from the manse 11 October 2020…
We seem to be living in such a troubled world at the moment. The scenes of flooding from the south of France are devastating. The coronavirus is spreading fast again and we must all be very careful to remember about masks, social distancing and hand washing etc. Then, sadly, we have heard about the deaths of young people locally, due to drugs. This might have been a first experiment with something which they thought would be safe. May God be with the families and friends of all who mourn.
Apparently, the question Ruby Wax is using, to ask how folk are, is ‘How is the weather in your head?’ It’s a good way of saying ‘How are you?’ and not just expecting a standard reply of ‘Ok’, or ‘Fine’. As we think of Homelessness Sunday and Prisons Week, we are also thinking about others who have a lot to cope with and who may not be doing well. If we could see an end and know that, in a certain amount of time, we’d be free of Covid-19 and able to meet and go about or lives again in a more open way, things might be easier. But at the moment, all we are faced with is no trick-or-treat, which may well be a relief to some, and wondering how we shall celebrate Christmas. At least, as Christians, we can celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, which is central for us. We know that God is with us, and that we can share all our circumstances and feelings with our loving heavenly Father. I pray that, through Christ, we may know something of God’s peace.
Our opening prayer this week has a response after each phrase:
O God, you are gracious and compassionate:
we praise you. Your goodness and mercy last for ever.
You are loving and forgiving … …
You have promised us a place in your house: … … Amen.
HYMN: Rejoice, the Lord is king R&S 657 HTC 180 MP 575
Loving God, you gather us together tenderly, as a shepherd gathers their sheep;
You bring us together to feed us and to strengthen us with your living water,
in you we find peace.
Help us to accept the invitation to come to you;
make us willing to respond to your call and ready to receive you now. Amen.
To you we come, Father, for you are a refuge for the poor.
We draw near with our concerns, for you are a refuge for the needy in their distress.
In you we pause and rest,
for you are a shelter from the storm, and a shade from the heat.
It is to you that we offer our worship today. Amen.
Prayers from © ROOTS for Churches Limited Issue 91 September/October 2017 p 31
The Lord’s Prayer.
Isaiah 25: 1 – 9
HYMN Hark the glad sound! R&S 137 HTC 193 MP 210
Psalm 23 Philippians 4: 1 – 9
The Prisons Week Prayer:
Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends,
prison staff and all who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others,
especially the victims of crime. Amen.
HYMN Lord, thy/your Church on earth is seeking R&S 579 HTC 511
Matthew 22: 1 – 14
This story of Jesus’ is a strange one, and we might well wonder what on earth was going on. We understand the imagery of the king – God – having a wedding feast for his son – Jesus. The people in power, on the whole, didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to say and rejected his teaching. Those who flocked to him and made up the crowds around him were ordinary folk, those on the margins of society and those whom society rejected. So those who had been invited and made excuses not to attend the wedding feast were Israel’s leaders. It was the sick and disabled, tax-collectors, prostitutes and the overlooked, exploited powerless folk who discovered, through Jesus, that’s God’s message was for them as well. So far, so good.
God loves us, and calls us all. But God wants us to change. If that was not the case, Jesus would not have been a healer. We are not all right as we are and God, as a God of love, wants the best for us. That implies change, transformation and healing – of mind, body and spirit. We say that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. That’s what this parable is about. God hates the harm we cause others, as well as ourselves, but are we prepared to change? This is the image of the wedding clothes. We are to put on the ‘clothes’ of the Kingdom of God – things like mercy and love, justice and truth, holiness and righteousness. There is no place in God’s kingdom, at the wedding feast, for those who refuse to change. We are all invited, but it is up to us whether we accept a new, Kingdom of God, style of life. It’s a sobering thought that this parable ends with these words of Jesus: ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ (verse 14).
How is God calling us to change? There is always more for us to learn about the love of God. Today we are conscious of trying to stop climate change, needing to learn more about racism and white privilege, and accepting new ways of worship. But as we grow, learn and change, we are not to compromise the characteristics of the kingdom, those ‘wedding garments’. This is something of what ‘putting on Christ’ is about. May the Holy Spirit guide us and fill us with the light of God’s love.
HYMN For the healing of the nations R&S 620
God is working His purpose out R&S 573 HTC 191 MP 189
These prayers for Homelessness Sunday come from the sanctuary
God of all refuge, protect all those who are on our streets.
God of all shelter, provide for all who are homeless in our city.
God of all rest,
give sleep to all who are cold or who are keeping one eye open in fear of trouble.
God of all peace, calm troubled minds and protect those who feel hunted.
God of all comfort, strengthen weak knees and heal broken hearts.
God of all power, transform lives so that they may be free in your freedom.
We ask these things in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Father God, we lift before you all who are living in fear of losing their homes because of redundancy, debt or broken relationships.
We know that you are our real shelter.
Help people to know the safety and peace of dwelling in you,
even amidst desperate circumstances.
But Lord, because of your great mercy,
we ask that you would keep these people physically safe.
We long for you to move circumstances that they might keep their homes,
but if this does not happen, we ask that you would protect them,
find them, and bring them safe to a new home. Amen.
This prayer has a response after sech section.
Lord, we pray for your peace for those who are burdened with stress and anxiety.
Come into our turmoil, and may your presence give strength and calmness.
May your peace which passes all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Lord, we pray for your peace for those who suffer from the wounds of war,
violence and hatred. May they/we know your healing
and be inspired by the hope of your kingdom. … …
Lord, we pray for your peace for all who bear ancient grudges or bitter hatreds,
held and nurtured over generations.
Wash away the memory of hurt and neglect,
that they/we may know unity and wholeness … …
Send your peace, Lord,
that we may think, act and speak harmoniously.
Take away our selfishness,
so that we can share the joys, and feel the sorrows, of our neighbours.
May your peace, which passes all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
© ROOTS for Churches Limited Issue 91 September/October 2017 p 31
HYMN I head the voice of Jesus say R&S 349 MP 275
Now thank we all our God R&S 72 HTC 33 MP 486
Take care, keep well, be safe and God bless you always.
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