oh, give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

4.Oh, let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone;
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
And then in Heav’n receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.

John E. Bode

Blessing

May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
equip, encourage and fortify us as we wait for the Lord. May we be found ready today and for the future reconciliation of all things.
Amen