Lectionary -- Ordinary 17 (Pentecost 9) Year A

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Genesis 29:15-28 How Jacob married Rachel and Leah
Psalm 105:1-11,45b O give thanks to the Lord and call on his name
Or 128 Happy is everyone who fears the Lord
Romans 8:26-39 All things work together for good for those who love God
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Parables of the mustard seed, the hidden treasure, etc.

Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)
SA 28 Do not be afraid
30 Through the changing scenes of life
66 God is love, his mercy brightens
105 The great love of God
115 Let us sing to the God of salvation
118 Our God we know your providence
141 O for a thousand tongues to sing
147 Rejoice the Lord is King
258 When I survey the wondrous cross
400 The Saviour's precious blood
493 God is my strong salvation
542 O God of earth and altar
545 God my father, loving me

Sermon summary (click here for complete sermon on the lectionary gospel reading)

A glorious surprise

The establishment of the Kingdom of God, now hidden, will be spectacular, surprising and joyful. In the first pair of parables there is a surprisingly great result from a very small beginning. (Matthew 13:31-33).

That response at the wonder of it all is clearly demonstrated in another parable with the same emphasis on a surprising result, in the parable of the harvest in Mark 4, where it is immediately followed by the parable of the mustard seed or tree:(Mark 4:26-34).

As with much of the teaching of Jesus, the image he used of the tree in which birds come to rest can be received as an echo of an Old Testament idea. In Daniel we have the dream of the king with the vision of a great tree: (Daniel 4:10-12) in which the king is called upon to acknowledge the sovereignty of God (Daniel 4:25-26). There is a similar message with the sign of a tree in the prophecy of Ezekiel: (Ezekiel 17:23-24 and 31:6).

Another kind of contrast
Another kind of dramatic impact was created in the parable of leavened dough by giving something unexpected value, for it is a rare case in which leaven is used as a sign of something good. Usually, because it promotes fermentation leaven or yeast was taken in biblical writing as a sign of corruption: e.g. Leviticus 2:11; or in the teaching of Jesus,(Matthew 16:6) Jesus said to them, "Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:11-12). And in Paul's letters: (1 Corinthians 5:8). The lump of dough would rise regardless of what you thought of the yeast!

There is another Old Testament echo in the reference to three measures of flour, large amount to entertain guests (Genesis 18:6). The guests whom Abraham entertained turned out to be messengers from God.

Value without comparison
The second pair of parables emphasises the greatness of the result, the almost unbelievable value of the what God would do in establishing the kingdom. Nothing would be worthy of comparison with it so that it would be no loss to give up everything else to obtain this precious gift: (Matthew 13:44-46). It does not matter how it came about: the man working in the field came upon the treasure unexpectedly, having no idea that it existed, while the merchant, a big businessman knew of the possibility of a peal great value.

There are some other secondary themes in these parables: The value of the hidden treasure is not always appreciated, especially if we have many possessions. Remember the rich young ruler:(Mark 10:21-22); to possess it one must be prepared to give up everything else and the following parable after these two might be a warning that there will be sorting out of those worthy to receive the treasure: (Matthew 13:47-50). Not everyone sees it. It is like wisdom. In Proverbs (2:1-8, wisdom is likened to a hidden treasure. Wisdom is sometime personified as a parallel to Christ, whom the modern Indian Christian leader D T Niles called 'the treasure of heaven' in his hymn 'The great love of God' (AHB Hymn 105).
 
An alternative topical sermon is also being posted.

Chance or community chest?
The morality of gambling

The growth of gambling in the last few years has been a feature of community life and state politics. Church leaders of different denominations have been in fairly close agreement in questioning the morality of this development and research reports are showing great stress on families resulting from excessive gambling. It is one of those things on which people have make up their own minds in the light of the facts in our present situation. While there are biblical foundations for a Christian attitude to gambling, there is no direct teaching in the Bible on this subject. We need to consider two rather different aspects of gambling. One is the social consequences in terms of how people in general are affected by the growth of gambling. This included the affects of family budgets, changes to taxation, etc. The other kind of question is more a matter of individual morality. Is it right for me regardless of what the law allows? What are my values and motives if I do?

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Order of Service - Ordinary 17 (Pentecost 9) Year A - [more details to be added]

The Gathering of the People of God

CALL TO WORSHIP
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
-- Psalms 105:1-3

HYMN 141 O for a thousand tongues to sing

PRAYER OF ADORATION

CONFESSION
We have failed to love you with all our heart and to be good stewards of your creation: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We have failed to take up the cross of discipleship and to be good stewards of your gospel: Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We have failed to be faithful members of your church and to be good stewards of your spiritual gifts: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS
... your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

DOXOLOGY: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. -- Revelation 7:12

WELCOME AND GREETING EACH OTHER

Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME:
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 29:15-28 How Jacob married Rachel and Leah
[PSALM 105:1-11,45b O give thanks to the Lord and call on his name]
Choir: Psalm 105:1-6 Scottish paraphrase version
EPISTLE Romans 8:26-39 All things work together for good for those who love God
GOSPEL Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Parables of the Kingdom

HYMN 30 Through the changing scenes of life

SERMON

HYMN 105 The great love of God

OFFERING AND DEDICATION
SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
COLLECT FOR THE DAY
THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of the Hymn Book]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN 542 God my father, loving me
WORD OF MISSION
BLESSING
DISMISSAL
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ.

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