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Today's

theme:

Drawing

near 

to God

 

 

 

 

 

The collect for the sixteenth Sunday after Trinity:

Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

Please click below for today's introduction, by the Rev Debra Blair:

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We start with a hymn of praise and personal confidence in God's power to change us: 

 

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Today's first reading is from the letter of James:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

Today's Gospel is Mark 9: 30-37:

Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

 

Today's Message is by Joyce Gardner, reader emeritus:

‘Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.’ These are the words that leapt out at me from today’s first reading.

So many people, in the uncertainty of recent months, have wanted to draw near to God, to discover him for themselves, to know the reassurance, the closeness, that safety of holding and being held, of being loved unconditionally.

The question is, how do we draw near to him? The closer we try to get, the more conscious we are that He is holy and we are not. James, in his letter, is quite uncompromising about this. The difficulty is in our hearts. It is there where we harbour all kinds of uncontrollable, perhaps uncharitable, thoughts that range from small resentments to ‘bitter envy and selfish ambition’. We want ‘things’, possessions, and make gods of them. We jealously guard our position in life: in work, in church, perhaps in our closest relationships. A constant battle goes on inside over something or other, and, as James says, we tend to deny it even to ourselves.

He does paint the worst-case scenario, but, however low-key, it is undoubtedly part of us. How can we draw near to a holy God?

When Jesus was relaxing privately with his disciples, he asked them what they had been debating so energetically along the way. They didn’t answer him. They knew, as he knew, that they had been quarrelling about who would be top dog in this new kingdom he was to establish. They knew, too, that this was nothing to be proud of and didn’t want to expose themselves to his scrutiny.

He had been teaching them so much that they didn’t yet understand, about what lay ahead, his death and resurrection. His kingdom was not the kind they were intent on.

He was the answer God was providing to the question, ‘How do we draw near to God?’ He was the bridge between a holy God and sinful humanity – God’s own Son, who would take on himself our death, so that we might live through him.

God shows us how much we are loved, as we realise that Jesus is the way God provided for us to draw near to Him and to trust Him with our whole being. In Him is rest, peace of mind and heart, security, a changed life.

It takes a lifetime to explore the joy of it!

 

This is a song that's full of joy for the difference that Jesus' presence brings to our lives:

 

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Please click here for today's prayers:

 

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THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

 

And now a song that moves from personal trust to shared praise:

  

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Please click below for the conclusion to our worship:

 

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