Sunday Worship – 28th February 2021 (2nd Sunday in Lent)

Wo soll ich fliehen hin(Whither shall I flee?) BWV 646 by JS Bach
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Call to worship
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord O my soul. (from Psalm 103)

Let Us Pray
Lord of all, we come to you at the start of a new day, in the quiet, to make space for you in our morning routines, to be still and know that you are God, to listen in the peace and calm of these moments to your still, small voice…

Lord of all, forgive us that we don’t always take this time, believing that we don’t have the time, promising to spend time with you later, filling our day with other things, forgetting that you are the most important part…

Lord of all, forgive us that we ask you to speak but so often we don’t listen or we ignore your voice if we don’t like to hear your challenge…

Lord of all, help us to recognise that Christ is with us, now and always…waiting to be welcomed in to walk with us and us with him…renew us through your Holy Spirit, guiding, encouraging, challenging and enriching our lives…

Lord of all, we open our hearts to you now, fill us Lord with your peace and grace,
In Jesus name we ask these things, Amen

And continuing prayerfully, let’s read Psalm 103,… maybe a couple of times…
a great Psalm of praise and a reminder for us of who God is and all he does for us…

Psalm 103
Of David

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Song – 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

Matt Redman, Steve Angrisano

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Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship your holy name

The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship your holy name

You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing
10, 000 reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing your praise unending
10, 000 years and then forever more

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship your holy name………………..

Reading
Mark 2 v13 to 22
Jesus calls Levi and eats with sinners

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus questioned about fasting

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Just a thought
When we read or hear this familiar passage from Mark’s gospel, it’s tempting to believe, even subconsciously, that Jesus was always telling off the Pharisees…always looking out for opportunities to point out how wrong they could be…many of us have been taught that the Pharisees were the baddies and that the point of this passage is that Jesus calls anyone and everyone, no matter whether we are society’s heroes…like NHS workers…or society’s pariahs…like Levi/Matthew the tax collector, working for the Romans and fleecing his own people…Jesus welcomes us all with open arms…true, of course, arms wide open to us all…

Look again, though, and we realise that the Pharisees were so close to understanding  God’s kingdom, yet so far in their interpretation…if  we read carefully, we see that the Pharisees were always asking questions, and at the beginning at least, were really trying to understand what was going on…and in verse 17, the implication in Jesus’ words is that the Pharisees were not the ones who needed him…’It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick’…and so Jesus spends his time with ‘sinners’ not Pharisees…

Let’s remember always why Jesus came to live amongst the mess and dirt of human life…he came to bring in and bring us to the kingdom of God…in love, in compassion, with mercy and absolutely stupidly amazing grace…Thank you  Jesus.

Hymn – StF 707 – Make me a channel of your peace

Sebastian Temple (1928-1997)
from the Prayer to St Francis

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Make me a channel of Your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love
where there is injury, your pardon Lord
and where there’s doubt, true faith in you
Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of Your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
where there is darkness, only light
and where there’s sadness, ever joy
Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of Your peace
It is pardoning that we are pardoned
in giving unto all that we receive
and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Let’s continue to pray…

A reflection on the Lord’s prayer
Father and Mother of us all, yet not of this world, your name is precious to us.

We long to see the world as you would have it, as we know it will become, but for now we are thankful for the things we need here today-food, shelter, health, love and enough to do.

We know we are not always the people you would like us to be-we fail you, ourselves and each other and we are not as forgiving as we could be-so we ask that we might know ourselves made new and set free to release others from our anger and hurt.

Though life is full of temptations, help us to stand firm and keep us from straying down the wrong paths.

All this we ask because we know that you are the power that keeps us loving, yours is the kingdom we inhabit by faith and through us we hope the world will see the wonder that is your love and grace. Amen

Lord, in our weakness we come to you for strength, in our sorrow we come to you for comfort, in our joy we come to you to celebrate with us, in our times of anxiety we come to you for calm, in our times of confusion and doubt we come to you for guidance and help….so now we come to pray for others…

Loving God, as the pandemic continues to occupy much of our thoughts, we bring to you our world of so much pain, so much need and sorrow; a world for which you care so deeply that you gave your all for it, living and dying among us in your Son, Jesus Christ.

Lord, in your mercy, reach out again in grace and love.

We bring to you the causes of so much suffering—-

the sin of greed, denying many their share of the earth’s riches to the benefit of the few;
the sin of waste, squandering the resources you have given so generously;
the sin of intolerance, dividing families, communities and nations;
the sin of pride, thinking too highly of ourselves and being too ready to judge others;
the sin of indifference, caring too little about you or anything other than ourselves.

Lord, in your mercy, reach out again in grace and love

We bring to you all those who have been bereaved or whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic……
we bring to you those suffering with their mental health in these times…
those whose work is uncertain or who have been made redundant…
we bring to you all those in hospital and we bring to you the doctors, nurses, and all those who are giving all they can to provide care for the sick…
we pray for comfort, for peace and for practical help…help us to recognise where we can make a difference and help us to be willing to give our time and our gifts generously…

And for ourselves…

Come with me today, God..

Walk with me to collect the paper and the milk-listen to birds, notice the snowdrops peering up through the earth, greet the people we meet on the way.
Listen to the radio with me over breakfast-feel the frustration with politicians who will not answer questions, laugh at the banter between the presenters who have become old friends.
Sit in the car with me as I drive-learn patience with other drivers and appreciate the passing countryside.
Walk with me through the neighbourhood-notice who are striding confidently with smiles on their faces and the ones who are shuffling with their heads down with all the worries of the world on their shoulders.
Agonise with me on whether to offer more than a quick ‘hello’….

Sit with me…enjoy the sounds of the house next door, the cries of a new baby, the barking of the dog, the muffled voices and the laughter leaking through the walls.
Join me in the daily chores in the house…doing the washing, the ironing, the cooking and cleaning…plan with me our evening meal,
Collapse on the sofa with me…shout at the television, work out who the murderer is, feel pleased when we answer the quiz questions, sift through the channels for entertainment…and despair at the news of your broken world…appreciate the satisfaction of working on a craft project…painting, knitting, woodwork, decorating…the hobbies that enrich our day…

So at the end of the day, when I think back over my day with you, I know that you have been there with me, loving, caring, challenging, guiding and reassuring….and I can rest in your peace until a new day dawns.   Amen

(prayers adapted from Holy Habits-Prayer)

Hymn – StF 83 – Praise my soul

Henry Francis Lyte(1793-1847)

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Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Amen

Fugue in G BWV 576 by JS Bach
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