27th March Mother’s Day

Service for Worship at Home 

A gathering prayer

God, our father and mother,
I quieten myself to be present
to myself, to you and to others.
I come as I am, sometimes lost,
because I choose my way and not yours,
because I make an outward show of your way,
but without love – and that is not your way.
Thank you for your outrageous love,
always and forever welcoming me home.
Amen.

A prayer of approach

On this Mothering Sunday, I open my heart before you, faithful God, bringing those I love, and those I struggle to love, those I have lost, and those I am afraid of losing. I bring my tears and my joy, my disappointments and my hopes I bring all that I carry and all that I long to lay down – in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn 357

Jesus- the name high over all,
in hell, or earth, or sky!
Angels revere, and nations fall,
and devils fear and fly.

Jesus- the name to sinners dear,
the name to sinners given!
It scatters all their guilty fear,
it turns their hell to heaven.

Jesus- the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
and bruises Satan’s head;
Power into strengthless souls it speaks,
and life into the dead.

O that the world might taste and see
the riches of his grace!
The arms of love that compass me
would all the earth embrace.

His only righteousness I show,
His saving grace proclaim;
‘tis all my business here below
to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”

Happy if with my latest breath
I might but gasp his name;
Preach him to all, and cry in death:
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

A prayer of adoration

Living God, you do not save me from my mistakes, but you release me to learn from them. Thank you for being there to welcome me back when I have lost my way, to challenge my resentment when I have lost my grace, to embrace my need when I have exhausted my self-sufficiency. I am so grateful.
Amen.

Bible reading:

Luke 15.1-3,11b-32

15 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, “This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!” So Jesus told them this parable:

11 Jesus went on to say, “There was once a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to him, ‘Father, give me my share of the property now.’ So the man divided his property between his two sons. 13 After a few days the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. 14 He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing. 15 So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. 16 He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. 17 At last he came to his senses and said, ‘All my father’s hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve! 18 I will get up and go to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. 19 I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.”’ 20 So he got up and started back to his father.

“He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. 21 ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ 22 But the father called to his servants. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. 23 Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! 24 For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’ And so the feasting began.

25 “In the meantime the older son was out in the field. On his way back, when he came close to the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him, ‘What’s going on?’ 27 ‘Your brother has come back home,’ the servant answered, ‘and your father has killed the prize calf, because he got him back safe and sound.’ 28 The older brother was so angry that he would not go into the house; so his father came out and begged him to come in. 29 But he spoke back to his father, ‘Look, all these years I have worked for you like a slave, and I have never disobeyed your orders. What have you given me? Not even a goat for me to have a feast with my friends! 30 But this son of yours wasted all your property on prostitutes, and when he comes back home, you kill the prize calf for him!’ 31 ‘My son,’ the father answered, ‘you are always here with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be happy, because your brother was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’”

About this Bible passage:

The younger son lived wastefully and shamefully, the elder son lived narrowly and resentfully – whatever is this generous father going to do with his two sons? The surprising (even shocking) answer seems to be: let them be who they are, and love them whatever they do. The younger son dishonours his father with the very suggestion of wanting to live a wild life, but his father allows it. Then he returns, ready with a rehearsed speech (even the hired hands do not go hungry). He is facing up to the reality of his situation, but he could still be viewed as looking out for number one. In an eastern culture with a stress on family duty and honour, the idea that such a disgraced and disgraceful son could return to the family on any terms would be anathema. In fact, it would be the duty of the father to banish him with a solemn curse. But what does this father do? He waits, watching for his son’s return. He runs to him, something that is beneath the dignity of a patriarch. He does not wait to hear the whole prepared speech, but dresses his son in luxury and orders a celebration feast. The elder son cannot stomach this generous forgiveness, neither could the scribes and Pharisees listening to the parable. Often, nor can we. Yet it is one thing to discover that God forgives and is willing to wipe out a downward scale of sins; it is quite another to discover that God also does not operate an upwards scale of merit, where we might gain extra recognition for our good behaviour. The father has only two categories – dead or alive; lost or found – and his concern for both sons is only to love them and see them alive and found. We do not know if the elder son went in to the feast. Will we?

Hymn 443

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love,
tender and true;
Out of the heart of the Father above,
Streaming to me and to you:
Wonderful love
Dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,
Joyfully came;
Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
Sharing their sorrow and shame;
Seeking the lost,
Saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
Why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
Home, weary wanderer, home!
Wonderful love
Dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
Come and abide,
Lifting my life, till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride;
Seeking to be
Lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Robert Walmsley

A prayer of confession and an Assurance of forgiveness

God of the prodigal and the elder sons, I am sorry for the times I get lost in our world with no thought for others.
Forgive me and help me to find my way home.
I am sorry when I use my resources selfishly.
Forgive me and help me to find my way home.
I am sorry when I doubt your love,
and my pride prevents me from admitting my mistakes.
Forgive me and help me to find my way home.
I am sorry when I resent your generosity towards others,
and judge their failures more harshly than my own.
Forgive me and help me to find my way home.
I am sorry when I hurt those I love and abuse their trust.
Forgive me and help me to find my way home. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

God of my family and my friends, I praise you for those who have inspired me,
for those who have mothered me,
for those who have been patient with me,
for those who have nurtured my faith and shown me your love.
Amen.

Prayers of intercession

Gracious God, I pray that your reconciling love may bring harmony to our world.
I pray for those caught up in conflicts between nations and states;
for all who live in fear of the bullet or the bomb.
May the leaders of the nations listen to each other,
and commit themselves to peace.

I pray for those whose relationships have broken down. May your love bring reconciliation, your peace dissolve bitterness, and your grace disperse anger.

I bring to you homes that are filled with conflict,
and pray for all who suffer from domestic violence and abuse.
Bring healing to those who bear the scars of the ways they have been treated,
and enable them to experience love.

I pray for all who seek to mediate, to bring reconciliation and peace,
that they may have wisdom, patience and compassion.
I bring my prayer in the name of Christ,
through whom all are reconciled to you, our God.
Amen.

Hymn 503

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

Come, almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy life receive,
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.

Finish then thy new creation,
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee:
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

Charles Wesley

A sending out prayer

God of outrageous love!
Thank you that I cannot fall out of your love, no matter what my mistakes, no matter how mean and grudging my love is. As you welcome me with ever open arms, enlarge my heart and mind, to serve faithfully and to love outrageously!
Amen.