The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those in other places too! This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well and keeping safe. We gather in our different places for our service for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to worship
This is a place of welcome
A place where all may find solace,
Where all may celebrate,
Where all are valued, all are loved.
God welcomes us wherever we may be.
Let us worship God
Hymn 722 – Spirit of God (vv 1,2)
Prayers of Approach and Confession
Lord God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
From north and south, from east and west,
drawn by your majesty we come to worship you,
our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
For the gift of this new day, fresh from your hand, we rejoice.
For the renewal we discover in your friendship in Christ, we praise you.
In the Spirit’s energy, blessing us in each moment, whether joyous or difficult, we place our hopes.
Lord God, we trust that all of life is your gift
so give us glimpses of your splendour, glory and love in this time of worship.
Lord of all life and each life,
Forgive us when we forget that life is a gift
and we fail to appreciate that all the good things in life come from you.
Forgive us when we ignore the value of each person you have created
and for the pain we have caused to others.
Restore our faith in your goodness
and free us to live with you and with each other in reconciling grace
through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Friends, trust that peace and forgiveness are God’s gifts to you this day. Be renewed by the power of the Spirit that moves with you into each new day.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
Now and forever. Amen
Readings: Genesis 22: 1-14
Matthew 10: 40-42
Hymn 565 – My life flows on (vv1, 4)
Here is our weekly prayer from Arthur and Kathleen:
Gracious God, you have given us your only Son to be for us both a sacrifice for sin, and an example of Godly life. Give us the grace to thankfully receive this wonderful gift for ourselves, and to always strive to follow His example in giving "even a cup of cold water" in His name. Amen
I watched ‘Talking Heads’ on television this week. It is a series of twelve 30 minute monologues by the Yorkshire writer Alan Bennett. He wrote them in the 1980s and 90s, I think, and they were produced for television with actors like Thora Hird famously appearing in them. Now they are updated with two new ones for Lockdown Britain. But in a number of them there is a sense of isolation or loneliness. They are about people who need to be loved, and the first monologue features a sad, lonely busybody, who has ruined the lives of her neighbours by her prying. She ends up in prison, and ironically it is there she finds acceptance and companionship
We all need to be loved. We read just a few verses from the Gospel. It is the end of the story of the sending out of the disciples to take the Kingdom message to the people, and that message included You are loved, you are accepted. Now some people would not receive them well, and they were told to shake the dust from their shoes and move on, but in these few verses today, we are told that the disciples are received with a welcome and even given a cup of cold water. Those who welcomed the disciples welcomed Jesus and would be rewarded. Though also, those who welcomed Jesus are also asked to welcome those Jesus associated. with, and that was the least and the lost.
Having lived in the Middle East I appreciate the reference to the cup of cold water. There is nothing better! Remember the story of Jesus asking for water from the Samaritan woman at the well? After a tiring journey in the heat, there was something precious about the simplicity of cold water. A little thing, but it made all the difference.
We often imagine the disciples and apostles and biblical figures performing great feats and enduring great sacrifices, such as Abraham being asked to sacrifice the person dearest to him, Isaac. It is a gruesome story, and I think both Isaac and Abraham would have been traumatised by it for life! But it somehow shows Abraham’s loyalty to God. But often discipleship is about simple things – it can be as simple as giving someone a cup of cold water – or a pot of jam or a cup of tea. Something as simple as offering sympathy to someone who is mourning or helping someone to pick up their shopping or prescription. Or supporting a charity. Or lighting a candle every Sunday in prayer.
Discipleship does not have to be heroic, but small acts of kindness and forgiveness can help build up relationships. The life of faith is full of such small gestures. But according to Jesus there are no small gestures and anything done in faith and in love has cosmic significance.
I am reminded of the story of the star thrower. Someone was walking along a beach which was full of starfish which had somehow been stranded on the beach. But he saw a girl throwing the fish back into the water. ‘Why are you doing that?’, he asked. ‘If they do not get back into the sea, they will dry up and die’, she replied. Looking at all the thousands of star fish on the beach, the man commented ‘There are too many. You can’t hope to make a difference’, to which the girl retorted, as she threw another starfish back into the sea ‘It made all the difference in the world to that one’.
Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed. We see so much suffering in our world, so many people going hungry, so many people needing to be loved. We want to help, but its too much to be done, too many people to help. We are called to followers of Christ, but where do we start. Just like the girl on the beach, we are called to work in the corner where we are placed, seeking to make a difference. For even a cup of cold water can make a huge and unexpected difference to those in need of it.
Thank you to all of you for making a difference where you are, especially at this time when we have been hit by the pandemic. We make small gestures, but they can make all the difference in the world.
Taize Chant 801 – Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est (Where there is charity and love, there is God)
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Lord, we bring to you our offerings: our money, our time and ourselves, not as payment for something given but out of adoration and thanksgiving for all we have received. Take what we offer and who we are, bless them to the work of this church and your kingdom.
God of welcome, we thank you that you are always ready, waiting to welcome us, always waiting to spend time with us and hear what we want to bring to you in prayer.
We are so consumed by the effects of a virus that many situations have gone unnoticed. We pray now for those in our world who feel forgotten: for refugees in camps, those whose harvests have failed and whose wells have run dry. And now fear this virus;
for men, women and children behind closed doors living with danger and torment at the hands of people who profess to love them;
for people living with life-limiting conditions, relying on reduced levels of care;
for those in the background within care-giving services, the cleaners and janitorial staff, the administrators and managers, doing what is needed to ensure hospitals and care homes run smoothly and safely; For those preparing for the easing of lockdown, like our teachers:
for places of conflict where, with attention elsewhere, dangers are increased and tensions raised, and where deaths continue unheeded.
So many places, so many concerns. We lay them before you. O God, hear our prayer. Amen
Hymn 130 – Ye servants of God (vv1, 3, 4)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
And may the blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you,
with the people you love
and those whom we are called to love. Amen