Sunday Worship – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Matthew’s Anglican Parish, Hastings
A Christian community in the heart of the City

23rd August 2020

The Preparation

Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise..
Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour,
power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.

Great and wonderful are your deeds O Lord God the almighty:
just and true are your ways O Sovereign of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name O Lord?
for you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb:
be blessing and honour, glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.


As God who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.

If we claim to be sinless,
we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth.
If we confess our sins,
God is just and may be trusted to forgive our sins
and cleanse us from every kind of wrong.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.


In silence we remember our need for God’s forgiveness.

We confess our sins to God.

God of mercy,
we have sinned against you and against others.
We have sinned in what we have done,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for our sins,
forgive us all that is past
and raise us to newness of life. Amen.
Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Collect

Living God,
you sent your Son Jesus to your people.
Embolden your church to proclaim Jesus as Messiah,
and to trust in him.
Through Jesus Christ our Liberator,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Ministry of the Word

A reading from Exodus 1:8–2:10

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives
said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl
went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 124

‘If the Lord had not been on our side,’
now may Israel say:
‘If the Lord had not been on our side
when our enemies rose up against us,

then they would have swallowed us alive:
when their fury was roused against us.


‘Then the flood would have swept us away:
and the torrent would have covered us.

Then the raging waters:
would have gone right over our heads.

But praised be the Lord:
who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the fowlers snare:
the snare is broken and we are free.


‘Our help is in the name of the Lord:
who has made heaven and earth.’

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

A reading from Romans 12:1-8

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;
the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

The Sermon What you do this week could possibly change the word.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Matthew 14:13-21

What you do this week could possibly change the world

Here’s a thought…
What you do this week, could possibly change the world.
That might sound rather fanciful, but it seems to me that we’re here for a purpose. This is God’s world, and God has brought us to this time and place, with our different gifts and talents, with our various experiences and resources, to share in God’s purposes. I don’t believe that God has our lives mapped out for us, but I do believe that God has an intention for us – that God is working through us, through the circumstances of our lives, to fulfil things that may be beyond our imaginings.

When we were baptised, we were given a work to do. It’s called ministry, and the purpose of this ministry is to continue Jesus’ servant ministry by witnessing to God’s reconciling love and bringing in the kingdom of God. In other words, we’re here to make a difference – to be agents of God’s transforming love and power – to be instruments of healing and new life, of peace and justice.

We tend to minimise the impact we can have, so I invite us to think about the story told the first reading. It’s about some women who took some seemingly small but compassionate and courageous decisions that influenced the course of human history. These women were prepared to defy one of the most powerful leaders of the time, and by their acts of disobedience, God was able to save a people from oppression, even annihilation.

The closing chapters of Genesis tell the story of Joseph and his family. Sold into slavery, Joseph eventually became second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and saved the nation in time of severe famine. He, his family, and his people, were rewarded for their service, but then, as the Book of Exodus opens, we hear of the rise of a new Pharaoh who knew nothing of Joseph and what he had achieved. This new Pharaoh was doing something that politicians have done down the centuries – that they do
today. He identifies a common enemy – a scapegoat to blame for whatever current problems plague society. There are always identifiable groups who seem different to the mainstream – groups who are liable to become scapegoats for our fears. This time it’s the ancient Israelites. They had achieved most-favoured immigrant status in Egypt, but now they are fingered by a Pharaoh as possible terrorists: “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Pharaoh tries three different strategies to stem the growth of the Israelites. First, he forces them into slave labour. Yet, paradoxically, the more the Israelites are oppressed, the more they multiply. So, Pharaoh resorts to darker means. He tells the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all the Hebrew baby boys that are born, but not the girls. Ironically, Pharaoh sees no threat from Israelite females, yet it’s females who begin his undoing. The midwives’ vocation is to bring new life into the world. Pharaoh demands that they deny their vocation and kill. In the Bible’s first act of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance for the sake of justice, the midwives refuse to obey Pharaoh’s order. They lie to the authorities, breaking the law for the sake of justice and life. They explain to Pharaoh, “the Hebrew women just give birth too quickly before we can get there!”

In the process of saving infant lives, the midwives protect the birth of a special child who will become the eventual leader of Israel and will lead the people to freedom. As we see repeatedly in the Bible, God uses what the power-hungry Pharaohs of the world consider as low and despised, as instruments to shame and overthrow the arrogant and the strong.

Frustrated in his efforts, Pharaoh ratchets up the pressure, commanding all his people to throw every Hebrew boy that is born into the Nile – “but you shall let every girl live.” Having discounted the females as no threat to him, three more women come to the fore, challenging Pharaoh’s commands.

Some of the famous women in the Hebrew Scriptures are named and described in some detail, such as Ruth and Deborah. But here Moses’ mother is anonymous, though later we learn her name: Jochebed. She, like the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are the unsung heroes whose courage and compassion change the world, but whose identities are virtually unknown. Few of us are like Moses or Deborah, but there are many among us who are Jochebeds, Shiphrahs, and Puahs.

Now, Jochebed sends her son floating down the river in a basket, and by chance (though the narrator sees God’s hand at work), Pharaoh’s daughter is bathing in the river when the tiny basket floats by. Moses’ sister, Miriam, anxiously watches. She sees as Pharaoh’s daughter recognises Moses as one of the Hebrew children and, instead of obeying her father’s orders, assures his wellbeing and eventually adopts him as her own son.

It’s a story loaded with irony. Pharaoh allows the Hebrew girls to live because he sees them as no threat. Yet women of different cultures and generations come together to change the course of history through their courageous acts of civil disobedience. Each said, “no” to injustice. Each said, “yes” to compassion. I doubt if they thought they were changing the world. But they were, simply by being faithful – by following the dictates of their hearts and heeding the call of conscience.

We can never know the impact a small but compassionate act can have. It’s the butterfly effect – the idea that a minute localised event can have large effects far away. A small act here can create
significant and unforeseen ripples across time and space to affect the lives of countless others.

Who knows what effect you can have this week on others – what influence you’ve had in the past. The comment made in passing, the email you sent, the group you talked with me, the time you spent with a stranger, the deed your performed, the challenge you offered, the stand you took.

The things we do this week – our actions and words, decisions and choices – can ripple out with unforeseen consequences, which can be for either good or for ill. The question isn’t whether, but what. What will we do this week to make a difference in the world? Some of these actions may be big, bold, and brave. Others may be small, hardly noticeable. Yet, they all have the potential to ripple out, affecting countless lives. In this story it’s Shiphrah and Puah, Jochebed, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter. Who might it be this week? Paul, in the second reading, says that we all are members of the body of Christ, each with different gifts, yet all one in faith and with the same potential for God
to use us to change the world.

So, I wonder, how might you act knowing that what you do this week could change the world?


Alister Hendery
St Matthew’s, Hastings – 23.8.2020

Hymn of Praise

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

Prayers

Jesus, Son of the living God, you build your church on both the strength and frailty of your disciples.
Pour out the riches of your grace,
that with our different gifts and experience we, your people,
may work with you to bring in your kingdom and change the world.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, Son of the living God, before you nations are humbled.
Remove the fear that leads to oppression, and contempt that diminishes human worth.
Strengthen those who challenge injustice.
May they be encouraged in the labours for justice and peace.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, Son of the living God, you bring to birth hope and new life.
Bless all who work in maternity services and care for the new-born.
Wrap all life in your tender care.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, Son of the living God, you journey with us in our need.
Be with those who suffer, who grieve… with all in need….
Be present and bring healing and peace.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, Son of the living God, your glory is revealed in your death and resurrection.
We entrust to you all who are dying and those who have died.
Open the gates of paradise that all may enter in.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.


Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we can ask or conceive,
by the power which is at work among us,
be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all ages. Amen.

As Christ has taught us, we pray

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.
Save us from the time of trial
   and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours    now and for ever.    Amen. 

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.   Amen.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Our St Matthew’s website is being updated regularly:  https://stmattshastings.com

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook

CONTACTS

The Rev’d Alister Hendery: 021 742 434
Email: alister.hendery@waiapu.com

Parish Office (Tracey at home):  06 878 9476
Email: stmatthews.hastings@gmail.com

~ This copyright material is taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, © Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and is used in accordance with regulations.

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