We welcome all visitors to our services at Yetholm (10am) and at Morebattle (11.15am), where we will ordain three new elders.
Call to Worship
We gather to worship God
to be reminded of hope
to be built up in love
and to step out together on the way of Jesus
Peace candle is lit
Hymn 336 – Christ is our light
Prayers of Approach and Confession
In gardens and bushland, mountains and oceans
We see the signs that God is with us.
In the faces of people whom God so loves,
We see the signs that God is with us.
Where the poor and abused are heard and raised,
We see the signs that God is with us.
In our brokenness, there is the hope of wholeness.
In our emptiness, there is the hope of fullness.
In our darkness, there is the hope of light
In our doubt, there is the gift of faith.
Gracious and loving God, we give thanks for your presence in our lives, we praise your name and lift our voices to you!
God of majesty and mercy,
although Christ offers us peace,
we confess we are a people divided.
We harbour fears and jealousy
which set neighbour against neighbour, nation against nation. We pursue profit and pleasures which harm creation and the wellbeing of less privileged peoples. Have mercy upon us, O God.
Set us free from our old ways to serve you as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul challenges us to lay aside actions and deeds that distance us from God and one another and to put on the armour of light.
Know that you are forgiven by God’s grace. So walk in God’s mercy. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with each other.
Readings – Romans 13:8-14;
Hymn 543 – Longing for light (1,2,3,5)
Everlasting God, Lord of compassion and gracious understanding, thank you for your promise to be us when we gather in Jesus' Name. Help us to love one another and so fulfil the law. Enable us to keep the promises we have made and so as we go out this coming week show us more of the life you have designed especially for us to live. Amen
If something is broken, what do you do? It may be that you go out and buy a new better model or if clothes have a hole, then a nice new shirt. But these days people are once again more interested in trying to repair it, and we have seen much interest in programmes like the Repair Shop. People use their skills to mend things. Sometimes it only needs a needle and thread or some blu-tac or Sellotape; sometimes it needs something more specialised. This week we have been hearing of the threat of school and other public buildings being closed because of weakened concrete, and that will take something more specialised to sort; it will be a decision to repair or to demolish and rebuild.
It is the same with our bodies. If I get a blister on my Kiltwalk, I will know what to do; if we break a limb, we may have our leg or arm in plaster for some weeks, but it will repair eventually. BUT what about relationships? And there it becomes more difficult, and that is what our Gospel reading addresses today.
God calls us to live together peaceably with one another, so we can work together to support each other and build a better world. Paul in his letter to the Romans suggests that all the commandments are summed up in ‘loving our neighbour as ourself’, though that rather assumes we love ourselves, and some people sadly don’t. Matthew dwells on difficulties within the church community, where there are disagreements, and shows how to resolve them. In the epistles we see that often the early congregations had tensions and quarrels. They were human. Matthew was talking about something universal – that people sometimes don’t get on, and that affects the Christian community as much as other places.
When I was a student, I went to Israel for a year before going to study Divinity in Edinburgh. The Church had a centre there, a church, a bookshop, a guest house to welcome pilgrims. There was a minister, the warden and assistant warden and several of us volunteers, taking time out for whatever reason and spending time in the Holy land. I imagined it would be so good to live in community with fellow Christians, that we would live in love and harmony. But the reality soon hit me – that as Christians we are human, and tensions and jealousies exist.
In the past, instead of getting the Cheviot magazine, the elder would give you a token, but only if you were deemed worthy of receiving communion. Thankfully we are away from these more judgemental days, but some churches still practice that with relish, especially some churches in Zambia who suspended the young but overlooked the sins of the more mature. Jehovah Witness are famous for shunning members who stray from their code. Yes, we need to have standards and need to ‘put aside the deeds of darkness and don the armour of the light’, as Paul puts it to the Romans. But also to realise we have all fallen short, but pardoned by God’s grace. That means we can live as children of the light.
Yet we do have situations that need to be resolved pastorally and Matthew provides a framework for that by addressing the disagreement. I found myself in a congregation that was split down the middle and needed to call in ‘Place for Hope’, which works in conflict resolution and through dialogue seeks to resolve issues. In South Africa after Apartheid, there was no bloodbath, but rather the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which confronted issues head-on to bring about resolution.
But in the Gospel, the passage finishes with the wonderful verse that where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them. And where God is, there is love. Where God is, there is a desire to work together, to build a world of peace . A world where hard-talking needs sometimes to be done, but where reconciliation and co-operation is always possible. Today we ordain our new elders and pray that they will be motivated to act in love and live by the kingdom values, as they seek to be used by God, who has called them, a God who has promised to be with them, as they seek to serve the church.
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, may the money we offer
and the gifts you have given us to use for your service,
be a blessing to our community, in your name. Amen
Lord Jesus, you have promised that where two or three are gathered in your name you are there among them and so we pray to you in faith. We pray for the life of your Church, holding before you the life of the whole Church of Scotland and of our own congregation here in this place. Teach us the meaning of love, that we may truly love one another and that we may radiate your love to those around us. In a world of division and conflict show us how to live in unity with those who are different to ourselves. Fill your church with hope, faith and love that your glory may be revealed through our lives.
We pray for the needs of the world; for the victims of war and conflict in Ukraine, in Israel and Palestine and the many forgotten conflicts in our world; praying for hope, wisdom, compassion, and lasting peace.
For all who are making a new beginning in their lives we pray for your calming presence and guiding hand upon them. Bless our community, Lord, and all who live and work here, that your grace may be shown in neighbourly love. We pray for people who are in special need; Those in our church family who are ill; Someone we know who is struggling; All who are grieving the death of a loved one; And those whose concerns are in our thoughts today as we pray for them in silence….. Shine your light on all for whom we pray. In the name of Christ, who hears our prayers. Amen.
Hymn 465 – Be thou my vision
Ordination of Elders
Hymn 680 – You are called to tell the story (1,2,4)
Go, strengthened to live your faith as the Church in the world and to dwell with each other in community,
And may the blessing of God, Creator, Son and Spirit,
go with you. Amen