The opening song is, ‘Amazing grace (my chains fell off)” by Peter Townsend. If you have problems connecting, try this direct link to YouTube:
Call to worship
Come all who have hope for liberation, for peace, for freedom, for God’s kingdom.
Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
You may like to light a candle at this time.
God’s truth has been revealed in the risen Jesus Christ, the light of the world. May the light shine for the hope of the world.
Acknowledgment of country
As we begin, it is appropriate to recognise that this great land has been home to our first nations peoples for many thousands of years. Let us also acknowledge those Aboriginal peoples who are the first inhabitants of the regions in which we dwell, and honour them for their care of the land.
We come from our villages, our homes, our families and the communities we find ourselves in. We come as people of the land, the town, the city, the office, the home, the business, the paddock, the road or the classroom. And we all come as the people of God.
Let us pray.
Lord, we give thanks for your nearness to us, and for those moments when we noticed you in the days past. Open our ears, our hearts, our eyes and our minds to expect you, to see your way and goodness in our lives and the communities in which we live. Come to us, once more, in our gathering and worship today, we pray.
Today we ask that we may understand what it means to be truly free. Recently we have heard of terrible things that have happened in this world, where people do cruel things to one another. Show to us today your vision for humanity. Show us how we can help make these things become a reality for the people in our lives. And forgive us for those times when we have failed to do what is right. Bless us as we worship you, we pray. Amen.
What is freedom?
What do think it means to have freedom? This video, ‘Dreams of Freedom’, is suitable for both adults and children, was put together by Amnesty International.
From the Bible
The Bible readings for today are from Acts 16:16-34 & John 17:20-26. The words of the Acts reading are below. There is also a video of a dramatic re-enactment of the Gospel reading underneath the reading from Acts.
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Their chains fell off
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
Dramatic readings from Lumo
Here is the dramatic re-enactment of the Gospel reading by the Lumo group with some extra verses added in (John 17:1-26). If you have trouble connecting you can go directly to YouTube at:
The message is brought to you by Keith Robinson from the Riverina area of NSW. In today’s reading from Acts we hear how Paul & Silas were set free from jail and the jail keeper and his family were baptised (if you prefer to see captions, start playing the video and then select the ‘CC’ at the bottom of the window).
What do you thinking having freedom means? What will you take away with you today after thinking about this passage?
Before a time of prayer you may like to spend some time in silence sitting still. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Simply be still and open to God. You may prefer to do this while listening to the ‘Optional reflective music’ below.
Optional reflective music
‘There is a balm in Gilead’, sung by The Adventist Vocal Ensemble (the balm of Gilead is interpreted as a spiritual medicine that is able to heal). If you have problems connecting, try this direct link to YouTube:
Prayers for Others
Let us pray,
Eternal God, where there is hope, you are there. Where there is compassion and the desire for wholeness, you are there. And where there is the struggle for peace, you are there.
You are there where the hungry are fed, and the poor empowered. You are there where there is delight in the trees of the land, or the depths of the seas. Wherever love is announced, you are there.
In that knowledge, and in our simple faith, we bring our prayers for your creation and for the people of this world.
O Christ we open ourselves in prayer for: your creation … Silence
For others we have heard about throughout our world …Silence
For other people we know and are close to …Silence
For our church and our wider community …Silence
For ourselves … Silence
May God be with you by day and by night, and strengthen you both in light and in shadow. And may you know the freedom that comes from God and from faith in Jesus Christ.
Bless us and the people we meet along the way Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
‘And can it be that I should gain’, by Wesley. If you have problems connecting, go directly to Vimeo at:
The postlude is ‘Freedom’, by Bethel Music & William Matthews. If you have trouble connecting, go directly to YouTube at:
Messy Family Fun Psalm 23
There are many fun activities at HomeFaith based on the theme of the ‘Good Shepherd’ at:
Easter colouring in
To colour this in, first copy/paste or download the image. Print it out!
The ‘Blessing’ is based on content in the Saltbush service for this week, which can be found at: