Haggai 1:15b-2:9: God comforts the returning exiles as they grieve the loss of former glory, and face the reality of a new, simpler, less prosperous and glamorous life. God’s presence is assured, and a promise of future glory is offered as comfort and inspiration.
OR Job 19:23-27a: Job affirms his faith that God will ultimately defend, justify and restore him, in spite of the accusations of his friends.

Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21: God is worthy of praise, fair and faithful, and always near to, and protective of, those who love and trust God.
OR Psalm 98: A song of praise inviting all creation to celebrate God’s salvation and mercy.
OR Psalm 17:1-9: A prayer for God’s protection and justification based on the innocence and obdeience of the one praying.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17: Paul addresses the rumour-mongering and fear of the church, assuring them of God’s love and salvation, and their secure hope in Christ.

Luke 20:27-38: Jesus is confronted by the Sadducees about life after death, using the story of a woman who, through Levirate marriage, is married to seven brothers consecutively. He responds with an affirmation of resurrection, proclaiming that God is the God of he living, not of the dead.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Rev Andrew Prior sermon reflections here.

Prayers of who we are
When life is confusing and we are lost …
Help us to stand firm, holding on to your truth
When life is hard and we are discouraged …
Help us to stand firm, holding on to your truth
When life seems pointless and we don’t want to know …
Help us to stand firm, holding on to your truth
When life threatens and we are afraid …
Help us to stand firm, holding on to your truth
A silence is kept
Help us to stand firm, Lord,
Through all the threats and challenges,
Through all the dangers and fears.
Help us to hold on to the truths that we have been taught,
In the sure knowledge that you are with us. Amen.
(Source: “New Ideas for Worship” Uniting Education)

Benediction (based on Psalm 145:18-19)
As you leave this place
remember that you do not go alone.
God is close at hand.
He hears the cry of all who call on His name.
He honours those who honour Him,
listening to their prayers and coming to their aid.
So go from here with joy and confidence,
to love and serve God and one another.

“Your god will doubtless care for you in death as generously,” the king said to Joseph as they stood in the darkness lit only by the guttering torches of the servants, “because you are the friend of the king and have been given the king’s ring with his seal upon it and great power over all of the Black Land”. Joseph thought of his mother’s spent body buried, unbandaged, on the road they had been traveling with only a pillar no taller than a tall man to mark it and of the body of his grandfather Isaac lying under stones near the bodies of Abraham, Isaac’s father, and Sarah, his mother, where Joseph’s father and Esau had placed it with no treasure of any kind to bring him comfort and only the two ash cakes for food which Esau had placed under his two arms. His father had told him that he heard it said that the dead move like shadows. They dwell, thirsting for light, deeper than the feet of mountains in a land where no light falls. Did the Fear remember them there, Joseph wondered. Did the Fear have a silver boat for sailing them to blessedness, a golden boat like Ra?
“My god is a god of those who are alive,” Joseph said to the king.
The chamber where they stood smelled of the cool stone and the burning pitch of the servants’ torches.
“He makes us no promises about death,” Joseph said. “He makes us promises about life. I do not know what he promises to the dead if he promises them anything.”
(Source: Frederick Buechner, The Son of Laughter)



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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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