Service – Sunday 30th August

7 Improvisations Op 150: No 4 Allegretto by Camile Saint-Saens
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Call to Worship
We come to worship on this, the Lord’s Day.
What will God accomplish among us in this time?
We have come to this Sabbath seeking rest and renewal.
What will God accomplish among us where we are?
We are here to offer our praise and thanksgiving.
What will God accomplish among us in our hearts?
Confident of God’s work among us at all times and in all places, let us worship God.
Amen

StF 87 – Hymn – Praise to the living God
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Praise to the living God!
All praised be his name,
who was, and is, and is to be,
for e’er the same!
The one eternal God
ere aught that now appears:
the First, the Last, beyond all thought
his timeless years!

Formless, all lovely forms
declare his loveliness;
holy, no holiness of earth
can his express.
Lo, he is Lord of all!
Creation speaks his praise,
and everywhere, above, below,
his will obeys.

His Spirit flowing free,
high surging where it will:
in prophet’s word he spoke of old,
is speaking still.
Established is his law,
and changeless it shall stand,
deep writ upon the human heart,
on sea, on land.

Eternal life has he
implanted in the soul;
his love shall be our strength and stay,
while ages roll.
Praise to the living God!
All praised be his name,
who was, and is, and is to be,
for e’er the same.

Mediaeval Jewish Doxology
translated by Max Landsberg (1845-1928) and Newton Mann (1836-1926)

Prayers
God, creator,
Artist supreme,
The potter who forms us,
The father who keeps us,
The mother who holds us,
The word who sustains us,
The love who will not let us go,
We offer you our sacrifice of praise.

Jesus, Messiah,
Saviour and friend,
The rabbi who teaches us,
The prophet who stirs us,
The healer who touches us,
The One who dies for us,
The love who will not let us go,
We offer you our sacrifice of praise.

Spirit, power,
Breath of Life,
The guide who prompts us,
The truth who inspires us,
The fire who empowers us,
The spirit who enables us,
The love who will not let us go,
We offer you our sacrifice of praise.

Confession
Our hearts are hard, O God –
Soften them with your love.
Our hands are clenched, O God –
Open them with your grace.
Our feet are planted too firmly, O God –
Invite us to dance with you.
Our lives are not our own, we know –
Let us live and move and have our being in you, O God.
Amen

Assurance of Forgiveness
Sisters and brothers,
This Good News is for us and all the world:
Christ was born, lived, died and rose again
That we would be freed from sin and death.
Through Christ Jesus we know that we are forgiven.
Amen

Reading
Exodus 3 v1 to 15

StF 20 – Hymn – Be Still
Click here to play the music sung by David J Evans (includes introduction)

Be still,
for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One, is here;
come bow before him now
with reverence and fear:
in him no sin is found —
we stand on holy ground.
Be still,
for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One, is here.

Be still,
for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around;
he burns with holy fire,
with splendour he is crowned:
how awesome is the sight —
our radiant King of light!
Be still,
for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around.

Be still,
for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place;
he comes to cleanse and heal,
to minister his grace:
no work too hard for him —
in faith receive from him.
Be still,
for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.

David J. Evans (b. 1957)

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

The story of the Burning Bush. A story known to many, a story portrayed in film and animation alike, for people to be in awe of.

But what is it they are in awe of?

We read: Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

When I was a boy and would tell my parents what I wanted or what I was going to do, my dad would reply ‘Who do you think you are? The great I am?’ He was not being blasphemous, but using the idiom to point out that I was not the one who said and it was done, that I had too high an opinion of myself.

When God says what God says to Moses what does it mean?

Let us explore it’s meanings.

In this passage Hebrew the name for God is rendered ehyeh asher ehyeh, or “I AM WHO I AM.” The meaning here of God’s name reveals that God is sovereign and his plans are not contingent on any other person, their plans, or any other circumstance. God is who God is: God is eternally God.,

This statement “I AM” comes from the Hebrew verb “to be or to exist.” With this statement, God declared that He is self-existent, eternal, self-sufficient, self-directed. But this statement also declared that He is present. Despite His nature being so different from humans, God is present with His people. He was aware of their suffering, He desired to deliver them, and He intended to be known throughout all generations. Revealing His holy name to Moses implied an intimate relationship as first names were often only shared with those in covenant relationship. This God had been present and would always be present with His people, ready to intervene on their behalf.

But there is more.
The Greek translators of the Bible rendered this passage as, “I am the one who is.” Historically, however, it is impossible to find this meaning in the Hebrew text. Hebrew simply did not have a concept of Being, in the manner of Greek philosophy.

The actual meaning of the Hebrew phrase is enigmatic. The proper Hebrew name for the God of Israel, Yahweh, can be understood as a form of the verb “to be”. It can be translated “he causes to be.” It has been suggested that this name is a way of referring to a creator God.

Exodus 3 goes on to give a fuller explanation of the identity of the Deity. He is the God of the ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The key element, however, is what he promises to do in the future, in effect fulfilling the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15. God is motivated by the suffering of Israel: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt, I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their suffering and I have come down to deliver them”.

God wanted to assure Moses and Israel that God would become what they would need Him to become.  In using the words “I AM THAT I AM,” God used such an expression to reveal to Moses a promise and a pledge found in His name.

As said throughout the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, God is known by his four-letter name YHWH.  It is here that we delve deeper as we find that the meaning of the Hebrew name YHWH – God’s name – is “the Self-existent,” “He who becomes,” or “the becoming one.”

By using the translation “I will become whatsoever I may become,” we see the relationship of this phrase to Yahweh – “He who becomes.”  They both use the word “become.” The use of ehyeh asher ehyeh in Exodus 3:14 was God’s way of assuring and pledging to Moses and Israel that God would become whatever they needed Him to become.

Remember the context of the passage in Exodus.  The Israelites were crying day and night for deliverance.  God was calling Moses to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asked God – what is God’s name or what should he say to the Israelites?  In God’s response, He provides a promise to Israel – He would become what they would need Him to become – in this case – their deliverer.  This promise found in the name of God can be extended to the world of humankind. God will become what they need Him to become.

There are many names of God that can be found, but each name is not just a name as each name is a description of God. Just listen to this list.

EL, ELOAH [el, el-oh-ah]: God “mighty, strong,”
ELOHIM [el-oh-heem]: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong”
EL SHADDAI [el-shah-dahy]: “God Almighty,”
ADONAI [ædɒˈnaɪ; ah-daw-nahy]: “Lord” guidance (Psalm 31:3).
YAHWEH-JIREH [yah-way-ji-reh]: “The Lord Will Provide”
YAHWEH-RAPHA [yah-way-raw-faw]: “The Lord Who Heals”
YAHWEH-NISSI [yah-way-nee-see]: “The Lord Our Banner” where banner is understood to be a rallying place

YAHWEH-M’KADDESH [yah-way-meh-kad-esh]: “The Lord Who Makes Holy”
YAHWEH-SHALOM [yah-way-shah-lohm]: “The Lord Our Peace”
YAHWEH-ELOHIM [yah-way-el-oh-him]: “LORD of Lords”
YAHWEH-TSIDKENU [yah-way-tzid-kay-noo]: “The Lord Our Righteousness”
YAHWEH-ROHI [yah-way-roh-hee]: “The Lord Our Shepherd”
YAHWEH-SHAMMAH [yah-way-sham-mahw]: “The Lord Is There”
YAHWEH-SABAOTH [yah-way-sah-bah-ohth]: “The Lord of Hosts”

EL ROI [el-roh-ee]: “The God who Sees”
EL-OLAM [el-oh-lahm]: “Everlasting God”
EL-GIBHOR [el-ghee-bohr]: “Mighty God”

This is not a full list, but gives you the idea. God is all these things and more and God offers all these things and more out of and because of himself. God offers them as and when we need them. God comes to us as we need God. God becomes what we need, not what we need God to be, but God becomes what we need because he is the God that meets and fulfils all our needs. From the parting of the Red Sea to the small voice with Elijah, from the feeding of the 5,000 to the hen who wants to gather her chicks, God comes to His people too meet their need, to meet them in their need. God becomes, God reveals, we are met.

What God becomes to us, is not the same as what God becomes to our brother or sister, for our needs and theirs are not the same. While what God becomes to us, is not the same as what God becomes to our brother or sister, it is the same God for all these things are in God, are of God……are God.

That is how great our God is and why often our view of God is far, far too small. At ministerial training college one of my lecturers once said “Our biggest danger is that the God we speak of is always a little smaller than our own theology.”

God, I AM, is ‘the becoming one’. As we seek to meet with God and follow God in Christ, what are we becoming, to God, to each other and to those yet to meet God?
Amen

StF 463 – Hymn – Deep in the shadows of the past
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

Deep in the shadows of the past,
far out from settled lands,
some nomads travelled with their God
across the desert sands.
The dawning hope of humankind
by them was sensed and shown:
a promise calling them ahead,
a future yet unknown.

While others bowed to changeless gods,
they met a mystery,
invisible, without a name:
‘I AM WHAT I WILL BE’;
and by their tents, around their fires,
in story, song and law,
they praised, remembered, handed on
a past that promised more.

From Exodus to Pentecost
the promise changed and grew,
while some, remembering the past,
recorded what they knew,
or with their letters and laments,
their prophecy and praise,
recovered, kindled and expressed
new hope for changing days.

For all the writings that survived,
for leaders, long ago,
who sifted, copied, and preserved
the Bible that we know,
give thanks, and find its story yet
our promise, strength and call,
the model of emerging faith,
alive with hope for all.

Brian Wren (b. 1936)

Intercessions
Gracious God, we bring before you our prayers for the world.
We pray for all those who lack physical things, food, shelter, water, and all of life’s necessities.

We pray for those who mourn, and those who ail. Lord, for those we may help, may our hands work quickly, and for those we personally cannot help, we pray for the hands that will.

We pray for all those who work to provide care and help to others. Lord bless them and keep them from tiredness and error, and those they care for, keep them from despair. We bring the names of those known to us before you……

We pray for all in spiritual distress, who struggle to hear your message, or to come to you in prayer. Lord, help them to heed.

We pray for ourselves. Strengthen us to come through renewed in faith in certainty.

We pray for our land and nation. Lord, help us all to endure, to do our duty and to serve you faithfully. May our land be brightened by the Light of Lord as we leave these times behind.

Lord, we ask these things, knowing that when we pray, wherever we pray, you hear our prayers. Thanks be unto you, Father Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

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.
Amen

StF 464 – Hymn – God it was who said to Abraham
Click here to play the music (NO introduction)

God it was who said to Abraham,
‘Pack your bags and travel on.’
God it was who said to Sarah,
‘Smile and soon you’ll bear a son.’
Travelling folk and aged mothers
wandering when they thought they’d done —
this is how we find God’s people,
leaving all because of One.

God it was who said to Moses,
‘Save my people, part the sea.’
God it was who said to Miriam,
‘Sing and dance to show you’re free.’
Shepherd-saints and tambourinists
doing what God knew they could —
this is how we find God’s people,
liberating what they should.

God it was who said to Joseph,
‘Down your tools and take your wife.’
God it was who said to Mary,
‘In your womb, I’ll start my life!’
Carpenter and country maiden
leaving town and trade and skills —
this is how we find God’s people,
moved by what their Maker wills.

Christ it was who said, ‘Zacchaeus,
I would like to eat with you.’
Christ it was who said to Martha,
‘Listening’s what you need to do.’
Civil servants and housekeepers,
changing places at a cost —
this is how Christ summons people,
calling both the loved and lost.

In this crowd which spans the ages,
with these saints whom we revere,
God wants us to share their purpose
starting now and starting here.
So we celebrate our calling,
so we raise both heart and voice,
as we pray that through our living
more may find they are God’s choice.

John L. Bell (b. 1949) and Graham Maule (b. 1958)

Blessing
The love of God be the passion
in our hearts.
The joy of God our strength
when times are hard.
The presence of God a peace
that overflows.
The Word of God the seed
that we will sow.

Fanfare by Jaques-Nicolas Lemmens
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