The Peace of Christ be with you all.
Call to Worship –
Followers of Christ, the cross that stands before us is a call to us:
a call that love is alive and ready for us to take on and take in;
a call that proclaims the good news that we are all part of the family of God.
Holy God, we come this day, into this sacred moment and this sacred space, aware that your holiness is always around us. As Moses before us, when we turn aside from our daily tasks, and we listen for your holy voice, speak to us in holy mystery.
Surround us with your wondrous love, that we might be wise enough to understand your call and be brave enough to follow your path. Amen.
HYMN– AHB 77 For the beauty
Scripture Readings- Exodus 3: 1-15; Romans 12: 9 -21; Matthew 16: 21-28
Prayer of Confession-
In the midst of your holy presence, O God, we encounter a mystery deeper than the foundations of the earth. You are who you are, sacred and indefinable. Forgive us when we try to put you in a box or frame you in our own image. Help us as we allow your divine image to define and shape us. Speak mercy and grace to us, when we deny the path before us, and guide us with your shepherding love, when we are unsure of how to follow.
Strengthen us and give us the courage to say: “Here I am, ready to love and serve.” In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Words of Assurance
We are in the presence of the Holy One, whose holiness is in our very being. Rejoice and be glad, for in Christ’s love we are reminded of this divine truth: we are God’s beloved creation, reclaimed for a holy path. Thanks be to God.
Sermon – This message was prepared by Rev Arthur Lane for Indooroopilly UCA newsletter
When George W. Bush was US President, he was walking along the street one day when he saw Moses passing on the other side. He called, “Moses!” but Moses gave no answer. He called again, “Hey, Moses!” but Moses only quickened his pace. So GW crossed the street, hurried after Moses, and finally got ahead of him and confronted him, forcing him to stop. “Moses!” he said, “I called after you several times but you wouldn’t stop. Why?” Said Moses, “The last time I stopped to talk to a Bush I ended up forty years wandering in the desert!” (One is tempted to speculate on how Moses would have reacted to the present incumbent of the White House, but unfortunately that has nothing to do with our Scripture passage for today!)
To talk with God face to face as Moses did would be a great but awesome experience, but would inevitably end up with that person being charged with some great task or mission that would use up everything he/she had. It used to be said of a former minister of this congregation that you had to be on your guard if he invited you over to the shopping centre for a coffee, because that meant he was lining you up for some demanding task! That’s what God does, and the fact that He promises to be with us throughout doesn’t make it any easier! So Moses found out that day at the burning bush when he was charged with the task of transforming a rabble of fractious ex-slaves into something remotely resembling a people of God through whom one day God’s eternal purpose of salvation might – just might – be achieved.
But that wasn’t the only thing Moses learned that day. In his debating with God over the issue, Moses says, “Tell me Your Name – Who You really are, so that the people will know that I am for real, and You are for real also.” Now in biblical times a name was not simply a particular set of sound waves by which one person could conveniently be distinguished from another; it was an integral part of the psyche of the person and therefore to be treated with respect and courtesy; you don’t just walk up to someone and grab him by the nose or ear. Many people used nicknames for common transactions in daily life – this was not the private person. Likewise, God up to this time had been known by descriptive nicknames: “The Mighty One,” “The Lord “, for instance. But now for the first time it seems God is revealing His True Self to His people so that they might learn the more accurately to be His people. “What is Your Name?” asks Moses . Says God, in Hebrew, “I AM WHO I AM.” or more accurately, “ I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.”
God is ever and always His own Person. You can never mould Him or twist Him to fit in with our idea of what He ought to be like. In the beginning He created us in His own image; we’ve been trying to return the compliment ever since, but it will never work! God is too vast and complex a Being ever to be fully comprehended by any one of us, or even all of us together. If we could, He would be unworthy to be God! So let us be content to accept Him in all His mystery, and gratefully and joyfully praise Him in all His love and provision for us: of that at least we can be certain. (used with permission of Arthur)
HYMN- TIS 658 I, the Lord of sea and sky
I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Chorus: Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night;
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
- I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain;
I have wept for love of them. They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them. Whom shall I send? Chorus
- I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame;
I will set a feast for them. My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send? Chorus
Daniel Schutte © Oregon Catholic Press. Used with permission ONE LICENSE #A-622726
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Living Christ, may the gifts we bring today signal to the world our belief in goodness, justice, and liberation. May they mark us as your people, children of our loving God, as they renew and restore the world. Amen.
Prayer of Intercession –
God of new life, be with us as we journey through our faith. Let the signs of your goodness be upon us, that others may be invited into your way. May we genuinely love others. May we be enthusiastic and spirited in our acts of service. May we rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, contribute to those in need and extend hospitality to strangers. May we bless those who persecute us, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, and not claim to be wiser than we are. Help us to not seek retribution or choose evil ways but seek to live peaceably with all and to overcome evil with good. If our enemies are hungry, strengthen us and fill us with your love, following the ways of Jesus as we feed the hungry and, if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. Let kindness and generosity be your marks on us as we live into your grace. We pray especially for those suffering from Covid 19 – families and friends, health workers and researchers, government and synod officials. Guide them with your wisdom and comfort them with your peace. We ask in the name of Christ. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer- Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
HYMN- AHB 514 O Jesus I have promised TIS 595
Christ claims us as his own and the mark of Christ is upon us.
We go from here encircled in God’s grace and love fit for the work to which God calls us.
May God’s grace go with us; Christ’s example be before us; and the power of the Spirit enable us. Amen.
Resources used in this service include Words for Worship year A 30th August 2020 by MediaCom (subscription of Rev Dr Elizabeth Nolan) and The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020 edited by Mary Scifres and B.J. Beu, Abingdon Press, Nashville USA (owned by EN); Rev Arthur Lane’s weekly reflections; and The Australian Hymn Book multiple copies owned by the St Lucia Uniting Church congregation. Copyright license #217268.