Lectionary - Ordinary 9 - Year A
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Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19  Noah's ark
Psalm 46  God is our refuge and strength
Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28 (29-31)  Justified by faith
Matthew 7:21-29  Founded on the rock

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)
A Yr. A: Hymns for Sunday 9, Yr.A TIS  AHB SA
Ps A mighty fortress is our God 103 [8]
E Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) 129 56
E And can it be, that I should gain 209 138
Ps Be still and know that I am God
G Christ be my leader by night as by day 624 17
G Come let us to the Lord our God 577 490
E Come O Fount of every blessing 152
E Father whose everlasting love 213 142
Ps God is our strength and refuge 28
Ps God is the refuge of his saints 120 45
O Great is your faithfulness 654
G Help us, O Lord, to learn 428 340
G How firm a foundation, you people of God 578 491
Ps Hush now, I am your God
O/G If we will trust in God to guide us 534 459
E I'm not ashamed to own my Lord 562 470
E In Christ there is no east or west 459 391
G Jesus my Lord, let me be near you 656 54
O Lord of our life and God of our salvation 345
O Lord, hear my praying, listen to me 689
O Now in the name of him who sent 488 413
O/Ps O God of Bethel, by whose hand 564 49
G Rock of Ages, cleft for me 222 157
O Touch the earth lightly 668
G Well Jesus is the rock 669
G When we walk with the Lord 531

Sermon summary (Click here for complete sermon)

There is some tension between the reading from the gospel today in Matthew and passages we read from Romans. One is about taking action and the other about faith alone being sufficient. If we grasp the words of Jesus about acting on what he said, as Matthew gives them to us, Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock, we will be developing an attitude, a way of living, in which we act in faith. That is not the same thing, exactly, as having faith, and it is worth exploring a little deeper the meaning of this saying.

It should not threaten us to allow that there might be some conflict between New Testament writers. They had different tasks in different situations. Actively seeking the truth without fear or favour is indeed part of acting in faith.

In his letter to the Romans Paul speaks strongly of how believers are justified by faith, while Matthew reports Jesus teaching the wisdom of acting upon his words. (Matthew 7:24-27; cf Romans 1:16-17; Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 6:19-21; Romans 3:22b). The major theme of Paul's letter is that in Christ God has acted to give new life to all peoples who will receive it in faith; it is a free gift, not something to be earned or achieved. (On justification by faith, see also the sermon for two weeks hence, Put right with God by faith.) Paul appealed to similar wisdom as Jesus in Matthew 6:19 when he called upon people to trust God in Christ rather than our ability to do the right thing which in its reliance upon ourselves rather than God is not essentially different from trusting in worldly wealth and power.

We often say that the faith is most simply expressed in saying "Jesus is Lord", that is we believe that he is God (Lord) and put our trust in him, but, according to Matthew, Jesus said (Matthew 7:21) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven". (Contrast John 14:15 and Romans 10:9, and the different emphasis in Luke 6:46-48). It is typical of Matthew to emphasise the importance of what people do (Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 25:31-36,40). For us it is no mere academic argument at a time when people in Western societies at least, and increasingly also elsewhere, put great value on personal freedoms of all kinds. There was a struggle in the early church to discover the truth in the conflict between doing and believing.

But really, should following Jesus be a struggle? The clue to the puzzle, the way out of the struggle, is that if we trust God and especially what God has done for us in Christ, if we have faith in him, then we are set free from the worry of whether what we do is good enough. Acting in faith is both free and secure. There need be no conflict between faith and action, believing and doing. Faith does set people free, not for selfish indulgence, but in the glorious liberty of the children of God who love to act in faith.

The Gathering of the People of God

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Selected from Psalms 46:1-7)

HYMN A mighty fortress is our God. TIS 103, AHB 8.

Loving God, Lord of the Church, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed: we have not loved you with all our heart or served you with all our strength; we have been blind to the vision of a renewed world and deaf to your call to costly discipleship; we have been indifferent to the suffering of others and unwilling to forgive one another. In your mercy, Lord, pardon and restore us, that together in the ministry of Christ we may serve you with joy all the days of our life. Amen.

The good news is that all who trust in Christ will have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life. As you hold this faith, I declare that you are set free from all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Thanks be to God.


Service of the Word


OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19  Noah's ark
PSALM 46  God is our refuge and strength
EPISTLE Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28 (29-31)  Justified by faith
GOSPEL Matthew 7:21-29  Founded on the rock

HYMN Great is your faithfulness. TIS 654


Father, we pray for the holy catholic Church;
that we all may be one.
Grant that every member of the church
may truly and humbly serve you;
that your name may be glorified by all people.
We pray for all ministers of the gospel;
that they may faithfully proclaim your Word
and administer your holy sacraments.
We pray for all who govern and hold authority
in the nations of the world;
that there may be justice and peace on the earth.
Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake;
that our works may find favour in your sight.
Have compassion on those who suffer
from any grief or trouble;
that they may be delivered from their distress
We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
may we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.
Let us pray for our community
for the life and worship of this congregation
and for those whose needs are known to us.....
Let us pray for ourselves.....

Lord God of the nations, you have revealed your will to all people and promised us your saving help. May we hear and do what you command, that the darkness may be overcome by the power of your light; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper

HYMN Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound). TIS 129, AHB 56
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Thanks and praise ..... in the eternal hymn: [SA 100c and 100d]
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
We thank you ....

THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of hymn book]
THE LAMB OF GOD [Sing Alleluia 100e]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN Rock of Ages, cleft for me. TIS 222, AHB 157
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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