Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 8th Sunday after Pentecost.
In moments of anxiety, God leads us to still waters.
O God, we come to you.
In moments of confusion, God leads us in right paths.
O God, we come to hear your voice.
In moments of loneliness, God is with us.
So we come to praise and worship God
Hymn 181 – For the beauty of the earth (1,3,5)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God our Maker,
in summer we easily marvel at the world you have made, the colours of sunrise and sunset filling the horizon, the intricate beauty of gardens,
the quiet dignity of a river in its course, and the steadfast presence of a rock face carved over time.
You show us how each small piece of your creation
depends in many ways on all the others.
Summer growth depends on spring rains;
health for each creature depends on the wise balance
you have set between each species;
the quality of life on the respect we show one another.
Wise and patient God, we marvel at the world you made and join the songs of all creation to bring you praise.
God our Maker,
as we marvel at your creation, we confess we often take it for granted.
We don’t know what to make of reports about the damage human life causes.
We prefer to live as if our lifestyles make no impact on the earth and confess we don’t really want to change.
For all the ways we put your creation at risk and harm the earth, we ask for your forgiveness.
Teach us how to live in this marvellous world with love and respect for you and for your whole creation.
Readings – 2 Samuel 7: 1-14a
Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56
Hymn 540 – I heard the voice of Jesus say
When I lived in Israel, I was in the middle of a town, and there was a lot of noise. Traffic, horns hooting, the bustle of life. But Saturdays were different. There was no noise; you could even hear the water lapping on the lake. It was Shabbat, the Sabbath, the day of rest. Things got a bit busier later, but it was always a good feeling to feel peace. Maybe Sundays still have that quality in our villages, for it is quieter. Certainly, we need a day that is different.
For Orthodox Jews, the Shabbat was a day of complete rest, and for some they couldn’t even switch on a light or cook a meal, for that would be work. They were following, albeit very strictly, the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. It was an important command, for it was given to the Israelites who had been slaves in Egypt and didn’t know what a day off was like, so the sabbath was really special – a day without work.
Even those of us who are retired realise how difficult it can be to switch off and rest. It is of course made worse by these mobile phones that allow us to keep checking for emails and messages. I am very guilty of that. David in our Old Testament reading didn’t have a mobile phone, but he was always looking to the next project. He had become king, had established Jerusalem as his capital and next – he wanted to build a temple for God, to house the ark of the covenant. But in our passage this morning, God says ‘wait!’ That is for someone else to do. David had to learn patience and to leave that project, which his son Solomon would take on. There are some things which we leave to those who come after us.
In the Gospels, the disciples had been sent out to teach and heal and spread the good news of God’s kingdom. They returned excited and full of stories – but also exhausted. Jesus says, ‘Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile’. What a lovely invitation. Imagine hearing these words and conjuring up the feelings of peace and quiet evoked. A chance to slow down and recharge our batteries and simply be. To rest. Especially after this year of pandemic, when our mental health has suffered and when even to get away can mean joining queues of cars at beauty spots or 6 hour queues at the airport if we ventured abroad, it is vital to rest. In the metrical 23rd Psalm, God ‘makes me to lie down in green pastures’.
Come and rest. But the best laid plans…! The disciples didn’t quite get their rest, for as they sailed across the Lake, people watched where the boat was heading and immediately rushed round to get there ahead of them, such was the appeal, the draw of Jesus. People came with their needs, very real needs, and it was only Jesus who could address them, could give them peace in their souls. Looking at them, Jesus was filled with compassion. He couldn’t tell them to come back the next day or the next week. He was the Son of God and responds to the people with God’s love and grace. His compassion overrides his need to rest.
However, that said, we do read of times when Jesus did go away to a quiet place, and we are encouraged to do likewise: to get off the treadmill of work and accumulation and take a step back to appreciate God and all God does in our lives. It is important to take time away from the clamour of the world and to find rest in God. Some find it good to take time in the morning or evening to pray and read a portion of the Bible or a book of meditations. For others they like to go away on retreat. For others still a walk in the countryside can recharge the batteries. But we do have to look after ourselves and replenish ourselves, for in order to give out and respond to the needs of others, we have to have something to give. So let us find that quiet centre in the crowded lives we lead and regain that balance between doing and renewing.
Hymn 716 – Come and find the quiet centre (1,3)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Lord, you took your disciples away from the crowds to rest and find refreshment. But it was not always easy, because the crowds followed and made demands on your time. We pray for all those you have given the responsibility of leadership, especially in the Church. We ask that you enable them to find or regain a healthy balance amid the rhythm of life’s rushing and resting. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for all who are suffering because of climate change, and for all who are taking action and speaking out on behalf of your creation. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
We pray for all who are suffering because of the COVID 19 Pandemic: those who have lost loved ones, health, or livelihood. And all those who are having to find new rhythms of life at this time due to suffering long Covid. We pray that we may use the new lessening of restrictions coming into place this week wisely and be sensitive to one another’s needs.
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Lord Jesus, we rejoice that we are part of your worldwide family. Help us to faithfully proclaim your gospel on behalf of all people and to walk your way of sacrificial love through testing times, listening only to your voice as we speak your word. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father we believe your touch has still its ancient power to heal and so we raise before you those who are sick in our Cheviot Churches community. We ask that you will ease their pain and heal the damage done to them in body, mind, or spirit. Be present with them through the support of friends and in the care of doctors and nurses, fill them with the warmth of your love. Be with all who mourn. Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer
In a moment of silence, we name before you now those who are particularly on our hearts this day
Lord in your mercy Hear our prayer Amen.
Hymn 702 – God in love and perfect wisdom (1,3)
Go into the world to speak with courage.
Go into the world to act with compassion.
Go into the world to share the good news.
And may God - Creator, Son and Spirit -
inform and inspire our thinking, our speaking and our actions
and bless us today, and every day to come. Amen