A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday Worship Service and Sermon

Aboard the Silver Whisper Between Cairns and Darwin, Australia

sunny 86 °F

Interdenominational Worship Service aboard the Silver Whisper on February 10, 2019

HYMN: Morning Has Broken

Let us pray. Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

A Reading from the Book of Genesis.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. (2:28-30)

Psalm 96:7-9, 11-13

Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name;
bring offerings and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness
Let the whole earth stand in awe of him.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it
Let the fields be joyful and all that is therein

Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the LORD when he comes,
when he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with his truth.

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
Jesus said, “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.” (14-27)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

Jesus did not tell the parable you just heard to praise investment bankers. He told it to teach us to use the gifts God has given us, to enjoy them and employ them, to appreciate them, care for them, name them, and give thanks for them. When we do that, Jesus says, we are worshipping God, the giver of all good things. When we do that, he says, our souls will sing for joy and our hearts rejoice because we will know how richly we are blessed.

This lesson about using gifts has occurred to me as we have sailed from port to port on this voyage. I come from a family that relishes Christmas stockings. People collect stocking presents throughout the year, silly trinkets that are more important than our big presents in many ways. We had a rubber band ball that was constructed from the elastic bands on the daily packet of mail. Only one person received this ball each year – sometimes for a silly reason, sometimes to welcome a new member into the family. Other little gifts were collected in a “present closet” throughout the year, and like all the stocking gifts were elaborately wrapped. World Cruises are just the place to find such trinkets, little toys made in China, flashlights won with trivia points, a heart shaped stone found on a beach. The opening of stockings began our Christmas celebration for many years, but we don’t do it any more now that our grandchildren’s interest in stockings has declined. They have rightly given up hope of finding the latest robot in their stockings, and they aren’t very interested in rubber band balls -- and my feelings are a little hurt.

Now if I want the gifts I give to be understood and appreciated and enjoyed and cared for – well, how much more must God want God’s gifts to be known and enjoyed. Jesus’ parable tells us essentially that God wants us to use our gifts, not stash them away. It is as though God says, “I give you the seas, sail them; I give you brothers and sisters, love them; I give you food and wine, enjoy them. I give you so much so that you will share what you have knowing there is always always enough. And one more thing, please care for all that I have given you. Don’t take it for granted and don’t abuse it.

From the beginning of time, God started talking about the gifts we see all around us. As soon as God pasted the sun in the sky and gave us breath, God taught us how to dwell in the land. The very first verse of Holy Scripture tells us who is in charge and how everything got here. “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, ” it says, and then the text continues, “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” Then the Lord God created Adam and Eve and immediately set them at their first task: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and take care of it.” The world’s oldest profession? Clearly, it is gardening!

God takes this issue of creation care so seriously that God gave specific commands to Israel to be a good steward of the environment, commanding the people to care for the land, to treat domesticated animals properly, to respect wildlife, to conserve trees and to bury their waste. In the Book of Ezekiel God asks: “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:18).

Scripture also makes it clear that individuals owned land only as representatives. No one was allowed to transfer land outside the tribe, or sell it in perpetuity. In fact, every 50th year— the year of Jubilee—all of the land reverted to the person who originally owned it. God did this to teach us that the land was God’s land, that no human being had the right to use it just for themselves.

So what difference does this all make here in the Coral Sea? What do we do about using our gifts?
It really isn’t very hard. We can start by being grateful. And then we can care about things like the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, millions of square miles of plastic bits that swirl together and kill the sea. And then maybe we wouldn’t reach for a plastic straw as easily. We could recycle, we could pick up trash, we could .... at the very least ... remember that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof – and doesn’t belong to us.

And we could remember that all our blessings are gifts, that no one can really pull himself up by his own bootstraps – just try that trick sometime – and make every day a Thanksgiving for the favors that are ours sharing what we have, living in hope of one day hearing the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The Prayers

Let us pray, giving thanks to God for all creation and for giving this earth into our care.

For all creatures great and small with whom we share this precious web of life,
We thank you, God.

For the sunlight of day, the deepening mystery of night, and the wonder of the stars,
We thank you, God.

From heedless misuse and dishonoring the sky and sea and land,
Good Lord deliver us.

From squandering our resources, and polluting the habitat we share with all creation,
Good Lord deliver us.

For the courage and wisdom to confess how little we have cared for God’s gifts,
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit.

For repentance and the determination to use God’s gifts wisely,
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit.

For those who mourn and those who despair,
Send Your light into their darkness.

For those we love who are suffering, for the burdens that weigh down our hearts, for our fears and anxieties,
Give us deep faith in your healing grace, O Lord.

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray in the words our Savior gave us

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Prayer for Knowledge of God’s Creation
Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order. Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. And the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Officiant: The Reverend William J. Eakins
Preacher: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress and Jill Ingham
Usher: Doug Kline
Expected time of next service: February 17, 2019 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 16:07 Archived in Australia

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