Home Worship 16th August

Let’s light a candle  as we begin our worship


Opening Prayer

With open arms You welcome all who call on Your name—

who acknowledge You as Lord,
and look to You in faith.

No one stands outside the circle of Your mercy and love.
And so we come to offer You our worship—to declare that You are our God,
and that we are Your people,
called and chosen by You from the very beginning.
Through the presence of Your Holy Spirit
open our eyes to see You here;
open our minds to receive Your truth,
and our mouths to speak and sing Your praise.

For You alone are God—worthy of all praise and worship,
now and to the end of time.

Amen.


Hymn 320

1    Father, whose everlasting love
your only Son for sinners gave,
whose grace to all did freely move,
and sent him down the world to save:

2    Help us your mercy to extol,
immense, unfathomed, unconfined;
to praise the Lamb who died for all,
the Saviour of all humankind.

3    Your undistinguishing regard
was cast on Adam’s fallen race;
for all you have in Christ prepared
sufficient, sovereign, saving grace.

4    The world he suffered to redeem;
for all he has the atonement made;
for those who will not come to him
the ransom of his life was paid.

5    Arise, O God, maintain your cause!
The fullness of the nations call;
lift up the standard of your cross,
and all shall own you died for all.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)


Psalm 67

1May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
Selah

2that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Selah

5Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
6The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.


Matthew 15:10-20

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection

I am always amazed at how sometimes small things can switch on and off the brightness of our spirit.

At the beginning of this week, I was on a walk with a friend in the Pennines. About two hours into our walk we did not know whether we were heading in the right direction or not. We needed to find a path to take us back to our cars. I said to my friend let’s ask someone for direction. We walked for another 10 minutes and saw a lady standing at the top of the hill with her walking gear. We thought that she would be the right person to ask for directions. We asked her about how we could get back to our cars. She said that we needed to walk back for about 10 minutes then we would see a path on our right and it would take us back to the car park. We turned around and found this path as she told us. A bit later on we sat down for a little break and to enjoy the view. While we were sitting there that same lady caught up us but this time she was following a man. When we first met her, she was on her own. We said hello to her and thanked her again for giving us the right directions. She laughed and told us that she was partially blind and the man was her guide. She allowed us to laugh about it, that a blind woman gave us directions. She brightened our spirit with her attitude toward her disability. She came across as a lovely and courageous woman.
After that encounter, I thought about the verse that talks about the blind leading the blind.
I don’t think this verse is talking about disability but it is about the inner condition of one’s heart, their relationship with God, and their attitude towards others.
Can you sense Jesus’ sadness in those words? Jesus is sad about both the leaders and their followers. Their teaching, actions, and relationship with each other did not reflect the image of God in them.

We know that the way we speak, and our words tell a lot, about us.
Words are important but the first part of our Gospel passage also tells us that our words are a mere reflection of our hearts. Our words are only a window into our hearts. I think Jesus is saying that many of us worry about peoples’ external habits and fail to see what is in their hearts.
Rumi, who is a mystic poet, says that “Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words”.
He also says that “silence is the sea, and speech is like the river. The sea is seeking you; don’t seek the river. Don’t turn your head away from the signs offered by the sea”.
As a minister I worry about saying the right thing and I’m still learning that sometimes words don’t matter. It is about care and love being plain.

In our second part of the reading, we see a Canaanite woman screaming for help but Jesus remains silent. After disciples’ intervention, Jesus enters into a conversation with her that reveals her heart. Despite Jesus’ silence and disciple’s dismissal of her and Jesus’ harsh words, she does not turn away from what Jesus can offer her. She is a woman of faith and her begging for help and her being an outsider do not truly reveal the depths of her faith, courage, and wisdom.
Maybe Jesus is using this encounter as an opportunity to teach his disciples as they one day will be called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Jesus was impressed with the way this woman responded to rejection and humiliation. Maybe this was something disciples talked about later when they themselves faced rejection, humiliation and were seen as outsiders.
After hearing her response Jesus said “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Through these words, she not only received healing for her daughter but she was herself saved by God’s grace through her faith in Jesus.
This passage points out that the words are important but what truly matters is what is in our hearts. This gospel passage invites us not to obsess ourselves on the external habits of others but focus on what’s in their hearts. There is the inside where Jesus has welcomed us and he has welcomed those others as well. We are invited to draw to each other with the bound of love.
Let our love for Jesus and his people continue to sow the seed of courage, hope, and joy in other lives no matter who they are.
Amen


Prayers of Intercession  

Merciful God,
In love You created us,
and in love You sustain us, day after day.
So it is with confidence that we bring our prayers to You,
knowing that You will hear and respond.                    
We pray for those who are estranged from spouse or family,
friends or neighbours;
who find it difficult to forgive past wrongs done to them;
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who for years have carried feelings of guilt or regret for something they did or something they neglected to do;
who find it difficult to ask for forgiveness or forgive themselves;
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those who find themselves far away from You, struggling to overcome their doubts or disillusionment, and who wonder how to find their way back;
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those watching someone they love try to cope with serious illness or injury, and who long for Your miraculous intervention;
Lord, in Your mercyhear our prayer.
For the many others in our world who are suffering this day—
from grief, or loneliness, hunger, poverty, violence or illness;
Lord, in Your mercyhear our prayer.
Sustain all those who look to You in hope.
And strengthen us—Your people—
so that we may be a light to all those who find themselves in darkness.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Amen

Let’s say the Lord’s Payer  


Hymn 495

 1   Dear Lord and Father of mankind
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind;
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

   2    In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

 3   O sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

4    With that deep hush subduing all
our words and works that drown
the tender whisper of thy call,
as noiseless let thy blessing fall
as fell thy manna down.

5    Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

6    Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm!

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)


Closing Prayer

God, mark us with grace and blessing!
Let our lives reflect your light and your goodness so that the way in which we live might bring others
to an awareness of your presence and your love.
Teach us to trust You with our whole heart, and to praise You in every circumstance, so that your grace and mercy might reach out through us to the entire world. 
Amen.


Blessing

May the God we serve pour grace and blessing into our lives!
May the face of God shine light upon us!
May we celebrate God’s love and justice in such a way that everyone around will come to know God,
and will experience God’s grace and blessing for themselves.
God go with you!
Amen