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.
Prayers for Busy People
        Title:  Brief Prayers for Busy People.
          Author: Bruce D Prewer
        ISBN 978-1-62880-090-6
        Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
email 
service@acresources.com.au
        or by order from your local book shop
        or online on amazon.

SUNDAY 27

 

2-8 October

 

Matthew 21: 33-46                                            (Sermon 2: ďThe Delusion of Ownershipí)

Philippians 3: 4b-14

Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20                    (Sermon 1: ďAre the Ten Commandments

                                                                                                                                       Just for the Elderly?Ē)

Psalm 19

 

ENTRY INTO WORSHIP 

 

God says:

I am the Holy One, your God,

            who has rescued you from living in bondage.

            You shall have no other Gods besides me.

 

Jesus says:

The very stone that the builders rejected

            has now become the corner stone.

            This is our Godís doing

            and it is marvellous in our eyes.

 

OR

 

The heavens declare the glory of God,

the Milky Way reveals Godís handiwork.

Yet I would mark all things down as a loss,

compared to knowing the perfection

of Christ Jesus my lord.

 

The stone which builders once rejected

has now become the corner stone.

This is Godís own doing,

and it is marvellous in our eyes.

 

Let the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart:

Be acceptable in your sight,

O God, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

PRAYER OF APPROACH

 

Holy, holy, holy are you most beautiful and mysterious God.

Holy, holy, holy are you, Christ Jesus, the very radiance of God.

Holy, holy, holy are you, True Spirit, the joy that lives in our hearts.

 

God our Friend, please do not allow familiarity to dull our awareness of your unspeakable love. May worship be the holiest aspiring and the dearest pleasure of our souls.

In the name of Christ our Lord.

Amen!

 

CONFESSION.  LITANY FOR DELIVERANCE

 

THEME: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

 

Save your people, God of truth and mercy,

from the chaos of divided loyalties

and the worship of many gods;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From making God in our own likeness

and the slavery of self-centredness;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From using Godís name trivially

and claiming him for our prejudices;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From neglecting sabbatical quiet times

and being obsessed with busyness;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From ignoring or despising the elderly

and over-indulging the new generation;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From glorifying  armaments and war

and wishing our enemies dead;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From watering-down love and marriage

and the exploitation of sex;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From the legal robberies of the stock exchange,

and the cunning thefts of tax evasion;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From TV programmes that twist the facts,

and cruel gossip in supermarkets;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

From those who preach greed as a virtue

and possession-lust which is never satisfied;

     Save us, God of truth and mercy.

 

O Jesus Christ, Saviour of all who lose their way,

O Healing Spirit, Power who renews the world;

     We need you, God of truth and mercy! Amen!

 

                                                                                          From ďPrayers For the Twenty-First CenturyĒ page 124.

                                                                                          © Bruce Prewer and Open Book Publishers:

 

PRAYER FOR CHILDREN

 

Loving God,

I wish I could be brave

like the Lord Jesus.

He stood up against baddies

and told them the truth

even though it got him

into big trouble.

 

But I am a chicken;

when I see a kids being bullying,

or doing other bad things,

I often just keep quiet

and say nothing.

 

I hope thatís not

how itís always going to be?

As my body and mind grow,

can you make my courage

grow big also?

It would be cool

if you could?

Amen!

 

PSALM 19

 

The Southern Cross signals Godís glory;

            the Milky Way gleams with holy handiwork.

Every new day tells a divine story;

            at night-time Godís skills are displayed.

All nations and tongues know this language,

            the message which saturates our planet.

                                             See ďAustralian PsalmsĒ revised. P 26-27

                                             © Open Book Publishers and Bruce Prewer 1998

 

TENANTS AND STEWARDS

 

          Matthew 21: 33-46

 

A besetting sin

            of stewards

            or trustees

is that they begin

to think the place is theirs.

 

Most caretakers seem

            meek when they first

            take up the post,

but in a short time

all humility is lost.

 

Likewise the trustees

            of a church

            or public hall

soon start to put on airs

and think they own it all.

 

Unhappy the house

            where tenants

            call the tune,

they soon resent the owner

and treat it as their own.

 

They scheme and plot

            to retain tight

            their stranglehold.

Some would even kill God

to keep their stolen world.

               ;                             © B.D. Prewer 1995

 

COLLECT

 

Gracious God, our Holy Friend, remind us each morning that we are trustees of everything we have. Remind us each evening of the love that can both bless the dayís achievements and forgive the misuse of your gifts. In success or failure, may we honour you by the cheerful way we accept your discipline and praise you by the loving way we trust your commandments. Through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen!

 

SERMON 1: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

 

Genesis 20: 1-17

 

The Ten Commandments? What do we make of them?

 

Somewhere I heard a 1950ís story about an old tribal elder in the highlands of New Guinea. A missionary, who happened to be very strong on the Old Testament law, and maybe not so keen on New Testament love, had tried to convert this old man to Christianity.  A number of times he had recited the Ten Commandments to the wizened elder. But the fellow remained unconvinced. 

 

Then on one visit the Elder said to the missionary: ďYou say if me come-get christianfella, I no longa stealem yams from neighbourfella. I no take neighbourfella pig or woman. I no cheat when makem deal, I no hide in bush and kill enemyfella he come by?Ē

 

The missionary nodded: ďYes thatís right. You cannot do those bad things.Ē

 

ďAyeehah! AyeehahĒ wailed the old man. I no more do them bisness. I big old. No strongfella. No more can do them stuff. To be christianfella likem old-old; they same sorryfella. Ayeehah

 

Itís a good yarn and highlights the danger of allowing oneís Christianity to be submerged by the Old Testament law. It is a grave distortion when law takes primacy over love.

 

Does this mean that the Ten Commandments are no longer important?  (Except maybe for the ederly?!) Would we do better to forget about them and concentrate on the New Testament?

 

ďNo way!Ē is my response! Like the ethical preaching of the great prophets, the Ten Cís have much to offer. I have four points to make on their value and place within Christianity.

 

1. AN ETHICAL GOD

 

The first thing that the Ten Cís point us towards is an ethical God. a God who is most concerned about the way we treat one another. A God who calls us to a high code of dealing with each other. Even the validity or otherwise of how we worship God is correlated with how we treat our fellow human beings.

 

At the time when Moses introduced this ethical concept, it was a revolutionary idea. Most gods had little ethical content. What those gods demanded were certain rituals, sacrifices, and festivals, and observance of taboos. Different gods had different requirements. If you were to keep in the good books of the gods, you had to be both wily and quick footed. What pleased one might make another one angry. Pleasing or placating the gods was a demanding exercise; often a balancing act.

 

In a real sense, life was chaotic because of the whims and fancies of the gods. There was no ultimate sense of right and wrong. It varied depending on which godís territory you happened to be on, or with which godís holy day you were in.

 

Into this religious confusion came Moses with his revolutionary message that there was only one God in heaven and earth to whom we were responsible. Moreover, the chief demand of this one God was an elevated moral conduct. Out of the chaos came the radical worship of one God who was most concerned with how we treated wife and parent, friend and neighbour, alien immigrant and slave, servant and even our enemy.

            I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods beside me.

            You shall not make idols out of anything.

            You shall no use my name lightly.

            Observe a day of rest-- and that includes your servants and slaves.

            Honour your father and mother.

            Do not kill.

            Do not commit adultery.

            Do not steal.

            Do not tell lies about another person.

            Do not last after any possession your neighbour has.

 

Later the prophet Micah was to sum up the true worship of this ethical One-God:

            What does the Lord require of you, except to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God

 

2. COMMANDMENTS ARE FOR HUMAN HAPPINESS.        

 

The second this we need to understand about the Ten Cís is that they were for our happiness. They are intended to give us a good quality of life.

 

They were not, as many have feared, an arbitrary burden laid on human shoulders. No at all! They are meant to lighten the load on our shoulders. They are a blessing not a leaden duty.

 

These Ten Cís direct us towards a higher level of happiness in community life. They are intended to help us get on together and to be fulfilled.  I must stress this! They are concerned with the maximum good of all, not for ego-trips of a few powerful individuals who want to do things their way no matter how many other lives they trample on. The ethical equivalents of post-modern individualism, ethical relativism, rampant selfishness, were banned.  The commandments are for the blessing of life in community.

 

As Jesus was later the express it: The commandments are made for man, not man for the commandments.

 

A community that honours and cares for the elderly, is less anxious and happier than one that despises old age.

A community that takes a day off from work to enjoy Godís creation is healthier than one built on unceasing labour.

A community where individuals do not steal or kill is a relaxed place in which to live.

A community that is not built on lies and deceit is a secure environment.

A community that puts store on fidelity in marriage and raises children in security is one that fosters the well being of all.

 

Much of the unhappiness we see around us today is the inevitable result of losing a once-honoured ethical framework. When common ethical standards are tossed out, misery comes in.

 

3: JESUS AND THE COMMANDMENTS.

 

How does this relate to our lives as Christians? As followers of Jesus, do the Ten Cís have an absolute claim over us?

 

I would have to say no. Jesus came not to enforce the law but to fulfil it.

 

Many devoted Jews in strictly observing the law with admiral zeal, also revealed the serious limitations of law. Zealous observance spawned more and more laws to cover changing circumstances. By the time of Jesus there were an additional 5,000 regulations to be observed. Yet at the same time the cunning worked hard at finding ways to get around the laws; keeping them by the letter but denying its spirit.

 

Jesus on occasions seems to have broken the religious law. Jesus was not a legalist. When the law came between him and helping other people, he appears to break it. For example, he defended the right of his hungry disciples to reap and eat some heads of barely on the Sabbath.

 

To be accurate one must say that Jesus went beyond the law. What I have called breaking the law was in fact going to the heart of the matter and fulfilling it. That is why he asked his disciples to exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

 

Best known of all is his summary of the essence that lies behind the OT commandments. Love God and love others as you love yourself; this is the fulfilment of the ethics of both Moses and the prophets. Love becomes the litmus test.

 

Some critics think that this is too permissive. They miss the point. Far from being permissive, to live by love leaves no loopholes at all through which the cunning can extricate themselves from morality. All situations are subject to Christís test of love.

 

4 WHAT THEN IS THE USE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

 

The Ten Commandments re not for old men who no longer have the energy to do bad things.

 

The Ten Commandments remain a brilliant practical guide for people in the full vigour of life. They guide us to discern what it means to be a loving person.  Without a practical guide, love can be turned into some abstract notion or into some sentimental mush.

 

The Ten Cís anchor things in real life.  To me they are like guide posts along the side of a highway. It is wise to drive within those guideposts. Drive outside them and you may soon hurt yourself and others.

 

However, there may be exceptional circumstances when to be truly loving, you may need to go beyond the guideposts. For example, there may be times when for loveís sake you must tell a lie: for instance, if a psycho-path with a gun in his hand asks where my son is, I am not likely to tell him the truth. Or if you are a prisoner of war, watching a mate die, and have the chance to steal some antibiotics from the guard house.  These are the exceptions when love overrides the Ten Cís.

 

But for most of us, most of the time, the truly loving course to take will be the way of the Ten Commandments. They are a very practical guide for loving in a complex world. They were given for a benefit, not burden. They are a blessing from a most loving God.

 

MOTIVATION?

 

In all this, oneís own motivation becomes extremely important. Do we humbly seek to follow the high ethical ground out of love or out of fear?

 

Far too often the law of the Bible has been observed out of fear. People have kept the Ten Cís because they feared divine retribution if they didnít. They have kept the law like an oppressed people living under the iron heal of a dictator.

 

I must admit that fear is a powerful emotion. It will usually achieve quicker results than love. An orator who preaches a fierce divine judgement on law breakers, who elaborates on terrible punishments and damnation, will gain a powerful influence over some. Such preachers gather around them fanatical converts who work for the cause like slaves. But fear does not change the heart, it does not give liberty and joy. Fear is not the Gospel of Jesus.

 

Love changes people. It changes our motivation. To have love awakened within us by Godís most beautiful love in Christ Jesus, is to find a resource that bubbles up like a limitless spring. It reshapes the way we think, it changes the things we want, and it alters how we see one another, and transforms how we treat each other.  Love may be slower than fear, but it is a liberating power that is inexhaustible.

 

Out of love, in true liberty, we can delight in the commandments and follow their guidance for the well being of those around us and for the fulfilment of our own happiness.

 

 

SERMON 2: THE DELUSION OF OWNERSHIP

 

Matthew 21:33-43

 

My aim in this sermon is to encourage you to recognise the delusion ownership. Whether or not you find encouragement, may well depend on how much a slave you have become to the delusion. Delusions donít often yield easily to a dose of reality.

 

Let me commence with this statement: This world, and everything in it, is meant to be one, glorious unity. When we know our own place within that unity, we are a blessing to the earth. When we refuse to accept our place, become a curse on the earth.

 

THE PARABLE FOR TODAY

 

Jesus told a parable about a vineyard, the tenants, the owner and his only son. I summarise.

 

A man planted a new vineyard. He planted a hedge around it to protect thew vines form fierce winds. He constructed a wine press and a storage tower. Once it was established he put it in the care of agents (perhaps more like what we call ďshare farmersĒ) to tend the vineyard pick the crop, crush the grapes and bottle the wine. Then  they were to pay the agreed percentage of profit due to him.

 

It was all a perfectly reasonable expectation.

 

But the tenants became big-headed, and they started to act as if they were the true owners. They fell into the delusion that it all belonged to them now. When the owner sent servants to collect his dues,  they beat them up, and stoned them. The owner tried again, with the same deplorable result.

 

So the owner had to take more drastic measures. He sent his only son, saying: ďSurely they will respectfully deal with my son.Ē   But those tenants, mad in their delusion of ownership, seized and killed the son.  

 

The parable ends with the destruction of those deluded tenants, and the vineyard being Handed into the care of other stewards.

 

In Matthew this parable of Jesus is aimed at the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They had become deluded about their own importance in the scheme of things. The reckoned they owned the religion of Abraham and Moses, not God. They would even kill Godís only Son. Therefore they would face destruction (as in the fall and devastation of 70 AD) and the sacred mission for the healing of the world would be handed over to the followers of Jesus. They would be the new Israel, stewards of the light and love of God.

 

If that remains what it means to us today, then it is apposite. We have a mission to fulfil. Yet we do not own either the church or the mission; God alone is the owner; we have to give account of our stewardship. Delusions of ownership will only lead us into a new destructive schemes.

 

WHAT ELSE MIGHT THIS PARABLE SAY TO US?

 

But maybe there is more to be said?

 

Parables have a way of speaking to different generations in different ways. IN this age the parable can speak to us all about the issue of our place in the environment. The bottom line of the parable is clear: God is the owner who has built up this world from nothing. There is no other owner. It belongs solely to God. We are only like tenants, or share farmers, or stewards within this vulnerable creation. Note that word ďwithin.Ē We are not above the creation, or beyond it like gods. Ours is a lowly but most important position; a part of it, serving within this complex and beautiful scheme of things.

 

Whenever we forget our significant yet lowly position, we are in trouble and so is the vineyard. If we puff ourselves up and get sucked in to the delusion that we are masters of this world, then we become a destructive force. No longer are we a blessing but a blight on the

the earth.

 

Once deluded, we will exploit the vineyard without thought of God or the future. WE will despise Godís prophets who come as messengers to warn us, and if push came to shove, we would do away with the very Son of God is he came among us today. In fact, we do get rid of him, not physically but spiritually. Those with an ownership delusion no not wan to have anything to do with the unsettling, confronting Son of God.

 

By rebelling against Godís claim on them, the tenants chose the way of destruction. When they become murderers of God they also destroy themselves in the process. Should we reject or abuse the holy Source of all unity and fruitfulness, we bring disaster on ourselves and on those around us.

 

So you see, this parable becomes very much our story. The story of the world as we know it today. Wanting to possess, wanting to dominate, wanting to exploit for immediate and maximum profit, we embrace the delusion of thinking we are god, and that we have the right whatever we want without fatal consequences..  The curse of the parable falls on us.

 

NOT AVOIDING RESPONSIBILITY

 

What I am trying to express is not that we should devolve ourselves of responsibility. We are not throw up our hands in despair and leave it all to God. The tenant or steward does continue to have the responsibility to make decisions, plan for the future, and to try and produce the best vintage that this earth can provide

 

Riding on a Melbourne tram I saw one of those mini-sermons which some churches display on their notice boards. It read, ďDivine power cannot work until human power stops working.Ē  I chewed that over and rejected it. It regarded it as faithless. We cannot throw down tools and leave it all to God. We have unique opportunities as Godís stewards. We are chosen and called for this role. Kangaroos were not chosen, nor chimpanzees, nor the great whales.

We are placed here as the tenants, the privileged share farmers, the stewards of God. Not to dominate the earth but to cherish and care for it.

 

Therefore we must use all the discipline and insights of modern science, all the appropriate technology which we have at our disposal, in order to better understand and more carefully care for our precious environment and its fruits.

 

REPENTANCE IS IN ORDER

 

The world is not ours but Godís. Perhaps the delusion of human ownership will only be dislodged by repentance. But that radical about-turn is costly to human pride. Repentance hurts. One English preacher in middle of the last century (D.R. Davies) likened repentance to be skinned alive before healing could come.

 

Am I preaching to the converted? Maybe, maybe not.

 

All of us here (and I meant ďallĒ) have been at least partially brainwashed by the ownership lie. All too frequently we live by the delusion rather than by the reality as revealed by the Galilean Teller of Parables. Our conversion should and must be a continuos process. The more we let both the word and the spirit of Jesus into our thinking, feeling, planning and working, the more we will find ourselves on the path to healing and at the same time bring some healing to a torn and sorry creation.

 

This is a most beautiful, yet fragile, vineyard in which we live our days. And there is a remarkable owner who comes among us with amazing love. This transforming love is free for all who turn to this blessed and holy One in faith and love.

 

 

THANKSGIVING

 

Most loving God, thank you for giving us life along with all the creatures that fly and swim and crawl and walk. You have elected humanity to rise even higher; you have shaped the human soul in your own likeness, and given us the responsibility of being your stewards on earth. You have entrusted us to care for the weak, bring order out of chaos, and create new possibilities.

 

When we became too full of ourselves and started to act with careless arrogance, you came after us. You called out to us through Moses and the prophets, and enlightened us through the seers and poets. Yet still we wandered.

 

You pursued us down the centuries and when time was ripe, you came among us in Christ Jesus your holy Child. In him we have received the costly treasure of the Gospel. By his love we are born into the family of your church, and made heirs of eternal life.

 

By your Spirit you are with us always; the Friend sharing our happiness, the Comforter in our pain and grief, the Encourager when weary or depressed, and the agent of new birth when we become deadened by our trespasses and sin.

 

Most generous God, most holy Friend, our hearts sing with gratitude for the blessings that extend through every hour. May we sing a love song to you each morning, and in the evening sleep peacefully with the light touch of your hand upon our shoulder. You are our health and happiness, the perfection that outshines our thanksgiving as the sun outshines a candle. May you live among loving hearts for ever and ever. Through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

 

PRAYERS FOR OTHERS

 

 

Holy Friend, health of the sick, comfort of the sad, rebuke of the oppressor,

judge of the greedy, hope of the repentant, friend of the downtrodden; 

            in prayer we lift up to you this world with its outrageous injustices

            yet also its outpouring of human kindness from ordinary people.

 

Loving God, let your blessing be upon those

            who serve their neighbours without thought of reward,

            who forgive their enemies seventy times seven,

            who care for broken strangers as if they were dearest friends,

            who weep with the bereaved as if they were sisters,

            who heal the diseased not counting the risk to themselves

 

Let your blessing encourage those

            who work for peace when the only result seems to be more violence,

            who preach and live the Gospel in the face of persecution,

            who feed the hungry although their efforts get misinterpreted,

            who stand up for the downtrodden in spite of public scorn,

            and who maintain the church when those around belittle it.

 

Holy Friend,

            please reach out your hand over each of us gathered here now,

            that our faith may be enlarged and fortified,

            our vision enlightened and extended,

            and our compassion refreshed and widened.

 

Through Jesus of Nazareth,

            whose love was good enough for the simple,

            too much for the proud and powerful,

            and absolutely amazing for all who shared his cup.

Amen!

 

THE SENDING OUT

 

What does the Lord require of you,

            except to do justice,

            and to love mercy,

            and to walk humbly with your God.

 

Love mercy and peace,

            from God the Father,

            the Son and the Holy Spirit,

                  will

            be with you now

            and evermore.

Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Australian Prayers

Third edition May 2014

ISBN   978-1-62880-033-3 Australia

Jesus Our Future

Prayers for the Twenty First Century

 Second Edition May 2014

ISBN 978-1-62880-032-6

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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.