Tag Archives: liturgy

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 24

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 24

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

The Limits We Place (Confession)

Philippians 4:13

In awe of you great God we offer up our praise,
and confess our sinfulness.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
and the limits we place on ourselves.

You call us to step out in faith. We ponder the likely consequences
of your call and decide you are asking too much of us,
forgetting that all things are possible
through the One who strengthens us.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
and the limits we place on ourselves.

God who is love, and who lovingly seeks
a relationship with all of humanity,
how often we fruitlessly struggle to grow your kingdom of love
by our own efforts alone, forgetting that it is your freely blowing Spirit
who sends forth your love into the world.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
because of the limits of our thinking.

God of inconceivable majesty and power
who cannot be contained within the universe,
how little we are in comparison to you,
yet how great our conceit when we think
we can determine what you can and cannot do,
and what can and cannot be.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
because of the limits of our comprehension.

In seeking your forgiveness Lord,
we also seek from you a greater faith.
A faith that will follow you,
even when the way ahead seems uncertain;
a faith that believes in your greatness
even though we cannot truly perceive your magnitude;
a faith that sees beyond present realities to future possibilities;
a faith like that required of Abraham and Sarah,
knowing that with you God there are no limits.
Grant us your forgiveness Lord,
and empower us with your Spirit
. Amen.

From: Prayers for Southern Seasons: Poems and prayers for Christian worship and devotions. By Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Labour Day 25th October

(Nearest Sunday)

God of Nations, we are proud of ours and give thanks that we live in this country.
We are proud to own a founding document,
conceived in a time of peace.
Most treaties are the result of war,
but Our Treaty offers the hope of covenant.
We give thanks that we live in a place of peace and
good intention.

We know human rights do not simply happen,
they are initiated by people of vision,
Negotiated by people wanting justice,
and often achieved at considerable cost.
We give thanks for our forebears who worked for justice.

Despite our proud record of justice and
good working conditions,
Some of our citizens are exploited,
disadvantaged and dis-empowered,
Be with those who are working for justice now.

Despite our fine laws on human rights,
some of our citizens continue to be discriminated against, through circumstances of education, employment, race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation.

We pray for those who are over-worked,
and those who are unemployed.
We pray for the ill-treated, the un-treated,
the dis-empowered and the ignored.

We pray for all who oppress,
be they deliberately malicious or merely insensitive, bosses or bullies, law-makers or church-people;
may they be confronted by their actions
and moved to bring change.
May wisdom prevail.

We pray for families,
in all their diversities,
whatever form they take,
that love may prevail. Amen.

From: Lay Preaching Basics by Rosalie Sugrue (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 22

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 22

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

106. Rural Hardship

God of the present and future,
bring hope to those facing hardship and loss
in the rural community of …………..

Restore those whose land
has been severely affected by flood/snow/rain/cold/fire/drought.

Encourage those facing big changes
in farm management and lifestyle,
or who face the prospect of having to move off the land
and the challenge of finding new employment.

Have compassion on those
whose marriages or relationships
are under enormous strain
through interpersonal or financial stress.

Resource communities which have lost amenities,
commercial services and farm labour.
Enable people to welcome new settlers and life-stylers,
particularly those unfamiliar
with rural ways of doing things,
and the customs of the local community.

We pray in faith that we shall discover
grace sufficient for each day’s challenges,
in and through the strength of the Holy Spirit.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 16

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 16

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

45. Christ Ascended

A brilliant sun
shining on snow-capped mountains
lifts our hearts
to the risen Christ,
presidential, ascendant,
with the Father in glory.
Enable us, awesome Lord,
to pause and revere you,
then to set about the work
for which you have commissioned us,
in and through the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Lord Christ, kingly and supreme,
Aoraki salutes your greatness.
Taranaki, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe
honour you as transcendent
Lord and Messiah.
Hikurangi reaches for
the morning rays of sunrise
before all others.
You are kingship like Taupiri.
You are the summit
of all human searching,
te maungaroa,
te puke teitei,
yet all may reach out
and touch you,
ascendant, triumphant, all-glorious,
in unity with the Father and the Spirit,
for ever adored and worshipped.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 12

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 12

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Spirit God (Gathering)

Genesis 1:2; Exodus 19:18 – 20:1-21; Psalm 78:14; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 43:1-5; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:9-13; Acts 2:1-4

Spirit God, hovering over a watery world,
ordering creation from primordial chaos,
clothing earth’s nakedness with nature’s abundance,
breathing your spirit life into our humanness;
shelter us under your motherly love,
transform our turmoil into tranquillity,
fill up our emptiness with your wisdom divine,
raise us aloft on the winds of eternity.

Spirit God, dwelling in pillars of cloud and of fire,
alighting on Sinai in flaming splendour,
thundering forth commandments of covenant,
sanctifying holy a nation of slaves;
guide us on journeys through barren wastelands,
help us climb mountains for encounters with you,
speak laws of love into our consciences,
make sacred a church of commonplace folk.

Spirit God, filling with glory Solomon’s temple,
soaring heavenward on chariots of fire,
inspiring your prophets with visions that challenge,
promising the coming of the Davidic Messiah;
form from your people your present day temple,
transport us above our everyday thinking,
show us the ways of heaven on earth,
make of us true disciples of the Anointed One.

Spirit God, as a dove descending,
declaring beloved of the Father his Son,
driving the Christ into the wilderness,
inspiring rebuffs to the tempter’s allures;
fly down upon us the blessing of peacefulness,
proclaim our membership of the family of God,
be there for us in our spiritual barrenness,
grant us release from the enemy’s snares.

Spirit God, on Pentecost coming,
sounding like wind and appearing like fire,
descending upon the hundred and twenty,
bringing to birth the new covenant church;
bless our celebration of time that is holy,
full us with the joy that gives light to our lives,
be in our midst as we gather together,
proclaim in and through us the gospel of God. Amen.

From: Prayers for Southern Seasons: Poems and prayers for Christian worship and devotions. By Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 10

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 10

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

41. Thanksgiving for Winter

God of all seasons,
we give you thanks
for the grey wet mornings,
for the cold southerly days,
for the mist that hovers in the hills,
and the fog that blankets the river valleys,
for the fresh snow on the ranges and mountain tops,
for the clear sharp sunny days
that follow the frosts,
for all that makes winter
a time to dress snugly and keep warm.
We give thanks for the reserves
 of silage and hay and winter feed
to supplement the needs of stock,
for the long acre and the electric fence,
for the pruning of fruit trees
and grape vines,
for the season of rugby, league and football,
for hockey and netball,
for golf, and for pony club,
for dog trials and other sporting and social events,
for raincoats, swanndris and gumboots,
for roaring fires, hot soup and scones
and safe shelter from winter’s chills.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks

Lay Preaching Basics – Reviewed in Touchstone 2018

Review in Touchstone October 2018 by Rev Dr Lynne Wall.

(Touchstone is the monthly newspaper of the
Methodist Church of New Zealand.)

 “If you have ever thought about becoming a worship leader or a lay preacher, this book is an excellent starting point. Rosalie Sugrue is a competent lay preacher of many years’ standing, who in this book has generously shared from her own treasure trove of experience, wisdom and creative resources.

In the first part of her book, Rosalie introduces the reader to the Bible by providing basic information about content, characters and concepts in both testaments. There is enough to stimulate the mind and encourage further exploration by referring to the up-to-date bibliography at the end of the book.

The author then moves to the nitty-gritty of how to plan a service of worship, giving general outlines and practical tips along the way. There are examples of orders of service, sermon outlines and pointers on presentation.

But this is not just a ‘how-to’ book. Rosalie reminds the would-be worship leader that worship must be meaningful and relevant for the particular congregation. As she reminds the reader, “It is about engaging the soul.” What might suit a café style service in the local parish will not be suitable for a rest home service of worship. She encourages the use of participation, silence, music and visual aids.

The rest of the book is a rich and varied selection of resources for use in worship, most of which are from Rosalie’s own pen. They are the fruit of her background and experience as a teacher and are tried and tested if used in the right context. There are ideas for the different seasons and festivals of the church year, time with children, themes for opening devotions, dialogues and plays, reflections and meditations.

The section of prayers and liturgical resources is particularly useful for the beginning worship leader. For example, there is a fine prayer for Disability Sunday which begins, “God of struggles, strengths and strategies, help us to cope with what we have…”

 It is too easy these days to ‘copy and paste’ material from the internet, even reproducing whole sermons as one’s own. Rosalie reminds us that the sermon “Is the one piece of a service that cannot be taken from a book” [or the internet]. She suggests prayerful preparation and mulling over of one’s random thoughts on a passage of scripture which will help “You explore and firm up on what you believe.” This is what congregations want and need to hear.

This is a practical book which will inspire, encourage and educate anyone who has a calling to lead worship in their local congregation or region.”


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Sermon: Good things come in threes. 11 June 2017 Trinity Sunday

The following sermon was given by lay preacher Philip Garside
at Wesley Methodist Church, 75 Taranaki Street, Wellington, NZ
on 11 June 2017 — Trinity Sunday

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You can download an audio re-recording of this sermon by the preacher here:
https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/worshipresourcessermons/Sermon_Wesley_11_June_2017_Trinity_Sunday_Philip_Garside.mp3

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Bible reading:

Matthew 28:16-20 — The Commissioning of the Disciples

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

 Sermon: Good things come in threes…

Let’s pray; May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you O God, our creator, redeemer and enabler. Amen.

Today is Trinity Sunday. It is an opportunity to focus on our understandings of God as being one and yet also being three.

They say that bad luck come in threes… But good things can come in threes too. And that is what I have titled this sermon, “Good things come in Threes…”

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Our gospel reading this morning comes right at the end of the book of Matthew. Jesus is crucified, and rises after three days. He appears to the women and tells the women to instruct the men, to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus again. The eleven remaining disciples go north to Galilee, climb a hill and Jesus appears to them as promised.

Note that Jesus reappears to the women – Mary Magdalene and the other Mary – first. They are the first people to visit the tomb when the Sabbath is over. It is the women who tell the men to go back to Galilee. The women are the messengers. The writer of Matthew’s gospel also gives women prominence in the genealogy at the start of the gospel, that traces the line from Jesus back to David and then back to Abraham. Both women and men have a full part in these stories and in spreading the Good News of God’s love for us.

There are eleven male disciples remaining after Judas has left. For Matthew it isn’t important to make the number back up to twelve, so his gospel has no story about appointing another disciple to take the place of Judas Iscariot. Eleven men, a small group, are enough to set the vision of the kingdom in motion.

Did you note in the reading that the disciples worshipped Jesus when he re-appeared to them, but some doubted. Not just doubting Thomas who we hear about in John’s gospel, but maybe 3 or 4 others too! Don’t be too quick to judge the disciples who weren’t sure that they were seeing Jesus and whether or not they could do the things that he was asking of them. If we were there, that might have been our reaction too. And anyway, I think it is better, healthier, wiser even, to ask questions and be sure in your own mind that you are doing the right thing, before setting out on a new mission.

These men had left their businesses, work, maybe wives and families, and land, to follow Jesus up to now. And that hadn’t worked out very well for them. Jesus hadn’t defeated the Romans, hadn’t overturned the Jewish political and economic authorities and powers that be, and hadn’t made their lives any easier. The disciples and the rest of the un-named people in the group that had followed Jesus, were now at a turning point. They had to make a decision: go back and pick up their old lives as best they could, or persist in working towards Jesus’ vision of a better world for all.

Go back or take a step forward in faith, to a hopeful, but uncertain future.

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The Jewish community in Jesus’ time had many laws and rules and regulations written down in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Also known as the law of Moses. These laws are summarised in the Ten Commandments, which still provide us with useful guidelines for living today. But for every rule there is always someone who wants to find a loophole, and so the regulators, mainly the priests, had to keep refining and clarifying the laws, down to the last detail. They ended up with many different rules about what sacrifices were required at the Temple and about what activities did and didn’t constitute work on the Sabbath, and so on. I’m not entirely sure whether all Jewish people actually bothered to try to follow all these rules in their day-to-day lives. We know that the Sadducees and Pharisees groups did try to live by the rules. Probably the rest of the Jewish community would follow them as best they could.

But the trouble with such detailed and nit-picking laws is that they become a burden and people lose sight of the intent of the original rules — how to live well, alongside others, in peaceful communities. Jesus was a back to basics sort of guy. He put people before rules. If someone is hungry on the Sabbath, then pluck that corn and feed them now. If he can heal someone with a withered arm now, even though it is the Sabbath, then how dare you make that person wait another day to be healed. How obscene to let his suffering continue another minute, just for the sake of a precious rule.

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What do we think about the Bible now? What is our attitude to it?

Some Christians believe that every word in the Bible is literally true, factual and historically accurate. And furthermore, that if any part of the Bible is not true, then the whole foundation of their faith will be shaken. The Bible then becomes a rigid text, that can be interpreted in only one way. It becomes a weapon to beat those with different ideas into submission.

It will not surprise you to learn that is not my attitude to the Bible, and I don’t recommend that you treat the Bible that way either.

The Bible is full of foundational stories and wisdom, about people relating to God and to each other. We can reach into the depths of this book and pull out treasure for our lives today. The issue is not whether a particular story in the Bible really happened the way it is written down, whether it is true in any absolute sense, but rather what value and encouragement can we take from it today? The Bible is a beautiful and powerful thing, which needs to be treated with respect.

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Let’s get back to those disciples on the mountain in Galilee. What does Jesus say to encourage and persuade them, to help them move through and beyond their doubts?

First: I make the rules now and I give you permission to act. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Don’t look to your law books and scriptures, don’t look to your Kings and priests, ignore the Romans – I, Jesus, have all the power you need. And I’m offering it to you. All you have to do is say, “Yes.”

Second: What do I want you to do? “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

Let’s break that down. “Go.” Don’t stay here in a pious huddle, take that first step, start your journey.

“Make disciples of all nations.” That means tell everyone you meet on your travels about the good news that God loves us and that there is a better way to live. But what if they already have a good, nurturing religion of their own? (I’ll come back to that!)

“…baptizing them” Baptism was a serious and often dangerous commitment for a follower of Jesus to undertake in the first century. It required training over several months and was often performed at Easter. The Romans persecuted and attacked Christians, so worship was often held in secret, in private houses.

“in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew’s gospel was probably written down in the 80s of the first century – about 50 years after Jesus died. My theological reading suggests that the concept of the Trinity – Father, Son & Holy Spirit – probably wasn’t known to Jesus, but was developed later by the early church. Jesus came to be known as Jesus the Messiah, or Jesus the Christ, but I think these are terms that were applied to him by his followers long after his death, as they struggled to come to terms with his crucifixion and started to build a new theology that would serve the developing Christian church. The Council of Nicea in the year 325 was still arguing over the fine points of how Jesus could be both human and also divine. Jesus key vision was always of a just society, where everyone had enough – of the kingdom of heaven, here on earth.

and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” What did Jesus command his disciples to do? Actually, his instructions were quite simple: Love God, Love your neighbour, Love yourself. That is the sum total of Jesus’ law. There are no loopholes to sneak out through. Either our lives meet these simple standards or they don’t.

Third: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is harder to interpret. In what way was Jesus with the disciples after he died and rose? How is Jesus with us here today, how do we know? When does the age finish? Does it ever finish?

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I find the usual descriptions of the Trinity, of God being Three in One, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a bit distant. The modern usage of Creator, Redeemer and Enabler is more appealing, but I have come up with my own description.

Worship God, Follow Jesus, Spirit Filled.

Worship God, Follow Jesus, Spirit Filled.

To me this has an implied movement, freedom of action and purpose. It is not a static theory.

We here this morning are worshipping God. (Remember, I’m just up here leading and guiding you, I am not the focus.) If we worship God, we are saved from worshipping possessions or worldly power. And God is found through the week in our everyday lives, in beautiful unexpected sights or interactions with other people. When we keep still and listen, God is with us.

I find it helpful to make a distinction between Jesus the man who was born and lived on this earth and died just like us, and Jesus the Messiah or Christ of faith. We can then focus on what the Bible tells us Jesus the man said and did, and try to do the same. We will fail as often as we succeed, but we need to keep doing and saying the things that Jesus’ example showed us.

I see Spirit as Energy. The Spirit is that flash of inspiration and second wind that we get when we have run dry. Spirit is freedom. Spirit is power. Spirit is light and music. Spirit is the good in you and the good in me.

If we are filled with the Spirit, we also recognise the Spirit at work in other people. Pala explained to me recently that the greeting and action of Namaste [demonstrate] is more than just a polite greeting. It has a deeper spiritual significance and conveys the meaning: The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you. Isn’t that beautiful! Namaste.

Some closing thoughts:

Step out in faith, encouraged by Jesus’ message and example, and recognise the good in others.

Live well, alongside others, in peaceful communities

Good things come in threes.

Amen.

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You can email Philip at books@pgpl.co.nz

 

Free Sample poems from A Celebration of Life by Meg Hartfield

Here are two sample poems from Meg Hartfield’s A Celebration of Life

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

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Emmaus

We had heard Mary
rapturous, glowing
afire with excitement
“We have seen him – he spoke to me!”
Well, we know women –
the harrowing, terrible last few days
prostrated with grief
obviously her mind unhinged –
women are unreliable witnesses
that is well known.

So, wearily, returning home
seven miles, from Jerusalem to Emmaus –
but seeming longer,
discussing, despairingly
the seeming futility
the end of our dreams.

The stranger was not noticed
was obviously ignorant of events
so momentous to us –
so we told him.
Strange the way he responded –
explaining
courteously we invited him in.

And as we ate, amazingly,
the stranger became host
broke the bread, passed it –
a stunned moment of recognition –
only one man broke bread thus!
Jesus! alive! here!
gone!
Seven miles was as nothing
with winged feet returning
bursting
with incredulous joy.

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Swords Into Ploughshares

Ploughshares –
implements for cutting furrows
Swords –
implements for cutting people.

Ploughshares –
fixed in a frame
drawn by a horse
guided by a man
Swords –
fixed in a hand
wielded by a man.

Ploughshares –
used before sowing
Swords –
used for cutting down

Ploughshares –
used for rooting out weeds
Swords –
used for rooting out lives

God help us
to prepare our life-soil
to receive your seeds
of fruitful love.

Isaiah 2: 4

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Free Sample – Forty – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

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Forty

I’m not good at being patient
but God always hears me when I call

Lifts me up when the time is right
steadies my stumbling feet – I’m still walking

I was pretty depressed there for a while
but now I’ve got a fresh song in my heart

People have been noticing – they seem impressed
some have even started asking about Jesus

There’s not much joy in the idols of culture
but great reward in simply having faith

If I think about my life, it’s full of miracles
things that can’t be explained any other way

God isn’t demanding payment for this blessing
that matter’s already been taken care of
Jesus came, just as predicted in the stories
did everything God said was necessary

Jesus delighted to do what God wanted
heal us – forgive the sad things we’ve done

This is so important we should tell everyone about it
it’s heartless to keep such good news to ourselves

God’s love and constancy anchors our hope
we’d be adrift and lost without mercy like this

When I look at the world – so many problems –
my confidence shrinks and life feels hopeless

Without Heaven’s grace I’m certainly a wreck
my many faults keep catching up with me

But God gets me through – no, more than that
I’m overcoming things that used to bring me down

Let’s pray everyone finds this joy, this help
the poor and weak who need to know they’re loved

Come quick Lord – please don’t wait too long.

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