Joel 2:23-32
God promises restoration from the judgement (what the locusts have eaten) and the outpouring of God’s Spirit on all of God’s sons and daughters.
Psalm 65
Praise for the God who answers prayer, who forgives sin, who formed the earth and who sends rain to bring an abundant harvest.
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Paul reflects on his faithfulness as he nears the end of his life and looks forward to the reward he will receive, assured that God, who rescued him in the past, even when others deserted him, will bring him safely into God’s kingdom.
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus tells a parable about a self-righteous Pharisee, who fails to find a right relationship with God, and a penitent tax collector who finds justification.

Gospel feelings resources here.

Jesus’ parable calls us to humble recognition of our need for God’s grace.
Two people came into the temple to pray.
A white man came up front and prayed,
“God, I thank you that I’m not black.
Thank you that I’m not a woman, or gay,
or was abused as a child.
I mind my own business,
and I believe in you.”
An undocumented immigrant woman
forced to work the street
stood at the back and prayed,
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
I tell you, she went home closer to God
than the other.
For all who are full of themselves
will be empty of anything else.
But those who make room for God
will shine with glory.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Thank You God I’m Not Like…
We thank you God that we are your people whom you love,
Whom you have called in Christ to be your disciples
And follow in your way
We thank you God that we are your Church,
Who you have gathered as the body of Christ,
And shown us that you are the way the truth and the life,
Setting before us who and how to follow in faith to gain eternal life.
We thank you God that we are not like those who have fallen away,
Or who follow the wrong path,
For we hold your Scriptures as your Word
And uphold them in faith and righteousness.
We thank you God that we are not like those who cause strife and division in the faith,
Or whose lives do not present a sacrifice holy and worthy of your glory,
Who compromise themselves, not giving all to work for your Kingdom.
We thank you that we are not like the progressives,
Who water down what we know to be true and compromise our religion with clever arguments and divert people from living moral and upright lives.
We thank you God that we are not like those conservatives,
Who think they know what is moral and can’t evolve in faith to meet people in the modern world
And who stubbornly hold to outdated literal interpretations of limited passages of Scripture without considering the whole truth.
We thank you God that we are not like those who are so caught up in social justice that they fail to share the Gospel,
Who seem to be afraid to confront or offend people by sharing what we know to be your message of salvation for it is by faith that we are saved, not works.
We thank you God that we are not like those who fail to heed your call to justice and compassion,
Who are trapped in their beliefs and Church buildings,
Who fail to feed the hungry, serve the poor or work to address injustice in the world,
And who totally forget that faith without works is dead.
We thank you God that we are not like any one of these,
But in humility recognise that we are like all of them.
Forgive our arrogance and pridefulness in judging others,
Heeding not the plank in our own eyes as we vainly try to remove the splinter from theirs.
Forgive our self-righteousness,
And renew our confession,
That we might repent of our self-centredness,
And, in grace, enter your communion of the broken we call the Church.
Owning the irony and our hypocrisy we pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Facebook post, October 2019)

(Luke 18:1-8)
Two men
express in prayer
their life and world and hope;
one quite smug, the other made right
with God.

We hear these two pray,
yet looking deeply inward,
see in each ourselves.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder 2016)

The Pharisee, standing alone, prayed,
“God, I thank you that I am not like other people:
thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”
—Luke 18.11
Wow. What a hypocrite.
What an egotistical, arrogant, judgmental person.
God, I thank you that I am not like him—
Oh… wait.… Crap.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
I confess to you all the people I want to be better than.
But I am not.
It is your goodness, not mine, I live by.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Call to Worship (Based on Psalm 65)
Praise waits for you, O God, in all your world!
You hear our prayers, forgive our sins
and call us to dwell with you!
God of our hope, you are the life of the entire world.
Your faithfulness calls forth songs of joy
from the ends of the earth.
You formed the mountains and still the roaring sea.
You calm the uproar of the nations.
You care for the land, bless it with water,
and fill it with grain to feed the people.
Let all creation shout and sing for joy.
(source: Christopher Ney)

Prayer of invocation
We give you thanks
for all the ways that you bless our lives:
the beauty and abundance of nature,
the love of family and friends,
the joy of knowing you and hearing your word.
Send Your Spirit during this time of worship
so that we might dream your dreams
and see visions of the world as you created it to be.
Guide our thoughts and actions.
Bring us closer to you so that we might do your will
and dwell in your house forever. Amen.
(Source: Christopher Ney)

Call to Confession
We turn to God in prayer
not because we are compelled but because God invites us.
We come to God
not because of our righteousness but because of God’s grace.
In that spirit, we offer this prayer of confession and unburdening.
Loving God, we know that in every generation
you call forth prophets to proclaim your word.
We give you thanks that you are still speaking even today.
Your Spirit inspires the young to see visions of a new creation
and elders to dream of a time not yet known.
Yet we confess that we fail to hear your voice
when it comes from an unexpected place.
Convinced that we are right,
we miss the Good News of your reconciling love.
Forgive us, God.
Restore us with humility and awaken us anew
to your presence and your promise. Amen.
(Source: Christopher Ney)

Assurance of Pardon
The God of creation is a God of mercy.
God is quick to forgive and God’s promise of restoration is for all people.
Friends believe the Good News of the Gospel:
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
(Source: Christopher Ney)

Call to Offering and Prayer of Dedication
In response to the promise of abundant life
God calls us to share our resources with those in need.
In that spirit of generosity, let us offer our gifts and tithes.

Loving God, we give thanks for the visions and dreams
that you share with your people.
We offer these gifts in response to your abundant blessings
and ask that you use them and the commitment they represent
to share your good news with all the world. Amen.
(Source: Christopher Ney)

Go into the world, renewed in hope and restored by God’s vision.
Go into the world to share God’s grace and mercy.
Go into the world and proclaim the Good News of what God has done for you.
To that end, may the blessings of God be with you this day and forevermore. Amen.
(Source: Christopher Ney)


A Pharisee Was Praying
Tune: AURELIA D (“The Church’s One Foundation”)
A Pharisee was praying; he proudly stood alone:
“God, thank you that I’m better than others I have known.”
He saw the faults of others, yet in that holy place,
He missed the joy and wonder of God’s amazing grace.

Far off in that same Temple, a tax collector stood.
He knew he was a sinner; he knew that God is good.
“Have mercy, God, upon me!” the tax collector cried.
He left that place of worship forgiven, justified.

O God of love, forgive us when we look all around
And think that, by our actions, we stand on solid ground:
We pray, “See how we serve you! We work and volunteer!
Aren’t we the ones whose giving builds up your kingdom here?”

May we, your church, be humble in serving you each day,
For pride will never help us to walk your kingdom-way.
May we know your forgiveness — our need for mercy, too —
That, loved and loving others, our life may be in you.

(Text: Copyright © 2013 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Carolyns Hymns

Sermon, Pilgrim UC, cocu62c-p23c-28oct2016.

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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