Call to Worship
O God, you summon the day to dawn:
You teach the morning to waken the earth.
Your love and justice shall last forever,
fresh as the morning, sure as the sunrise.
Hymn 129 – The Lord is King
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of creation, out of chaos, you created calm and shaped harmony from strife; You brought order and balance and beauty and life. Each element, considered: the height of tree, the shape of leaf, each shade of green; the flight of geese, the style of wing, and beak. There is a pattern and a loveliness, a detailed eye behind the sum of your design. Your finger print is on creation around us. WE praise you and adore you.
God of compassion, into our chaos, be our place of peace, shaping shambles into calm: bring order and balance and blessing and balm. For each lapse, forgive us: the heat of anger, the thoughtless word, each thoughtless deed; the need for power, the lack of grace, our greed. Silence
In you, we find mercy, and a kindliness, a heart inclined towards love of humankind. We pray we may live out our lives as your people, showing that kindliness and forgiveness and peace to others.
Readings – Acts 16:9-15;
Hymn 180 – Give thanks with a grateful heart
O God, your Word brings light to your people now, just as it did long ago. Fill us with your Spirit as we listen for your Word. Open our minds and hearts to receive light to guide us and truth to change us
in the name of Christ, Amen
The General Assembly 2022 has begun; a new Moderator, Iain Greenshields, welcomed. It is a hybrid Assembly, with some of the commissioners meeting in person in Edinburgh, but others will be following the proceedings online. It comes at a time of great change for the Church, with bigger presbyteries coming into being. Our own Jedburgh Presbytery will join Duns and Melrose and Peebles and Lothian to form Lothian & Borders Presbytery. Meanwhile, we have had to look at a future with fewer ministers and see how best to develop mission more effectively in each area, which will lead to quite radical changes. The Assembly
Could be contentious, but certainly one word that will be used a lot is ‘mission’.
Paul was in the business of mission. He was incredibly energetic and founded congregations all over Asia Minor. In Acts 16 we read how Paul was on a missionary tour. It seemed like a nice tour, because Paul and his companions have been going round all of the churches that he has established previously and encouraging them along the way. There may have been a few issues to sort out, but it is generally a helpful, supportive tour. They had come towards the end of this tour and then something strange happens. In every direction Paul turns, he gets the sense that it’s not the right direction to turn. They try to go to Bythynia but they get the sense the Spirit says, ‘No’. This direction - ‘No.’ That direction - ‘No.’ ‘No.’ ‘No.’ I can just imagine Paul turning round to his companions saying, ‘We’ve been on this tour, which has been great and wonderful, but what are we going to do now? One night, as they grapple with that question, Paul has a vision, of a man from Macedonia who says, ‘Come over to us, and help us.’ Paul reacted and sailed the relatively short distance across to Neapolis. The gospel had come to Europe!
I visited Neapolis some years ago, and nearby are the ruins of Philippi. But in the 1st century Philippi was a thriving settlement, a place where Roman soldiers were given plots of land when they retired. It was at Philippi, as far as we know, that Paul made his first convert in Europe – and that was Lydia. Lydia seemed a remarkable woman. She was a businesswoman, dealing in the very lucrative trade of purple. Only the wealthy could afford to wear purple. Lydia must have been well-off; she also ran a household and seems to have been a decision maker. She heard Paul’s message about Jesus, and she decided for Christ and was baptised there and then with her household. I am not sure what choice the household had in it. And the first thing Lydia did was to offer hospitality, and that would have been interesting – two rather strong personalities. We know that the church quickly became rooted in Philippi, as Paul would write to his letter to the Philippians.
The great news today is that the same Spirit that called Paul to Macedonia, that led him to Philippi that day; the same Spirit that led Lydia to open her heart to respond to his message and welcome and build up relationships - the Spirit that was at work then, is at work now in our towns and communities, calling us to ‘Come over here and help!’ So, we are called to respond to the needs in our community; respond to those terrified of the bills they will have to pay; respond to those who can’t afford meals and rely on foodbanks; respond to the situation in Ukraine and the situation in Zimbabwe we mentioned last week. Respond to those seeking a new way of living. ‘Come over and help us’, Paul heard the Macedonian in the vision say; as a church we still have a mission to reach out with the love of God.
Hymn 252 – As a fire is meant for burning
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
For the peace that you give us, we thank you. For the love that you bring us, we bless you. For the gifts that you offer us, we praise you. Bringer of peace, and love, and blessing may the gifts we offer bring peace where there is no peace, and love, where love is sorely lacking. May they be a source of blessing and may they help to build your beloved community and kingdom.
Lord, our God,
The earth and all its peoples belong to you.
As we come before you in prayer,
we are painfully aware that the earth itself is at risk,
from the ways your people live on it,
and the conflicts we provoke among each other.
We seek your healing and hope this day,
for the earth and all its creatures,
and for your people of every nation.
We pray for peace with justice to emerge in war torn lands, and in every place of conflict where power struggles put innocents at risk.
We name before you the people and places on our hearts today: Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. We also think of all people whose livelihood is affected by climate change and by the rising cost of living.
Bless with your wisdom all in authority, that they may govern for the good of their people.
We pray for the renewal of your creation
and for the protection of species at risk.
By your Spirit, teach us to change our ways when they are harmful to the earth, and inspire our ingenuity to find solutions to problems that seem so vast.
God of healing and hope,
We pray for those who know sickness or pain,
for all who live in grief, loneliness or anxiety,
and all who find these uncertain times overwhelming in any way. In silence, we remember before you those for whom we have special concern this day:
By your Spirit, surround each one with strength and love, and equip us to offer support for those whose lives are woven into ours.
God of mercy, Hear our cry. Amen
Hymn 710 – I have a dream
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, and may the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, be with you this day and even forevermore. Amen