Song “No longer a slave”
Song “Im leaning on you”
Song “Let it rain”
Song “Psalm 23”
Song “The Lord is my salvation”
The world belongs to God
The earth and all its people
How good and lovely it is
To live together in unity
Love and faith come together
Justice and peace join hands
Song “I raise a hallelujah”
Let us in silence remember our faults and failings
Christ have mercy on us, and deliver us from our sins and may we amend our lives
The Lords Prayer in our own language
Song “Holy Spirit, Living breath of God”
Reading Matthew 16v21-28
Song “He will hold me fast”
Jesus wanted the secret of who he was to be kept a secret and he kept a low profile with regard to his messianic credentials to dampen popular, political, messianic aspirations, for those "with eyes to see". How different to some of our leaders today!
Having predicted his death, Jesus then speaks about cross-bearing discipleship. Not a popular concept even today! Why would you willingly choose this? But he warned that disciples must be ready to face martyrdom. I wonder how many of us would leave at this point?
The suffering messiah meant also a suffering messianic community. In its original context to 'take up his cross' meant only one thing, to die with Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus' call to follow him was not just to the disciples, but to "the crowd". It was embarrassing, shameful.
A suffering messiah is not easy for the disciples to come to grips with. He will be rejected, killed and after three days, like Jonah in the big fish, he will rise.
Peter told Jesus off for talking of such things and Jesus rebuked Peter. Out of my sight! Get back with the disciples. Aligning Peter with Satan is extremely harsh. Your thoughts are not God's thoughts, but man's. But we can all align ourselves with Satan and have wrong thoughts, say the wrong things and do the wrong things. That is part of our human condition.
Then he called the crowd to him. Jesus was calling all of them to discipleship like he is calling us.
If anyone really does want to follow me he must deny himself and take up his cross said Jesus. The image would conjure up cross-bearing criminals. A badge of shame. Who would want that? But that is our call.
Whoever wishes to save his life and follows, will save his life. Life here meaning soul, psyche as used by Jung. We are to abandon the destructive path of others and choose another path, the narrow way and loose everything, but gain our soul. And whoever doesn’t will lose their soul. What does anyone gain by winning the whole world at the cost of his life?
There are many things to choose at the moment. Protection of everybody or just for the few, capitalism or the future of the planet, equality for everyone or discrimination, care for the vulnerable, homeless, destitute, disposed or cold heartedness? It seems easy to see what is right but its hard to follow it through. May God give us wisdom and courage to make the right choices for the sake of ourselves, our children and our planet. Amen
Song “My dwelling place”
We pray for people and situations we are concerned about including people having to go back into backdown, the fatalism of young people, the desperate people crossing the sea in dinghies, continuing deaths from Covid 19, the ongoing unrest in Belarus, Hong Kong and Syria and other places, the rise of fascism, the government, the Rohinga Muslims, Muslims being persecuted in China, protection for key workers and adequate PPE, protection for Black and Asian people, for people on low or no incomes, for those with underlying health conditions and those over 60, care for those who are alone and those suffering with depression, protection for asylum seekers and refugees and ensuring that food is reaching the vulnerable and global warming.
May we not fail you. Amen
Song “In Christ Alone”
The blessing of God be upon you
On those you love and those you meet
This day and forevermore. Amen
With thanks to the Iona Community adapted