Home Worship 28th June

(Paul & Victoria Pratt with Tom Brooke-Mawson)

Let’s light a candle as we begin our Service

Call to worship
God of welcome, we gather today in your presence.
We receive your love, your grace and your forgiveness.
We seek to live more holy and hopeful lives, in Jesus’ name,
Amen.


Hymn: 34

1    O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,
bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness,
kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name.

2    Low at his feet lay your burden of carefulness,
high on his heart he will bear it for you,
comfort your sorrows, and answer your prayerfulness,
showing the pathway your feet should pursue.

3    Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness
of the poor wealth you would count as your own;
truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness,
these are the offerings to bring to his throne.

4    These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness,
he will accept for the name that is dear;
mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness,
trust for our trembling, and hope for our fear.

5    O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,
bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness,
kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name.

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811–1875)


Prayer:
Loving God, we come, each of us just as we are,
with hopes and fears,
joys and sorrows, and lay them all before you.
Help me to know that you are with me now.
Grant me the assurance that, in your love, you receive me,
accept me and forgive me. 
Give me a thankful heart for all that you have done for me through your Son, Jesus Christ,
and let your Holy Spirit guide me as I worship you.
Amen


Welcome: I am sure we all agree that when we are made welcome, we like it. It is much better than the opposite, feeling unwelcome is a horrible situation. In the current climate this is especially difficult when there are so many rules and requirements that can make us feel unwelcome. So how can we adapt and make people feel welcome?
Jesus was always working to make sure we understand that everyone is welcome, no matter where they are from, what they have done or what their background is.
Jesus tests and challenges us to be more welcoming.
Is that challenge something we can take up this week?


Bible Readings: 

Genesis 22: 1-14;

1Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.
When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”


Matthew 10: 40-42

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”


Reflection:

I wonder what has made you feel most alive this week?
Maybe this is the same question as “Where have you seen God this week?”
We learn that life is a gift from God and there is no life without God. We need to pay attention to the moments where we feel life most richly, for these moments are blessings from God.
In these current times,  it can seem as if life is quite bleak and there are barriers at every turn, and we continue to wonder what life looks like under social distancing, how much of life can we live, life is not lived as an individual in isolation, we are inextricably bound with our neighbours, whoever they are. Our happiness and wellbeing depend on others. We see this every day, the sacrifice made by key workers, risking themselves to care for their neighbours, others isolating themselves for the greater good.
There is a quote that “No man is an island” and this is the stuff of the gospel. God choosing to become one of us, to walk amongst us, bind his life, and his death, with us. Making that sacrifice for us. The crucifixion and resurrection is the lynchpin of our faith and way to our own everlasting life.
In parallels to Abraham’s story in the old testament reading today, a path that starts off with overtones of death can lead to an abundance of life, be that through Abraham and his family or through Jesus and us.  We know that God can work in the darkness and the desolation, when suffering seems insurmountable, but in these times, can we trust God, in his unfailing love, can we allow ourselves to believe that God will always be there? Can we trust God enough?
If we allow ourselves to truly see the moments where God has been present this week, can we see this in the little acts of kindness, the support from a friend to help with shopping, key workers, the people working towards a vaccine, the willingness of someone to get this service to you and many others. Maybe God is at work in all these acts. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, this is very clear “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord”. When we accept the call to join in with God’s work, we are walking paths of life – paths of eternal life.  If we can turn to God in the darkness this is our way of choosing life, of saying death does not have the final word. That we live in the reality that the God of life is at work and we want to be co-creators in the good news.
When we do this, it transforms us and also our whole communities, we can experience real life, eternal life and we extend this to our neighbours. If we can turn to God, then the Kingdom of God can break through even on the darkest paths.


Prayers of intercession

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

Sometimes we feel like that – for ourselves and for others around the world whose suffering seems endless.  In our prayers for others today we express something of that longing for things to change, using silence in which to lament all that is wrong.
We hold in our thoughts the groaning of this world, the sense of hopelessness at the effects of pollution and climate change, of plastic waste and rising sea levels. ‘How long, O Lord?’
We hold in our thoughts the grief of so many around the world, mourning the loss of family and friends, to illness, to starvation and to war.
‘How long, O Lord?’
We hold in our thoughts the great needs of our own society, this country, this village, this street, those who live around the church where we worship. ‘How long, O Lord?’
We hold in our thoughts our own families, knowing there are hurts we cannot heal, grievances we cannot solve, challenges we cannot answer, hugs we cannot give. ‘How long, O Lord?’
We hold in our thoughts our personal needs, our fears and anxieties, our sins and selfishness, our desire to change and our failure to do so. ‘How long, O Lord?’
‘But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me’

We offer our prayers in the name of the Creator God who brought light out of darkness, in the name of Jesus Christ who brought life out of death and in the name of the Holy Spirit who brought order out of chaos. Lord, hear our prayer
Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn 531

   1    What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

   2    Have we trials and temptations,
is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
 who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
take it to the Lord in prayer.

   3    Are we weak and heavy-laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge —take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
in his arms he’ll take and shield you,
you will find a solace there.

Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1819–1886)


Blessing:

Everything we have is a gift, all that we have received we know comes from your grace.  Through the power of your Spirit and through our actions and decisions may we see you kingdom come.
Creator of the universe, Lord of all time and space, you are present in this place, in this moment. We go out into the days ahead, seeking to encounter more of you, our God.
Amen.