Sunday 6th September 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 28: 8, 12)
Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

HYMN 63 All people that on earth do dwell

Prayer

God, you call us to this new day,
summoning all creation to praise you;
great is your name.
Your love knows no bounds,
and your justice is eternal;
great is your name.

In the vastness of space,
and with the smallest thing,
you are there.
From the simplest of joys,
through the most complex of problems,
you are there.

When we wander off,
when we turn away from you,
you reach out.
When we deny your love,
when we reject your calling,
you reach out.

Call us back to you,
this day and every day,
that we may know your love.
Touch our hearts,
touch our minds,
that we may know your healing.

As we wander through this day,
lift us and renew us,
revive us and enthuse us,
that we may serve you,
and bless your Holy Name.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures

Jeremiah 15: 15-21
Lord, you understand;
remember me and care for me.
Avenge me on my persecutors.
You are long-suffering – do not take me away;
think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.
When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
Lord God Almighty.

I never sat in the company of revellers,
never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
and you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unending
and my wound grievous and incurable?
You are to me like a deceptive brook,
like a spring that fails.
Therefore this is what the Lord says:
‘If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
but you must not turn to them.

I will make you a wall to this people,
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
to rescue and save you,’
declares the Lord.
‘I will save you from the hands of the wicked
and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.’

Matthew 16: 21-28
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

HYMN 533 Will you come and follow me

Thought:

Throughout this year we have been exploring the Gospel of Matthew. We have now come to a crunch point in the story. It is not long since the disciple Peter had revealed that he understood Jesus to be the Messiah. He had been commended for his spiritual insight. Now Jesus was taking Peter’s understanding, turning it upon its head. He shares that the Messiah will know betrayal and suffering. This is alien to all that the disciples knew. For Peter it is too much, and it leads to a confrontation with Jesus. Jesus sees no other path than to the cross; he must follow it. The disciples are bewildered. It is not until after the resurrection that they begin to grasp all that had gone on. For Jesus, the path of serving God is not an easy one. From a human perspective it ultimately costs his life on the cross.

If we look to the prophet Jeremiah we see another path of service. The prophet has been delivering the message with which he has been charged, and it has not been well received. The crowd turn against Jeremiah. If he had been alive in our culture he may have been tempted called out, “don’t shoot the messenger!” Like Jesus, the path of the prophet was not an easy one; on this occasion though, this servant of God did not pay with his life. The call of Jeremiah had taken him through amazement and motivation, yet it hard turned to anguish, pain, and even rejection. There were ways in which he felt abandoned by God; he ultimately realised that he had not. The path of service was not an easy one.

But what about us? How would we describe our path of service for God? Where would our individual or community challenges be as we sought to walk the path God had chosen for us? More fundamentally, do we know our path or call from God? These are lots of questions calling out for answers, even when we do not know what the latter look like. As we continue to ease out of lockdown the church is at a significant juncture in its life. It has become clear that it cannot continue as it has always done; we knew that before last March. The church will have work to do, questions to ask, and answers to seek. The church has to discover its corporate call, its purpose. It is not as a religious country club or holy huddle, both terms we thought we had ditched in the eighties. It is a call to be the dynamic presence of God in each community where we are found. Like Jeremiah it will have a message to share, and it will not necessarily be a popular one. After all, the church of the future may look unlike the church of the past. It may feel, like Jesus and the twelve, that nobody understands or that the cost may seem too great. Yet it must go on.

What about us? Each of us has a calling from God. At its most basic it is a call to come into His presence, and know His love restoring you as His child. It is that basic call to know God in, and through, Jesus. Yet there is more than this. In these times it becomes imperative for each believer to seek to identify what God calls him or her to do beyond know His love. This is a call to walk the path of discipleship. It is a call to walk the path of Jeremiah, the path of Jesus. It is in seeking God’s call upon our life, and in striving to follow it, that we know both greatest joy and peace. Without deeper inner joy and peace there would be neither prophet nor Messiah.

What about you? It is also a call to answer the demands of God in each life, your life. Elsewhere, Jeremiah points out that we are made by the hand of God, and that in an incredible way. We are His handiwork, fashioned to know and love Him. We are made also to follow. Will you, will I, seek his call on our life? Will we listen for his voice crying out to us? If we will, will we then follow the command of Jesus to “pick up your cross, and follow me?”
Amen.


Prayer
All life comes from you;
all life is sustained by you;
all life knows its end in you;
so we bring all life before you now.

You transform wrong into right;
transform darkness into light;
transform despair into hope;
so we seek your transformation now.

From injustice bring restoration;
from privilege bring equity;
from hatred bring love;
so make a world that knows peace.

To the hungry bring food;
to the thirsty bring refreshment;
to the homeless bring shelter;
and so restore your world.

To ourselves bring meaning;
to ourselves bring clarity;
to ourselves bring purpose;
that we may work for your kingdom.

To the world let us bring light;
to the world let us bring hope;
to the world let us bring truth;
and all to your glory.
Amen.

HYMN 167 Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah

Benediction
Let us go from this time,
seeking faith,
seeking truth,
seeking love.

And as we go,
may the blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with us all, evermore.
Amen.

Acknowledgements
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV®
Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission.
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