URC Daily Devotions Sunday Service for 21st November 2021 – The Revd. Dr Matthew Prevett

Order of Service

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Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church
Service for Sunday 21st November 2021
Christ the King

Photo Credit: Daniel Gutko, Unsplash
The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett
 
Introduction
Hello – I am Matthew Prevett, and I am based in Northern Synod. I welcome you to this worship to celebrate Christ the King, as we reflect on the coming of God’s Kingdom. We come now to worship. 

Call To Worship
 
We are the Church – the people who pray for and live in the kingdom of God.  A Church united across time and space
 
We are the Church – a people of many races, languages, races and ways of life. A Church united across time and space
 
We are the Church – we respond with love to the One who makes all things new.  A Church United across time and space.
 
Hymn         Great God Your Love Has Called Us Here
                  The Rev’d Brian Wren
 

Great God,
your love has called us here
as we, by love,
for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred,
dishonoured, disobeyed.
We come,
with all our heart and mind
your call to hear,
your love to find.
 
2: We come with
self-inflicted pains
of broken trust
and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound
by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems
close confined,
yet seeking hope for humankind.
 
3: Great God, in Christ
you call our name
and then receive us as your own,
not through some merit, right or claim,
but by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse
your mercy seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.

 

4: Then take the towel,
and break the bread,
and humble us,
and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how
grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds,
to crown all things.

5: Great God, in Christ
you set us free
your life to live,
your joy to share.
Give us your Spirit’s liberty
to turn from guilt
and dull despair
and offer all that faith can do
while love is making
all things new.

 

Prayer of Approach and Illumination
 
Ancient One, we approach you in worship.
Whether we join with people known to us,
or whether we share with others we do not know,
we gather to worship you.
The world carries on around us,
yet in this time and this place we are focused on you.
As the seasons turn, we can see your hand around us,
as dark mornings are illuminated by fresh sunshine,
and the subdued colours of nature offer glimpses of brightness.
Where the festive season appears to have begun,
we see the joy the coming weeks will bring, and we give you thanks.
God who is the Alpha and the Omega – beginning and end –
we ask for our ears to be open to your Word this day,
as we seek to know you more fully through your Word,
as your worshipping people. Amen.
 
Readings:  Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
 
As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; is throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousand served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.  The court sat in judgement, and the books were opened.  As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven.  And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship,  that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.
 
St John 18: 33-37
 
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
 
Hymn         Christ is coming! Let creation
                    John R MacDuff (1853)

 

Christ is coming! Let creation
from her groans and travail cease;
let the glorious proclamation
hope restore and faith increase:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, thou blessed
Prince of Peace.
 
2 Earth can now but tell the story
of thy bitter cross and pain;
she shall yet behold thy glory,
when thou comest back to reign:
Come on down! Come on down!
Haste the joyous jubilee

3 Long thine people
have been pining,
for thy peace, and rest in thee:
soon, in heav’nly glory shining,
their restorer shall they see:
Come on down! Come on down!
Haste the joyous jubilee.
 
4 With that blessed hope before us,
let no harp remain unstrung;
let the mighty advent chorus
onward roll from every tongue!
Come on down! Come on down!
Haste the joyous jubilee!

 

Sermon
 
Let us pray: Alpha and Omega God – the beginning and the end – open our ears to your Word and our hearts to respond to your call. Amen.
 
“So you are a king?” Pilate asks Jesus.  The King of a Kingdom that makes no sense, at least to Pilate. Not one of this world, Jesus is clear to state. Not a Kingdom where there will be battles fighting for the release of their leader. In fact, the kingship of Jesus is not one of force, but of truth. Not one understood within the authority structures of the age, but one that finds its source beyond the world.
 
In the book of Daniel, we read of Daniel’s vision of the kingship given to one like a human being. Such a kingdom is given by the Ancient One, with a universal dominion which will never pass away, served by all people, nations and languages. This is a vision of the encompassing nature of a kingdom not of this world; a kingdom that has no end, that extends across all languages and peoples and cannot be destroyed. This is not a kingdom subject to human political authority, but subject to the gift of the Ancient One sat upon the throne.
 
To understand what is distinctive about the Kingdom spoken of by these passages, we need to consider what lies central to the Christian Gospel. Central to the whole story of incarnation and redemption is love. Wine at a feast: love. Raising a child from death: love. Speaking to the outsider at the well: love. Breaking bread when already betrayed: love. Opening arms upon the Cross: love. Appearing to friends together in a locked room: love.
 
The distinctiveness of a Christian kingdom rests not with military might or with palaces, but with love. Love that has no boundaries. Love that knows no wrongs. Love that stretches across languages, peoples and nations. God’s Kingdom, Christ’s Kingship, is not one where we need to fight for the leader, but is demonstrated by the acts of kindness, compassion, solidarity and love that testify to the truth of God. And this truth became incarnate in Jesus: “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory… full of grace and truth.” (John 1.14 abridged). In Christina Rossetti’s words: “Love came down at Christmas” (RS 614).
 
“Your kingdom come… on earth as in heaven” The hope of those words from the Lord’s Prayer are so easily said, and perhaps just as easily ignored. In the familiarity of the prayer, maybe they come and go without us even noticing. Or maybe we just don’t think about how Jesus’s assertion to Pilate, together with Daniel’s vision, speaks of the shape of the kingdom that needs to come, one full of the truth of God’s unending love.
“Your kingdom come… on earth as in heaven” Looking at the latest news will leave us under little doubt that the world needs unending love. Over the summer, we’ve been faced with numerous humanitarian crises in need of attention. Afghanistan and the plight of its people have been prominent in our news. So too have the refugees who have continued to travel across the Channel. We have seen places subjected to extremes in weather – caused by humanity’s greed for natural resources – resulting in droughts and floods. While rich Western countries have been able to offer vaccine boosters for Covid alongside seasonal flu, developing nations have been left behind without the support to care for their citizens. Additionally, we have been reminded of the lack of love shown by some as we remember the attacks in New York twenty years ago alongside other attacks closer to home including Manchester Arena, London’s Fishmongers’ Hall, and in Plymouth.
 
“Your kingdom come… on earth as in heaven” Of course, we rarely find ourselves in those positions where we can directly affect the outcome of such activities. The global challenges facing the world seem to be too much for us to change ourselves. We can find ourselves weighed down with the task that awaits us.
 
But the Kingdom we pray for is one of love. It is one of compassion. It is one of solidarity. We do not pray for a Kingdom that cannot be achieved – for it is led by the Kingship of Christ – but we pray for a kingdom that can have a dominion across all peoples, nations and languages. We seek the truth in love of love. We seek what it means to be followers of Christ by standing up for what love can mean in the world, holding up a mirror to what is going on around us, and reflecting back where love is not being lived and the kingdom is not being realised. Making God’s kingdom come on earth means calling out where our friends, family, employer, Church and Government fail to be living with compassion, love and solidarity for people of all nations and languages. Testifying to the truth needs us to advocate in our own way, using our own means, platform and voice, to ensure the kingdom may be brought about.
 
Yet at the centre of what we can do is us. We are the strongest weapon the Kingdom of God has available. We are the hands and feet of the Kingship of Christ. We are the ones who need to be assured, re-assured, formed and transformed for the Kingdom to come. For when we live as those who live the truth of the gospel of Christ, the voice we hear is Jesus the King, standing up for the lonely, the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, the dying and the bereaved, the homeless, the Stateless, the lost and the weary. When we hear and we listen, Jesus assures us of the kingdom that love makes new: restoring, inspiring and transforming.
 
“Your kingdom come… on earth as in heaven” Christ the King leads a kingdom not from this world but for all peoples, nations and languages, grounded in love, compassion and solidarity for all. May we, as Christ’s hands and feet, do what we can to transform the world in love, that all may know and experience the coming of God’s kingdom.
 
Prayer of Confession
 
God whose kingdom is not of this world, we ask for your forgiveness for the times we have glorified kingdoms of the world rather than looked to your kingdom of love and compassion. We know that we do not always place love as our motivations, but we ask for you to convict us of our wrong, and guide us into your way.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
 
God whose kingdom is not of this world, we ask for your transforming love to fill our hearts and minds with your kingdom
reassuring us of the way you would have us live and serve. We listen for your truth as you speak to us, and pray for your kingdom:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Amen.
 
Hymn         Christ is alive! Let Christians sing
                    The Rev’d Brian Wren
 

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross stands
empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes
with praises ring.
Love, drowned in death,
shall never die.
 
2: Christ is alive!
No longer bound to distant
years in Palestine,
but saving, healing,
here and now,
and touching every
place and time.
 
3: In every insult, rift and war,
where colour, scorn
or wealth divide,
Christ suffers still,
yet loves the more,
and lives, where even
hope has died.
 
4: Women and men,
in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit,
hear the call,
and find the way,
the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

 

5: Christ is alive, and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.
 
Affirmation of Faith
 
We sing to our Lord a new song;
we sing in our world a sure hope:
 
Our God loves this world,
God called it into being,
God renews it through Jesus Christ,
God governs it by the Spirit.
God is the world’s true hope!
Come Lord Jesus:
We are open to your Spirit,
We await your full presence.
 
Our world finds rest in you alone.
 
Prayers of Concern
 
As we bring our prayers of concern for all peoples, nations and languages, let us pray: Your kingdom come: on earth as in heaven
 
We pray for all peoples of the world:  for those like us and known to us and those who are unknown to us or from different backgrounds.

Your world is a diverse and exciting place,  full of cultures and peoples with some many backgrounds and traditions,  a kaleidoscope of people with whom we share much or little.

Yet we are called to love and share together in your kingdom.
 
We pray for those peoples who are treated as outsiders,  refugees and asylum seekers, who come looking for love.

We keep in mind all those who continue to battle with the effects of pandemic, the developing nations where vaccine rollout is still to take effect.

We continue to pray not for uniformity but unity in our communities,
where people can know love irrespective of race, gender, sexuality and sexual identity, age, disability, religion or belief.

We pray that those who fail to show love by attacking and abusing others because of their difference, may transform into people of love,  and know the kingdom God is calling us into.  Your kingdom come: on earth as in heaven
 
We pray for all nations of the world:  for those in our closest relationships and those furthest away.  In a global society, we are interlinked across the world with governments making decisions that affect all nations.  We pray for those in leadership, that they will live by principles of love.  We keep in mind those who have been part of the UN Climate Conference this month, and the commitments and challenges they face as a result.  We pray for those in leadership of all types,  those who lead Churches and faith groups,  that the coming kingdom of God may be shared with all.  Your kingdom come: on earth as in heaven
 
We pray for all languages of the world: for those who speak the same language as us and those whose language is completely different.  We are aware of all those whose communication methods are different to ours and the fast pace of media today. We pray for those who feel lonely in a world of communication.  We keep in mind those who have been cut out of communities or families,  those who will spend tonight on the streets, and those who are unable to talk about their mental, physical or spiritual concerns. We pray for all who reach out in love, as families and friends,  and all those who work in wellbeing and support services,  for the love, dedication and words they use to break down barriers.  In a moment of quiet, we remember all those known to us whose concerns rest heavy on our hearts today.

Silence
 
Your kingdom come: on earth as in heaven
 
Ancient One,
as we pray for the coming of an everlasting kingdom of love,
we ask for your strength and support in our own lives.
Help us know of your true love for ourselves,
and the truth to which we are called.
May we be inspired by the love of your kingdom
and be your hands and your feet in the world.
For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours,
for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Offertory
 
As we seek to bring about the kingdom through love that makes all things new, we dedicate ourselves and our resources to the Ancient One:
 
Generous God, we ask that you use the means we have at our disposal, the resources of money, time and voice, to transform the world and bring about your kingdom.  Make us know of your love, that we too may share love with others.  We join together now in the prayer Jesus taught us, using the words or language that is most familiar to us
 
Hymn         How shall I sing that majesty
                    John Mason
 

How shall I sing that majesty
which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands
stand around
thy throne, O God most high;
ten thousand times
ten thousand sound
thy praise; but who am I?
 
2 Thy brightness unto them appears,
whilst I thy footsteps trace;
a sound of God comes to my ears,
but they behold thy face.
They sing, because thou art their Sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
for where heaven
is but once begun
there alleluias be.

3 How great a being, Lord, is thine, which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line to sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore, a sun without a sphere;
thy time is now and evermore, thy place is everywhere.

Blessing
 
May the Ancient One who sits upon the throne
    ground you in the kingdom to come.
May the King whose kingdom is not from this world
    lead you into the truth of the Gospel.
May the Spirit that testifies to the truth
    help you bring about God’s coming kingdom. 
And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you, and all those for whom we have prayed,
this day, and forevermore. Amen.
 
Sources and thanks
 
Call to Worship adapted by Andy Braunston from the Mennonite Church in Canada.
Affirmation of Faith from the Worship Source Book p168
 
Great God Your Love Has Called Us Here – The Rev’d Brian Wren © 1975, 1995 Hope Publishing Company sung by Michael Joncas
Christ is coming! Let creation – John R MacDuff (1853) sung by Matthew Scott Poets and Saints
Christ is alive! Let Christians sing – The Rev’d Brian Wren © 1995 Hope Publishing Company – Sung by Frodsham Methodist Church Cloud Choir
How shall I sing that majesty – John Mason, BBC Songs of Praise
 
Thanks to Jacqueline Kwawu, Sarah Wilmott, Kathleen Haynes, Pam Carpenter, Anne Hewling and Graham Handscomb for reading various spoken parts of the service.
 
Opening Organ Piece: Fugue in G Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Closing Organ Piece: Procession by Arthur Wills (organ of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, Italy – 2014)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks from Brian Cotterill.

Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762

 

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