Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 10th Sunday after Pentecost.
Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Lord, open our lips;
And our mouths shall proclaim your praise.
Hymn 173 – Sing to God new songs (1,3)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
we lift our hearts to you in praise and prayer,
thankful for the wonder of creation
and grateful for the good things in our lives.
As we open ourselves to the ways you love us,
we find the ways to love you in return.
We raise our eyes to look beyond our immediate circumstances
and to view the world with your compassion.
As we broaden our perspective, we see the needs beyond our own, and hear your call to love others.
We bow before you in humble wonder.
Your grace defies our explanations. You touch us when we least expect it.
Receive our praise and prayer this day
sometimes we shy away from growing into your great love. We are aware of our thoughts and actions that are less than loving; our comments and communications that have unintended consequences; our habitual patterns of reacting that disappoint us and leave us low.
We lament the state of our lives, but also the state of our world, marred by inequality, violence and careless indifference.
We are sorry.
We long to know that we are forgiven
and experience renewal that will make a difference.
Listen and hear the good news:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
He does not treat us according to our attitudes and behaviour,
for as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love for us;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our wrongdoing from us.
Jesus says, ‘You are forgiven,’ He also says, ‘Follow me.’
Readings – 2 Samuel 11: 26 – 12:13a
John 6: 24-35
Hymn 641 – Seek ye first (1,3)
Faithful God, fill our hunger with the food that lasts; the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Thank you that we need never grow hungry or thirsty again, as we come and trust in Jesus. Amen
It has been good to watch the Olympics, though admittedly I do not stay up all night to watch the various races live. I enjoy seeing small countries without many resources win medals, though it is also good to see home talent win. I wondered if anyone in the Bible would have qualified. No doubt Jesus would have won everything, though I never picture him running, and he is more likely to walk on water rather than swim in it! In the Old Testament Samson would have won the weightlifting, Jacob would have a chance at the wresting, but if there is one person who would do well and be an Olympian, then it would be David. He was a good all-rounder. Archery, battle, writing psalms, playing music: everything seemed to come naturally to him, and he set the standard for other kings to follow. But the Bible is a very honest book and in the passage we read this morning, we see that David was fallible and flawed.
The army has gone to fight, and usually the king would go with them. But David remains in Jerusalem. We don’t know why. From the roof of his palace, he sees a woman bathing; she was purifying herself, as the law demanded. But David, the peeping Tom, was filled with lust- the outcome was that he seduced her. He was the king, a man of power, and she was the wife of a soldier, a foreign mercenary, a Hittite. Nowadays it would be called sexual exploitation or worse, for she would have had no power to refuse. Her name was Bathsheba.
When we do something wrong, we always try to deflect the blame. It is always the other person’s fault. Or we try to wriggle out of it, and that is exactly what David did. Bathsheba was pregnant, and David called her husband back from the front, so he could sleep with his wife, so he wouldn’t know that the baby wasn’t his. But Uriah, unlike David, was a man of integrity and wouldn’t sleep with his wife while his friends were fighting. David tried to get him drunk; that failed. In the end he ordered his commander to put Uriah in the front of the battle – certain death. It is a sordid tale. David is no longer the Olympian, no longer the hero; rather he has become the villain.
Uriah is dead. He married Bathsheba and thinks everything is OK. He can forget about it. He has had a lucky escape. Enter Nathan the Prophet. Nathan tells the story of the rich man with his own flocks grabbing the little lamb from the poor man to roast for a guest. David is livid, demanding the wealthy man be put to death. In one of the best lines, Nathan says ‘Thou art the man’, and David’s eyes are opened to the immensity of what he has done and he has to the grace to realise his sin. Nathan has held up a mirror to David and he saw himself as he really was. Warts and all.
The parable talks about the abuse of power and also the nature of choices made by the powerful which can impact on the powerless. Society needs to look in the mirror. We live in a world where people can think themselves above the law and therefore can do what they want. But we have to look at ourselves too, for all of us fall short and need a change of heart. ‘Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow’. David is supposed to have written Psalm 51 after this. But Ps 51 is our psalm too – it expresses the sadness we feel at our own failings. But as our confession at the start of the service reminds us, God is a God of forgiveness who encourages us to learn from our mistakes and move on to be a people of grace and mercy showing Christ’s love to the world.
Hymn 517 – Fight the good fight (1,2)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of power and possibility, bless the gifts we offer to you this day, and all our efforts to serve you and our neighbours in Jesus’ name.
We pray for the things that are shaping our national life at the moment. The things we hear about on the news, but also the cultural currents that are shaping and changing our shared values and sense of identity. We pray for those who witness to your love in the community, in institutions and the corridors of power.
We pray for our world, ravaged by COVID and climate change. A world where there is unequal impact of these effects and unequal access to the resources to cope with them. Where war displaces people, and the everyday violence of discrimination distorts lives.
And we pray for the help that each of us needs in the coming week. For the areas of our lives where we need inner strength, or challenge, or to imagine your world transformed by love.
We pray for young people moving to school or secondary school or to college or to a job. Young people planning their next stage.
For patients coping with life limiting illness.
For families living with loss.
Those looking for a way to find mental wellbeing,
and those who need a holiday.
We thank you, Lord, for this church community and the nourishment we find by spending time here with you. Fill us with your Spirit as we praise you so that we may go out from here enriched and ready to serve you in the wider world. Help us to encourage one another and build each other up, that this may be a place of affirmation, acceptance and love. We pray for our leaders, both locally and nationally, asking that you will provide them with wisdom, patience and grace.
Hymn 458 – At the name of Jesus (1,2,4)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love,
Now and forevermore. Amen
Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 9th Sunday after Pentecost.
Come all you people, young and old.
Come share in worship, giving thanks for all God shares with us.
Let us open our hearts and minds to know more of God’s unconditional love and care and be ready to share it with others.
Hymn 404 – I danced in the morning
Prayers of Adoration 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.
Lord Jesus Christ, just as we are, you call each one of us. You greet us each by name and welcome us into your family. Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you.
Holy Spirit, breath of Life You fill us with your love and grace for all, so that we are enabled to witness to the kingdom. Holy Spirit, we worship you.
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 others 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.’
Readings – 2 Kings 4: 42-44
Hymn 555 – Amazing Grace
Gracious God, out of your goodness a great crowd was fed and satisfied from a small offering of food. We thank you for supplying all our needs and offer you the love of our hearts as we pray for our Cheviot Churches with all our varied ministries; for the youngest to the oldest; for those of certain faith and for those who struggle with doubts. Amen
The Olympics have started in Tokyo, a year late and with no spectators because of Covid. On Monday restrictions here eased slightly, and now we are down to 1 metre distancing, though with the advice to be cautious ringing in our ears. Just across the Border, however, the restrictions have gone completely. I certainly felt rather uneasy watching the packed scenes from nightclubs and seeing pictures of the crowds on the beaches.
Of course, in our Gospel reading today, Jesus and his disciples are surrounded by a crowd of people, a crowd hungry for what Jesus had to say. He alone could give them some meaning in their lives under occupation. He could give them peace in their hearts.
No doubt people were gossiping as well about what happened in Cana and the abundance of wine. Of what happened in Capernaum with the child of the official healed. Of what happened at Bethesda with the man who had been paralysed for 38 years suddenly able to walk. All these signs saying loud and clear, ‘God is here’! Maybe something would happen that day too?
These people, numbering about 5000 and more, were hungry for what Jesus had to offer – and also their stomachs were beginning to rumble as well! Jesus had hardly invited them: they were unexpected guests. But somehow he felt he was the host and it was incumbent to provide them with some kind of snack. Philip came from just along the lakeside, so Jesus relied on his local knowledge to find food , but he said – ‘to feed this number would cost an absolute fortune’, so Jesus sent the disciples out to see what they could find. Andrew came back- and he brought a boy – a boy with his packed lunch of bead and fish. For this brief moment he shares the spotlight with Jesus. Now, judging from the litter on the breaches, the crowds in 21st century Britain bring their packed lunches and picnics with them. I would think it odd in 1st century Palestine if only one boy out of 5000+ remembered to pack some bread. But Jesus took what the boy offered, just as Elisha had done centuries before, multiplied it and all received. It might well be that those who had hid their picnics, suddenly were moved to share what they had, which would have been an even greater miracle. Our Moslem friends are celebrating Eid just now, and what is eaten has always to be split three ways – one part for family, one part for friends and one part for the poor. The importance of sharing transcends cultures.
We offer to God, God multiplies, and all are blessed. Certainly, there was a sense of abundance, 12 bags were left over; a sense of togetherness, the freedom of sharing and also a realisation that something special had happened. Just like at Cana and at Capernaum and Bethesda. And at the centre of it was Jesus, yes, but also a little boy with his packed lunch. The crowd had witnessed the overflowing love of God, who wants to feed the people and wants them to know that they are included in God’s love and within God’s grace. It was a day they would never forget, and that is why it is included in all four gospels.
We gather today and we are going to celebrate a baptism, and a child, Poppy, will be centre-stage. Baptism is another sign of God’s love, of God’s inclusion of us in his family. That is God’s grace, that God accepts us no matter what and wants us as part of the family, one of God’s beloved and holy children. A day always to remember.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Lord, we are amazed at what you can do with so little! We bring our offerings before you and ask you to multiply them for the advancement of your kingdom.
We lift up, Lord, all who feel they have nothing worth bringing to your.
We think of the broken, in mind, body and spirit.
Broken by ill health. Broken by bereavement, divorce or separation.
Those broken by poverty, redundancy or bankruptcy.
Lord, we offer you our prayers for the broken. Take. Touch. Bless.
Lord, you multiplied the loaves and fishes, producing a big lunch for thousands.
We bring before you those supplying our loaves and fishes today. We pray for fishermen struggling to maintain their livelihoods.
We lift up all farmers and the harvest of crops.
We think of the effect of climate change which, if nothing alters, will mean major adaptations for farmers in how and what they can farm.
Many places are experiencing the effects of climate change now. We think of our own high temperatures of late and the unprecedented high temperatures in Canada. The wild fires in America. The floods in Western Europe and China.
We lift before you all those affected.
Lord, we pray for your church. Pray that all in leadership will be guided by Godly wisdom at all times. We thank you for the different ways people have come close to you over the pandemic and for the variety of worship.
May your church always be welcoming, offering warm hospitality to all.
Hymn 143 – Who put the colours in the rainbow
Infant Baptism – Poppy Holly Murron Freeland-Cook
For you Jesus Christ came into the world;
For you he lived and showed God’s love:
For you he suffered the darkness of Calvary
and cried at last ‘It is accomplished’:
for you he triumphed over death
and rose in newness of life:
for you he ascended to reign at God’s right hand:
all this he did for you, though you do not know it yet.
And so Scripture is fulfilled:
‘We love because God first loved us’.
Hymn 530 – One more step along the world I go
Go into the world
as people of compassion and good courage,
to be Christ’s disciples, walking his way.
And may God - Father, Son and Spirit – be with you this day and forevermore. Amen
Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 8th Sunday after Pentecost.
In moments of anxiety, God leads us to still waters.
O God, we come to you.
In moments of confusion, God leads us in right paths.
O God, we come to hear your voice.
In moments of loneliness, God is with us.
So we come to praise and worship God
Hymn 181 – For the beauty of the earth (1,3,5)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God our Maker,
in summer we easily marvel at the world you have made, the colours of sunrise and sunset filling the horizon, the intricate beauty of gardens,
the quiet dignity of a river in its course, and the steadfast presence of a rock face carved over time.
You show us how each small piece of your creation
depends in many ways on all the others.
Summer growth depends on spring rains;
health for each creature depends on the wise balance
you have set between each species;
the quality of life on the respect we show one another.
Wise and patient God, we marvel at the world you made and join the songs of all creation to bring you praise.
God our Maker,
as we marvel at your creation, we confess we often take it for granted.
We don’t know what to make of reports about the damage human life causes.
We prefer to live as if our lifestyles make no impact on the earth and confess we don’t really want to change.
For all the ways we put your creation at risk and harm the earth, we ask for your forgiveness.
Teach us how to live in this marvellous world with love and respect for you and for your whole creation.
Readings – 2 Samuel 7: 1-14a
Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56
Hymn 540 – I heard the voice of Jesus say
When I lived in Israel, I was in the middle of a town, and there was a lot of noise. Traffic, horns hooting, the bustle of life. But Saturdays were different. There was no noise; you could even hear the water lapping on the lake. It was Shabbat, the Sabbath, the day of rest. Things got a bit busier later, but it was always a good feeling to feel peace. Maybe Sundays still have that quality in our villages, for it is quieter. Certainly, we need a day that is different.
For Orthodox Jews, the Shabbat was a day of complete rest, and for some they couldn’t even switch on a light or cook a meal, for that would be work. They were following, albeit very strictly, the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. It was an important command, for it was given to the Israelites who had been slaves in Egypt and didn’t know what a day off was like, so the sabbath was really special – a day without work.
Even those of us who are retired realise how difficult it can be to switch off and rest. It is of course made worse by these mobile phones that allow us to keep checking for emails and messages. I am very guilty of that. David in our Old Testament reading didn’t have a mobile phone, but he was always looking to the next project. He had become king, had established Jerusalem as his capital and next – he wanted to build a temple for God, to house the ark of the covenant. But in our passage this morning, God says ‘wait!’ That is for someone else to do. David had to learn patience and to leave that project, which his son Solomon would take on. There are some things which we leave to those who come after us.
In the Gospels, the disciples had been sent out to teach and heal and spread the good news of God’s kingdom. They returned excited and full of stories – but also exhausted. Jesus says, ‘Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile’. What a lovely invitation. Imagine hearing these words and conjuring up the feelings of peace and quiet evoked. A chance to slow down and recharge our batteries and simply be. To rest. Especially after this year of pandemic, when our mental health has suffered and when even to get away can mean joining queues of cars at beauty spots or 6 hour queues at the airport if we ventured abroad, it is vital to rest. In the metrical 23rd Psalm, God ‘makes me to lie down in green pastures’.
Come and rest. But the best laid plans…! The disciples didn’t quite get their rest, for as they sailed across the Lake, people watched where the boat was heading and immediately rushed round to get there ahead of them, such was the appeal, the draw of Jesus. People came with their needs, very real needs, and it was only Jesus who could address them, could give them peace in their souls. Looking at them, Jesus was filled with compassion. He couldn’t tell them to come back the next day or the next week. He was the Son of God and responds to the people with God’s love and grace. His compassion overrides his need to rest.
However, that said, we do read of times when Jesus did go away to a quiet place, and we are encouraged to do likewise: to get off the treadmill of work and accumulation and take a step back to appreciate God and all God does in our lives. It is important to take time away from the clamour of the world and to find rest in God. Some find it good to take time in the morning or evening to pray and read a portion of the Bible or a book of meditations. For others they like to go away on retreat. For others still a walk in the countryside can recharge the batteries. But we do have to look after ourselves and replenish ourselves, for in order to give out and respond to the needs of others, we have to have something to give. So let us find that quiet centre in the crowded lives we lead and regain that balance between doing and renewing.
Hymn 716 – Come and find the quiet centre (1,3)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Lord, you took your disciples away from the crowds to rest and find refreshment. But it was not always easy, because the crowds followed and made demands on your time. We pray for all those you have given the responsibility of leadership, especially in the Church. We ask that you enable them to find or regain a healthy balance amid the rhythm of life’s rushing and resting. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for all who are suffering because of climate change, and for all who are taking action and speaking out on behalf of your creation. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for all who are suffering because of the COVID 19 Pandemic: those who have lost loved ones, health, or livelihood. And all those who are having to find new rhythms of life at this time due to suffering long Covid. We pray that we may use the new lessening of restrictions coming into place this week wisely and be sensitive to one another’s needs.
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Lord Jesus, we rejoice that we are part of your worldwide family. Help us to faithfully proclaim your gospel on behalf of all people and to walk your way of sacrificial love through testing times, listening only to your voice as we speak your word. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father we believe your touch has still its ancient power to heal and so we raise before you those who are sick in our Cheviot Churches community. We ask that you will ease their pain and heal the damage done to them in body, mind, or spirit. Be present with them through the support of friends and in the care of doctors and nurses, fill them with the warmth of your love. Be with all who mourn. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
In a moment of silence, we name before you now those who are particularly on our hearts this day
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer Amen.
Hymn 702 – God in love and perfect wisdom (1,3)
Go into the world to speak with courage.
Go into the world to act with compassion.
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
Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 7th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.
The world and those who live in it belong to God.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, who is strong and mighty!
So lift up your heads and your hearts!
Let us worship God in beauty and holiness.
Hymn 212 – Morning has broken
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Gracious God, source of life and love in all creation,
in a world marked by bitterness, you are compassion.
In a culture marked by confusion, you are light shining in the darkness.
Your stillness is peace when we are frantic.
Your strength is comfort when we are fearful.
Your wisdom is guidance when we are lost.
For all that you are and all that you give, O God,
we offer you all honour, praise and worship, now and always.
in a world marked by self-indulgence, you are generosity for those in need.
In a world marked by injustice, you are a conscience speaking to us.
In a world marked by vengeance, you are mercy and reconciliation.
Forgive our selfishness;
our lack of concern for the vulnerable;
and our desire to settle scores rather than work things out.
Renew us with your mercy and strengthen our resolve to live generously, in action and in attitude.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free by God’s generous grace.
Readings – 2 Samuel 6: 12–19
Mark 6: 14-29
Hymn 65 – Jubilate
Heavenly Father we thank you for the opportunity of being together in our Cheviot Churches. Thank you for your words which still inspire us today as they did our forefathers. As we look forward to the week to come, we pray for an awareness of your love and support in all we do. Amen
Do you like to dance? It has been a while since we were able to, but perhaps – just perhaps – restrictions may be eased, and dancing will be given the go ahead. Some may like disco, but what I enjoy are ceilidhs and barndances, where there is a sense of coming together as a community and just having fun. All cultures have dancing, though I remember as a student meeting someone from Stornaway who disapproved entirely of dance and thought it the most sinful thing. Perhaps she had been reading the bible passages for today. In the Gospels we read of a dance that led to the death of John the Baptist, while in the Old Testament David dancing before the ark of the covenant brought the condemnation of his wife and soured relations between them.
The Ark of the Covenant signified the presence of God and moved with the people. It was so holy that even to touch it meant death. David had made Jerusalem his capital and wanted to establish the ark there. So a political move, and as the ark was brought to the city, he danced in front of it, leaving little to the imagination. Now his wife was the daughter of Saul, and she had a good sense of decorum – the things you could and couldn’t do in polite society. And you didn’t dance like that. But David said that he was dancing to the glory of God, and in recent years liturgical dance has become popular. However, I think David was also trying to win over the crowd. He was courting popularity. He maybe lost his wife but he won over the people. He was a populist king.
That could not have been said about Herod in Mark’s Gospel. If he wanted to curry the favour of the people, he would never have beheaded John the Baptist. This is a gruesome story, and as one commentator asked, ‘Where is the good news in this story?’.
It is a story of self-interest, power and manipulation. Herod was the son of Herod the Great who tried to kill Jesus as a baby. He was ruler in the Galilee on behalf of the Romans and built the town of Tiberias on the shores of the sea of Galilee. BUT he had divorced his wife and married his brother’s wife, Herodias (the names get confusing!). They were all inter-related, and this brought the condemnation of John the Baptist. John spoke out against Herod for a number of reasons; he would have been a thorn in Herod’s side, I am sure, but the king was also fascinated by him, perhaps because of the hold he had on the people. He was popular, whereas Herod was not. But his speaking truth to power had led to his imprisonment.
Then there was this birthday party, and Herod’s step-daughter danced. We call her Salome, because Josephus, a Jewish historian of the time, named her thus. We have the impression that she was a Mata Hari seductress, but quite probably she was young and being manipulated by her mother. So this is a tale of abuse as well. A drunken Herod was so taken that he promised her anything, and prompted by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. The king was too weak to refuse. He preferred to save face rather than admit to a foolish promise.
Where is the good news in this story? There is not a lot, and it is one of the few parts of the Gospel where Jesus is not mentioned. It is a horrible story, of a prophet killed on a whim; of a girl being exploited; of everyone out for themselves. You can only wonder how that kingdom was governed. Greed, abuse of power exploitation. Where might was right. Then you contrast the kingdom of God that Jesus was proclaiming, which was one of compassion and love, one of justice for all and breaking down barriers. Where the first would be last. No wonder Herod and Herodias wanted to silence such a kingdom. John was killed. Jesus would be killed. But the resurrection of Jesus was God saying an almighty Yes to the kingdom Jesus offered and where mercy and grace and compassion would be paramount. We live in a world of power, of corruption, of exploitation, but continue to work for God’s kingdom here on earth. So be it.
Hymn 473 – They Kingdom come (1,4,5)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Generous God, we look around at the growth in gardens and fields this summer, and trust in the generosity you have planted within your creation. Bless the gifts we bring, that they too may grow in fruitfulness, and touch lives in need with your generous love.
Today we pray for courageous leaders in cities, countries and congregations who strive to serve with integrity and honesty in a world prone to self-interest.
We pray for those who struggle to create justice where it has been compromised, and to build reconciliation and understanding in divided communities.
We pray for people of all ages trapped in toxic relationships. For victims of abuse. For the lonely and the elderly in our communities. All those whose vulnerability is exploited by the actions of others.
We pray for the government and all those in power agonising over the timing of lifting all Covid restrictions. We pray for peacemakers everywhere. May they speak your truths and be heard.
We pray for Afghanistan as troops prepare to leave. We pray for Nigeria where the number of student kidnappings by rebels keeps rising.
We remember before you the sick and the dying,
and the bereaved who must try to put their lives back together again.
We pray for those who are recovering from the pandemic, looking for better health, a fresh start, more stability or a glimpse of hope.
Draw close to all these who suffer, offering your comfort and courage to face whatever comes next.
Receive our prayers, both spoken and unspoken,
and embrace us all in your love.
Hymn 710 – I have a dream (1,4,5)
Go in peace and may the blessing of God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit be with you and with all people, now and always. Amen
Good Morning and Welcome, Cheviot churches and to everyone joining our worship on this 6th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Beautiful in its loftiness,
he joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon[b] is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress. (Psalm 48)
Hymn 457 All hail the power of Jesus name (Tune Miles Lane) verses 1,3 & 4.
Prayers of Adoration and Confession.
Gracious Father, we bless You. Thank You for being the King of Glory. Thank You for being our Father, Redeemer, Shepherd and King. Thank You for reconciling us back to You through Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are thankful to You for the Holy Spirit who is the promised Advocate who empowers us to be effective witnesses to Your Kingdom here on earth. Thank You for loving us and watching over us. Lord, let all that we are praise You.
Forgiving Father, forgive us as a Church Family for sins of pride, rebellion, disobedience, selfishness. Lord, forgive us for half-hearted worship. Forgive us for disrespecting Your Name and treating You irreverently. Forgive those who choose to not bless and honour You. Lord Jesus, forgive those who take Your sacrifice for granted. Holy Spirit, forgive those who do not acknowledge You or Your presence in their daily lives. Thank you that when we confess our sins you freely forgive us.
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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Readings – Samuel 5: 1 – 5, and 9 – 10. Mark 6: 1 – 13.
HYMN – 351 Jesus hands were kind hands 2 verses
Jesus did not come to make life easy; he came to make people great.
David becomes King over Israel – The representatives of the various tribes cite three reasons for recognising David as their King: -
Jesus Christ who was described as the son of David, the son of Abraham also began His ministry at the age of 30. Only Christ Jesus, great David's greater Son, fulfills this prophecy recorded in psalm 72. Only Jesus brings perfect justice, a universal kingdom, and an everlasting reign. “1 give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
In stark contrast to the story from Mark’s gospel St John reminds us that 11 He (JESUS) came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:11-12)
Today's Gospel lesson is made up of two quite distinct parts.
The first is a story of failure. After initial enthusiasm, the people of Jesus' hometown, turned against him. He was, Mark tells us in verse 5, "unable to do any miracles there." But the second scene is a story of success. The disciples, again Mark tells us, cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people and healed them."
Isn't that odd? Jesus, who up to this point in Mark’s Gospel, had been teaching with power, healing, and casting out demons, could do nothing, while the disciples who are so often missing the point, even missing in action, are powerful and effective.
The two parts are so different and their difference so unexpected that it will come as no surprise that many commentators urge us to pick one of the two stories or parts to examine at a time --- not both . . . Still, they stand together . . . perhaps there is a reason for that? Maybe Mark was onto something?
Together these two scenes have something to tell us, not only about God and God's power, but about our part in God's power. Together they tell us about the power of faith and also something about the power of disobedience. Together they tell us something about what happens when ego and pride get in the way--when we get in the way--and what happens when hope, faith and expectation clear the way, and God takes central place.
The journalist Tom Friedman once told a story in order to explain why the Middle East peace process seems so frequently stuck. It was a story about a man named Goldberg. Every week when the results of the lottery were announced, Goldberg prayed to God, "God, why don't I ever win the lottery? What have I done wrong? I've been a good man. Why shouldn't I win?" Again, next week the lottery winner was announced and again Goldberg was disappointed and he cried out to God. "What will it take, Lord? I am a righteous man, an honorable man, a hard-working man. Would it be so hard for you, just once, to let me win the lottery?" The clouds parted, the heavens opened and a voice came forth out of the heavens. The voice said, "Goldberg, give me a chance--buy a ticket!"
Two stories, two distinct stories, set cheek by jowl. In one they bought the ticket. In the other they refused.
But why? Why did they refuse? Let's look at that first story, part one of our text, Jesus' visit to his own hometown. We might imagine that now things would go well. We might assume that here Jesus would be received with joy and affirmation by those who knew him well. And initially he was. The people of Nazareth, those who had known Jesus as a boy and young man were surprised--astonished--by his wisdom and power. But quickly their surprise turned to offense. "Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son? And they took offense at him."
When Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, He did not--though it must have been painful for him--reject them in turn. He did not take offense. He only sadly shook his head and then moved on. He moved on, sending his disciples out, two by two, to preach, to heal and to teach. He said something interesting to them: they were to travel light, to "take nothing for the journey" but the clothes on their backs.
The rejection at Jesus’ hometown synagogue did not hinder the mission for long. In fact, it may have given impetus to the commissioning of the twelve for their first assignment. This was why Jesus had chosen “twelve” in chapter 3. Since that point, they were preparing for their own mission. In chapter 4, Jesus taught about the nature of God’s reign, providing private instruction for them. In chapter 5, Jesus performed liberating acts for them to witness. Finally, just before he sent them out, the mission experienced unexpected rejection, as a signal of what was to be expected in their work in the movement.
In these times of change and challenge for the church or in times of challenge in our personal lives, God may be telling us to "lighten our load," even helping us to do so. God is calling us to let go of some weighty assumptions about how we have always done things. God is telling us, like that once prominent church, to leave behind those big, bulky suitcases stuffed full of "pride" and "ego." Maybe God is asking us to surrender some truly heavy stuff--like the old conflicts we've been bearing or the grudges we've been nursing?
God is using this time of challenge and change to strip these things from us so that we might travel light again, relying upon God's power alone to guide us and trusting God's grace to uphold us.
Jesus Christ is here now--, in our church, in our community, in each one of our lives. Will we receive him? Will we buy the ticket? The price of a ticket is . . . faith, wild, risky faith, bold, trusting faith in the power of God in Jesus Christ who makes all things new.
Faithful God we pray for ourselves; as we go from our worship today to start the week ahead, we ask that in all we do, we may walk more closely with you at our side safe in the knowledge that your Fatherly love and care knows no bounds.
Hymn - 255 Father hear the prayer we offer. verses 1 & 2
Prayers of thanksgiving and Intercession
Let us join our hearts and minds in prayer.
Almighty God, we give thanks for your gentle and enduring love which never fails and always gives hope. We pray for the world, and for all those who are affected by this pandemic, particularly those more vulnerable in poorer countries. We pray for those who do not have access to clean water, soap and sanitation; those without good healthcare, and families who are struggling to find food.
Grant our leaders the gifts of courage, compassion and wisdom as they face such challenging circumstances and decision making. We pray for our scientists as they work tirelessly to find answers.
We particularly remember those in hospital and in care homes. We pray for everyone who is sick, or afraid for the future; for those who are bereaved and grieving, or isolated and we also pray for all who support them. God be their healer, their comforter and their protection.
We think of our own community and pray for your guidance to be good neighbours; so that no one feels lonely, forgotten or unloved. Raise up your church to be your well washed hands and faithful feet, to respond with love in action.
So let us pause for a few moments as we remember and pray for those known to ourselves …... Silence.
Hymn – 529 Forth in your name, O Lord I go. verses 1 and
May the strength of God sustain us; may the power of God preserve us; may the hands of God protect us; may the way of God direct us; may the love of God go with us this day and forever. Amen.