Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this National Giving Sunday.
With wisdom and generosity,
God created us.
With grace and compassion,
Jesus embraces us.
With ideas and inspiration
The Holy Spirit transforms us.
Let us worship God.
Hymn 153 – Great is thy faithfulness
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of heaven and earth, your splendour is infinite, your power incomparable, your holiness beyond our understanding.
In your wisdom, you shaped the earth in wonder and mystery, and you made all things and called them good. You have given us life and blessed us with gifts and talents to share. And you have called us into community with one another where we come together to reflect your love and grace. And so, with our lips, we sing your praises, and with our lives we offer you our worship, this day and always.
Forgive us Lord,
when we take your gifts for granted.
Remind us of the abundance You have poured out on us.
Help us listen for Your voice leading us,
prompting us to answer Your call,
encouraging us to give back,
to respond in generous humility
to Your grace, goodness and mercy.
Compel us to reflect something of Your love for us
as we give to enable Your work
in our communities, our nation and our world
Anyone who is a new creation in Christ. The old life has gone; a new life has begun. Together we have confessed our sins to Jesus Christ. Know that we are forgiven and be at peace.
Readings – Philippians 2: 5-20
Mark 10: 2-16
Hymn 468 – Son of God, eternal Saviour (1,2)/
Hymn 229 – We plough the fields (1,3 Linton)
God our creator, you have made us one with this earth, to tend it and bring forth fruit;
May we so respect and cherish all that has life from you, that we may share in the labour of all creation to give birth to your hidden glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
That is part of a hymn by Horatio Spafford. It is an old favourite hymn, though not included in our hymnary. Spafford was a successful lawyer and a Presbyterian elder in Chicago. He was travelling to Europe with his wife and 4 daughters, but was delayed by business. The rest of the family travelled ahead, but tragedy struck, and the boat sank. His four daughters drowned, though his wife was saved unconscious. He was distraught, but also had a strong faith, and even in his grief he could compose this hymn and write that it is well in his soul. His wife later said, 'It is easy to be grateful when you have so much, but be careful not to be a fair-weather friend to God’. It was after this tragedy that the Spaffords moved to Jerusalem to work with the poor. They were able to bring something positive out of their tragedy.
We have been through a very challenging 18 months. For many people it has been a nightmare. They have lost jobs, lost their houses, lost loved ones. They have lost their health, lost education, lost marriages, lost confidence. For many of us it has not been so extreme, but we have missed the social side of village life – the coffee mornings and so on- and while things are starting up again, it will be a while before we get back to anything near normal again. The Church has also suffered; in many areas, numbers have dropped and congregations are struggling. And yet we are being asked to give thanks with a grateful heart. In the Bible, from the Psalms all the way to the epistles, we are encouraged to give thanks, even at difficult times and count our blessings.
In Philippians Paul encourages us to have the mind of Christ, and he reminds us that Christ was rich but for our sakes became poor; he emptied himself of all he enjoyed in heaven to become human and live amongst us and even die an all-too-human death. He challenges our presumptions over what is successful and prosperous, and we are called to change our priorities and show that same sense of humility and self-sacrifice as Christ.
In Africa, there are ‘giving trees’. The dowadowa in Ghana is one example. It has pods which are good to eat and make a local delicacy. The leaves are eaten by cattle; its twigs can be used as toothbrushes; its gum hardens floors and glazes pottery; its flowers treat leprosy; its roots can be used for musical instruments. Its shade is wonderful to hold meetings, even church services under. It even gives of its branches and trunk to be made into wood for houses. It is a tree that gives so much to the community. It has a wonderful harvest, blessing all around, human and animal and even the environment. The tree is a parable for Christ’s self-giving, but also suggests that our gifts and talents, our life and work, being offered to God, can produce an abundant harvest.
Christ has given so much to us, living amongst us and inspiring us to radical living; dying on the cross and rising, opening the way to everlasting life. We should not be fair-weathered friends or give God our unvalued left-overs, but rather give of our best to God. Christ gave of himself for us; in turn he calls us to give of ourselves to the world.
For it is in giving that we receive; in welcoming that we are welcomed. In our Gospel reading the disciples were vetting who came to Jesus. Children were unimportant, so shooed away. But Jesus said, Let the children come to me, for to such as these belongs the kingdom of heaven. Everyone was included. We are all included in God’s embrace. In response, we are filled with such gratitude, that, as Paul writes, at the name of Jesus every knee should bend and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Hymn 500 – Lord of creation
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
we need Your presence here on planet earth.
In these strange days throughout the world,
we call on Your Spirit to fill us with love.
Help us to wash the feet of our communities,
going the second mile, giving the cup of cold water.
Help our churches to be loving,
reaching out to all we meet.
guide us in our finances,
to wisely use the resources You have given us,
to plant fruitful seeds for Your kingdom.
On this National Giving Day,
we pray that our time, talents and money
can be used to further Your mission.
Where there is division between us
heal us with Your uniting presence.
Help our churches to be communities where we live in peace,
not the peace of differences hidden from sight,
but the peace of discussion and dialogue and mutual respect.
we confess that we are often much quicker
to express our grumbles than our gratitude,
to focus on the situations which inconvenience us
and limit our freedom,
than to notice those upon whom
our community and society depend.
So we would give thanks for all those
who at great cost to themselves
have done so much through the months of lockdown
to protect us, and care for us, and heal us.
We remember gratefully before You
those who have donned the face masks and shields
and just got on with the job
so that the very fabric of society could be supported,
and our basic needs met.
As we reflect on how much we owe to other people,
make us generous in our attitudes and actions,
through Jesus Christ
in whose life and death we see the fullness of Your love for us all,
and in whose name we pray
Loving God we pray for all who are sick and undergoing operations. For those anxiously waiting for treatment. We pray for the bereaved that they will know your presence with them. In silence we bring before you those on our hearts this day.
Hymn 182 – Now thank we all our God
Bless to us, O God, the road that is before us,
Bless to us, O God, the friends who are around us,
Bless to us, O God, your love which is within us,
Bless to us, O God, the light that leads us home.