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Call to Worship
We are ambassadors for Christ
Fill is with your love
We are ambassadors for Christ
Fill us with your joy
We are ambassadors for Christ
Fill us with your peace
Hymn 159 – Lord for the years
Almighty God, you spoke and the world came into being, putting chaos and darkness to flight. You have continued to speak through all the centuries, offering a lamp for our path and a faith to live by. We thank you for the ways you speak to us, stirring our imagination, kindling and nurturing our faith, confronting and questioning, yet also renewing and uplifting. Ever open our minds to what you would say to us and help us to listen.
Merciful God, we are aware of all that you offer us and we see ourselves as we are: a mixture - of hope and despair, - of joy and sadness, - of love and hatred, - of self-giving and self-seeking. Forgive us when we have neglected your gift of creation. Forgive us when we have gone astray and not let your love flourish within us. Forgive us when we have given into temptation rather than wrestling with it. Forgive us for when we avoid difficult issues or forget to love our enemies. Forgive us when we fail to listen for your word to us. Forgive us and restore us to be the people you want us to be.
Hear and believe the Good News: anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone, the new life has come. Know that you are forgiven and so, in Christ, forgive one another.
Readings – Isaiah 55: 1-13 (pg 742)
Luke 10: 1-12 (pg 1041)
Hymn 97- O God, you search me and you know me
Merciful Lord, as we begin this season of Lent, help us to aim high as we seek to renew the discipline of our discipleship. Send us out with joy, and lead us as your people, like the disciples of old, to share your peace with all we meet. Amen
For our bible readings we usually follow the lectionary, but through this season of Lent we are going to look at the 5 marks of Mission. These have been discussed in the ecumenical setting, in various denominations, as an attempt to define what mission is all about in the 21st century. The 5 marks are evangelism, discipleship, pastoral care, social justice and care of creation. Or, as some churches abbreviate them: Tell, teach, tend, transform and treasure. As Church of Scotland moves forward, we are encouraged to use these 5 marks as we look at how best to be the Church where we are.
The first mark is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, to tell, to gossip the Gospel. But if we are called to tell we need to know what to talk about. We need to know the Word of God and, as Paul says in Colossians, let the Word dwell in us richly. Thus we are able to talk from experience we talk about Christ as a friend.
For many centuries that Word was in Latin, and only a few could understand it. That’s why stained glass developed, so people could look at the bible stories in picture form. But that changed in the build up to the reformation., when Luther translated the bible into the vernacular, in his case, into German, and with the development of the printing press, it was able to be widely distributed. Influenced by Luther, William Tynedale translated the New Testament into English, but if you had a copy in your possession, you would likely be tortured or even killed and copies would be burned. But Tynedale famously wanted a simple ploughboy to know Scriptures better than the priests and for everyone to have the bible at their fingertips. He used easy-to-remember phrases that rolled off the tongue. It is estimated that 70% or more of the King James Bible, printed 75 years later, was taken from Tynedale. Phrases like ‘the writing on the wall, salt of the earth, thorn in the flesh, fight the good fight, the blind leading the blind, the powers-that-be’ are all from Tynedale and have enriched our language. Tynedale was caught and burned at the stake and most copies of his bibles were burned, but the power-that-be changed their mind, and soon there would be a Bible in the vernacular in every parish and people would be able to read it for themselves and treasure it.
It is sad that today so few people read the bible and know the stories, given that so many fought and died for the chance to read scripture in their own tongue. We all have our different approaches to the Bible and its interpretation, but it is a rich treasure house of 66 books and can be our tool to share the good news.
For this first mark of mission reminds us that what we are about is sharing Good News. In a world accustomed to bad news, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by all the negatives. Ukraine, earthquake, strikes, Covid, falling numbers at church. But the Gospel means Good news, and that is always something to share – by word and by action. In Isaiah we read that instead of the thornbush there will grow a pine and instead of the briars myrtle, and there is a sense of joy as the prophet invites the thirsty to come and drink and those without money, the poorest, the marginalised, to come and experience the good things of life, for God is the giver of life and wants us to live it to the fullest.
In Luke, the disciples were sent out, 72 of them, and their task was to proclaim the Kingdom – the place where God’s reign is experienced, where earth becomes a little more like heaven, where people are affirmed and welcomed, where God’s justice takes root and love and peace, fairness and kindness flourish. They go out unsure and come back brimming with excitement. We are more reluctant to give the hard sell, more embarrassed to share our faith, because we live in a country where Christianity has become a minority and often viewed as somehow outmoded, but our first mark of mission is to proclaim the Kingdom, and we do that as we can.
Maybe that means finding other and creative ways to get the Kingdom message across, which may mean going out of our comfort zones. But most of all, living it out in our lives.
As a church we are conscious of falling numbers and ageing congregations. Yet there is so much good going on in the church, and we need to share it. The Church of Scotland website or Life & Work magazine are full of stories about what is happening. It is good to share what is good in our congregation with our friends elsewhere and to learn from them. But most of all, let Christ be in our hearts and inspire us to live out the kingdom values in our lives.
Hymn 363- We have a Gospel to proclaim
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
We offer to you ourselves and all that we have. We dedicate these gifts of money as a token of the dedication of our lives. Receive what we offer and all that we have, and bless us in your service
We pray for places of pain and danger in our world, places where the dominion of death seems to reign. We remember the people of Turkey and Syria dealing with the ground moving beneath their feet, causing destruction and misery and finding ways to care for the survivors. Bless those digging, clearing, feeding and nursing. Give wisdom to those who govern and those who investigate why so many homes were built without real care.
We remember the people of Ukraine, living with war, destruction, and danger, yet also with hope, determination and dedication. We thank You for audacious leadership, for alliances against aggression and for those who seek peace, even in the midst of war.
We pray too, Loving God, for our own nation -that those who can’t afford to heat their homes will find relief, that those who feel they have no option but to strike find productive ways to negotiate. We pray for those in government in Edinburgh and in London that you may guide them, especially as the Scottish Government seek to appoint a new First minister.
In this joyful season of Lent we pray for the Church; that we might be bold in proclaiming your kingdom ; that ways will be found to live in peace and unity with justice and loving obedience to Your call. May we delight in being your people.
We bring before you all in need of your help -the sick and the anxious, those having operations, families who worry. The bereaved.
Hymn 249 – We have heard a joyful sound!
Go and be bold in proclaiming the Gospel, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen