Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 14 August 2022

14 August 2022

Welcome to worship today. We begin by singing “The Splendour of the King”

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Let us Pray
Lord, we come to you today because Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the glory, and the majesty, and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth belong to you.
You are the light of the world.
You are the name above all names.
You are worthy of all our praise today and all days.

Lord you are the beginning and the end, so today we bring you our worship, our prayers, and ourselves.May we fix our eyes on you to lead the way as we journey each day with you. Amen

This morning we are thinking about turning our eyes to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

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We continue in prayer…

Father, as we hear those words in the video we have just listened to we confess that often our gaze is not on you.
When we take our eyes off of you. Lord, forgive us.
When we allow our minds to follow earthly things. Lord, forgive us.
When you prompt us by the power of the Holy Spirit and we fail to respond. Lord, forgive us.

Let us join in the Lord’s Prayer.

Father, thank you that by grace we are forgiven and can start afresh with you. Help us to press on towards all you desire to accomplish through each one of us for the sake of your kingdom. Amen.

Song: Jesus be the centre

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Reading: Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

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Reflection (by Mary Foskitt from 
In recent decades, best seller lists have been tracking the rise of the memoir.

In this passage, the letter continues what it began in 11:1, telling the stories of those who had gone before, living out their faith in God’s promises, and laying the path of endurance for others to follow. 

The letter recounts over and over again how it was “by faith” that Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’s parents, and Moses endured. The list of names, clearly intended to inspire and encourage the letter’s readers, surely would have caused them to recall the stories of these biblical figures in all their complexity. It is because of their faith alone that the writer sees each of them, these flawed and messy human beings, as righteous (10:38). Along the way, the letter specifically mentions “Rahab the prostitute” who “did not perish with those who were unbelieving, because she had received the spies in peace” (11:31). As a Canaanite woman who welcomed the spies “by faith,” she represents the letter’s insistence that outsiders, like she and Melchizedek (5:6; 6:20; 7:1-17) can also embody the pattern of Christ. Faith is key, above all else.

The letter continues to recall story after story, moving from memories about individuals to recounting how “by faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land” (Hebrews 11:29). Finally, the writer exhorts his hearers, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by a such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (12:1). The letter has implicitly connected the community’s story to those of the ones who have come before them, signaling that they, too, belong and that they, too, can live out lives of righteousness “by faith.”

Not all of the stories to which the writer alludes are easily traced or identified. It is not clear who specifically was “stoned to death,” “sawn in two,” or “killed by the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). The figures themselves are left unnamed, making clear that what letter seeks to convey is the accelerating impact of recounting the many who endured great suffering because of their faith. They become the norm, not the exception. Thus it is striking when the writer adds, “Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect” (11:39-40). This is so, because the cycle of stories reaches its fulfillment in the example of Jesus. As the letter’s audience is exhorted to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,” (12:1) it is also inspired to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (12:1) by Jesus who is “the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (12:2) because he “endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (12:2) and sits “at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2).

The stories of men and women of faith that the writer summons to mind for the readers not only weaves the community’s own story with those of the ones who have come before, it also connects them to the story of Jesus. For the writer and the community, Jesus is the consummate model of faith. In the same way that he disregarded the shame that accompanied his suffering, so can those who seek to follow “by faith” set aside shame and endure the kind of suffering that can accompany the life of discipleship. It is important to note that Hebrews is not here valorizing any and all forms of human suffering. Rather, it seeks to speak directly to both the cost and the promise that the life of faith entails. What the passage does not do is question why hardship is part of the Christian life. It draws on Jesus’ own example and simply assumes that such is the case. Life is difficult and the Christian life is no exception. In fact, discipleship will likely entail new challenges and unanticipated costs. The key for the author of the letter to the Hebrews is that faith discerns where real life is to be found, knows which values are true and which are counterfeit, and endures hardship in the face of divine promise.

Hymn: Filled with compassion 

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A time of prayer 
The world is God’s temple. 
Let us pray for the world:
– for the powerful, that they may know that the world belongs not to them but to the God of love and justice;
– for the powerless, that they may know that God is alongside them in their hunger, fear and suffering. 

The church is God’s temple.
Let us pray for the church:
– for its leaders, that they may guide their people and the world to worship in word and deed;
– for the different denominations, that in unity they may come to know and worship the one, undivided God.

We are God’s temple.
Let us pray for ourselves:
– for churches meeting in buildings, that they and we may become sanctuaries for the lonely, the worried and the sad, peoples of love and hope;
– for each one of us, that our lives may be hymns of worship to the eternal God, sung in confidence and joy. (silence)
In the name of our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Amen

Song: All I have and all I am are yours

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The Blessing

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