Armadale UCA

5th July 2020

(John Jay Cabuay/for The Washington Post)

`What kind of saviour?`

Rev Fiona Winn

Pentecost 5

Welcome and Grace

Scripture sentence

 Are you tired? Worn out?
Come to me…come away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

TIS 183 `Sing of the Lord`s goodness`

              1. Sing of the Lord’s goodness Father of all wisdom,
                come to him and bless his name.
                Mercy he has shown us, his love is forever,
                faithful to the end of days.

Come, then, all you nations,
sing of your Lord’s goodness,
melodies of praise and thanks to God.
Ring out the Lord’s glory,
praise him with your music,
worship him and bless his name.

              1. Power he has wielded, honour is his garment
                risen from the snares of death.
                His word he has spoken, one bread he has broken,
                new life he now gives to all.


              1. Courage in our darkness, comfort in our sorrow,
                Spirit of our God most high;
                solace for the weary, pardon for the sinner,
                splendor of the living God.


              1. Praise him with your singing, praise him with the trumpet
                praise God with the lute and harp;
                praise him with the cymbals, praise him with your dancing,
                praise God till the end of days.


© Ernest Sands 1981.

Opening prayer

all that is good and true and beautiful…
in all that is difficult and ugly and painful and distressing…
we come to worship You aware that, apart from Jesus Christ,
Your ways and nature are unknowable.
Even with the light of Christ we find it hard
to see clearly, to follow nearly, to love dearly.
Help us as we walk on in these shadowy times…
Yet, no matter what we face,
Your for ever love for us never fails.
The depth of the riches of Your grace,
Your forgiveness and loving commitment
toward us and all You have made,
are truly beyond human comprehension.
We are grateful and amazed again at Your `yes` to us…
In these quiet moments we come humbly to You
in wonder, love and praise…
AS WE GATHER in Jesus` Name, come to each heart and life.
In these moments, remind us of Your Spirit`s presence
active and alive among us, living in and working through us
in these fractured and frenetic times, in our fragile, fragmented world.
Receive our prayer. Heal us and make us whole…
Forgive what is twisted and perverse in us...
Unknot us and straighten us out. Lord have mercy…
Forgive our fixed views and refusal to think again…
Challenge our thinking and refresh our minds. Christ have mercy…
Forgive our failure to treat others as we would like to be treated…
Open our hearts and transform our actions…Lord have mercy…
`Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call on me in the day of trouble ; I will deliver you
and you shall glorify me`
Ps. 50:14, 15

We hear Christ`s words of grace to each of us
`Your sins are forgiven` Thanks be to God


Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-49;

34  …he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’ 

42 “I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also”—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”

58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” 59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

May you, our sister, become
thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes.”

61 Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63 Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65 and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Song of Songs 2: 8-13;

The voice of my beloved!
    Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away.

Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30

16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Song `Comfort, comfort all my people`


Comfort, comfort all my people with the comfort of my word.
Speak it tender to my people: All your sins are taken away.

            1. Though your tears be rivers running,
              though your tears be an ocean full,
              though you cry with the hurt of living,
              comfort, comfort.
              Every valley shall be lifted, every mountain shall be low,
              every rough place will be smoother: comfort, comfort.


2.     Though your eyes see only darkness,
though your eyes can see no light,
though your eyes see pain and sorrow:
comfort, comfort.
Every night will have its morning,
every pain will have an end,
every burden will be lightened: comfort, comfort.


Reflection and Q and A

 What kind of saviour?

No dating apps, no internet/online relationships!

How did they do it in the `olden days`? How did people meet and marry? It had little if anything to do with love – as we think of love, in Western culture - and everything to do with family and property and inheritance. Marriage was about making alliances, political and financial – and so marriages were arranged – as they still are today in many parts of the world.

The story of Isaac and Rebekah has nothing to do with romantic love at all. Isaac`s father, Abraham, instructs a servant to go and find a suitable wife. This is unthinkable to us and, obviously, is not without its problems. But one has to admit that there are problems too with romantic love as the defining means by which people choose life partners.

In this story from the ancient near east, it is important and interesting to note that there was to be no coercion. The servant was to be free to return without succeeding and released from the oath he swears to his master (Genesis 24: 1-9). As we hear in the reading set for today, Rebekah is given the choice whether to go or remain – (Genesis 24: 58)

We may be appalled at such a system/culture but we need to be aware of the dangers of imposing our 21st century cultural values on another time, place and situation.

We read the Song of Songs and in its poetry and beauty, cannot but be moved to consider the warmth of feeling, the goodness and the reality of sexual desire and its expression. Here is holy, human love – known to and articulated by people very different from us and yet whose humanity we share as made in God`s image.

But sexual, sensual love is not the sole or necessarily most important aspect of love as far as the story of God`s love is concerned.

What does `love` mean? This is the question at the heart of the scriptures. What is love? What does love look like? How do you know what love is?

One of the more plaintive songs of the past decades (1984), a powerful ballad by a group called Foreigner - `I want to know what love is.` (It is an interesting song, its origin and the recording with a choir. Watch here – and persevere through to the place where the choir appears – remember it is the 1980s!

This is what the writer of the song wrote about the recording: `We did a few takes, and it was good, but it was still a bit tentative. So then they all got round in a circle, held hands and said The Lord's Prayer. And it seemed to inspire them, because after that they did it in one take. I was in tears, because my mum and dad were in the studio too, and it was so emotional. — Mick Jones on recording with the choir.)

There are many voices clamouring for our attention to try to convince us about what love is: Hollywood, Facebook, celebrities, pop culture. But when it comes to what love truly is, why the aching void in modern/postmodern life?

The hurt, the disappointment, the violence; the loneliness, the pain, the despair; the grief, the fear, the cynicism?

Who can tell us, show us what love is? As Christians we hold to sacred texts which tell us God who is love. What do we mean when we say this? What does this love look like?

Ultimately, John the Baptist and Jesus were a disappointment to those who were looking for a way out of their unhappy state. They wanted a particular kind of hero, a particular kind of prophet, a particular kind of saviour.

Eventually neither of them was what the people of the time wanted. Ultimately, it didn`t matter what they did or said. They both died violent, miserable deaths.

John and Jesus point to an unacceptable God whose nature and character demonstrate love in a way that the powerful and prestigious could not and would not accept. That sort of love – challenging, uncomfortable, uncompromising – had to be put down, put to death, quashed.

`Prepare the way of the Lord!` `Repent and be baptised!`

`Take up your cross and follow me.` `Woe to you hypocrites`.

The poor, the oppressed, the marginalised and forgotten got it. The tired and overwhelmed, the heavy laden and the burdened got it. And today – what about us? Do we understand the kind of robust, demanding love which is the love of God from the beginning of creation till the end of time, shown perfectly and uniquely in Jesus Christ? The life of the disciple is to listen and learn, consider and contemplate what love is – and then to show others.

And when it is all too hard, Jesus draws near and invites us to take on ourselves his gentle, humble love. Come to him…

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

See here

TIS 585 `I heard the voice of Jesus say`

I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, O weary one, lay down Your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was, so weary, worn, and sad;
I found him in a resting place, and he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one, stoop down and drink and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, "I am this dark world's light;
Look unto me; your morn shall rise, and all your day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found in him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I'll walk till traveling days are done.


The Father`s love strengthen you. The Saviour`s words sustain you.
The Spirit`s presence uphold, inspire and encourage you.
And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you and remain with you
today and always. Amen