Sunday Worship – 31st January 2021

Fugue in B Flat Major BWV 560 by JS Bach
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Call to worship
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is; his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12

StF 489 – Hymn – All I once held dear
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Prayers
God our Father,
in your love you welcome us as your children,
through your care you have shaped the universe,
with your mercy you hear our prayers.
Hear us, your children,
as we come before you in worship.

Jesus, our risen Master,
in our weakness, you call us,
in our confusion, you teach us,
in our troubles, you offer us peace.
Meet us, your friends,
as we come to hear your word.

Spirit, Living One,
in the beginning, you breathed life,
in chaos and darkness, you brought hope,
in many tongues, you spread good news.
Transform us, your people,
as we open our minds and hearts to you.

God,
Loving Father, Son and Spirit,
we come.
Yet we know we come with doubts and fears.
We know we come in ignorance.
We know we have failed you, your creation and your people,
in many ways.
Trusting in your love, we turn again to you.
As we open our hearts to your mercy and forgiveness,
grant us your peace.
Accept these prayers,
accept our worship,
accept us,
through your love,
Amen

Readings
Isaiah 1 v10 to -20
Luke 12 v32 to 40

StF 476 – Hymn – One more step along the world I go
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Address
Living the dream.
A phrase oft used during the lockdown and used ironically. But what does the phrase mean in reality.

Living the dream.
Having it all – Does it mean that we have all that we have ever desired?Having all that is offered – Does it mean that whatever is available we can have?
Having all that is possible – Does it mean that there is nothing beyond us, nothing that we cannot have if we so desire it?

Living the dream
If that is what it means then all it means is that we have made a life choice. We have decoded who we live our life for. We have decided that we will be Living for ourselves and no one else.

For us to have all we want and desire means that others have to go without so much, others in some way pay for that.

Does God want us to be ‘Living the dream’?
I do not think that anywhere in God’s kingdom, anywhere in the Commandments, Old or New Testaments, or in the words and deeds of Jesus’ do I find any mention of a lifestyle based on our own life being made better by the denigration of the life of others. In fact I find the very antithesis in the kingdom of God.

What does God want from us?
God makes it clear to us, time and time again, what is expected of us in our words and deeds, in our very lives.

In Isaiah:
God does not want hollow hearted religion. Self-pleasing praise; sanctimonious self-righteousness; God does not want us to look good at pretending to make Him look great.

In Luke:
God wants us to trust in Him; to be eager for Him; us to be ready for Him; to want Him as much as He wants us and everybody else.

What does God want from us?
To live for Him. To live for others. This is God’s vision, not a dream.

What does God want from us?
For us to tell others of the eternal love of God by the way we are and the way we live. People see our lives more than they listen to our words.

I am always moved and challenged, as we should all be, by the words of Senator Cory Booker:

“Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbours.
In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”

And more recently, I was challenged again, yet marvellously uplifted by the words of the poem ‘The hill we climb’ read at President Biden’s inauguration by its author Amanda Gorman. I have used this in my pastoral letter too this week.

“When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Be the light, not a dream. Live in the light, not in a dream.
Amen

StF 470 Hymn – Lord, for the years
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Intercessions
Let us pray to God saying:
We pray for the helpers among us:
for teachers, preachers, and community organizers,
for rabbis, imams, and all leaders of faith,
for police, firefighters, and emergency medical providers,
for doctors, nurses, and social workers.
May we do our part to help them in their calling.

We pray for our politicians:
Local and national,
May they be wise and just,
compassionate and courageous.

We pray for our fellowship, our partnership and our circuit:
that each member may feel welcomed and valued,
that its committees and groups may do their work faithfully,
that the staff may be supported and encouraged,
and that we may discern our mutual calling together.

As we ponder your steadfast love,
we are mindful of the vulnerable ones among us
who need faithful love and protection:
we pray for children, the elderly, and the disabled;
for those with mental illnesses and addictions;
for those who are unemployed or underemployed;
and for those who cannot seem to find their way.

God of our joys and our sorrows,
we lift up to you the concerns of our hearts
either silently or out loud.

We pray this day that your steadfast love may hold us dearly.
Guide us in the coming week that we might follow you faithfully.  Amen

StF 462 Come with me, come wander (Sing hey)
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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 resisting 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 (b1949) & Graham Maul (b1958)

Blessing
Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen

Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann
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