Service – Sunday 23rd August

JS Bach – Komm, Gott, Schopfer, Heiliger Geist BWV 667
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Call to Worship
With eyes to see,
With ears to hear,
With lips to praise,
With hands to help,
We come to worship God
With the fullness of our being.

StF 340 – Hymn – Ye servants of God
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Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,
and publish abroad his wonderful name;
the name all-victorious of Jesus extol;
his kingdom is glorious, and rules over all.

God ruleth on high, almighty to save;
and still he is nigh, his presence we have;
the great congregation his triumph shall sing,
ascribing salvation to Jesus our King.

‘Salvation to God who sits on the throne!’
Let all cry aloud, and honour the Son;
the praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,
fall down on their faces, and worship the Lamb.

Then let us adore, and give him his right;
all glory and power, all wisdom and might,
all honour and blessing, with angels above,
and thanks never-ceasing, and infinite love.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

O creator God who brought forth light out of darkness and out of nothing you created the universe.
With awe and trembling we come into your presence.
In Christ you lived among us, you taught and healed and showed your great love by embracing the bitter cross.
With longing and hope we come into the mystery of your presence.
O Holy Spirit, you come to us in the rushing wind and fire, bringing strength and comforting and healing.
With open hearts and minds we come into the mystery of your presence.
Be in our midst today, O God; bring light, love and strength.

Holy God
We have squandered your gift of life,
Clinging to that which is passing,
Controlling that which should be free.

We have turned from the Cross,
We have shunned suffering
And sought our ease.

We have denied relationship
And closed down
When we could have opened.

God of mercy and of love
Forgive us all we have
Set aside, and
Set us free
To live as your friends,
In the name of the one
Who lived on earth
As the friend of all.

Exodus ch1 v8 to ch 2 v10

StF 440 – Hymn – Amazing grace
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Amazing grace — how sweet the sound —
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

God’s grace has taught my heart to fear,
his grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
God’s grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

And, when this heart and flesh shall fail
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
a life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.

John Newton (1725-1807) (alt.)

Click here to listen to the Address presented by Rev Mark Barrett

As we read this story we can be led by our expectation and our knowledge of the developing story to see one person as the central hero…. Moses.

But if we are realistic about it we find that in this Moses is merely a bit part player. As T.S. Eliot says ‘an attendant lord’.

Moses owes his life, in so many aspects, to the women around him. Let us take a brief look at these women. But be careful, be very careful.

The Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah courageously defied the authority of Pharaoh by disobeying his wicked edict to kill the newborn Hebrew boys. This is possibly the first act of civil disobedience in the Bible. They defy the edict of the ruler. We see no problem with this, so we should see no problem with what has happened so many times in the past with similar acts as those now in Belarus and beyond. When Paul speaks of obeying governing authorities he speaks about them being established by God, but if they are acting in ungodly ways then surely, they are not instituted by God? Peter says a similar thing, but speaks of doing god’s will. Again, if those in power are not in line with God’s will then they are not to be obeyed. These midwives jeopardised their own safety to protect and save the life of Moses and the other baby boys. Shiphrah and Puah feared God more than they feared Pharaoh, and God blessed them because of their righteous actions—actions that were motivated by their reverence for God.

Moses’ mother Jochebed discerned that there was something special about her infant son, and she protected him by hiding him for three months from Egyptian authorities. When she could no longer hide him at home, Jochebed made a waterproof basket and placed her baby in it. She placed the basket in the Nile among the reeds and entrusted her son into God’s care. Jochebed was fearless in her efforts to keep her baby boy safe. She placed her child, who was under threat of death, into the water to be kept safe. How would we view her if that child had been placed in a dinghy in the Mediterranean to flee death? Yet we view Jochebed as selfless, courageous and a loving mother.

Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby in the Nile and felt sorry for him. Even though she realised he was a Hebrew, she rescued him, offered protection, and later adopted him. We can assume that the princess would have encountered considerable difficulties in persuading other members of the Egyptian royal family to accept the Hebrew child as her adopted son. She was successful, however; and Moses was raised in the Egyptian royal palace where he received an excellent education as a student prince. His palace education, training, and experience would be useful when Moses had the difficult task of leading the Israelites. So she rescues a child in the water and brings him into her family, her country. She finds a foreign baby and takes it in. Luckily, he was not in a dinghy in the Channel, as Nigel Farage would have made her throw the baby back in the basket and push it back out into the water.

Moses’ older sister Miriam had been standing on the banks of the Nile, watching over her baby brother in the basket, to make sure he was safe. When she saw that he was being rescued, young Miriam bravely approached Pharaoh’s daughter and persuaded her to have the baby nursed by his own mother, Jochebed. This arrangement meant that Moses received love and nurture within his own family for a few years before being surrendered to Pharaoh’s daughter when he was still a little boy. Miriam was a fixer, she followed her brother and organised the care to be what her family needed and wanted. She made sure there were no accidents, but that the disobedience of Pharaoh continued to an even greater extent.

As we read our Bibles we praise the men and women of God. We praise them for their acts of justice and righteousness. We praise them for their stand against injustice, tyranny and cruelty. As we praise them we must realise that there is no cut off point in time, place or space for those acts. What was right and just then is right and just now. What was wrong then is wrong now. The side-lining of women in HIStory was wrong then and is wrong now. We should all seek to tell OUR story in the work to bring God’s kingdom in.

StF 672 – Hymn – Where can we find you
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Where can we find you, Lord Jesus our Master?
We want to serve you, to answer your call.
Where do you lead us and ask us to follow?
What should we do in our service to all?

‘Go to the hungry, to those who have nothing;
go where the farmlands are empty and bare.
I broke the bread for the people around me;
out of my plenty, think what you can share.

‘Go to the homeless, to those who have nowhere;
go where my people sleep out in the rain.
I had no comforts but what others gave me;
offer them shelter, give ease to their pain.

‘Go to the outcast, to those who have no-one;
go where my sheep are rejected and lost.
I dined with sinners and reached out to lepers;
go and do likewise, and don’t count the cost.’

Where will we find you, Lord Jesus our Master?
We are your servants who answer your call.
You go before us, and there we will follow,
taking our cross in the service of all.

Allan Charles Dickinson (b. 1954)

Holy and gracious God, we pray for others, prayers that bring to mind the world’s realities. Please teach us not to be afraid, because it is here we find you, sharing this deeply troubled world with us.

Please bless all who are continuing to make a difference: scientists working faster than ever before to find cure or vaccine for Covid-19; chefs, volunteers, entertainers, neighbours and countless more.

May we know your laughter and love.

We ask you to bless all who are there to care for those who are at their lowest, especially in health and care services.

May we know your persevering strength.

We pray for the hundreds of thousands who are grieving here and across the world: for the loss of loved ones, loss of livelihood, loss of confidence and hope, loss of any sense of wellbeing.

May we know your comfort, strong and everlasting.

We pray for people who need the world to be a more just and equal place, and for those who have power to make changes. May it happen quickly and peacefully. May they know your righteousness.

We pray for all who need the world to remember them: refugees and asylum seekers, all living in poverty and suffering from climate change.

May we remember; may they know your provision through us.

Thank you for all, profoundly known and loved, who enrich our lives every day.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever.

StF 663 – Hymn – I, the Lord of sea and sky
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I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain;
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts are satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Daniel L. Schutte (b. 1947)

Generous God,
fill your holy gift of life with grace;
bless your fragile gift of life with joy;
help us always to cherish those who bring grace and joy into our lives
help us the bring that grace and joy into the lives of others.

Eugene Gigout – 10 Pieces for Organ – Toccata
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