Service – Sunday 2nd August

Scherzo by Percy Whitlock
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Call to worship
Brothers and sisters,
God is close to all who call on him with honesty and sincerity.
So come to this time of worship with confidence and expectation,
for God is among us, and he will hear us.

StF 544 – Hymn – As the deer
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As the deer pants for the water
so my soul longs after you
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship you
You alone are my strength my shield
to you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship you

I want you more than gold or silver
only you can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
and the apple of my eye
You alone are my strength my shield
to you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship you

You are my friend and you are my brother
even though you are king
I love you more than any other
so much more than anything.
You alone are my strength my shield
to you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship you

Martyn J Nystrom (1956)

Prayer
Awesome and majestic God, your creative power, your glory and holiness were experienced by your people of old as clouds and fire guiding them to freedom.

They believed that no one could see your face and live.
How blessed therefore are we, for you have revealed your face to us in Jesus — the human face of your love.

You also equip us for our journey through life and beyond, by breathing new and everlasting life into our very beings, through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

These people of old believed that it was your presence with them which made them a chosen and special people.

We praise and adore you, O God, for making our lives so special, by choosing to share your life with us in and through Jesus.

May this time of worship and the service of our lives reveal our thanksgiving and our wonder that you should so care for us.

This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

God, we come with praise and gratitude.
Thank you for your word, for speaking to us anew today.
In faith and trust, we open our ears and minds to you.
We know you are with us in the rush of life.
God, you see us as we truly are, with our secrets and shames, our dreams and hopes.

We crave your blessing and direction. We confess that we have walked in dark places.
In your mercy, cleanse us from all evil, forgive us the sins that are past, and bless us with your insights for the future.

Bless us, as you blessed Jacob, with perseverance to find new ways of living in your peace and in the wisdom of your Spirit.

May this time of worship renew and strengthen us to live out the blessing we receive from you. Amen

Reading from the Old Testament
Genesis 32 v 22 to 31

StF 636 – Hymn – O love that will not
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O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee:
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee:
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.

O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee:
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.

George Matheson (1842-1906)

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

We find Jacob at the Jabbok. He, has now run out of places to dodge and weave and hide in. Laban is behind him and he can never turn back that way. Esau in front of him with 400 men. Jacob has in front and behind those he has used to get what he wants. Even here he tries to cut his loses by dividing his goods into two thinking that Esau will only be able to attack one group and so he can keep half his spoils. Jacob fords the river at night to put his wives, his children and possessions in a safer place. He crosses back to wait, to see, to deal with the reckoning. At night, in the dark, in the cold he sits and he waits.

The lifers I worked with in the prisons would tell me that those who had seen what they had done, those who had repented, those who had regrets, served their sentence each night between 3 and 5 in the morning. The night is dark, cold, still and silent. It is just you and your thoughts, you and your pictures in your mind, playing and replaying what you have done, all you have lost, all you have harmed and all you have hurt. You sit, alone in the silence, utterly alone looking into the abyss.

Jacob, perhaps facing these same thoughts found himself far from alone. He wrestles with someone. It is dark and there is no description of the person that he wrestles with. Who or what does Jacob wrestle with and why?

There are many possible answers:

Does he wrestle with the angel of Esau? For before Jacob can go home, he must come to terms with what his twin brother Esau represents to him. Before the face to face encounter with Esau, Jacob must first go through a dark night of the soul.

Or is it that Jacob at this point is getting ready to flee and avoid the confrontation with his brother? The man, the angel, holds him back, thereby forcing him to confront that which he is so desperately seeking to escape. Jacob has fled before. As we saw, he ran from Esau to the house of Laban, and he fled Laban. It is highly plausible that Jacob might attempt to run again. But the mysterious stranger has caught him, compelling him to break the pattern and confront his reality. By injuring his leg, the angel denies Jacob his favoured means of escape- running.

Or is it that the mysterious man with whom Jacob battles throughout the night is none other than Jacob himself? In the darkness of fear and uncertainty Jacob is wrestling with himself, both wrestling with God and wrestling with his own fate. In wrestling he is attempting to transform his fate: to own and somehow fashion his own personal path through life. Standing alone, Jacob wrestles with uncertainty.

“Vayeavek” is the Hebrew word for struggle in this text, to struggle is to embrace.

Wrestling cannot come from a place of distance. All wrestling takes place close up, face to face. Jacob, the wrestler is in intimate contact with God through struggle. When people wrestle it is precisely the same action as embracing them. The image of two people locked in struggle, wrestling, is almost identical to that of two people locked in embrace, hugging.

The language itself plays the same games. The Hebrew words for ‘struggle’ and ‘embrace’ derive from the same two-letter root, so etymologically there are links of lechobko and leovko: to struggle is to embrace, thus to wrestle is to be engaged, to be fully involved.

In this struggle Jacob is asked his name. In the case of Jacob, the messenger seems to want Jacob to think deeply about the meaning of his name, which we learned at his birth would represent the depth of his troubled relationship with his brother.

The messenger knows not only Jacob’s name, but his history — he’s asking if Jacob has wrestled sufficiently with his own identity. “What is your name?” in this context, can be understood as, “Are you still Jacob, the deceiver, or are you ready to become Israel, the person of conscience?”

Jacob does not give up on his struggle, nor does he separate from it: he merges with it. The outcome of his battle with the stranger is that Jacob is renamed Israel, the combination of two words – Yashar-El – meaning Straightness of God as well as Struggle with God. The word straight here is in the sense of a “straight person”- a person of integrity. Jacob becomes a person with integrity.

When God asks a question, it’s not for the sake of an answer, but for the sake of an inner response, a change in the person.

Who am I? What is the name I have made for myself, and what is the name I am capable of achieving? Just to ask the question can move us towards a better answer — just to ask the question, and thus demonstrate our capacity for growth and introspection, is a blessing in itself.

StF 476 – Hymn – One More Step
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One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me travelling along with you:
and it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

Round the corners of the world I turn,
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see
you’ll be looking at along with me:
and it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

As I travel through the bad and good,
keep me travelling the way I should;
where I see no way to go
you’ll be telling me the way, I know:
and it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me travelling along with you:
and it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

You are older than the world can be,
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me travelling along with you:
and it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.

                                                                                     Sydney Carter (1915-2004)

Our Intercessions
We pray for peace throughout the world
so that we can all live together in harmony,
whatever our differences are.

We pray for refugees and asylum seekers everywhere,
that they will be welcomed into their new communities and not treated cruelly.

We continue to pray for the time when everyone will have food,
water, shelter, medical supplies
and the chance to sleep without fear of tomorrow.

You created our world and gave us life…
we are sorry for destroying your creation

Help us to change our ways
so that we can look after the world
and make it the way that you want it to be
We pray for all those who are sick in body, mind or spirit.

Especially we pray for those known to us
Please give them peace in their pain,
strength in their weakness and comfort in their sadness

We pray for those who are anxious about the future and those who see only worry in the days to come.

For those who are estranged from loved ones and unable to do anything to bring about reconciliation.

For those who wrestle with trouble and distress of body, mind and soul.

Holy God, help us to show others that you are present in the midst of their struggles, that together we might demonstrate your great love and concern for your world.

Everlasting God, you have given us new life and, as we go back out into the world now, we pray that our lives will reflect your love to all those we meet.

In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
and lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen

StF 462 – Hymn – Come with me, come wander
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Come with me, come wander, come welcome the world,
where strangers might smile or where stones may be hurled;
come leave what you cling to, lay down what you clutch
and find, with hands empty, that hearts can hold much.
Sing Hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!
Sing Hey for the Pharisees leaving their rules!
Sing Hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!
Sing Hey for the people who leave their regrets!

Come walk in my company, come sleep by my side,
come savour a lifestyle with nothing to hide;
come sit at my table and eat with my friends,
discovering that love which the world never ends.
Sing Hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!
Sing Hey for the Pharisees leaving their rules!
Sing Hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!
Sing Hey for the people who leave their regrets!

Come share in my laughter, come close to my fears,
come find yourself washed with the kiss of my tears;
come stand close at hand while I suffer and die,
and find in three days how I never will lie.
Sing Hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!
Sing Hey for the Pharisees leaving their rules!
Sing Hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!
Sing Hey for the people who leave their regrets!

Come leave your possessions, come share out your treasure,
come give and receive without method or measure;
come loose every bond that’s restraining the spirit,
enabling the earth to be yours to inherit.
Sing Hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!
Sing Hey for the Pharisees leaving their rules!
Sing Hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!
Sing Hey for the people who leave their regrets!

John L. Bell & Graham Maule

The Blessing
May the love of the Father,
the tenderness of the Son,
and the presence of the Spirit,
gladden our hearts
and bring peace to our soul,
this day and all days, Amen

Organ Concerto in A minor BWV 593 by JS Bach
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