Happy are those who keep God's promises, who
seek the Holy One with their whole heart. They do no wrong, and
walk in paths of righteousness.
Women and men of God, I would like to ask, “What
are your intentions?”
My intention is to follow God’s ways and keep God’s
laws, and to know that I will not be put to shame.
We intend to be diligent and persistent in
trusting God’s way, and to obey God’s holy decrees.
Then let us sing and worship with our whole heart.
by John Jackson,
Glendale, CA Church of the Brethren
are lost, O Lord, may we truly be “lost in wonder, love, and
praise.” Even so, the gospel message, as we have received it, and
proclaim it again this resurrection day, is that we have been
found by your love. Though we are prone to wander, you are
steadfast in seeking us out. In Christ, you walked the walk that
led to our salvation. While we were as yet sinners, he died for
all of us – not just for those who have obeyed all your
commandments and lived right, but for all who have messed up along
the way. And, Lord, we all have done our share of traveling down
the wrong path. May this day be a fresh start, this hour be a time
to turn toward you, this moment be like the first step in the
right direction. This we pray in that name of the One who was your
love in human form, and who lives in us today through your Holy
quoting the last line of
divine, all loves excelling")
* Let us pray for the church, at home and
God of surprises, continue to have mercy on
Let your Spirit move among the ranks of its many
by your fire forge links of love,
wind impel it into service for your world.
Where it is in
error, convert it.
Where it is indifferent, re-awaken it.
Where it is corrupt, cauterise it.
Where it is persecuted,
Where it is insightful, faithful and loving,
bless it with your holy joy.
* Let us pray for those people, present
among or around the world,
who are “doing it tough” against
God of high hopes and deep comfort, be with
your world family
for whom this day brings hardship, tragedy,
sickness, road accidents, homelessness, or broken hearts.
your light guide them.
With your hand uplift them.
Spirit comfort them.
With your grace save them.
love enfold them.
With your peace garrison their hearts and
against all evil.
God of surprises,
should any of us become
switched-off to the sufferings of others,
should any of us
retreat into selfish and safe pre-occupations,
again with the Cross,
deliver us from either dithering, or from
and tutor us how to best be your agents of
justice and mercy.
Through Christ Jesus our hope and our joy.
Uniting Church in Australia.
our Tithes and Offerings
If we were to take what Jesus said here literally right now, there
is a good chance many of us would need to leave immediately and go
make peace with someone. Or, at the very least, we would need to
spend time alone in attitude readjustment, dealing with our own
inner hostility before stepping into this part of worship.
With these words, and the ones that follow in Matthew’s gospel,
Jesus is getting to the root of the Law of Moses. You might note
that what he has to say is not really about proper rituals, about
doing things “right” religiously, about making an offering in the
“correct” way. What he has to say is all about our relationships.
In what we have just heard, it involves dealing with our anger
toward others. Next, in a “You
have heard it said … but I say to you” pattern, he connects
our sexuality, then with our
marital covenants, and then with
how truthful we are with others. He even heads toward how we
our enemies, but that is teaching for another day.
At the root of it all - our relationships (as family, as friends,
as neighbors, as strangers, as enemies) all matter to God. The new
heaven and earth God is in the process of bringing forth, to fully
become reality one day in the future, just like the original
intention of what God created on the first day in the beginning,
is concerned with how we dwell together in peace today. How easy
it is to break that peace, even or especially in how we think
before our thoughts ever get around to action.
Now, taken too literally, those words of Jesus we have just heard
and the ones to which we will soon listen, could terrify us as a
burden too heavy to carry. Who, after all, is free from anger, or
has never insulted anyone? I’m not perfect in this regard. Far
from it. Are you? But this is gospel. The good news is that this
is what God intends,
not what God demands. God wants us to
deal with our anger and hostility, and gives us the resources to
do so. We are not, however, expected to already have done this
before God will have anything to do with us. This is a heavenly
vision toward which we are being drawn, where loving relationships
(with others and, above all, with God) matter deeply.
As you return your offering just now, think about your various
relationships. Is there someone with whom God is calling you to
reconcile? Is there an anger that is eating away at you that needs
to be dealt with before it consumes you or anyone else? Resolve to
not sweep it under the rug, but instead think about what your
first steps might be… Ushers, please assist us in our giving.
God has placed before us
life & death, blessings & curses.
Though the way is not easy,
let’s choose life.
pay attention to your relationships,
deal with your anger,
love in ways that build up and not tear down,
let your life be a “yes” to God’s faithfulness.
May the Lord provide what you need,
may Christ go before you as a guide,
and may the Spirit empower you to walk
one day at a time.