Call to Worship
Leave duty behind, come and sit, be still and listen for the word of God. Let come to the quiet centre to focus on God and to allow ourselves to hear God’s voice and ponder God’s word. Let us worship God.
Hymn 122 – Let all the world
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
God of majesty and mystery,
your love and purpose embrace the whole world.
You set us in a world of beauty and bounty
and invite us to meet you in the midst of its wonders.
You call us to love each other in the example of Jesus
to make your world a place of justice and compassion.
You have made space for creation to explode, expand, and explore being alive. You call us and gather us and open up new possibilities for the future.
In this time of worship, send us your Spirit of wisdom and grace so that we can live out the praise on our lips in our day-to-day living,
which we offer to you, our one and only God.
So forgive us when we are distracted by our own busyness and need. Forgive us when we see the earth and its resources as ours to exploit for short term gain. Forgive us when we use other people as a means to our ends. Forgive us when we lose our focus on you, your will and your way.
Loving God, calm us and capture our attention.
Welcome us into your belonging.
Assure us of our worth.
Lead us in love, so may we know that we are forgiven
and be refreshed to be your people in the world.
Readings – Amos 8: 1-12
Luke 10: 38 – 42
Pots and pans, trays and cups, food to prepare and tables to be laid, all in a day’s work. People to welcome, friends and family, gathered at home, to talk, to eat, to share, to witness. God help us to remember the joy of hospitality, and the gift of providing for others in their time of need.
Time and space, words and wisdom, company with Jesus, friends and strangers with whom to meet. Precious moment never to be missed, an opportunity to share in holy presence, in loving grace, in healing peace, in challenging story. God help us to remember to create time and to make space for what are the better things, for time in God’s presence, for time with family and friends, and time for myself. Amen.
Hymn 194 – This is the day
Almighty God, may your presence be seen clearly in what we do each day throughout the coming week. We pray that your joy and your love will flow freely in us and through us, as we seek to follow Mary's example of listening to your voice. Amen.
There was friction in the house. The cousins from Australia would be arriving any moment. With the pandemic, it had been years since they had all met up. There was still so much to do, and Kate was running all over the place, but Jack was sitting quite contentedly, watching the golf on the television. Kate was not amused and told him so!
There was friction in the house at Bethany. You could almost see the sparks flying. Jesus and his disciples had arrived, and it was a celebration. It was always good to welcome Jesus, and the siblings would have been excited. There was Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. In fact, one commentator noted that it was unusual for Lazarus to stay with his sisters and suggested that he may have had some disability. But anyway, there was so much to do, a table to set, a meal to prepare, make sure their guests had washed the dust from their hands and feet. Martha was in her element until she noticed that she was alone in the kitchen; Mary was lounging at Jesus’ feet. Martha loved to sit and listen to Jesus; from John’s Gospel we discover that Martha had a very sharp mind and a keen faith. She famously affirmed that Jesus was the Messiah. But there was no time to listen now; the meal wouldn’t cook itself. But she was frustrated with Mary. Why couldn’t she help? Why was she hogging all Jesus’ attention? She couldn’t keep it in any more and appealed to Jesus to take her side and scold her sister. But of course, Jesus does the opposite and scolds Martha and praises Mary for choosing the better part.
It is always a controversial passage. I am sure if I were to ask, many would sympathise with Martha. Where would we be in the church and in the community without all the people making the tea, baking the scones, moving the chairs, arranging the flowers. Doing all the practical things that keeps us going. Yes, we need to focus on the things of God; we need to make time to pray and reflect. But surely the best way is to a combination of both, to have a balance between the practical and the spiritual. Balance is always good – yet, Jesus doesn’t say that. He says that Mary has chosen the better part.
We can be too busy and lose focus. A man takes his son out to a fast-food restaurant for a treat, a time to bond, but then spends most of his time on the phone, catching up on emails or social media – and admittedly the son does the same. He lost the focus on what was important.
Or busyness can hide something about ourselves. Mo Farah is such a famous athlete, has won gold medals and always seems a nice guy. But all the time he was unable to confront a traumatic childhood when he was trafficked to UK. He wasn’t who he said he was, and maybe his training and racing hid it even from himself, but now he finds he is able to confront the truth about himself and finds a relief in that.
In reflection on the Bible we confront truths about the world. The Amos passage this morning is a bleak one; there is little joy in it. But with the prophet talking about corpses everywhere, we think of the wars and the poverty in our world today. When Amos talks about buying the poor for a pair of sandals, we think of trafficking or ‘those who wander from sea to sea’, we think of refugees. ‘A famine of bread’ and we think of the cost-of-living crisis. We try to block these things out, but maybe we need to confront them to seek a solution.
We are so thankful for all the Marthas, for those who do the practical work, but what better than to sit at the feet of Jesus, to listen to his stories and to be able to focus on our relationship with God and our place in God’s creation; to confront truths about ourselves, but also to create space, so that, in Richard of Chichester’s words, we may know God more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, day by day.
Hymn 500 – Lord of creation
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
our offering is more than money, and we offer you our time, our prayers, our skills, and our commitment to you and your work. To these we add our offerings of money, whether put in a plate or made by bank transfer.
We give in these different ways out of gratitude for all you have given to us, and pray that they may be used to make your presence known in the world.
God of the world and all its peoples:
we pray today for those who lift up their voices in troubled nations, for those working to bring justice and negotiate peace, for those bringing aid to the vulnerable, and those offering shelter to anyone fleeing violence.
Call the powerful to account, O God,
and inspire them to hear the voices that cry out in pain and desperation.
God of our everyday lives:
we pray today for our community and our neighbours
whose everyday lives have been disrupted
by months of pandemic restriction
and by economic realities beyond their control.
We remember neighbours whose livelihoods depend on undependable weather systems,
and those fearing flood or drought this summer.
We pray for communities that lack safe drinking water or adequate medical care and places where there is high unemployment or a worker shortage.
Inspire leaders to combine compassion with good planning, and consider the needs of all those who feel desperate
God of the courageous and compassionate,
we pray for those who live out their commitment to the well-being of others day by day, in public service, health care, education, social work, community organizations, and environmental concern.
Thank you for their dedication.
Support those who feel stress or exhaustion
and inspire those who can speak out when they see needs being neglected.
God of neighbourhood and nation,
we pray for friends and neighbours near and far,
for all who travel this summer and for those who find themselves strangers in new communities.
We remember in silence those on our hearts, facing some kind of challenge this day:
Draw near to each one in deep need, O God. Equip us to support those lives that intertwine with ours for we are your people, embraced by your love. Amen
Hymn 547 – What a friend we have in Jesus
Working and resting
God is with us.
Speaking and listening
God is with us.
Hoping and dreaming
God is with us.