Crisis as a turning point

13 Jun 2021 by Gail Hinton in: Sermons

Welcome to the Church

<Sermon Introduction>

Call to Worship (Responsive)

The Lord has called us together in this time and place to become a fellowship of believers.
So let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves,
has been born of God and knows God.

Let us worship God together,
with thankful hearts, in spirit and in truth.

Hymn: Tis 179 Praise with joy the world’s Creator

Prayer of Adoration and Prayer of Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness

(based on Psalm 23) 

Lord, you watch over us night and day and constantly reach out to us,
yearning to lead us through life’s ups and downs.

All good things, sun and rain, the fruit of the earth,
the wonders of nature and the love of family and friends
are your gracious gifts to us.

You promise to be with us when we feel all hope is lost
and you are there in times of joy.

Your goodness and mercy follow us wherever we go
through this life and into the life to come
in your eternal kingdom. 

In this moment of silence Lord, we bring to you our confessions…. 

Lord, be merciful to us when we get caught up in our own dramas,
when we are in the middle of a crisis, we admit that we sometimes forget your promises.

Mothering God, be gentle with us because sometimes we feel awe at your greatness, and we fall on our knees,
and at other times we feel like you are so far away, that you don’t care or that you are not worth our time.

Be merciful to us because as humans we live in a state of joy and despair, faith, and doubt all at the same time.

May we come to know your love and forgiveness in more certainty

For this we do know,

In love you came to live as one of us, to show us the way to abundant life and to be our holy Friend, the one who will be with us to the end of the age and beyond.


Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Hear Christ’s word of grace to us
‘your sins are forgiven’

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: : Tis 687 God gives us a future

Bible Readings: Luke 24: 36-49 and 1 Peter 2:4-9

Luke 24: 36-49

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

1 Peter 2:4-9

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”


“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Sermon:  Crisis as a turning point

To help us think about mission this morning I am going to tell you a true story, but I want you to hear the story as if it is a parable. As you know Jesus taught in parables often and on the surface his stories seem like simple tales, however underneath the surface they have a deeper meaning or even layers of meaning.

This story is recorded in the ABCNews app dated 1 May 2021.

An old church site in Melbourne's leafy north-east became a developer's dream when it came on the market. But about 35 residents in Montmorency had a different vision. When the property was put up for sale, a loosely connected group banded together to try to purchase the site. Contributions ranged from $20 to $120,000, but in the space of a few days they were able to amass enough for a $220,000 deposit. An offer of nearly $2.2 million was accepted.

Resident Marissa Johnpillai nearly runs out of breath when she describes how the group plans to transform the former Uniting Church and kindergarten into a community centre. "There's been loads of suggestions, obviously," she says. "Shared food, shared meals, shared cups of tea, teaching each other how to do things, old and new technology, sharing between generations, lots of gardening, lots of growing food and cooking food together …" Ms Johnpillai takes a breath and carries on.

"Food swaps, plant swaps, people talk about dance in this space. Someone was like, 'can we put a basketball hoop outside?'"

For fellow resident Katherine Barling, the potential of the Mountain View Road site represents what she loves about the area she has lived in her entire life. "A lot of us have dreamed of something like this for some time," she said. "We're determined, and we have a lot of passion and a lot of goodwill behind us."

Ms Johnpillai said the residents were in the final stages of formalising a co-operative and were hopeful of securing a social enterprise loan. But she estimated they would still need to raise "at least $900,000" on their own. A busy period of fundraising, letterbox dropping, and lobbying is in store. Ms Johnpillai, a lawyer, said some of the group had offered to put their own houses on the line, such was their passion for their project. The settlement date is in the middle of June.

How does this story strike you? I am particularly drawn to the way the article describes the people who are rallying together to buy the site. They are passionate, and full of goodwill. They have dreams, and visions about the way the site could be used for the common good of community, and some are even willing to make a considerable sacrifice by putting their homes up for collateral.

Determination, passion, goodwill, dreams, and visions, the common good and sacrifice, these words are Kingdom of Heaven words, they are church words, they are missional words.

The news article does not say why the Montmorency UC was forced to close its doors, but I do wonder why they didn’t leave the building to the community as their parting legacy because even in the darkest moment of crisis there is room for a little ray of light.

A church closing its door is not the only kind of crisis God’s people have had to face. The history of the church since its earliest days is a story of God’s people facing one crisis after another. There have been persecutions, the black plague, political turbulence, and religious reformations. If we go further back in time to the days of ancient Israel, we see a people who faced slavery in Egypt, political corruption under their Kings, civil war, captivity in Babylon and foreign imperial rule. Crisis is nothing new, in fact it is a part of life and it is often a turning point, for instance under persecution the church actually grew in numbers and the turbulence of the Reformation brought about a shift in theology and put the bible into the hands of ordinary people, and in ancient Israel the exile into Babylon taught God’s people that God was always with them even in a foreign land.

There is a crisis of sorts in Jesus’ final conversation to his disciples at the end of Luke’s gospel. Listen again to verse 41 “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering,”. This doesn’t bother Jesus, he casually asks them, “hey have you got anything to eat?” They are in an emotional crisis, feeling two very different emotions, joy and disbelieve at the same time. To make the situation even more critical Jesus tells them they are to proclaim the gospel to all nations; I can imagine them processing this later and wondering how on earth are we going to do that? Have you got a manual for us Jesus? When we read a little further into the book of Acts we discover that on the day of Pentecost they were all gathered together, in a house behind locked doors, most likely still feeling joy, disbelieve and terror all at the same time. But what a difference the Holy Spirit makes, after the violent wind and the tongues of fire out they go to proclaim Jesus to all nations, and the church is birthed.

In the crisis we face, we too may long for a manual that explains step by step how to revive an aging and declining church, even one as difficult as an IKEA instructions manual would do! But that’s clearly not how Jesus wanted his first disciples to go about things, instead they are told to wait, because they must rely not on their own abilities but on God’s Holy Spirit.

To finish listen again to the way in which 1 Peter describes our mission.

We are “ a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of the one who called us and brought us out of darkness into the marvelous, light of God.”

  1. J. Wright describes our mission, saying

“It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission - God’s mission”.

We may not have a manual on ‘how to revive the church’ but we do have a clear mission to proclaim God’s plan to reconcile all things to Godself, to make peace with all creation and draw all people into a community founded on the love of God.

I believe that God gives us full marks just for ‘trying’, because in the end it will not be our successes and failures that define us, but our willingness, to take a brave step into the future as God’s partners in mission.


Hymn: Tis 693 Come as you are

Prayers of Intercession and The Lord’s Prayer

Offering Prayer


The Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.


Friends, at this table all have a place,
This is the joyful feast of Jesus;
where we experience the peace and unity of the Kingdom of God.

At this table Christ meets us and welcomes us as God’s beloved children.

Narrative of the Institution

Our Lord asks us to remember him as we eat this meal together, for on, night he was betrayed while they were eating together, he took bread.

He gave thanks to God. 

He broke it.

And then he invited them to share it saying,

Take, eat, this is my body given for you. 

After the meal, he took a cup of wine.

Again, he gave thanks to God and then invited all who were gathered to share it.

Saying, “Drink from this, all of you, for the remembrance of me.” 

Today we remember our Lord’s command and come to God with our prayers of thanksgiving…… 

The Lord be with you

And also with you 

Lift up your hearts

We lift them to the lord 

Let us give thanks to our God

It is right to give our thanks and praise 

Gracious God,

You have called us to be the Church in this place,
to be your chosen people, to be a priesthood of believers.

We rejoice in your words and in the wonders of your love
and join the company of heaven in the great song of praise…..

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest!                                                                             

Eternal God we thank you that you called a covenant people
to be a light to the nations,
through Moses you taught us to love your law
and in the prophets you cried out for justice. 

In the fullness of your mercy
You became one with us in Jesus Christ,
Who gave himself up for us on the cross. 

In Christ you call us out of darkness into your marvelous light.

In Christ we hear your words of hope and healing.

In Christ we are assured a place at this table and in the heavenly

banquet yet to come. 


Pour out the Holy Spirit on us
and on these gifts of bread and wine,
That they may be for us the body and the blood of Christ. 

Make us one with him,
One with each other
And one in ministry in the world,
Until at last we feast with him in the kingdom. 

Through your son, Jesus Christ,
in your holy church.
all honour and glory are yours, Father almighty,
now and forever. 


Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen. 

Breaking the Bread
The bread we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The cup we take is a sharing in the life of Christ.
The gifts of God for the people of God. 

Let us receive what we are:
Let us become what we receive

The body of Christ 

Communion seated and served. 

Prayer after Communion 

We give thanks that bread broken brings wholeness
that wine poured out replenishes;
that time spent with the Risen Christ and one another
is gift and grace.


Hymn:  Tis 531 Sent forth by God’s blessing


Each day may Christ form you into his likeness,
Each night may the Holy Spirit work silently to inspire and refresh you.
And right here, right now and for evermore,
may the love of God surround you.

Next Sunday: 20 June, 2021
Aspects of a healthy, vital church: Spiritual Growth.

Lectionary Readings:
1 Sm 15:34-16:13, Ps 20,
2 Cor 5:6-10(11-13) 14-17. Mk 4:26-34