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Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37

Additional resources for Pentecost 17B: ALL TOGETHER OK, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 1996; SCRIPTURE IN SONG , CMC Australasia, Unit 9/147 Marshalltown Road, Grovedale, Victoria 3216; BE OUR FREEDOM, LORD. Ed. Terry C.Falla, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 1994, ALL TOGETHER WHATEVER , Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 2001.

CALL TO WORSHIP: Based on Psalm 1

Blessed are those who delight in God’s law, who take time to ponder its meaning. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and whose leaves do not wither. But those who reject God’s way are like parched and dried out earth in which nothing good grows. So let us worship and praise God as we seek to live nourished and shaped by God’s righteousness.

TIS 1: “Happy are they who walk in God’s wise way”
TIS 448/AHB 376: “Blest are the pure in heart”
TIS 78/AHB 394: “I was overjoyed”
TIS 107/AHB 25: “ Sing praise and thanksgiving”


God of all time and space, of all wisdom and knowledge - we worship and adore you. You could have remained far beyond our understanding, yet you chose to reveal yourself in the person of Jesus, your Son, our Saviour. He widened the horizons of minds and hearts when he made your love and your wisdom known through his gentleness, compassion and humility. And you empower us with your Holy Spirit so that we can apply your wisdom to all our words and actions, making them gentle, compassionate and humble. Gracious and wise God, accept our praise and adoration in response to all your gifts to us, especially the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen


The following story is based on the gospel lesson for today but takes up the message of the other readings about wisdom necessarily including kindness, gentleness, etc. I heard this story number of years ago and do not know its source- I have elaborated on what I remember of the original story. A teddy bear or similar toy would be a good prop to have. If these are not available check out Pentecost 17B.ppt where you’ll find two slides – teddy and a doll.

Amy and Sarah lived next door to each other and they were both seven years old. This particular day, they had been invited to take their favourite toy to school. Amy took her teddy bear and Sarah took a lovely china doll that had belonged to her mother - with instructions to look after it very carefully. They walked to the school which was only about ten minutes from their homes. After school that day, the children were not home at their usual time, and their mothers were getting very anxious, especially Amy’s mother, as they were going to visit Amy’s Grandma after school, something Amy had been looking forward to. Just as Amy’s mum was getting ready to walk to school, the girls came running up the street and into their homes. “Where on earth have you been, Amy?” her mother asked, “I was getting really worried about you.” “Oh, Mum, something awful happened on the way home - that big bully in our class ran after us and pushed Sarah and she dropped her china doll. It broke into little bits on the footpath.” “Oh, dear” said her mother “I suppose you stopped to help her pick up the pieces.” “Well, yes” said Amy “but I really stopped to help her cry.”

Isn’t this what Jesus calls us to do no matter what our age is? To stop and to be there for people. Relate this story to the gospel reading where Jesus takes the disciples to task for arguing about who was the greatest. Point out how Jesus wants us all to treat one another as special people - no greatest and least - no bullies and victims - but as people equally loved by him and therefore by us.


Lord Jesus Christ, there are times when we all feel like victims - pawns in the power plays which seem so much a part of life these days. As usual, however, you look into our hearts and question what part we play in these power games. We know that in your eyes it is not social status, or wealth or reputation that count, and we confess how easily our lives can become enmeshed in such wordly values. You risked personal comfort and security when you reached out to those on the edge of your society, lepers and sinners - people whom others considered unclean. Forgive us when we fail to meet your challenge to identify with those whom society today would call worthless…..

While too often we see others as rivals in the race for success, influence and popularity. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”…


I believe that the most important verses in today’s readings are those found in the Letter of James verse 13. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

The “capable wife” described in Proverbs as the “biblical ideal” of womanhood would have had to have such wisdom in abundance. Her worth is seen in light of the value she contributes to the household – so let’s look at her contribution as though the writer was describing it in contemporary terms.

This capable woman doesn’t mind driving long distances to find the best food for her household even if that means getting up while it is still night. On the days she’s not searching out the best markets, she still gets up early to spin wool and weaves or knits so that in cold weather her family is well provided for. She also sews clothes for wearing and selling. In fact, her light is on all night long. But, she still finds time to dabble in real estate and not only buys well but works to add value to her purchases. She obviously has time to go to the gym because she ‘girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.’ She is never idle and her husband trusts her and finds her far more precious than jewels. Her children and husband see how happy she is looking after them so excellently – in fact she surpasses all women…..

The reading from Proverbs was an ‘ideal’ image of women then and now also. This is when we have to hear the words from James challenging our wisdom and understanding - challenging our ‘good life’ if it does not include concern for women, men and young people whose lives are lived in far from ideal circumstances. We have, like many churches these days, a table filled with ‘Fair Trade’ material – tea, chocolate etc., plus small goods made mostly by women in poverty stricken areas in India….

This negative portrait of the disciples gives us hope. If God could and did make dramatic use of such unpromising human material, then it is always possible that God can do it again by transforming us. The tale of the disciples' abject failure and their abandonment of Jesus, lets us know how Christian faith after the resurrection cannot be based on human strength, idealism or natural loyalty, but on divine grace alone. The same persons who show up so badly in this passage will one day become apostles and martyrs for the sake of Jesus, whom here they misunderstand and fear….

So, how can we become as Jesus encourages us to be - prepared to look at the world from a new Christ-like perspective, viewing and owning, as of the greatest value, the powerlessness, the trust, we normally associate with children.

What does the Lord require? A replacing of the wordly values and standards which are a part of us, with the love and mercy and humility that so shaped the life, the words, the actions of Jesus. Let's learn from the disciples and not to leave it too late….

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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