Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
When Israel was a child I loved him
Out of Egypt I called my son
I taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms
I led them with cords of kindness, with bands of love
I was like those who lift infants to their cheeks
I bent down to them and fed them
Hymn 172 – Sing for God’s glory
As a mother loves her child, so you love us.
You have watched over us from our birth,
Tenderly nurturing us, showering us with love.
You have given us strength in times of need, comfort in times of distress, guidance in times of uncertainty.
Whatever we have faced, you have been with us.
For that great truth, we praise and thank you.
God of love and mercy,
We confess that we have not always appreciated your love. We have ignored what you would teach us and disobeyed your instructions. We have taken you for granted and wandered far from your side. Forgive us.
Yet through all this, you are constant, caring for us and ready to sacrifice your all for our sakes and loving us with an unquenchable love. We thank you that we are your forgiven children.
Embrace us in your fierce love, enfold us in your protective care, calm our anxious worrying and still us, body, mind and spirit, to rest in you.
Readings – Amos 5: 13-5, 21-4 (pg 920 )
Luke 4: 14-21 (pg 1031)
Hymn 253 – Inspired by love and anger (vv 1,2,4,6)
Father God, today we especially thank you for all that our mothers gave us, from the moment we were born into this amazing life.
The news constantly reminds us of the brokenness of our world and for many families, life is more dangerous than ever before. We pray for healing among the nations; for food where there is hunger; for freedom where there is oppression; for joy where there is pain; and that your love may bring peace to all your children. Amen
Last weekend the BBC found itself in crisis, all because the presenter Gary Lineker reacted against Government policy about immigration in a tweet. He said what he thought, but as a presenter should he have remained impartial? Arguments were made for and against. Over the last few weeks the three candidates to be leader of the Scottish National Party have been debating issues, and while they may all be for independence, they differ greatly on a lot of other issues and as one of them might be First Minister, that affects us all.
Politics! We have our own opinions, some of which we hold very strongly, and even as Christians and as the Church we hold very differing views. Before devolution in 1999, the General Assembly was often seen as the nearest we could get to a Scottish parliament, and one of the most eagerly awaited days was when the Church & Nation committee presented their report. I remember as students we would go there early to secure a seat, as the assembly debated issues such as nuclear disarmament or medical ethics or debt cancellation or when the Guild reported on the motherhood of God, which maybe deserves a mention on Mothering Sunday! There were passionate speeches and some very close votes, because the Church was often divided over these issues. Some motions were defeated, only to be accepted several years later. It is amazing how views change over the years
Even today the church debates important issues, because they impact on everyday life. The Church can’t separate itself from politics. Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the marks of mission, and today we get to the 4th mark, which calls on the church to ‘transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation’. It ties in with what we talked about last week, when we looked at the 3rd mark, loving service, when we reach out to the sick and disadvantaged. The 4th mark is really asking the question WHY people are going hungry or suffering and calling on the church to address it. It is what Christians have been doing down the centuries. The Wilberforces and indeed David Livingstone challenged the slave trade. Elizabeth Fry sought prison reform. Mary Slessor in Calabar challenging the practice of killing newly-born twins. So many have led the calls for freedom from oppression. In Nazi Germany, while some Christians colluded, there were others like Bonhoeffer who spoke out against the evil they saw, to the point of being executed themselves.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was of course at the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and he talked about the Europeans coming to Africa. They had the Bible, and the Africans had the land. They said Let us pray, and when the Africans opened their eyes at the amen, the Africans had the Bible and the Europeans the land. But the Bible is explosive. Tutu talked of the danger of giving someone the Bible, because the Bible was filled with stories of fighting oppression; it was about a God who wasn’t neutral, but biased towards the poor and downtrodden and despised. We see it from the Hebrews being enslaved by Pharaoh, and God hearing their cries and calling Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead the people to freedom. God was on their side, and the laws given to the Israelites reflected that. About not coveting what didn’t belong to you. About looking out for the widow and orphan and stranger in their midst. About treating people fairly and with respect.
When the Israelites settled, God kept them to account through the prophets, people like Amos. Amos lived at a time of relative prosperity in Israel, when those with the means could live very comfortably and enjoy some luxuries . The problem was that not everyone had the means, and the prophet was forthright in his condemnation of those who lived a good life while not having a care that many others lived in abject poverty. It was complacency or maybe even indifference. They just didn’t care. But Amos looked around and saw corruption and cheating with measures and abuse and called the people to account, saying let justice roll down like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream.
The prophets kept Israel in check. And in the Gospels we read how Jesus gave his manifesto at the start of his ministry, quoting from the prophet Isaiah and saying he would announce good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoner and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed and declare the year of jubilee, when wrongs would be righted. This was radical stuff, and he would confront the religious and political powers of the day with an alternative way, which was the Kingdom of God.
As the church we are called to a radical way of living and to shape a just and fairer society, where all can be valued and respected for who they are. Pie in the sky? The saints down the ages didn’t think so and made a difference where they were. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the early Church, said that Hope has two daughters – Anger, at the way things are, and Courage, to put them right. We are a people of hope, who seek to advance Christ’s kingdom on earth. We bear Christ’s name, so we can’t ignore the ways of Christ. So as the Church we are called to shape our society with the kingdom values and to confront evil with good and work that peace and justice might prevail.
Hymn 473 – Thy kingdom come
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
the gifts we bring are so small in comparison to the vast needs in our world— nowhere near enough. Yet we bring what we can.
As You once multiplied the five small loaves and two fish, multiply these gifts as well, so that we can reach out with love and justice.
On this Mothering Sunday,
we celebrate and give thanks for the achievements of mothers and remember the women who have played a part in our lives. Those who have
nurtured us, taught us, inspired us, loved us.
As we acknowledge the challenges women still face,
we pray that all women may know equality
We pray that all women may know themselves to be
respected, safe, included, empowered.
But we also know that for some people this is a difficult day holding hurt, grief and perhaps anger. We pray that you will draw alongside those who are hurting today to comfort them and surround them with your tender care. We pray:
· for women and indeed men who grieve because they are unable to have the children they long for;
· for mother and fathers who grieve because, like Mary, they have had to see their child die too soon.
· for those who are cut off from their children by disappointment, anger or bitterness.
· for mothers who are worried or afraid for their child’s well-being or safety. We ask you, heavenly Parent, to bring healing, comfort, forgiveness and peace into the hearts and minds of hurting mothers.
We remember today all who are denied their basic human rights. For all who risk their lives to protest against totalitarianism and dictatorship. For those who are discriminated against because of their race or colour of skin, their religion, or their gender.
Let justice roll like a river and righteousness like an ever-rolling stream.
Be with the sick and those recovering from operations. With all who have lost loved ones and with the lonely, as in a moment of silence we bring those on our hearts before you. Amen
Hymn 710 – I have a dream, a man once said