|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.
(These readings may also be used on Easter 6)
Luke 24: 44-53 (Sermon: “When Far is Near”)
Psalm 47 or 93
The grace of Christ Jesus, the one true-person, fit to be at the right hand of God, be with you all.
And also with you.
Jesus said: “Do not cling on to me. Go and tell my friends that I am ascending to my God and your God.”
Our lord has gone up with a shout,
like the sound of the trumpet!
While he blessed them, Jesus parted from them, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
Clap your hands, all peoples!
Applaud God with songs of happiness!
The man wearing the crown of thorns
is now king of all the earth!
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our king, sing praises!
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Your love, O God, rules all, and your Christ is forever close to your heart. Uncloud our spirits, unfetter our lips, set free the joy that too often subsides behind familiarity, or is kept in a corner by our reticence or formality. Let us thank you with unabashed delight, and through the hallowed gifts of precious music, praise you with uninhibited worship. Through this same Christ Jesus, our Brother and Lord.
CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
Let us confess how far we have strayed from Christ and his ways.
Let us pray.
For the times when we forget the Gospel and value each other by the outward trappings of social status, power and wealth:
Lord have mercy. / Lord have mercy.
For the times when we applaud the humility and sacrifice of Jesus yet we live by the rules of people like Herod, Caiaphas and Pilate:
Christ have mercy. / Christ have mercy.
For the times when we even try to measure our faith by the kind of success applauded by this arrogant yet lost and bewildered world,
Lord have mercy. / Lord have mercy.
God of mercies, heaped up and full to overflowing, please continue to have pity on our flatulent ambitions and degraded methods of dealing with the pressures of life. By your Spirit bring us to our senses, re-establish our souls in the fields of your grace, and banish forever the shame that would eat away our peace and let us back into sin. Through Christ Jesus our redeemer.
It is written for all time: “Through Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of Christ’s grace lavished upon us.......whom God raised from the dead to sit at his right hand........not only in this world but in the world to come.”
My sisters and brothers, hear this gospel, trust this gospel, for it is forever yours!
Thanks be to God!
Clap your hands all you believers!
Sing out your happy songs to God!
For God, the Most High, is awesome
the king of the whole universe.
Humbled nations are ready to listen,
races sit at our feet to be taught.
God chose this heritage for us,
a mission for a much-loved people.
God is uplifted as we cry aloud,
exalted with the sound of trumpets.
Sing your praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to this king, sing praises!
Our God is supreme in all the universe,
sing praises with your loftiest hymns!
God alone is worthy to lead the nations,
from amongst us, on the holy throne of love.
The saints and martyrs celebrate with us,
the soul-children of Abraham’s God.
For every nation’s coat of arms
is nothing compared to the God of all.
B D Prewer Ó 2003
Most loving God, we who believe that Jesus has been gathered to your right hand, and made the hope of the universe. We pray for his universal love to captivate our lives. May we in heart and mind daily live, through him, close to you, and discover the glory of heaven which is here on earth for those who believe. To your praise and through his name we pray.
SERMON: WHEN FAR IS NEAR
Luke writes: As Jesus was blessing his disciples, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
What does it mean to say Jesus ascended in heaven?
What does “up” mean and where is heaven in the cosmos that our telescopes have revealed?
At first glance, this language may seem fairy tale stuff .
At odds with our enlightened understanding of the universe. No longer do we have three layer, hamburger universe, consisting of heaven, earth, and hell. In that primitive view of the universe, “up” to heaven made sense, and “down” to hell made sense. These days we know about an immense cosmos, of billions of suns and planets, all expanding and developing from one mighty moment of creation.
The word “up” is a relative word on a spherical planet.
Ascending, going up, implies a different directions according to where one is standing on the face of the globe. “Up” when standing in Galilee is a different cosmic direction from that when one stands on the mighty rock of Uluru at the centre of Australia. “Up” for a tourist at Niagra Falls does not align with “up” for a tourist at Victoria Falls. Therefore a word like ascension is not, for many folk, a very helpful one.
Some have substituted the word “beyond”.
That also has problems. Beyond what? Beyond this cosmos? That puts God and heaven, and Jesus “at God’s right hand, far, far away from us. Which none of us believe, do we? What about that saying, which most of us hold to be accurate: “God is nearer than our breathing, and closer than hands and feet” The word “beyond,” like the word “above,” cannot be allowed to suggest a God who is remote.
What then can we make of the ascension story?
First we need to realise that “up” and “ascension” are metaphors
for the exalted position of the One who was crucified. There is a paradox here.
Jesus went away from his friends that he might be always with them.
“Far” means very “near.” He did not go far up above them or far beyond them but nearer to them. Whatever else we celebrate on Ascension Day we must at least celebrate this: Our Brother and Saviour is now eternally, universally close to us. It is not about Jesus leaving us, but his becoming an intrinsic part of our lives in a new and radical way.
We need to take hold of the vital truth of this metaphor.
Otherwise the whole story will remain either an empty myth, or one that pushes Jesus and heaven to the extremities, far out of human reach. In the ascension, Jesus moved from the time-bound to the timeless, from spatial limitation to unlimited availability, from earthly shadows to eternal light. For all eternity he is around about us, “closer than our breathing, and nearer than hands or feet.”
[To insist on the literal meaning of “up” and “ascended” reduces Jesus to a kind of super Pooh Bear, A.A.Milne’s cuddly character, floating somewhere above us on a celestial cloud singing,
How sweet to be a cloud, floating in the blue,
It makes me very proud, to be a little cloud.
Even before our modern understanding of the cosmos, Christians did not hold such a childish notion. Many of the early scholars of the church, even with their limited cosmology, nevertheless
ridiculed such a woolly idea. Likewise the Protestant reformers, living in the period prior to the explosion of knowledge which produced people like Galileo and Newton, did not confuse metaphor with reality.]
It’s impossible to find the right words,
or even barely adequate words, to speak of the mystery of the heaven which overlaps, underlays, and interleaves, our earthly life. It is beyond words. Yet it is real. Heaven is a mystery which is all around us right now. Jesus went away that he might be fully with us. He has entered a new dimension of existence which makes his presence universal.
As we use Biblical imagery,
the idea of “up” might be confusing but perhaps the word “cloud” may be more helpful.
St Luke, both in his Gospel and in his book of Acts,
speaks of Jesus being gathered into a cloud. I find that more satisfying.
In Biblical metaphors the cloud represents the intimate, holy Presence of God.
The holy cloud is the shekinah. The shekinah leads the children of Israel out of captivity. The shekinah is over the mountain when Moses receives the ten commandments. In the story of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, the shekinah of God covers Jesus and the three disciples.
So when in the event we call the ascension,
the cloud is mentioned by Luke, it represents Jesus being gathered into the eternal presence of God. His spirit now stands (one could almost say “blends”) with the spirit of God. Like God, Jesus becomes available to all people, at all times, in all places. Matthew’s Gospel, which has no ascension story, expresses the same truth in his own way: Jesus said: “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
This leads me to a second level of meaning in the story.
Jesus seated at the right hand of God. In St Paul’s writings, and in the appendix to the Gospel of Mark, and in the historic creeds, the ascended Jesus sits at the right hand of God.
Again we have a wonderful metaphor.
The picture of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God is meant to convey the closeness of Jesus to God, and the authority his life and teaching now command.
The son of Mary, a ‘country bumpkin’ from Galilee, is above all others, close to the heart of God, now bearing God’s authority.
What beliefs and values tend up at the right hand of God?
What kind of a person? Philosophers and sophisticated music or literature buffs? The wealthy and the powerful? Dictators and armies?
No! It is only Jesus who ends up with the very authority of God.
He was humble and misunderstood, a friend of tax gatherers and sinners.
He chose to seem weak by taking the path of forgiveness and non-violence. He was hungry and thirsty and begged a drink from a despised Samaritan woman. He was hounded by powerful enemies yet raised no hand against them. He blessed little children, blasted hypocrites, touched lepers, spent some night alone in the open, found truth in wild lilies and sparrows, claimed that God was astoundingly generous and could be absolutely trusted. He was betrayed, arrested, denied, abused, tried by a “kangaroo court” and lynched by the cruellest known method. Yet he forgave those who did these things to him. He died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
It is this person, only this person whom God exalts.
On this Jesus with his particular beliefs and values, who is at God’s “right hand”? He alone. His love, his mercy, his joy, his peace, his meekness, his quiet yet tenacious strength, all these have the stamp of God’s authority on them.
WHAT ABOUT US?
What about us?
Can we trust Jesus more than the wisest academic or scientific genius? More than astute politicians and their social agenda, or powerful leaders with who assures us they know best? More than the glitzy stars of music and screen who are adored by millions? Can we trust belief in capitalism, or socialism, or survival of the fittest? I don’t think so!
Only one person is exalted by God.
Only one person is at God’s right hand. Only one person’s teaching and example can be utterly trusted. Jesus. Only Christ Jesus. That is what the New Testament and the great creeds affirm when they use the metaphor of sitting at the right hand of God.
Ascension Day says: Trust this Jesus.
Trust him and you will never be let down. Never. Of course you may be misunderstood, and may have tragedies happen to you and those you love. You may be “taken in” by some who wish to exploit what they see as your naivety, or abused by some who misjudge your compassion for weakness. But your Christ will be there for you.
You will never be alone.
For our Christ, far is near. The ‘ascended’ Jesus is closer to you than he was when he was in the flesh. He is with you all the way. In the final analysis you will never be let down by this Jesus. All things will, sooner or later, be seen to have worked together for good.
Trust Christ Jesus, is to love him and follow him today.
This is to go on that journey which begins and continues in the intimate fellowship of the Spirit of Christ, and which ends up (even for you and me!) at the right hand of God.
Please God! Keep us in that faith!
God of the humble and the homeless
the poor and the persecuted,
we thank you for exalting Christ Jesus
and giving him a name above all other names.
Today we rejoice
that the meekest and truest
of all earth’s children
is at your right hand
Now we know for sure
that the homeless son of man
is more truly at home
than anyone else on earth.
Today the poor teacher
who begged for a cup of water
and slept on the wild heath,
shows us the way to glory
With gratitude we sing
of the man on a cross
who’s now the exalted first-born
of a new, everlasting race.
All thanks and praise to you
God of Christ Jesus and our God!
God of the defeated and the lonely,
the despised and the hungry,
the misjudged and the imprisoned,
the suffering and the dying,
we rejoice with great joy
praising his name
and adoring your love!
Ó B D Prewer
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
For our own needs, and the needs of those around us,
Let us pray
Holy Friend, loving God and Saviour, we pray to you, both when we are at our wits end and on those days when we feel reasonably capable and competent.
We ask you to bless our attempts to aid at least some of the lonely, suffering, bewildered, and grieving people on earth.
Yet our efforts towards loving our neighbours, both individual and corporate, even at their best and most efficient are piecemeal.
Sometimes, in spite of our good intentions, our endeavours may be ill advised and ill directed.
Please, by the loving work of your Holy Spirit, do for our fellow human beings that which we cannot manage to do.
May no child of earth, be they friend or stranger, ever face distress or calamity on their own.
Please guide and bless those gifted people who seem to have the knack of loving others in appropriate, practical ways.
Give each of us the commitment and wisdom to express our compassion more wisely and lovingly.
Loving God, to you all persons are precious. No neighbour is a nuisance. No enemy is beyond the
pale. Please teach us your ways.
Let no person be forgotten, none neglected, none despised, and none judged as unworthy of the best care that is available.
Bring the day nearer when your church on earth may become more truly a redeemed and redeeming community of grace, mercy and peace.
Through Christ Jesus. our exalted Brother and Lord.
Christ is lifted up, above all other names;
therefore go out into the world in humility and peace,
living with courage, not repaying wrong with wrong.
Christ is at God’s right hand,
therefore support the weak and respect everyone,
rejoicing as we serve the Lord Jesus.
May the blessing of the God of peace consecrate you,
and keep you healthy in body, mind and soul,
and without shame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The One who calls you is faithful,
and will certainly do this!
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.