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A SERVICE OF WORD  AND SACRAMENT

Epiphany 4, Year A
South Sydney Uniting Church
January 30, 2011

The Gathering of the People of God

CALL TO WORSHIP

SONG “Lord, let me see” (681)

GREETING

God has chosen what is weak
and has made Jesus Christ
our wisdom and our virtue,
our holiness and our freedom.
May the Saviour always be with you.
And also with you.

Acknowledgement of Indigenous custodians.
Welcome to visitors. We welcome one another.

Today’s message of the beatitudes is perhaps the most upsetting and challenging page of the Good News of Jesus Christ; it is right at the heart of the Gospel. The rich, the proud and the mighty are self-satisfied: they have what they want. They are dangerously shut in within themselves and with what they have. The poor and the suffering are not praised because they have nothing or are persecuted, but because the poor and the humble, the gentle and those who weep are aware that they have nothing but themselves to give, and so they are people who hope, expecting everything from God and from others. Let us be among these happy ones.

Lighting the Christ Candle.

PENITENTIAL RITE

Let us ask pardon from the Saviour
that we are still so much unlike him.

Jesus, you were poor but happy.
Make us more like you.
God, have mercy. God, have mercy.

Jesus Christ, you were gentle and humble.
Make us more like you:
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Jesus, you were persecuted and yet serene.
Make us more like you.
God, have mercy. God, have mercy.

Be gentle and compassionate
to us, your imperfect people.
Make us happy by your forgiveness
and lead us to everlasting life. Amen.

Silence for personal confession.

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS

Hear Christ’s word of grace to us:
Your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

COLLECT

Let us pray that we may seek our happiness
in the spirit of Jesus and the Gospel.

Abba God,
we ask you today for the kind of happiness
which you offer us through your Beloved, Jesus.
Make us aware of the poverty of our hearts,
that we may have nothing else to give
than our own selves,
and that you can fill us with yourself
and with love and concern for others.
Give us your kind of justice
that does not judge or condemn.
Help us to forgive notwithstanding injuries,
and to love without asking for gratitude.
Let the spirit of Jesus be alive in us
now and for ever. Amen.

The Liturgy of the Word

SONG “Master, speak, thy servant heareth” (597)

FIRST READING Micah 6:1-8

PSALM 15

The house of God is open to all.
Those who live with God are known by their integrity,
courageous truth and right living.
The just do not slander their neighbours,
or abuse the trust of friends,
neither do they profit from misfortunes of others.
Their word is their bond.

SECOND READING 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Let us stand to acclaim God’s saving justice,
attested by the law and the prophets,
and now revealed through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe.

The people stand.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (653)

 Christ is alive, and goes before us
 to show and share what love can do.
 This is a day of new beginnings;
 our God is making all things new.

GOSPEL INTRODUCTION

If we are aware how poor and empty we are, God will fill us and make us happy.

GOSPEL Matthew 5:1-12

The Good News and Power of God.
Praise to you, O Jesus Christ.

HOMILY

SILENCE

Lest the word of life be lost,
let us allow God to confront us
in the sound of silence.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Let us pray to our God in heaven that we may be counted among the poor and humble who expect everything from God and among whom the Christ is alive.
Let us say: Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For those who are groping to find God, that they may discover love; for those who think that they already possess God, that they may seek love, let us pray:
Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For those who are afraid of the future, that they find trust and confidence: for those who have failed in the past, that they may be given new opportunities, let us pray: Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For all who doubt, that they may not despair; for all who have lost their way in life, that they may find a home; for the lonely, that they may encounter a caring
person, let us pray: Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For those who have no time, that they may take time out to pause and to be
available to others; for those who have plenty of time, that they may use it for
service, let us pray: Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For all who hunger in whatever way, that they may be satisfied; for those who are satisfied, that they may learn what hunger is, let us pray:
Loving God, fill our empty hearts.
• For those who are well-off, that they may not become proud; for the high and the mighty, that they may realise how vulnerable they are, let us pray:
Loving God, fill our empty hearts.

Abba God, from whom all good things come, we pray you today for all those living between hope and fear, and for ourselves. Set us free from anxiety and from false security and give us all that is good, through Jesus Christ our Sovereign. Amen.

OFFERING “Touch the earth lightly” (668)

PRAYER

Abba God,
these are the gifts of the poor:
a bit of food, a little wine.
All the rest we may have
we did not bring with us
for they may stand between you and us,
between us and others.
Accept us in our riches and our poverty,
in our weakness and our strength,
with our sorrows and our joys.
Let us experience life as a gift from you
and teach us to give ourselves as we are,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

THE PEACE

The peace of the Saviour be with you.
And also with you.

GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

The people stand.

God is here.
God’s Spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to God.
Let us give thanks to the God of love.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you have always shown us
what is good and what you require of us.

L: You laid the foundations of the earth,
 and the mountains and hills witness to your justice.
R: You redeemed your people from the house of slavery
 and called us to remember your saving acts,

that we might know your ways
and live our lives in justice, kindness and humility.

When our own wisdom and discernment
failed to bring us near to you,
you chose what was foolish, weak and despised in our eyes
to break the grip of human wisdom and strength:
Christ Jesus our Saviour,
and Christ crucified.

Raised to new life,
he has made known to us what the wise never guessed,
that you honour not what the world seeks
but those who walk with you the way of the cross.

Therefore we sing (761):
Holy, holy, holy God, wisdom, strength and hope,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God.
Hosanna in the highest.

We bless you, Sovereign God, ruler of the universe,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ ...

With this bread and this cup
we do as our Saviour commands:
we celebrate the redemption he has won for us.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Pour out the Holy Spirit on us
and on these gifts of bread and wine,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.

Make us one with him,
one with each other,
and one in ministry in the world,
until at last we feast with him in the kindom.

Through your Beloved, Jesus Christ,
in your holy Church,
all honour and glory are yours, God almighty,
now and for ever. Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Aware that we are dependent on God,
we pray the trusting prayer of God’s Own:

Abba God in heaven,
 
glory to you!
Your rule of love renews the earth.
In your name, we take part in that renewal
 
helping, and not harming,
 
caring, and not coercing ...
We pray that we might receive with thanks
 
the bread we need,
 
the money we need,
 
the warmth we need ...
We pray that forgiveness and freedom
flow through our lives.
Teach us that in sharing life
 
we live life to the full ...
Remind us that evil is real.
Still, we are not afraid of it,
but confident
 
that love is stronger than hate,
 
justice other than revenge,
 
true peace the work of your Spirit.

THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD

Let us receive what we are;
let us become what we receive.
The body of Christ.

LAMB OF GOD (765)

THE COMMUNION

This is Jesus our Sovereign.
He was born in poverty,
and when he preached the Good News
he had no pillow on which to rest his head.
And so he could give himself to all
and become our food and drink.
Happy are we to receive him now,
and to let him fill us with his riches.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

God,
you recognize yourself in the poor
and the humble of this earth
and to them you give Jesus your Own
as their companion in life.
May you recognise yourself in us, then,
and show us the way of Jesus
to the weak and to the victims
of our pride and our hunger for power.
Make us your happy people,
whose love and sense of humour
can bring laughter to sad eyes
and the warmth of hope and joy
to hearts hardened by pain.
Let your Beloved be with us now and for ever.

The Sending Forth of the People of God

BLESSING

Blessed are we
if we live Christ’s message of joy
as people aware of the poverty of our hearts
and the insufficiency of our own resources.
Blessed are we
as we place ourselves in the hands of God.
Blessed are we when God blesses us ...+

Let us go in the peace and the joy of the Saviour.
Thanks be to God.

 

Acknowledgements:
Based on ‘The Service of the Lord’s Day’ in Uniting in Worship 2, Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005; Psalm translation by Patricia Stevenson, rsj, Psalms: Songs from a Pierced Heart,
Sisters of St Joseph, Sydney, 2003; Lord’s Prayer translation by Andrew Collis.
Artwork: Otto Dix, Lithograph, From Das Evangelium nach Matthaeus
(Kaethe Vogt Verlag, Berlin: 1960).