Worship resources for 5th September

Music before we worship: Stronger as one: Laura Wright (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Valued without distinction and called without favour; we gather in the love of God.

Invited to places of deep change and entrusted with lives of grace; we gather in the compassion of Christ.

Encouraged to be authentic and inspired to make a difference; we gather in the power of the Spirit.

Hymn:  Ye servants of God (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Our faith is built on a sure foundation of eternal love and grace, stones that cannot be broken. Our faith is built into a holy temple where God’s Spirit moves freely and beauty and joy reside.
Our faith is built by a master builder to withstand the mightiest storm and keep safe all those inside. Our faith is built by God our maker.
God of compassion, whose love brings healing to lives that are broken and, to the hungry, bread; whose word is comfort to those walking in darkness and grace to those in need, we bring you our grateful thanks
God of compassion, whose love has no end and no beginning yet lives within our hearts; whose grace is precious, beyond understanding yet offered to us all, we bring you our grateful thanks.

God of compassion, whose love brings healing to lives that are broken and, to the hungry, bread; whose word is comfort to those walking in darkness and grace to those in need, we bring you our grateful thanks

God of compassion, whose love has no end and no beginning yet lives within our hearts; whose grace is precious, beyond understanding yet offered to us all, we bring you our grateful thanks.

Gracious God, You who know us better than we know ourselves, there are countless times that we have sinned against You and our neighbour.

Have mercy on us and forgive us.

Consciously or unconsciously, through our words, attitudes and actions, we have broken our relationship with You, with our neighbours and even with the environment.

Have mercy on us and forgive us.

Restore, oh gracious God, our broken relationships and guide us in Your paths. For Your glory and the building of Your Kingdom

Have mercy on us and forgive us

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: Go before us Lord in all we do, with your most gracious favour and guide us with your continual help, that in all our works, begun, continued and ended in you we may glorify your holy name and finally by your mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

James 2: 1-10 (11-13) 14-17

Mark 7: 24-37
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: When I needed a neighbour (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

Despite the old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” most of us do.

We might not think we do, but invariably we do.  How many of us can genuinely and honestly say we don’t make assumptions about the people we meet based on what they are wearing, how they speak and act.

Do we judge the hoodie wearing teenager walking down the street at night before we know anything of them?  How much weight do we apportion to someone’s accent or the vocabulary they use?

Despite a call “not to judge” we invariably do, it would seem even Jesus found it hard not to judge others from what we hear in our Gospel reading.  Making a distinction against the Syrophoenecian woman because she was not an Israelite.

Being judgemental seems a difficult thing to avoid.  Sometimes those judgements will be well intentioned, considered and fair.  They involve weighing up the best option and even considering the best interest of others.

But…and there is of course a but.  Many of our decisions and actions will be predicated on instinctive discrimination and unconscious bias.  Sometimes even through a deliberate and calculated act of prejudice.

It is a problem that has persisted throughout history and sadly one that exists today, inequality and discrimination continue to rear their ugly heads even in today’s society.

The words of James ring as true to us as they did to the first readers.  Favouritism and prejudice were a part of society in James’ time even in the church.  The rich and powerful would get the best seats, eat with the host getting preferential treatment to the detriment of the poor.  Fast forward to today and we still have a society that favours the the wealthy and powerful whilst limiting opportunity for those less fortunate.

Whilst our society talks of social mobility the prevalence of white privately educated males in the nation’s boardrooms speaks as loudly as does the academic under performance of working class kids.

Scratch the surface of favouritism and inequality and it isn’t soon until you uncover racism, homophobia and discrimination based on disability.

These still pervade our society, only this week English footballers were subjected to racist abuse. And the Church can be equally guilty of accommodating these dark sentiments.

Favouritism, inequality and discrimination is a result of building walls, walls between people.  In some cases literally walls. In America, at Calais and other countries to keep refugees out.  Even so called gated communities say keep out you are not one of us.

That’s our society, but does the church in this day and age still need to hear the words of James just like the early church needed to?

Sadly yes. Historically very definitely and even now in some churches women are still excluded from leadership, the LGBT community aren’t welcomed and

Now to be fair much progress has been made, the church’s but do we still build walls?  Do we surround ourselves with people like us?  Are we too white, too straight, too able, too middle class?  Do we as churches truly reflect the community we inhabit?  Are our churches made up of the majority at the expense of the minority.

James in his letter days: “You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

To love is to welcome.  To be open to all.

Maybe that is what is Jesus meant when he cured the deaf man and said be opened.

Open up society, open up our churches and be open to welcome all who seek the Lord.

Hymn: In Christ there is no East or West (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Let us pray

Lord God, friend of those in need, your Son Jesus has untied our burdens and healed our spirits. We lift up the prayers of our hearts for those still burdened, those seeking healing, those in need within the church and the world.

Gracious God,

We pray for our broken world and for peace. We pray for the children of all nations, for men and women longing to be reunited with their families.

Gracious God,

We pray for the removal of all types of barriers which stunt or destroy relationships. We pray for new ways to create closer relationships with God and others.

Gracious God,

We pray for all nations, churches and faith-based organisations, to encourage and empower us all to build loving and supportive relationships that reflect the image and likeness of God.

Hear our prayers that we may love you with our whole being and willingly share the concerns of our neighbours. Amen.

Hymn: The Church of Christ in every age (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Friends, go into this new week being quick to listen, slow to speak, and fully prepared to be changed in both heart and mind. Let us follow in the ways of Christ. Let us seek a more understanding and compassionate world.

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 5th September from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Rev Daniel Joaquim, Director of the Theological Education Department – Nampula Synod, IECM (Evangelical Church of Christ in Mozambique)

Source: Church of Scotland
https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/worship/weekly-worship/monthly/2021-september/september-5-15-after-pentecost#prayers

Worship resources for 29th August

Music before we worship: Father, we come to Thee (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Let us come together to worship our rock and our redeemer with some words from Psalm 45: verse 1

My heart is astir with gracious words, as I make my song for the King

Hymn:  How shall I sing that Majesty (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Let us pray

Into your presence, Lord, we come, bringing our offering of praise and the service of our lives wherever you might lead us within this, your beautiful but needy world.

All we are, all we have and all that we can be is laid at your feet, Lord.

May our lives, rooted in love, be your hands and voice, bringing healing and grace.

May the world, looking at us, see instead a light that has its source in you.

May the truth sown in our hearts bear fruit in our lives and bring glory to you.

All we are, all we have and all that we can be is laid at your feet, Lord.

You call us to be your hands and voice and walk the path you trod, to bring your love to those we meet, to show compassion, fight injustice, help the weak.

You call us to be not just hearers but doers of your word, to be the face of Christ that others see.

When we fail you in what we say, do or leave undone, which is often, please forgive us, we pray.

You call us to be your hands and voice; grant us the faith to become the people you would have us be— agents of change in this, your world.

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: Redeemer God, you heard the cry of your people and sent Moses your servant to lead them out of slavery. Free us from the tyranny of sin and death and, by the leading of your Spirit, bring us to our promised land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

James 1: 17-27

Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: O for a heart to praise my God (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

The faith within us

One Sunday as a serving elder I was due to serve communion. It was a very hot day, one of those rarities in England. The temperature was in the high twenties by 0930 so I took the decision to wear shorts and sandals.  Just in case you are wondering, I was wearing a polo shirt too!

I arrived at church to be met by a bemused and agitated fellow elder. He looked at me quizzically and asked;   “You’re not going to serve communion like that are you?”

Being quick off the mark, I replied; “What did Jesus wear on his feet?” as my eyes flitted between my sandals and his immaculately shining brogues.

Our difference of opinion was in part a generational thing. He had been brought up with the notion of wearing one’s Sunday best to church.

I was a bit more rebellious, (how unlike me eh?)  taking my stance from the worship song that says; “it doesn’t matter about the clothes you wear or the colour of your skin”

My fellow elder felt that not putting on one’s Sunday best was showing disrespect to God. And yet,   I invariably lead worship in church wearing a suit or at least decent trousers and shoes.

This Sunday I am leading worship on the beach so will be in my shorts and sandals but I very much doubt I would wear them in the sanctuary presiding at communion.

But why?  Is it that I think it is inappropriate – probably. Is it that I’m minded that some of you might object – most probably.  Is it something that has been grounded in me like some law that governs my behaviour? Probably.

Does that make me just a little bit like the Pharisees in our reading?

The Pharisees in our Gospel reading had become fixated by ritual; the oral traditions of their faith and the notion of physical holiness.

In some ways the idea of physical holiness is alien to us

We do not, live Kosher lives. We don’t have separate bowls and utensils for different foods. The Pharisees in our story had taken the requirement of Exodus 30 17-21 for priests to wash before administering at the altar and applied it to all Jews.

Thus, they round on Jesus and his followers for eating with unclean hands and not upholding the traditions.  Jesus’ response is not aimed at the Pharisees traditions. It is aimed at their emphasis that it is these ritual traditions that makes Israel acceptable to God.

Washing our hands after working in the garden or fixing the car is a good thing. Washing our hands to the tune of happy birthday is a mantra of covid times, but it doesn’t make us more acceptable to God. This is the point that Jesus was making.

Jesus responds to the Pharisees by quoting Isaiah saying “This people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me”.

He accuses them of going through the motions and of having the wrong focus; that their upholding of the tradition is given more emphasis than what is in their hearts.

Jesus continues quoting Isaiah saying “In vain do they worship me teaching human precepts as doctrine”. He rebukes the Pharisees for extending the Exodus statement to all Jews. He rebukes them for confusing human devised tradition with what is the will of God.

In the non-conformist churches we have stripped our worship of many man made traditions. We don’t stand for the Gospel reading, we do not genuflect before the communion table yet I’m still likely to be in smart trousers not shorts.

It is important for us to understand Jesus point here. There is nothing inherently wrong with man-made traditions. It is only when these traditions are deemed to be more important than God’s commandments that they should be challenged.

Jesus’ point is that what is in our hearts, the true faith within us, is what is important. That true faith is not expressed through ritual or tradition but through our love and obedience to God.

Jesus takes that notion further in saying “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile”.

Here, he challenges the very core of Jewish thought regarding unclean foods and ritual. The food that we eat sustains our bodies but it is faith, the true faith within us that sustains us spiritually.

That we are identifiable as God’s people, not by what we eat or what traditions we uphold but by our words and our deeds. Whether our words and deeds are founded on human frailty or founded upon the love of God that dwells within us.

Our reading from Mark challenges us to recognise how we might slip into thinking like the Pharisees.

That we might place greater store on human precepts than true faith. It challenges us to consider whether we too misinterpret what is important to God especially in the sanctuary.

Do we hear the baby crying during worship and tut?

Do we see the gay couple starting to worship in our church and wonder whether our church is for them?

Do we see the dishevelled homeless person slip into the back of the church and look disapprovingly at their appearance compared to our Sunday best?

Or, do we follow Jesus’ example and focus on the love and faith in our hearts that is important to God?

Do we open our arms in welcome and declare “Jesus welcomes all” even if they are in a suit?

Amen

Hymn: All hail the power of Jesus’ name (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Let us pray

God of heaven and earth, through Jesus Christ you promise to hear us when we pray to you in his name. Confident in your love and mercy we offer our prayer.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Empower the church throughout the world in its life and witness. Break down the barriers that divide so that, united in your truth and love, the church may confess your name, share one baptism, sit together at one table, and serve you in one common ministry.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Guide the rulers of the nations. Move them to set aside their fear, greed, and vain ambition and to bow to your sovereign rule. Inspire them to strive for peace and justice, that all your children may dwell secure, free of war and injustice.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hear the cries of the world’s hungry and suffering. Give us, who consume most of the earth’s resources, the will to reorder our lives, that all may have their rightful share of food, medical care, and shelter, and so have the necessities of a life of dignity.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Restore among us a love of the earth you created for our home. Help us put an end to ravishing its land, air, and waters, and give us respect for all your creatures, that, living in harmony with everything you have made, your whole creation may resound in an anthem of praise to your glorious name.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Renew our nation in the ways of justice and peace. Guide those who make and administer our laws to build a society based on trust and respect. Erase prejudices that oppress; free us from crime and violence; guard our youth from the perils of drugs and materialism. Give all citizens a new vision of a life of harmony.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Strengthen this our congregation in its work and worship. Fill our hearts with your self-giving love, that our voices may speak your praise and our lives may conform to the image of your Son. Nourish us with your Word and sacraments, that we may faithfully minister in your name and witness to your love and grace for all the world.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Look with compassion on all who suffer. Support with your love those with incurable and stigmatized diseases, those unjustly imprisoned, those denied dignity, those who live without hope, those who are homeless or abandoned.

As you have moved toward us in love, so lead us to be present with them in their suffering in the name of Jesus Christ.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sustain those among us who need your healing touch.

Make the sick whole [especially name(s)].

Give hope to the dying [especially name(s)].

Comfort those who mourn [especially name(s)].

Uphold all who suffer in body or mind, not only those we know and love but also those known only to you, that they may know the peace and joy of your supporting care.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God, in your loving purpose answer our prayers and fulfil our hopes. In all things for which we pray, give us the will to seek to bring them about, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymn: There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

As we live out our lives may the love in our hearts shine as a beacon leading others to the foot of the cross.

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 29nd August from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Worship resources for 22nd August

Music before we worship: Laudate Dominum, KV 339 – Patricia Janečková (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Let us come before our rock and our redeemer with some words from Psalm 84

How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts! *

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

Let us rejoice in the living God

Hymn:  Morning has broken (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Heavenly Father

All blessing, glory, and honour be unto you, 0 God, for your way guides our behaviour and your saving power redeems us when we stray. You are beneath us as a sure foundation. You are above us as a canopy of light. You go before us as a revealer and guide. You stand behind us as the source of righteousness and peace. God of all that was, is, and shall be, we praise and adore you.

God of goodness and mercy, you instil in us confidence; and you fill us with hope; we give thanks for your strength and protection and the hope you offer us through your son Jesus who died for us.

We cannot come before God unless we are first honest with ourselves

about who we are, about the mistakes we make, and about how well or poorly we care for others.

In this spirit, let us offer our prayers to God.

Forgive us, Lord, when we rely on our own strength and not yours, failing to make use of the spiritual armour you provide, and are wounded in the fight. Forgive us, Lord, when we forget your provision and your love, listening instead to the insistent voices of this world, and struggle to know what’s right. Draw us close, Lord; equip us with all that we need; empower us; strengthen our faith so we can engage with this present world under the banner of your light.

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:

Holy God, you liberate the oppressed and make a way of salvation.  Unite us with all who cry for justice, and lead us together into freedom; through our Lord and Liberator, Jesus Christ. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Ephesians 6: 10-20

John 6: 56-69
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Who would true valour see (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

In the opening line of our reading from Ephesians. Paul says “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power”. 

Paul quickly dispels the thought that any strength, courage or bravery we have comes from ourselves. The strength that we need to act with just purpose as Christians comes from God himself.

Our reading from Ephesians is an exhortation by Paul to use the strength of God to take on the forces that oppose Christ’s reign.

In our passage, Paul uses the military imagery of a Roman soldier. The metaphor would have been readily understood by the early church. The Roman military machine was the force behind Roman expansion and control.  It was seen as an unstoppable force.

Well equipped with armour and sword, each soldier was part of a cohort that was well co-ordinated to resist and overcome all their enemies could throw at them.

Paul uses the metaphor because it was readily understood, by his readers.

Some people find Paul’s use of a military metaphor uncomfortable. They see it as a call for Christians to fight militarily, but if we look at the text closely we can see it is not that way.

It is a call for Christians to stand firm in their faith through the strength of God. To resist forces against them and peacefully fight for justice.

It is a call answered by people like Dr Martin Luther King. A man of great faith his campaign used the refrain of the spiritual song “we shall overcome”.

The American Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King are an embodiment of Paul’s exhortation in the struggle not just against rulers and authorities but also attitudes.

In part, civil rights movement was about physical rulers and authorities, particularly at local level in some southern states.  But equally, it was a struggle against attitudes and prevailing thought.

Attitudes and prevailing thought that fostered and sustained racism, segregation and a lack of basic rights based on the colour of a person’s skin.

Some might argue that we live in more enlightened times, that the racism seen in this country in the ‘60s, 70’s and 80’s has gone.  We only have to remember the racist abuse that 3 black English footballers received for missing penalties to know that racism is still very much alive.

Today’s target is the refugee.  As the situation unfolds in Afghanistan with people taking drastic measures to get themselves and their children to safety we have already seen abusive and hostile posts on social media aimed at those refugees.

How do those evil attitudes stand against the desperation of a woman throwing her baby to an American serviceman so the child can be evacuated?

That nasty undercurrent in society is often directed against the church, only a few years back myself and other clergy received death threats just for supporting a refugee project.

Other examples include people not being allowed to wear a cross at work, and Greggs the bakers thinking it is an amusing gimmick to put a sausage roll in a crib on their Christmas adverts.

It is for these type of instances that we need to be strong in the Lord and don his armour.

We as Christians realise that our strength comes from the Lord. He has chosen us, he loves us, he protects us though his armour.

Around our waist we fasten the belt of truth. This is the truth we hold, the bible, God’s will for us revealed in scripture. This is our fortress and our guide. When society’s attitudes pull us towards a different way of thinking, it is to this book we should cling.

It tells us of how God keeps his promises, keeps his covenant renewed in Christ It tells us of God’s steadfast love for us and the hope that is found in Christ our Saviour.

Next we put on the breastplate of righteousness. Not our righteousness but that of Christ. Our righteousness means nothing without the righteousness of Jesus. The sinless, blameless Jesus who gave his life for ours.

Through his righteousness we might choose to walk with Christ rather than run with the crowd.  It is alarming how infectious nastiness can be. To live by the truth of God’s will rather than the wilfulness of man

Next we put on shoes. Paul says whatever will make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace, to take that Gospel message to others means getting out into the world. Personally I’d go for Skechers or something comfortable. The Gospel message is one of peace and love for others; a love that transcends difference and division.

Next, we put on the very protection of God the shield of faith.

The Roman shield was as large as a door and would completely cover the soldier. Roman soldiers would form ranks, some with shields to the front, some to the back, some to the sides and some to form a roof. That way they would be safe from the arrows of their enemies.

Paul uses the metaphor to suggest that through our faith we are completely covered and surrounded by God’s love and protection.

That through the 360 degree protection from God we are shielded, when we speak out against the injustice that pervades our society.  As Christians we have and still need to speak out.

I pray too that protection for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who cannot exercise their faith as freely as I do, those whose lives would be in very real danger if caught reading this blog.

Many of us will never be called to show such bravery in our worship of Jesus.  But there is every day bravery. It takes courage to get up early every morning, travel to work, to work in a job you don’t enjoy just to give your family the best chance in life.

It takes bravery to care for someone you love who is in need of constant care.

People do such things out of love, the same love that God shows to us in the sending of the Holy Spirit.

And so lastly we take up the sword of the Spirit. The means by which God exercises his will over the world.

It is the Spirit that guides the missionary and aid worker to help the child soldier in places of war. It is the Spirit that helps return that child soldier back into just a normal child.

It is a sword of good, not of war and destruction. It is the sword of the Spirit that we reach out for in our prayers.

Through prayer comes our strength and our hope, given to us by God when we ask for them in prayer.

So, as we go about our lives might we pray that we may be strong in the Lord. Empowered to stand against the powers that assail our faith.

May we put on the whole armour of God and stand sure in our faith so that we, like the civil rights leaders of the sixties we might sing “We shall overcome”.

Amen

Hymn: Soldiers of Christ arise (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Let us pray

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 we know of your love and protection and we pray that those known to us who suffer illness at this time may know your presence and healing.

We bring before you……

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. We pray particularly for the people of ….

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.

May we be a living fellowship in your spirit and serve our community.

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 be strengthened by your strength and love to help and serve others.

May we be emboldened by your armour to speak out against injustice when we meet it.

May we dedicate our lives in service to your glory.

In the name of our saviour Jesus Christ we pray

Amen

Hymn: Be thou my vision (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

God of Power, God of Peace, you equip us to face the challenges of our times. May we be mindful of your protection, and help us share your word in ways that promote love, grace, and justice.

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 22nd August from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Worship resources for 15th August

Music before we worship: Christafari – Here I Am To Worship (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Let us come together to worship our rock and redeemer with some words from Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!

2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Hymn:  Praise my soul the King of heaven (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

All glorious God, we give you thanks: in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. You chose us, before the world was made, to be your holy people, without fault in your sight.

You adopted us as your children in Christ. You have set us free by his blood; you have forgiven our sins.

You have made known to us your secret purpose, to bring heaven and earth into unity in Christ. You have given us your Holy Spirit, the seal and pledge of our inheritance.

All praise and glory be yours, O God, for the richness of your grace, for the splendour of your gifts, for the wonder of your love.

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

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:

Merciful God

You have prepared for those that 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

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Scripture readings:

Galatians 3: 27 – 4.7

John 3: 1-6
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Lord of all hopefulness (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

This Sunday I am conducting a baptism and have included the reflection below but have removed the child’s name.

They say that you can choose your friends but not your family.

Sometimes never a truer word is said in jest. Our friends we choose, Family, on the other hand we are stuck with!

Desmond tutu takes a somewhat more benevolent approach saying “you don’t choose your family they are God’s gift to you as you are to them”.  I’m sure most of you think your family are a gift from God.  I do now, although I might have given a different answer when I was growing up, as indeed would my brother and sister

Who can ever forget Winston Churchill’s immortal words: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.”

It sounds exactly like the Belgrove family holidays when my parents would take 3 squabbling kids to Hunstanton.  Well apart from the hills bit.  Not so many of those in Norfolk.

Those were however petty squabbles, it would be foolish to suggest there is no disagreements in families, many families in our society are fractured and hurting, bitter disputes emerge and reconciliation seems far away.

I pray for the resolution of that division and hurt.  We pray that because family is important.

There is something about family that binds and bonds us together. Families have a commitment to each other. It gives us a shared identity, a shared focus and I would add, a shared responsibility towards each other. It is this motif of family, with God as the Father that Paul paints in our Galatians reading.

It is through the act of Baptism that *******, surrounded by his family and friends will join a wider family. Paul makes this very plain in our reading when he says that God sent his son “so we might be redeemed and that we might receive adoption as children”.  That through our entry into the body of Christ at baptism we are received into a new family, a second family, the family of God.

******* welcome to the family!

Paul in his letter to the Galatians reminds us just how large family that ******* joins today is.  He says, if through baptism, you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s offspring.

Paul’s words suggest that through our common baptismal covenant with God AND also with each other we join the family of God.

Through our baptism we join with all of Christ’s followers that have gone before us and those yet to come. In the baptism service I will say that ******* will join the company of all God’s people from all times and places.

That is a large family!  I don’t fancy all of them descending on the manse for Christmas.

As Christians we are called to be one family, one body through our baptism.

Each church, like members of a family, has its own personality, it’s own uniqueness. But, we are also members of a larger church family. It is when we work together in unity, accepting and accommodating denominational and theological differences that we show ourselves to be a true family of God to our communities.

Effective families are places where there is the accommodation of difference, there is forgiveness and the healing of division, and there is love.  Love for one another without conditions.

In the Baptism service I will ask all of you to promise to share with ******* what you yourselves have received, that unconditional love that is the gift of love revealed in Christ.  It is a love we are called to share with all of God’s people

So as we make our promises may we commit ourselves to live in love with God’s family sharing that love with one another and with the world.

Amen

Amen

Hymn: We Know That Christ is Raised(The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Lord through your adoption of us as your children we know of your love and compassion.

So Lord we bring before you our prayers for those in need of your care.

Lord we bring before you our friends and family, may your blessing rest upon them.

We lift before you our friends and family and members of this church family who are suffering from illness of mind and body.

We remember….

May your healing be with them Lord as we lift them to you in our hearts.

We remember those known to us who face difficult times, those suffering from uncertainty, anxiety and grief.  Lord draw near with your saving love and bring healing and hope..

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.

May the communities we serve know we are Christians by our love.

God of mercy we pray for the life of the world and for those who exercise power.  Show us how to live as members of the human family; to reject war, to bear each other’s burdens and to work together for justice and peace.

Father we remember before you all your servants who have died in the faith of Christ.

We pray that we too may lead faithful and godly lives in this world, and finally share with all the saints in everlasting joy through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Hymn: Lord for the years(The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

As God’s own, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, and patience, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, and crown all these things with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 15th August from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Worship resources for 8th August

Music before we worship: We The Kingdom – Peace (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Hymn:  Let all the world in every corner sing (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

God of summer sun, fruitful fields and food to eat, you are worthy of our praise. God of mountain stream, rolling hills and pleasant views, you are worthy of our praise. God of truth and light, bread of life and saving grace, you are worthy of our praise. God of all we are, three in one, Lord of all, you are worthy of our praise.

Bread of Life, you feed us through word and sacrament, that we might feed others, the bread we share a remembrance of your presence with us. Strengthen us for service, that seeds we sow might grow and flourish, and words we share might bring glory to your name. Bread of Life, you feed us through word and sacrament, that we might feed others.

We give thanks to you, O God, for trusting us to be stewards of your word, and witnesses to your works of forgiveness, healing, and freedom. We give thanks for the hope you place among us in the promises of your word. Thanks be to your name.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our failings as we bring them to our Lord.

Forgiving Lord

You have blessed us in so many ways, and in return we have failed you in so many ways. You show forgiveness and we harbour resentment. You show compassion and we turn away. In so many ways we fail to live the life we profess. As we confess, help us once more to follow your example, living a life of love as Jesus Christ loved us— a pleasing sacrifice to you

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:

Living God You have placed in the hearts of your children a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.  Grant that, believing in the One whom you have sent, we may know him to be the true bread of heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Ephesians 4: 25-5:2

John 6: 35, 41-51
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: The King of love my shepherd is (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

To quote the 1978 by 10cc “I don’t like cricket, I love it”; whilst I’m fond of my sport and cricket in particular I’m not sure it’s a love thing.

The refrain from the song is an example of how we use the term love, whether that be a fondness for cricket, romantic love, the love between a family or Christian love, love takes many forms.

It is a subject that Paul in his many letters to the churches addresses, taking his focus from Jesus’ commandment to love one another he repeatedly stresses the need to be bound by love.  In our reading from Ephesians he calls on the church to “live in love”.  In truth he needs to, the fledgling churches he writes to are riddled with division and hardly a blueprint for Christian harmony.

In our reading as he does in other letters he drills down into the nature of love, echoing his words to the church at Corinth when he exhorts the Ephesians to be kind to one another.  Sadly his words have importance today, some churches are still filled with tensions and rivalries that detract from the Gospel message.

You could argue that the secular world seems to have embraced the message to be kind as much if not more than the churches, a whole movement has been developed over the call to be kind.

We see the initiatives under the banners of “Random acts of kindness”, “Pay it forward” and the #bekind hash tag.  It is a recognition that kindness is part of the glue that binds communities, that supports and builds people and sets us apart.  Of course the same is true of churches, harmony and cohesion is founded on love and its attributes including kindness.

Kindness is a generosity of spirit, a deep seated concern and compassion for the needs of others without reward.  Those needs might be physical need such as hunger, shelter but equally they can be emotional need, helping build self-confidence and self-worth.

It is much more than just being nice.

Being nice is not wanting to rock the boat, being kind sometimes involves making waves.  Being nice is about not upsetting people whereas being kind is concerned with doing what is right.

Yes it is important to be nice but it’s more important to be kind.

Kindness comes with responsibility, it involves giving what someone needs not necessarily what someone wants.  As chair of trustees of a homeless charity I encourage people to buy someone begging in the street a meal rather than give money that may be spent unwisely. 

Being kind is not just confined to our response to others but also to ourselves and to the world that God created.  In my mind it is hard to be kind to others unless we start by being kind to ourselves, not being too harsh on ourselves, not beating ourselves up over our lapses.  If we are not in a good place how can we then share that good place with others?

Our kindness to creation, in not polluting it, not wasting resources or not filling the seas with plastic not only have an impact on the world but also on people sometimes far away.  By not contributing to rising sea levels through our energy usage we can help save the home of someone living on an island in the pacific.

It is a reminder that kindness can be at a distance as well as up close and personal.  Kindness can involve a word of support to someone, a gift to someone in need or something as dramatic as saving a home of someone you will never see.  Kindness encompasses the big things and the small.

I have just been self-isolating after my stepson caught Covid-19, during not being able to go out friends offered to shop and someone delivered a cake to my door! (yes I do need cake).  It certainly cheered me up.

But the small acts of kindness can also have a dramatic impact, I read of a young man who planned to take his own life at a railway station, but someone saw him in a state of distress, approached him and spoke with him.  The person’s response saved the young man’s life.

That incident goes to illustrate that you cannot simply plan to be kind, it is a response to the world around you, to be kind we must make it a way of life, a constant in our lives.  It is a life of love and kindness that Paul in his letter encourages us to live.

So just as Christ loves us may we live in love, and may our kindness define us as the children of God.

Amen

Hymn: My song is love unknown (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: (Church of Scotland: amended)

Jesus said to them: ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ (John 6.35)

Bread of life, given for the world this day:
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For the nations in turmoil (name)
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For our warming planet (especially…) :
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For our cities and neighbourhoods (… ) :
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For our neighbours in sorrow (…):
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For our suffering sisters and brothers in…:
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For our friends and family:
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For the sick of mind and body:
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For the homeless and hungry:
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

For an outpouring of kindness in the world
Kyrie Eleison/O Lord hear our prayer

Hymn: Love divine all loves excelling (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Grant us the grace, O God, to know what we should know, to love what we should love, to praise what pleases you, and to cherish everything

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 8th August from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Church of Scotland

Worship resources for 1st August

Music before we worship: Big Daddy Weave – “Redeemed (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

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

Call to Worship:  Into your presence we come as children within the loving family of our heavenly Father. Bless this time together and our sacrifice of praise, that your name alone might be glorified in this place.

Hymn:  Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Risen Saviour, by your Spirit you breathe life into this world; feed your children, sustain the weak. Those who seek you do not go hungry; they are fed by the word of life. Those who believe in you will never thirst; they are refreshed by living water. Risen Saviour, by your Spirit you breathe life into this world and fill our souls with praise.

God of mercy, in you we find forgiveness, acceptance in your presence and the hope of new life. God of humility, in you we find perfect love; you are the servant-king, the bread of life whose blood was shed for us. God of power, in you we find the Spirit who brings us healing, wholeness and strength to face each day. Receive our grateful thanks, O God, for all your gifts to us.

When our hearts condemn us for careless words, selfish thoughts or actions we know might hurt:

Create in us a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within us.

When our souls are burdened and once again we’re tempted by the wisdom of this world:

Create in us a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within us.

When your word reminds us that our sin affects even you, bringing tears to your eyes:

Create in us a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within us.

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:   Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence. give us new hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Ephesians 4: 1 – 16

John 6: 24 – 35
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

Liquorice allsorts

The clue as they say is in the name, if not they would be called liquorice same sorts.

They become the well-known and liked sweet treats because they all share a common characteristic yet are all different.

Paul’s words from his letter to Ephesus has a touch of the liquorice allsorts about it when he describes the church as made up of individuals all blessed with different gifts and talents that share a common characteristic, love for one another and of the Lord..

Paul’s letter is a call for unity but not conformity, it is an example of the concept of unity in diversity.  It is a model of unity without uniformity and diversity without division.  It is a concept that moves from toleration of difference towards an understanding of the enrichment and unity that diversity can bring.

Unity in diversity is evident in in many aspects of life, it underpins the moral and ethical health of society and encourages it to evolve.  Nature embraces it, in recent years we have embraced the need to maintain and preserve diverse ecosystems because they are life-giving and helps nature to thrive.

Just as churches recognise their role in supporting biodiversity the concept of unity in diversity underpins church life as Paul highlights in his letter.

Paul highlights that the church is blessed with varying gifts, that all are capable of contributing to the health and growth of the church.  Paul talks of apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers but the gifts also embrace, administration, music, finance, interpersonal skills and making the tea and coffee.

I am reminded of Tony Shrimpton a retired Methodist minister who used to preach occasionally at a church I worshipped at.  Tony had a very relaxed preaching stance, often seen leaning against the lectern with a mug of tea in one hand.

He once asked us in the congregation who had done the most to enable God’s word to be preached that morning.  Various suggestions came forward that included the welcome stewards, the church leadership, the readers and Tony himself.  But Tony just raised his mug and declared “whoever made this tea as I can’t preach on a dry throat”.

We all have a part to play in the life and witness of the church.

Embracing the concept of unity in diversity, Paul’s message is that the unity of the Church isn’t characterised by some form of drab uniformity, comprised of identical, production line model T Ford Christians.  Rather that our diversity enhances our unity.  The church cannot thrive if it is a collection of clones.  The church needs to learn to accommodate difference within it and embrace it, at local level within congregations and in the wider church.

To welcome difference of opinions on worship, theology, liturgy and a whole host of matters both large and small; though that said some of the seemingly small issues cause the greatest division.  Whether it is a mountain or a molehill depends upon the perspective one looks at it.  Embracing diversity involves appreciating how others see things.

Our diversity seasons and spices the Church.  As a lover of curry I would say less like plain boiled rice more like a chicken vindaloo.

It is that spice and diversity that makes the church adaptable and responsive to its needs and the needs of the community inhabits.  It is that unity in diversity which just like diverse ecosystems allows the church to thrive, to sustain and to grow.  It is through unity in diversity that out of many becomes one.  The one body of the church that Paul reminds us we are called to be.

That one body of the church exists because of diversity rather than in spite of it, diversity in the body of the church works because it has one head, our Lord and Saviour.

Through Jesus we receive the unifying characteristic at work within the church, that characteristic is love.  The love that Christ has for us and his church and the love he encourages us to have for each other.

So may we as Christ’s church be like liquorice allsorts, made one by our diversity, strengthened by our differences and united in love.

Amen

Hymn: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

(The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Rev M Belgrove

Loving and caring Lord

We give you thanks for the gifts you bestow on us and how you call us as one body of Christ to serve and care for the world around us. So we come before you bringing our need for your love and protection for the world you hold dear.

We pray for the sick of mind and of body, as we remember …..and all those we lift to your name in our hearts.  May your healing be upon them, ease their worries and concerns as they under go treatment and await test results.  Comfort their friends and families as they worry for their loved ones.

We pray for the bereaved, console them in their loss, reassure them of your presence and of the light of hope we have in the resurrection through your Son.

We pray for the isolated and marginalised, the ones who see little but darkness in their lives, may they see the warmth of your light.

We pray for those persecuted and unfairly treated.  For the displaced and the refugee. For the peace that your presence brings to the world

We pray too for that world, giving thanks for your creation, lead us to responsible stewardship of the earth, maintaining the diversity of your creation.  Encourage us individually and as the Church to play our part in preserving the planet for future generations.

We pray for your church, encourage us and guide us to celebrate and embrace diversity.  Build and strengthen out unity in diversity as the one body.  We pray Lord that you would guide your Church in sharing the good news of Jesus by using all of our gifts.  So that we might share with others the unifying love of our Saviour.

In his name we pray. Amen

Hymn: The Church’s One Foundation (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Take with you the blessing of your calling, the grace Christ has given you, and the certainty that no one else can take your place among God’s people. You are a gift to the Body of Christ, Now be a gift to God’s world

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

Amen.

Additional resources:

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 1st August from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Worship resources for July

Revd Martin Belgrove is on annual leave

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

Celtic Summer prayers:

God of golden fields

and blue skies

thank you for summer

God of white waves

and wet pebbles

thank you for summer

God of ripe plums

and meadowsweet

thank you for summer

Thank you for warmth

and beauty and wonder

thank you for life

We give thanks for the joy of creation:

for all that is made and given;

for all that we shape and create;

for the springing forth of new vision.

we celebrate the flowering of hope.

we give thanks for the fruits of the earth.

we praise God for the goodness of growth.

We give thanks for the vitality of re-creation:

for times of rest and stillness that renew us;

for times of play and laughter that refresh us;

for all that nourishes and restores our spirits.

we celebrate the flowering of hope.

we give thanks for the fruits of the earth.

we praise God for the goodness of growth.

We give thanks for the depth of passion:

for the vision that inspires our longing;

for love that brings strength and tenderness;

for all that touches our deepest core.

we celebrate the flowering of hope.

we give thanks for the fruits of the earth.

we praise God for the goodness of growth.

We give thanks for the rhythm of the seasons:

for all that grows, blossoms and fades;

for the seeds that are buried and spring again;

for the constant renewal of life from the earth.

we celebrate the flowering of hope.

we give thanks for the fruits of the earth.

we praise God for the goodness of growth.

Prayer Labyrinth

Click here to download the prayer labyrinth (opens the document in a separate window to print off and use)

Labyrinths provide an opportunity for people to travel on a reflective journey without actually having to go anywhere!  A bit like our summer holidays this year!

At first glance, they look a bit like mazes. However, once you enter a labyrinth, you follow a pre-destined path which will take you through the entire labyrinth, into the middle and back out again.

In Christian tradition, this has long allowed those who can’t take a pilgrimage to holy sites, such as those in the city of Jerusalem, to take a less physically strenuous, yet emotionally and spiritually challenging journey, during which they can think, pray and reflect on their life, their mistakes, their flaws, their blessings and their strengths, figuring out the part which God plays in them all.

Most labyrinths are designed to be walked around. This one, however, is designed to be travelled with your finger!

Enter the Labyrinth where the arrow is pointing, tracing the path with your finger and pausing to pray and reflect according to the instructions at the numbered points.  Remember to take your time!

On the way in

    At 1, say sorry to God for things you’ve done wrong.

    At 2, pray for your family and friends.

    At 3, ask God for help with your problems and those of others.

    At 4, say thank you to God for something He has given you.

    In the middle, be still with God for a few moments.

On the way out

    At 4, praise God for the wonderful world He has given us.

    At 3, ask God what you can do for Him.

    At 2, thank God for the friends He has given you.

    At 1, thank God for His unconditional love for you.

    As you step out of the labyrinth and back into the world, ask Him to help you show that love to others.

Click here to download the prayer labyrinth (opens the document in a separate window to print off and use)

Worship resources for 4th July

Music before we worship: Lord, You Give the Great Commission (Jazz Style!) (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Some words from Psalm 48

1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
   in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, 2beautiful in elevation,
   is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
   the city of the great King.

Hymn:  We have a Gospel to proclaim (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Creator God, you have blessed us in the dawning of this new day, whether by sun’s warm rays or soft rainfall. Accept, we pray, this our offering of praise for your gracious provision and steadfast love.

Great is our God and worthy of our praise. This universe and everything within it, crafted with passion, gifted in love.

Great is our God and worthy of our praise. This people, created for a purpose, to love and be loved made for service.

Great is our God and worthy of our praise. This fellowship and all who belong to it, blessed beyond measure, called to worship.

Great is our God and worthy of our praise.

Gracious Lord, your love is greater than any words can express, pouring into hearts left open to receive, bringing healing and restoration where there is brokenness, and peace of mind where there is fear or stress. You often use these vessels, fragile though we are, as the means by which your blessing flows. For such love, undeserved but gratefully received and shared, we offer grateful thanks.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our failings as we bring them before our forgiving Lord.

We come to you in our weakness and brokenness, aware that our lives fall short of perfection, at times bringing a tear to your eye. We come in humility, asking for mercy and forgiveness. Remind us, as we are tempted in our daily walk, that your grace is all that we require, and even in our weakness your strength can be discerned.

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:  Servant Lord, Grant us both the opportunity and the will to serve you day by day.  May all that we do and how we bear each other’s burdens be our offering of love and service to the glory of your name. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Ezekiel 2: 1-5

Mark 6: 1-13
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Go Tell Everyone (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

A modern day Thaddeus shares his thoughts.

Well so much for the homecoming tour is all I can say.

Hardly a ticker tape parade was it, we all thought it would be fanfares and cheers.  So much for home advantage eh??

Those of us who had been with Jesus for sometime really expected something different.  Someone with that many followers on social media just had to be liked in their own home town surely?

Don’t get me wrong it started out OK, a good many in the temple that sabbath were astounded just like we had been.

But then the heckling started, “isn’t this Mary’s lad?” And “where did a carpenter get all this stuff from?”

The louder ones didn’t like being taught by one of their own, they just couldn’t see him for who he is.  They just wouldn’t believe, just didn’t have the faith us followers have.

At first Jesus was a bit taken aback by their disbelief but I wasn’t, we’d seen it all before with those DFJs.

Down from Jeruslaem types, the scribes who called him all sorts, even his own family called him out of his mind.

He always gets a reaction does our Jesus, seems he can be a bit like a well known yeast extract spread.

Of course most of them love him. You should have seen the crowds at the lake pressing forward to get sight of him, the clamour for selfies, the woman with so much faith all she wanted to do was touch his robes.

But the incident in his home town was a bit of a reminder, some encounter Jesus and take him into their hearts but others, well they just don’t seem to get what Jesus is all about.

Which was why I was more than a bit nervous when Jesus came up with his plan. His plan  for the twelve of us to go out and tell others about him. To bear witness to all we had seen and heard.

I mean me? Go out an speak with people about this man we follow?? This Messiah, this Son of God who brings hope to all who follow him.  Of course I believe in him but you see I’m the quiet one, the social media lurker, the one that no-one ever hears about.

I guess that’s why I got paired up with James, thankfully Jesus just sent us out in twos not threes can you imagine James and his brother arguing all the way on our travels?  No wonder they say two’s company and three is a crowd.

To be fair it was good to have James’s company, we supported and encouraged each other, and as they say two witnesses are better than one. And he helped ease my nerves.

They needed calming after Jesus’s words at our commissioning.  We were to travel light, agile and responsive to the people and places we visited. No cash, no contact less cards, no smartphones, not even my rucksack.  Oh and he said wear sandals, never quite understood that one.

We were just to be us, be ourselves, tell the people all that we know of Jesus.  Share our experience of being a disciple of the living Lord.

But it worked! Empowered by Jesus Just us was all we needed. We went out, proclaiming, doing wondrous things in Jesus’s name.  Drawing more and more to Jesus’s band of disciples as we shared the good news.

But that’s enough of my story, what about yours?  How will you respond to the great commission? What will you do and say when Jesus sends you out in his name?

Amen

Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky (Here I am Lord) (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Rev M Belgrove

Loving and caring Lord

We give you thanks that in us you see the potential to care for your world, your people and your church.  So we come before you bringing our need for your love and protection for the world you hold dear.

We pray for the sick of mind and of body, as we remember …..and all those we lift to your name in our hearts.  May your healing be upon them, ease their worries and concerns as they under go treatment and await test results.  Comfort their friends and families as they worry for their loved ones.

We pray for the bereaved, console them in their loss, reassure them of your presence and of the light of hope we have in the resurrection through your Son.

We pray for the isolated and marginalised, the ones who see little but darkness in their lives, may they see the warmth of your light.

We pray for those persecuted and unfairly treated.  For the displaced and the refugee. For the peace that your presence brings to the world

We pray too for that world, giving thanks for your creation, lead us to responsible stewardship of the earth.  Encourage us individually and as the Church to play our part in preserving the planet for future generations.

We pray Lord that you would guide this your Church in sharing the good news of Jesus.  Equip us as we respond to the commission of our Saviour.

In his name we pray. Amen

Hymn: Go Forth And Tell! (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Go out into God’s world with a commitment to make others feel loved and welcomed. And know that you yourselves are loved and welcomed by God, who has called you by name and knows you by heart

And may 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: Our plans…God’s plan. 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 4th July from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Worship resources for 27th June

Music before we worship: Heal Us, Emmanuel (Cover by Northside Church of Richmond Worship Team (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Some words from Psalm 130

  • 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
  •    and in his word I hope;
  • 6 my soul waits for the Lord
  •    more than those who watch for the morning,
  •    more than those who watch for the morning.
  • 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
  •    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
  •    and with him is great power to redeem.

Hymn:  O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Ever-present God, you walk with us through good times and bad, on mountain top and valley floor; your footsteps our guide, your hands our support. Ever-present God, you are with us when life is smooth or rough, in wholeness and brokenness; your healing our hope, your touch our desire. We shall fear nothing if you are with us, our ever-present God.

God of all our longings, you are the fire that kindles our hearts with hope and possibility. You fill us with desire for life, and you hear our voices whether we shout for joy or cry out with sorrow. We trust in you and give thanks for your presence in all the stages of our life.

In you alone is anointing, empowerment for all that we’ve become. We give you thanks for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our failings as we bring them before our forgiving Lord.

Forgive us, Lord, when the road we travel is of our own choosing and we are distracted by the sights and sounds that surround us.

Forgive us, Lord, when your voice is muffled by the noise of our lives and we lose the path, finding ourselves alone.

Forgive us Lord when through our failings our words and deeds hurt or neglect the needs of others

Loving God.

In our saviour Jesus Christ we know of your forgiveness. As we confess our sins cleanse our hearts. Grant us true repentance and assurance of your forgiveness. Renew and strengthen us.

Be with us; guard and guide us, we pray; keep our eyes and ears focused on you, and bring us safely through each day. Restore us that we might live to your glory.

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:  Merciful God, out of the depths we cry to you and you hear our prayer.  Make us attentive to the voice of your Son that we may rise from the death of sin and take our place in the new creation.  We make our prayers through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 130

Mark 5: 21-43
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

So you’re on your way out of the house to do something, you’ve grabbed your keys, your wallet and in this day and age your face mask and hand sanitiser, and then the phone rings.

That dilemma, do you answer it?

It could be important? Even as important as the reason why you’re going out, or it could just be tele sales, or increasingly nowadays a phone scam. A glance at your watch, do I have time to answer it can I afford to be waylaid?

In our Gospel reading we encounter Jesus allowing himself to be waylaid as he responds to a cry for help from Jairus.

Maybe it’s easier for Jesus as he knows that he can afford to be late, after all he can raise the desperately sick child from the dead.  But the interruption that Mark sandwiches in the account serves to further illustrate the ministry of Jesus.

The two encounters talk to us about faith and belief in Jesus.

Jairus was a prominent man, he was a leader of the synagogue, in our terms similar to an elder or steward elder of the church.  Most synagogue insiders didn’t warm to Jesus, we read throughout the Gospel accounts of the hostility Jesus receives from the religious elite.  Whether Jairus’ views were among them we don’t know, but what we do know is that he as a desperate man.

His daughter was gravely ill and he did what any parent would do, he sought out help and hope where he could, at whatever cost, even to the point of falling at the feet of this itinerant preacher and healer called Jesus begging him for help.

Jairus had certainly heard of Jesus but whether he believed in him is less clear, but what is clear is that he was prepared to believe in Jesus.  There are many folk today who in their fear and worry are prepared to seek out and believe in Jesus.  When we or our loved ones are sick, or in our darkest hours believers, agnostics and even self-described atheists will pray for help.  In our or their desperation they hear the words of Jesus, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’

Those of us who call ourselves Christians can sometimes get a bit possessive, “hang on this is OUR Jesus you weren’t so sure about him but now you want his help?”  But if it brings others to faith we should rejoice.

In his journey to help Jairus’ daughter Jesus allows himself to be waylaid by the approach of the haemorrhaging woman.  Like Jairus she too is desperate but she is also different, she isn’t a respected member of the community, she would have been considered ritually unclean, stigmatised and shunned from the temple that Jairus represents.

Unlike Jairus she needs no encouragement to believe that Jesus will heal her, she had heard of Jesus and had faith in him such that she said “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well”.

Jesus’ reaction to her touching his clothes can seem a little odd to us, he could have just carried on let her be healed but instead he calls her out asking ‘Who touched my clothes?’  The woman must have been embarrassed, we hear of her trembling as she confessed it was her.  So why might Jesus do this?

In part he does so to affirm her faith, to make a point to the surrounding crowd and possibly even to Jairus of the importance of faith.  Importance of daring to believe.

He also makes her healing complete, no longer is she the one who surreptitiously touched his clothes, she is now in right relationship with the one who healed her.

We can only imagine how Jairus must have felt about the woman’s interruption, we do know he was there, how must he have felt?  He had sought Jesus, fallen before him and begged and yet he stops to ask who touched his clothes.  He wants his daughter healed now not when Jesus has dealt with someone else.  We too often feel like that, we want our prayers answered now not in God’s good time.

It is one of the many reminders that we can take from the passage.

The contrast between the status of Jairus and the woman reminds us that Jesus is for all regardless of status or wealth, rich or poor, prominent or outcast Jesus hears all of us. 

The woman wasn’t bold, she didn’t speak to Jesus, seeing herself as unclean almost unworthy she merely touched his clothes but he healed her and gave his time to her. 

However unworthy we might feel of Jesus’ attention he finds time for us, just as he noticed Jairus and the woman amid the crowd he hears us and even when we think that Jesus has more important things to do he doesn’t mind being waylaid.

He responded to those that approached him because of their faith, they dared to believe in him, and in our own times of need, amidst all that goes on in our lives he responds to us; all we need to do is allow ourselves to be waylaid and believe.

Amen

Hymn: In Christ alone my hope is found (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Rev M Belgrove

Caring and Loving Lord

Through the ministry of Jesus we know of love and compassion for your people.  So we come before you with our prayers of concern confident that you hear each and every heart that calls out to you.

May the healing touch of Jesus be upon all those who are unwell as we lift them to you. We remember….

We pray for those awaiting tests, the results of tests and medical treatment, be with them and ease their worries and fears.  Be with the medical professionals as they treat the sick.

Just as the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak came in faith so we approach in faith with our prayers for the marginalised, the mistreated and those denied dignity.  We lift before you the lost, the lonely and the grieving.

We pray for the fearful, those scared and in peril from war, persecution, neglect and abuse.

Lord we pray for your mercy and guidance as we strive to be good guardians of your creation.  Encourage us to use the world’s resources wisely and equitably, so that others of our generation and generations to come may share in your bounty.

We pray for your Church, make us attentive to the needs of others within our church community and the world around us. Equip and encourage us to share with others the hope we find in Jesus.

Finally we pray for ourselves, give us the faith to call out and reach for our saviour Jesus Christ, may we live out that faith in service of our risen Lord, in whose name we pray.

Amen

Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

As we go out into the world this week may we hear the cry of the individual amidst the crowd as we serve in our saviour’s name.

And may 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: Barrier breaking 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 27th June from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Worship resources for 20th June

Music before we worship: Zach Williams – Chain Breaker (Live from Harding Prison) (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities Word search (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

Some words from Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

   and do not rely on your own insight.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

   and he will make straight your paths.

Hymn:  Lord, For The Years (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Great God of heaven and earth, we are often aware of your power. It comes to us in a booming voice in the thunder and in majestic views of mountain and ocean, and times of thunder and blizzard.  Yet your power is also seen in the colours of a ladybug and a child’s cry. In all these things and much, much more, we are reminded of your awesome greatness. In this time of worship may we appreciate and celebrate your power, and may we always seek ways to use it for peace and goodness.

For those who seek you, Lord, you are a safe refuge, a stronghold when circumstances conspire against us and we have nowhere else to turn. For those who seek you, Lord, you are the word of truth, your Spirit giving wisdom when faith is tested, so we can bear witness to your name. For those who seek you, Lord, you are the source of life, for your love, like living water, pours into our hearts and brings us to your feet in praise.

In times of storm and in places of calm: we give thanks, O God, for your presence. In calls to go and in gifts of peace: we give you thanks, O God, for your word. May we follow your leading, as we trust your purposes.

We thank you, mighty God, that the even the least among us can trust in you to be our champion and protector. We pray that you would continue to build our trust in your strength and vision that we may join your pursuit for justice and peace for all.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our shortcomings as we bring them to our forgiving Lord.

If anything we say or do should cause one of your dear ones to stumble, please, Lord, forgive us. Sometimes we fail to see the potential damage our words and actions can cause. Grant us wisdom and understanding in all our relationships, and remind us, before we act or speak, that we are building blocks in your kingdom, and stones can hurt others.

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:  God of all power and truth and grace, you call your Church to love and praise.  Inspire us with zeal for your gospel, and grant us boldness to proclaim your word, that we and all the world may praise your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen  Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

1 Samuel 17: 32-49

Mark 4: 35-41
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

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

Reflection on Scripture: Rev M Belgrove

Whether it is North Macedonia verses Holland in the Euros (to my American readers that is a soccer tournament) or the picture of the man shopping bags in hand facing down the tanks in Tiananmen Square there is something that instinctively has us rooting for the underdog.

We like it when the little guy, or gal wins.

The story of David and Goliath is familiar to all the Abrahamic faiths appearing the the Holy books of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  But its reach extends much further than that.

The image of David and Goliath has taken on a secular meaning where a smaller, sometimes weaker opponent faces a much larger and stronger adversary.  Where the underdog prevails it is often by an unorthodox way, just like David using a sling shot to fell Goliath rather than meet him in hand to hand combat.

What the secular world misses, or chooses to miss is the meanings within the account from 1 Samuel.

The young diminutive David wins not of his own efforts but because of God.  He is chosen, empowered and protected by God, he will become a leader of God’s people.

David has faith, faith in the Lord that has saved him from the lions and bears he faced guarding his sheep. Such is his faith that he discards the cumbersome armour given to him, preferring to be light and agile.  He has no need of the armour because the Lord will protect him.

David’s victory shows the power of his God, while Goliath’s defeat reveals the weakness of the Philistine deities. It reinforces a central tenet in Old Testament Scripture that there is but one true God.

A caring, protective and empowering Lord of all removing the large obstacles we face so something small may triumph not because of ourselves but because of God.  Because of faith.

Our two readings today contrast the faith of David, ditching the armour and stepping out to face a much larger adversary with the disciples cowering in the bottom of the boat as the storm rages.

It is hard not to have some empathy with the disciples, we do feel small and vulnerable when a storm rages around us.

The Church in the UK can sometimes feel like a boat in a storm, tossed around by a maelstrom of secular indifference, dwindling attendances and then to really stir up the storm along comes a pandemic.

But the message from our two scriptures is clear, we have an advocate in Jesus that can still the storm if we have the faith of David rather than that of the disciples.  That seemingly small compared to the storm around us we can triumph through faith.

When I first moved to this particular part of North Kent, I could never understand why shops in the towns sell children’s seaside buckets and spades..

Each summer you see excited children trooping down to the beaches eager to build sand castles only to be met by a carpet of shingle.

If only they had stayed on the train until further east they would have saved themselves the disappointment.

But to say this stretch of coast doesn’t have any sand isn’t completely true.  Each winter the Kent coast experiences some heavy storms.

Just like in our reading the wind howls and the waves crash as we are battered by a storm.

The storms change the landscape of the beach pushing the shingle high up the beach exposing strips of sand.  Strips certainly big enough to build a decent sandcastle.

With the landscape of the beach changed the local council at great expense move diggers onto the beach and push all the stones down the beach, smoothing them out and covering the strip of sand.

This year two days after they had smoothed them out we had another storm and the powerful waves had pushed the stones back up the beach again! (Money well spent eh?)

Despite Monday’s announcement of lockdown extension the storm that we as churches have faced over the last 15 months will abate.

But just like the beach, the landscape will have changed. There will be new challenges but there will be new opportunities too.

We must ask how do we want to be Church in this new landscape.

Do we want to smooth the stones back where they were?

Or do we need to re-equip? Do we need to buy a bucket and spade?

Do we want to return to collecting pebbles and shells or is it a new opportunity to build sand castles?

When the storms stills, will we be like the disciples hiding away in the bottom of the boat or will we have faith like David and be agile and ready for action?

However we respond to this new landscape, let us be led by Jesus, may we listen to and obey the one that even the wind and sea obey.

May we through our faith triumph in the name of Jesus, for to him be the glory.

Amen

Amen

Hymn: When we walk with the Lord (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Rev M Belgrove

Loving caring God.

With give thanks for the gift of Scripture and through the pages of Scripture we know of your protection and care you grant your people.

So we come before you confident that you hear our voices call unto you.

Breathe your calm upon those undergoing or waiting for medical treatment.  Empower the doctors and health care professionals as we ask your blessing upon those we know who are sick.  We remember before you…..

When the waters rise and threaten to overwhelm, breathe your calm upon those who are worried, the isolated and alone.  Comfort those who feel battered by the waves of grief and loss.

When the storms of war blow send forth your peace so that it may triumph over our capacity to wage war and to persecute.  We uphold before you the displaced, the refugee, the wounded and the mourning.

Just as Jesus saved the disciples in distress we pray for those who go to the aid of others, for our emergency services, the RNLI, Coastguard and charities offering support to the homeless, the hungry and those in need.

We pray for your Church, grant us the faith and courage of David to step forth in your name.  Equip us for service and discipleship so that we might build the Church triumphant.  Grant your protection to our Brothers and Sisters in parts of the world where they are persecuted for holding the strength of faith we aspire to.

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves encourage us to place our trust in you, no adversary is too big to overwhelm us with you beside us, for you have chosen us to be your Holy people.

In the name of Jesus, who even the wind and sea obey, we pray.

Amen

Hymn: Will Your Anchor Hold? (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

The UK Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the UK (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Go in the peace of God, which passes all understanding, daring to care, daring to share, and daring to love.

And may 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: Questions 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 June from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Methodist Worship

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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