29/08/2021: Pentecost 14

Kelly's Word For The Day~ God Looks At The Heart | For God's Glory Alone  Ministries

OPENING SENTENCE- Grace flows from your lips, because God has blessed you for ever.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God

to whom all hearts be open

all desires known

and from whom no secrets are hidden;

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you

and worthily magnify your holy name

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

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CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA sung by Dougie Byers

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

by whose grace alone

your faithful people offer service and praise:

grant that we may hasten without stumbling

towards the things that you promise;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

ever one God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING SONG OF SONGS 2:8-13 read by Simon Lidwell

Song of Songs 2:13 | Songs, Calm artwork, Scripture

The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.

SECOND READING JAMES 1:17-27 read by Billy Dewar Riddick

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfilment of his own purpose, he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.


You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore, rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on- going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING Mark 7: 1-8,14-15, 21-23 read by Rev Ann Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Mark chapter 7 beginning at verse 1

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The Tradition of the Elders

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So, the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

Jesus' Higher Standard – The Living Church

‘This people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
 teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

SERMON

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Love is one of the most popular topics covered not only in books, but also in movies and music. Love is a universal, multi-faceted theme that’s been explored in a number of ways throughout the history of literature. We see this theme in Shakespeare’s sonnets on love, and his plays, like Romeo and Juliet. I guess we all have our favourite love movies, poems and books. My favourite love movies are “Sense and Sensibility” and “Love Actually” and my favourite love song is Bryan Adams “Everything I do, I do it for you” and whilst my favourite love poems are “How do I love thee” by Elizabeth Browning and “When you are old” by William Butler Yeats, I am also drawn to our local bard Robert Burns who wrote.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

It is hard to resist a love poem or song. And so here we are, reading love songs in church. It doesn’t seem likely, yet here it is: right smack in the middle of the Hebrew Scriptures, tucked in between the rather dour philosophy of Ecclesiastes on the one hand, and the magnificent, epic prophesy of Isaiah on the other. A love song… actually, a collection of love songs… actually, the most excellent of love songs, the Song of Songs, as it’s called.

The lectionary dares to offer us a glimpse into this book just once every three years. Maybe there’s some anxiety about such a frank text making its way into our worship any more frequently than that. The Song of Songs has been inspiring controversy for at least two thousand years. Just after the time of Jesus, late in the first century CE, there was evidently a fight among the rabbis as to whether it should be included in the Bible at all. The detractors had a number of concerns. First, there is not a single mention of God in the entire book, rare for books in the Bible, though not unheard of. Second, the subject matter of the book is such that, even as it was being used in worship on the Sabbath and at the end of Passover, it had also found, shall we say, a more rowdy, secular audience.

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And third, the Song of Songs contains what one scholar has called “the only unmediated female voice in all of Scripture.” Throughout much of this book, a woman speaks, and she does so in a way that is forthright, and sensuous and assertive. This was, to say the least, a departure from accepted tradition.

And yet, the detractors did not win the day. The Song of Songs has found a home in the Scripture of both Jews and Christians. So, we must believe that the rabbis found, in the end, something edifying here, something uplifting. This book has something to teach us about the life of faith. This book, for Jews and Christians, is a part of God’s word, contains God’s word to us, and it is a book made up of love songs.

Church Set - Song of Solomon 2:12 (KJV) With Bee Balm From Mary's Garden

There is a deep and wide tradition of interpreting the Song of Songs as being, not about human, romantic love at all, but, rather, being about the love between God and people—Yahweh and Israel, or Christ and the Church. And… there is truth in that! But I don’t want to rush away from what is right there in front of us. This is a book that celebrates human, romantic, physical love. In detail-it is about longing, and passion. Hear the breathless anticipation of the woman as she waits for her love:


The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes,

leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.

Look, there he stands behind our wall,

We can hear it in the lyrics: her heart is racing; she can barely stand the waiting. She is listening with rapt attention for the voice of her beloved… we feel that when she hears it, she will be in ecstasy. And then, finally, she does hear it. And here is what he says:

“Arise, my love, my fair one,

and come away;

for now the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;

the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs,

and the vines are in blossom;

they give forth fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. ~ Song 2:10b-13

Come Away My Beloved Poster by Kathy Clark

The voice of her beloved entices her to rise and come away: he woos her with images of spring… the time of birth, of blossoming, of newness and beauty. He appeals to her senses, inviting her to enjoy all that is delicious and fragrant, the veritable season of love. There is a sense that the lovers anticipate a deep connection as they focus solely on one another. Our passage is like a little duet: first the woman sings, and then the man. She calls and he responds. It is so clearly a song of love, intimate, human, passionate. So… once again, what is it doing in our church cannon?


As we heard in our reading from James, “every perfect gift is from above,” and that includes the gift of love. And so, contained in this duet, implicit in it, is an affirmation of God’s blessing upon the couple. The presence of these lyrics as part of our sacred story indicates to us, in no uncertain terms, that God smiles on love. It is a good and beautiful part of God’s creation. Do you have any doubts as to what the woman replies to this invitation? Of course not: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. We know it in our bones, without even reading the rest of the story… she rises, she goes. There is no other possible ending.


Even God loves a love song. But even more fundamentally than that, God loves us in all our humanity, in all our physicality. There is no sign in this book that God harbours any negative feelings about human beings, including our bodies. On the contrary: God, who created us, continues to call this creation “good.” Still, there is more to this text than the straightforward reading of it. Gorgeous, sensuous love lyric though it may be, throughout Jewish and Christian history, people of faith have found other treasures in the Song of Songs. After all, haven’t the stores of God and God’s people always commenced with the kind of invitation we find in love song?


Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

God Calling – I'm not ready – The call of Jeremiah | Jeremiah 1:4-19 |  Andrew Gardner | Fulwood Free Methodist Church

Time and again, God calls us, and we need to listen for that call. It seems only natural that people of faith throughout the centuries have read these words and recognized in them the intimacy and the power of God’s call on us, God’s beloved people. Arise, my love, and come away. God says it to us, again and again. Our task is to listen.

Listen -that is what catches our attention, along with the poetess, at the beginning of the poem. Listening implies a certain posture of readiness; not being so self-involved or fixated on a task at hand that we become oblivious to the world around us. To listen to another person is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another. Rather than just waiting to insert our opinion, when we are truly listening, we are setting our own egos aside and are fully engrossed in accepting the gift of what someone else has to say to us. In a moment, our listening affirms that person’s self and says “I care about you. I’m here.” It is the most powerful relationship tool we can have with each other, yet it is one of the most difficult ones to maintain in the midst of all the noise around us.

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In the case of our faith, listening for God’s voice can feel like a daunting task. It is awkward and confusing as we try to discern which is God’s voice and which are the voices around us. Nevertheless, we are called to listen for it, attentively, prayerfully. To do so well means engaging in a deep relationship with our Creator. The more we spend time in conversation with God, otherwise known as prayer, and the more we engage with God’s Word as revealed in Scripture, the sooner we begin to pick up on the whispers of God’s voice around us. Listening, with those we love, and with God, is an activity marked by relationship. Even before we are able to see what is coming, we hear the voice of our beloved.

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When this happens, we cannot help but look. Our energy picks up and we begin to scan the horizon in anticipation of love’s light breaking through. To look as a follow up of listening means that we truly “see” one another, not just on a surface level, but in deep real ways that encompass the whole spectrum of emotions and experiences. Looking involves both an awareness of the past, an honest analysis of the present, and even the ability to begin to imagine the possibilities of the future. It is seeing things as they have been and are, but in a way that is mindful they don’t always have to be that way.

“Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.” If this small passage has anything to teach us about our relationship with God, about our life in faith, perhaps it is in the breathless anticipation of the woman as she awaits her beloved. I wonder… how can we prepare ourselves so that we are just as eager, just as breathless to hear God’s invitation to us?

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How can we learn to be like Abram, who drops everything at the age of 75 to go, he knows not where? How can we learn to be like the disciples, who leave their boats and their nets and their lives to follow Jesus to do they know not what? How can we learn to be like this woman who waits with longing for her beloved’s invitation to rise, to come away, to the mystery that will be their life together? Maybe we can find a clue to this willingness, this readiness, by observing the woman as she waits. She gazes upon her beloved, with rapt attention. “As a result of her looking, she sees his attributes, she admires his beauty, his abilities. Will we be more ready to rise and go with God, to dare to follow where we are led, if we spend more time in gazing upon God, with rapt attention… God’s goodness, God’s beauty, God’s amazing acts?

Looking is about discovering the possibilities and beauty in the world. When we look in this way, we engage in an appreciation of the amazing work of our Creator. It is no surprise that this poem is rich with images of nature – it is one way we glimpse the love of God for us, and all of the world. To take the pleasure in looking is to revel in God’s glory, and to open ourselves to God’s vision for the world, as it is, and as it should be.

Together, listening and looking lead us into a new vision – for our relationships with others, and for our relationship with the Divine. They draw us into authentic, intimate encounters in ways that transform us, and become an invitation for a new way of being in the world. Arise, repeated several times in the poem, is our summons to not just hear and see from a distance, but participate in the new creation that is springing forth.

Every perfect gift is from above. Everything that is good and worthwhile comes from God’s hand. Everything that stirs our hearts with joy… God gave to us. Everything that makes us breathless with anticipation… God is behind it. God, who calls us “beloved.” God, who wants nothing more than to know we are ready, willing, eager to come when we are called. God, who loves us so much that even the barriers between being God and being human could not keep that love at bay. To be in love is to live beyond the boundaries of the self and to enter a realm of sheer delight, in which the human and divine can merge.

Word "Arise" Carved In Stone. Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image.  Image 9174424.

Listen. Look. Arise-these are the markers of strong, committed, intimate relationships. When we practice them, as individuals and community, they lead us to a rhythm of life marked by love and faith. They become our way of live, interwoven with creation, with each other, and with our Creator, and our lives will be richer as a result. A new season is coming. “Arise my love and come away.” Amen.

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Praying Moms – LRPC HOME

Holy God, you call us to be holy as you are holy.

Nothing escapes your vision,

for you can see the depths of our hearts,

guard us we pray from all impurity,

and guide us in your ways of truth and righteousness.

Protect your church from all that prevents

your love and good news from flourishing

and fill your disciples with your wisdom and grace.

As we live, may we honour your name.

We call upon your name, O Lord

Incline your ear to our prayer.

Holy God, in the world of business and government

you see the scheming and political intrigue.

Keep the nations from oppression and violence.

Our heart cries out in agony

for those in Afghanistan,

who are living in fear and terror

and we ask that neither gender, race, or status

would take precedence over respect of life.

We call upon your name, O Lord

Incline your ear to our prayer.

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Holy God, in our communities

you see our homes, schools,

places of work and churches.

Keep them from disunity and discord.

May they reflect the core values in life

of mutual respect and care,

understanding and integrity.

We call upon your name, O Lord

Incline your ear to our prayer.

Holy God, in our international affairs

you see the inequality and injustices,

the hunger and desperate need for resources.

Kindle in us hearts of compassion and generosity

and pour your blessing on all aid agencies,

who seek to alleviate poverty and distress.

We call upon your name, O Lord

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Incline your ear to our prayer.

Holy God, in our journey of life

you see the pain and suffering

that comes from physical, mental,

emotional and spiritual ill health.

We cry to you for those

who need your strength and courage the most,

and pray for their healing and renewal.

We call upon your name, O Lord

Incline your ear to our prayer.

Holy God, in the valley of death

you are with us.

Bring your comfort to all who grieve

and give them your solace and peace.

We call upon your name, O Lord

Incline your ear to our prayer.

Holy God, love is your name,

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and you call us your beloved.

As we receive your love,

fill us with the power to listen

for your call;

to look for the ways

you come to us

and to be ready to arise

and embark on an abundant life with you

that is rich in service and love.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Do not bring us to the time of trial

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

The peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:

and the blessing of God the Father,

the Son and Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.