Resources for 27th September

Music before we worship: Because He Lives (Amen) West Coast Choir (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activity ideas (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship:

We gather in the presence of God the Father with some words from Psalm 118

I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name

Hymn: Come, Christians, Join To Sing (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Loving Father

Author of life, you have given us breath to praise you, eyes to behold your mercy, and words to proclaim your abiding love. You have set apart a people to worship you in thought, word, and deed, and through Christ you have numbered us in the midst of them. Breathe upon us the promised Holy Spirit, that our minds may be opened to your wisdom and our tongues boldly declare that you alone are God.

By your grace we have been made a part of your family. What a blessing you have lavished upon us, that we can be known as children of God. You call us your children, and so we are. You watch over our coming and going; you nurture our growth with sustaining wisdom. You send your Spirit as a guide for our wanderings, and give the promise of Christ’s redeeming love to rescue us from waywardness.

We thank you for curiosity that leads to learning, for the willingness to move beyond what is already known. Use the spirit of inquiry to prod us out of complacency, and make us impatient to know more of your truth. By the gift of your Spirit, give us an insatiable longing to see your will accomplished. What a treasure you have presented to us, with this pearl of great price, the word of God. Guide us to the scriptures in search of wisdom, and give us the discipline to pursue the quest.

You have called us your children and made us members of your household. . What a privilege you have bestowed upon us, made citizens of the kingdom of God. What a harvest you have prepared around us, and all who are seeking the mercy of God Help us to grow as faithful brothers and sisters in response to your trust.

For all these privileges and blessings we bring our thanksgiving and praise.

Whilst we give praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.

God of love, in the wrong we have done and in the good we have not done, in choosing our way over yours and in trusting ourselves rather than you. We have sinned in ignorance; we have sinned in weakness; we have sinned through our own deliberate fault.

We are truly sorry. We repent and turn to you. Forgive us and renew our lives through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Methodist Worship Book

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Scripture readings:

1st John 3: 1-7

Matthew 23: 37-39

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: God The Father Of Creation (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

What do parents do?

  • Love: unconditionally
  • Encourage
  • Empower
  • Provide physical comfort, food and shelter
  • Individual relationship, not just with siblings
  • Listens
  • Has time for them
  • There at the peaks and troughs
  • Disciplinarian: corrects behaviour not the person?
  • Consistent
  • Teaches right and wrong
  • Teaches independence
  • Teaches to take responsibility
  • Role model
  • Encourages good living
  • Allows children to make mistakes
  • How does God act as parent.
  • Continual loving presence in our lives
  • Teaches us through scripture
  • Listens to our prayers
  • Forgives us
  • Seeks us to be righteous, to live well

Responding as a child of God

  • Handing over authority to God
  • Accepting him as father
  • Righteous
  • Learning: listening reading scripture
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Living the way he intends
  • Growing in discipleship
  • Become mature disciples so we can help develop others
  • Taking our role

Hymn: Father hear the prayer we offer (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Loving God you invite us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs.

Loving our neighbours as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world.

Lord in Christ we know of your healing and we pray that those known to us who are ill at this time may know your presence and anointing.

We bring before you……

We pray for those in despair anguish and grief that they may be reassured by your steadfast love

Lord we pray for the people of the world, for those living in fear and persecution at home and abroad. Lord we are one people around the world, all made in your image we pray that all are treated with justice and fairness. We remember the homeless, those in poverty and the plight of the refugee. Lord may they see the light that is the hope we find in you.

Lord we pray that our world tainted by division, conflict and war might be washed clean by your justice and peace. That the leaders of the world might tread the path that leads to healing and peace.

Lord we pray for the life of your Church throughout the world, may every congregation be a community of love and every Christian a witness to your grace.

Lord we pray for all those that work to make our communities a better place, for teachers and those who provide care to those in need. We lift before you those working in healthcare, local government and community facilities.

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves

May we know your will for us, guide us to make the right choices so that we might work as one to build your kingdom.

In the name of our saviour Jesus Christ we pray

Amen

Hymn: How Great Thou Art (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in the love and knowledge of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible StoryColouring pageActivity ideas(opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

James G. Kirk. When We Gather, Revised Edition: A Book of Prayers for Worship Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

Resources for 20th September

Music before we worship: Rend Collective – Rescuer (Good News) (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Father God, be the oneness that exists between us, the focus of our lives and worship, our unity of faith. Precious Jesus, be the peace that is shared between us, the compassion we show to others, our unity of love. Holy Spirit, kindle the flame that burns within us, the light that will shine in the darkness, our unity of hope.

Hymn: Ye Holy Angels Bright (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Lord of each moment. Be with us through this day.

You are Lord of each moment from our rising to our lying down, every step along our way, our travelling companion walking beside us on a familiar road.

Lord of each moment. Be with us through this day.

You are Lord of each moment. In our thinking and conversation your Holy Spirit inspires and your gentle whisper guides, accepting our burdens and sharing our load.

Lord of each moment. Be with us through this day.

O God, your grandeur towers above the highest peaks; your strength can make them tremble and fall. Your love is deeper than the valleys of the oceans, and as encompassing as the water that covers the earth. In Christ Jesus you call us your children and through him your word is forever made known. Be with us now as in Christ’s name we gather. Accept our praises as we confess him Redeemer and Lord.

To you, O God, we pray for ourselves: for forgiveness and for turning.

Lord, forgive us if we should ever put you to the test, when life is hard, we’re far from home or the burden is too heavy to carry alone. Draw us close; renew our faith in the one who brings people from wilderness and troubled waters into a promised place. In our walk of faith may we make that journey too, finding the peace and contentment that only come from you.

Let us live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel. As we focus our minds on the goodness ness of God we will have the assurance that in Christ Jesus we are forgiven.

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: 

Merciful God You have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding.  Pour into our hearts such love towards you that we, loving you above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen     Methodist Worship Book

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-45

Philippians 1: 21-30

Matthew 20: 1-16

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: All my hope on God is founded (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

Quite a few years ago I was a cub scout, like any self-respecting cub scout I took part in bob a job week.  I’ve a feeling the country had just turned decimal but we certainly new what a bob or a shilling was.  For those of you far too young to remember might I suggest Google.

Bob a job week saw cubs and scouts offering to do jobs for a shilling or after the decimalisation in 1971 five pence.  To put things in perspective a loaf of bread was about 10p, a first class stamp 2 1/2 pence and a pint of Guinness was 18 pence, not that a cub scout would know that of course.

So every year during bob a job week off I would go knocking on doors offering to do work in exchange for a contribution to our cub pack’s funds.

What confused me as a 8, 9 or 10 year old was the diversity and disparity of the payment in return for the work I had done.

Some kind, generous, or maybe just rich souls gave me 50p for a 10 minute job, well over the stated bob a job rate.  I once even got a crisp £1 note (remember them?) for shining a pair of shoes.  But of course there was the other side of the coin if you will pardon the pun.

There was one person, actually they lived in a very large house, who had me do 6 hours of back breaking gardening followed by washing and waxing their car.  All the time I’m working away sweating in the heat of summer I just contemplated how much I would get for my endeavours, totting it up in my head as I went along.  Eventually I had finished the long list of tasks and reported for my payment.  I was handed a sixpence, a sixpence!!! It is isn’t even a shilling!!

I still remember the feelings from the time. They probably echoed the disgruntled workers who had worked all day in our Gospel parable.

Those of us used to an hourly rate would empathise with the workers who had worked all day.  They had seen the ones who had started late get paid before them and receive a full day’s pay, when they went forward they were expecting more than the others yet they only got the same. 

How can this be? It doesn’t seem fair to us does it??  Surely the harder and longer you work the more your reward??  But as I found out on bob a job week that isn’t always the case.

The reason it doesn’t seem fair to us or make sense to us is of course because the parable isn’t about remuneration packages it is about the Kingdom of God and his amazing saving grace.  When looked through the lens of our salvation the parable makes a lot more sense. 

We are saved through faith by grace, that through our faith we might receive God’s saving grace.  Nothing we do can earn or increase that salvation.  We are saved by grace and grace alone.

Salvation isn’t based on merit, it isn’t linked how much good works we’ve done, whether we’ve led blameless lives or the length of our faith.  It is in God’s gift as verse 15 of today’s reading says “Am I not allowed to do what I chose with what belongs to me?”

Returning to the parable, the workers that had laboured all day expected more reward than those who turned up late.  Interpreting the parable in relation to salvation it makes sense why all the workers received the same reward.  There cannot be degrees of salvation, one person cannot be more saved than another.  We are either saved or not.

In taking Christ as our saviour we become labourers in the vineyard, we share then in the reward of his inheritance granted through God’s grace.

Whether we have been a Christian for 70 years or gave ourselves to Christ this week we share in the same salvation.  Whether we have never sinned in all our lives or are the repenting sinner begging God’s forgiveness we share in God’s grace.  Through the power of God’s amazing saving grace we all receive equal reward.

So as we labour in the vineyard let us remember we are not justified by our own efforts but instead let us rejoice in the undeserved incongruous generosity of God.

For to him be the glory! Amen

Hymn: Amazing Grace (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Loving God, we praise you
that you are not like the man
who refused to forgive,
even though he himself had been forgiven.
We praise you that you are a just God,
who always forgives our sins
when we truly repent.


Forgiving God,
we thank you for forgiving us
when we say sorry to you:
again, again, and for ever.
Please show us how
to be ready to say sorry to you,
and to each other:
again, again, and for ever.
Please teach us more about
your wonderful forgiving love:
again, again, and for ever.
We pray for people who do bad things.
We pray that they will realise

what they have done,
and be sorry and put it right.
We pray for those who love, care and pray for those
Who have been hurt, abused, and scarred by others.
We pray for the police service and the criminal justice system
That they might act justly and do what is right.
We pray for those who are sick – in body, mind or spirit.
We pray for those who love and care for them:
For family and friends, for doctors and nurses and support workers,
That all might know your love.
Lord Jesus, your wounds were deeper than our imaginings,
your love is beyond our comprehension.
You gave your life for us, Help us to offer our lives to you,
And in the service of all our neighbours.
“O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
And with him is great power to redeem.”
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer, and let our cries come to you,
Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Hymn: And Can it be That I should Gain (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

Father God

Throughout this coming week bless our eyes that we may see the needs that exist. Bless our mouths that we may speak with conviction. With our hands let us work in unity for your Kingdom, and may our feet not be afraid to stand for what we believe. And may the blessing of

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: True Compassion a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 20th September from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

James G. Kirk. When We Gather, Revised Edition: A Book of Prayers for Worship  Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

Resources for 13th September

Music before we worship: Come now is the time to worship – Peterborough City Praise Band (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Bless this time of worship, O Lord, we pray. Be the peace we seek in busy days, the strength to go on when spirit fails, the wisdom we need to live our lives, the love that we share in this, your house. Bless this time of worship, O Lord, we pray

Hymn: O Worship the King all glorious above (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Great and Glorious God

You are worthy of all praise, 0 God, more than could ever flow from our mouths. The birds sing of your glory; the day’s sun rises to honour you. The mountains owe their grandeur to your design for creation; the seas have their depth, as you have decreed. We blend our voices with all of your creatures, and join with your people in praising your name.

God of mountain splendour, glorious skies and mountain stream, God of nature, new birth, wakening spring and summertime, we bless your wonderful name.

God of awesome power, whose word the elements obey; God of redeeming love, who brings us to a promised land, we bless your wonderful name.

You are the source of our forgiveness when the lives we lead do not reflect the words that we profess. You are the strength we are searching for when faith is weak, as you draw us to your loving arms to bless. You are the hope that we inherit of a kingdom in heaven and on earth, one that will never cease. You are the source of all that we are or ever could be, and to you we bring this offering of our thanks.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we also come before him seeking his forgiveness.

We are mindful that each time we come into your presence how willing you are to forgive seventy times seven. Yet when people betray us we bear grudges and think ill of them. We are quick to anger when we feel we’ve been wronged. We do not hasten to seek reconciliation even when we would rather things were less stressful and tense.

Help us to love as you love, to accept each person for who they are, precious in your eyes. Forgive the prejudice, intentional or not, that causes us to turn aside, ignore the need or walk away. Help us to love as you love, to accept each person for who they are, just as you have loved us.

Forgive give us when we hesitate to emulate your example and help us to seek the peace Christ taught us to practice.

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:  Gracious God, like a mother you give us new life, and make us your children in Jesus Christ. Look on us in your love, and bring us to the inheritance which you promised. Grant this through Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen     Methodist Worship Book

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 114

Exodus 14: 19-31

Matthew 18: 21-35

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:In this age of sat navs and Google maps along with the ever increasing pressures on our time many of our journeys seem to take the shortest most direct route.

Sometimes the shortest route isn’t always the best route  How many of us when we have had time have taken the scenic route and grasped the opportunity to see things we wouldn’t see hurtling down the motorway.  An opportunity to see new sights and to learn more about the world.

The Israelites certainly took the scenic route, the journey from Egypt to Canaan would have taken just a few days taking the direct route.  Instead God, through Moses took them on a journey of 40 years through the wilderness. 

The long journey of God’s people was of God’s design and part of his plan.

By providing his people with manna in the desert God showed that he could provide for his people even in the most desolate circumstances.  We too have our own times of desolation when we lose someone we love and we are nourished in those times.

The direct route from Egypt to Canaan would have taken the Israelites through hostile territory which would have involved them fighting their way through.  Moses was leading a largely dispirited and broken people who had spent several generations as slaves, they were in no condition for such hostility.  By taking them on the long route God afforded them the time to refresh themselves spiritually, mentally and as a people of God.  Maybe they needed a time of wilderness to be more attentive to God’s voice.

There are times when we might feel that the church is meandering, probably even more so after the experience of lockdown.  But maybe like the Israelites in the wilderness there is purpose to it.  That it has been a time to recharge our faith, a times to glimpse sight of a land of milk and honey and ready ourselves for new challenges ahead.

The parting of the Red Sea is a motif of opening up of new paths for the people of God in their journey with the Lord.  A God sent path to a new existence as his people.  As we emerge into a new normal we as God’s church must be ready to tread new paths to new opportunities presented to us by the Lord. 

When we recall the account of Moses parting the Red Sea we often focus on the parting and its symbolic message of God showing his people he is Lord.  That their God is one who can control the elements. Yet often we neglect the fact that once the Israelites had passed through, the sea closed behind them. 

Once the waters had closed behind them there was no going back only forwards onto what God had in store for them.  The book of Numbers recalls the complaints of the Israelites in the desert.  They said “we remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

They had grown accustomed to their life in slavery and even looked back on it with favour and longing.  Despite the promise of a land of milk and honey in Canaan they hankered after a life they knew.  We too sometimes look back with fondness on how church used to be rather than glimpse sight of what it might be if we have faith in the Lord and step out in that faith to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Crossing the parted sea was indeed a challenge and test of faith for the Israelites.  Would the ground be like quick sand ready to draw them to their deaths, would the waters stay parted long enough for them to reach the other side or would the walls of water cascade down sweeping them away.

To make the crossing the Israelites had to step out in faith trusting in the Lord, a trust nurtured by their time in the wilderness, a trust founded on listening to God’s voice.

May we as God’s people share that courage and strength as God reveals new opportunities and paths for his church.  May we have that same faith and trust in the Lord when we are called to step out in faith.  For to God be the glory.  Amen

Hymn: Lead us Heavenly Father, Lead us (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Eternal, ever-living God,
we pray for those who this day need our prayers:
those we see around us…
those at their own home…
family and friends near and far…
strangers and communities we will never meet or know,
but whose peril we hear of and see on our screens…
those whose life is ebbing away
consumed by old age, frailty, illness or neglect…
those who grieve deeply for lives and loves lost…
those who cause grief and chaos in society
and who live seemingly with different values from ours,
for them and their victims and their families…
those who are forgotten, unnoticed, unloved, unmissed…
Lord God, in your abundance of mercy,
hear these and all our prayers. Amen.

Hymn: Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

Go from out into the land beloved of God. Tread lightly on the land, that your footprints may not harm. Touch gently with your hands, that healing may bring hope. Tremble softly in anticipation of the Spirit’s presence, transforming life with love in every time and place.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: how-many-times a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 13th September from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

James G. Kirk. When We Gather, Revised Edition: A Book of Prayers for Worship  Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

Resources for 6th September

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Music before we worship: King of Kings (Live) – Hillsong Worship (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.  Hebrews 12:28

Hymn: I cannot tell, why he whom angels worship (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers: 0 Lord. Day by day you guide us; every breath we take is a gift of your mercy. You strengthen our hands to serve you. You lift our hearts to give you all praise.

We come before you, in time and in space, in the company of sisters and brothers to give you the worship due your wonderful name. May our words be worthy of the trust you place in us and our meditations mindful of your benevolent care.
Generous and loving God
For the joy of fellowship, as we meet in person or online, for now reunited family together, sharing thoughts, concerns and joys, we thank you.
For your presence here with us, encircling our lives, your Spirit in hearts and souls, we thank you.
For our daily walk with you, the whisper of your voice bringing hope, wisdom and grace, we thank you.
Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we come too before him in confession.
Refresh our lives, Lord, in your living water, and we shall know that we are clean. For actions we regret, words spoken in haste, relationships hurt, trust abused, jealousy, envy, greed, forgive us, and restore that which we have broken, that your name might be glorified through our words and through our actions.
Refresh our lives, Lord, in your living water, and we shall know that we are clean

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:    O God, you bear your people ever on your heart and mind, watch over us in your protecting love, that, strengthed by your Spirit, we may not miss your way for us but enter into your glory, made ready for all in Christ our Lord.  Amen    Methodist Worship Book

 

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 119: 33-40

Romans 13: 8-14

Matthew 18: 15-20

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine! (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

I don’t think I am cut out to be a hermit.  Firstly I do like some creature comforts that you don’t find in most caves and secondly I’m way too gregarious for a life of solitude.  However like most of us I do appreciate a bit of alone time, mine is normally outside where I can take in the wonder of God’s creation and find time and space for some personal prayer time.

Which is why our Gospel reading often causes me some discomfort when it says in verse 20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.

This verse is often used at the start of intercessory prayers, I’m sure I’ve even used it myself, but in doing so it begs a question.  If God is only with us when 2 or more believers are gathered, what about when I pray alone?

We know that whenever the church meets, whether in person or online, to worship and pray then Christ is with us BUT also when an individual follower of Christ prays he is there too.

So maybe I am guilty of having used the verse out of context.  As we can tell from our reading it is in the context of church discipline following on from last week’s lectionary theme of binding and loosing.  It is in a context of creating peace and accord within the church, settling disputes, encouraging contrition and forgiveness in the search of unity.  The reference to two or three witnesses has echoes of the legal court cases described in Deuteronomy 17 and 19.  Legal aspects designed to bind the people of God to each other and to God.

So maybe I have been using the verse out of context in leading intercessions, because the verse seems less to do with prayer and more to do with Christian community.  There is the specific context of the passage in relation to the resolution of disputes but it also speaks to a wider context about how we bind ourselves together, with each other and with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whilst we are bound together in fellowship the singularly important factor is the presence of Christ.  The church cannot exist or operate without Jesus, Colossians 1: 18 makes it clear that he is the head of the church, that the church is his body, that without him we are not church simply a gathering of folk for our own ends.

The verse is a salient reminder that we are not a social club, a group with all shared opinions, likes and dislikes, that distinguishes us from such organisations is Christ and through his presence we become a community of faith.

As a community of faith we have shared values from Scripture, we have a shared sense of calling and commissioning but we also have diversity.  Jesus and his church welcomes all not just people like us.

It is diversity in the church that helps overcome the portrayal in society of us church folk being, well how can I say this politely, staid and boring.  Whilst a community of faith has a higher calling it can still be fun!  Psalm 133:1 reminds us “how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”  A vibrant church that reflects the diversity of its surroundings in one more appealing to those outside of that faith community and calls people to it.

Verse 20 of our reading says that a church community founded upon Jesus receives the Holy Spirit, whether we meet in our church buildings, online or both the Spirit is upon us.  But that Holy Spirit isn’t reserved for Sundays it envelops us each and every day, in all the communities and social settings we inhabit, it is in those settings it inspires and guides our personal ministry.

Being a true community of faith founded on Jesus as head of the church fosters love.  Our reading from Romans reminds us of our calling by Christ to love one another saying “love is the fulfilling of the law”.  The resolution of the disputes indicated by Matthew in our reading today are resolved by love, loving and forgiving one another in the way that Jesus loves and forgives us.  Jesus sets the benchmark we are encouraged to achieve.

Love within a community of faith binds it together, filling it with an abundance of loving care and regard for others that overflows and cascades out into the community it inhabits.  It is this love founded by the presence of Christ in Christian community that feeds our mission and encourages others to seek the Lord for themselves.  It is love that grows the church.

Whilst we might appreciate our hermit moments of solitude community is good for us, good for us as Christians because when we gather, however that might be, Christ is with us.  Through him, through his love for us we are bound in unity, we are given purpose for mission and receive his life giving grace.

For to him be the glory

Amen

Hymn: Just As I Am, Without One Plea (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Eternal One, we thank you for this opportunity to worship together in church and at home.

Please help everyone worshipping today, to learn something new about you…

We pray for peace throughout the world

and for everyone’s heart to be filled with love,

so that we can all live together in harmony,

whatever our differences are.

We pray especially for refugees and asylum seekers everywhere,

that they will be welcomed into their new communities and not treated cruelly.

We continue to pray for the time when everyone will have food,

water, shelter, medical supplies

and the chance to sleep without fear of tomorrow…

God of Love……. Hear our prayer.

You created our world and gave us life…

we are sorry for destroying your creation…

We have chopped down trees, polluted the air,

poisoned the rivers and seas

and destroyed the places where animals live…

Help us to change our ways

so that we can look after the world

and make it the way that you want it to be…

God of Love……. Hear our prayer.

We pray for all those who are sick in body, mind or spirit.

Especially we pray for those we name in our hearts

Please give them peace in their pain,

strength in their weakness and comfort in their sadness…

God of Love……. Hear our prayer.

Everlasting God, you have given us new life

and, as we go out into the world now,

we pray that our lives will reflect your love to all those we meet …

Amen.        Caren Clarke

Hymn: Shine Jesus Shine (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

You are a sign of God’s freedom. Go now in the Spirit of God. Create a holy place wherever you go. You are a sign of God’s freedom.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Holding Together a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 6th September from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Caren Clarke  Caren worships at All Saints Church of England, Harnham, Salisbury, UK

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

James G. Kirk. When We Gather, Revised Edition: A Book of Prayers for Worship  Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

Resources for 30th August

image

Music before we worship: Avalon – Indescribable (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Praise the LORD and pray in his name! Tell everyone what he has done. Sing praises to the LORD! Tell about his miracles. Celebrate and worship his holy name with all your heart.                                    (from Psalm 105)

Hymn: God is love, his the care (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Glory to you O God

You are a mighty God! And worthy of our praise!

We will proclaim your name, tell of your wonders, share your mystery, truth and wisdom, seek your presence always.

You are a mighty God! And worthy of our praise!

We will glory in your name, walk in your footsteps, listen to your word, trust and obey, sing your praises always.

You are a mighty God! And worthy of our praise!

We will serve in your name, show your compassion, give generously, carry our cross, show your mercy always.

You are a mighty God!  And worthy of our praise!

Lord, you came to call not just a few to be your disciples and walk with you in Galilee, but to be known among all nations as Lord and King.

Lord, you came to become the Saviour not just of the people among whom you were born and lived, but of all who take up their cross and follow you.

Thank you, Lord— you came for us.

Whilst we give praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.

If our lives do not always bring you joy, Lord, forgive. You brought peace, patience, forgiveness and grace to a world not at ease with itself. We bring impatience, intolerance and fear, none of which bring glory to you. If our lives do not always bring you joy, Lord, forgive, and restore to us the love we first knew, that followed wherever you led, and obeyed whenever you called. Lord, forgive.

In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God

Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:    God of all creation, you call all peoples of the earth into your Kingdom.  Grant that we, with young and old of all nations, may boldly confess Jesus Christ as Lord; to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and praise, now and for ever. Amen    Methodist Worship Book

 

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 26: 1-8

Romans 12: 9-21

Matthew 16: 21-28

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: May the Mind of Christ My Saviour (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

I’m one of those people who when they get flat packed furniture, open the box and promptly toss the instructions aside.  Two hours later when I staring at a pile of left over screws and a wonky bookcase I frantically search for the instructions and have to start all over again.

What I seem to forget is that instructions, especially clear and precise ones are invaluable.  Fortunately as Christians we are given a set of instructions as to how to live our lives both individually and as a faith community.  In our reading from Romans Paul gathers up a host of references from Scripture into an exhortation to Christian living.

His verses look at individual living and responsible corporate behaviour for Christians, they form a code of conduct for a faith community.  I’m sure I am not the only person to have attended a church meeting where it would have been useful to have some of these verses posted up on the wall.

Paul’s words provide a structure for the early church in Rome, setting out its shared key core values.  The early church was counter cultural, the values of its foundation were not shared with contemporary society.  The Church was called out of the world, it was a community set apart and often at odds with the world.

Its values of equality, love, mutual regard, peace and harmony were distinct from the society the fledgling church inhabited.  But no church lives in isolation from its surroundings particularly in our times.  The values that Paul exhorts us to are ones that we would aspire to see not just in our faith community but the community around us.

The values in our passage from Romans form norms that guide and sustain the church we are called to be of the same mind.  That doesn’t mean that we should all have the same thoughts and ideas.  In reality it wouldn’t happen and it actually wouldn’t be desirable for variety spices and flavours the church, it is its source of vibrancy.  By being of the same mind we are called to embrace and live to a shared set of values and goals.

The goals of the church are equally goals for the world.  The words of Paul are echoed in the #Bekind hashtag found on social media, the pay it forward initiative, the support of foodbanks and a host of good that happens in a world so often portrayed as uncaring.  Just as we seek those values to make us channels of peace, harmony and mutual love and regard so to would we wish the world to seek them.  That the world would join us in embracing a serving and compassionate way of living.

For that to come about, then we need to be far removed from my wonky bookcase flat pack efforts.  We need to follow the instructions.  When we take up our cross and follow Jesus it comes with an obligation to respond to that call in our living as members of the church.  To live out our faith in accordance with the values of our calling and of the cross, living a cross shaped life as part of a cross shaped church.

Now some of the values Paul describes are easy.  Or hopefully so.  Hating what is evil, rejoicing in hope and persevering in prayer should be the kind of things we readily grasp.  Others such as mutual affection and living in harmony with one another can prove a challenge at times.

But amidst Paul’s verses is a call to what many of us find the biggest challenge of being a Christian.  Exercising true forgiveness.  Paul writes “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them”.  Whilst I’m sure few, no none of you curse, blessing those who wrong us is a hard task at times.  When we are wronged we feel a range of emotions, hurt, betrayal and even anger.  These are the stumbling blocks to forgiveness, these are the things we lay down when we take up the cross.

Upon the cross we are forgiven, all our sins and transgressions are wiped clean, we are assured of forgiveness in the Lord.  In turn we are called to forgive others for often do we pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us”.

Forgiveness, true forgiveness may be hard for us to give, but it is an integral part of our faith.  The values and norms of Christian living exhorted by Paul are not a buffet or pick and mix, we can’t just choose the bits we like or find easy.  Faith is all encompassing.

It is that all encompassing faith lived out to a set of values and norms that encourages others to join us and take up their own crosses and follow Jesus.  If we embrace a way of living and being that genuinely cares for the faith community and the society around us we build the true church according to the instructions given to us.

This doesn’t mean just hospitality, being nice or charity, for those are just crumbs from the table, but a deep seated genuine sense of love, equality peace and mutual regard that invites others to take a place at the table.

Just as Jesus bids us to take up his cross and join him at his table may our faithful living be an invitation to others to follow our Lord.  For to him be the glory. Amen

Hymn: Make me a channel of your peace (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Lord God,
you reproached Peter because he had only human concerns;
but Peter just wanted to protect the one he loved.
We pray for people the world over
who find themselves in difficult situations.
We pray that they would all have someone
to care for them and lift them before you.
Merciful God, hear our prayer.
We pray for all who are persecuted for their faith:
for all who are misunderstood,
for asylum seekers who flee real danger in their homeland.
We pray for those who work tirelessly to address wrongs.
Merciful God, hear our prayer.
We pray for people whose lives don’t always work out right,
through their fault, or through no fault of their own.
Merciful God,
hear our prayer.
We pray for the people in our lives
who need your protection, Lord,
that we will always be faithful in prayer for them.
Merciful God, hear our prayer.

We pray for churches as they assess whether they are able to re-open safely in the midst of the pandemic, and ask for wisdom and sensitivity in their decision-making.

And we pray for ourselves, as part of that world-wide Christian family, that we may be faithful to our calling to lift up our cross and to faithfully follow Jesus wherever and however he calls us.

Merciful God, hear our prayer.

Amen.                                                               Revd. David Hinchliffe

Hymn: The Servant King (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Cross taking a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 30th August from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Revd. David Hinchliffe

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

 

 

 

Resources for 23rd August

rock

Music before we worship: I Stand Amazed  Celtic Worship (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: We enter this virtual space with thanksgiving and come into your presence with praise, giving thanks for your love and faithfulness toward every generation. Shout for joy, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness! Know that he alone is God. Let us Worship God!

Hymn:PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Great and Glorious God

You are our strength when courage fails, our protection when waters rise, our comfort in storm and gales, ever present throughout our lives. You are the truth by which we walk, the wisdom that is our guide, the message of which we talk, the bridegroom awaiting the bride.

O God of liberation, you call us to take action, and to live in the world – a world of brokenness and pain. We thank you for all those who act on behalf of others; we thank you for those who use the gifts you have given to do your will. May they inspire us to live to your call to take action.

Father God, you reveal yourself in many ways, so that many might know you as Lord. You are found written within scripture’s words, in the whisper of your voice and the wonders of this world. You are found in the greeting of a friend, a selfless act of love and a simple word of prayer. Father God, you reveal yourself in many ways; receive our thanks and praise.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our shortcomings as we lay them before the Lord.

For times and ways we have closed our eyes to the possibilities for transformation within our neighbourhoods, our nation, and the world we pray: Bring us new sight.

For times and ways we have closed our hearts to the opportunities for renewal within ourselves and within our church we pray: Reshape our hearts

For times and ways we have held back our gifts or resisted the gifts others would bring we pray: Give us courage and grace.

Though we may falter, God’s steadfast love is always ready to hold and support us. We are forgiven by God’s grace; thanks be to God.

Amen.

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:  Merciful God, grant that your Church being gathered by your Holy Spirit into one may reveal your glory among all peoples, to the honour of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.      Methodist Worship Book

 

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Scripture readings:

Isaiah 51: 1-6

Romans 12: 1-8

Matthew 16: 13-20

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: HERE I AM, LORD (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

For some reason whenever I read the bit in our Gospel reading about Peter being given the keys to the gates of Heaven without thinking of the church that had a huge sign above its entrance saying “Welcome to the Gates of Heaven”.

Unfortunately as you got closer someone had added a little handwritten note on the door saying…..”please use other entrance”.

As disciples we are the guardians of the church and the gateway to heaven, just as Jesus chose Peter as the rock upon which to build the Church, we too are the foundation upon which the church exists.  Jesus didn’t chose an inanimate object upon which to build the church but a living person, the Church is a living entity and now we are the living stones upon which it exists.

Peter was called to build the church and as the Church emerges from lockdown, facing new challenges, now we are called to rebuild and reshape the church.

Now that might sound very daunting, if it doesn’t then maybe we underestimate the scale and nature of the challenge ahead.  But we can take heart that just like with Peter, Jesus has chosen us.

If we feel overwhelmed by the task, and the new normal that the Church is responding to then we can take encouragement from Jesus’ commissioning of Peter.

The way Peter is often portrayed in the Gospel gives me, and possibly you, hope.  Peter and I share a few things in common, firstly he is a simple fisherman.  I too am a fisherman and like anyone I can have my simple moments.  When Jesus speaks and teaches Peter doesn’t always get it, he isn’t the most reliable disciple at times and only the other week we heard that he sank into the waters when he took his eyes off of Jesus.

But here he is in our Gospel reading today being entrusted with the Church despite all his shortcomings he is chosen and commissioned by Jesus.

Along with some of his shortcomings we also share in his commissioning.

With our churches due to reopen sooner or later we the living stones of the church have a prime opportunity rebuild and reshape the church, a church is a living entity that evolves to meet the demands of the space in community it inhabits.

The continuing presence of the church within the pandemic has taught us much, not least of all that we are not reliant on the church simply being a building but more importantly its people.

We have learnt how to reconnect with those who were previously unable to attend worship through the use of blogs, zoom worship and delivering worship sheets.

We have realised the number of seekers outside of Church, the number of folk seeking answers to life in the form of faith, hopefully we can make our zoom and you tube services and the like open to all.  Clicking on a youtube service video, then progressing to attending a zoom service is much less daunting for unchurched folk than walking through the doors of a church.  There is much merit in keeping these activities going when we reopen our physical churches for worship.

Our pastoral links have connected people via phone, email, and social media boosted by an enhanced understanding of social isolation arising from lockdown and shielding.

In our community we have seen the capacity for care and service through volunteers and neighbour looking out for neighbour, this and other examples are opportunities for the church to serve its community.

Like any rebuilding project it isn’t all about the new, it is a balance between the new and the sure foundations of the past.  Incorporating the treasures of our church life into how we do church.  Sadly because of the restrictions placed upon us, some of the pillars of our worship such as singing and the fellowship we share will have to wait.  This in turn affords us an opportunity to be creative in what we do.

These opportunities ahead and the ones we have already grasped, such as blogs and streamed services require us learning and deploying new skills, it may at times seem daunting.  I think the expression is you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in reality you can.  After all I’m writing this blog!

In tackling the new opportunities we should take heart from our passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  It tells us that we are equipped for service of the Church.  That we are given a range of skills designed to complement each other.  Paul writes in verse 4 that not all the members have the same function.  It suggests that one or two people shouldn’t be doing all the work and that we all have a part to play according to our gifts.  Paul identifies that the Church, the body of Christ is effective in its calling and purpose when all utilise the skills that are given through God’s grace.

So in these uncertain times, not dissimilar to those facing Peter when he founded the Church after Jesus’ death upon the cross, we can take encouragement from our readings today.  As we share in Peter’s challenge we share too in his commissioning by our Lord secure in the knowledge that we are equipped by God for our calling in what lies ahead.

Amen

Hymn:  TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

We pray for people who struggle with their faith:
through self-doubt,
through difficult circumstances,
through bad things happening,
through being led astray,
by wanting fame and fortune.

We pray for people who feel in the dark,
locked in a situation where they can find no answer,
that they might come to understand
that you are the key to everything they need.

We pray for ourselves:
when we are in difficult situations,
when we try to unlock doors that aren’t ours to unlock,
when we don’t focus on the kingdom,
when we don’t share our story.

Amen.                   Roots

Hymn: THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: A Different Story a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 23rd August from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship Book

Roots on the web https://www.rootsontheweb.com/lectionary/2020/108-july-august-a/proper-16/prayers.

 

Resources for 16th August

crumbs

Music before we worship: Pachelbel – Canon In D (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.  Psalm 67 v7

Hymn: There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Faithful God, who chose one people to receive your blessing, that through them you might be revealed to all people, we bless your wonderful name. Faithful God, who through one person, Jesus Christ our Saviour, brings mercy, peace and salvation to all people, we bless your wonderful name.

Thank you for the ordinary people who bring to our lives wisdom, love, a word in due season, compassion, peace. Ordinary people who through the Spirit’s power become extraordinary in your service. Ordinary people who through the love of Christ bring the presence of God into our lives. In giving may they receive and may their lives be truly blessed.

O God of abiding presence, you stoop to hear the murmuring of your people. You do not desert them in the midst of their fears. You see that they are continually fed, and promise that they will always be led. You provide substance in the evening to sustain them through the night. With the dawn comes the promise of abundance that will last them throughout the day. We are your people, called by Christ to the banquet. You heap your mercies  upon us and surround us with care. We thank you for how you watch over your children and seek to meet their every need. Through Christ we inherit your promised deliverance and entrust our lives to you. Hear our prayers as we make our entreaties; feed us the bread of life that Christ brings.

You ask us to be your presence in this world, to invite others to your kingdom, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and yet our words do not reflect our faith. This is our regret. Forgive us and cleanse our hearts, that the words we speak might be only those that encourage, bringing healing, wholeness, blessing and glory to your name.

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:    Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants; and that they may obtain their petitions make them to ask such things as shall please you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.      Common Worship

 

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Scripture readings:

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8

Romans 11: 1-2a, 29-32

Matthew 15: 21-28

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: My Song Is Love Unknown  (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

disciples

How many of us have an idealised picture of Jesus and his disciples?  If we tend to envisage them disciples sitting attentively at the feet of Jesus, learning from him as he patiently teaches them before sending them out share God’s love to the world.

If that is the image that we have then today’s Gospel reading shatters that idyll.

Here the disciples come across as being resentful of others outside of their cohort, dismissive of those in need, hardly the traits that we would want of Jesus’ disciples.

Similarly we encounter a side of Jesus that is uncomfortable for us, he dismisses a woman in need of his help in a far cry from the all loving compassionate Jesus we might envisage.

The whole discourse surrounding the Canaanite woman is challenging and a rather disconcerting.

In the preceding verses we hear of Jesus confrontation with the Pharisees and he and his disciples have crossed the border into what are gentile lands this must surely be outside of their comfort zone with different traditions, strange surroundings and people whom they have little in common.

That discomfort must have worsened when verse 22 we read that “A Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting”.  I think we would all be startled by a sudden shout and the commotion in an unfamiliar place.  But the disciples go further and ask Jesus to send her away.

Are they just alarmed at her behaviour?  Or is it that she isn’t one of them, that she is a Gentile and possibly even that she is a woman?  Are they acting to keep Jesus to themselves?

A woman comes to Jesus, pleading for help and he ignores her, as verse 23 says, not answering her at all.  This surely is a challenge to all of us who know the love of Christ.

But let us look at what else is going on as the exchange unfolds.  Rather than accede to the disciples request to send her away Jesus starts up a dialogue with her.  His opening remarks are challenging when in verse 24 he answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’  It reflects that his initial mission in the world to gather in the lost sheep is expanding, after all he has just crossed over into the districts of Tyre and Sidon.  He has heard her call him “Lord, Son of David” that unlike the Pharisees that he has just left, this desperate Gentile woman recognises who he truly is.

The Canaanite woman takes her place in the conversation, a conversation which appears extremely harsh on the part of Jesus when he says ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs’.  His remark is a real challenge to us.  He is suggesting that the children of Israel are superior to the Gentiles, that she herself is like a dog begging scraps at the table. This is hardly Jesus at his most compassionate!

If his remarks are a challenge to us then they were also a challenge to the woman.  A challenge that this feisty tenacious woman accepts responding in verse 27: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table’.”

She is saying, surely there is enough to go round?

This encounter comes soon after Matthew’s account of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 and almost immediately before Jesus’ feeding of the 4000 where we are told of the leftover food after the crowd had eaten their fill.  Is it a coincidence where Matthew places this encounter or is there a clear message that the abundance of God transcends cultural boundaries?  That there is more than enough to go round

Jesus listens to the woman, and rewards her tenacity of faith, her faith wasn’t Judaism but in him, as Lord.  She hasn’t forsaken her Gentile heritage or converted to Judaism, the encounter takes place in Gentile lands, her homeland a place that she is comfortable.

There are lessons here for us as church.  There is a temptation for us to expect others to come to us, rather than us go to them, to encourage them to join us on our terms not theirs.  We want new people to join the Church but we want them to be like us, to look like us and behave like us.  Not in terms of their Christian living we would always encourage others to follow the way of our Lord.  But we do at times have a desire for church folk to mirror us, to conform in order to belong.

So as we emerge into a “new normal” and reopen our churches may we be encouraged to step out in faith, meeting people in their setting, where they are in their lives and encourage them not to become like us but to become like Jesus himself.  For to him be the glory.  Amen

Hymn:  In Christ There Is No East Or West (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Almighty God, I come now to pray for Your world.

Your world which is full of brokenness, injustice, and inequality.

I bring before You the rulers of the world, local or national, and pray that they would remember that all power comes from You.

Almighty God, I pray for your church.

I pray that during these times we would unite in worship and service. I pray for my local church, and its ministers, that they would be strengthened by Your Spirit.

Almighty God, I pray for those known to me and name them before You, particularly those who are experiencing sadness, illness or uncertainty.

I pray for myself, that I would be transformed by Your Spirit, and live in the love which You have given me through Jesus.

In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Amen                                                                      Revd. Helen Hollands

Hymn: Let Us Build A House (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings People like us a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 16th August from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Revd. Helen Hollands

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

James G. Kirk. When We Gather, Revised Edition: A Book of Prayers for Worship Kindle Edition.

Common Worship

 

Resources for 9th August

Jesus reaching out

Music before we worship: Calm me, Lord. By Margaret Rizza (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.   Hebrews 10:23

Hymn: Now thank we all our God (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

We will praise and proclaim your name always and to the ends of the earth. We will tell of your mercy and grace, of burdens lifted, chains released, forgiveness, new life, hope and peace. We will praise and proclaim your name for all of our days
God of endings and new beginnings, we encounter you amidst a broken world. You invite us into these spaces of brokenness – into these cracks, through which the light shines. Thank you for the gift of your presence, even through the difficulty of the unknown and uncomfortable. Amen.
Forgive us, Lord, when we discriminate against rich or poor, by colour and creed or even attitude. Forgive us, Lord, when we do not share the power of your transforming love or reach out and touch where there is need. Whenever our lives deny the truth that we profess, forgive us and renew us, Lord, we pray.

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Almighty God, who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.         Common Worship

 

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 85: 8-13

Romans 10: 5-15

Matthew 14: 22-33

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult  (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

The story of Jesus walking on water appears in three of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, John). But, only in Matthew do we also learn that Peter also walked on water!

Matthew paints a picture of chaos surrounding the boat on the lake, raging seas and devastating waves surround the boat caught in a storm between the safety of two shores.  The disciple’s only refuge seems to hunker down in what they see as the relative safety of the boat.

Then Jesus appears amid the dark of the storm, unrecognised by most in the boat apart from Peter who calls out seeking the identity of Jesus.  But what can we learn from what transpires.

Peter sought Jesus, to call out to him he must have recognised him at least in part.  Jesus responded by bidding Peter to come to him across the raging waters.  If we recognise Christ in our lives he calls us to him also, when our lives are beset by chaos and strife if we call out to Jesus he bids us come.

Once he knew the identity of Jesus, Peter responded to him, he left the apparent safety of the boat to approach his Lord. Jesus does not invite us to stay clinging on to our security for dear life, but calls us to be bold and step out into the waves of our chaotic world in order to recognize and meet him there

Was Peter’s actions bravery or obedience? Probably both, it certainly was obedience for Jesus called and Peter responded.  Despite his fears he stepped over the side of the boat and walked towards Jesus.  When Jesus commands you, obey Him. Jesus told Peter to “come” to Him on the water. Even though to Peter the notion of walking on water would have seemed crazy and dangerous he did what Jesus said.

Peter walked upon the water all the time he was looking at Jesus he only started to sink when he took his eyes off of him.  The message is clear look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus. Peter was doing well, he was safe, he was walking towards Christ the only problem was that he stopped looking at Jesus. It is for us, especially when our lives are in tumult it’s when we stop looking at Jesus that we sink.

Fear will sink us. When Peter had faith, he walked on water. When he had fear, he sank in the water. Fear can grip us, it can cloud our judgement and decision making, but if we replace that fear with trust, trust in our Lord then we are saved from the perils that surround us.

Faith is simply taking the next step. Peter’s first step was to obey Jesus, he took the step of getting out of the boat. Peter didn’t sink at first, he was doing great when he was focused on each next step, he only got into trouble when he took his eyes off of his next step.  When we walk towards our saviour we too need to concentrate on each and every step in that journey.

Peter had faith, maybe not in abundance as Jesus spoke of Peter’s “little faith”. But a little faith is better than no faith.  We all have times when our faith is weak, the world around us, the pressures of life, grief all such things sometimes leave us of “little faith”.  That faith however small is the building block of greater faith.  We might worry when we are of “little faith” but just like Peter, when we begin to sink, Jesus doesn’t abandon us.

When Peter began to sink, Jesus reached out and saved him, when we are beset by life’s storms, when we are sinking into the murky waters of despair Jesus reaches out and saves us too.

So may our faith sustain us in our walking towards Christ, casting aside our fears and doubts may our eyes be fixed on him each step of the way until we reach his saving and loving arms.  Amen

Hymn:  Dear Lord and Father of mankind (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

God does not abandon us in our fear for ourselves or of others. God comes to us, God journeys with us and God can be trusted even when all seems lost. Thanks be to God!

Let us pray and let us work for the dream of God’s promised realm; for all among and beyond us who grieve the death of loved ones, or beloved relationships: May peace and comfort be found in Spirit and acts of human caring.

How beautiful are the dreams that bring and embody good news. Let us pray and let us work for the dream of God’s promised realm; for all without food or clean water, and who are our kin in Christ: that God’s justice and our advocacy might bring the good God intends.

How beautiful are the dreams that bring and embody good news. Let us pray and let us work for the dream of God’s promised realm; for faithfulness in our calling to be Christ’s body, for trust of God evidenced in our budgets as well as our statements of faith, that others may discern the love of God at work through us, imperfect as we are, and God’s strength be revealed even in our weakness.

Amen

Hymn: Eternal Father strong to save (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story   Colouring page   Activity ideas   (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings one more step a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 9th August from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Common Worship

Resources for 2nd August

eularia_clarke_the_five_thousand[Eularia Clarke / The five thousand] from the Methodist Modern Art Collection, © TMCP, used with permission. http://www.methodist.org.uk/artcollection

Music before we worship: Lauren Daigle – I Am Yours (Acoustic)  (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Feeding the 5000 resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story     Colouring sheet    Activities  (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  Psalm 145:3

Hymn: God is love let heaven adore him (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers: Great and Glorious God

You are the God of compassion, bringing wholeness into broken hearts and lives; you are the God of provision, bringing sustenance to body and soul, and with love we offer you our sacrifice of praise.

You are the God of mercy, granting forgiveness despite our many failings; you are the God of salvation, bringing true release from all that binds us, and with love we offer you our sacrifice of praise.

Thank you, Lord, for showing us that love has no boundaries or end but listens, has patience, compassion, grace, walks the extra mile and gives without counting cost.

Thank you for granting us a heart for those you love and a willingness to step out in faith and serve you, by sharing your love with others. Thank you, Lord, for showing us that true love can be ours, both to know and to give.

Sometimes, God, we avoid you because we do not want to wrestle with those things weighing on our hearts, we do not want to deal with those things we know we are called to address: those with whom we have broken trust; those suffering from avoidable circumstances; those whom we fail to stand up for; those with whom we avoid eye contact. When we fail to spend time with you, we fail to learn about ourselves. Forgive us. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:  Lord God, your Son left the riches of heaven and became poor for our sake: when we prosper save us from pride, when we are needy save us from despair, that we may trust in you alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Common Worship

 

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 145: 8-9, 14-21

Isaiah 55: 1-5

Matthew 14: 13-21

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn:  I am the bread of life (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

God’s invitation to his people sounds better than any buy one get, get one free offer in the shops.  His offer to his people is completely free, it is his invitation to his people to draw near to him and receive all that they need.

It is a potent symbol of God’s compassion for his people.  The feeding of the hungry is a powerful symbol in Scripture both in fulfilling physical hunger and as a metaphor for spiritual hunger.

It is a motif we encounter in our Gospel scripture today of the feeding of the five thousand that appears in all four Gospels and is so well known to many of us.

In Matthew’s account we read that Jesus has just heard the horrific circumstances of John the Baptist’s death.  Related through Mary’s connection to Elizabeth, Jesus wanted to withdraw to a deserted place by himself.  Presumably to spend time alone, time with his own grief and to process the grisly news.

But events didn’t go that way, the crowd hastened around the lake and a throng of people were there as he came ashore.  Jesus shows no sign of being annoyed or irritated instead we are told he had compassion for them, going among them and healing and teaching, bidding the disciples not to send them away.

Jesus recognises the people both individually and collectively for what they are, God’s people hungry for help and hope.  They seek help in the form of healing and hope in the form of his teaching.  Jesus’ response to the needs of those around him epitomises his healing and teaching ministry throughout the Gospels.  It is the fulfilment of God’s compassion for the world enacted through Jesus’ life and through his death upon the cross.

Outreach and evangelism are founded on compassion, responding as Jesus did to those we meet who are hungry for help and hope.

So in the coming weeks may we become Christ like.  May we be defined as disciples of Jesus through our compassion for others.  Whilst we keep in touch with one another, our neighbours and our friends might we be symbols of hope by sharing the hope that we have found in Jesus.

Those of us who are getting out and about more might well encounter those in genuine hunger, may we feed them. When we hear of those in need of healing, of comfort and of reassurance may we lift them up to the Lord in prayer.

When we encounter a situation where compassion is needed may we carry the ministry and message of Jesus to the hungry, hope seeking world around us.

Amen

Hymn:  Break Thou the Bread of Life (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Let us approach God in prayer in confidence, for he is the God who sustains us physically, spiritually and in every kind of need.  Let us bring before our sustaining God our prayers for others, the world and the Church

Let us pray for all who grieve; the death of loved ones and friends, the victims of war and violence, abroad and at home:

Let us pray for all who are searching: for meaning, for help, for reconciliation, for peace:

Let us pray for all who are ill; those who are undergoing treatments; those who are hospitalised or in care centres or confined to their homes:

Let us pray for all who hunger, for nourishment of body or spirit or both; we pray for those who are homeless, and for those whose journeys or work take them away from home:

Let us pray for the mission of the church; for openness to opportunities for service, for trust of Christ’s call, for embodiment of Christ’s compassion

Let us celebrate the blessings of God’s grace; let us give thanks to God. Amen

Hymn: Guide me O thou great redeemer (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings The hour is late a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 2nd August from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Common Worship

Resources for 26th July

Crocodile and plover

Music before we worship:  Carrie Underwood: How Great Thou Art (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: The Parable of the Mustard Seed  (opens up the website Sermons4kids which has a story etc and at the bottom links to activities, colouring sheet and crafts)

Call to Worship: Righteousness shall yield peace and its fruit be quietness and confidence for ever. Isaiah 32:17

Hymn: All My Hope On God Is Founded (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

To you we bring our praise, gracious God, for all you have done throughout time, of which we are grateful inheritors. For your love, infinitely patient with a rebellious people; for prophets, priests and kings faithfully proclaiming your word; for Jesus Christ, our Saviour, your Son, and the victory of the cross. For all you have done, gracious God, to you we bring our praise.

We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, precious beyond our ability to buy, powerful beyond human imagining, enduring beyond time to eternity. Together with the angelic host we join voices in a thanksgiving chorus to make the heavens ring, singing, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!’

We know you as God who is and shall be, one who with might performs wonders and with graciousness bestows manifold blessing. You speak and the heavens thunder with the sound of your voice. You stretch forth your hand and even the sparrows find safe lodging. In Christ Jesus you chose to walk among your people, revealing in him your marvellous love. As your Holy Spirit breathes fresh upon us, we are filled with the sense of your presence everywhere. You choose not to leave us alone, but to guide us; for all your mercies we give you our thanks.

 

When faith is weak you strengthen us; when we lose our way you rescue us; when we fall into sin you forgive us. Gracious God, remind us, lest we forget, that your love is unconditional, moulding us into what we could be, blessing us that we might glorify you. For love beyond price and grace that we treasure, may our lives become a thank-offering to you.

Paul assures us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, and intercedes for us according to God’s will. In Jesus Christ, God calls us, and God conforms us to Christ, so that in him we receive the promise of new life. As we dwell in the Spirit let us also rest assured in the promise. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!  Amen

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day:  God, you have poured the Spirit of your Son into our hearts so that we call you father. Give us grace to devote our freedom to your service that we and all creation may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For the kingdom the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.   Common Worship

 

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 128

Romans 8: 26-39

Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn:  My Jesus, my Saviour (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Imagine if you will that you are a crocodile.  Now crocodiles are successful as species go, they have been on the planet for many millions of years, they can be found in many parts of the world, they have a special valve in the back of their neck that can keep their mouth open underwater.

But what they can’t do is clean their teeth.  Their claws can’t cope with a toothbrush and I don’t think there is such a thing as crocodile dental floss.  All that left over dinner stuck in their teeth can’t be good for them.

This is where the plover bird comes in, the crocodile opens its mouth inviting the plover bird in.  Accepting the invitation the plover bird it flies into the crocodile’s mouth, this is quite a brave thing as most things including birds are on a crocodile’s diet.  The plover bird picks out the chunks of free food from the crocodile’s teeth getting a free meal before flying off unharmed.

The crocodile and plover bird have formed a lasting relationship, where you see crocodiles you will also find plover birds, they seem inseparable.  Theirs is what is we commonly call a symbiotic relationship although in its truest sense symbiosis means “living together”.

It might be more accurate to describe the relationship as mutualistic whereby each party derives a benefit in the form of a free meal and clean teeth.

Just as the plover bird and the crocodile are bound together in a relationship, so too are we with God in Christ.  It is a relationship that no earthly power or dominion may destroy, we are inseparable from Christ, where we go Jesus is there, where he leads us in turn we follow.

In our sometimes wayward journey with Christ, in our failings and our darker moments he is there to comfort, to restore, to forgive and to guide. He is with us guiding us to a path of living together in right relationship with God, encouraging us in our commission to spread the good news he brings to the world, encouraging us to live out his commandment to love one another.

Returning to the relationship between the crocodile and the plover bird it is clear to see what the plover bird gets from the relationship, in turn it is clear to see what we derive from our relationship with Christ.  That relationship is the foundation of our faith and through our faith we are inheritors of Jesus’ victory on the cross.

Through faith we receive God’s love and grace, through God’s grace we are offered life eternal and the forgiveness of our sins.

But is the relationship symbiotic or mutualistic??  I’m not sure either word properly describes the relationship God has with his people.  However our reading from Mark suggests that like the crocodile that invites the plover bird into its mouth, God too invites us into his Kingdom.  In verse 47 we hear that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net cast into the sea to catch fish of every kind.  It suggests that God invites his people, casts his net to draw us to him.  In echoes of the day of judgement we read that the good fish are placed into baskets and the bad discarded.

God invites us to his Kingdom but does demand our obedience, our penitence and righteousness.  The plover bird entering the crocodile’s mouth is conditional on performing a service to the crocodile.  Our entering the Kingdom of Heaven is conditional upon our submission to God’s will for us, our repentance and our desire to live each day in right relationship with God the Father.

Whilst the crocodile receives a benefit from its relationship with the plover bird the analogy cannot be fully applied to our relationship with God.  However God is pleased when his people return to him, the rejoicing in heaven at the repenting sinner suggests so.  The words of Matthew 18: 14 confirm that it is God’s will that none of his flock be lost, that when the net of His Kingdom is cast he desires that we be counted among the good fish.

So may we be in part like the plover bird, put aside our fears, trust in God and enter his Kingdom and receive the reward of his love and grace.  May our acceptance of God’s call upon our lives be the foundation of our faith and our enduring relationship with God as we enter the gates of His Kingdom with praise and thanksgiving.

Amen

Hymn:  All I once held dear (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: 

Lord Jesus, there are times when we do not know what to say, when we can’t find the right words to pray, but we thank you that even when we are tongue-tied and tongue-twisted, you send us the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf, to make clear what is in our hearts. So hear our prayers, Lord God…

Be with those we love, and those who drive us round the bend.

Be with those who are filled with joy, and those who are filled with fear.

Be with those who are sick, and those who care for them.

Be with those who grieve, and enfold them in your loving power.

Be with those who are charged with good government;

Be with those we admire and those we despise.

Be with us day by day, cleanse and renew our hearts.

Help us to see the signs of your kingdom at work,

And in your love, help us to know the power of your love and grace at work in our loves.

Lord, in your mercy: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

 In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.                                         Revd David Hinchcliffe

Hymn: All For Jesus (The link opens up you tube in a separate window) 

Blessing:

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources:The Parable of the Mustard Seed  (opens up the website Sermons4kids which has a story etc and at the bottom links to activities, colouring sheet and crafts)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings Kingdom Talk a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 26th July from the Methodist church.   A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Common Worship

Revd David Hinchcliffe