Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost.
We lift up our eyes to the hills— from where will our help come? Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Hymn 251 – I the Lord of sea and sky
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
O Lord our God,
you hear the voice of those who cry out to you
and you respond with love.
You reach out to us when others have turned away.
You offer us compassion when others dismiss our worth.
You heal us when we thought we were beyond repair.
Your amazing love transforms our lives over and over again,
and so, we offer you our humble praise
in the name of Jesus, your love made flesh.
Receive our gratitude in this time of worship,
as we join with your whole creation
to bring you honour and glory, now and always.
Lord of love and mercy,
we worship you as the source of every good and perfect gift,
but we confess our gifts to you are less than perfect.
We honour you when it fits into our schedules. We forget that your love should set our priorities,
and pursue our own desires instead.
In your loving-kindness, forgive our wavering hearts
and reawaken our commitment to you.
Readings – Ruth 1: 1-18
Mark 10: 46-52
Hymn 557 – O love that wilt not let me go
Everlasting God, we thank you that your written Word continues to inspire us, showing us examples like Ruth and Bartimaeus, whose faith and actions so dramatically changed their lives and those around them. Thank you for revealing yourself to us, how you love us, how we should live, and what we can be. Amen
‘When it is gone, it’s gone’. That is the slogan at Lidl’s. They have good prices anyway, but some things are at a special price – but if it’s gone, it’s gone! So, the marketing ploy goes, take the opportunity and buy while you can – for if you leave it too late, you will miss out.
In the story of Ruth, we find three women left alone, their husbands have all died. The mother-in-law Naomi decides to return home to Bethlehem after many years living in Moab. She tells her daughters-in-law to stay, to be with their own families and try to marry again. Orpah reluctantly stays and says her goodbyes. But Ruth has to make her decision. She has this one opportunity – does she stay or will she go. Of course, she decides to go and accompany Naomi. She expresses her commitment in the wonderful lines: ‘Wherever you go, I will go…’ (vv16-17)
Bartimaeus in the Gospel has to make a similar decision. His life is sitting at the roadside in Jericho, begging for food or maybe some cash. He is blind and that is all that is open for him to do. But today it is someone different who passes by. He hears the excited murmurs- it is Jesus, the young rabbi from up North, who has healed a number of people. Bartimaeus has heard stories about him. There is this one opportunity; if he misses it, it will have gone forever. So he cries out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me’.
The crowd tell him to be quiet, but Jesus hears him and calls him. Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and approaches Jesus. ‘What do you want?’, Jesus asks. Bartimaeus replied ‘To see’ and he was healed and he followed Jesus.
What do we see here. Firstly, Bartimaeus has a name. He is not anonymous like the 10 lepers or the paralysed man. Perhaps he was involved in the early church. He was known. And God knows each and every one of us by name. We are known and loved and valued.
Secondly, the crowd around him tried to hush him, so he didn’t disturb Jesus. We are good at that – just keeping quiet, not letting our emotions show. I have just finished a book by a Canadian author, Mary Lawson, and she says that Presbyterians are particularly good at ‘not making a scene’. But Bartimaeus makes a scene, so that Jesus hears and asks him what he wants. It is interesting, because just before this, Jesus had asked James and John what they wanted, and they wanted positions in Jesus’ cabinet – the seats to his right and left. But to his credit, Bartimaeus doesn’t ask for food or money, but asks to see. And he is granted his wish and is healed. If Jesus were to ask us the same question, what would we say? Maybe we should ask for sight or insight. Often things are so familiar, we no longer see them. We fail to see the poverty and distress that some people face.
But lastly, there is the little detail about Bartimaeus throwing his cloak away. His cloak kept him warm on cold nights and was perhaps the tool of his trade, but he cast it aside. By throwing it away perhaps it signalled a new start. With the climate crisis, we will be asked to make sacrifices and adjust how we do things. Like Bartimaeus, we must be ready to make sacrifices. He threw away his cloak, got up and, being healed, left his old life behind and followed Jesus.
Hymn 555 – Amazing grace
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
Good and gracious God, we bring our offering in gratitude for all that makes our lives good, even in uncertain times. Bless these gifts and use them to touch lives in need of your goodness, in Jesus’ name.
We pray for those who govern their nation, including our own governments, asking that they will ensure justice and equality for all, so that no one goes hungry or lives in substandard housing.
For those who are chief executives or company directors, asking that they don’t just seek profit but ensure that they help to build a better world of fairness, free of exploitation.
For parents and teachers, asking that they might nurture younger generations, encouraging them in the way to go, supporting them as we recognise many are facing mental health issues.
For those in the medical and caring professions who have faced unprecedented challenges this last 18 months, praying that they might find new strength and fresh resources so that those in their care might know healing and wholeness.
For those who are discriminated against because of their race, gender or sexual orientation praying that they would know that in your eyes they are precious and loved and asking that others would reach out to them in support.
For those who are suffering as a result of the climate emergency, praying for their protection and asking that those making decisions would bring us back from the brink of disaster and focus their power in caring for your planet. We pray for our world leaders who will be meeting shortly to set targets and challenge all the nations to make the environment a priority.
We pray for those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit, asking that they might know healing and hope. (silence)
Lord in your mercy hear our prayer. Amen
Hymn 130 - Ye servants of God
The grace of Christ be yours wherever you go,
the love of God be yours whatever you do,
the friendship of the Spirit be yours whatever you have to face,
today and always. Amen