|New Book now Available|
Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
Matthew 2: 1-12 (Sermon: “Glorious Impudence”)
Ephesians 3: 1-12
Isaiah 60: 1-6
Psalm 72: 1-14
Light! Light, light and more light!
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of God has risen upon you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem,
wise men came from the East, saying:
Where is he who is born king of the Jews?
For we have seen his star in the East,
and have come to worship him.
And also with you.
***Note: This is for congregations who wish to enact the arrival of the Wise Men.
L: The Messiah has been born among us, full of truth and grace.
P: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has visited and redeemed his people.
L: You are among the select people, called to serve the Lord of light and love.
P: We have seen the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
*** Very loud knocking at the doors of the church
L: Who are you who knock at the doors of the house of God?
WM: We are those who seek the true light.
L: If you come in peace and goodwill, then enter freely.
*** Wise Men enter and pause half way towards the sanctuary
WM: Where is he who is born king of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East
and have come to worship him.
L: You will find him first in Bethlehem of Judea, for it is written by the prophet:
P: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are not the least among the towns of Judah,
for out of you shall come a great ruler
who shall govern my people Israel.
*** The Wise men process to the sanctuary and kneel before the crib.
WM 1: For this moment were we born into this world..
WM 2: For this moment we have spent our lives studying the heavens.
WM 3: For this moment we have followed the light, journeying from afar.
*** They present their gifts.
WM 1: O Child of wonder, Child of Light,
receive this gold as the tribute of our worship.
WM 2: O Light from Light, true God from True God,
receive this frankincense as the tribute of our service.
WM 3: O Light of all who seek you and joy of those who find you,
receive this myrrh as the tribute of our undying love.
L: Lord, now let your servants depart in peace, according to your word,
for our eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared
in the presence of all people, a revelation to all nations
] and the great glory of your people Israel.
P: Amen! So may it be for all of us, from this time forth and for ever more.
*** The Wise Men depart by another door as an Epihany hymn is sung
by the Congregation.
The coming of Christ was not, and is not, widely welcomed. Wherever there is epiphany there will also be darkness:
the darkness of old superstitions and dogmas which refuse to fade away easily;
the darkness of pride in the half truths that have masqueraded as wisdom;
the darkness of entrenched evil that hates the light and tries to dispose of it;
the darkness of apathy that cannot be bothered to open the shutters;
Let us make our confession together, Let us pray.
Most holy and most loving God, we admit to you and to each other,
that we are creatures who either through stupidity or wilfulness
often choose darkness instead of light.
Here and now we surrender to you our prejudices and proud opinions,
our short-sighted folly and our wishy-washy, wisdom,
our deep seated sins and our indifference to change and renewal.
Please forgive the darkness and pain we have inflicted on others,
and restore the light-starved hopes and ideals within them and us.
Trusting your grace, we earnestly pray: “Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within us.”
Through Christ Jesus our Saviour.
My friends, Epiphany is good news! The Light comes not to sear and blind us but to heal and save. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. In his name I declare to you truly: If you want it, your sins are forgiven!
Thanks be to God!
Embrace your forgiveness with thanksgiving, and begin this new week without shame or anxiety.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ enables us.
PSALM 72: 1-14 & 15b
Let the new king have your love, God,
fill this divine Child with your grace,
that the people may be treated fairly
and the poor folk receive your favour
Let the mountains be the slopes of happiness,
and the foothills a place for the good life.
as he stands up for the poor and weak,
and crushes the proud and cruel.
May this Child stir the generations to awe
as long as the sun and moon last .
Let him wash us like the gentle rains
that refresh the dry and thirsty farmlands.
Under him may goodness flower everywhere
and peace cover the world like moonlight.
His love will flow from coast to coast
from rivers to the furthest ocean.
The demonic powers shall fall down,
all evil enmity shall bite the dust.
Rulers of continent and island
shall come to pay their tributes.
Presidents and prime ministers
will bring their choicest gifts.
Parliaments will swear allegiance,
nations shall offer their wealth.
Our God has heard the cries of the needy,
the poor and helpless are now saved.
God has shown compassion for the neglected
and delivered the abused and violated.
From hopelessness God redeems the lost,
their blood is precious beyond cost.
May prayers of joy ever be increasing!
May praise forever flow unceasing!
Ó B D Prewer 2001
(Another version: More Australian Psalms p 128)
Ó B D Prewer &Open Book Publishers
They are still arriving;
some come to kneel,
others to stare,
drawn by his star.
They gather from the East,
South, North and West,
seeking a light
to redeem night.
They come in sore weakness
or in their strength,
seeking the Word
not before heard.
They offer their gifts,
baring their souls:
gold with their prayers,
thorns with their jeers.
They leave with new dreams,
or with new fears,
in joy or shame
never the same.
Ó B D Prewer
God of many races and faces, of the wise and the foolish, gladly we come to your light. You were ready for us, ages before we looked for you. You believed in us, long before we started to believe in you.
We thank you that we are counted among those who have seen your guiding star come to rest over Bethlehem, where we find your most penetrating yet gentle light. Here, in the company of Jesus, our search ends and our journey begins.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, is the Lord of Bethlehem! Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Glory be to you, God most high!
SERMON: GLORIOUS IMPUDENCE
(This sermon was broadcast on national radio
and is presented in that same form)
And Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:3
They saw the child with Mary his mother,
and they fell down and worshipped him. Matthew 2:11
The early Christians were impudent enough to claim that the coming of Christ Jesus was for everybody, everywhere, for all time.
In the story of the coming of the wise men (Eastern astrologers) to Bethlehem, they saw a declaration of the universality of Christ’s kingdom. This birth was not just a minor incident in an insignificant little nation, but a happening of cosmic relevance. It was a revelation; an epiphany.
They believed that in Christ God was breaking down the barriers of race and social distinctions and was superseding all other religions. This was indeed an impudent claim. That the man Jesus, a prophet of brief activity from a distant outpost of the mighty Roman Empire, was held up as the Saviour and Lord of all, was a pathetic joke to both cultured Roman and Greek. But the Christians went on impudently proclaiming this message no matter how often they were mocked, thrown out of town, or imprisoned and executed.
Theirs was an epiphany gospel. Epiphany is a Greek word used chiefly for the unveiling of a God to the eyes of human beings. It is the event of revelation.
Some times those first Christians expressed their glorious, impudent, epiphany gospel with plain words like St Paul used: “We have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. Or pictorially like Matthew’s story of the baptism of Jesus: “At that moment the heavens opened and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove to alight on Jesus.”
Also, some of those early Christians simply told the story of the wise men coming to visit the infant king. This was the unveiling of Christ, as the divine Saviour of the world.
This was reinforced with the words of the prophet Isaiah who looked forward to a time when the light of the Presence of God would shine forth from Jerusalem, and Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising........... And they shall bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
How does that impudent message sit with the present era?
The scenery has changed. Most of the old religions of the Mediterranean region have disappeared. Some have reappeared in fresh form. New religions like the Moonies, the Mormons, the Bahia, have emerged to stand beside old giants like Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism.
Unlike the days of our grandparents, Australia is now a multi-religious country where many options are in the market. We have become used to the sight of Hindu temples and the mosques of Islam, the consulting rooms of Scientology and the Buddhist temples.
These days there is considerable pressure on Christianity to drop its impudent claims about Jesus Christ as Saviour of the world. We are expected to stop proclaiming that in Christ Jesus God has done something unique for all humanity.
Much of this pressure comes from folk of considerable education and goodwill. We are told that the community can no longer tolerate a religion that makes exclusive claims about its founder. Such claims are divisive. Our world, they tell us, is weary of all bigotry, divisions and religious conflicts.
So Christianity is advised to file down its sharp edges, confess itself as just another religious mythology, and see its Messiah as just one religious teacher alongside many others.
There is a plea for a less evangelistic emphasis.
Some reckon the best thing we can do for the world, is to stop beating our own drum and get together with other religions to play a common tune. These look for a synthesis of religion.
Others don’t mind us existing, along with other faiths. These like the idea of plurality. They merely ask us to accept the relativity of all religions, and go about our business quietly, being there for those who like our brand.
AN ERA FOR LISTENING
Well what do we make of this?
To start with, let’s agree to the call for increased religious tolerance. Let’s agree to the end of patronising arrogance, which never has been an authentic part of the gospel of Christ Jesus.
By all means, make every effort to really listen to other religions, seeking the good in them rather than the nastiness which sometimes comes to the surface. We would not want Moslems or Hindus to judge Christianity by extremists like militant Irish Protestants or Catholics, so why should we judge them by their extremists? Let us talk with the good people, not the religious louts. Let us look for the highest, not the lowest.
Maybe God does have some particular words to speak to us from other religions. Maybe we would benefit from allowing Islam to challenge us with their sense of the awesome, holy oneness of God. Maybe we should let the Hindus remind us that God is literally to be found everywhere in creation. Maybe we should heed the warnings from the Buddhist about the danger of bondage to desire. Maybe we should allow the aboriginal people of this land recall us to the truth that existence is spiritual and the good things of earth and meant for sharing. Maybe we should hear the Jews more readily when they insist that it is an ethical God who reigns in human history.
I believe ours is an era when God is calling us to understand other religions, especially the international faiths that have stood the test of ages. We should respect them and treasure all that is good in them. Maybe God has a word to say to us through them, a word which we have long forgotten, or wantonly ignored, or stubbornly spurned.
KEEP THE FAITH
At the same time let us be true to our faith. Neither undersell Christianity nor presume to soften the sharp edges. God has spoken a unique word to us in Christ Jesus and it is our solemn privilege to share that word. Jesus Christ truly is our joy and salvation.
Often I encounter a contemporary myth which says: “Actually, all religions are the same at heart.” I hear that phrase regularly from the secular world, at social gatherings or in the after-chat of official gatherings, at wedding receptions or from a hair dresser who has just discovered that I am an ordained minister of the church. “All religions are on about the same thing. Different styles, same message.”
That of course is nonsense, an insult to Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Jew and Christian. It may be true that all significant religions are concerned with some common basic questions, like: “How did we come to be here?” or “What is the purpose of life?” or “Why do some suffer while others live pain-free and tragedy-free lives?” or “Why is our human nature so contradictory?” or “How do we find happiness?” or “How can we make this world a better place?” or “Is there life after death?” and so on.
We may be concerned with similar questions, but we do not give the same answers.
Christians give answers which draw heavily on the Jewish heritage, yet which are then uniquely shaped by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. That makes our message a different one from other populous religions. We are called to be faithful to our source and expression of answers. To tell it as it is for us. We are to witnesses to Christ to the end of the world.
I am not in the business in saying that others are all wrong and that we are completely right. That would be playing God. I completely leave the judgement of others to God, as I must also leave the judgment of Christianity to our Maker. My task is to be faithful to the Epiphany that happened in Christ Jesus. To water that epiphany down would be a disaster.
If I am talking with a member of the Islamic faith, and am attempting to really understand her position, I will not be helped if she waters down her faith to suit my Christian palate. That would be a hindrance to understanding and mutual respect. Similarly I want the Buddhist and the Hindu and the Jew to frankly witness to me concerning their faith. In fact, I would not respect any other believer who did not express their faith in a forthright way.
In the same way, I must be forthright with my friends of other religions. I must share my faith gladly and frankly.
Then that sweetest Lover, whom we call God, can use my Christian witness, along with whatever God chooses to use from other religions, to accomplish the beautiful purposes that are unfolding for humanity.
REJOICE TO BE CHRISTIAN
Today I rejoice to be a Christian, one of those to whom the light of God’s Presence in Jesus has been revealed. The early Christians told their story of the wise men coming from far nations to worship the infant Christ, with joyful impudence.
With due respect for other views and other religions, I believe the world still needs us to carry on with that impudence of the early apostles: Christ Jesus has a universal relevance. Let this be said clearly, let it be lived wholeheartedly:
And Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Though no person can look on God, we have seen the glory.
In the face of an Infant suckling at mother’s breast.
In the big questions that one Youth puts to Jerusalem teachers.
In healing of the deaf, the blind, the lame and the leper.
In the sweet sanity given back to the mentally deranged.
In the telling of parables that cracked open closed minds
In the honour of children and the respect for outcaste women.
In the anger that cleansed a temple but sealed the young Man’s fate.
In the anguish of Gethsemane and the sweating of blood.
In a Prisoner dragged before courts under the cover of night.
In his words of forgiveness spoken to the executioners.
In the awful cry of desolation uttered from a cross.
In the broken, dead body anointed by grieving women.
In a precious meeting beside and empty tomb.
In the greeting of peace granted to disciples in hiding.
In the promise to be with us to the end of time.
We have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
With joy and thanksgiving,
Let us long for, and ask for, the light of God in Christ Jesus
to drive back the darkness of human error, misery and evil.
Let us pray.
Where people are lost and jaded in contemporary consumerism,
where addiction to alcohol, other drugs, and gambling is causing ruin,
we pray for the hope of epiphany.
Where dictators rule without mercy or wisdom,
where democracies are manipulated by the rich and powerful,
we pray for the justice of epiphany.
Where youth, having no faith in the future. contemplate suicide,
where the long-term unemployed exist without hope,
we pray for the light of epiphany.
Where the church dodges its evangelical mission,
where the church evades its social and political responsibility,
We pray for the truth of epiphany.
Where the terminally ill face death fearfully,
where people without purpose face life cynically,
we pray for the love of epiphany.
Most holy Friend, to you all souls are precious; please take from our eyes the scales of prejudice or indifference, that we may increasingly share your compassion for the neglected and abused people, and do all we can to make your love real to them. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God has placed extensive trust in us.
That we who celebrate Christ’s epiphany, may go out and be small epiphany of the Presence of the Living God, I bless you!
That we may do this by living unpretentiously yet boldly, not looking for reward but going the second mile and forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven us, I bless you!
The grace of .............................
THREE BOOKS BY BRUCE PREWER
THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
BY ORDERING ONLINE
OR FROM YOUR LOCAL CHRISTIAN BOOKSHOP
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.