Lectionary - Ordinary 21 Year A
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Exodus 1:8 to 2:10 The baby Moses hidden and discovered
Psalm 124 Our help is in the name of the Lord
Romans 12:1-8 Different gifts in the one body
Matthew 16:13-20 Who do people say that I am?

Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)
SA 76 Sent forth by God's blessing, our true faith confessing
8 A mighty stronghold is our God
72 Souls of men, why do you scatter
91 Morning has broken
144 Ye servants of God
153 This, this is the God we adore
295 Hail, thou once despised Jesus
308 Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
342 The eternal gifts of Christ the king
344 Christ is our cornerstone
354 Captains of the saintly band
367 All praise to our redeeming Lord
383 Stand up and bless the Lord
406 O happy day that fixed my choice
415 Lord Jesus once a child
416 Father, we give you thanks, who planted
454 I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity
487 A charge to keep I have
516 Master speak, thy servant heareth
522 O Master, let me walk with thee
543 God of mercy, God of grace

Sermon summary (Click here for complete sermon)

The keys of the kingdom

(Matthew 16:18-19) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. {19} I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

You can tell which one is Peter because he will be the one holding keys, the disciple to whom Jesus said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven". These words of scripture have been used polemically in many generations of controversy about questions of authority in the church. Is there anything in it of value to ordinary Christians who are not concerned with controversies about church government? It is a genuinely difficult problem. There is no quick and easy solution.

We live in a time, especially in the West, when individual liberty is so highly valued that any authoritative guidance tends to be resented and distrusted.

When Jesus said, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, he was using a common way of speaking about the traditional teaching authority of the rabbis or the scribes in "binding" (that is, forbidding) and "loosing" (that is, permitting). Jesus was saying that God forbids or permits what Peter forbids or permits. That is a very heavy endorsement. The keys were a symbol of authority (Isaiah 22:20-22; cf. Matthew 13:52; 23:2-3,13 [do what the scribes teach not what they do]).

Making faith appear to be the rock will not do. As we have seen recently, in Chapter 14 Matthew reports how Peter doubted and how Jesus spoke to them all as "you of little faith". As later events were to demonstrate, Peter's faith, like the rest, was unreliable; and they had already worshipped him as the Son of God (Matthew 14: 34.) Peter was soon shown to have the wrong idea of what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah (Matthew 16:23). The threefold denial at the time of his trial (Matthew 26:69-75) might be seen to have been overcome (John 21:15-17), but his subsequent standing in the church depended more upon Jesus having chosen him to lead than on his intrinsic qualities of leadership. (See also Galatians 2:9,11). The problem today is that the given character of authority in the church is difficult for modern people to accept.

Jesus was so closely identified with humanity. It was his high priestly work to represent humanity in all its weakness before God. Hebrews 4:14-15, etc. He was new Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45. There are certainly some democratic elements in the representative character of Jesus and in the representative leadership of Peter with others within the councils of the church as exemplified in the "council of Jerusalem" (Acts 15 and Galatians 2:1-10), but you cannot do away with the fact that the source of their authority was from God. It follows that those who accepted the Lordship of Christ were not free to decide for themselves what authority they would allow Peter to have.

The pastoral authority of Peter and his position as a founding leader was shared with others. (Matthew 18:18-20; Ephesians 2:19-20; Revelation 21:14; John 20:22-23)

A parallel is drawn with the meaning of the saying in the Sermon on the Mount (also Matthew) encouraging people to build upon the rock of what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:24 cf Luke 6:46-49). In that passage it is clear that it is the teaching of Jesus that is called the rock on which to build. Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 10:4).

Not only is the leadership of the apostles shared within the fellowship so that it is both personal and collegial, and not only does authority depend on a church leader building on the foundation of the teaching of Jesus, there is another dimension in what Jesus chose for himself and taught his disciples about being a servant of those over whom they had authority. (John 13:3-15; Matthew 16:17). The sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-40) was called to mind by the way that Jesus addressed Peter It was a matter of a disciple taking up his cross (Matthew 16:21-25) and it was clear that servant leadership would be their role (Matthew 23:8-11), and with their participation in the death of Jesus came a share in the life of his resurrection (Romans 6:3-4), for not even death could stand against them (Matthew 16:18)

The keys of the kingdom then represent genuine authority in the church, exercised personally in a shared manner within the bonds of fellowship, it depends upon the teaching of Jesus and doing what Jesus taught, and above all it comes to us in the form of servant leadership in which disciples are called to take up their cross and follow Jesus, confident in his power to defeat all our enemies, even death.

Order of Service - Ordinary 21 (Pentecost 13) Year A

The Gathering of the People of God

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalms 124:8)
Let us praise the Lord,
The Lord's name be praised.

HYMN 383 Stand up and bless the Lord


O God,
we confess the blindness that is not even aware of sinning;
the pride that dares not admit that it is wrong;
the selfishness that can see nothing but its own will;
the righteousness that knows no fault;
the callousness that has ceased to care;
the defiance that does not regret its own sins;
the evasion that always tries to make excuses;
the coldness of heart that is too hardened to repent.
God, we are sinners; be merciful to us.
[From Uniting in Worship]

Almighty God have mercy on you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.


Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: The authority of the servant leader
A word to the children: The baby Moses - secret caring.
OLD TESTAMENT Exodus 1:8 to 2:10 The baby Moses hidden and discovered
PSALM 124 Our help is in the name of the Lord
EPISTLE Romans 12:1-8 Different gifts in the one body
GOSPEL Matthew 16:13-20 Who do people say that I am?

HYMN 543 God of mercy, God of grace


I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

HYMN 522 O Master, let me walk with thee

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE [Let us pray for our congregation, for people in need, for the mission of the church and peace in the world. And let us pray for the unity for which our Lord also prayed.]
O God, you have welcomed us by baptism into one holy Church, and joined us by faith to Christian people in every time and place. May your church on earth be a sign of the communion you promise, where we shall all be one with Christ, and joyful in your kingdom. Amen.
From mistaken zeal that will not compromise; from claiming true wisdom, but failing to love; from a worldly mind that drums up party spirit; from divisiveness, and refusal to listen to others; Good Lord, deliver us.
As you sent disciples into every land, O God, gather them now from the ends of the earth into one fellowship that chooses your purpose and praises your name, in one faith, hope and love. Amen.
Make us one, Lord, in our eagerness to speak the good news and to set all captives free, in worship and fellowship, breaking one bread together and singing your praise with one voice. Grant us the Holy Spirit.
Grant us the Holy Spirit, God our Father, so that we may have among us the mind that was in Christ Jesus; and proclaim him to the world. May every knee confess him as Lord, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
[From Uniting in Worship, People's Book, adapted]

O Father, fount of all wisdom, in the humble witness of the apostle Peter you have shown the foundation of our faith. Give to all the light of your Spirit, that, recognising in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of the living God, they may become living stones for the building up of your holy church. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN 367 All praise to our redeeming Lord
Make the good news known with love and unity, working with other Christians and seeking the truth together, in the name of Christ.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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