Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 11th Sunday after Pentecost.
When we journey with God, anything is possible:
we are challenged to push our limits.
When we walk closely with Jesus, anything is possible:
we are reminded that everyone has their own story to tell. Let us worship God.
Hymn MP 417 – Lift high the cross (1,2,5)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Living, giving God,
you are the source of all good things.
In Christ you give us the Bread of Life.
and we know your care for us is beyond measure.
Through the Holy Spirit, you are present in all situations, both large and small,
yet your majesty is infinite.
Your love reaches wider than the expanding universe,
and your kindness embraces even the tiny sparrow.
And so we gather in worship to offer you our praise,
our love and loyalty,
the best of ourselves,
for surely you deserve all we can offer, our living, giving God.
Living, forgiving God,
in Christ you promise us new life,
but we confess that we are in love with our old ways.
We nourish bitterness over disappointments;
anger can hold us hostage for years.
We find it easy to say one thing to someone’s face
and something else behind their back.
Forgive us for falling short of your hopes for us
and by your grace, renew us to live for love’s sake.
God is tender-hearted and gracious to all and has forgiven you in Christ Jesus. Trust in God’s grace and be kind to one another, forgiving others as God has forgiven you.
Readings – Ephesians 4:25–5:2
John 6: 41–51
Hymn 528 – Make me a channel of thy peace
Creator God, we thank you for the wonder of new life and for the mystery of human love. We thank you for all whose support and skill surround and sustain the beginning of life. We thank you that we are known to you by name and loved by you from all eternity. Long ago Jesus took up the little children in His arms and blessed them so we ask your blessings on us all this day and every day. Amen
We are going to baptise Patrick, a young child with the future all ahead of him. I don’t think he will have given much thought to what he might want to be, when he grows up, though no doubt there are those who will wonder whether he will follow the family tradition and be a farmer. Rightly or wrongly, we can be defined by our family. I am sure his parents will just want him to be happy in whatever he does.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus has performed this wonderful miracle of feeding the 5000 and has followed up by saying that he is the bread of life, the bread that satisfied the very soul. And what do the crowd say, or at least some of them? ‘We knew his father. We know his mother and sisters and brothers. They are ordinary people just like us. Who is this one to claim anything different?’ Familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus was defined by his family, and people made assumptions because of it.
That can be very positive thing. In the Olympics it has been interesting when the media interviews family members of those who have won medals, and you can see their pride. You can also see how grounded the sportsmen and women are, because their families are rooting for them and have also sacrificed a lot so that their children have excelled. Yet some have become multi-medal winners, the best in the world.
The marvellous thing about Jesus is that he did have a family. He was God, he was divine, but also human. Because of that, he knows what we go through. That is why he could look at the crowd and be filled with such compassion, because he saw people hurting, people confused, people needing direction. Most of all, he saw people needing to be loved. Jesus loved the people; he loved us to the extent of sacrificing his own life on the cross that we might live.
In Ephesians we are encouraged to imitate God, and that is a big ask. But we look to Jesus and seek in our lives to be more Christlike. Again, in the Olympics the various medallists have been of one voice, saying that they hoped the young would be inspired to take up sport and aim high, and no doubt there will be a surge of skateboarding or bmx biking or gymnastics. Athletes inspire a new generation. How much more should looking at the life of Christ inspire us to right living, and Ephesians gives us a clue how.
Some commentators have likened Ephesians to a manual for baptism, though in the case of the Ephesians it would have been adults being baptised. But they are being encouraged to tell the truth. Also, to be angry, and that is interesting because often we see anger as a negative thing. But it is right to be angry over injustice, over climate change, over, say, someone cheating in order to win. But Ephesians also says, ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger’, as anger can gnaw away within us. But above all, the writer of the letter encourages us to show love and compassion. Look at Christ. See how he was filled with compassion and extravagantly fed the crowd and gave of his very self. Let us then imitate him and show extravagant love to all.
Hymn 632 – Our children Lord (1,2)
Prayers of Intercession
Lord Jesus, we bring our gifts to you, knowing that you have given yourself for us, so that we have life in abundance. Bless them for the extension of your Kingdom.
We lift before you our world leaders. In an increasingly unstable world we ask you to give them wisdom and integrity. Help them to put the needs of their country before their own desires.
We pray for countries at war or suffering long periods of unrest, particularly Afghanistan and the Middle East. We pray that a new desire to love and treasure others may sweep this planet, bringing in a new reign of peace.
Lord, we pray for our communities and all who live and serve in them. We thank you for those who sweep our streets, empty our bins and clean our shops, workplaces and hospitals. We pray for your strength and reassurance for our over-stretched NHS and for teachers gearing themselves up for a new session. We pray for the unemployed and those on zero hours contracts struggling to make ends meet.
We pray those who live around us. We picture them in our minds now as we bring them to you for blessing: our friends, our neighbours, the people who walk their dogs past our house, those we say ‘hi’ to in the street, but don’t necessarily know their names. We pray for those who live behind closed doors that we never see, those we used to spend time with who, for whatever reason, we don’t see anymore. And we pray for those whom we avoid... Lord, you know them all by name and we thank you for each of them and for the way they touch our lives. Give us the grace to be good neighbours, willing to go the extra mile for all these people who are, underneath it all, just the same as us.
Hymn 476 – Mine eyes have seen the glory (1,4)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love,
Now and forevermore. Amen