Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

Calling, Character, Community

Dear Friends

I do enjoy the Olympics. The first one I remember was 1968 in Mexico when I would get up in the morning to find out what had been happening through the night. I kept a scrap book full of stories, but was also fascinated by the stories from previous events and learned much of the history. We would then go out and run our own events, turning our street into our own athletics track and cycle course. In the days when cars were at a minimum of course and you could play in the street! I wanted to be Kip Kieno, the little guy outrunning everyone in the 1500m. It was the event I would eventually run at school athletics meetings when before my growth spurt I was always smaller than everyone else. I was quite good, but never ran as well as Kip Keino! 

I love the stories that emerge, the people who shock themselves and everyone else, like the Cyclist Anna Kiesenhofer getting ahead in the women’s Road Race and all the favourites forgetting she was there. The amazement of what a human body is capable of-  in the gymnastics, how can anyone twist, turn, somersault and leap like that? Or the people who have overcome injury, set backs and disappointments to emerge as the best they can be. It’s not always about the winners, it’s about the resilience and determination of the human spirit and this year every athlete has had to overcome Covid in one way or another and then deal with a strange situation where there’s no audience and still create wonderful competition. My resilience comes with deciding whether to stay up late at night or get up in the morning. It’s a hard life, rooted in an understanding of ourselves as being made in the image of God – whether we can run at amazing speeds, deal with adversity by turning towards another new day or bear one another with humility, gentleness and patience. 

Otherwise, we continue to prepare for our own future adventure and our house is beginning to be a collection of boxes. You are invited to a leaving and a welcome; my last service at Ansty Road is on Sunday 15th August, I’ve heard a a rumour of cake, it would be lovely to see people there. My induction in Loughborough is on Saturday 18th September at 3:00pm and there is a general invitation to you all, but they need to know numbers. If you would like to go would you please let Isabel McIntyre or Tony Pedley know by Sunday, or sign the list in the Welcome Area. They also need to know who would need some transport in order to get there. 

 

Worship for 1st August 2021 

Hymn

Great God, your love has called us here

as we, by love, for love were made. 

Your living likeness still we bear, 

though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed. 

We come, with all our heart and mind 

your call to hear, your love to find. 

Brian Wren (1936-  ) © Hope  Publishing

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers

O God You know each of us well, love us deeply

and are able to sustain us in an enormous variety of ways.

We are humbled by our awareness of Your profound concern

and involvement in our petty concerns and worries,

and your keen interest in our welfare.

Given so many gifts in our daily lives to enrich us

and opportunities for love and companionship,

we come anticipating a deeper appreciation of

and wider perspective of Your grace and power.

We know your mercy for the penitent, O loving God.

Let us experience it once again

as we place the record of our past week before You.

We recall our lack of respect and care for others

and those set in authority over us.

We acknowledge our abuse and neglect of our particular talents and gifts.

We have lived as if the world and its wonders were under our control,

and needed no reference to You.

We have failed to measure up to the standard expected of Your disciples,

and our example has not influenced the world for good.

In certain ways we have lived as if this earth and life upon it

was the limit of our horizons

and have disregarded Your encouragement to strive forward

and live as mature human beings made in Your likeness.

Hear us, O God, as in silence we now confess our individual sin before You.

Listen to the word of promise :

If we confess our sin,

God is faithful and just and will forgive our sin,

so, I declare unto You, our sin is forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

Generous provider of every good gift,

Prod us awake to the opportunities and invitations You lay before us.

Give us magnanimity in defeat and denial,

so that we may trust You rather than our own wisdom and wit.

Give to those who lead,

the loyalty and support they deserve,

and to those who follow,

willing spirits and a sense of purpose of their part in Your plan for this world,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/worship/weekly-worship/monthly/2021-august/august-1-tenth-sunday-after-pentecost#prayers

Bible Ephesians 4.1-16 

Hymn

Touch the earth lightly,

use the earth gently,

nourish the life of the world in our care:

gift of great wonder,

ours to surrender,

trust for the children tomorrow will bear.

Shirley Erena Murray

© 1992 Hope Publishing Company, 

CCLI 1280770

Calling, Character, Community

We pick up this letter at its midway point. Paul has used the first part of this letter to remind his gentile readers of who they have been and the way in which coming  to know Christ has changed their identity to those who follow Christ. Now, they are immersed in God’s grace through Christ’s death and so are citizens and members of God’s household. They have become one with Christ, in whom God is uniting the entire cosmos. And they are now members of the Church which is the Body with Christ as its head. Now Paul turns to spelling out what this means for them, “I therefore, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

We are called as individuals to follow the way of Jesus. For some there will be a strong sense of when that first happened for us, and the ways in which that has had an impact on our lives. For others it may have sneaked up on us – and yet to be part of this community of Christ we have made decisions along the way, that bring us into this particular community at this particular time.

Paul reminds us that however we arrived in this community we are “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called”   and then pulls out a list of qualities he expects such a calling to produce. Perhaps this is the preacher, preaching to self. Leadership requires a certain arrogance to be able to assume that you have something interesting to say or that your decisions are worthy of being followed by others – so Paul reminded us (and perhaps himself) that there needs to be a humility, gentleness and patience  in the way we encourage people to follow Christ, a humility to accept that the whole community has something to contribute, a gentleness in the way we treat one another – sometimes we can be too robust in the way we make our point or try to ensure that we are heard, a patience with one another,  some people may not be ready to make changes as quickly as others, and that can be frustrating for some and a cause of anxiety for others. The suggestion here is that the mark of a Christ centred community is one in which all people are valued and in which we maintain unity and the bonds of peace.

This sense of everyone being valued develops through into another list, “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” We have reached a point in the life of the church where we are having to re-think how we function and what roles we expect from people. There was a time when we were very good at sharing these roles around a number of different people, of expecting different people in the life of the church to take on these roles. Yet,  at some point we came to an expectation that the person called to be the Minister of Word and Sacrament would be the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and so when we reach a point where we are saying to churches that we can not afford to provide a Minister to every church, then for some churches that sounds like a crisis for there is no one to fulfil these roles. In 2004, the URC received a report to general Assembly in which the focus was to change to the final role on Paul’s list “equipping the saints.” It was an acknowledgement that we could not carry on in the way ministry had developed, that the responsibility for effective ministry had to be shared across many different people and that any Minister of Word and Sacrament who is available to a particular church would bring there own specific gifts rather than be expected to be able to do everything on their own.

I believe you have the ability to work together to continue growing this church and fulfilling your calling to be God’s people in this community. Often when we think about church growth we imagine it only refers to the number of people who join the church but one commentator suggests that “church growth involves how the one Church and its multiple members are equipped by Christ to reflect the qualities of its unity and growth in love (note how “love” bookends the focus on growth in verse 15-16). So the more we grow in love for one another the more that we reflect Christ and the more fruitful we become. 

Hymn

Put peace into each other’s hands

And like a treasure hold it

Protect it like a candle-flame

With tenderness enfold it

Fred Kaan © Words: Stainer & Bell Ltd

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

Discipling like Mary of Bethany

Dear Friends

It is Wednesday as I write this. Chris has gone off for her last day at school and I am on the last two days of the course that I have been engaged in this year. We are talking about how we make good endings and I’m trying to pay attention! 

When Chris started at work forty odd years ago, she didn’t expect to be working with children. Her love of numbers had led her initially to work as an audit clerk and then switching to being a Finance Clerk. I interrupted that work, but in Bolton she quickly got similar work in the Rates Office before finishing to raise our children. It was when she looked to return to work that she began working with other children, initially childminding as it fitted well with caring for Graham and Hannah whilst I worked shifts and then went to College. She took her NVQ’s, yet despite discovering she was good at working with children, when we moved to Rochdale she tried to return to finance related work – but it had all moved on to computer and Chris hadn’t. Now her experience and skills made getting work with children easier than working in finance and so she moved into a family Centre Playgroup setting, and then into being a Teaching Assistant and has discovered a love of seeing the way children grow and thrive, and has done so herself. Sometimes the path we set out on isn’t the one we end up on.  Yet, life takes us where it takes us and hopefully we can all grow and learn along the way. Now that work is coming to an end and she has ideas for retirement – but who knows whether it will map out the way we plan and what opportunities that lie ahead. Only time will tell.

Worship for 25 July 2021

Hymn

Light of the minds that know Him

May Christ be light to mine

My sun in risen splendour

My light of truth divine

My guide in doubt and darkness

My true and living way

My clear light ever shining

My dawn of heaven’s day

 

May it be ours to know Him

That we may truly love

And loving fully serve Him

As serve the saints above

Till in that home of glory

With fadeless splendour bright

We serve in perfect freedom

Our Strength our Life our Light

Timothy Dudley-Smith

  • © 1976, 1984 Dudley-Smith, Timothy (Admin. by Oxford University Press)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

God of peace

In our hearts

in our lives

in our flesh

in our souls

May peace break out within us and around us,

May peace break through dividing walls

May peace break into dwelling-places

May peace break the chains that bind.

God who reconciles

heaven and earth

life and death

near and far

us and them

 

May your cross create one humanity

May your cross put to death hostility

May your cross proclaim love

May your cross make peace.

God of friendship

among strangers

among citizens

within households

in your holy places

May the household of God embrace humanity

May the household of God embrace creation

May the household of God embrace peace

May the household of God embrace hope.

 

God who forgives

we bring brokenness

we bring hatred

we bring misdeeds

we bring divisions

May your mercy flow within us

May your mercy shine in our hearts

May your mercy blow into relationships

May your mercy grow peace.

So then we are no longer strangers and aliens, 

We are citizens with the saints 

members of the household of God, 

built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, 

with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. 

The whole structure is joined together 

Growing into a holy temple 

in whom we are spiritually built together 

into a dwelling place for God.

 

God of grace

we praise you

we thank you

we follow you

we dwell within you.

Amen

Ephesians 2:11-22

Bible Luke 10: 38 – 42  John 12:1-7

Song: https://youtu.be/p_k771zhwfs

Come all you vagabonds,

Come all you don’t belongs,

Winners and losers

Come people like me.

Come all you travellers,

Tired from the journey,

Come wait a while, stay a while

Welcomed you’ll be.

Mark Edwards | Phil Baggaley | Stuart Townend

  • © 2011 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music Ltd)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Discipling like Mary of Bethany

Making time for Jesus

Mary could have spent the time rushing around with her sister getting the house ready, cooking for at least 15 and whoever else turns up – as Jesus has a habit of gathering a crowd. But we find her making time to ensure she is in the best place to listen to whatever Jesus is going to say this day. Sometimes the easy option is to keep busy, to fill our time with activity and make our excuses when we don’t have time to listen. We each have different ways of doing that – in my case it comes with the pressure of finding something to say each week. The theory is that I speak in the name of Jesus, but I know that sometimes there are so many deadlines to keep that I don’t make time to listen and I simply rely on something I’ve heard or what I think needs to be said. Each of you will know the ways in which you do not have time for Jesus and claim “Busy, too busy!” 

To be a disciple is to be one who makes time to listen to the one we follow. To do so expands our horizons, lifts us out of our own self-contained world and allows us to see the world from the perspective of the one we follow. The first step in that process is to make sure that we have time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. 

Making space to learn

Mary could have taken the option of staying on the edge of the crowd, listening from a distance, perhaps whilst still doing a bit of the housework that Martha was demanding. It would be the hospitable thing to do, ensuring that their guests had the best seats in the house. But instead she creates her own space to learn. We will each have different ways to do that, those that like to be at the front of the class under teacher’s nose, those at the back who don’t seem to be paying attention. Those who like their papers and pens all set out very neatly with the right colours to make appropriate notes and those who manage with whatever scrap of paper and pencil  they pull from their pocket. At Greenbelt there is an older man who always ensures that he sits at the foot of the stage. sometimes he leans back on it, sometimes he lies on the floor. He usually has his eyes closed and when I  first spotted him a number of years ago,  I wondered what he was doing there or whether he was capable of following the talks. But sometimes, in the Question and Answer sessions he will ask to speak and when he does he is articulate and learned with a keen sense of social justice. He clearly follows the many talks he is present at with a keen interest having ensured that he is in a space where he can make himself comfortable to do so. 

To be a disciple is to make space to learn. It is being aware of our own learning styles and ensuring that we have the opportunities to make best use of them. If is being aware that we are always learners and there is always something new to discover when we are the disciples of Jesus.

Creating beautiful moments

In Luke’s gospel, Mary seems to be a very passive soul, who doesn’t even get a speaking part in her own story as Jesus and Martha talk over her. It’s the sort of belittling behaviour that can happen to a child, or a wheelchair user or someone who we don’t believe can talk for themselves. In Johns account we get a different view of her – active, brave, creative – shocking those who don’t expect such behaviour from sweet little Mary. In doing so she creates a powerful image of commitment. That smell must have lingered for weeks and weeks as it clung to clothing and memory. 

To be a disciple is to throw our lot in with Jesus, it is to respond to extravagant love with extravagant energy and to create memories that people will talk about for as long as the memory lasts. I remember the people who have shown me how discipleship brings moments of great joy – sometimes in the midst of great difficulties. I think of the stories I’ve had the privilege of telling, the people whose lives have been full of grace and wonder. It is these moments that carry me forward, even amongst those who are always complaining about the cost or the embarrassment. May those who create beautiful moments always be a blessing for us.

Hymn

A prophet woman broke a jar

By love’s divine appointing.

With rare perfume she filled the room

Presiding and anointing.

 

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls

By love’s divine ordaining,

The friends we need to serve and lead

Their powers and gifts unchaining.

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls

From women, men and children,

The friends we need to serve and lead

Rejoice and make them welcome

Brian Arthur Wren

© 1993 Stainer & Bell Ltd

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Intercessions

God our Shepherd

May all who hunger for nourishment

find green pastures.

 

May all who thirst for peace & justice

find still waters.

May all uncertain about the next steps

be led along the right path

 

We remember those walking deep valleys

– may we fear no evil

– may you walk with us

– supporting and comforting.

– may we find healing, 

– may we stand proud amongst your flock

 

We remember those who meet with enemies

May peace come to our world 

where nations and communities are at war, 

sit behind walls and fences, 

May you anoint them with grace

 

We remember those who sit down to eat 

with those who abuse them, 

assault them,  

exploit them.

May they find refuge and sanctuary

May abusers know justice

 

We seek the goodness and mercy you promise

The gift of your indwelling

The promise of home our whole life long.  

 

Hymn

God is love: let heaven adore Him;

God is love: let earth rejoice;

Let creation sing before him,

And exalt him with one voice.

He who laid the earth’s foundation

He who spread the heavens above,

He who breathes through all creation,

He is love, eternal love

 

God’s eternal loving-kindness

holds us fast and guides us still.

Sin and death and hell shall never

O’er us final triumph gain;

God is love, so Love for ever

o’er the universe must reign.

Timothy Rees Public Domain

 

Blessing

May the God of peace,bring peace to this house.

May the Son of peace, bring peace to this house.

May the Spirit of peace, bring peace to this house, this day and all days.

Categories
Minister Mission Prayers Sermon

11 July 2021: Witnessing Like Mary Magdalene

8 July 2021

Dear Friends

I’m writing this the day after the Prime Minister announced that from 19 July all Covid restrictions would be lifted despite the infection rate steadily rising. We are each to “make informed decisions” about masks, distance, numbers, travel, events and learn to live with Covid. Many people are jumping for joy, but for others there is an increased anxiety, we need to listen to those concerns and be mindful of them. We might chose to wear a mask and keep a distance, but if people around us do not, are we placed in more danger of catching or spreading the virus? We will each find ourselves making daily risk assessments about where we should go and how we should behave for the sake of ourselves and for those who are still vulnerable. 

At the moment it looks like we will be permitted to sing in church and to return to sitting in an un-distanced way. But the question for us will be, “Should we?” We have an Elders’ Meeting on 12 July and I’m sure this will be a topic of conversation, so it would be good if people could let Elders have a sense of how you are feeling and whether you would still like some restrictions in place when we meet in church. We also have a Church Meeting after our service on 25th July. At the moment I would prefer to hold that service using the same restrictions we have in force at the moment and then let Church Meeting discuss the way we worship for the coming months. The reality is that our own informed decisions have an impact on everyone else, so we need to return at a pace that we can manage together. 

Craig’s Last Quiz Night on 16th July will still be within the time when restrictions are in force. So we will open up the screen and the doors. We will spread the tables a good distance apart, teams/tables of no more than 6, require masks to be worn when not eating and serve food in a way that is compliant with the restrictions. Apparently the price I quoted in my last letter was incorrect – but the Magazine was right. £5 per person. Please let Isabel know if you are going to come. 

This Sunday our Communion will be led by Craig at 10:30am in church and on zoom.

We will also be on our usual ZOOM LINK. Worship for Sunday 11th July

partly based on material produced for URC General Assembly 

 

This is the day that the Lord has made;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord;

His love endures forever.

 

Hymn

The kingdom of God Is justice and joy,

For Jesus restores What sin would destroy; 

God’s power and glory In Jesus we know,

And here and hereafter 

The kingdom shall grow.

 

The kingdom of God, Is mercy and grace,

The prisoners are freed, The sinners find place, 

The outcast are welcomed God’s banquet to share 

and hope is awakened

In place of despair.

 

The Kingdom of God is challenge and choice, 

Believe the good news, Repent and rejoice!

His love for us sinners, Brought Christ to his cross, 

Our crisis of judgement 

For gain or for loss.

 

God’s kingdom is come, The gift and the goal,

In Jesus begun, In heaven made whole; 

The heirs of the kingdom, Shall answer his call,

And all things cry “Glory!” 

To God all in all.

© 1973, words by Bryn A Rees, OCP,

 One Licence A-632955

 

Prayers of Praise and Confession

Creator God,

You are holy beyond our wildest imagination.

You called everything into being and saw that it was good.

As we come to Your presence, 

You gather us together with the whole of creation.

Creator God, we worship You;

Creator God, we worship You.

Lord Jesus Christ,

Just as we are, you invite each one of us to your celebration feast, 

You greet us each by name and welcome us into your family.

Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you;

Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you.

Holy Spirit, breath of Life,

You fill us with your love for all,

So that we are enabled to witness with and to your Word.

Holy Spirit, we worship you;

Holy Spirit, we worship you. Prayer of Confession

Loving God,

As we draw near to you, we are painfully aware of our faults and failings,

We confess that we have been greatly influenced by other voices than yours, 

We have been seduced by the superficial glamour of the culture of the world, 

We have not spoken out against injustice and inequality in our society,

We have filled our own plates whilst other plates are empty,

We have been indifferent to the damage our way of life has caused to your creation.

Forgive us, Lord God. Help us to listen only to your voice, to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly in your way.

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.’

 

Bible Luke 8:1-3, Luke 24:1-11

Witnessing like Mary Magdalene: Having used the prayers and hymns from General Assembly which is meeting online over the weekend, I move away from their material to return to the people who inspired our mission priorities. Mary Magdalene is the first witness to the resurrection, yet is that what first comes to your mind when you think about Mary Magdalene? I suspect that the image that first comes to mind for many people is the one that has seen her misrepresented through history and sidelined by patriarchal narratives. The first evidence of this misrepresentation comes in a series of Easter sermons delivered in 591 by Pope Gregory in which he conflated the story of an unnamed woman with long hair who anoints the feet of Jesus with the description of Mary as one of the women who followed Jesus and myth was born that took away her status as the first witness to the resurrection. The one who God trusted to tell the disciples that Jesus was risen becomes the fallen woman, depicted in a whole variety of ways that emphasise her sexuality rather than her role as a leader within the early church. Anyone would think that they had a problem with a woman in such a prominent role!

So let’s look at her again. Luke tells us that she is part of a group of women who travel with Jesus and have been cured of evil spirits and infirmities. He then highlights her as the one from whom seven demons have gone. So it sounds as though she had much to be grateful to Jesus for. This is the sort of language we have seen gospel writers using for people with a variety of mental illnesses, but no one then assumes that the men who were healed in the synagogue or the graveyard were sexually promiscuous, they are seen as people with an illness. So it should be for Mary, and with those other examples, we do not hear of them again, but Mary is so important to the gospel writers that they speak of her again, as one of the women who follow Jesus all the way to the cross and then the empty tomb. What a story! What a life to live! Not just to be cured of an illness that must have made life so difficult, but to have the opportunity to forge out a new life as one who follows the way of Jesus. That could have been enough, but then she (along with Joanna and Mary, the mother of Joses) is entrusted with an important mission“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen”. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

So if we are to be inspired by Mary and her friends it is surely to find ways to witness to Jesus however much the message may be sidelined or ignored. We know that our message is acceptable when safe and uncontroversial, but when we start to stray into messages that are deemed too political, too radical, too challenging of those who wish to assert power over others then suddenly we may find that we are no longer welcome to share our message because it is far too mischievous. This week I went to the opening of an exhibition highlighting three years of research by “Life on the Breadline.” It is hosted by the Chapel of Unity for Coventry University and highlights the very detailed report that can be found at https://breadlineresearch.coventry.ac.uk. This is work that spells out the gravity of the situation for 14 million people caught in poverty by the deliberate economic policy of creating austerity. It highlights the way in which poverty creates physical and mental ill health and explores the impact of faith communities who take the lead in many communities in providing the resources that help people manage life on the breadline. The report makes some hard hitting recommendations that will not be popular amongst those who prefer to cosy up to the architects of austerity or who would prefer the church to stay out of politics. 

But there is more mischief going on than that – those who are challenging the church and wider society on how we treat the vulnerable – especially as we lift Covid restrictions. Those challenging our attitude towards Downs Syndrome and whether it is right to be able to terminate a pregnancy beyond the limit for any other termination. Those who are challenging the new bill that will criminalise any attempt to support an asylum seeker. There is so much holy mischief for us to get up to – but when we do we are standing in the tradition of those who have been misrepresented through history despite have a clear mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Amongst our aims is to network and partner with people of good will in creating loving communities. Mary formed a community with other women who shared a desire to support the people who gathered around Jesus. We know enough about them to know that they came from a variety of backgrounds, that some had financial resources and others didn’t, that they had different political ambitions, that they were leaders and followers, that most had risked much to follow Jesus and life could never be the same for any of them.  Can we witness like Mary Magdalene, naming the good news we have experienced and the goodness we see emerging from the struggles to manage life?

Hymn

Take this moment, sign and space

take the friends around,

here among us make the place

where your love is found

Take the time to call my name

take the time to mend

who I am and what I’ve been

all I’ve failed to tend.

take the tiredness of my days

take my past regret,

letting your forgiveness touch

all I can’t forget.

 

Offering 

We bring this bread and this wine to the table of Jesus.

With them we bring ourselves,

all that we are and all that we own. May the ordinary become holy,

and heaven be opened to the people of earth.

May God be blessed forever!

We praise you that we are here today, around the table of Jesus.

We have heard the good news of your love; 

the cross is the sign of your arms stretched out in love for us

and the empty tomb declares your love stronger than death.

 

Prayer

Loving God,

you have fed us generously at this table, 

as we have remembered Jesus

and rejoiced that he is with us today. 

We are ready now to follow him,

and to be your people in the world. 

May your Holy Spirit show us the way, 

make us holy and fill us with love.

We pray for the Church,

for the great Church throughout the world, 

and for our own church community gathered today for worship and prayer.

May we remember Jesus every day,

grow in understanding of him,

and learn to love you and our neighbours. 

Fill us with your Spirit,

and make us people of peace,

of faithful prayer and loving action.

We pray for the whole world;

for the people, the animals,

the earth, the sea and the air.

May all that you have made

be sustained in peace and harmony, 

and may all your creatures

share in the goodness of creation. 

Bring healing to all who are suffering, 

and may all your people share in hope especially…….

We pray for ourselves,

for our families and our friends,

for all those we love

and for those we find it hard to love.

May young and old respect one another, 

and the generations honour one another. 

May nothing divide us or come between us, 

but let your love bind us in affection.

Bless us with your peace,

that together we may praise you forever.

URC Worship Book, Second Order of Holy Communion

Hymn

Eternal God, your love’s tremendous glory 

cascades through life in overflowing grace, 

to tell creation’s meaning in the story

of love evolving love from time and space.

 

We ask you now, complete your image in us;

this love of yours, our source and guide and goal.

May love in us seek love and serve love’s purpose,

till we ascend with Christ and find love whole.

© 1991, words by Alan Gaunt, Stainer & Bell Ltd, Hope Publishing Co, 

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Blessing

Go into the world to speak with courage.

Go into the world to act with compassion.

Go into the world to encourage your neighbours. 

Go into the world to share the good news.

And may God – creator, son and spirit –

inform and inspire our thinking,

our speaking and our actions

and bless us today, and every day to come. Amen

URC General Assembly 2021

Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

27 June 2021: Celebrating like the Dancing One

22 June 2021

Dear Friends

This Sunday we will celebrate our fifth anniversary as a church. It has felt so natural to be together as one church that I was surprised when I did that maths and only needed one hand to count it up. We did originally have big plans to always have an invited preacher on these occasions, but the uncertain nature of the last year has meant that we haven’t been able to plan that far ahead, so you are going to have make do with me this year. Hopefully we can begin to look further ahead now and you can begin to plan who to invite in forthcoming years. Thinking about pulpit supply matters, Isabel is putting together a worship plan to lead the weeks I will no longer be here and then we have an offer of someone willing to take over. We thank them both, but if you are aware of people who you believe would be good at leading worship at Ansty Road, please let Isabel know and she will add them to the potential invitation list.  

There are many skills we need to keep a church running, another is people who can clean. We are creating a cleaning rota, so as to save us having to employ anyone. At the moment there are 4 volunteers, but another two would mean that the frequency was less often. If that is something you can do please speak to Isabel.

At the last Church Meeting we decided that we wanted to restart our Quiz Nights. So the first of the new season will be Craig’s Last Quiz Night on Friday 16th July, 7pm. Teams of no more than 6, on socially distanced tables answering the usual mix of easy questions. £5 per person, and an indication of who will be coming to Isabel please. 

Hymn

Blessed be Your name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I’ll

Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Beth Redman | Matt Redman

  • © 2002 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

God of lakes and landfalls

boats and beaches;

we gather around your presence;

intrigued, enthralled, curious.

 

God of named and un-named

led and followed

we fall pleading at your feet;

craving, pressing, hoping.

 

God of parent and child

healthy and ailing;

we seek the life you provide;

flourishing, thriving, savoured.

 

God of patient and physician

seen and hidden;

we press against you in the crowd

silent, noticed, touched.

 

God of powered and disempowered

released and recharged;

we feel your energy within us 

tender, merciful, beautiful

 

God of knowing and unknowing

faithfulness and trust 

we sense your glance upon us

peaceful, transforming, easy.

 

God of receiving and sending

encouragement and forgiveness

we taste your zest for life 

risen, resplendent, wellspring.

 

God of teaching and troubling

hearing and noticing

we fear your assured pace

unwavered, untroubled, certain.

 

God of belief and disbelief

questions and quietening

we scoff with misunderstanding;

opened, taught, gentle.

 

God of dawn and dusk

midnight and midday

you take our hand and raise us to life

restored, rejuvenated, rejoiced.

 

God of kitchen and bedroom

study and nursery

You feed us with goodness

replenish, rework, reseed. 

Craig Muir based on Mark 5:21-43

Commitment 

We come to worship

All that we are will flow into and out of our worship of God

Like Martha, we come to welcome and seek welcome

We commit ourselves to create welcome, hospitality and friendship

Like Hannah, we come to pray and share prayer

We commit ourselves to put prayer at the heart of our presence in this place.

Like Mary Magdalene, we come to witness to God’s good news

We commit ourselves to seek ways in which we witness to Jesus  

Like Mary of Bethany, we come to disciple and be discipled

We commit ourselves to learn and worship at the feet of Jesus

Like Barnabas, we come to encourage one another

We commit ourselves to create moments of reconciliation and peace. 

To find God’s Spirit in one another and care for the most vulnerable

Like the Dancing One, we come to celebrate life’s moments.

We commit ourselves to celebrate a love shared and find reasons to dance.

When we go our separate ways 

We will do so by taking our worship into our daily lives of welcome, prayer, witness, discipleship, encouragement and celebration.

© Ansty Road United Reformed Church

 

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name

Christ alone cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm He is Lord

Lord of all

Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury

© 2011 Hillsong MP Songs (Admin. by Hillsong Music Publishing UK) CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Celebrating like the dancing one: Acts 3:1-10

A man’s life is turned around when he meets the risen Christ through Peter and John. His reaction is to dance with joy and amaze those around him. We need to celebrate life’s moments, celebrate the good news of Christ, celebrate a love shared. 

When we were thinking about the way we wanted to develop the new church Dorry Dear  told us, “These moments are like a comma changing the flow of a sentence.” I loved that image, and the way a well placed comma makes such a difference to the way in which we understand text. There is a story told by Oscar Wilde that he had spent the whole day waiting and when asked what he had done said “I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.” 

However, what language shall we use? We have in the past referred to this encounter as Celebrating like the dancing Cripple. Now cripple is a perfectly correct word  from the Old English crypel, “one who creeps, halts, or limps, one partly or wholly deprived of the use of one or more limbs.” The problem is that like so many of these words it has been abused and it has been abused. Some will use it of themselves, “Crip” is a term used by people who are disabled – but it’s not a term that is regarded as acceptable for those of us who are not particularly disabled to use. So what might we say instead, could we refer to the dancing paraplegic or person of disability? We could and many of those who are disabled in some way prefer that term, yet still I hesitate to describe someone by what can not be done rather than by their achievements.

So for the moment, until someone suggests something better, I’m going to refer to the Dancing One. It is a bit gneric, perhaps too bland bland, yet it puts our focus on the dancing and perhaps we can then associate this moment with others who dance …Miriam, Psalm 30 149, 150 , Jephthah’s daughter, David, Thessalonians – “We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”

Sometimes, moments of celebration will be immediate and unexpected.  At other times we need to plan ahead, make the date, form plans, send out invitations, prepare the food, arrange the music, agree the outfit, greet the guests, surprise the one whose achievements we are celebrating and then relax and enjoy the day. It is good to celebrate together. 

This is our 5th church anniversary a time celebrate all that we have done over the last five years. 

  • congregations come together, support one another and become one body. 
  • CRCW post and called Kirsty, 
  • redevelop the building whilst also making plans for Ball Hill. We have met the disappointment of those plans not coming to fruition by reimagining how we can concentrate our work at Ansty Road and I know that you will produce good projects. 
  • We have registered for equal marriage and celebrated a number of weddings. If you want to see the impact that can have read this story https://metro.co.uk/2021/06/15/pride-week-nigerian-man-who-sought-asylum-because-being-gay-is-a-crime-14769294/  Victor was one of the people whose wedding we celebrated in May, growing up in Nigeria, it was beyond his imagination. I’m so pleased that we could be with them in that moment.

In our story at the Beautiful Gates, the begging one  – did not wake up that morning imagining that he would be able to dance into the temple that afternoon. 

He came expecting charity and discovered it was time to walk!

He came into the hour of prayer – with dancing feet.

Sometimes God’s grace is beyond our imagination and when that moment happens we have to take it and dance with it. We have to give thanks for the goodness that we have experienced or witnessed. We need stand with those who celebrate and against those who want to belittle everything or strain the joy out of those dancing feet. It means that some times we need to adapt, be light on our feet and always open to saying “Yes” to the moments God offers. For it may be in such moments that God’s Spirit creates new commas that change the flow of the narrative. 

 

Thanks be to God, whose Church on earth 

Has stood the tests of time and place, 

And everywhere proclaims new birth 

Through Christ whose love reveals God’s face. 

 

Thanks be to God, whose spirit sent 

Apostles out upon his way; 

From east to west the message went; 

On Greek and Roman dawned the day. 

 

Thanks be to God, in whom we share 

Today the mission of his Son: 

May all his Church that time prepare 

When, like the task, the world is one. 

© Caryl Micklem

Loving God,

We live in this waiting time,

Wondering what will happen next.

Asking, questioning, searching.

Will we return to the old normal?

What new things do you have in store for us?

Creator God, grant us hope in the midst of a confused and troubled world.

Redeemer God, pour out your gift of love, that our lives may bear fruit.

Sustainer God, free us from fear about what the future might hold

and give us power to live whole-heartedly for others and all creation.

Amen.

Revd Dr Elizabeth Welch, member of St Andrew’s URC in Ealing

https://urc.org.uk/general/3729-prayers-during-the-pandemic.html

Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

20 June 2021: Praying Like Hannah

16 June 2021

Dear Friends

We had a gathering in our garden last Saturday! As Ministers, we were finally able to welcome Debbie Brown and her husband Clive, to Coventry. It’s been 15 months since Debbie came to be minister of the North Coventry Group, but we hadn’t had the chance to meet in person. So, we kept our distance – for the most part, had some lovely food prepared by Chris and generally just enjoyed getting the ministers together and spending some time away from zoom. I know that for many of us it has been the social isolation that has been hard and so it has also been good that some have felt able to meet at church on Thursdays and Sundays. When you feel ready to join us, please do. But we will also do all we can to support those who need or prefer to stay at home. 

This Sunday is a bit of an experiment. I am leading the worship for West Orchard and Warwick Road, but we were unable to find anyone to lead worship at Ansty Road other than asking the Elders. But they may need to do that quite frequently once I have left, so we are going to stream the service from West Orchard to zoom and show it on the big screen at Ansty Road. I appreciate there may be a temptation to simply stay at home and watch on zoom, but if you can make it to Ansty Road please do. This is a method that may be used more often in the future, so we would like to know how it feels for you and whether being together for fellowship, even if the worship leader is elsewhere, could be a way of working. 

I’ve also managed to confirm when we shall move. Our last Sunday with you will be on 15 August and I shall lead that. We will then go on holiday for two weeks and I will start in Leicestershire on 1st September. The manse in Loughborough will not be ready for us until January, so we plan to move to the house we are in the process of buying in Burbage and work from there for the rest of the year. 

Meanwhile we are making lists of what goes where and when!

This Sunday our Service will be led by Craig via a Live-stream from West Orchard at 10:30am in church. 

Worship for 20 June 2021

Hymn Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice

Tender to me the promise of His word

In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice

 

Tell out my soul the glories of His word

Firm is His promise and His mercy sure

Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

To children’s children and for evermore

Timothy Dudley-Smith

© 1961 Dudley-Smith, Timothy (Admin. by Oxford University Press)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

Thank you,

Creator of goodness

Ever-running love

Releaser of grace

Thank you,

The set-free speak out 

Exposed love broadcasts

Goodness gathers

Have mercy

on foolishness

on erring ways

at self-inflicted pain

Have mercy

on loathing

on despair

at misery

Healing word

Salvager of life

Destroyer of death

Gleaner from the brink

Healing song

Praiser of goodness

Miracle of mercy

Thanks-giver of joy

We sing 

We praise

We dance

We offer ourselves,…

Craig Muir, based on Psalm 107 

Bible 1 Samuel 1:1-28

Mark 4:35-41

Song: Waymaker www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4XWfwLHeLM

Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu

  • © 2016 Integrity Music Europe (Admin. by Integrity Music)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Praying like Hannah,  Hannah’s prayer was soaked in pain, bitterness, anguish and grief. It was a prayer of one who did not feel fulfilled in the role she expected of herself – to be a mother. Elkanah, couldn’t see the problem, he had children from his other marriage and Hannah had him – what more could she want? I see a million or so palms hitting heads – “Typical man!” Whatever we might feel about the rights and wrongs of a woman being fulfilled by being a mother – it was important for Hannah, so important that she was pouring our her anguish and prayer and offering her child back to God. Earlier this week there was a piece on the radio about the lack of medical support for woman who have a number of miscarriages, apparently you have to have three miscarriages before any medical support is offered. The women who were speaking were distraught about their situation and I found myself amazed that despite the fear and pain they were going to put themselves through they kept wanting to try again. The instinct to give birth is so strong, and they will know the pain of this ancient story, for we may have more ways in which medicine can intervene, but the grief remains the same. I know that some of you will know that pain for yourselves and that some of us will never quite understand it. 

Others will have other pains, sources of bitterness, anguish and grief that you live with on a daily basis. You respond in your own ways to manage that hurt, sometimes with prayer but so often in ways that take courage to manage each day. Your resilience amazes me. In Hannah that resilience produced praise, power, potential, prophecy, proclamation. Just as it does in so many people who campaign for justice and in doing so change the world  we know – yet still we can turn to a 3000 year old story and learn something of what it means for the human spirit to carry pain. Hannah, like so many women, had to carry that pain alone. And sadly, when she did share it with the priest he misunderstood. But this ancient story tells us that God heard, God understood and eventually God acted and Hannah gave birth to a son who would be leader within their nation. 

As church communities, prayer has to be central to who we are and how we open ourselves up to God. It is the place where healing begins, where we can give voice to all that burdens us, where we can share with God, and sometimes with each other the things that are on our heart and begin the process of finding some resolution. It is the place where we can be reminded of our role in a community, where we can offer something intangible, yet deeply spiritual. Occasionally we may also be pleasantly surprised with the results and be able to come back to God offering thanksgiving instead of pain. May we learn to pray like Hannah. 

The disciples on the other hand found themselves sharing a storm. Terrified, despite having skilled, experienced sailors in their company, they turn to Jesus. Jesus calms the storm – but more than that Jesus calms the fears of all who share this particular boat, and perhaps others out on the same sea, but unseen. Jesus has been teaching the crowd about the Kingdom of God, there have been lots of pastoral parables and they are now taking a break from the crowd, but it seems that chaos is following them. This new kingdom is not going to come easily, because the old ways will not give up without a fight and the old ways enjoy the chaos of a storm. We live in stormy times, we know it, but we can’t always make sense of what is happening or be certain of the way forward. The invitation of the gospel is to turn to Jesus to guide us through the storm, yet the new way that Jesus offers can feel like it invites the storm upon us. Again, in such moments we need to learn to pray like Hannah and discover the calm amidst the storm. 

Hymn Beautiful Lord wonderful Saviour

I know for sure all of my days are

Held in Your hand crafted into

Your perfect plan

You gently call me into Your presence

Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit

Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life

Darlene Zschech

  • © 1997 Wondrous Worship (Admin. by Song Solutions www.songsolutions.org)
  • CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers

We come before you 

calm-bringer, peacemaker, painkiller;

may hearts leap,

may strength be praised,

may love overcome all things.

 

We seek your holy presence

storm-shaper, stone corner piece, anger-grinder;

may boasts cease,

may arrogance fall silent,

may actions be wisely weighed.

 

We turn to your strength

might-breaker, reinforcer, grief-holder;

may all who labour know plenty,

may all who hunger be satisfied,

may each who yearns be fulfilled,

may life be restored,

may what seems poor be raised up,

may what seems high, gently stoop.

 

We rejoice in your challenge 

life-changer, dust-shaker, ash-kindler;

may all in need be fanned to life,

may wild flames give gentle heat,

may landless families inherit seats of honour,

may strangers be welcomed as kin,

may anxious souls be wrapped in care,

may silenced voices sing out with pride.

 

We walk in your byways 

earth pillar, world setter, faithful-guider;

may we tread gently upon your earth,

may we faithfully steward all that is given,

may light prevail over all kept hidden,

may wickedness be exposed and swept away,

may deceit be shattered by truth,

may God’s whisper thunder with promise.

 

We come home to you

wind-rebuker, fear-stiller, faith-giver;

may we minister in rightways,

may we dwell in your care,

may we pray like Hannah, praise-proclaimer.

Craig Muir, Based on 1 Samuel 2: 1-10

 

Hymn 

How good is the God we adore,

Our faithful unchangeable friend,

His love is as great as his power,

And knows neither measure nor end.

For Christ is the first and the last,

His Spirit will guide us safe home,

We’ll praise him for all that is past,

And trust him for all that’s to come.

Joseph Hart (1712-68)

 

Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

13 June 2021: Welcoming like Martha

Dear Friends

Well I managed to get sunburnt in Scotland last week, which is a rare occurrence! It was good to get away for a few days. I also managed to see my parents for the first time in 15 months, albeit through a window and talking on phones. They seem well and it felt a little like us returning to a world that we recognised from before Covid. However, it was difficult to bring them up to date with family news as there is so much changing and after sharing so many of our life-changes with them it was strange to accept that they can no longer be part of that. Life moves on, we may accept that reality, but we can also grieve a little for what has gone.

Wednesday was going to be the first service back in Chapel of Unity since last December. But somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and when we arrived the doors were still locked. But undaunted, we gathered around the new benches along St. Michaels Drive, switched on a couple of phones so that those at home could join us and worshipped God in the open air. The theme was Pentecost moving to Ordinary Time and it seemed appropriate to be outside, amongst people heading for work, workmen rebuilding the City Centre, the birds and squirrels. The Cathedral were very apologetic when they realised what had happened but I think those of us that were there were quite glad it had – God takes us to interesting places!

Meanwhile, we begin the journey into returning to life in our own building. Coffee Morning has restarted. We are confident about numbers on a Sunday morning now so no need to tell us beforehand that you are coming, we can manage. On 20th June we are going to try an experiment – I’m due to lead worship for West Orchard and Warwick Road, but we have no one available to lead at Ansty Road. So we are going to live stream from West Orchard and I will appear on the screen at Ansty Road, as well as via zoom. I know there might be a temptation to stay at home and just watch on zoom, but I would encourage you to be in church, enjoy fellowship there and be available for those who can’t watch on zoom. 

I would still like to encourage you to return your Skills Audits and Mission Priorities. It will really help the Elders to plan their way into the future. We are also aware there may be people who would like to join us on a Sunday morning but have no transport. If that is you or if you think you can offer a lift, please let Isabel know. 

Hymn

Great God, your love has called us here

as we, by love, for love were made. 

Your living likeness still we bear, 

though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed. 

We come, with all our heart and mind 

your call to hear, your love to find. 

Brian Wren (1936-  ) © Hope  Publishing

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

O God who creates each new morning

who is at the heart of life

who dances with the rising sun

We call to you on this new day

We come before you,

open to all this moment brings

to catch the dance of your word

to match the beat of your heart

to be in step with the rhythm of life.

O God who hears our voice,

who is attentive to the people’s cries,

where we call from the depths,

from the pit of despair

hear our cries, match our lament

bring us into your place of harmony.

O God who knows each heart

our souls wait upon you

on your word we hope 

as others wait upon the morning

we wait upon you O God

Where we have failed to love

we wait upon you

Where we have caused despair

we wait upon you

Where we have failed to hope

we wait upon you

Where we have fallen out of step

we wait upon you

and seek your mercy

Come, hope in God!

For with God there is steadfast love,

and in God is great power to redeem

It is God who will redeem you

from all of your sin.

Bible: John 11:17-43, 12:1

Reflection:

I’m going to stray away from the lectionary for the services I have left with you over the next 10 weeks and concentrate on the six bible characters that we identified as forming our mission background. They are all people who teach us something about what it is to respond to Jesus and follow the way of Jesus. Around whose stories we wove some principles that would guide the way we went about being Ansty Road church.

The first person we will consider is Martha. In Luke’s gospel we know her as the housekeeper rushing around trying to provide hospitality for their guests whilst her sister Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. But here we see Martha as grieving sister and as a theologian, disciple and witness discussing with Jesus what it means for him to be Messiah. So here she is, a practical woman who together with Mary creates a culture of welcome and worship. In our mission priorities we state that “we will be committed to creating welcome, hospitality and friendship where people are inspired to worship and witness.” 

Duties of Elders – spiritual, pastoral, practical – 

– housekeepers and theologians 

Chapt 12 – presiding at Communion?

creating a culture of welcome – a place where tired, hungry, emotional travellers can rest and be refreshed, so that they can set out on the  next part of the journey can be 

These things don’t always come easily, to get them right they require hard work, organisation and an attitude that is truly welcoming. 

Every church I know claims that it is welcoming, but the proof is in the pudding, and I do like a good pudding! 

But can we be a place that welcomes and a community that can engage with theology. what does it mean for us when we hear that Jesus claims to be the resurrection and the life. I want us to be a people who can meet with people who are grieving, angry, confused, uncertain and help them to rebuild their lives. 

I want us to be a community where we can welcome those who have been treated differently, those who have felt excluded elsewhere, those who have been led to believe that Jesus would never grief for them them the way he grieves for Lazarus. 

I want us to be a community whose understanding of the bible, whose communion with God leads us into acts of social justice, that understands our role caring for the environment, 

In order to that we sometimes need to work through our theological thinking, I’m glad that we have done that with regards to same-sex relationships, it has allowed us to welcome some couples into the church to be married who would not have been able do so otherwise. 

It is helping us to this about what it means be an Eco-Church – what are the things we do that create resurrection and life for eco-systems – from local – a bug hotel and perhaps some deliberate wildflower gardening 

It is helping us think through how we can generate activities that focus on physical and mental well being, but we also need to support peoples spiritual well-being for then we will hear Jesus declare “unbind them, let them go.”

This is the work of the Martha’s – just as comfortable in the kitchen baking cakes as standing on the street discussing life, the universe and everything. 

Just as comfortable standing at the door welcoming people as ploughing through a host of health and safety material trying to figure out how to mitigate the risk of Covid and trip hazards, 

Just as comfortable preparing financial spreadsheets and preparing a time of prayer.

Our Elders are to take the role of Martha’s in this congregation, but the role of all of us is to help and support them, fill in the gaps in their gifts and skills help them  to lead you in being a whole community that welcomes like Martha. 

Welcoming like Martha, Luke 10, John 11 & 12

Martha; housekeeper, theologian, disciple, witness – who together with Mary creates a culture of welcome and worship. We will be committed to creating welcome, hospitality and friendship where people are inspired to worship and witness.

Hymn

Put peace into each other’s hands

And like a treasure hold it

Protect it like a candle-flame

With tenderness enfold it

 

Put peace into each other’s hands

With loving expectation

Be gentle in your words and ways

In touch with God’s creation

Fred Kaan © Words: Stainer & Bell Ltd

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers

Plant, grow and flourish

God of the rich and the poor, of the powerful and the vulnerable, 

we pray for the leaders of the G7 nations meeting in Cornwall, 

for the people they govern, 

for the people of other nations they can support,

and for the world they can protect through their decisions.

May wisdom be planted, generosity grow, and co-operation flourish.

We pray for a growth in resilience, awareness and togetherness

across all the nations of the world 

as they continue to tackle the covid pandemic, 

as they confront environmental issues.

and as they reach out to communities crippled by need, war and natural disasters.

May integrity be planted, urgency grow and healing flourish.

We pray for the church in this place and around the world 

as we seek to serve those around us, 

to reach out to those in trouble,

and to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

May faith be planted, compassion grow and hope flourish.

We pray for those in the charity sector 

who seek to support those in crisis, 

to feed the hungry, 

to embrace those displaced by war, 

to protect wildlife and the environment, and planet that we all call home.

May trust be planted, resources grow and lives flourish.

We pray for those in sport, 

for those they inspire, 

for the enjoyment they bring, 

especially all the nations taking part in the Football Euros, 

for those preparing for and hoping that the Olympic Games will take place,

for all those at grass roots level struggling to keep their clubs going.

May respect be planted, opportunities grow and talent flourish.

And we pray for those whose faces we have seen on our screens

and in our papers this week.

for the family of Sarah Everard, 

for little Artin and his family, 

and all those who have died crossing dangerous waters,

for Jimi Olubunmi-Adewole and his family 

and all who have died trying to save others,

for all who have enriched our world and for all who are at the mercy of others.

May justice be planted, goodness grow and peace flourish –
in Jesus name. Amen.

©  rootsontheweb

Hymn As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame 

So the Church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name. 

Not to preach our creeds or customs, but to build a bridge of care, 

We join hands across the nations, finding neighbours everywhere. 

Ruth Duck (b. 1947) © 1992 GIA Publications,.

One Licence A-632955

Categories
News Sermon URC Daily Devotions

25 April 2021: Speaking Holy Words

Dear Friends

It’s been a funny old day. In the  morning I thought my days of heading to Manchester to watch football were over. But by the evening order has been restored, football is back to being controlled by some incompetent greedy people instead of some super incompetent greedy people and whenever we are allowed to return I might have to do so. So I spent the day preparing for Sunday whilst following the emerging story on the internet. In the passage from Acts that we will look at, Peter has the crowds on his side whilst those in power are looking to silence him and ensure that only their voice is heard. Human behaviour hasn’t really changed much in 2000 years. Sometimes we need to review our decisions and head in a different direction.

We have also had to review our plans for Ball Hill. For a while now our attempts to lease a shop premises so that we could work from there as well as Ansty Road have been struggling. Last week it became clear to the Steering Group that we had to re-think our plans and we have decided that the project on Ball Hill can not go ahead. Hopefully new ideas will emerge in the weeks ahead but for the moment we continue to look forward to being able to meet at church again in a few weeks time. All being well, those plans will not change.

In other news, I’m sure many felt for the Queen sitting on her own at Prince Philip’s funeral. It felt very strange that no one was able to sit with her. But it was a poignant reminder that whatever trappings of power we live with, there are times when we are each one person alone with our own grief. We know that she is a person of great faith and I hope that is sustaining her through this time and whatever years she has left amongst us. 

May our own faith also sustain each of us.

This Sunday our Service will led by myself at 10:30am on our usual ZOOM LINK. 

On Thursday, I will lead prayers in church at 10am, and Isabel will lead Prayers on the Sunday zoom link at 7pm

be blessed, 

Craig

 

Worship for 25 April 2021

Hymn The Lord’s my Shepherd I’ll not want

He makes me lie in pastures green

He leads me by the still still waters

His goodness restores my soul

And I will trust in You alone

And I will trust in You alone

For Your endless mercy follows me

Your goodness will lead me home

He guides my ways in righteousness

And He anoints my head with oil

And my cup it overflows with joy

I feast on His pure delights

And though I walk the darkest path

I will not fear the evil one

For You are with me

And Your rod and staff

Are the comfort I need to know

Stuart Townend © 1996 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd

as a shepherd gathers their flock

so You have gathered us today

drawing us in to the shelter of Your flock

to feed and refresh us.

Some of us come before You rejoicing,

because our path has led us through green pastures

and You have filled our cup of happiness to overflowing.

Some of us come before You battered and bruised by life,

because our path has led us through dark and frightening valleys

and we need to know Your strength restoring our souls.

Some of us, like foolish sheep, come before You ashamed,

because we have wandered astray instead of following You

and now we come to seek for Your forgiveness.

If we have followed the crowd, doing as others did,

forgetting that we are pledged to follow You,

then, Good Shepherd, set us right.

If we have chosen to do what we want

rather than act out of love for others

and have found ourselves in difficulties,

then Good Shepherd set us right.

If we have been so preoccupied with other things

that we have stopped listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd,

then Good Shepherd set us right.

Bring us back from where we have wandered

and set our feet on the path that leads to life.

Speak Your word of pardon, Lord

and remind us that You said:

“I have come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

May each of us know that we matter to You,

however far away we may have strayed.

May we hear Your voice afresh during our service today

and draw closer to You before we leave.

May we entrust the week ahead to You

and have the courage to follow You day by day.

For we pray this in Your name.

 Colin Sinclair Posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website.

Bible Acts 3:1-12a, Acts 4:1-12

Reflection The Acts of the Apostles tells the stories of Easter through the lives of the people who had known Jesus and were now looking to follow his example in their own lives. Here we find a man born to be a beggar whose life was changed when Peter offered him more than silver and gold. As a result he was found dancing with joy praising God. Peter could have left it like that, carried on into the temple and completed his prayers. But the crowd needed to hear as well as see good news so Peter took the opportunity to make it clear that this was done in the name of Jesus because good news stories have the power to change lives.

But, “speaking holy words has consequences.” Peter’s actions bring him into direct confrontation with power and in the second part of the passage we find Peter and John accused of heresy and sedition because he dares to call into question the gods of our age – wealth, privilege and self-appointed power. They were questioned, expected to account for their own authority by those who never account for their own power and evaluated by their background, social status, education, gender, ethnicity. However speaking in the name of Jesus,  Peter turns the tables, breaks the power structure and disempowers elites, for he stands with the man healed by the power of Jesus and they can’t comprehend such power nor escape the true judge. 

This is one of the stories we included as part of our Mission Background when we formed Ansty Road. It represents those moments when we celebrate the good news of a life transformed in the name of Jesus. Our aim is to create those moments through regular prayer, by seeing God in action and sharing those stories with our community. It seems that we can’t do that on Ball Hill any more, but we can do it around Ansty Road and in the places where we each live. It’s time to be condemned for good deeds and dance for joy and we do so.

 

Hymn

God is love His the care

Tending each everywhere

God is love all is there

Jesus came to show Him

That we all might know Him

Sing aloud loud loud

Sing aloud loud loud

God is good

God is truth

God is beauty

Praise Him

 

Jesus came, lived and died

For our sake crucified

Rose again glorified

He was born to save us

By the truth He gave us

None can see God above

Sing aloud loud loud

 

Jesus shows how to love

Thus may we Godward move

Joined as sisters brothers

Finding Him in others

Sing aloud loud loud

 

To our Lord praise we sing

Light and life, friend and King

Coming down love to bring

Pattern for our duty

Showing God in beauty.

Sing aloud loud loud

 

Percy Dearmer Public Domain

Prayers

Eternal God,

as Jesus and the early Church cared for those in need,

we pray for all who suffer and are not cared for,

or whom care cannot reach.

We pray for the elderly who die alone,

the young who are neglected, or cruelly treated,

young and old whose weaknesses are exploited

and sensitivities abused.

We pray for all who have grown hopeless

and weary as each day is like the last.

For those who face hunger and homelessness

with no way out;

refugees from war and violence

to whom no-one wants to give a home.

Those whose lives have been wrecked by conflicts

they do not understand

and cannot affect or change,

hounded by economic and political forces

or by the impact of climate change

which take no account of their need.

In this world of so much suffering

we pray too for all who are affluent,

comfortable, warm and cared for,

who do not care.

For those who know what they should do

but do not bother.

For those who close their eyes and minds;

and those who simply find

other people’s troubles and needs

a cross they do not wish to bear.

We pray for those who do care –

Those who accept the pain and disturbance

that knowledge brings but do not see what they can do. 

Those whose consciences are hurt,

who want to help, but cannot see how.

We pray for all who do care –

Who are willing to go the extra mile

time and again, often at cost, in so many ways.

For those who go where trouble, pain and poverty are,

risking life and limb, facing danger and fear.

Father, as we pray, increase the depth of love in us

and in others who have something to give

to the ill, troubled and dying.

Give us such love

that Your sheep, both inside and outside the fold,

may be found, given health, strength, food

and the ability to enjoy life to the full

and the joy to praise You.

We thank You that Jesus is the Good Shepherd

and for Your grace and mercy

that has made us part of His flock.

Thank you that You watch over Your flock. 

You know us by name,

You understand what we are like,

You call us to follow

and You accompany us along the path,

seeking us out when we stray,

keeping a loving eye on what we do.

Lead us into Your future

on the adventure of faith,

for Jesus’ sake.

Colin Sinclair Posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website.

Hymn

Jesus Lover of my soul

Let me to Thy bosom fly

While the nearer waters roll

While the tempest still is high

Hide me O my Saviour hide

Till the storm of life is past

Safe into the haven guide

Oh receive my soul at last.

 

Other refuge have I none

Hangs my helpless soul on Thee

Leave ah leave me not alone

Still support and comfort me

All my trust on Thee is stayed

All my help from Thee I bring

Cover my defenceless head

With the shadow of Thy wing.

 

Thou O Christ art all I want

More than all in Thee I find

Raise the fallen cheer the faint

Heal the sick and lead the blind

Just and holy is Thy name

I am all unrighteousness

False and full of sin I am

Thou art full of truth and grace.

 

Plenteous grace with Thee is found

Grace to cover all my sin

Let the healing streams abound

Make and keep me pure within

Thou of life the Fountain art

Freely let me take of Thee

Spring Thou up within my heart

Rise to all eternity

Charles Wesley Public Domain

Categories
Minister Prayers Sermon

Do not be afraid: for 20 Dec 2020

Dear Friends,

This letter is going to run two weeks together as I’m unlikely to be able to get the posted letters out next week before Christmas Day. We are working hard to make sure that we can celebrate Christmas in a way that will lighten our lives and prepare us for light returning in so many ways. I know that many of us are struggling with the isolation we are being forced to live with and many are ready to rebel. However, there appears to be some light and we need to look after one another  for a few months longer. I’m really glad that so far the incidences of Covid within our congregations have been mild, and we need to aim to keep it that way.

Our morning service this Sunday 20 December  will be at 10:15am for a 10:30 start and will be led from Ansty Road via zoom by myself. 

Our Carol Service will also be Sunday 20 December at 6:30pm, led from Ansty Road & via zoom. 

Our Christmas Morning Service will only be available & via zoom 10:15 for 10:30 am

Our Communion Service at 10:30am on Sunday 27 December is due to be led from Ansty Road & via zoom by myself. It will focus on giving thanks for St.Columba’s on what is our last Sunday. However I’m conscious that this is within the 5 days where the Government is allowing more household mixing and I’m getting nervous about adding church to the mix. It might be useful for you to let me know if you intend being in church that morning as we might decide to just use zoom, in which case I could work alone from St. Columba’s. 

Whether you wish to be in church or not will be your own decision, but please do not come if you feel vulnerable or ill and please obey the restrictions that are in place. Remember we are in Tier 3 because it is deemed that there is a very high risk of spreading the virus and the hospital is working at capacity. For those who prefer to join via zoom the link is 

 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83142689496. 

You can also join by phone by dialling one of the following numbers

0131 460 1196, 0203 051 2874, 0203 481 5237, 0203 481 5240

When asked to enter your Meeting ID, key in 831 4268 9496#-  if asked for a Participant key just dial #. If asked for a password it is 512001 

A reminder that we are supporting a number of charities as part of our Carol Service. For Ansty Road that is The Coventry Boot Fund and St. Andrew’s Home. Our Church Meeting agreed that we would support both from the proceeds of the charity fund, but if you would like to add to those sums please send your gift by cheque to Caroline or via the church account Sort code is 202355 a/c no 60995746. Mark it for the Charity Fund in the reference box. For St. Columba’s it is to Christian Aid, https://www.christianaid.org.uk or send a cheque to me made payable to St. Columba’s URC, but tell me it’s for Christian Aid.

Be blessed, Craig

Worship for Sunday 20th December 

Hymn

No wind at the window, no knock on the door
No light from the lamp stand, no foot on the floor
No dream born of tiredness, no ghost raised by fear
Just an angel and a woman and a voice in her ear.

No payment was promised, no promises made;
No wedding was dated, no blue print displayed.
Yet Mary, consenting to what none could guess,
replied with conviction, “Tell God I say,  “Yes”’.

John L. Bell (b1949) © WGRG, The Iona Community 1992

Prayer 

Into our world as into Mary’s womb

Come, Lord Jesus

Into the forgotten planes as into the stable

Come Lord Jesus

Into the lives of the poor, bringing hope

Into the lives of the powerful, bringing caution

Into the lives of the weary, bringing rest

Into the lives of the wise, bringing restlessness

and into our lives and longings

whatever our estate

Come Lord Jesus

This is the good news

Christ is coming

and blessed are those who wait on the Lord

Therefore come quickly Lord.

(Cloth for the Cradle p57)

Come that we may know mercy

for the times when we have known no hope

for the times when we have acted in power

for the times when we impose upon the weary

for the times when we have not listened to wisdom

Come that we may know grace

that we may know your blessing

that we may live following your Way

this day and each day.

Craig Muir

Bible: Luke 1:26-38

“Do not be afraid” What apt words for our time. 

Mary was not to fear the angel or the challenge before her. The same phrase had been heard time and again throughout the Hebrew Bible. First by Abraham as God made a covenant with him, then by Hagar in the wilderness as she feared for the life of her son. From Moses as the Israelites fled Egypt, from Boaz as he arranged to marry Ruth, from Elijah as he spoke with the widow of Zarephath and then by the angel to Elijah as he faced the soldiers of King Ahaziah. That is just a few examples as so many times people have had to face an uncertain future and be reminded to be unafraid.

Later Jesus would repeat this to James and John as they were called to be disciples, then to all the disciples as they faced a future empowered by resurrection and then to John as he received the book of Revelation.

“Do not be afraid.” How much do we need that for ourselves? 

You will know your own fears, for yourself and your family.You will know the fear we all have for public health, for our economy, for a changing political landscape. As we look back through history we can see that humanity has often been here before, and that at such times some have been aware of God’s presence encouraging them to be courageous. But that does not mean that we ignore the reality of particular grief, dread, dismay. It does not mean we ignore injustice, oppression, abuse. It does not mean that we no longer hold to account those who profit from fear. Mary’s response will challenge the powerful and proclaim good news for the lowly and hungry. 

“Do not be afraid.” It is time to step forward with faith.

Prayer

We can hardly wait, dear God.

Looking out upon a world

that is far too familiar with Isaiah’s sorrows, 

the mounting ashes of our failures

and the heavy heart of human suffering, 

your coming cannot be too soon.

So pour out your Spirit now, today. 

Bind up broken hearts

and release the good word

and the goodwill

that we have held back too long.

Announce your clear intentions now. 

Garland your sorry world with joy 

and clothe it with

the splendour of your presence here. 

Plant a new way of life

in which truth and justice 

stand rooted like a tree.

Psalm 126 paraphrase

Make us into a new race of people

who love justice,

cherish their commitment to each other 

and are eager for your coming.

We can hardly wait. Amen

Lord Jesus Christ,

born for us in a stable,

making your humble way into our lives,

we praise you for your tireless search 

for lost humanity. 

Hold us we pray.

And so that we might serve you, 

and you alone,

grant us your Spirit’s wisdom

to know and reject all that is evil and harmful,

to turn only to you for our pleasure,

and to spend ourselves for the sake of your kingdom and its peace. Amen

Duncan Wilson: URC Worship Book

Hymn 

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! 

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice; 

tender to me the promise of his word; 

in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

 

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word! 

Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure. 

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord 

to children’s children and for evermore!

© Timothy Dudley-Smith, 9 Ashlands, Ford, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 6DY England

 

Lessons and Carols 20 December 2020

Voluntary: Love came down at Christmas

Lesson 1  Mark 1:1

RS 167 Once in royal David’s city

Lesson 2  Psalm 80:1-7

RS 135 Joy to the world

Lesson 3  Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11

RS 144 It came upon the midnight clear  

Lesson 4  Mark 1:2-8

Song: What joy is mine

Lesson 5  Luke 2:1-7

RS 145 O Little Town of Bethlehem

Poem:BC:AD

Song   Silent Night, Holy Night

Lesson 6  Mark 1:21-45

Song: O Holy Night

Reflection  Mark’s Christmas

Hymn: Dream a dream, a hopeful dream

Poem read by David Monks 

Song  God rest ye merry gentlemen

Prayers of Intercession

Lesson 7John 1:1-14

RS 160 O Come all ye Faithful

Share in your own mince pies, mulled wine, coffee and tea from home. 

Categories
Prayers Sermon

Advent 1: Worship

1st Sunday of Advent Worship:

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy:

In a world of war, famine, and disease, where children grow up as orphans, where families go hungry and entire regions face destruction by illness, God, we call upon you to come. 

In a world where so many have lost hope, we call upon you, Lord of Hope, to come. 

In this season of Advent, we wait for the coming of Hope into our world. We await the birth of the Christ-child, the coming of God into our lives in a new way.

Come, Messiah, Come, and Save Us 

Light the first candle. 

Prayer: Dear God, we pray for the hope that is in Christ to come into our lives in a new way. May we become hope that is alive in our world. Amen. 

O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. [Refrain]

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. [Refrain]

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. [Refrain]

O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode. [Refrain]

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. [Refrain]

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. [Refrain]

Opening Prayer:

God of hope be with us in our Advent journey
to the stable and beyond, be with us in our meeting and in our travelling together, be with us in our worship and our praying together,
be with us in our Advent journey to the stable and beyond, our God of hope.

To you Lord, we lift up our heads, hearts and hands in prayer.
We put our trust in you, believing that your word is true.
We lift up to you our longing for hope in a despairing world.
We lift up to you our need for hope in a time of deep hopelessness in our world.
We lift up to you our deep desire for hope in a bleak and sometimes depressing world.

You promised hope to Israelites and you kept your promise.
You promised hope in the coming of your son and he was hope for the world.
You promised hope to the early church and that hope was not denied.
You promise hope to us and we pray for your continued faithfulness.

Lord, we pray for strength when our faith falters.
We pray for you to pour on your love so it fills our lives
and splashes over on everyone around you.
Fill us with confidence in your presence in our lives.
Fill us with your joy and peace as we go through this busy time of year.
Keep our minds focused on you, our hearts filled with you and ours outstretched for you.

Rev. Abi, on her Long and Winding Road blog

Advent God, forgive us when we pay more attention to satisfying our own needs, than seeking you and your will for our lives—for being more interested in possessing the material things of life, rather than your spiritual gifts. Turn our lives around so that we are looking in the right direction – towards you.  Only then can we hope to recognise the signs of your presence in the world.  This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hear the good news:  In Jesus Christ we have been enriched in every way—in everything we say and in everything we know.  In addition, through God’s grace  we do not lack any spiritual gift as we wait with anticipation for Jesus to be revealed.  Amen.

~ Copyright © Moira Laidlaw, posted on her Liturgies Online website.

The 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.

Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

Ev’ry eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Ev’ry island, sea, and mountain,
heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
all who hate him must, confounded,
hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment, come away!

Now Redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the pow’r and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
O come quickly, O come quickly;
alleluia! come, Lord, come.

Reading: Mark 13:24-37

The Coming of the Son of Man

‘But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert;  for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

Jesus, lover of my soul, 
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high;
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none;
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenceless head
with the shadow of thy wing.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.

Reflection: Hopeful & Watchful

I am still ruminating on the reading for this Sunday, so there isn’t a great deal I can offer you specifically on this passage yet…I really like Mark’s gospel, its known by some as the gospel of action – it doesn’t meander, its one jam-packed event after another, no waiting around, just “Pow! Pow! Pow!” and then on to the next event.

I know that it might not carry the pomp and splendour of Matthew’s gospel or the creative imagery of John’s gospel, but it give us everything that we need to know Jesus, to want Jesus in our lives, to become followers on the Jesus Way. We are inspired by this Jesus who shows us how to live. 

We are also entering Advent, and this Sunday is focused on HOPE, so I want to share this wonderful poem by Luke Schumann from https://jucuthin.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/hope-an-advent-poem/ which helps us to remember why the theme of HOPE in Advent is so important:

This is the season
we are in need of most
at the moment, for now
is at last the time when
Hope seeps in
and sticks out
like an unmatched sock. 

This is when our theology
can be found in its purist form, for it is
preached not as fact or stat
or system, but instead
as its true identity:
metaphor, art, narrative, and poetry,
in prophecy of the coming Savior;
the One who restores
and turns all our tragic stories
into songs of redemption.

And when hatred, violence,
and oppression are seemingly
the only things
that are tangible in this world,
Hope yet steps in as a most-
welcome guest, as a
considerate concept,
as an abstract thought
still finding its form,
as a familiarity we still
have yet to meet.

And yet we know
in our deepest fibers that this
is not some unfounded hypothesis;
Hope is not something we merely
long for, a hypothetical
idea that has the potential
to plot-twist.

Hope is instead a stronghold.
Hope is real and living,
breathing life into
our next day,
sustaining us in our brokenness,
greeting our despair
with a knowing grin. Hope
is more real than the
suffering in this world–
even if it’s much less prominent–

and Hope is what enables us
to long and strive for more
than what we have in front of us.
A world where all are loved
and cared for. A world where
peace endures and the line is blurred
between enemy and brother.
A world where joy is at the forefront
of our fixtures. This is what hope does.
This is what hope promises.
This is what hope ignites.

Prayers of Intercession:

Into our troubles and weaknesses,
Into the barren places of our souls, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the war torn and the refugee,
Into those who live in conflict, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the homeless and the unemployed,
Into those who feel abandoned, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the sick and the disabled,
Into those with Ebola and with cancer, Come, Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the poor and the starving,
Into those who are oppressed or abused, Come Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the lives of loved ones,
Into those from whom we are estranged, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into our joys and celebrations,

Into our work and our achievements, Come, Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

O Christ we long for your coming. Hasten that day when those who seek you in every nation will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south and sit at table in Your Kingdom. Hasten the day when your Kingdom will come in all its glory and suffering and pain and sickness and oppression and death will be overcome forever. Hasten the day when we will be resurrected as a great multicultural family and live in peace, harmony, joy and love together in your kingdom.

~ written by Christine Sine on Godspace http://godspace-msa.com/. 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Blessing & Dismissal:

As we leave from here, remember this:

All God’s gifts are right in front of you!

Not only that, but God’s self is right alongside, to keep you steady and on track until Jesus returns. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, will do this,

for God is faithful. God will never give up on you. So go in the name of God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer and The Holy Spirit who Sustains us. Amen.

Categories
Minister News Prayers Sermon

At the Meeting Place – for 18 October 2020

 

Dear Friends

This has been the week of Elders meetings. Somehow we have fallen into the pattern of holding both Elders’ Meetings on consecutive days. Sometimes it is useful as it allows us to share information quickly but sometimes it feels a bit rushed between Ansty Road on Monday evening and St. Columba’s on Tuesday morning, and this week was a rushed one. However, it was good to meet with the St. Columba’s Elders mostly in person and to support one another as we made some practical decisions about clearing the church building. If you have not yet contacted one of us about something you would like from the building please do so. There are a number of plaques we would also like to find homes for.

At Ansty Road we spent the meeting making plans to re-open for live worship this coming Sunday. In doing so, we hesitated, wondering if in the current situation we should open at all, but decided that for the sake of those who want to be in church and unable to meet on zoom we would create that opportunity. However, there are some of us who need to stay in for good reasons, please do so. Please do not put yourself or others at risk. We need to continue to look after one another.

The rules are that:-

  • if you feel ill or particularly vulnerable, please do not come
  • you must either use the QR code or sign in the test and trace book
  • you must remain socially distanced from everyone who is not in your bubble. 
  • you must wear a face-covering and sanitise hands as you come in. 
  • we have set the church out with the chairs in pairs and threes, but you can only sit with someone in your bubble. 
  • we will fill up from the front left hand corner and we will leave from the back right hand corner.
  • if we have more than 12 households/bubbles we can open the screen and use the hall
  • the offering plate will be in the welcome area
  • we will play hymns, but those in church can’t sing – those at home can.
  • we will only open the accessible toilet and only one person at a time should go up the corridor to the toilets.
  • there will be no after church cup of tea/coffee and we ask you not to linger in the building. 

After that long list, which I know does not sound very encouraging please be assured that we will make every one who comes welcome. We welcome those who join us on zoom. And as ever you are welcome to stay at home and do your own thing. We each need to take good care of ourselves as well as one another.

Prayers & Reflection

Welcome back to Ansty Road, to our new entrance and upgraded rooms. 

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

Our past, our present, our future

Our moving on, our hanging back, our uncertain steps.

We have returned the soil and ashes from the memorial garden to a new space, it awaits fresh planting

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

Our memories of those we love and those who have gone before us

Our grieving and our living, our delight and our flourishing

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

Our fears, our dreams, our hopefulness

Our joys, our celebration, our pride.

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

Our gifts, our grace, our generosity

Our teaching and learning, our wondering questions.

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

Our preaching and listening, prayers spoken and enacted

Our good news telling, our grace filled living.

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

We name partners and friends …

We name those who we have been asked to pray for ….

Called by name, we give to God what is God’s

To the glory of God, In the name of Jesus, 

in the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen

© Craig Muir, 2020

Bible Exodus 33:1-23 

Reflection After the drama of the fight that ensues after Moses discovers Aaron leading worship before a golden calf/bull, Moses begins to meet with God in a tent on the edge of the encampment. You sense that the relationship is strained, perhaps God does not want to be in the midst of these rebellious people, whilst the people are grieving this soured relationship. Reconciliation is not easy, we know that, we know how hard it is to find the right words, to be in the same space with people we have fallen out with, and we each have our own ways of dealing (or not dealing) with such situations. 

Other than the young assistant Joshua, Moses seems to be on his own. There is no mention of Aaron in these encounters, and Moses prays, “you have not let me know whom you will send with me. … show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favour in your sight.” There is uncertainty here because in verse 1 God has told Moses to take the people to the promised land and that an angel will lead them – but this is not the presence of God that Moses has become used to. Moses begs God to be with them, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here …” It is tense and just like on Mount Sinai, God concedes to Moses and agrees to be present with the people as they venture onwards. 

How do we perceive God to be present with us? In this account God is perceived as a pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the meeting tent; as a disembodied voice in conversation with Moses, as a friend; and then anthropomorphised into a hand and a back, but not a face. However much we may perceive God’s presence, there is still a hiddenness, a mystery that we can not get beyond. Yet, at times of decision, dilemma, doubt we must seek God’s presence and goodness in all that we discern.

This has been a time when we have been reminded that God rests wherever we are – we don’t need special holy places. God’s presence can be with us in our home, on a walk in the park, in a zoomed prayer meeting, in a telephone conversation, in our quiet reading of scripture, a prayer,  a poem a photograph, a piece of art. Yet here some of us are – in a meeting place that is special for us, amongst friends who can be no closer than 2m unless they are in our bubble, not allowed to sing just listen and watch those who join us from home. Is God more present here than somewhere else? I don’t believe so, but I do believe that we need places to meet with one another, to work from, to be a base for all we do – and that is how our church buildings function for us. Of course they can also be places of memory, we have experience here – some for a lifetime, others much less, and at the moment we are all re-learning those experiences, not only is the space different to the one some of us walked out of in March, but the way we have to use it is different from how we imagined – because we didn’t imagine setting chairs out 2m apart. 

Where is God presence in all this? On Thursday I was sitting in the new welcome area, I could see across the labyrinth, to Ansty Road, it was late afternoon and the road was busy. Through the other window, I could watch Hocking Road, as a steady stream of traffic edged along to the junction, children were heading home from school and those who had parked all day returned to their cars – it was good to watch the world go by and hold it in prayer. There was no cloudy pillar, no disembodied voice, just the quiet certainty that God knew each person by name and here was a place where God presence can be still known through the loving actions of the community who gather here, whether in person or online. 

As God met with Moses in a tent on the edge of their community, Moses was being prepared for the future. He didn’t know it, but with him, quietly minding the tent, was Joshua, being prepared to take over from Moses in the future. It would be Joshua who leads the people into the promised land, not Moses. Moses though, still had work to do. He would intercede for the people, he would be a witness to God’s glory, he would enable the people to be aware of God’ presence in their midst even when the relationship was uncomfortable. So we dedicate this meeting place to be be a place where each person may know God’s presence in their own lives.

God of the Meeting Place

May those who stand away afraid to meet with you

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May those aware of their own failings and sinfulness

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May those who feel anger rise in their heart

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May each plant and creature, that you have named

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May our earth, created and placed by you

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May all who struggle to arrest climate catastrophe

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May all who seek reconciliation between peoples

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May all who stand in the role of peacemaker

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May all who solicit your goodness and mercy

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May those who grieve all that is lost

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May those who grasp for healing

Know your blessing and your peace

 

May those who gather in your name

Know your blessing and your peace

© Craig Muir, 2020