All Saints Day
The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together on All Saints Day.
Today we will be celebrating Holy Communion, and the invitation is for all of us to share this. I invite you to have some bread and wine, or whatever suitable alternative you have, ready for that part of the service. As the gathered people of Jesus together, let’s pause and prepare to worship.
Call to Worship
Come all who give thanks for the gift of life;
Come all who long for a just and happy world;
Come all who seek peace and pursue it;
And together we will work transforming pain into hope, fear into love and crying into laughter.
Hymn 740 – For all the saints (vv 1,2,4)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of life and blessing, maker of all things and lover of all people,
it is our greatest joy to be united in the community of your people, stretching throughout the generations and all around the world you love.
In every age you have called women and men to serve you and in serving to reflect your truth and glory. We give thanks for Peter and Paul, for Martha and Mary, for Columba and Margaret and Cuthbert, for all the saints whose lives reflected Christ and who confronted their societies with the claims of the gospel.
As we remember the saints, so we are conscious that we sometimes lack their faithfulness, their courage, their commitment. Forgive us our half-heartedness and give us courage that we may be your saints in our own time, faithfully following Jesus, no matter the cost.
People of God, know that you are forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with others. Amen
Readings – Isaiah 51: 1-3
Matthew 5: 1-12
Hymn 662 – Jesus thou joy of loving hearts (vv 1,5)
Faithful God, we thank you for the example of all the saints. Like them may we follow in Your footsteps, with courage and hope, determined to do Your work and live our lives for You. Thank you for meeting with us here in communion and the reminder that Your salvation lasts forever; Your righteousness will never fail. Amen.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, the quarry from which you were dug. So writes the prophet Isaiah. Look to the past, to your heritage, to the things that have made you the person you are today. I was reminded of that when I attended an exhibition in Yetholm last week about life in the Kale and the Beaumont and the College Valleys. Activities and people from the past, but they grounded the present.
Today is All Saints Day, and so as a Church we are encouraged to look at our heritage and what makes us the Church today. As a church, we are Reformed and always reforming. Our heads are not stuck looking behind us, but rather we look ahead. However, we always learn from the past, and as Christians we can be inspired by so many of those who went before us, the saints. Some are well known: disciples and apostles – the Andrews, Peters, Lydias. Others are the Mary Slessors or Eric Liddells, whose stories inspired, well certainly my adolescence. There are also many anonymous people who down the centuries lived out faithfully the Kingdom values, while I am sure all of us can think of people who deeply touched our lives with their love and insights and values and influenced who we are today.
Today is a day to remember the saints, and so it is appropriate to have communion today. At communion I always feel a sense of connectedness: a connectedness with our Lord Jesus, as we reflect on his sacrifice on the cross, but also a connectedness with the church past and present, as we ‘join with the whole company of heaven to sing the angel song’. I feel connected with those who have gone before, with the saints. But I also feel connected with the church worldwide, worshipping today in big cathedrals or under trees in the African Bush, worshipping in so many different ways, with those in the church in Nice, where a terrorist killed three people this week. There is a modern church in Palestine which has its walls covered with pictures of the saints with haloes, but the part I liked was of 20th century saints in 20th century clothes, but there was one without a halo, and that was of Desmond Tutu, and he didn’t have a halo because he was still alive. He would never claim to be saintly, but the light shines wonderfully through him;
The wonderful thing about the saints is that they are not perfect: they are a mix of good and not so good like us. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that every saint has a past, and every sinner a future. The saints are ordinary people. As one hymn has it, ‘The saints of God are down our street…They serve at check-outs, empty bins, they teach and make and mend… to voiceless folk they lend an ear and immigrants befriend’. And they invite us to make a response.
The spotlight on All Saints Day is not only on the heroes of the past, but also on us today, as we live out the Kingdom values, as seen in the Beatitudes, which is sometimes called the manifesto of sainthood. The saints, for all their understated readiness, let God’s power shine through them. How is God calling us to do the same?
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
Loving God we thank you for the many blessings you give us. Help us in turn to give back a token of your love for us in the giving of our time, our efforts and also in our offering, as we seek to shine forth your love.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” We pray for those who find themselves on the margins of society and the economy, for all struggling to make ends meet, especially at this difficult time.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” We pray for people and communities facing famine and drought, as well as the pandemic. Give strength to agencies like Christian Aid dedicated to empowering others. Move us to share what we have with those who have so much less.
Christ, you blessed the peacemakers. We pray for those who work for peace and reconciliation in a divided world. We pray for areas of tension and remember Nigeria. We also commit before you the people of the United States as they elect a new president.
Jesus, you blessed those who weep. We pray for those around the world and in our community who are dying, and for those who weep for their loved ones who have died. We name in silence those on our hearts this day, including thanking you for the saints, those who have gone before us. Amen
Hymn 19 – Ye Gates
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.
Come and drink of the love of God, which has been poured out for each of us; Come and taste the bread – the bread which never spoils, which never grows mouldy. Come and share, come and experience, come and see.
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)
We are the friends of Jesus today. He invites us to break bread together, to remember him and to pray that God’s Kingdom will come.
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, beyond tradition and though the power of empire.
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.
Help us to be mirrors of your glory, to be the people that you need us to be so that we can shine as beacons of hope and love in your world. Transforming God, we thank you that your Holy Spirit meets with us and we pray that she will take these human-made gifts and symbols: Wheat harvested, baked and prepared; Grapes picked, trodden and transformed and make them for us your body broken and shared and your blood spilt and poured out and offered.
For all that we are offered here, we thank God, as we gather at our own tables, as we hear again the story, and as we consider the signs of Jesus’s love for us: the cross a sign of Jesus’ arm stretched out in love His empty tomb a declaration that God’s love is greater than human power and stronger than death.
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 739 – The Church’s one foundation (vv1,4)
In solidarity with the saints
We have shared this meal
In confidence with the faithful
We have gathered our prayers
In faithfulness with those whom you love
You have made your presence known and we have been fed
And may the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love, now and forevermore. Amen.
The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost (the last of the Pentecost Sundays!)
Call to Worship
The wisdom of God calls to us, from the heights, along the paths, and at the crossroads. Come into God’s presence to worship, sing, and pray.
From our scattered places we come. Let us worship God
Hymn 465 – Be thou my vision
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God, gracious and loving, holy and eternal,Your love is steadfast, your presence ever near,yet you come to us in surprising ways and unexpected places.Your love is older than time and as fresh as the morning dew.Your patience is unending, your faithfulness to us unmatched.Your name has come to us through the centuries,yet you can always do a new thing to draw us back to you.God, Creator, Christ and Spirit,we offer you our prayers and praise this dayIn humble expectation,hoping you will surprise us here and refresh our readiness to serve you.
God, gracious and merciful, holy and healing,
You know our hearts, the times we have truly loved one another and those times when we merely tolerated each other.
You know our minds, the times we have truly focused on you and the times when we pursued our own purposes.
You know our stories, the times we have followed you faithfully and the times we went our own way.
Forgive our wavering discipleship and half-hearted service,
and renew our commitment to live lives marked by your grace.
People of God, we are forgiven people, set free from our past failures to make a fresh start this day and every day. The Holy Spirit empowers us to love God and to love others. Thanks be to God for such everlasting mercy and grace!
Readings: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8
Matthew 22: 34-46
Hymn 532 – Lord, you have come to the seashore
Gracious God, at the start of this new week, recognising your trust in us, help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. Make us always more ready to please you as we seek to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Amen.
I went to Galloway last weekend on a short break, and one of the places I visited was Threave Gardens. I don’t know if anyone has been there. The gardens are beautiful, especially with the autumn colours, and in the centre of the gardens is the old house. The property was left to the National Trust in the 50s, as the owner had no family. They were going to pull the house down, as Scots Baronial was out of fashion at the time, but instead they used it as a training school for young gardeners. It was a lovely legacy, and now the gardens can be enjoyed by so many people.
What legacy do we leave? When we look at the Bible there are so many figures who, you could say, left their legacy, for good or occasionally for not so good (the Jezebels or Pilates come to mind). But certainly, the apostle Paul left a gigantic legacy, as the church came to birth. Paul is a very complex character. He was very single-minded, tireless in his travels, sometimes abrasive, certainly controversial, but his letters to the various churches have shaped the theology and much of the practice of the Church. Many theologians including the Reformers like Luther and Calvin and Knox, looked to Paul and his writings. In some countries of the world, like Germany, the United States and New Zealand, today is called Reformation Sunday, as it was the end of October that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, which is seen as the start of the Reformation.
Today we read from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, which is actually the earliest writing in the New Testament, written before any of the Gospels, and one thing which stands out is that Paul suffered for the Gospel. He was a Roman citizen, had status, but despite that, he had been beaten and thrown into jail. He knew what suffering was and was prepared to accept it for the sake of spreading the Gospel message. But the other thing which stands out in this passage goes against the more confrontational image we often have of Paul, for here we are told he was gentle with the people, like a mother nursing her children. It is very feminine language, very caring, very relational. Paul realised that in order to tell people the Good news of Jesus Christ, he had to draw alongside them and relate to them. He could preach all he wanted to on a Sunday or whenever, but it was how he lived his life alongside them through the week that would convince them.
We find this in the Gospel reading, where Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment was. He answered immediately – to love the lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, With all your being, 100%. But then follows it with ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. In other words, it is about how we relate to God and how we relate to one another. And that is hard. Some people can be very difficult to like or can rub us up the wrong way – but that person is made in the image of God too, so we have to love them. Paul gave of himself for the Gospel, to the point of being beaten and thrown in jail. We too are called to give of ourselves by loving God – and, by extension, loving those around. Some call this radical empathy, which means working to create a good and caring and inclusive society, conscious for the care of all, and caring for our world. It calls us to challenge situations and structures which contribute to injustice and cause pain.
What will our legacy be? It is always a big question. But to me, love for God and others is central, and all else follows from that.
Hymn 718 – We cannot measure how you heal
Prayers of Dedication, Thanksgiving and Intercession
Loving God, you give to us beyond measure, you give to us without counting the cost. Accept whatever giving we can offer and use it that life may flourish and your Kingdom community come.
Faithful God and Holy Friend,
We do not have enough words to thank you for all you have given us and the love you share with us in Christ Jesus.
In the silence of this time, help us review the week just past, remembering the ways we encountered you—in the beauty of creation, the support of friends, the wisdom of books, the joy of music, the energy of exercise, through study and prayer.
(A time of silence is kept.)
Be with us as the months of pandemic continue. Give us patience to keep each other safe and make us attentive to the needs of those around us. In silence we name before you those finding these days especially difficult.
(A time of silence is kept.)
God of justice and leadership, We pray for our country and all other nations facing immense challenges with COVID-19. Guide decision makers and keep the hearts of those with resources open to those who do not have enough.
We pray for places where justice is lacking, where violence threatens, or leaders are untrustworthy. Strengthen voices of wisdom and acts of courageous compassion to tend the needs of people most at risk.
We pray for those who are feeling lonely or isolated. Comfort them with Your presence. Help us to create community, safe spaces of comfort in these difficult times.
We pray for those who are anxious and suffering from mental health issues. God, comfort them with Your peace. May they hear words of calm and not chaos. May they hear words of gentleness and not confusion. We pray for those who mourn. God, comfort them with Your love. May memories comfort and console. (A time of silence is kept.)
God of grace and guidance,
You call us to be your hands and feet, your voice and comfort in the world, following the example of Jesus. Equip us to respond to the needs around us in his name and make us bold to get started right here and right now.
And in this moment of quiet, we bring to You our own concerns and prayers…
Hymn 130 – Ye servants of God
Go now – back to your home, back to family, friends, and colleagues.
Take God’s spirit with you and share the word you heard God speak to you today.
May the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer be with you, be with those you love and those whom we are called to love, now and forevermore. Amen
The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost (we are steadily getting through the Pentecost Sundays!)
Call to Worship
Blessed be God, who creates out of nothing,
shapes beauty out of chaos and breathes life in to dust.
Blessed be God, who gives each person a purpose,
Calling the young for their energy
And the old for their wisdom; affirming forgotten worth, identifying hidden potential, redeeming deep regrets. Blessed be God forever.
Hymn 97 – O God, you search me and you know me
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Holy God, the mystery of your presence stretches far beyond us, yet we know you draw near to us in Christ, walking beside us, guiding us with wisdom, loving us with boundless grace. Your Spirit encourages us as we follow Christ and gives us the energy and insight we need to serve you. Holy God, we are glad to gather in your presence, to be embraced by your mystery and your mercy.
For we confess we do need your mercy. We claim to be your people, but we forget to love as you do. We claim to seek your guidance, but we often turn from your ways. We ask for your forgiveness, but we fail to forgive as you forgive. We claim to listen for your Word, but we ignore your wisdom. Hear us as, in this silence, we offer you our personal confessions:
(A time of silence is kept.)
Forgive us, God of mystery and mercy, amend who we are and direct who you would have us be for the sake of Christ, our Saviour and Friend. Friends, the good news never gets old. God knows us and loves us. We are forgiven, loved and set free to start again. Thanks be to God!
Reading – Matthew 22: 15-22
Hymn 489 – Come down, O Love Divine
Gracious God, you have called and chosen us to spread the Good News of your son to the world. As we go out to another week help us to give the message of Faith, Love and Hope to all we meet, at home, at work, in our leisure time and in our community. Amen
I mentioned a few months ago about how I had started over the lockdown period to collect stamps again. But I have never really collected coins or banknotes, though some people do. But our Gospel reading this morning revolves round a coin, and it made me look at some of the coins I still have from my travels. Of course, in Britain we have the Queen’s head on our coins and notes, and I have a couple of Jordanian coins, bearing King Abdullah’s head. But Israeli or Egyptian coins and most of my Euro coins have only symbols.
The coin in our reading this morning was probably a denarius, and it bore the image of Caesar on it. What’s more, it would have an inscription ‘Caesar, son of the Divine Augustus’. Both image and inscription would be anathema to the Jews. Remember the 2nd commandment – Don’t make graven images. A graven image was a sign of idolatry. But also, the coin was a reminder that they were under occupation, and this coin was imposed by the Romans.
Jesus had become a thorn in the side of various groups in Palestine. His message appealed to the people, but undermined their authority. They wanted rid of him, and the coin gave them the perfect way to trap him, and so there was an unholy alliance of Pharisees, who were really quite radical and anti-Roman, and Herodians, who were very conservative and sought to accommodate Rome.
They held up the coin and asked ‘Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar or not?’. If Jesus answered Yes, pay the tax, then the crowd would be annoyed. The Pharisees would condemn him as supporting Rome. But if he said No, don’t pay the tax, the Herodians would brand him as a tax rebel and troublemaker. They had caught him, or so they thought..!
I admire Jesus’ quick thinking. He asked for the coin, asked whose head was on it and said ‘Pay unto Caesar, the things which belong to Caesar, but render unto God, the things that belong to God’. And his accusers were silent.
All life belongs to God, and so we pay our tribute to God, in the ways of in which we live our lives, in our time and talents, in our creativity and morality, our kindness and in our whole being.
The coin bore Caesar’s image, and so belonged to him. But here we are reminded that we are made in the image of God. We bear God’s image and belong to God. What’s more, through baptism we bear the name of Christ. That’s something to remember, for as Christ’s followers, we represent him on earth, whether we be at home or at work or at leisure – we bear the image of God and should let nothing tarnish it.
When we are tempted to compromise our values – stop and remember we are made in God’s image and belong to Christ.
When we are tested and are tempted to do wrong things. Stop and remember we bear God’s image and belong to Christ, for the Caesars of this world are ever keen to rule our lives, but we belong to God.
As we carry on through this difficult time, let us be reassured. We belong to God; God’s stamp is on us, and because of that we are never alone.
Hymn 769 – holy, holy, holy (Argentinian Sactus)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of abundance, we bring what we have to share, the fruit of our lives, a portion of your goodness to us. Bless our gifts and our lives, so that generosity and justice will join hands and your goodness will be shared with those in need.
God of our hearts and our hopes,
As the season continues to change and harvests are gathered, we thank you for the beauty around us,
for brilliant colours, birds flying south, the crackle of fallen leaves, and the rhythms of this time of year.
We are grateful for your steadfast love amid so much that changes.
This autumn, we also face unpredictable changes as the pandemic continues. Draw close to those who find the uncertainty unsettling and help us preserve our connection to you and to each other.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of our imaginations and insights,
We thank you for all the ways you inspire human minds to create things which improve the lives of your people.
We are grateful for all the medical efforts taken to manage COVID-19, and for the scientists testing vaccines. Give them perseverance and success.
Guide politicians and policy makers so that breakthroughs and resources are shared with the most vulnerable.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of neighbours and neighbourhoods,
We praise you for everyone working to build and maintain healthy communities: for teachers and healthcare workers, construction workers, farmers and labourers. So many have had their workplaces changed and their livelihoods threatened by the pandemic. Give them perseverance and encouragement.
Make us good neighbours to all who serve our community and remind us to say thank you.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of comfort and compassion,
We pray for all those who are struggling this autumn, whatever the reason.
We remember before you those facing illness or waiting for treatment…
those who have lost income and worry about winter expenses and shelter…
those who are grieving the loss of someone close…
and those whose mental health is under pressure these days…
Awaken your people around the world to attend to the needs of those at risk in our communities so that they will know your comfort and compassion
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Hymn 476 – Mine eyes have seen the glory
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, and the Blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love, wherever they may be, now and forevermore, Amen
The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
We are the eyes of Christ
Seeing as Christ sees
We are the lips of Christ
Speaking with love
We are the hands of Christ
Serving with love
Hymn 251 – I the Lord of sea and sky
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Generous and forgiving God ,you are the first and the last, the giver of all good things .Your glory is endless; your power, incomparable. Your love stretches wider than the universe, your mercy reaches beyond the heights of heaven. We gather with hearts thankful for the abundance of your creation to worship and adore you. Inspire us by this time of worship, that our hearts overflow with praise each and every day. May our lives reflect our gratitude to you in the ways we share your abundant love in Jesus’ name.
Let us confess our sins before God. Generous and loving God, we confess that in a world where many do not have enough, we enjoy more than we need. In a world where many live in fear, we take peace for granted. In a world where many have lost hope, we become indifferent to despair and grumble about small things. Forgive us, merciful God, and transform our lives to shine with the generosity, peace and hope you offer us in Christ Jesus.
Friends, while it is true we have all sinned, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through God’s love in Jesus Christ. To all who humbly seek the mercy of God I say, in Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.
Readings – Philippians 4: 1-9
Matthew 5: 38-48
Hymn 336 – Christ is our light
Weekly Prayer Faithful God, as we move into the coming week to live and work for the Gospel, help us to concentrate our thoughts on whatever is true, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Help us to travel onwards with our eyes fixed on Jesus willing to go the extra mile, and may we know your peace with us. Amen.
At the General Assembly last week, the Youth moderator gave her report, and she talked about how she had travelled to Zambia to visit one of the projects being supported by the Guild. It is a project, supporting young mothers in a particularly poor area of the capital, Lusaka, a shanty town with makeshift roads and few amenities. But the youth moderator spoke of how, within a few minutes of her arrival, she found herself dancing. The young mothers had immediately burst into song, drums were beating and everyone started to dance. I can well imagine it. They would be wearing colourful chitenge cloth around them, tying their babies to their backs, so the babies would be dancing as well! These are young women who had probably left school early, who would struggle to get by, and yet who put their troubles aside and exude the joy of being a Christian in song and in movement. And who would have been given much hope through the Guild’s support.
Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice. Paul had a soft spot for this church, and there is a warmth of feeling in his words. I visited the site of Philippi some years ago- it is now just ruins, its glory faded. But nearby is a chapel by a river, marking the place where Lydia was baptised along with her household. She was a dealer in the expensive purple dye and a prominent member of the early church. But in the passage this morning we read of two other women. There was obviously a disagreement between them, which needed to be resolved. They held different views, but they had to come together for the good of the church. But the thing that strikes me is that they had leadership positions in the church and had been co-workers with Paul. This was a church where women were very active.
Today is Guild Sunday, and we remember the work of the Guild in the life of the church. Nowadays the Guild is not only for women, but also men, and I am always tremendously impressed by energy and devotion of the Guild. In the rallies and meetings there is a real sense of joy, as they enjoy fellowship with one another and with God, but also it is an organisation which is very much on the move and one which is committed to showing God’s love in action. They choose 6 projects for a 3 year period and raise phenomenal sums of money. Projects like the young mothers in Zambia or street children in India – or nearer to home, tackling loneliness with CrossReach or supporting chaplains to sailors.
The Guild have had their theme of ‘One Journey, many roads’, and this year they are looking in particular at the ‘Extra Mile’. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount encouraged his followers to go the extra mile. Rome occupied Palestine at the time of Jesus, and Roman soldiers could pressgang someone to carry their load, but only for a mile. Jesus is saying to go beyond that and carry it for an extra mile. Go beyond what is required, in other words. It is all part of Christ’s upside-down world.
The Guild certainly seek to go the extra mile, doing more than expected. As followers of Christ, all of us have to surprise the world by the joy in our souls, but also by exceeding expectations; by being a voice to the voiceless, by being a companion on the road, by showing the love of Jesus Christ -in the words of the Guild motto, ‘whose we are and whom we serve’.
Taize Chant – In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, we present our gifts to you as tokens of our thanksgiving for all we have received from your hand. Bless these gifts and multiply them, just as Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fishes to bless others. Use our gifts and our energy to share your love in our community and around your world, for the sake of Christ our Lord.
Gracious Father, we give thanks for all those who have walked that extra mile for us over our lifetime – the nurturing when we were young, the extra time taken with us when we were learning new skills, the kind word and helping hand when we were struggling with life’s problems. We ask for Your help and guidance that we too can walk an extra mile for others in the loving and generous spirit of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Father God, we think about Your Church here in Scotland. This is a time of radical change and we ask for Your guidance for those at local, presbytery and national level - giving them wisdom as they seek to discern Your will. May we all be willing to support, change and move forward to meet the needs of today.
Be with young people in every country in the world. Guide them in their work and studies. Let them use their gifts and talents and ideas to Your glory. Give guidance to all who work with young people, whatever their age. Give them wisdom to know what each child needs.
We pray for our country as new restrictions come into effect and pray that all may work together to combat this virus. Help us to encourage one another. We pray for our world, remembering the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where tensions are high. We also pray for the United States as the election nears.
Hymn 449 – Rejoice the Lord is King
As we travel the road of life, lead us, Heavenly Father. As we journey the path of faith, uphold us, Christ the Son. As we meet all joys and sorrows, fill us Holy Spirit. Be with us now and always Bless us, three in one. Amen
The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together in this new month of October and on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost.
The podcast of this service can be accessed on the website.
This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
For God’s love endures forever
Hymn 200 – Christ is made the sure foundation (vv1,2)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
As the seasons change, we see that you are still at work in the world, transforming hearts and situations.
We praise you for all you do to repair injustice,
bringing peace to places of hostility, working for goodness to prevail among neighbours and nations.
You have shown us the true face of power in Jesus Christ, reaching out with healing and hope to touch desperate lives.
Let us see the face of Christ in this time of worship,
and fill us with renewed energy and insight this autumn,
so that we can join in your work to bring justice and joy into the world you love,
in Jesus’ name.
Lord of love, today we confess our sin of indifference.
Too often we turn away so we don’t have to see pain, suffering or injustice,
even when the evidence is right before our eyes.
We don’t like to feel uncomfortable.
We don’t want to feel responsible.
In your great mercy, forgive us, Lord.
Teach us a new way to live.
Give us courage to love others as you love us,
and to respond to the cries of others with the humility we have witnessed in Jesus.
The prophet Micah declared that God requires of us these three things: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
To all who humbly seek reconciliation with God and neighbour, God offers forgiveness and peace. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Readings – Philippians 3:4b-13
Matthew 21: 33-46
Hymn SGP 72 – Lord, Jesus Christ, you have come to us (1,4)
Almighty God and loving heavenly Father, we pray for our Church; that Christ may be the cornerstone of all that we do in his name. May we, his living church be the solid blocks of a spiritual community which continues to hold fast in the knowledge of Christ and the power of his resurrection in an ever-secular world. Amen
It was a triathlon race. The participants had been swimming, cycling and now it was the running. The person in front had won, and the one in 2nd place was clear of his rival – but he seemed to take a wrong turning, allowing his rival the opportunity to win silver. But his rival stopped before the line to allow the one who had taken the wrong turning to cross ahead of him. It was only fair, he said. It happened just a couple of weeks ago, and it was a marvellous example of sportsmanship. The fact that it hit the headlines shows how unusual it was.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians uses the image of a race, and how he strains, using all his energy, to attain the prize, which is to live in Christ. There is a real sense of determination and single-mindedness here, as Paul discards all the ‘baggage’ that he carries, in order to achieve his goal.
Some of that determination is needed in the Church at this time. The General Assembly will have met this weekend. Usually this is a weeklong meeting in Edinburgh, but this year it is one and a half days online. But as you may have seen in some of the newspapers, the Kirk has to make some difficult decisions, especially since income has fallen during this lockdown period. There will be pressure on the number of buildings we have, and also presbyteries will have to assess the number of ministries there will be. It is not necessarily negative, but it is the church having to do things differently, and this lockdown period has brought it to the fore.
But we also need to have that determination to pursue the things of the Kingdom, the values of peace and justice in a world which is too often violent. This week a policeman, nearing retirement and involved in the community, was shot dead in a police station. Meanwhile there was the presidential debate in America, which did nothing to reassure its citizens or to calm the violence which has affected so many American cities recently.
The parable in our Gospel reading today is a violent one. A landowner had a vineyard and does everything possible for it to yield good crops. He is going away, so he rents it out. But when he sends his servants to collect what is due to him, they are not received well. In fact, the opposite. They are abused and beaten up. The owner sends more, but they are even killed. So the owner sends his son and heir. After what happened to the servants, we may be surprised at this, but the owner felt they would honour his son – but they kill him too.
Of course, bells are ringing, for the setting of the parable is during Holy Week and we know that Jesus will himself be killed the son of God, the owner of the vineyard. We also have a sneaking suspicion of our responsibility in this, for we have been poor stewards of the vineyard, of God’s good earth.
But at the end of the parable, Jesus asks the crowd is what should the owner do to those tenant farmers? They reply that the tenants be killed. Meet violence with violence in other words. But what would Jesus do? Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey of peace, Jesus would comfort the mourning and heal the brokenness of humanity that he saw all around him and confront the injustices. And as those baptised into the Kingdom, we are called to do the same, as we strain towards the goal. We are called to agents of healing and love in the brokenness of our world – a world broken by racism, by poor stewardship of earth, by hatred and violence. We look to Jesus and see how he lived, and we follow his example.
Hymn 231 – For the fruits of all creation (1,2)
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Generous God all we have has come from you and so we give just a little back: our money, but also our time, our talents, our very lives. We ask you to bless both the gift and giver through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Loving Lord, we are living in strange and uncertain times. It feels as if everything we were sure of now fills us with fear and doubt. Yet throughout it all you remain constant, the great unchangeable I AM.
Still there is much in our world that we would want to pray for.
We pray for those working on the frontline, especially in our NHS and those working towards a cure and a vaccine for Covid 19.
We remember all those people and professions who previously we may have taken for granted. We pray that this new-found respect continues even as our lives return to some normality. We continue to think of our shopworkers, delivery drivers and refuse collectors and many, many more.
We bring before you those areas of the world which have largely disappeared from our screens, replaced by news closer to home: continued fighting in Syria and Yemen and Libya; refugees and asylum seekers who have been particularly affected by the pandemic; the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel.
We pray for the Church throughout the world, and especially the Church of Scotland after its General Assembly. Grant her wisdom and steadfastness at this difficult time.
We pray for those who usually sit next to us, in front of us and behind us. Although distanced, may we feel each other’s presence in our lives.
We spend a moment in silence, recalling those we know who particularly need our prayers at this time ...
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers, Amen
Hymn 137 – All things bright and beautiful (1,4)
The blessing of God who speaks our name
The blessing of God who sits at our table
The blessing of God who knows us
Be with you and be with all whom you love this day, this week
And forever. Amen