Sunday Worship, 13 March 2022

Service starts at 11:15am in Riverside, streamed to St Andrews and on YouTube

Welcome

Come to me and listen to my words, hear me and you will have life.

Isaiah 55: 3

Hymn 189 Be still for the presence of the Lord

Opening Prayer

Lord

Your love and care for us is constant, faithful and true

 you see all that happens  –

 what is done, said or thought, in public and in private –

 you share in the pain and suffering

 you always work to bring healing and wholeness

  peace and justice

You are a God who has been faithful to his promises

 so we know that we can trust you

 trust you today

 trust your promises for the future

You have not promised that life will be easy

 you do not simply grant all our requests

  or answer our prayers in the way that we would like

 but you are a God whom we can trust

Except that we don’t trust you

 or not enough or often enough

instead of knowing the dep peace that comes

 from being assured that the past present and future

 ourselves, our loved ones, our community and our world

are all in your hands

we worry and panic

we don’t have the strength of will to live as you want us to

 or the confidence to bear witness to Jesus as we should

we are sorry and ask for your forgiveness

Fill us anew with your Spirit

 so that we may learn to trust your more

 live as you wish us to

 and bear witness to you as you require

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

A map of the Holy Land in Jesus’ time – hand-drawn so that we don’t break any copyright rules when the service is streamed to YouTube.

Jesus went from Galilee to Jerusalem in the weeks before Holy Week. It’s about 75 miles. Looking at the map the easiest route would appear to be going straight down the West side of the Jordan. But there was one major problem with that route – for about 30 miles it ran through Samaria. Jews and Samaritans didn’t get on. Seriously didn’t get on! We hear that Jesus sometimes took that route, and being Jesus spoke to Samaritan people as he went.

Most Galileans going South took the longer route – crossing the Jordan to the East Bank, crossing over again near Jericho, and then climbing up to Jerusalem. It was a longer route, there could be queues and checkpoints at the river crossings, it could get very hot in the Jordan Valley, where the altitude is below sea level. And the climb up from Jericho to Jerusalem is about 3000’/1000m.

At one time almost all this area was ruled by Herod the Great (Big Bad King Herod) but after his death the Romans divided it up between his children (with 9 wives, 8 of them at the same time, he had a lot of children, who fought and squabbled). The Romans deposed the sons who got Judaea and Samaria, for bad behaviour, and imposed Governors. Herod Antipas got Galilee and the area on the East Bank of the Jordan. Philip got the area East of the Sea of Galilee (in modern terms, South West Syria). Philip was married to his niece Herodias, but she caused a scandal by divorcing him and marrying his brother (another of her uncles), Herod Antipas. John the Baptist denounced him for it, saying it broke the Jewish Law, so Herod Antipas had him locked up, and then at Herodias’ behest had him executed.

Hymn 771 If you believe and I believe

Bible reading

Luke 13: 31-35 Georgie Gilbert

Reflection   

Those Pharisees that came to ‘give me helpful advice’. What are they about? Are they genuinely concerned for my welfare, or are they pretending to be concerned, but actually trying to frighten me, to shut me up, to chase me away? There are times when it is hard to know whether to believe what other people say, to trust that they are open and honest. It is hard finding the right road between being gullible, and believing everything you hear, and doing the complete opposite and not believing anything or anyone, dismissing every piece of information as propaganda or a conspiracy theory. Knowing whom you can trust is so important in life.

Herod Antipas had John the Baptist killed. Now they are suggesting that he might do the same to me, or have me locked up. He may, but I haven’t made remarks about his love life, and he seems intrigued by the idea that I have power to perform miracles. So I don’t think he’s planning to have my head chopped off any time soon. He might think that I could be used as some kind of entertainer in his palace, but I’m not going to take that threat seriously.

I’m not afraid of Herod Antipas. I never try to rubbish anyone, rather I want to affirm them, make them feel valued and appreciated – but Herod Antipas is not his father. He’s neither particularly clever nor cunning nor ambitious. He’s really rather lazy: he’d like to feel important, but doesn’t want to put in any hard work, preferring a life of luxury and leisure – and he’s in awe of that woman he lives with and her daughter.

I am not running away from him, but I am leaving Galilee. I am going of my own free choice, going to Jerusalem, because I know that that is where my life’s purpose will reach its climax. Jerusalem is the Holy City, but it is a city with more than its share of unholiness – in terms of greed, corruption, scheming and violence. People go to the Temple there to offer sacrifices to God, but so much human blood has been shed in fighting for control of the city, or removing opponents. When I get there my life will be offered up as a sacrifice, but not in the Temple. My blood will be shed as a peace-offering reconciling humanity to God, bringing in a new Covenant between God and all of humanity, bringing new life and new hope. I love Jerusalem and its people. I love all people, in spite of what they do and say. No one is beyond my love – not even those Pharisees or Herod Antipas and his bidey-in.

I will not be distracted from going to Jerusalem. There are some voices that tell me there must be an easier way to serve God than facing arrest and execution. Some say that it would be foolish to die – that I can do things while I live, but can do nothing if I’m dead. Some say that I should forget trying to change the world, that I should think of myself, and not waste my time on people who couldn’t care less whether I live or die, and who have no have no intention of changing their ways. But I know that God can use my death to bring life, can use me to change the world and its future. I have set my face to Jerusalem and I will go. No one is chasing me. I go of my own volition. It won’t be an easy journey. Being there will be hard. But ‘today and tomorrow and the day after’ the world will change for ever, and a new world of hope will be born.

Hymn 555 Amazing grace

Prayers for others

Gracious God

It isn’t easy being a follower of Jesus

  • living up to your standards and by your values
  • telling the story of his life, his death and his rising again
  • working for change in your world

for some it is especially difficult

 they face opposition, discrimination, persecution

 from family, neighbours, the authorities

We pray for your whole family through Jesus

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

may they always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

may they have the strength to cope with their difficulties

may they succeed in their witness to Christ

 and their endeavours to bring change to the world

We pray for all situations in the world

 where peace and justice are needed

 for those with the power to make changes

 those who need to have a change of heart

 who need new priorities

we pray for all who are ill,

those who look after them

 and those who worry about them

those waiting for or receiving treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one

We pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn 355 You Lord are both Lamb and Shepherd

Blessing (3-fold Amen)

Be bold to share the love of Christ

 and show his love

and the blessing of God Almighty

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

rest and remain with you

today, and every day, and for ever

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