The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those listening in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together for our service for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost.
Give thanks to God and tell of God’s gifts.
We will sing praises for all that God has done.
Let your hearts be joyful!
We will seek God’s presence continually.
Call to mind God’s wonderful works.
We will always remember the blessings of God and glorify God forever!
Hymn 125 – Lord of all being (vv 1,4,5)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Eternal and ever-loving God,
Deep is our desire for what is true and enduring.
Deep is our need to see clearly.
Deep is our longing for you, O God.
In you we live and move and have our being.
You are the root of love,
the fountain of knowledge,
the source of wisdom,
the path of right living.
You are the beginning and end of all things.
Our thoughts cannot comprehend your mystery
And so we worship you in humble praise,
Holy God, ever three and ever one.
May our worship bring us back to You and increase our awareness of Your beating heart at the centre of life, calming our fears and restoring our souls, knowing ourselves beloved of God, united with all Your creatures in heaven and on earth.
We confess together that we have often turned away from you:
We have sought meaning in shallow places.
We have clung to old hurts and familiar habits.
We have nursed anger and envy.
We have been self-absorbed and lacked compassion.
We have turned our backs on those in need.
Forgive what we have been, amend who we are,
and guide us toward what we may become according to your grace.
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new! Thanks be to God that we are forgiven and can all make a new start through God’s grace.
Readings – Exodus 3: 1-15
Matthew 16: 21-28
Hymn 189 – Be still, for the presence of the Lord (1,3)
Weekly Prayer -
Holy God, we thank you that your wisdom not only enlightens us but transforms and guides us. As with Moses, we are sometimes tempted to say "Who am I? " when we hear you speak. We thank you for your promise to Moses and to us as we go from this place of worship, and into our daily walk through life with you "I will be with you". Amen
In Christchurch, New Zealand, Muslims were going to the mosque as they did every Friday for prayers, just going about their routine, when a white supremist started to shoot them. 51 died at the hands of this one man. He was sentenced this week, but I was so impressed by one woman saying she forgave. Going about their daily life. A few weeks ago in Beirut, people were going about their daily life, when an explosion at the docks shattered their lives.
In our reading from Exodus, Moses was going about his daily life. He may have grown up in a palace by the Nile, but now he had fled to Sinai, had married and was now looking after his father-in-law’s sheep. Boring, uneventful. But then something happened that changed his life completely. Nothing as extreme as the events in Christchurch or Beirut, but maybe as dramatic. He saw a bush on fire. The odd thing was that the scrub around didn’t catch fire, but also the bush didn’t seem to burn out. He walked closer to observe this phenomenon. But he couldn’t just stand back and observe – suddenly there was a voice – and Moses was drawn in, involved. God called out from the Bush, and Moses life changed forever.
God reminded Moses that he was on holy ground, but then came to the nub of the issue. God had heard the groaning of the Israelites, in their oppression and in their slavery. Their lives were miserable, and their voices reached heaven – and God responded. God was identifying with the weak and suffering, just as Christ would feed the hungry, give sight to the blind and welcome the stranger. ‘I know my people’s pain’, God says to Moses, and that is encouraging for us, for we have a God who knows the trials and tribulations we face – and wants to do something about it. That is why in Matthew, we read of Jesus committing himself to a life of sacrifice for others, which would eventually lead to the Cross.
Again, Moses discovered he couldn’t just observe or listen, for he soon realises that he is being called and commissioned. God uses people, and it was to be Moses, despite his protestations, who would be the one called to stand up to Pharaoh and demand that the Israelites be set free. In our world of pain and suffering, it is us who are called to do something about it and see God’s justice prevail.
Now, Moses would have been conscious of his Hebrew heritage, but he had an Egyptian name and had grown up in the palace. Would they listen to him? He needed to be able to say who had sent him, and God replied enigmatically ‘I am who I am or I will be who I will be’. In Hoselaw Chapel just above the communion table, there are 4 Hebrew letters, spelling out the name of God, but too holy to say. Jews would just say, HaShem, the Name. God was being cryptic, but Moses would get to know far more about God, as he journeyed with him in all the adventures that lay ahead. Just as we learn at first hand the truth, nature and purposes of God, as we follow the paths laid before us.
We may never see a burning bush, but God asks us to pay attention to our lives catching sight of the divine in the ordinary and see where we are called to serve. None of us are perfect, just as Moses had his flaws, but God calls us all. But whatever we are called to do, we are never alone, for God is always with us.
Hymn 771 – If you believe …
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
We offer our gifts in anticipation that God will use them—and us. Use us to transform the world you love with the good news we celebrate in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
O God in whom we live and move and have our being
We come to you in prayer as the summer season draws nearer to its close
And we prepare for an autumn filled with many changes:
We give you thanks for the occasions we have enjoyed over this strange summer.
savouring the beauty of your creation right outside our doors,
Thank you for the chances we’ve had catch up with family and friends,
and whatever opportunities for travel, recreation & restoration have been possible. We recognize how blessed we are to live in the Borders
and so, we are grateful for each moment in which we found rest and relaxation.
Today we remember those for whom this summer has been difficult:
Those still isolated by the restrictions because of COVID-19, and we think of the cases in Hawick;
Those who go hungry or face violence in forgotten corners of our own community and around the world;
Those whose businesses are struggling, who have to figure out how to be inviting and safe at the same time;
And those who are uncertain how to engage with friends and neighbours and still be wise and careful in this strange time of pandemic.
O God, Jesus walked the road of suffering with so many in pain and grief
We remember those whose lives have faced crises this summer--
Through tragic death and unexpected loss,
Through critical illness or injury,
Through pain or problems that seem to have no end…
Surround them with your comfort and compassion
O God, Jesus often faced many demands and the pressure from his critics,
So we pray for all those who have not found rest this summer:
For leaders trying to figure out ways forward to care for their communities when there are no examples to follow;
For those whose jobs and responsibilities have changed, and every day presents a new challenge;
And we also remember those involved in the riots in Wisconsin, the protests in Belarus, the storms in Louisiana.
Hymn 458 – At the name of Jesus (vv1,3)
We go now into whatever experiences the week will bring always ready to offer God’s peace to all, and may the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer be with you, and with all whom you love and all we are called to love, forevermore. Amen
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