Good Morning and Welcome, Cheviot churches and to everyone joining our worship on this 6th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Beautiful in its loftiness,
he joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon[b] is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress. (Psalm 48)
Hymn 457 All hail the power of Jesus name (Tune Miles Lane) verses 1,3 & 4.
Prayers of Adoration and Confession.
Gracious Father, we bless You. Thank You for being the King of Glory. Thank You for being our Father, Redeemer, Shepherd and King. Thank You for reconciling us back to You through Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are thankful to You for the Holy Spirit who is the promised Advocate who empowers us to be effective witnesses to Your Kingdom here on earth. Thank You for loving us and watching over us. Lord, let all that we are praise You.
Forgiving Father, forgive us as a Church Family for sins of pride, rebellion, disobedience, selfishness. Lord, forgive us for half-hearted worship. Forgive us for disrespecting Your Name and treating You irreverently. Forgive those who choose to not bless and honour You. Lord Jesus, forgive those who take Your sacrifice for granted. Holy Spirit, forgive those who do not acknowledge You or Your presence in their daily lives. Thank you that when we confess our sins you freely forgive us.
The Lord’s prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Readings – Samuel 5: 1 – 5, and 9 – 10. Mark 6: 1 – 13.
HYMN – 351 Jesus hands were kind hands 2 verses
Jesus did not come to make life easy; he came to make people great.
David becomes King over Israel – The representatives of the various tribes cite three reasons for recognising David as their King: -
Jesus Christ who was described as the son of David, the son of Abraham also began His ministry at the age of 30. Only Christ Jesus, great David's greater Son, fulfills this prophecy recorded in psalm 72. Only Jesus brings perfect justice, a universal kingdom, and an everlasting reign. “1 give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
In stark contrast to the story from Mark’s gospel St John reminds us that 11 He (JESUS) came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:11-12)
Today's Gospel lesson is made up of two quite distinct parts.
The first is a story of failure. After initial enthusiasm, the people of Jesus' hometown, turned against him. He was, Mark tells us in verse 5, "unable to do any miracles there." But the second scene is a story of success. The disciples, again Mark tells us, cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people and healed them."
Isn't that odd? Jesus, who up to this point in Mark’s Gospel, had been teaching with power, healing, and casting out demons, could do nothing, while the disciples who are so often missing the point, even missing in action, are powerful and effective.
The two parts are so different and their difference so unexpected that it will come as no surprise that many commentators urge us to pick one of the two stories or parts to examine at a time --- not both . . . Still, they stand together . . . perhaps there is a reason for that? Maybe Mark was onto something?
Together these two scenes have something to tell us, not only about God and God's power, but about our part in God's power. Together they tell us about the power of faith and also something about the power of disobedience. Together they tell us something about what happens when ego and pride get in the way--when we get in the way--and what happens when hope, faith and expectation clear the way, and God takes central place.
The journalist Tom Friedman once told a story in order to explain why the Middle East peace process seems so frequently stuck. It was a story about a man named Goldberg. Every week when the results of the lottery were announced, Goldberg prayed to God, "God, why don't I ever win the lottery? What have I done wrong? I've been a good man. Why shouldn't I win?" Again, next week the lottery winner was announced and again Goldberg was disappointed and he cried out to God. "What will it take, Lord? I am a righteous man, an honorable man, a hard-working man. Would it be so hard for you, just once, to let me win the lottery?" The clouds parted, the heavens opened and a voice came forth out of the heavens. The voice said, "Goldberg, give me a chance--buy a ticket!"
Two stories, two distinct stories, set cheek by jowl. In one they bought the ticket. In the other they refused.
But why? Why did they refuse? Let's look at that first story, part one of our text, Jesus' visit to his own hometown. We might imagine that now things would go well. We might assume that here Jesus would be received with joy and affirmation by those who knew him well. And initially he was. The people of Nazareth, those who had known Jesus as a boy and young man were surprised--astonished--by his wisdom and power. But quickly their surprise turned to offense. "Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son? And they took offense at him."
When Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, He did not--though it must have been painful for him--reject them in turn. He did not take offense. He only sadly shook his head and then moved on. He moved on, sending his disciples out, two by two, to preach, to heal and to teach. He said something interesting to them: they were to travel light, to "take nothing for the journey" but the clothes on their backs.
The rejection at Jesus’ hometown synagogue did not hinder the mission for long. In fact, it may have given impetus to the commissioning of the twelve for their first assignment. This was why Jesus had chosen “twelve” in chapter 3. Since that point, they were preparing for their own mission. In chapter 4, Jesus taught about the nature of God’s reign, providing private instruction for them. In chapter 5, Jesus performed liberating acts for them to witness. Finally, just before he sent them out, the mission experienced unexpected rejection, as a signal of what was to be expected in their work in the movement.
In these times of change and challenge for the church or in times of challenge in our personal lives, God may be telling us to "lighten our load," even helping us to do so. God is calling us to let go of some weighty assumptions about how we have always done things. God is telling us, like that once prominent church, to leave behind those big, bulky suitcases stuffed full of "pride" and "ego." Maybe God is asking us to surrender some truly heavy stuff--like the old conflicts we've been bearing or the grudges we've been nursing?
God is using this time of challenge and change to strip these things from us so that we might travel light again, relying upon God's power alone to guide us and trusting God's grace to uphold us.
Jesus Christ is here now--, in our church, in our community, in each one of our lives. Will we receive him? Will we buy the ticket? The price of a ticket is . . . faith, wild, risky faith, bold, trusting faith in the power of God in Jesus Christ who makes all things new.
Faithful God we pray for ourselves; as we go from our worship today to start the week ahead, we ask that in all we do, we may walk more closely with you at our side safe in the knowledge that your Fatherly love and care knows no bounds.
Hymn - 255 Father hear the prayer we offer. verses 1 & 2
Prayers of thanksgiving and Intercession
Let us join our hearts and minds in prayer.
Almighty God, we give thanks for your gentle and enduring love which never fails and always gives hope. We pray for the world, and for all those who are affected by this pandemic, particularly those more vulnerable in poorer countries. We pray for those who do not have access to clean water, soap and sanitation; those without good healthcare, and families who are struggling to find food.
Grant our leaders the gifts of courage, compassion and wisdom as they face such challenging circumstances and decision making. We pray for our scientists as they work tirelessly to find answers.
We particularly remember those in hospital and in care homes. We pray for everyone who is sick, or afraid for the future; for those who are bereaved and grieving, or isolated and we also pray for all who support them. God be their healer, their comforter and their protection.
We think of our own community and pray for your guidance to be good neighbours; so that no one feels lonely, forgotten or unloved. Raise up your church to be your well washed hands and faithful feet, to respond with love in action.
So let us pause for a few moments as we remember and pray for those known to ourselves …... Silence.
Hymn – 529 Forth in your name, O Lord I go. verses 1 and
May the strength of God sustain us; may the power of God preserve us; may the hands of God protect us; may the way of God direct us; may the love of God go with us this day and forever. Amen.