Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
We open our hearts to receive God’s welcome
We open our hands to greet one another.
We open our lives to God’s invitation
To live in love and freedom.
Let us worship God
With heart and soul and mind
Hymn 645 – I am not ashamed to own my Lord
we enter this holy space in awe of all that you are
and all that we have yet to discover of you.
We bow humbly before you and acknowledge our gratitude to you for the life we are given.
You have created a universe for us to explore and to care for, a community to be part of
and an unconditional love revealed in your son, Jesus.
In this special season of Lent, we are reminded of how small a part we play in your bigger story.
Each one of us is special and unique, no matter what we think, we are loved by you and given a wealth of people and gifts to help us on our journey in life.
We rejoice that as part of the body of Christ we work together building your kingdom; as individuals we each have our part to play. No matter what part of the journey we are on we are meant to work together
to encourage and teach each other.
The gift of free will allows us
to make choices that sometimes we regret,
we come before you to confess our sins,
for times when we have made poor choices
for the times we have hurt anyone.
Help us to be humble enough
to apologise for our faults and failings and receive your forgiveness. Keep us humble, Lord, help us to be open to those who would guide us wisely, that we may grow daily into the people we were created to be.
Readings – Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 (pg 189 )
Matthew 28: 16-20 (pg 1001)
Hymn 527 – Lord, make us servants
Everlasting God, help us to love you with all our heart, soul and strength. May we show and share our love and our trust for you wholeheartedly today and throughout our Lenten journey. Amen
In Matthew’s gospel, the risen Jesus addresses the disciples and gives what is called The Great Commission – Go and make disciples of all nations and baptise them and teach them to obey all I commanded. And there is the 2nd Mark of mission – to teach, baptise and nurture. During this season of Lent we are looking at the 5 marks of mission, which the Church of Scotland has adopted as a means to define what mission is all about in the 21st Century. Last week we looked at the first mark – to proclaim the gospel. This week we have the 2nd mark, which is really about discipleship. For a disciple is a student or follower, someone who over a period of time learns from his or her teacher. So we are followers of Christ, listening to his words, looking at his example, following the path he laid, living as he wants us to live.
Jesus challenges us to live by a different set of priorities, one which requires us to love the lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind, as we read from Deuteronomy today. It is called the Shema, and often you do find it on doorposts to remember to love God. Jesus adds to that, to love our neighbours as ourselves, even the ones we don’t particularly like. That is radical. To be a disciple of Jesus means continually learning to be more Christlike and being disciplined in our choices.
The good news is that we don’t have to do it by ourselves. We live our discipleship in a community, which is the Church. We do discipleship together, supporting one another, encouraging one another, rejoicing together. Those with more experience help those who are newer in the community. That is nurture.
There was an interview on the radio earlier this week, and it was claimed that the secret to good health and well-being lay in having friends, people to relate to, people you can meet for coffee, people you could phone up in the middle of the night in an emergency. The point being made was that there are so many who don’t, and it affects their health. We all need to belong. That is the importance of village shops – people have someone to talk to. As the church we are a community of believers. We can rub each other up the wrong way at times, we have different backgrounds, different views, but so much in common and as a community of believers, we are there to support and encourage. That is why it is so important to welcome and to get involved.
In the Early Church, people were attracted to the message of Jesus, and the apostles had to have a way of teaching people to be good disciples of the Jesus. People coming from Judaism knew the Law, such as the Deuteronomy passage we read earlier. They had heard the Old Testament stories and could find from them pointers to Jesus. They already knew the moral law and what was required of a believer and so the journey into Christianity was somewhat easier. For a Gentile, however, it was different, and they had to disassociate oneself from pagan faith and practice, with emperor worship and different moral standard. It was a bit of a battle in the early church over this, with some wishing to restrict membership of the Church to those from a Jewish background, but those like Paul who opposed this eventually prevailed with their message that all were one in Christ, be they Jew or Gentile, slave or free. All belonged. In the early church, those coming for baptism were adults and there was a long period of preparation. I have mentioned before that in Zambia there were 36 lessons before baptism or confirmation for adults. We are quicker in Scotland!
But as we grow in faith, and we are always growing in faith, there is no retirement, we have to centre ourselves on God. That is what Jesus did. In the wilderness when he was being tempted, it would have been easy to succumb, but he was centred on God and on God’s word, and that helped him to resist. At the Garden of Gethsemane, he wrestled with what lay ahead, the way of the cross, but said, Your will, not my will be done. As disciples we keep God as our centre and have the community of believers to support us.
We are invited, encouraged, challenged, and called to join a band of disciples going back centuries, who for 2000 years have boldly shared God’s vision for the world. May God give us the boldness and the wisdom to share the vision, the hope and the possibility of God’s reign of love here in this place in 2023. Be bold! Let love shine for all the world to see! Go make a difference in our community and in our world.
Hymn 513 - Courage brother, do not stumble
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Generous God, giver of all things,
receive our offerings today.
As you poured out your love for us
by sending Jesus, may we pour out our love for you
by continuing to build the kingdom of which he spoke and taught, loving and serving, locally and globally.
Eternal One, Majesty, Word, Spirit, we bring to You the needs of our world, of our nations, of our church and of our own lives, knowing You hear our prayers, give us grace and inspire us to make a difference.
O God, ancient, yet ever young, we remember before you the places of pain in our world, countries at war, nations in chaos, leaders usurping power, the poor and the earth itself groaning with pain. We think of Israel and Palestine, of Yemen, of Nigeria. Bless with your wisdom those who work for peace. In particular we pray for those on the move this day, families fleeing war, terror and famine; youngsters fleeing repression and oppression, women seeking new lives for themselves and their children; open our hearts, our wallets and our borders to Your bedraggled people. (pause)
O God, embodied in Jesus, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, we bring to you own nations, those who can’t afford to pay their bills, workers no longer earning enough to live, NHS staff who are exhausted and feel devalued. We pray for the governments in London and Edinburgh as hard decisions are taken. Grant wisdom.
In this Fairtrade Fortnight, we pray for just and equitable trade between peoples, and that all may earn a fair wage for their work.
We pray for the sick and those awaiting operations. For the anxious, the lonely and the bereaved. We pray now for those whose needs you have placed on our hearts at this time.
We thank you for the saints who have gone before us, who are now with you in heaven. May they ever inspire us. Amen
Hymn 644 – O Jesus I have promised
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