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Prayer of Approach - Hymns - Prayer of Adoration and Praise - Readings from Old Testament - Epistle - Gospel - A Word with the Young - Prayer of Confession - Sermon - Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession - Offertory Prayer - Benediction

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This season begins with Trinity Sunday and concludes with the Reign of Christ. This is the long season of growth where we go forward as people inspired on the journey by the risen Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Loving Jesus, we are in need of your grace
to unsettle and redirect our hearts.
We are in need of your power
To rekindle and sustain our passion to serve you.
We are in need of your love.
That we might recognize the eveer-present possibilities
For change and conversation and growth

We believe that your Spirit
Is at work in your word and in our church.
Give us the faith to believe
That you can accomplish wonderful things through us
And give us the strength and courage and hope
To live in the knowledge that with you
All things are possible.

This we pray in Jesus' name

Pentecost C

Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Additional resources for Pentecost 23C: See A WORD WITH YOUNG PEOPLE; A SINGING FAITH, Jane Parker Huber, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia,1987; AUSTRALIAN PRAYERS, Bruce D Prewer, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, Sout Australia, 1983; UNITING IN WORSHIP ,People’s Book, The Joint Board of Christian Education, Queen St., Melbourne, Australia, 1988.

Joel 2: 28, 29: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

TIS 52/AHB 115: “Let us sing to the God of salvation”
TIS 124/AHB 52: “Great God, we sing that mighty hand”
TIS 135: “All things bright and beautiful”

God of all creation, we worship and adore you. You enrich the land with the blessings of your creative nature and you enrich our lives with the blessings of your creative Spirit. We rejoice O God, in the outpouring of such blessings upon us. We praise you for these signs of your presence among us, and especially for your presence in our midst in and through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour. We come to this time of worship in awe and with thanksgiving at such evidence of your grace towards us. Open our ears that we may hear you speaking to us anew; open our hearts that we may love as you love us and our world, and open our lips to proclaim your praise. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

The gospel reading - Luke 18:9-14 cries out to be dramatised….

Jesus friend of us all, you told the parable to people who believed that they were truly righteous and who regarded others with contempt. We confess that there are times when we say and do things which leave us equally open to your judgment. Forgive us when we assume that our belief in you gives us a status which makes us superior to non-believers….

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, God of our salvation; (Psalm 65:5) and perhaps the most awesome deed of all was the gift of your only Son to the world you so love, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) The great good news therefore is this: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!

TIS 129/AHB 56: “Amazing grace”
OLD TESTAMENT: Joel: 2:23-32
EPISTLE: 2 Timothy 4; 6-8, 16-18

Imagine the three readings as books on a bookshelf. Three books each with one name on the spine of the book. Joel, Luke and Timothy. Old Testament, Gospel and Epistle. Each book contains important words for us to hear today. Joel and Timothy are more like bookends holding up the one in the centre, the Gospel according to Luke. Joel holds a message about our birth as a Christian, Timothy words about our death, and Luke is about our life as a Christian.

The important words from Joel are those we hear each Day of Pentecost - the day which we understand as the birth of the church. Peter used Joel’s words in his sermon to emphasise that this great gift of the Spirit was for everyone. “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”….

Reality for us.

The other bookend’s story– from Timothy - contains words which I’ve often used as words of hope at funerals of faithful church members. Words originally spoken by Paul as he neared the end of his life. “the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Words which need no explanation….

So there we have the bookends each containing words which relate to faith – about beginnings and endings. So – what important words concerning faith – our faith – does the book in the middle hold for us today?

Luke gives us a familiar parable…

The parable describes the condemnation of the self righteous and the appreciation of the self-humbling. In the temple, there were two groups – the religious ‘in-group’ and the religious ‘out-group’. The Pharisee is definitely in, and appears, through his prayer, to be grateful to God for the benefits he has and how he uses them. He seems a model of true piety. Whereas the tax collector is definitely ‘out’. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were viewed with as much affection as are underworld bosses today – and probably quite rightly. They exploited people by claiming more taxes than the Romans demanded and then keeping the extra for themselves. Jesus’ listeners were probably appalled by the fact that the tax collector – a member of a group of accepted sinners - had the nerve to pray for God to show him mercy. And – really – that is the whole meaning of the parable – that God’s mercy constantly overrules our religious definitions of who receives mercy and who doesn’t….

The fault with the Pharisee was his belief that by doing the right thing, being honest, sincere, fasting, tithing even more than was required, he had run up a credit balance with God…..

What then, does the parable say to us? One writer says that the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Jesus’ story are timeless characters . Every age produces their like, and we might even catch an occasional glimpse of them in the mirror. (2)

Jesus concludes that what was missing was humility.

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and well known author, has this to say about humility.

Humility is the foundation of our relationship with God, our connectedness to others, our acceptance of ourselves, our way of using the goods of the earth and even of walking through the world, without arrogance, without domination, without scorn, without put-downs, without disdain, without self-centredness. The more we know ourselves, the gentler we will be with others. (3)

That is the message of the parable in a nutshell – the message about lived and genuine faith. The challenge for us is having ears to hear and hearts to respond….

TIS 609/AHB 537: “May the mind of Christ my Saviour”
TIS 131/AHB 60: “Father of heaven, whose love profound”
TIS 628/AHB 555: “In faith and hope and love”
TIS 613/AHB 546: “Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy”

“For Faith” page 110f. in AUSTRALIAN PRAYERS. “A Prayer of commitment” (Ignatius Loyola) Page 219f., and “A Rolling Brown Land” Page 240 in UNITING IN WORSHIP, People’s Book

God of grace and truth, receive and bless these gifts which we offer in response to the blessings you bestow on our lives and our world. How easily we forget these blessings and the depth of your care for us. We therefore dedicate ourselves anew to care passionately for this world,to dream dreams of the world as you see it, and to live lives which bear witness to the humility and servanthood of Jesus, in whose name pray. Amen

TIS 160/AHB 104: “Father all loving, thou rulest in majesty”
A SINGING FAITH 68: “Called as partners in Christ’s service”
Tune TIS 152 Ode to Joy or AHB 92 Hymn to Joy
TIS 681: “Lord let me see, see more and more”

Go into this week, blessed by the refreshing Spirit of God, nurtured by the humble Spirit of Jesus energised by the creative power of the Holy Spirit

(1) Richard Crashaw, ‘Steps to the Temple’ as quoted in A.M.Hunter, THE PARABLES Then and Now, (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1973), Page 66.
(2) Hunter, THE PARABLES, Page 64
(3) Joan Chittester, THE RULE OF BENEDICT: INSIGHTS FOR THE AGES (New York: Crossroad, 1996), page 73f.

Click here to play COMING HOME - A short video recorded of Moira telling her story of faith and her journey through a divine encounter into full time ministry.

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