Call to Worship (Psalm 69: 13)
But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favour;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
HYMN 127 O worship the King, all glorious above
to whom all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid;
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord
Almighty God, our Father, we have sinned against you and one another,
in thought, word and deed,
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to correct what we are,
and direct what we shall be; through Jesus
Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
May God forgive us our sins,
strengthen us by his Spirit,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, you have assured us of your continuing love and grace.
Help us now in faith, hope and love
to share in this worship to your honour and glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured mankind of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him.
Deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Prayer
Jeremiah 20: 7-13
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word
or speak any more in his name,’
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
I hear many whispering,
Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!’
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
‘Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.’
But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonour will never be forgotten.
Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
Sing to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.
Matthew 10: 24-39
‘The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
‘So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
‘“a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
HYMN 187 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
‘A Burning Desire’
What really drives you? What really excites you? What is it that truly motivates you to action? For each of us it will be something different. For some of us it will be a hobby or interest; for some of us it will be a job or career path; for others of us it will a particular relationship or person. All of these, whether they be things or activities or people, can be forces for good because they arouse in us a drive to do something positive. Many of us who read this will consider ourselves to be Christian; for us there is also something else that should drive, excite, or motivate. That ‘something else’ is our faith. Jeremiah, in today’s reading, describes this drive as being, ‘like a burning fire shut up in my bones’. What, though, does it mean when Jeremiah speaks like this?
Jeremiah was a prophet who earned himself the unenviable reputation of being messenger of ‘doom and gloom’. To an extent this was true, however he earned this label by speaking the truth. He did this while others around him would speak what the rulers of the people wanted to hear. This made him unpopular facing slander, violence, and persecution because of it. Jeremiah, however, was not alone. Others, before and after his time, also spoke ‘truth to power’ with similar outcomes.
If we move forward some six hundred years to the time of Jesus we find that not much had changed. Jesus, like the prophets before him, spoke truth. He spoke it irrespective of his audience. He didn’t modify his message to appease the powerful. Like Jeremiah, Jesus retained his personal integrity. With Jesus there was also another dimension to his speaking out. He spoke ‘truth to power’ but he also spoke truth about power. This was a power that is not of this world. Jesus spoke truth about the power of God. Unlike Jeremiah there was a dimension of Jesus’ message that was about his identity and place in God’s order of things. This combination made Jesus doubly unpopular. It cost him his life.
When Jeremiah spoke of the fire in his bones he was speaking of the drive that God had placed within him to speak the truth. Like Jesus, this truth was spiritual in nature but for both it also had direct implications for the physical world. Their message was also relevant to the worlds of politics, economy, and society. Today we like to keep matters of spirituality and religion in those spheres of our lives that are ‘marked’ as personal and private but that wasn’t the way for Jeremiah or Jesus. For both the prophet and the Christ the message had a much wider, public, dimension. In our culture such a message would not be popular.
Today’s reading from the Gospel presents us with stark choices. The disciples of Jesus are called to acknowledge him in public; they are called to share that they are his followers. The starkness comes in the consequences of denying that truth, that relationship. That’s a demand that is as true today as it was in their time. Jesus warned that such would not be a popular move, and that it could result in the same outcomes as we find with Jeremiah. History does have the habit of repeating itself.
For us, speaking truth to power may mean many things. It may mean speaking out about homelessness in our city; it may mean challenging poverty as it effects people through food or healthcare; it may mean challenging lethargy or corruption in places of power. For Christians, though, it also means sharing the good news that through Jesus we may know God. It means acknowledging, or confessing, that he is the Lord of our lives. If he is truly our Lord, then it’s him we follow, him we obey, him to whom we show allegiance. Speaking truth has never really been popular, the lives of the prophets and Jesus show that, but it’s the path that the people of God have been called to walk. Amen.
We believe it to be your will, our God,
to bless in answer to prayer.
Hear us as we pray:
for the whole world, for all nations and their governments,
that we may work together for freedom, peace, and healing
in all parts of the earth;
for the Church in all its branches,
that its energy may be rekindled, and its faith renewed,
that it may bring hope in these troubled times;
for one another,
that we may all truly know the peace and blessing
Christ offers us in each moment;
for those who are not with us today,
and whose presence we miss;
may the peace of Christ may be known to them also;
for our homes and families, for our neighbours,
and for the places where we would work, learn or rest;
for our schools and universities,
that they are able once more to be places of safety,
where our children and young people may meet and learn;
for the sick and the suffering, the careworn and the sad,
remembering in silence any whose need lies heavily upon our hearts
… and for the dying, that they may depart unafraid
and in peace;
This we ask in the name and for the sake of him who lives
to make prayer for us: Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HYMN 396 And can it be
Let us go from this time of praise,
in the name of him who died, and rose again,
Christ Jesus the Lord;
to love and serve him,
throughout our daily lives. Amen.
Acknowledgements – scripture readings taken from:
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized,
NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®