Sermon: Revd Andrew Warmback
Prayers: Mpumelelo Mtshawu
Services: We have resumed services on a Sunday at 7.30am and 9.15am.
From the deep places, hear my cry,
God of Sarah and Abraham,
long ago you embraced your people in covenant
and promised them your blessing
Give us grace to recognize you as our God
and serve you as your faithful people:
through Jesus Chris our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
FIRST READING: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
PSALM: 22: 23-31
GRADUAL: O Christ, the Word incarnated CP 531
GOSPEL: Mark 8: 31-38
CREED: The Apostle’s Creed
OFFERTORY: Abide with me CP 10
1st EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (APB pg 117)
RECESSIONAL: Be thou my guardian and my guide CP 385
Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback
Readings: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Mark 8: 31-38
I begin by reading part of today’s gospel – Mark: 8:34-37
34 [Jesus] called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
“For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Or “soul” we could say; meaning ourselves, our very essence, who God created us to be.
Powerful words of Jesus and appropriate for our Lenten season reflections.
Lent Bible Study Course
In our Lent Bible Study course this last week we learnt something of what it means to be made in God’s image. We are like God to the extent to which we share in God’s nature and reflect the qualities of God.
According to Genesis 1, both male and female are made in God’s image. This implies everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. A further term that was added in the questions in the study was that of “ubuntu”. This extends and strengthens the idea of us as human beings – male and female – being made to be deeply connected to one another.
In our study we became aware that when we disrespect others, when we seek to manipulate and abuse others we destroy God’s image in them, we disturb their sense of self, their integrity. And these attitudes and behaviour towards others can lead to gender based violence.
For Jesus people and their mutually supportive relationships, and the practice of serving one another are important. This makes us who we really are.
It is not the things that we can acquire, or the experiences we can accumulate for ourselves that matter. These things will not satisfy us and certainly cannot “save” us in any sense. We may gain the whole world, with the success, popularity, prestige and power that comes with it, but, if in the process, we use and exploit people and are controlled by our possessions we are in danger of losing our very selves, our core identity.
I am fascinated by those who call themselves minimalists, those who get rid of all their stuff and clutter, leaving themselves with just a few possessions. There are people who make a living showing people how to downsize and reduce their possessions – they write books and make films about it. (It should be noted that these minimalists often have a lot to start with).
With far fewer possessions these minimalists report a greater sense of freedom, and with much more time to give to and spend with others.
Greater simplicity in our lives certainly has a way of doing this.
Lent is a time to assess what we have and consider giving away what we really do not need. It is a time to reassess our priorities, our obligations and commitments, the institutions we are part with their values that shape up.
It is in our relationships and respect and concern for one another that help us cope in the pandemic.
Whatever hardship we may face, and Jesus warns us of them in today’s gospel, let is remember that he came to bring life, fullness of life.
It is in giving ourselves to others, in forming relationships based on love and respect that we flourish.
We are to make choices and take risks.
It is in giving ourselves to others that we actually find ourselves. It is in giving up everything that we save our souls.
Our prayers will be led by Mpumelelo Mtshawu.
Prayers Mpumelelo Mtshawu
Good morning people of St Pauls.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus you said into your Word, in Joel 2:13, Let us rent our hearts, not the garments, and let our hearts be broken and come to you. You are slow to anger; you are full of compassion and love and gracious; you won’t destroy us.
Father, in this life, in this season of this Covid-19 pandemic we surrender ourselves to you by giving our hearts to you, O Lord.
Lord Jesus, you are the one who has created us. Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians that Father God you were here before the foundations of the earth, you created us, you poured to us all the spiritual blessings.
Father, we approach the throne today with our hearts rendered. We ask that you minister to our lives, so that Father God we will be the witnesses to other people.
Lord Jesus, you said to the people and also your disciples when they were chasing children away, you said don’t chase then away, let them come because I want people as those to be the one that enter my kingdom.
Father, as we enter your kingdom help us to be like children where we surrender everything to you. We don’t have anything on our own; we come to you with empty hands.
Father God, we know that within our midst there are people who are affected by this Covid, who are affected in many ways. Lord of Lords in our midst there are these people they are confused in their mind. We ask Father God that you heal them through prayer because Lord you can heal our broken hearts, you can mend our lives Father God. You said Lord into your word, all who are heavily laden, if they come to you, you will be able to carry, Father God, them their load. Father, your yoke is lighter than our own burdens. Help us then Father God as we lower our own burdens and give it to you for you have never meant them for us to carry.
In this lifetime Father God, in this place time and in this day we’re saying Father God we release every burden in our heart, in our mind, in our soul.
We ask that you come and minister to us. In our sickness you are the balm of Gilead, Father God. In our confusion and wandering you are a Good Shepherd who carries us by your shoulders and lead us into the sheepfold where we will be looked after by you.
Lord Jesus, you were in this life, you walked. We ask this in Jesus’ Christ’s mighty name. Amen.
During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426