Call to Worship
We gather to give thanks to You, O Lord
We will sing Your praises before all creation
and rejoice in Your steadfast love!
You have created us O Lord, and made us
And love us with an everlasting love
Hymn 225 – Summer suns are glowing
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
Most Holy God,
we take this moment to pause, and wonder, and bless.
Your greatness balanced by Your nearness.
Your judgment balanced by Your mercy.
How we should praise You!
As we still ourselves before Your majesty, and wait in awe, yet we are also bold to lift up our eyes
to see You, face to face. We call You our King, our Saviour, our Inspiration, our Friend.
Too often we rush by and fail to take the time
to marvel and exclaim at the wonder of this world,
the intricacy of creation, the abundance of good things You have given us to enjoy and to share.
This day, Lord, we sing Your praises!
This day, Lord, we rejoice in Your generosity!
This day, Lord, we are glad You continue to reach out to us, even us, with love.
it does not take us long to stumble from the high peak of praise, to the low valley of brokenness as the awareness our sin engulfs like darkening cloud.
Not only the major flaws in our character,
but the petty triviality that trips us daily.
Forgive us the hasty word, the harsh thought,
the too-easy judgment, the spiteful action.
Why, with all the potential You have knitted into our souls, do we, so easily, slip into bad habit, shameful action, unhealthy obsession, lazy forgetfulness?
O gracious God, have mercy on us.
Forgive us, remake us, redeem us, restore us.
When all seems lost beyond hope,
yet still You reach out in tenderness and kindness
to make that difference in our hearts and souls and minds, to reinstate the broken relationship,
to give us the second chance we sorely need.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Readings – Hosea 1: 2 -10
Luke 11: 1-13
Hymn 641 – Seek ye first
Faithful God, we thank you for the opportunity of being together in prayer. Help us in our prayer life this week to seek, ask, and knock so that the door to your presence will be open to us. Make us aware of your love and support in all we do. Amen
Names! I was speaking to someone the other day who was telling me the names of their grandchildren. There was a Rachel and a Rory, but also A-Jay and Takira. Some names stand the test of time – like Joshua, though it seems to be shortened to Josh. Others are very new.
In Zambia, a lot of children were given names like Blessing or Grace, but quite often I baptised a Mabvuto, which means suffering or hardship. The mother obviously had a difficult pregnancy, but the child had that name throughout their lives.
I have a soft spot for the Book of Hosea. I enjoy reading it, yet it starts off in a really quite shocking way. The prophet, a good upstanding citizen, is told to marry a prostitute. The term could mean a lot of things, but she is unfaithful to him, which brings a lot of sorrow. But this relationship is a mirror of God’s relationship with Israel. God is devoted to Israel, but Israel goes after other gods, other lovers and flaunts them in God’s face. God is filled with righteous anger, but … but still loves Israel and still is prompted to give a second chance and a third chance. God is still prompted to forgive, still can’t let go. That is the book in a nutshell, but here in Chapter one, we learn that Hosea’s wife, Gomer, bears him three children:
The first is called Jezreel, which is the name of a great plain in Northern Israel, but also where there was a bloodbath, where many were killed. His name, Jezreel, was there to be a judgement on the nation. Like someone in the Highlands being called ‘Culloden’ or an Australian being called ‘Gallipoli’.
But what’s more, the second child is called ‘Lo-ruhama’, which means Unloved, which is a terrible name to give to a child. The third, it was called ‘Lo-ammi’, not my people. Each name represented a part of the relationship between God and Israel. It is almost child abuse to give such names to children, but they point to the complete breakdown of the relationship. God has courted Israel from the days in the wilderness, but they have worshipped the golden calves and the baals. God affirmed them as his people, but now he is saying that they are no longer his people. It is complete rejection – or seems to be. In the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land, Israel was sustained by their status as the people of God. Now God was negating it.
Hosea was forcing the people to examine their relationship and how sincere they were. Later in the book Hosea criticises the people for paying lip service to God, offering sacrifices while all the time remaining unfaithful to God.
I don’t know whether you watched any of the debates between the candidates striving to be the next Conservative leader. In the first debate so much of the time was spent talking about trust and honesty. These were the qualities people rated most highly and yet did not see in politicians.
Israel had betrayed the trust God had placed in her. She had been unfaithful. The prophet calls the people to repent and be worthy of God’s trust, for when there is no trust, the fabric of society is damaged.
In our Gospel reading, the disciples have asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he teaches them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. The first few words encapsulate trust: ‘Our Father’. There is a story of a boy, who as a young child loved to be carried. He could smell his mother’s powder and perfume as he nuzzled into her; he loved being carried on his father’s shoulders. And at bedtime it was his father who carried him to bed. He pressed his ear to his father’s chest and said, ‘I can hear your heartbeat’. His father replied’ And I can hear yours’. It was their unofficial way of saying Goodnight and I love you. There was a sense of real security and trust in that relationship. I can hear your heartbeat.
Jesus uses the image of a parent to convey who God is and how God loves us. Matthew uses the image of God as a mother hen gathering her chicks around us; John uses the familiar ‘Abba’. Here in this prayer, it is ‘Our father’. Not my father, but the collective our, for the God who loves me also loves my neighbour and even my enemy.
Luke uses the intimacy of the parent-child relationship to start the prayer. It is as if Jesus is saying that God loves us and carries each of us in his arms, so that we can hear the heartbeat of God’s love. Jesus was born as flesh and blood and lived among us; so that we could hear in person how deeply we are loved, for Jesus is the incarnation of the God whom he teaches us to call ‘father’.
Hosea gave his children these crazy names to force Israel to look at themselves and their relationship with God. We too need to examine our relationship and where it is lacking, but in the knowledge that in Christ we can be bold to pray ‘Our father’ as children of the living God.
Hymn 724 – Christ’s is the world
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
Gracious Lord, when we review the ways in which
You continue to break in upon our lives,
showering us with gifts and wonder,
we are reminded how we, in our living
should emulate that same generosity.
Remind us the best giving is cheerful,
and that the unclenched hand is more fitted to sharing. Accept what we offer:
our time, our talents and our money,
and all that we have and are.
So that this world, our world, Your world,
need not be gripped by fear or want,
or lack of shelter, or lack of friends.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Eternal God, we may only see our small corner of this earth, You will see the whole expanse of countless universes, yet we are called to bring our prayers not only for ourselves, but for those around us.
In a world fraught with fear and violence and greed,
we pray that darkness is driven out by the light
of compassion, of open-handedness, and of peace.
Let these not be mere words we pray,
but words we put into action through our support
of causes and charities and individuals who make it
their mission to be the light-bearers in every darksome place.
We pray today for the healers who practise their gentleness in every hurt place of heart and soul and body. Where the encouraging word, and the unflinching compassion brings hope like a cleansing flame into every wound.
We pray today for the teachers whose gift of thinking and words enrich our mind and help us grow and develop and mature. Especially today we thank You for those who taught us to pray, who formed the ideas and the rhythms and cadences that to this day give texture, colour and shape to the relationship we have with You, our living God.
We pray for our Queen and country, and all who are called to be the decision-makers in our society at every level.
For politicians and economists. For artists and scientists. For farmers and business owners. For those who provide our energy and secure our safety.
We pray for our world in its beauty and fragility,
the astonishing resources, and the unsustainable demands we make on them. As we seek to form a new relationship with You, our God, and with
our sisters and brothers, let us also seek to form a new relationship with this Earth we call our home.
Nurturing it, tending it, stewarding its beauty and energy, not only for ourselves, but also for the generations still to come.
In a moment of silence we bring before you those on our minds and our hearts this day – especially the bereaved, the sick, the anxious
In your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen
Hymn 130 – Ye servants of God