Ordinary 26 Year A 27 September 2020
Call to worship:
Let us worship God who, in the darkness of chaos, holds open the possibility of life and purpose; let us worship God who holds our world in love so that goodness is always possible and justice and peace are never empty dreams; let us worship God who holds us in love and redeems our lives from meaninglessness and futility. Let us worship God with joy and thanksgiving.
Hymn: Singing the Faith 50
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise,
the city of our God, the holy place,
the joy of the whole Earth.
Great is the Lord in whom we have the victory,
he aids us against the enemy,
we bow down on our knees.
And Lord, we want to lift your name on high,
and Lord, we want to thank you,
for the works you’ve done in our lives;
and Lord, we trust in your unfailing love,
for you alone are God eternal,
throughout Earth and Heaven above.
© Steve McEwan
Living God, we come to you today,
praising you for your great goodness;
we are conscious of your glory, your might and your power,
but aware too of our own weakness, inadequacy and sin.
And yet we know that you love us,
and in that knowledge we confess our faults
and ask your forgiveness.
We give you thanks and praise that we can come to you,
and know ourselves to be part of that great fellowship on earth and in heaven,
whose joy is to worship you.
Holy God, in whose image we are created,
help us so to honour your name,
that all may see in us your likeness,
and render to you the glory which is due.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray,
Hymn: Singing the Faith 383
Holy Spirit, gift bestower
Breathe into our hearts today,
Flowing water, dove that hovers,
Holy Spirit, guide our way.
Love inspirer, joy releaser,
Spirit, take our fears away.
Reconciler, peace restorer,
Move among us while we pray.
Holy Spirit, Christ proclaimer,
Wisdom bringer, light our way.
Fire that Dances, wind that whispers,
Holy Spirit, come today.
Ease disturber, comfort bearer
Move among us while we pray.
Truth revealer, faith confirmer,
Rest within our hearts today.
© Church Hymnary 4th ed 2005
Readings: Philippians 2: 1-13
Matthew 21: 23-32
Reflection: The mind of Christ
Philippians 2 v 5 says “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”. Wow, that's a tall order! It’s hard enough to know what’s in other people’s minds most of the time, although sometimes it's obvious from their words, or their body language. I’m reminded of my grandmother who would have been the world’s worst gambler if she’d ever been tempted that way! She loved to play cards, but we all knew when she was about to declare, or when she was “up” - because she couldn’t keep the smugness and satisfaction off her face!
On the whole though we tend to keep what’s going on in our minds pretty much to ourselves - you have to be really close to someone before you let them into your mind. Your mind is a very private thing. - it's where we do all our deep thinking and reasoning, it’s where we shape our attitudes and make our decisions. It’s interesting that Paul uses the word “mind” here rather than heart: mind implies that it’s our attitudes and our thought-processes which are involved, not just our emotions. To have the mind of Christ is nothing to do with airy-fairy feelings and emotions - it’s much more solid than that.
So what does Paul mean when he says we must have the mind which was in Christ Jesus? I Maybe, in modern language, we could render the phrase as having the 'mind-set' of Christ. To live our lives so close to Jesus, that we naturally respond as he would respond. To allow God access to our hearts and minds so that he can begin to change us and the way we relate to others and to his world - to make us more like Jesus. Someone once said “we are made in God’s image, but we have to grow into his likeness”. It's an ongoing process which requires effort on our part: and because we’re human it’s one step forward and two steps back all the time.
So what are the characteristics of the mind-set of Christ? Well, according to verse 3 of this passage, one of them is humility. And what is humility? One definition I like is“cheerful self-forgetfulness”. William Temple once said “Humility...means freedom from thinking about yourself at all”. That's harder than it sounds! It goes completely against the values which our society holds dear of course. The values of power or privilege or wealth. Christians are called to turn their backs on these values and have the mind of Christ. Jesus wasn’t found with the high and mighty - he was always with the poor and the marginalised, he was the servant of all. And we are called to have this same humility - to serve God in other people.
The second characteristic of the mind-set of Christ, which underpinned everything else, and which led him to give up everything for us in the first place is, of course, love. Love informed Christ's every word and every deed: love moved him to tears and to action and love led him to the cross. Love like Christ’s is costly: it calls us to give of ourselves and then to give again. It means taking other people’s pain and need and making them our own. It’s not a touch-feely 70’s flower-power “all you need is love” kind of love. It’s a down to earth, roll up your sleeves and put your hands where your mouth is kind of love.
Our gospel reading today tells us that love in action is what really counts: of the two brothers in Jesus’ parable it was the one who got up and went and did what his father wanted who was the true son, not the one who made empty promises with fine words - words which remained only words and didn’t result in action. God calls us to meet the needs of his world with love because that is what Jesus did. For all of us it’s easier to be Christians on Sunday than it is at work on Monday. That’s why having the mind of Christ is an ongoing process: being re-made in his image is a lifetime’s work. In prayer and meditation, in Bible study and in love in action we need grow into the mind of Christ.
Someone once said “Let the mind of the master be the master of your mind” May we all seek to have the mind of Christ , that mind of love and humility, in all that we are, in all that we say and in all that we do.
Hymn: Singing the Faith 504
May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
Katie Barclay Wilkinson 1859-1928
Prayers of intercession
we pray for your church throughout the world.
May we who own the name of Christ
seek to have his mind in all things.
May we serve your world with humility
walk your way in obedience
share your love and forgiveness with sensitivity
and minister to all with your tenderness.
We remember all who suffer for their faith,
and pray for all who preach the Gospel.
we pray for your world
where people misuse your gifts,
where evil and violence seem to abound,
where corruption and fear pollute so many lives.
We pray for those who have authority and influence
in business and politics
that they may have humility and understanding
that they may see their work as service and their role as stewards.
Let there be wisdom and compassion
in all negotiations and decisions
and a desire for justice and peace for all people everywhere
we pray for those who are in any kind of need, sorrow or pain.
For those who are sick in body, mind or spirit;
for those who can see no hope for the future.
for those who grieve or worry
for those who are vulnerable and find life hard to cope with.
May each one know your reassuring presence
and the warmth of your love and forgiveness.
In silence we hold before you those known to us whose needs lie on our hearts......
you are alongside us as we seek to follow Christ.
Enable us to work for his good pleasure
and to have his mind in all that we say and do
that we may serve you in love and humility,
We ask this, and all our prayers, spoken and unspoken, in the name of him whose name is above all names, even our Lord Jesus Christ
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.
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
Hymn : Singing the Faith 449
Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and might are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.
Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfil,
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song;
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.
Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind,
rich truth that surpasses my knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.
Lord of all bounty, I give you my heart;
I praise and adore you for all you impart;
your love to inspire me, your counsel to guide,
your presence to shield me, whatever betide.
Lord of all being, I give you my all;
if I should disown you, I stumble and fall;
but, led in your service your word to obey,
I'll walk in your freedom to the end of the way.
Jack Copley Winslow 1882-1974
Lead us into next week, Lord,
to live as changed people
because we have been touched by you.
Ask much of us
expect much from us
enable much by us
encourage many through us
And may the mind that is in Christ
Jesus rule our lives in everything.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with us all now and for evermore.