Sunday Worship 10th October

The Anglican Parish of Greater Hastings

(encompassing St Matthew’s, Hastings, and St Peter’s, Riverslea)
Christian communities in the heart of Hastings

Christian communities in the heart of Hastings

10th October 2021
A Service of Morning Prayer

for the
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Preparation:

Through Jesus let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that acknowledge God’s name. Hebrews 13:15

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.

Hymn: O day of peace that dimly shines

O day of peace that dimly shines

through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,

guide us to justice, truth, and love,

     delivered from our selfish schemes.

May swords of hate fall from our hands,

     our hearts from envy find release,

till by God’s grace our warring world

     shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.

Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb,

     nor shall the fierce devour the small;

as beasts and cattle calmly graze,

     a little child shall lead them all.

Then enemies shall learn to love,

     all creatures find their true accord;

the hope of peace shall be fulfilled,

     for all the earth shall know the Lord.                            Carl P. Daw Jr. Tune: JERUSALEM

E te whānau a te Karaiti / Brothers and sisters in Christ,
let us praise and worship God who has called us together.
Let us celebrate God’s majesty,
and delight in the wonder of God’s love.
Let us confess our sins
and receive assurance that we are forgiven.

As the scriptures are read,
we can allow God’s word to speak to us,
and ponder its meaning for our lives.

In our prayers, we give thanks for God’s goodness,
we pray for others as well as for ourselves,
and we offer our lives anew in Christ’s service.

All this we do,
because we believe in the presence among us
of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.

As God who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in all your conduct.

Spirit of God, search our hearts.

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

Let us confess our sins to God.

Almighty and merciful God,
we have sinned against you,
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with all our heart.
We have not loved others
as our Saviour Christ loves us.
We are truly sorry.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.   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.

Psalm 22:1-15

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me:
  why are you so far from my help, and from my cry of distress?

O my God I cry out in the daytime, but you do not answer:
  at night also, but I get no relief .

But you are the Holy One:
  enthroned on the praises of your people.

Our ancestors trusted in you:
  they trusted and you delivered them.

They called to you and were rescued:
  they put their trust in you, and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and something less than human:
  an object of scorn and an outcast of the people.

All those who see me laugh me to scorn:
  they curl their lips and toss their heads saying,

‘You trusted in God for deliverance:
  if God cares for you, let God rescue you.’

But you are the one who took me out of the womb:
  you kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.

On you have I been cast ever since I was born:
  and you are my God even from my mother’s womb.

Be not far from me, for trouble is close at hand:
  and there is no one to help me.

Many bulls have come around me:
  great bulls of Bashan close in on me from every side.

They open wide their mouths at me:
  like ravening and roaring lions.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:
  my heart within my breast has melted like wax.

My mouth is parched as dry clay, my tongue clings to my jaws:
  and I am laid in the dust of death.

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 Job 23:1-9, 16-17

Then Job answered: “Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling! I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; but he would give heed to me. There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.

“If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face!

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

The Song of Zechariah

Blessed are you O Lord our God:

   you have come to your people and set them free.

You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour:

   born of the house of your servant David.

Through your holy prophets you promised of old:

   that you would save us from our enemies,

   from the hands of all who hate us.

You promised to show mercy to our forbears:

   and to remember your holy covenant.

This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:

   to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

free to worship you without fear:

   holy and righteous in your sight all the days of our life.

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High:

   for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,

to give God’s people knowledge of salvation:

   through the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God:

   the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death:

   and to guide our feet into the way of peace.    

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 Hebrews 4:12-16

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Thanks be to God.

A Reflection: ‘a presence in absence’

‘a presence in absence

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Psalm 22:1-15; Hebrews 4:12-16

Where is God? ‘If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.’[1] Job longs to find God, to appear before God, to present his case, and to hear God’s answers. But finding God is the problem. God is nowhere to be found – God, it seems, is absent.

Job expresses what many of us experience. Why is God sometimes so hard to find? Why is God silent when we need God most? After his wife died, C. S. Lewis kept a journal in which he recorded his experience of grief. A passage bears an uncanny resemblance to Job’s experience:

Where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him…. If you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, where all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is He is so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble[2].

If this is familiar to you, then know that you aren’t alone. Many have traversed this terrain before. The Welsh priest-poet R. S. Thomas wrote about the absence of God.

I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find.[3]

We only know God’s absence because we’re seeking. God’s absence doesn’t mean a lack of faith. In another poem Thomas says:

It is this great absence
that is like a presence, that compels
me to address it without hope
of a reply. It is a room I enter

from which someone has just
gone, the vestibule for the arrival
of one who has not yet come.[4]

In this great absence we wait and fling out our questions. Perhaps it seems there’s no reply. Yet, the very fact we still pose our questions suggests that somehow, somewhere, God may respond.

Paradoxically, to search for God is to find God: ‘a presence in absence’. The absence of God suggests the presence of One who has been there but now, it seems, has moved on. Frustrating as that may be, it corresponds to the spiritual experience of many who reach out to God but find that God eludes them. God, it seems, can never be fully grasped. All we can be found are tantalising hints of God’s presence that have been left behind. In faith we reach out into the darkness and are occasionally rewarded by glimpses of God’s imprint – hints of where God has been. Or, perhaps, where God might soon arrive. That’s the image Thomas offers us. ‘It is a room I enter / from which someone has just / gone, the vestibule for the arrival / of one who has not yet come.’ To become aware of God’s absence is to become aware of God’s presence. Absence and silence don’t mean nothingness, but rather the mysterious presence of God as we try to reach out to God – a presence in absence. To have faith is to continue to believe that we can catch glimpses of God. 

What I’m trying to describe is worlds away from those who are totally certain about God’s actions – those, like Job’s friends, who have all the answers and tie God down to a neat theological package, believing that others should fall into line and accept their interpretation. But Job is a man who is searching for meaning in the face of suffering – searching for God. The book of Job reverberates with questions, but the friends find all this questioning very threatening. All they can do is regurgitate stock answers, expecting Job to conform, and when he doesn’t, they correct him. But Job keeps up his questions.

Of all questions that we ask, the most searching is why? The Psalmist cries it out.

O my God I cry out in the daytime,

but you do not answer…[5]

It’s the question that Jesus uttered from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’[6] Here’s the Son of God – abandoned, forsaken. And for the moment there’s no answer. Nor should there be. I’ve found that ‘Why?’ isn’t seeking a ready answer, any more than it wishes to be silenced. It’s a passionate cry of anguish from the depth of a person’s being. It’s about striving for understanding – it’s the beginning of a search for meaning.

When you hear that question asked, don’t try to problem solve. Don’t offer tidy answers. Instead, allow the question to be asked and to hang in the air, and for the one who has uttered it, to know that it’s been heard and accepted. Faith must always be brave enough to ask questions. We ask, ‘Where’s God in this?’ ‘What’s the point?’ – and perhaps just asking the question is enough – at least for the moment. I wonder sometimes if the thing we need to do is simply keep asking questions as Job did – asking them over and over – until God begins to reveal God’s self through the ways we are changed by the answering silence – by our willingness to confront the absence. Then, gradually, comes a new trust, as it did for the Psalmist:

Our ancestors trusted in you: 

they trusted and you delivered them.

They… put their trust in you, and were not disappointed. [7]

Suffering, loss and grief, pain, and heartache, comes to us all, and as it does, may we be like Job, and ask the questions – and rant, and criticise, and complain to God. For there’s one thing we know: Jesus, did just that. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, now we have a high priest is able to sympathise with us, who knows how it is for us, who has been tested as we are. ‘Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’[8]

Alister Hendery

St Matthew’s, Hastings – 10.10.2021

[1] Job 23:8-9 (NRSV)

[2] C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (London, Faber and Faber, 1979)

[3] R. S. Thomas ‘Via Negativa’, Collected Poems 1945-1990 (Phoneix, London, 1990)

[4] R. S. Thomas ‘The Absence’, Collected Poems 1945-1990 (Phoneix, London, 1990)

[5] Psalm 22:1-2 (ANZPB)

[6] Matthew 27:46 (NRSV)

[7] Psalm 22:4-5 (ANZPB)

[8] Hebrews 4:15-16 (ANZPB)


Make your ways known upon earth, O God,
your saving power among all peoples.

Renew your Church in holiness,
and help us to serve you with joy.

Guide the leaders of this and every nation,
that justice may prevail throughout the world.

Let not the needy, O God, be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Make us instruments of your peace,
and let your glory be over all the earth.

Let us be at peace within ourselves.


Let us accept that we are profoundly loved
and need never be afraid.


Let us be aware of the source of being
that is common to us all and to all living creatures.


Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.


Realising that we are all nourished from the same source of life,
may we so live that others be not deprived
of air, food, water, shelter, or the chance to live.


Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be
a cause of suffering to one another.


With humility let us pray for the establishment
of peace in our hearts and on earth.


May God kindle in us
the fire of love
to bring us alive
and give warmth to the world.

Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth;
lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust;
lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.

The Collect

God of the possible,
and the impossible,
when we come to you with questions
and struggle with your answers,
grant us faith in believing as we await the treasure from heaven,
which is your faithful promise.
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

Holy and everliving God,
by your power we are created
and by your love we are redeemed;
guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,
that we may give ourselves to your service,
and live each day in love to one another and to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As our Saviour 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.


Te Karakia o Te Atua

Kua akona nei tātou e tō tātou Ariki, ka īnoi tātou

E tō mātou Matua i te rangi
Kia tapu tōu Ingoa.
Kia tae mai tōu rangatiratanga.
Kia meatia tāu e pai ai
ki runga ki te whenua,
kia rite anō ki tō te rangi.
Hōmai ki a mātou āianei
he taro mā mātou mō tēnei rā.
Murua ō mātou hara,
Me mātou hoki e muru nei
i ō te hunga e hara ana ki a mātou.
Āua hoki mātou e kawea kia whakawaia;
Engari whakaorangia mātou i te kino:
Nōu hoki te rangatiratanga, te kaha,
me te korōria,
Āke ake ake. Āmine.

Hymn: Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my battle-shield, sword for the fight.
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight.
Thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tower.
Raise thou me heavenward, O power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won;
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

The Dismissal:

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

This copyright material for A Service of Morning Prayer is selected from
A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, (p35-52) and is used in accordance with regulations.

This service has been prepared by the team at St Matthew’s Church, Hastings,
and it is offered for individual or family use in home “bubbles” during NZ lockdown in Covid-19 Pandemic.

The words of hymns have been included as an optional extra resource for reflection,
but if you wish to sing them, tunes may be found on-line by clicking the link at each hymn.


St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Hastings
Corner King Street & Lyndon Road, Hastings

A worshipping centre within
The Anglican Parish of Greater Hastings

Parish Office Phone: 878-9476 ~ P O Box 824, Hastings 4156
email: ~ website:

Parish Priest-in-Charge:
The Venerable David van Oeveren
ph 06 211 3457 / 021 470 337

You can also meet with us on Facebook:

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook. and

Also our St Peter’s Facebook

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