No easy answers

Today we meet, not only in the shadow of an act of terror over two thousand years ago, but also in the shadow of events in our own day. We draw comfort from the knowledge that God in Jesus shares our suffering. We know too that in Jesus God wrought victory from defeat, joy from sorrow and life from death and we believe that good will triumph over evil and that love will conquer hate.

 

Service of the Passion

and

Recognition of the Cross

 

The contradiction of the cross

The contradiction of    the cross

 

 

(On this most solemn of days we would invite you to enter
and leave the church in silence.)

 

Procession with cross:

Hymn: 349 in the cross of Christ

Greeting:

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

 

Let us pray:

God of contradiction,

give to us wisdom and understanding,

patience and humility,

and the courage to live with uncertainty,

so that we may hope for the right things

and arrive at what we do not know[1].

We ask this through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Poem: T. S. Eliot – from The Four Quartets

 

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.

The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,

The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy

Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony

Of death and birth.

 

You say I am repeating

Something I have said before. I shall say it again,

Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

 

In the name of God who suffers for us and with us, and who longs for us to turn and be made whole. Amen.

“And what you do not know is the only thing that you know.”

Shortly after five pm on Tuesday the world was shocked by the news of yet another act of terror – this time in Brussels. At least thirty people were dead and more than two hundred wounded many seriously. For those of us in Australia this news followed a grueling day in which, through the inquest into the police response, we revisited the final moments of the Lindt Café siege and the deaths of two hostages. At times like this, it is difficult not to ask: “Why?” “Why now?” “Why them?” As the story of the Brussels explosions unfolded, we learnt that a simple decision such as not buying a coffee made the difference between life and death, between being in the line of fire and being a safe distance away from the explosions.

Times like these remind us that there is a fine line between life and death, and that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why one person lives and another dies, why some people live lives seemingly unfettered by grief or disaster and others live lives of quiet desperation, burdened by pain, sorrow or misfortune.

This side of the grave there are no easy answers. Life as we know it is vulnerable and fragile – susceptible to disease and constantly exposed to hazards and dangers – known and unknown. At the same time, humans are complex beings – capable of acts of great selflessness but also of unfathomable depravity, capable of great love, but also of immense hatred. We live in a world in which the good do die young, and the bad sometimes escape unpunished, in which only chance determines the country of our birth or the quality of our parenting, whether we stop for coffee or go straight to the departure gate. In this life, nothing is certain. We cannot predict what joys or heartache lie ahead.

There are two possible responses to this awful uncertainty – we can resist with all our might, refuse to take risks and try to force the world to conform to our expectations. This road will lead to frustration and disappointment, anger and bitterness. Our lives will be narrow and constrained and there will be no guarantee that we will be spared the pain of suffering and loss.

Alternately, we can willingly surrender. We can accept that life is filled with risk and uncertainty and choose to live boldly, courageously and confidently – no matter in what circumstances we find ourselves. This road will not be free of pain, but it will leave us open to joy and laughter, to adventure and hope. We will be able to ride out the bad times because we know that they will come to an end and that it is the good and the bad together that make life worth living.

Jesus chose the latter course. He willingly gave in to the future that was his. He surrendered himself completely to what life had in store. He submitted himself to the humiliation of a kangaroo court, the indignity of a flogging and the certainty of death of the cross. He did not ask: “Why?” or “Why me?” He simply walked the path that was his to walk, believing that somehow, in some way, God would give him both courage and strength in the present and that in the future, it would all begin to make sense. Jesus faced the cross not knowing what lay on the other side. As a consequence he learnt that through death comes life, that joy can be wrought from sorrow and victory from defeat.

Life is filled with uncertainty. The best that we can do is to place ourselves entirely in God’s hands and trust that in this life God will give us courage to face whatever it is that life throws at us and that in death, God will raise us to life eternal.

Reflection:

An abandoned God;

a dying God

confronts our sense of decency

and at the same time opens us to new possibilities –

to new ways of understanding God and ourselves.

 

Collect:

 

Holy God,

who teaches us that this day

which is so bad, is good.

Help us to live with incongruity

to know how much we do not know,

that understanding our limitations,

we may be open to the wisdom that comes from you alone. Amen.

 

Ministry of the Word

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

Hear the word of the Lord,

Thanks be to God.

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me:

            why are you so far from helping me

            and from the words of my groaning?

My God, I cry to you by day, but you do not answer:

            and by night also I take no rest.

But you continue holy;

            you that are the praise of Israel.

In you our forebears trusted:

            they trusted and you delivered them.

To you they cried and they were saved:

            they put their trust in you and were not confounded.

But as for me, I am a worm and no man:

            the scorn of all and despised by the people.

Those that see me laugh me to scorn:

            they shoot out their lips at me

            and wag their heads, saying,

“He trusted in the Lord – let him deliver him:

            let him deliver him, if he delights in him.”

But you are he that took me out of the womb:

            that brought me to lie at peace on my mother’s breast.

On you have I been cast since my birth:

            you are my God, even from my mother’s womb.

O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand:

            and there is none to help.

Many oxen surround me:

            fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.

They gape wide their mouths at me:

            like lions that roar and rend.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint:

            my heart within my breast is like melting wax.

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd:

            and my tongue clings to my gums.


My hands and my feet are withered:

            and you lay me in the dust of death.

For many dogs are come about me:

            and a band of evildoers hem me in.

I can count all my bones:

            they stand staring and gazing upon me.

They part my garments among them:

            and cast lots for my clothing.

O Lord, do not stand far off:

            you are my helper, hasten to my aid.

Deliver my body from the sword:

            my life from the power of the dogs;

O save me from the lion’s mouth:

            and my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will tell of your name to my companions:

            in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.

O praise the Lord, all you that fear him:

            hold him in honour, O seed of Jacob,

            and let the seed of Israel stand in awe of him.

For he has not despised nor abhorred

the poor man in his misery:

            nor did he hide his face from him,

            but heard him when he cried.

The meek shall eat of the sacrifice and be satisfied:

            and those who seek the Lord shall praise him –

            may their hearts rejoice forever!

Let all the ends of the earth remember

and turn to the Lord:

            and let all the families of the nations worship before him.

For the kingdom is the Lord’s:

            and he shall be ruler over the nations.

How can those who sleep in the earth do him homage:

            or those that descend to the dust bow down before him?

But he has saved my life for himself:

            and my posterity shall serve him.

This shall be told of my Lord to a future generation:

         and his righteousness declared to a people yet unborn,

         that he has done it.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Hear the word of the Lord,

Thanks be to God.

 

Hymn: 339 O sacred head sore wounded

 

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John Chapter 18 beginning
at verse 1.

Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

For the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Hymn: 341 My Song is love unknown.

(During the hymn a collection will be taken up for the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem)

 

Intercessions:

Living, loving God, help us to relinquish our confidence in ourselves and our desire to go it alone;

to accept the vagaries of life and to let go of our need to be in control;

to recognise that we do not and cannot have all the answers and to understand that our knowledge is only partial and our insights limited by our humanity.

God when our hearts are aching,

Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world.

Give us grace to acknowledge that life consists of the good and the bad and that our lives are enriched as a result;

to admit that hatred and fear only limit and bind and that love frees us to be fully alive

and to learn that it is only in your that true peace and joy are to be found.

God when our hearts are aching,

Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world.

 

Be with all those whose lives are marred by violence, terror and war,

and with those who perpetrate acts of cruelty against others.

God when our hearts are aching,
Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world

Support and encourage those whose lives are restricted by poverty, ill-health and disability,

and challenge those who have the means to help but do not.

God when our hearts are aching,
Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world

Be a friend to those who are overlooked and discounted

and open our eyes to the suffering of those around us.

God when our hearts are aching,
Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world.

Help us all to reevaluate our lives in the light of the cross and take our place among those who live life to the full and who make a difference in the lives of others.

God when our hearts are aching,
Help us to find you in and among the suffering of the world.

 

Lord’s Prayer: Accept our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who taught us to 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 forever. Amen.

Confession:

Our God whose love knows no bounds

comes to you – naked, weak and bleeding,

holding out holey hands, holy hands and asking only for your love in return.

 

Let us offer our hearts to God, confessing our sins – the barriers that separate us from each other and from God.

Suffering God,

who gave everything for us

forgive us our arrogance and presumption,

our greed and self absorption,

our neglect of the vulnerable,

our carelessness with the world’s resources,

our unwillingness to trust in you

and our failure to accept and to share your love and compassion. Amen

 

Absolution:

God whose love knows no bounds

forgives you and sets you free

to love God and to love one another.

Forgive others,

Forgive yourself. Amen.

Recognition of the cross:

730 Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.

(Recognition of the cross – you may like to place a flower at the foot of the cross, as a reminder that today is a day of contradiction, a reminder that God continually overturns our expectations so that we might rely on God and not ourselves. Alternately you are welcome to sit or stand in quiet reflection.)

Blessing: May the God who died for you, inspire you to live for God,

and the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier be with you now and always. Amen.

 

Hymn: 262 When pain and terror

 

Please leave the church in silence

 

 

Copyright: Marian Free , 2014 (revised, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANZAC DAY

There will be a service to commemorate Anzac Day

Monday 25th April – 8:00am

 

(If there is anyone for whom you would like us to pray,

Please add their name to the list at the back of the church.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rector:          The Rev’d Marian Free: m) 0402 985 593

  1. e) staugust@bigpond.com

 

Curate:                 The Rev’d Professor Rodney Wolff,

  1. e) staugust@gmail.com, 0426 287 283

 

 

Parish Office:       3268 3935 / Fax 3268 4245

Office Hours:       Monday, Thursday & Jumble Wednesdays

                               9.30am – 12.30pm

 

staugust@bigpond.com

www.staugustineshamilton.com.au

 

Sermons:            If you would like to read the weekly sermon,

                                 go to the home page and click on sermon.

 

            St Augustines Anglican Church

 

@StAugustines

 

Music Director:      Lesley de Voil: 0418 561 663 or

                                         lesleymdv@gmail.com

 

Service Times:      Sunday 7:30am & 9:30am

                               Tuesday & Thursday 7:00am

Wednesday 10:00am

 

Columbarium:      Robin Loan: 0417 799 400 or

                                 r.loan@optusnet.com.au

Columbarium Service: First Saturday of the month 7:30am

 

 

 

[1] “For hope would be hope for the wrong thing.” “In order to arrive at what you do not know you must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.” T.S. Elliot from “East Coker, The Four Quartets”

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