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  • Lectionary resources for Easter 2 Year B
    worship with a sense of wonder But there is more to faith than seeking the evidence There was a personal challenge in his encounter with Jesus See also John 11 16 and 14 5 The final response could only be one of personal commitment The Easter Candle The Uniting Church in common with other churches in recent years has revived some ancient symbols The Easter or Pascal candle signifies the resurrection and is lit for services throughout the Easter season until Pentecost and again whenever there is a baptism when the candidate s candle is traditionally lit from it In some churches it is lit for funerals to signify new life in Christ after death and in some places it is also lit on other occasions when the Eucharist is celebrated The Easter Banner A butterfly emerging from a chrysalis is a traditional symbol of the resurrection In our banner today we see the splendid creature in flight over the world leaving behind the signs of death and the old life from which it has come This new life is now let loose in the world and ascends above the world Order of service Easter 2 Year B DB Home RCL Resources Index Questions and Comments The Gathering of the People of God CALL TO WORSHIP This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1 5 7 HYMN 297 Come let us with our Lord arise PRAYER OF ADORATION CONFESSION In three parts concluding Lord have mercy Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Christ have mercy Lord have mercy Lord have mercy DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS If we confess our sins he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1 9 Hear then Christ s word of grace to us Your sins are forgiven Thanks be to God DOXOLOGY Gloria in Excelsis Sing Alleluia 100b Service of the Word INTRODUCTION OF THEME The freedom of belief FIRST READING Acts 4 32 35 Everything they owned was held in common PSALM 133 How good it is to live together in unity Choir Lifting up my eyes to the hills EPISTLE 1 John 1 1 to 2 2 We declare to you what we have heard seen and touched GOSPEL John 20 19 31 Jesus appears to the disciples and Thomas believes HYMN SA 9 At the dawning of salvation SERMON CONFESSION OF FAITH Let us confess that faith in the words of scripture which are called the Easter anthems For our paschal lamb Christ has been sacrificed Therefore let us celebrate the festival not with the old yeast the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of

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  • Liturgical resources for Easter 3 Year B
    raised to a renewal of life so as we are made members of his body we too may have our lives renewed Romans 6 3 4 Baptism is the rite of initiation into the fellowship of Christ whatever the age or the situation of the person who is beginning the life of faith in Christ Christening is simply the old English word that was often used for Baptism it meant making someone a Christian and that was done by baptising the person whether they were young or old It is a gift of God Firstly we are related to Christ and to God through him because he took the initiative and reached out to us John 3 16 A great new beginning is possible for us because God in Christ put an end to the old ways and opened up a new way when Christ died and rose again Romans 5 8 It is a free gift for renewal 2 Corinthians 5 17 19 We are joined with Christ in faith The second important thing about our relationship with Christ after the fact that it is a gift of God is that it is a relationship of faith Baptism properly marks the beginning of faith in Christ There are two important things to think about here faith itself is a gift of God and faith is a matter of trust which even little children can have See Ephesians 2 8 4 4 6 Order of Service Easter 3 Year B with baptism DB Home RCL Resources Index Note this order of service was prepared for the occasion when the alternative sermon on baptism was preached The Gathering of the People of God CALL TO WORSHIP Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ Romans 1 7 In the name of Christ Amen HYMN O love of God how strong and true TIS 139 AHB 75 PRAYER OF ADORATION Jesus said to them Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem You are witnesses of these things Luke 24 46 48 Rain in abundance O God you showered abroad you restored your heritage when it languished 10 your flock found a dwelling in it in your goodness O God you provided for the needy Psalms 68 9 10 We praise and adore you Almighty and Loving God You refresh the earth with rain and you refresh our lives with your presence when we turn to you Grant us now the living presence of our Saviour Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit Amen CONFESSION DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS Your sins are forgiven Thanks be to God WELCOME AND GREETING EACH OTHER Sacrament of Baptism INTRODUCTION SCRIPTURE READING Romans 6 1 5 United with him in a resurrection like his PRESENTATION N daughter

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  • The servant of life
    an open mind in that respect but there was a point to it which is still relevant to us The point is that the notion of spiritual resurrection only through the natural immortality of the soul is being rejected and for good reason The Hebrew conception of life and personality was not like the Greek ideas of a material body which decays and an immaterial soul which naturally survives death a pagan notion which still persists today The Jews thought of the person as a living body Words for soul and body were interchangeable in many respects while to lose one s life often in the New Testament psyche was the same thing as to lose one s soul psyche A spirit alone coming among them would be an unnatural intrusion a demon perhaps certainly not the man they knew or even an angel not unlike the time when Peter escaped from prison and knocked on the door and they refused to believe the maid that he was actually standing there Acts 12 14 15 On recognizing Peter s voice she was so overjoyed that instead of opening the gate she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate 15 They said to her You are out of your mind But she insisted that it was so They said It is his angel His identity as the servant who suffered Jesus was making the point that he was the same person in the completeness of his character the one who had been known to them before he was hung on the cross and died Thus the reference to his wounds his hands and his feet was a sign of great importance for his identity Jesus was not talking about survival or revival of the person after death but of resurrection as transformation and renewal or life the manner of his death had been of central importance in the meaning of his life He did not go blithely through life untouched by death and corruption You might say he did not appear before them as a blithe spirit unworried by the world His victory over death and corruption was not a demonstration of effortless superiority It was not some perfect untouchable and essential hidden character which survived the ordeal but his body still wounded which was raised up It was where he took the pain of corruption in the world that his true identity was shown His body of the resurrection was different from what they had seen before sufficiently so for Mary in the garden according to John and the two on the road to Emmaus in this same chapter of Luke not to recognize him at first and he suddenly vanished from their sight and appeared in a closed room Yet different though it was his body still bore the marks of the nails in his hands and feet It was essential to his identity as the one who had suffered Not only did he show

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  • Baptism, resurrection and new life
    so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life John 3 16 The fullest expression of that outgoing love is shown to us in the way that Christ was prepared to sacrifice his life so that we could be reconciled to God We did not do this for ourselves It was done for us because God loved us so much We did not come to him first He came to us A great new beginning is possible for us because God in Christ put an end to the old ways and opened up a new way when Christ died and rose again It was entirely an act of grace on his part It is a free gift It is not something that we have in any way earned But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us Romans 5 8 It is just after teaching about this free gift of God s grace that Paul links baptism with the death and resurrection of Christ Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life Romans 6 3 4 The new beginning we make by dying to the old way and rising to the new life when we are joined with him is made possible because he died first by the grace of God conquering evil and death Renewal of life with him is like beginning the creation of the world all over again remaking it through a relationship with Christ who was there at the beginning and through whom it all came into being By the initiative of God we now share in a new creation So if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation everything old has passed away see everything has become new 2 Corinthians 5 17 Paul goes on to emphasise again that it is a free gift of God All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation 19 that is in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us 2 Corinthians 5 18 19 That is why we in the Uniting Church in Australia now say in the service when we baptise children speaking directly to the child Little child for you Jesus Christ has come has lived has suffered for you he endured the agony of Gethsemane and the darkness of Calvery for you he uttered the cry It is accomplished For you he triumphed over death for you he prays at God s right hand all for you little child even though you do not know it In baptism the word of the apostle is fulfilled We love because he first loved us 1 John 4 19 We are joined with Christ in faith The second important thing about our relationship with Christ next after the fact that it is a gift of God is that it is a relationship of faith Yes baptism does have something to do with faith It properly marks the beginning of faith in Christ There are two important things to think about here faith itself is a gift of God and faith is a matter of trust Let us look at he second of these first By putting what we do in terms of a relationship with Christ we are emphasising the aspect of faith that is personal trust When we say we believe in Christ we are doing more than saying what we believe about him We do say what we believe about Christ that he was the historic person Jesus of Nazareth and the Son of God that is the sort of thing we say when we say a creed of the church like the Apostles Creed which is included traditionally in a service of baptism And that is important The Apostles Creed was developed originally as a statement made by new converts at their baptism It summarises what was taught to the catechumens those apprentice Christians as they were instructed in the faith prior to their baptism often at Easter And so we still say the Apostles Creed at a baptism It is important because it is a traditional way of saying what we believe about Christ We go further though when we trust in Christ We have to know about him in order to be able to trust him but then there is the personal attitude of trusting him as a person and committing ourselves to follow him There is nothing very strange about this Trust is something we know about because it is a normal part of human life When I say baptism and faith are related I mean that baptism initiates us into a relationship of trust in Christ It is often hard to say exactly when trust begins Little children have an implicit trust in their parents That is the kind of faith that Jesus taught his disciples to have in God and in himself If a child is being brought up in a family where people do trust God we may hope that the child will learn that trust too and there will be no clear beginning It will certainly be there long before it can be put into words The time comes when it is important to say what we believe It comes in different ways to different people at different times For those baptised as infants appropriate expression of faith comes in various ways as they grow up through different stages of life and the kind of expression of

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  • Liturgical resources for Easter 4 Year B
    believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth For our purposes today it does not really matter whether you say Father or Mother and indeed mother would make good sense because one meaning of create is to give birth The idea that heaven and earth the whole universe visible and invisible all that we call creation all came from another being is the essential idea We are concerned today with how things began and came to be as they are today and the two topics of general interest are cosmology and evolution When we read the creation stories in Genesis we are reading an account from which with the help of other believers we can learn something of God and his relationship with us and the world we live in When we compare present day scientific accounts with Genesis we do see some similarities The basic idea of a beginning time and of development by stages from it with the higher animals and humankind appearing in the last stage is there That is the general view of science Do we need to get tangled up in silly questions about whether the universe is only 6000 years old instead of the billions that scientific observations show it to be We still praise God for the wonder of it all as did the Psalmist eg Ps 8 and 104 My answer to atheist writers and entertainers like Phillip Adams is simply that if you don t have good religion will have bad religion People are going to believe in something and if you don t give them good stuff they will consume rubbish We consider two apparently quite different ideas about the nature of God from two eminent scientists Doherty says God is love and he believes in such a God Davies says he believes reluctantly in a god that underpins and guarantees the order found in nature These ideas come together in Jesus Christ who is the Word through whom it was all made and in whom we share in its completion and perfection See John 1 3 4 1 John 4 7 9 Colossians 1 15 16 Order of Service Easter 4 Year B DB Home RCL Resources Index The Gathering of the People of God CALL TO WORSHIP Jesus said I am the good shepherd I know my own and my own know me John 10 14 Let us gather as members of the one flock with the one shepherd our Lord Jesus Christ Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ HYMN Jesus where er your people meet TIS 445 AHB 372 PRAYER OF ADORATION Adapted from the Methodist Covenant Service 1936 Let us pray Let us adore God We worship and adore you God of love who created us who every moment preserves and sustains us who has loved us with an everlasting love and given us the light of the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ We praise you O God

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  • The Good Shepherd
    or her flock by showing them the way forward making realistic assessments of strengths and weaknesses opportunities and threats encouraging them in their personal development and rewarding their efforts providing the resources necessary for their success and celebrating with them the achievement of both corporate and personal goals The idea that Jesus was a good and caring shepherd type of leader in those ways might fit the story in part but there is much more to it The normal human model of a good leader as like a shepherd does not go the extreme of sacrifice Such a thing might happen in war but even there it is not recommended Indeed the opposite a leader will usually be advised to preserve his life for the sake of his followers whereas we say that Jesus sacrificed his life for the sake of his followers It was at the heart of his identity as the Good Shepherd That was how his true character was revealed just as when Jesus risen from the dead drew attention to the wounds on his hands and feet as proof of his identity as we were recalling last week The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep The way in which we can tell who is the true shepherd teaches us a little more about him His love is known from his willingness to sacrifice for them and that comes from the fact that the sheep belong to him while the hireling who does not own the sheep runs away John 10 12 Jesus said John 10 14 15 I am the good shepherd I know my own and my own know me 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father And I lay down my life for the sheep It know my own and my own know me 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father It is an intimate and loving knowledge with which the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they should know him They might not always realize it but the people for whom the Good Shepherd died do indeed belong to him To return to motherhood for a moment there is a famous illustration of loving sacrifice and belonging in Solomon s judgment between the two prostitutes who both claimed the one child 1 Kings 3 16 28 You remember how it was the wise king said cut the child in two and give half to each of the women who claim him and one said no give the living child to the other woman and do not kill him and so Solomon identified the true mother and gave the child to her who was willing to give him up You can say that Solomon s judgment can have a selfish explanation along the lines of Dawkins theory of the selfish gene that is the mother was acting in her own interest biologically Whether such a theory fits the facts and whether it matters as an explanation of altruism can be debated but we know that people do sometimes conscientiously make sacrificial decisions For Jesus the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep the position is quite different There was no question of ensuring his posterity biologically but quite the opposite although his loved ones were treated as if they were the children of his future as the suffering servant of Isaiah clearly illustrates Isaiah 53 8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away Who could have imagined his future or posterity For he was cut off from the land of the living stricken for the transgression of my people Isaiah 53 10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain When you make his life an offering for sin he shall see his offspring and shall prolong his days through him the will of the LORD shall prosper Some ethical implications of the example of the Good Shepherd While there is more to the sacrifice of the Good Shepherd than a good example there is something to be learned for everyday life from the model of a shepherd in the saying of Jesus about himself Yes certainly Jesus was different but did he not choose homely examples and do not ordinary people share in the character of a good shepherd even in making some sacrifice for those in their charge be they children workers or fellow citizens There are obvious implications of the example of the Good Shepherd for all in positions of shepherding in church and society Traditionally people in positions of responsibility of this kind include teachers managers governing authorities priests parents and elders Today in liberal democratic societies we tend to dislike hierarchical forms of leadership In the church especially we place emphasis on being of service to others and sometimes we import secular ideas of equality Servant leadership does not however mean that there is no role for leaders Servant leadership is not a contradiction in terms To speak of leaders being servants says rather something about the kind of leadership we should expect to give and receive in the name of Christ Groups often need leaders but the purpose of good shepherding is to serve those who are led just as Jesus made himself a servant of his followers who nevertheless looked to him for leadership Much the same applies as far as practicable in our work and family responsibilities where we have responsibility for the welfare of others we are not called upon to give up that responsibility but to carry it out for their benefit rather than our own Some of you might say that you are just an ordinary member of the church or the community in which you live and that in your everyday life you are not a leader or that you are not the managerial type Perhaps to a degree that is true but there are times when each of

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  • Creation: Faith and Science
    we compare present day scientific accounts with Genesis we do see some similarities Although it seems that the writer of Genesis 1 thought the earth was flat and that there was light and the earth before there were the sun the moon and the stars there is the basic idea of a beginning time and of development by stages from it with the higher animals and humankind appearing in the last stage That is the general view of science There was a beginning and there was development There is a more primitive view in the picture of Adam and Eve in the garden in chapter 2 which comes from an earlier period of writing but the essential idea throughout Genesis is that God was the initiator and he took a continuing interest in the development and history of his creation and was particularly concerned to have a mutual relationship with human beings Why should it matter if it now appears that the earth is 4 500 million years old or that there are many more species than could possibly have fitted into Noah s Ark or survived to live where they do now What does it matter in terms of our relationship with God that the big bang with which the universe began probably occurred about 13 billion years ago and that it took hundreds of millions of years for species of plants and animals to evolve Almost all scientists agree with these facts though just how it all happened still leaves plenty of room for debate and some of that debate does tend to influence how people think about God but that takes us beyond science to faith where scripture is most relevant The authority of scripture is not then at stake in regard to the things for which it was written that is in telling us about God and how we can live in relationship to him If God chose to make the world the way it is through the big bang and evolution how can that detract from our wonder and love of him and the relationship he has reached out to have with us which we learn about from scripture as well as tradition and present day experience Why not rejoice with the poets like Pope at the contribution to human life made by great scientists when he wrote as an epitaph for Newton Nature and Nature s laws lay hid in night God said Let Newton be and all was light Yet there are people who want to have taught in out schools a very restricted and distorted view of creation derived from treating the poetic language of the ancient scriptures as if they were written in the same way as modern history or geology It is this creationism that belittles our great and glorious God and which Professor Plimer has thought it worthwhile to attack as a distortion of the truth He wrote a few years ago I have no faith in creationism Creationism makes a muddle about the beginning and thrives on lies false logic misquotes distortions double standards and heresy The Creation Science Foundation is a supporter of unsubstantiated fringe theories is unscientific is not supported by any eminent scientist is un Christian is intolerant is racial is political is theologically damaging is against truth is against knowledge and is unnecessary Why has the conflict persisted when we thought it was over It is suggested that one reason for the misunderstanding is that preachers have been afraid to teach what they know and what is generally agreed amongst the scholars about the interpretation of scripture showing that the accounts of creation in Genesis for example are not simple history for fear of seeing people leaving their congregations for a more conservative church down the road Perhaps it is due also to ministers often feeling inadequate in their knowledge of science Then there has been the struggle with rapid social change pushed ahead by some for their own advantage and used to justify libertarian attitudes that are clearly not Christian so that people have looked to authoritarian teachers for certainty in reaction against false teaching and greatly varied beliefs Fundamentalism has greatly increased in these uncertain and corrupt times gaining many adherents and posing a serious threat to science education and the teaching of the mainstream churches On the other hand liberalism has become in some quarters a repressive and authoritarian orthodoxy The liberal orthodoxy has become dominant in many secular spheres of influence Very often in educational institutions and the media opinion leaders simply assume that science reigns supreme and religion must conform to current popular demand or be irrelevant Those dominant influences have had an effect in misrepresenting Christian beliefs and helping to justify people in turning away from the church Note 6 May 2006 it is interesting that the scales have tilted back the other way a little in the past few years with religion no longer being so lightly dismissed a topic which deserves close attention not least because strenghtening religion in general would not necessarily be a good thing as it depends on what kind of religion you have and at the base of it that is the concern of this sermon Christians who were well informed forty years ago would for the most part have expected that compatibility of our basic beliefs with the discoveries of science would become clearer that we would have more to celebrate and that we could move ahead together to use the results for the good of humanity Non Christians would probably have thought then that the Christian faith would fade away as a more scientific rational view of the world took over Oddly what none of us Christians or non Christians expected has actually happened rather than a more rational view of the world developing all sorts of crazy alternatives have come to the fore On the ABC program Late Night Live last Wednesday night that well known anti Christian advocate

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  • Lectionary resources for Easter 5 Year B
    15 Matt 21 28 32 Mark 12 1 9 and Matt 21 33 44 etc In these as in may other ways Jesus taught what it would mean to be united with himself the true vine It is not only about personal devotion that indwelling certainty of love that comes from knowing the Saviour True connection with the true vine is indeed about recognizing the Messiah but in outward actions as well as inward conviction Pruning or cleansing makes the vine fruitful The first main point of teaching in this parable of Jesus himself is that unfruitful branches have no place on vine John 15 2 4 7 Cleansing or pruning you might say discipline perhaps is emphasised by reference to the Word which cleanses John 15 3 Baptism is of course a symbol of cleaning and it is by such cleaning that people are brought into relationship with the body of Christ So discipline cleaning and belonging go together John 13 8 10 Matt 15 13 and fruit is given Galatians 5 22 The Lord s Supper the Eucharist Among the outward and visible signs of connection with the source of life we have been given the sacraments with the central symbol of the cup of salvation in the blood of Christ Mark 14 24 25 John 6 32 35 56 58 The true bread like the true vine comes down from heaven I am the bread of life John 6 53 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them What then does the church offer to an alienated world A mystery Yes indeed A discipline of worship and service Why certainly Glory to God Yes John 15 8 John 1 4 in him was life and the life was the light of all people Order of Service Easter 5 Year B The Gathering of the People of God CALL TO WORSHIP Let us worship God who calls us all into his community From you comes my praise in the great congregation my vows I will pay before those who fear him The poor shall eat and be satisfied those who seek him shall praise the LORD May your hearts live forever All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD and all the families of the nations shall worship before him Psalm 22 25 27 HYMN O love how deep how broad how high TIS 194 AHB 6 PRAYER OF ADORATION Eternal God Lord of heaven and earth we praise you for your greatness Your wisdom is seen in all your works Your grace and truth are revealed in Jesus Christ your Son Your presence and power are given to us through the Holy Spirit Therefore 0 blessed Trinity we worship and adore you for ever and ever Amen CONFESSION Loving God Lord of the Church we confess that we have sinned against you in thought word and deed we have not loved you with

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