Welcome, Cheviot churches. I trust everyone is keeping well. We worship together on this Trinity Sunday
Call to Worship
Let us worship God, who spoke in the beginning
and created something out of nothing.
Let us worship God who took on the clothing of humanity
to set those who were oppressed free.
Let us worship God whose Spirit rests continually upon us,
calling us to bright new beginnings
Let us worship the Triune God.
Hymn 111 – Holy, holy, holy
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of Mystery and Mercy,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we meet you in wonder as the Blessed Trinity.
You are the Ancient of Days, eternal and unchanging;
yet you are the Source of each new day, renewing all things.
In Christ, you encounter us in whatever each day brings with a heart that beats in love for us.
Through the Spirit, you breathe life into what is growing older, energizing us to serve you in good times and hard times.
In the mystery of the Trinity, you are always with us
and so we bring you our worship and praise
to join in your dance of life and love,
Holy One and Holy Three, now and ever more.
Holy and Healing God,
slow to anger and swift to forgive,
you have shown us the depth of your love day by day,
yet we are reluctant to love others even a little.
You have shown us compassion and forgiveness,
yet we turn away from one another for even small slights.
We save our concern for those most like us.
Create in us clean hearts and a desire to begin again
with you and with one another.
Give us the courage to forgive each other and know your healing grace.
In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and the assurance of pardon: To all who turn to him, Jesus says: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Thanks be to God. Amen
Readings – Isaiah 6: 1-8
John 3: 1-17
Hymn 251 -I, the Lord of sea and sky
Father God, Son, and Holy Spirit we pray for our Cheviot churches and our role in the community. We remember before you all those who live, work and visit here as the restrictions are lifted. Speak your word of peace in our midst, and help us to serve one another as Christ has served us. Thank you, that you so loved the world that you gave your one and only son Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection we now celebrate in our communion. Amen.
In Egypt there are apparently many Muslims who believe in Jesus, but who keep their faith secret. For to say that they were Christian would be to be ostracised from their family and their community. It can be hard to be a Christian in many countries.
I am reminded of them when hearing again the story of Nicodemus, who came by night to see Jesus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews. He was part of the establishment. But something in the radical message of Jesus attracted him, so he came secretly, away from the public gaze, to meet him. But this learned, theologically-aware leader felt out of his depth by what Jesus said, as Jesus talked about being born again and the Spirit blowing where it will.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the only Sunday named after a church doctrine. We will affirm the Trinity later when we say the Apostle’s Creed, but it is a doctrine over which many church councils agonised and over which many church leaders have felt out of depth. Yet it presents a wonderful picture of God in community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God.
The idea of God that Nicodemus would have held would have been one who created the world and led the Israelites from oppression to freedom; the God whom Isaiah described in our reading today. In the Temple, Isaiah was filled with an overwhelming sense of God’s holiness and, in contrast, his own unworthiness. He fell to his knees in sheer awe. Yet God still reached out to call him, and Isaiah answered, ‘Here I am. Send me’.
I think we often lack a sense of awe in God’s presence. Yet this is the God who became personal, who, we are told in the famous verses of John 3: 16/17, loved the world so much that God wanted to save it, and so Jesus was born as a human to show us God’s love in action. He didn’t come to condemn, but to love and redeem us. Through the Spirit, God still is working with and through us today.
Nicodemus is tentative at first though curious, coming secretly to Jesus. However, we meet him twice more in John’s Gospel, beginning to speak out for Jesus and latterly helping Joseph of Arimathea to bury him. His faith seems to grow as we continue through the Gospel. For some of us faith doesn’t come easily, but like Nicodemus, two steps forward and one step back. But in the end Nicodemus seems to get there.
This week, the General Assembly of the Church has been meeting and tackling important issues. Issues like climate change, but also the future shape of the church, and some of these discussions were quite bruising. We are all affected. We will be part of bigger presbyteries, the number of ministries will drop, there will be an emphasis on being more missional. But that can be something positive, as it will involve enabling all God’s people. Yet the overwhelming impression of the Assembly is a sense of together ness with people from all over the country and indeed over the world. It is that sense of togetherness we celebrate at Trinity Sunday.
As God’s people we are enfolded in the love of the triune God, and so we come at communion, in awe at God’s holiness that we cry ‘have mercy on us’, but redeemed by the Son who out of love came into this world and sustained by the Spirit, who leads us on, so we cry out ‘Here am I. Send me’.
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
Lord God, we bring to you the ordinary things of life – food and drink and money – and with them we bring ourselves. Take us, and our gifts of money, to do your work in the world. Take this bread and wine and feed us from your table with your love. Accept our sacrifice of praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We thank you for the small steps of recovery from Covid in our land, but continue to remember those suffering still – from the affects of the Indian variant and long Covid, for the many throughout the world with Covid and with little chance of the vaccine.
We pray for the Church throughout the world, that we might be faithful, but pray especially for our Church of Scotland, as we face the challenges of the day.
Be with those who mourn the loss of loved ones, for the sick in hospital and at home. For those who struggle and those who are downcast and those who are ostracized.
Hymn 666 – Let all mortal flesh
As we come to share in Holy Communion, we bring the bread and wine that we prepared earlier and pause as we prepare to share in this meal with one another.
In our own homes, at our own tables, we meet with Jesus. At our own tables, Jesus calls us to meet him. He welcomes us without the need for show, without the need to be what others expect us to be, without any baggage that might be weighing us down.
We hear again the story of that night: While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body’. Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I tell you, I will never again drink the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ (Mark 14: 22-24)
Let us pray:
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise
Thank you, loving God, for these gifts which we share and for the love that you give to us. We meet with you here filled with your promise of welcome and community. So, we gather here as we are, as you need us to be and as you have called. Long ago, you welcomed your people to you and made known your greatness and glory; you sought out the outcast, you welcomed the stranger, you reached outside society’s expectations and beyond tradition.
Therefore with all your people, past present and to come, and with the whole company of heaven we sing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit
To bless us and these your gifts of bread and wine,
That in communion with Christ our Lord
We may receive his life and remain his glad and faithful people until we feast with him in glory.
As we share in the body and blood of Christ,
may we become a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for your acceptance, through Jesus Christ our Lord
Breaking of bread
The Lord Jesus on the night that he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said, ‘this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’.
In the same way he took the cup, saying ‘ This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood. Whenever you drink of it, do so in memory of me’
Jesus, Lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.
As we follow the example of Jesus, I invite you to hold the bread. This is the Christ’s body, broken for you. Take and eat in memory of him.
I invite you to take the wine. This is the blood of Christ poured out for each one of us. Take and drink in memory of him.
The disciples were together behind locked doors, and Jesus came and stood among them and he said. Peace be with you.
And so I say to you, The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Loving God, we praise you for what you have given and for what you have promised us here today. You have made us one with all your people in heaven and in earth. You have fed us with the bread of life and renewed us for your service.
Now we give ourselves to you and ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn 622 – We sing a love that sets all people free
Just as God’s Word was sent into the world
to heal and redeem,
so God sends you into the world this day
to be light and love, healing and hope.
Go now to be light for the world!
And may the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love, now and forevermore. Amen.
Welcome, Cheviot churches and also to those joining us from elsewhere. We worship together at Pentecost
Call to Worship
God of fire and beauty WARM US
God of peace and justice DISTURB US
God of wind and wonder AMAZE US
God of Pentecost KINDLE YOUR LOVE IN OUR LIVES
Hymn 584 – Like fireworks in the night
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of power and possibility,
With the flame of your Spirit, you give us energy
to move into the world in Jesus’ name.
With the breath of your Spirit, you refresh us
to engage life in its complexity.
Your Spirit embraces us in our diversity
and invites us to find unity in your love.
We honour you for the gift of creation in all its beauty and bounty.
We praise you for your presence with us in every time and place.
In this time of worship, send us the Holy Spirit once again,
and renew us to serve you in the world,
the world that aches for the healing and wholeness you offer
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God of mystery and mercy,
We confess that we have not always paid attention to the urging of your Spirit,
calling us to follow your will and your way.
Too often we claim to belong to Jesus,
but choose instead to ignore his teaching.
You created us to love you and one another,
but we fail to offer your love to those who differ from us.
Stir in our hearts and in our lives with your Holy Spirit.
Transform who we are,
and direct who we shall become through Christ’s redeeming love.
In Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.
Readings – Acts 2:1–21 John 16:4b–15
Hymn 586 – Come, Holy Ghost
Faithful God, as we go out into the world, we pray that this Pentecost may bring our Cheviot Church community a renewed sense of unity with all Christians around our troubled world. May we use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us to spread the good news and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen
One year at university I shared a flat with someone from Lossiemouth, up in Moray. We are still good friends today. But I always remember how one weekend his brother came to visit, and he spoke as he would speak at home, and I didn’t understand a word. It was awful when he asked questions, and you just had to give a frantic smile and non-committal grunt and hope his brother came to the rescue. It is always difficult when you can’t communicate.
Those of you who have lived abroad or even travelled abroad will recognise that things will just pass you by, because you don’t speak the language – or even when you do. For communication is more than the language, it is about the culture too, and that can take years to learn.
I am reading a book just now about someone walking along Hadrian’s Wall, and the author mentions how there is evidence that the soldiers on the Wall came from many parts of the Roman Empire. There was cavalry from what is now Romania; there were people from North Africa and from Syria, as well as from Europe, and even traders from Mesopotamia. It was quite a cosmopolitan set up. They would no doubt be comfortable with those from the same area, but probably had some rudimentary Latin or Greek to get by. But certainly there was some degree of communication, and they got the job done of keeping these barbarians from the Borders at bay!!
The Roman world was a cosmopolitan world, and it was into that world that the Church was born. The disciples had been told by Jesus at the Ascension to stay in Jerusalem and wait, and they did so. They were probably still a little fearful of the authorities and wary of creating trouble. They were gathered together in one place, we are told: safety in numbers. It was the feast of Pentecost, Shavuot, when the Jews remembered the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai, but also celebrated the harvest. Jews had gathered in Jerusalem from the Diaspora, from all over the Empire and beyond, because they had settled in many places, and while they would have had a common purpose and religion and could speak Greek, if not Aramaic, there would be cultural differences. We have a list in Acts of some of the places, and they would have felt a certain disconnect.
Jerusalem would have been busy, but suddenly there was noise, and a mighty wind, pushed the disciples out of the house where they had been skulking and into the streets. They had to go public. Flames danced above their heads, their tongues began to loosen and speak, and suddenly all barriers of gender and age, language and culture were blown down by the wind of Pentecost. The Spirit had come, and the Church started with a bang. Communication barriers came crashing down, and everyone felt included, felt they belonged – because they heard their own language spoken.
We still live in a world where there are barriers of communication. In the Middle East Israeli and Palestinian speak a different, and I am not just talking about Hebrew and Arabic. They mean different things when they talk of peace.
In homes here we can have communication breakdowns, and families don’t speak because of something that happened years before.
In the Church as it meets for the General Assembly this week, there can be communication issues because of where we come from or how we interpret Scripture.
But the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost gives us the model of breaking down barriers, so that Paul was able to write later that there was no Roman or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free, because all one in Christ. Pentecost encourages us to communicate to one another and in the language which is love and compassion. So let us celebrate the Church’s birthday and be ever open to the leading of the Spirit.
Hymn 600 – Spirit of God, unseen as the wind
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Spirit of grace and power, bless the gifts we offer so that they accomplish surprising things in Jesus’ name. Bless our lives, too, so that our words and actions may bear witness to Jesus’ love and mercy each and every day
God of love, as Covid-19 continues to impact our world, we pray for those around the globe who don’t have the resources of the richer nations, for those countries struggling to afford vaccinations and basic health care. We think in particular of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. May those who have the power to bring relief to others use their influence to ensure help and vaccines are directed to the people who need it most. May conversations and negotiations be filled with generosity and concern for the poor and powerless.
God of love, we pray for those who mourn.
With the battles continuing to rage in the Middle East and the death toll rising, we pray for everyone who has lost friends and loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how scared people must be living with bombs and violence. We pray for those caught in the middle of the chaos. Please bring an end to this war.
God of love, we pray for the poor in spirit.
With so many people experiencing mental health issues we think of those we know who are struggling. Help us to be compassionate listeners and good friends to people who need us. We also think of the steep rise in teenage anxiety and issues such as anorexia; please help families trying to deal with young people who are suffering. Give the agencies and professionals working in mental health good judgement as they work with their patients.
We pray for the Church of Scotland meeting in General Assembly and tackling big issues. Guide the commissioners, that all that is decided may be to God’s glory.
God of love, we pray for the peacemakers.
On this Pentecost Sunday thank you for the work of your Spirit bringing hope, joy and peace to us and to your world. On this Pentecost Sunday renew us in our faith, remind us of the outpouring of your Spirit and help us to be the agents of hope, joy and peace in our world.
Hymn 594 – Come, Holy Spirit, come
As you go forth from this place,
may the wind of the Spirit startle your senses
and blow through your life;
may the fire of the Spirit scorch your complacency
and light your way.
And may the blessing of the Holy One--
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer--
rest with you now and forevermore. Amen
Welcome, Cheviot churches and also those joining us from elsewhere. We worship together on this Ascension Sunday
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
We will shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For God, the Most High, is awesome
Reigning over all the earth.
Let us worship God with all we have to offer!
We will offer God our love – heart, body, mind and soul!
Hymn 439 – Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of promise and purpose,
we greet you this day with thankful hearts.
As flowers open and buds unfurl around us,
the beauty of your world lifts our hearts in praise.
You lifted up Jesus to be by your side,
and so we know he is always by our side
as the future opens before us.
Draw close to us in this time of worship and show us the promise and purpose in our own lives--
how we can unfurl with new life
and move into the future with the energy of your Holy Spirit and the abiding love of Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have called all your followers
to carry the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth.
Yet we confess we cannot always find the words to tell others of our faith.
We are often silent when others criticize the church.
We try to act out your love, but it’s hard to tell others why we do what we do for you.
Forgive our hesitation to share the gift you have given us, and renew our courage to speak of our commitment to you.
Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Let us rejoice that, no matter what is happening around us, no matter what we have done, God’s deep love will never let us go.
Readings – Acts 1:1–11
Hymn 438 – The head that once was crowned …
Everlasting God, you made the world and everything in it. We pray with one voice, proclaiming your presence to all the earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you and give thanks for all wonders of your marvellous creation. As with the disciples at the ascension of Jesus we worship Him and look forward to His promised return. Amen
Today is Ascension Sunday, and the Ascension is somewhat different from the other high days in the Christian year. At Christmas, for example, we celebrate Jesus born in a stable, God with us. At Easter we celebrate Jesus risen from the dead, coming back to the disciples, God with us. At Pentecost next week we will celebrate the Holy Spirit, coming upon the disciples, God with us. But at the Ascension, there is a sense of absence, for Jesus leaves the disciples and ascends to heaven. Why celebrate someone leaving? Who wants a day to remind us of God seemingly leaving us behind? And yet the Ascension was a vital day in empowering the disciples -and us – to be witnesses to Christ in the world.
Jesus had risen from the tomb and for these 40 days (for the Ascension is exactly 40 days after the resurrection) Jesus has been with the disciples, taking the opportunity further to equip and strengthen them. They must have been getting used to Jesus being with them again. It must have seemed like old times and that things were back to normal again. We long for things to be back to normal again after Covid, to have our coffee mornings and even plan holidays. The disciples had grown used to having Jesus around them again. It was back to normal, and it would go on and on… But it couldn’t be. There had to be the break. The disciples had been disciples – learning from their Master, following his words, learning from his example. Now it was time to be on their own and put all that they had learned into practice. Just like a chick in a nest has to learn to fly and at the appropriate moment jump from the nest and fly, so the disciples had to take the risk of living life and starting to give rather than just receive.
One minute the disciples were laughing with Jesus, then the next he was away, with the disciples left gawping up at the sky. But then two men appear and chivvy them along. ‘Why are you standing here? You heard what he said. There is work to do, a world to be woken up!’. The disciples had to learn to live without the Jesus as they knew him physically and learn to live on their own feet, with their own mistakes, but always in and by Christ’s light. And, vitally, with the Holy Spirit. That is why, Luke tells us in the Gospel, they went home rejoicing
They had to be Jesus’ witnesses, and that meant seeing the world through Christ’s eyes and loving the world with Christ’s compassion. As Jesus had fed the hungry and healed the sick, as he had embraced the world in love and persuaded people that God loved them passionately, so he was saying to the disciples – and to us ‘Over to you. Now it is your turn. Be my witnesses’.
Like the disciples, we have been nourished and nurtured. We have received so many blessings. Now it is our turn to give, by being his witnesses in the world and do as he did.
In other words: love one another, as Jesus did;
Forgive one another, as Jesus did;
Work for justice - as Jesus did;
Challenge the hypocrites, as Jesus did;
Live with integrity, as Jesus did;
Embrace the stranger, as Jesus did;
Make God the centre of your life, as Jesus did.
At this Ascension Sunday let us look at each other in Christ’s light and begin to repair the world through gifts of kindness and compassion, embracing the breadth and depth of God’s vision for the whole of creation.
Hymn 436 – Christ triumphant
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Eternal and ever-present God bless the gifts we offer you today. Use them and us to witness to your love and bring healing and hope to the world in Jesus’ name.
In uncertain times we thank you Lord for the relationships and friendships that have carried us through: for those who have made us laugh, for those who have listened, for those who have stood by us. Thank you for the love, care and attention of others. Help us to learn to pray as Jesus did. As we move through this week and encounter our friends help us to pray for their needs and that they would know your peace in their lives
O God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life,
You have begun the work of creating a new world,
a world where justice is known, where freedom and healing are available to all people.
We pray for the places in the world that are caught up in violence,
We especially think of Israel and Palestine and Gaza and all living in fear. We pray for the peacemakers in that area. Hold them from despair, give them the energy and vision for a better future that will keep them going during these difficult times. Help the local politicians and those in the international community who are trying to mediate and resolve this crisis. Equip them with the skills they need, give them the words that will speak into this situation and help those who need to hear listen to their words and cease their fire.
You have begun the work of creating a new community, a community where love is shared, and all find a sense of belonging.
We pray for groups who are made to feel like they don’t belong,
for families that caught up in tension or strife,
and for those who feel isolated or desperate because no one seems to care.
Grant them all courage and comfort through your Spirit. May people everywhere find the fullness of life you intend for us all.
Hymn 441 – Blessing and honour
Go in peace, and in your rising, in your resting, in your walking, in your speaking, in your praying, in your striving, in your giving, in your crying,
may you know the Spirit of the Lord upon you.
May the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer be with you and be with all you love this day and even forevermore. Amen
Welcome, Cheviot churches and also those joining us from elsewhere. We worship together on this Christian Aid Sunday
Call to Worship (from Amazon area)
Come and celebrate our common home
we gather with the family of humanity.
With the mountains, islands and deserts
we honour the glory of God in creation.
With the lakes, rivers and seas
we come to the source of living water.
With the land, its soil, seeds and sustenance
we give thanks for God’s generous provision.
With the forests of great trees, the lungs of the planet
we will sing with joy and clap our hands.
We join with the whole of creation, inspired by those who have gone before and the prophetic voices of today.
We dare to praise and pray for another possible world.
To the glory of God Amen
Hymn 172 – Sing for God’s glory
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
As we look around at our beautiful Border countryside bursting with new life, we sometimes fail to see the desecration of pollution, the carelessly discarded plastic bottles and crisp packets, the wasted food; forgive us for our lack of care and our selfishness and short-term behaviour.
As we celebrate the joy of human love and we look towards being with friends and family and welcoming them with loving arms, forgive us for forgetting those who circumstances prevent such reunions; those separated by bereavement, by forced migration, by natural disasters and failure of crops, help us remember that some of this is caused by our behaviour and forgive us our unintended actions.
God you know us and know that we can be loving and kind but that we often get things wrong. Forgive when we hurt others and when we fail to care for your world. May Jesus bless us and God’s spirit help to grow in love.
Readings – Acts 10: 44-48
Hymn Sea Shanty (Yetholm) / 798 – May the peace of the earth (Morebattle)
There was a farmer on the land
hoping we could make a stand.
The rains hadn’t come and the crops were dead;
You can’t farm land like this. No!
Soon may the fossil fuels go
for they pollute the land you know.
Let’s invest in solar and wind
and buy climate justice for all.
Climate change is making life hard
for those whose livelihoods are marred
by erratic rain or howling gale.
You can’t farm land like this. No!
Faithful God, your son Jesus said “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” In our worship today, we testify to God’s love shown perfectly in Christ and we re-commit ourselves to love one another as a community of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Amen
Those who live in Yetholm will be aware of the work that has been going on to alter the course of the Bowmont Water. The water has over the years eroded the ground and, if not checked, would have threatened to bridge and road between the two villages. It shows the often-devastating power of water.
Today is Christian Aid Sunday and for 75 years Christian Aid has been responding to crises and seeking to empower the marginalised. They now work in 26 countries, but today we focus on only one of them, Kenya, where water, or the lack of it, has become an issue. We need only to read our bibles to know that floods (Noah) and droughts (Ruth and Naomi) have always been with us. However, in recent years we have seen extremes in weather all over the world. Even snow and frost in May!
Rose knows about extremes in weather. Growing up, the rain came at the right time, and there was always enough to eat and drink. But now the rains are unreliable, and her part of Kenya is subject to drought. Crops wither and die. Rivers run dry, and people struggle to survive. In order to collect water for her family, Rose has to walk a long distance, often on an empty stomach. She dreams of having water close at hand to grow vegetables. If there was only a pool close at hand, that would give her and her grandchildren hope for the future.
In our Acts reading, Peter asks the question, ‘Can anyone withhold water?’. He is actually talking about water for baptism, but it is a relevant question when we think of Rose and those like her. Peter is in the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Peter has had a vision of a tablecloth full of the animals deemed to be taboo for Jews to eat, not kosher, yet a voice from heaven tells him to eat. At that moment, people come to his door inviting him to Cornelius’ home. As a Jew, Peter could not enter a Gentile’s house, but after the vision, he accepts the invitation. While there, the Holy Spirit falls upon everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, and that is when Peter asks the question ‘Who can withhold water to baptise?’, for the Holy Spirit has already taken the initiative.
Rose has her troubles, but Florence on the other hand is so cheerful. She is a larger-than-life character, who is smiling and singing. I am sure that she has her hardships too, for her husband died a few years ago, but she is a survivor. Like Rose, she too had to walk for miles to collect water for her family, but fortunately Christian Aid and its partners helped Florence’s community to build a dam, so that water is now on their doorstep, allowing their vegetables to grow and be sold at the market. She grows tomatoes and onion, but also keeps bees, so sells honey. No wonder she is full of joy and laughter. Her children have a future.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus is saying farewell to his disciples and telling them to abide in him and his love, and in verse 11, he says ‘I have said these things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete’. He was facing the horror and pain of Good Friday and crucifixion, yet talked of joy. He was facing the silence of Holy Saturday, but believed that Easter Sunday would come. There is always hope.
As Christians we believe that there is hope and that everyone is entitled to life in all its fullness in the here and now. We thank God for the work of Christian Aid over the past 75 years, but continue to work and give and pray that people like Rose may have water nearby and, like Florence, have a smile on her face and hope for the future.
Hymn – Canticle of the Turning
1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Generous God, bless our offering of worship and the gifts of talent and money that we share. Bless those who will go out into our community this week with the red envelopes and may the money that will be given this week in support of our disadvantaged neighbours around the world be doubly blessed in the service of your kingdom.
Merciful God, as we think of our communities and family and friends farther afield we are mindful of the suffering caused by the Covid virus around the world. Our hearts go out to the people of India and to all those places where facilities and equipment are lacking and it is a struggle to treat and care for all the sick. Give all those involved the strength and courage to prevail. Comfort those who mourn for they are many and often do so alone.
Help us to be an encouragement and support to our young people as they face an evermore uncertain future but do so in hope and expectation of a better, fairer world.
Give determination for those striving for the health of our planet and the well being of all your children. May those who hold the power be given a listening ear and act with wisdom and compassion.
We would see the lusts for power and of greed banished that all may live a meaningful life in harmony and peace, rejoicing in our individuality and unique talents knowing we are loved by you.
This we ask n the name of the Prince of Peace, Your Son Jesus Christ.
The Christian Aid week prayer (from Kenya)
Who makes the sun to rise, and opens the heavens,
Hear the cry of the people who sow in hope for rain but reap only in despair.
Hear the cry of the people seeking shelter from the storm, their hopes and homes submerged’
Hear the cry of the people when creation is hitting back, with rage and resistance.
Give us hope, grant us salvation,
Give us a new relationship with creation with reverence to tend this gift from you and say once again of the earth and all you created, it is GOOD. Amen
Hymn 804 – You shall go out with joy
May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.