The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those listening in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Let us worship together for our service for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost.
We, who are members of the one body
join together to praise God.
We, who are blessed with the gift of grace
Join together to sing of God’s glory
We, who are part of the family of God,
join together to affirm Jesus as Lord
Hymn 132- Immortal invisible
Prayer of approach and confession
you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,
and yet you come to us afresh each new day.
You breathe new life into what has grown tired and discouraged.
You offer healing for what is broken and worn.
You restore hope for what seems impossible.
We gather today in hope and expectation, we come to you as we are, overwhelmed by your love and in awe of your mercy. We lay at your feet our whole being, everything we are and everything we have, for
you are the source of life, and so we worship you as Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and always.
“Unresting, unhasting”, You are our God. And, because of all of this, we come tentatively into Your presence – in awe of Your justice; wondering whether we are worthy; questioning whether we deserve to be here. Yet You bid us come; You call us to confess; ….. and You say, ’Come closer, my friend. You are forgiven. You need fear no more. Make a fresh start’. Thanks be to God.
Readings – Exodus 1: 15 -2:10
Matthew 16: 13-20
Hymn 676 (CH3) – Hark! My soul, it is the Lord
Everlasting God, we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ and for revealing him as "Messiah and Saviour of the World.". Forgive us when we only turn to you when things trouble us and when we forget to thank you for your blessings and bounty. Help us to recognise all the wonderful things in your world for which we should be grateful and send us out into the coming week ready to show our gratitude in all that we do and say. Amen
Tom Gordon is a very active retired minister, who writes a lot of books. Very involved in the Iona Community. He tells the story of going into a hospital where he was chaplain and noticing someone new. Above his bed was the name – William Campbell. Tom went up and introduced himself, I am Tom Gordon, the chaplain. Now what do I call you? Is it William or Bill, perhaps?‘ The gentleman said, well most of my friends call me Professor, but you can call me Dr Campbell. And I will call you Mr Gordon, he added. I have certainly had that experience too. While most people are happy to be called by their Christian names, some would rather keep it more formal. For Dr Campbell, he had lost his independence and also his good health, but he could cling on to his name.
Names are important, and in our readings today, names feature prominently, from Moses being named by Pharaoh’s daughter as she brought him from the water, to Simon Peter calling Jesus ‘Messiah’, and Jesus in his turn giving Simon the nickname, ‘Peter’. But there are other names too in our Exodus reading. Like Joseph.
Last week we had Joseph reconciled to his brothers, and the Hebrews came to Egypt as welcome guests. But Exodus starts with the stark desciption of a ‘king who knew Joseph no more’. Joseph and the prosperity he had brought Egypt had been forgotten; the past was erased. Sometimes as we grow older, and people come after us with new ideas, we can feel forgotten. But here it was worse. Not only was Joseph forgotten, but worse the Hebrews were no longer treated as guests, but as a threat. They were oppressed and enslaved, and made a scapegoat for Egypt’s ills. In Exodus 1, the scheme was hatched to kill the Hebrew boys, especially as they were being born. The two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, two more names, were given strict orders to kill any Hebrew boy at birth. There are actually a lot of similarities to Matthew’s nativity story with the massacre of the innocents.
These are two remarkable women – they should be more well known. The believed in God, and they also believed that what Pharaoh was asking was against God’s will, so they didn’t follow the orders. They let the boys live and gave excuses to Pharaoh, that they always arrived too late. Their loyalty to God was above their loyalty to pharaoh, and they were given the courage to spare the Hebrew babies. One small action but it had enormous consequences and led ultimately to the freedom of Israel. We never know the consequences of our actions – small gestures, a kind word, greeting a stranger, but they can have far-reaching consequences.
Interestingly the girls were to be spared, but it was the women in this story – the midwives, Moses’ mother, Pharaoh’s own daughter - who proved Pharaoh’s undoing, as Moses was saved and grew up to be one of the towering figures in the OT.
Names are important, and in the Gospel we find ourselves at Caesarea Philippi. The name tells us a lot – it was a Roman town. A place of commerce, but also worship, and there were shrines to Pan the god of nature and to Caesar himself. It was in that setting of commerce and worship of idols that Jesus asked the disciples who people said he was and who THEY themselves said he was, and Simon Peter, for once, gets it right and says that he was the Messiah, the son of the living God.
It does of course prompt the question, Who do WE say Jesus is today? Hopefully with Peter we can say, The Messiah, the Son of God, but certainly what we believe shapes the way we live and when our relationship with God is clear, our priorities are ordered and we have a better chance of living lives of service, justice and love. – and making a difference where we are.
Hymn 516– We are marching…
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
As you have bound us to your life-giving self, we come today in praise, to declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, our Saviour. We offer these tokens of money, time and talent, as a sign of our continued commitment to your church, its mission and its work, that it might continue to be built through us as a solid foundation bearing witness to you.
We give thanks for the wonderful countryside around us, for the communities in which we live and for all the support of families and friends and neighbours. We thank you that we are able to meet together and pray for all the members of the church wherever they are and however they are worshipping. Keep them always in your care.
We pray for the Church. Keep us one in faith and service, so that Your Good News might be proclaimed, and so that Your love and light might be beacons of hope and purpose in the darkest places.
We pray for our world and all who rebuild where things are destroyed. For those who fight hunger, poverty and disease; For those who fight corruption, and like the Egyptian midwives, stand up against tyrants. We think of those protesting in Belarus.
As the summer comes to an end, we pray for all your children, young and old. For those returning to school after the longest break and their teachers; for those without work; for those who make sure we have food on our tables; and for those who labour tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, we ask for your love and support, that whatever this new season will bring, you will be with us.
Hymn 694 – Brother, Sister, let me serve you
Go out into the world in peace. Love your God with all your heart. Be challenged by the Spirit’s promptings. Hear the call to serve Christ and be obedient to God’s will. And may God bless you, and the Spirit restore you, and Christ’s presence strengthen you, now and always Amen