Armadale Uniting Church: Order of Service

15-11-2020

Prepared by Karel Reus

Sunday at 9:30, November 15, 2020

The 24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

We gather to worship God
Call to Worship

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls….

Matthew 11:28–29

Psalm 123
Supplication for Mercy

A Song of Ascents.

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maid   to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.

Interlude

Ich habe genug (I’ve had enough)
J S Bach: Cantata BWV 82
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XopQG0Gjgmo

I’ve had enough (A litany)

Ich habe genug
I’ve had enough

of virus-talk
and lockdowns
and masks.
I’ve had enough
of leaders who don’t lead
and spin doctors
and PR.
Lord, have mercy

I’ve had enough
of “big weather”
and fire
and flood.

I’ve had enough
of hate speech
and innuendo
and double-talk.
Lord, have mercy

I’ve had enough
of weasel words
and red herrings
and false starts.
I’ve had enough
of celebrity
and contrived fame
lasting fifteen minutes.

Lord, have mercy

I’ve had enough
of callous indifference
to the plight of refuge-seekers
and the homeless.
I’ve had enough
of soul-rotting disappointment
and sheer disgust
with the way things panned out.
Lord, have mercy

I’ve had enough
of skin-deep religion
and content-free
faith-talk.
I’ve had enough
of fair-weather friends
who come and go
on changing winds.
Lord, have mercy

There are times
when I’ve had enough of me
and would welcome
an end to it.
They tell me it’s a fine thing
to hope.
Well, let me start with this:
I hope that one day
I will have enough
of having had enough;
when my glass-half-full
runs over with goodness and mercy.
Lord, have mercy

Hymn

Who would true valour see?

John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiSxSZ0s0AQ

Who would true valour see?
Let him come hither
One here will constant be
Come wind, come weather
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim

Whoso beset him 'round
With dismal stories
Who but themselves confound
His strength the more is
No lion can him fright
He'll with a giant fight
But he will have a right to be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit
Then fancies flee away
He'll fear not what men say
He'll labour night and day to be a pilgrim

Who would true valour see
Let him come hither
One here will constant be
Come wind, come weather
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim

Prayer of confession

Words for contemplation
distance, separation, division, broken-hearted;
Silence

harm, neglect, pollution, extinction;
Silence

disregard, ignore, injustice, impoverish.
Silence

Words of affirmation

Hear now these life-giving words:

receive, welcome, reconcile, enfold;
restore, conserve, beautify, care;
attend, share, compassion, love;
forgiven, forgiven, forgiven, forgiven.

May these words take root within us and become the living reality among and through us.

(Source: online sample from SeasonsFUSION)

Assurance of Forgiveness

Almighty God our heavenly father,
who of his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins
to all who with hearty repentance and true faith turn to him:
have mercy on us; pardon and deliver us from all our sins;
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness;
and keep us in eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

5Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents

14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Reflection

Have you got talent?

There seems little doubt that Matthew, the evangelist, presented Jesus’ parable of The Talents with the needs of a particular community in mind. The parable is presented in such a way that its moral purpose seems obvious; that the morally correct way of behaving is for us to invest the talents we have been given in such a way that we cause them to grow. Such behaviour is worthy of reward. The Kingdom of God, according to this interpretation, is made up of people who take their God-given gifts very seriously indeed, and the sting in the tail is that you will be punished if you squander your opportunities. That pretty much fits in with our modern view of appropriate behaviour. Hard work and diligence should be rewarded. The lazy get (or don’t get) what laziness deserves – that is, nothing.

Now, I am not for a moment advising you that you should not go along with the standard interpretation, but I do want to ask you to go along with me for a while as I explore an alternative. And, I want to ask you not to feel guilty about exploring alternatives. We don’t leave our brains at the door when we go to church; neither do we leave them in the Zoom waiting room.

So, let’s start with the value of “the talent”. Let’s just note for now that it’s big, and it’s valuable. What “the master” has entrusted to his servants is a lot. Let’s look at the Master. In normal interpretations he is seen as standing for God. But wait! The master is a slave-owner, and he makes his money on the backs of others. Is that how we think of God? Is that how we want to think of God? Now let’s look at the two “good” servants. Make no mistake, they are still slaves, but slaves with important administrative jobs. While the master goes on a trip, these guys are entrusted with considerable wealth, and are expected to do as the master does and make it grow. Jesus’, and then Matthew’s, audience, would have understood that the system worked on the basis of “trusties” standing in for the master, and doing what he would do. In return, they would be rewarded, and without any doubt they would have helped themselves with a bit “on the side”. The system being portrayed here is a system of exploitation, and the “good” slaves are willing participants in that system.

What then of the third “bad” slave. He is portrayed as lazy. But maybe not. Maybe he has decided to have nothing to do with this corrupt system. Maybe he, who understands clearly that the master reaps not nor does, is the hero of the story. Perhaps the third slave stands for Jesus, who will, within days, will be cast out and receive the ultimate punishment for not playing the game; for not riding to power on the backs of others. Perhaps the third slave shows us what God’s Kingdom might be like; a Kingdom wherein normal relationships are turned topsy-turvy; where the last are favoured over the first, where the weak are favoured over the strong, where the poor are favoured over the rich, where justice reigns and where peace is the order of the day.

Which interpretation is right? You choose. But choose we must. Choose your image of the Kingdom. Will it a be a Kingdom ruled by a tyrannical slave-owner, or a Kingdom of peace and justice? And if we make a choice, how will we live out that choice: how will we give it flesh and bone, and display it in living parables for all to see, and touch, and hear and taste.

Prayer of intercession:

Prayers of The People 15.11.20 (April Blackwell)

Let us pray…

Dear Lord, we give you thanks that you have given us the capacity to see this world from many different perspectives and that you have given us minds that can appreciate your inexhaustible nature and your capacity for compassion no matter what our crime, if we are truly repentant.

We ask that you meet us in our earnest searching for the best way forward in our increasingly complex world.

Lord in Your Mercy… Hear Our Prayer

Help us to be courageous yet humble, faithful yet discerning as we slowly re-emerge out of a long lock-down and renegotiate our way through daily life.

Help us to continue to encourage each other and to be there for each other as we perceive a need. Help us also to have the courage and humility to ask for help if we are in need.

We give thanks that the number of cases of Covid are continuing to drop in Australia but pray for those countries heading into a Northern Winter with cases rising. Be with all those affected with the virus and their families and with all the medicos looking after them. May they know your Grace and strength!

Loving Lord, we ask that you be with all in need of any kind.

May the chronically poor, the sick, the homeless, those afflicted by war and all refugees know your compassion. Help us to see and hear their need and respond with your help as we are able.

Lord in your Mercy…Hear our Prayer

Our prayers go to all citizens of the USA during the aftermath of the contested recent election. May they and their leaders be upheld by your Grace and strength during this transition period of confusion and strong divisions.

During NAIDOC Week, we also think especially of the indigenous people of Australia. Help us to give thanks, listen to, respect and appreciate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal people. May all Australians know your love and acceptance as we work together for a shared life.

Lord in your Mercy… Hear our Prayer

Lord we are thankful yet appalled that hypocrisy and gender power imbalance has been revealed within the culture of our Australian Parliament. We pray for transparency and true democracy to be increasingly modelled by those in power.

We pray for all students especially those who have had their choices in tertiary education severely curtailed. Be with overseas students who have fallen through the cracks of financial assistance during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Lord in your Mercy…Hear our Prayer

Ever-present God, we pray that you will bless our congregation at Armadale and also Arrow Health who share our site. We give thanks for our minister Fiona and for Ian and Karel for their ministerial support. We are thankful for our church council and for our pastoral caring throughout the Covid 19 pandemic.

We ask that your healing grace may be known by those in our congregation who are unwell or suffering in any way…

We continue to pray for Lyn and Keith, Cheryl and Stephen, Margaret Black, Margaret Leach, Mike, Pat, Yvonne and all our children.

Let us join together in saying the Lord’s Prayer…” Our Father…

Hymn

Love Divine

Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=and+can+it+be+maddy+prior&ru=%2fsearch%3fq%3dand%2bcan%2bit%2bbe%2bmaddy%2bprior%26qs%3dn%26form%3dQBRE%26sp%3d-1%26pq%3dand%2bcan%2bit%2bbe%2bmaddy%2bprior%26sc%3d1-25%26sk%3d%26cvid%3d22A61F995D324FC38643859321974EA2&view=detail&mid=D6D9665241EFFABB863FD6D9665241EFFABB863F&&mmscn=vwrc&FORM=VDRVRV

1.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

2.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

3.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

4.
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Blessing

For your goodness and generosity
in giving us all we need,

help us to praise you O God.

In every circumstance of life,
in good times and bad,
help us to trust you, O God.

In love and faithfulness,
with all that we have and all that we are,
help us to serve you, O God.

As we speak or write or listen
to those nearby or far away,
help us to share your love, O God.

In our plans and work
for ourselves and for others,
help us to glorify you, O God.

In every thought and word and deed,
by the power of your Holy Spirit,
this week, may we live for you, O God.