This week's eChurch was led by Harold Liberty
Psalm 123 read by Harold L
I lift up my eyes to you; to you whose throne is in heaven; as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their Master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.
Sing Give me oil in my lamp
WRBC Object The bench outside the church building led by Barbara L
Bible reading Isaiah 60, 1-7 read by Howard R
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you: all assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. 5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord. 7 All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple.
Sing Crown him with many crowns
Now take a minute or two to pray for specific people in your fellowship for whom the separation is difficult – those living alone; those who find it hard to get out (shops, resources etc.), those with limited opportunity to do things of interest, or whose mental well-being is challenged.
[We were able to connect through Zoom to friends in Lezhe, Albania – we heard from them about their lockdown; fortunately they only have 14 cases in the city, and the lockdown is working, but they cannot meet for worship either. We prayed for Pastor Mondi (our friend), and for the Lajmi I Mire church there.]
Using the card and/or cloth you got ready, make a PARTY hat, fascinator, headpiece or similar – in 3 minutes!
Bible reading Luke 12, 35-40 read by Harold L
35 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
35 talks about “Be dressed ready - ‘girded’ - long robes would be tucked up, out of the way of the feet, ready for travelling or work - a person without his rope is not ready for effort, travel, work. Lamps need to be ready - with spare oil, wick in order - such lamps do not manage themselves. Here are examples:
Are we inclined to leave it to others - or do we take up our responsibilities?
36 - The pattern here is: serving men ‘wait’ - master withdraws - master knocks - men open. Now, does it mean ‘wait’ or ‘expect’? - ‘waiting’ is passive, not really interested in what is happening; but EXPECT tends to mean with excitement, with a positive approach - the latter is commendable.
Master ‘withdraws’, as Syriac versions of the story might have it - the party is still going on, but he slips out. He knocks. What are your favourite jokes here? TELL KNOCK-KNOCK JOKES!!
And the Master knocks - but why? Usually he would call and his voice would be recognised (and a knock at night might be an alarm or cause of suspicion), but he does not want to disturb others or make much of the fact that he has slipped out, so he knocks - usually only strangers knock (Rev. 3, 20, Jesus knocks AND calls) - but the alert servants are ready and open, they are not caught napping. For us in our spiritual lives, sometimes the Master knocks, unexpectedly. How alert are we?
37-38; the writer has ‘composed’ this section; like a seven-layered Chinese puzzle;
Servants are blessed 37
Master girds in action 37
Masters serves 37
Servants feast 37
Master serves 37
Master comes in action (any time, even late on!) 38
Servants are blessed 38
The climax in the middle; the central feature is the RECLINING AND FEASTING OF THE SERVANTS. NB where does food come from? – the wedding banquet! – the servants are able to participate in the wedding-feast (COMPARE imagery of Christ and Church; the celebration is open to all, not a select few). the Master brings it from the celebration, and he does not give it to an underling, HE BRING IT HIMSELF. This is a reversal of expectation; the Talmud stresses that people should know their place and the teacher or honoured person should always be held in honour by pupils or followers, not the reverse, but here the Rabbi serves. Compare mark 10, 42-45; here is our example. Jesus is servant – what are we? But it is also an image of future promise – good and faithful servants get their ‘well-done’.
What does it mean for us expecting to see Jesus? – HIS feast becomes ours, he shares his banquet with us (COMPARE story of the great banquet where the invited make excuses), the Master brings it to us “on a plate”! – so NOW YOU CAN EAT YOUR CAKE!
Cake/biscuit now – celebrate – The Master provides from his banquet! The risen Lord promised to come again. He met his disciples by the lakeside, with food. Today the risen Lord promises us that we can share his banquet, and He will be the provider.
Sing “Soon and very soon” (African American spiritual song)
apologies for discontinuous audio during sermon