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United Reformed Church Daily Devotions’ Service
for Sunday June 6th 2021 Kirsty-Ann Mabbott
Good morning and welcome to worship on this second Sunday after Pentecost. My name is Kirsty-Ann Mabbott and I am a Church Related Community Worker in Coventry, part of the West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church. Our service this morning is focusing on Mark 3:20-35, the “who is my family” passage. So let us worship God together.
Call to Worship
We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain, and heals our wounds. God is our light and our salvation. In God’s name we light this candle and are reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World, God’s own Voice who came to live with us. May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always. Amen. HymnAll hail the power of Jesus’ Name Edward Perronet
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him, crown him, crown him, and crown him Lord of all.
2: Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, Ye ransomed of the fall, Hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him, crown him, crown him, and crown him Lord of all.
3: Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall, Go, spread your trophies at His feet and crown him, crown him, crown him, and crown him Lord of all.
4: Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe, on this terrestrial ball, to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him, crown him, crown him, and crown him Lord of all.
4: O that with yonder sacred throng We at his feet may fall; We’ll join the everlasting song, and crown him, crown him, crown him, and crown him Lord of all.
Prayers of Approach, Confession
Timeless God, you created the universe and all of creation, yet delight in personal relationships with each of us. We thank you for the guidance you give through your Word and the call you lay on our hearts to make a difference in the world.
You sent Jesus not only to show the way to you, but to help bridge the divide that we had created. You also sent the Spirit to us with gifts that would enable us to live our lives as true disciples, making a difference in the world around us.
But we confess that we do not always follow your guidance, we do not always listen to what Jesus told us and we do not use the gifts from the Spirit. We leave our gifts unopened, unexplored, unused because of selfishness and fear.
When our thoughts are muddied, help us find the still small voice that is yours so that we can better listen and act. Help us face the fear, so that we can fully utilise the gifts you have bestowed upon us, so that we become more fully the people you have called us to be. Enable us to unpack the gifts so that they and we can benefit the whole of humanity and creation.
Forgive us God for being wayward, for ignoring the Dove and the Wild Goose, for thinking of our own wants and calling them needs, for being unkind and uncaring. Forgive us and help us to be more open to you and others. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and of love. God forgives all who humbly repent and trust in God’s Son as Saviour and Lord. God has forgiven us, and we are one in Christ. Amen
Prayer of Illumination
Guide us, O God, by your Word and Spirit. Inspire us, O God, into action and compassion. Lead us, O God, into wisdom and light. Amen.
St Mark 3:20-35
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters] are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
HymnBrother, Sister, let me serve you Richard A M Gillard (b 1953)
Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.
2. We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.
3. I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
4. I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through.
5. When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony, born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.
How do you define family? Depending on your experience of family you will probably have a whole host of answers…Jesus states at the end of our reading that “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
The thing with family’s is that for most people they are the place that you are safe, loved and protected, but they aren’t perfect and can be a place where you get frustrated, feel like you are being held back, or stopped from doing what you want to do. There are also some folk who come from families that are harmful, and their experience cannot and should not be minimised because those experiences inform their idea of how families look and function and that can and will affect how they hear and perceive ideas that are described as familial.
When Jesus’ siblings and mother show up, they are wanting to pull Jesus away because they are worried for him, they are worried what might happen to him, they are worried about the authorities coming down on him and them. It’s not my job to judge if they were right or wrong, I can’t say for definite whether I would have been with them or Jesus in the moment. They were doing what many families do and were trying to protect Jesus from himself, but Jesus knew they couldn’t do that, he knew that he had another purpose. Jesus didn’t cut them off, but he did redefine the idea of family not just being about blood ties. I had five sets of grandparents growing up plus a great grandmother who I adored, which in 2021 might not sound so strange, but in the 1980s it wasn’t the typical normal, but I didn’t see it as odd or different, I just knew I had lots of adults who loved me, cared for me and encouraged me. Today many children experience extended families and blended families and schools teach that there are many different types of families.
I have one grandmother still living, which I am blessed to say, but I also have a lot of wonderful ladies in my church who are of a similar age to my grandmother who are open to ideas and proposals about how we can better serve the local community. They are kind and patient, and have a lot of wisdom. They are people of faith who have a lot to offer and have weathered many storms in life. I consider these ladies as much my family as my grandmother, and I appreciate their wisdom as much as they appreciate my wacky ideas.
Jesus’ family don’t walk away from him when he doesn’t get up and leave with them, they may have been concerned about the anger from the authorities that was starting to bubble up around him and the socio-political/spiritual movement that was forming, but they didn’t walk away. And maybe that is one of the things about being a family, that you may worry about the people in it, but you stand with them, you support them, you encourage their passions and you enable them to move forward. My mother is one of those people, she doesn’t always agree with me, there have been many discussions where I have challenged some of her opinions about social justice issues and there have been times when she has been exasperated with my liberal stance on many things, she has also questioned why I have faith and why I have answered a call to ministry, but those questions have not been asked cruelly, they have been asked from a point of concern and worry. Now by no means am I claiming that my mother is anything like Jesus’, but it has given me an understanding that I suspect those who are parents might get more fully than myself, and that is that as parents you want the best for your children, and regardless of how grown they are, you still worry for them because you remember when you were the one who protected them from the world, and at some point you couldn’t do that anymore but you still wanted to. Mary wants to protect Jesus from the people who have the power to cause him real harm, but she can’t, so instead she simply stays and supports him as she is able to, to do the will of God.
Families are messy, they are the best and worst of relationships and that is because they involve people, but Jesus shows us that those families do not have to be insular boxes that create “us and them” camps, they can be open, inclusive and radical. Families in the broad sense of the word can challenge the status quo of society and bring positive change, they can be places that nourish faith and reach out to those who have been isolated, oppressed and marginalised. We are all children of God, which means we are all siblings, we just have to be prepared to see one another in that way. Amen.
Beauty for brokenness Hope for despair Lord, in the suffering This is our prayer Bread for the children Justice, joy, peace Sunrise to sunset Your kingdom increase!
2: Lighten our darkness Breathe on this flame Until your justice Burns brightly again Until the nations Learn of your ways Seek your salvation And bring you their praise
God of the poor, friend of the weak Give us compassion we pray. Melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain Come, change our love, from a spark to a flame
Affirmation of Faith
We believe in God. Despite His silence and His secrets we believe that He lives. Despite evil and suffering we believe that He made the world so that all would be happy in life. Despite the limitations of our reason and the revolts of our hearts, we believe in God.
We believe in Jesus Christ. Despite the centuries which separate us from the time when he came to earth, we believe in His word. Despite our incomprehension and our doubt, we believe in His resurrection. Despite his weakness and poverty, we believe in his reign. We believe in the Holy Spirit. Despite appearances we believe He guides the Church; despite death we believe in eternal life; despite ignorance and disbelief, we believe that the Kingdom of God is promised to all. Amen.
Let us turn our attention to praying for specific issues, people and the world; as we come before you O God, we desire to see change in the world.
We bring before you the poor, hungry and neglected, both here in the U.K. and around the world. Prick the consciousness of the privileged and legislators so that they hear the cries and feel compelled to bring about real change.
We hold before you O God, all places of learning, those who learn and those who teach, but we raise up those who are trying to learn in places where even the basic equipment is hard to come by, as education is precious to them. Help those who want for nothing in an educational setting to know how blessed their learning experience is, and help them use their learning to make a difference in the world.
We bring before you O God, all those who are marginalised, oppressed and reviled because they are different. We thank you that here in the U.K. that many of those groups of people are protected by law, but we recognise that that law does not go far enough and in many places around the world being different is not protected. We bring before you: Differently Abled people; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people; Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people; people of other faith traditions; Women. Stir in us O God the desire to campaign for better equity here and around the world especially for asylum seekers and refugees. At the beginning of June we especially remember our LGBT+ siblings as Pride month gets under way. We thank you that we live in a place where people do not have to hide their sexuality and gender and we pray for a legal and cultural change in Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates where the death penalty is still in place for those found to be LGBT+.
We hold before you O God, those who are sick, injured and dying. We thank you for giving knowledge to doctors, nurses, medical staff and scientists so that disease and illness can be tackled. Set in each of us the desire to challenge our government to do more on the international health stage so that children around the world do not have to die of curable illnesses such as TB, Polio and Measles; and so Women do not have to risk their lives during pregnancy and birth. We remember all those who have been affect by Coronavirus to date. We also remember those who have died from Cancer and HIV/AIDS. Encourage scientists to keep on working to eliminate these diseases too.
We bring before you O God, the natural world, the seas and oceans that we are filling with plastic, the rain forests that we are decimating and turning into desert wastes, the animal populations that we are bringing to the brink of extinction and beyond. We have no excuse for the way we have treated the earth that you gave to us in stewardship and we don’t know if it is too late to undo any of the damage, but we have to try. Create in us a burning fire of desire to work to save the planet, make that fire fizzle up so that we demand the government make real changes, not tokenistic change so that they don’t lose their profits. Finally O God, we pray for every person in the world, those who will enter this world today and take their first breaths, and those who will leave this world today and take their last breaths. We pray for every person who is joyous and every person who is despairing. We remember all those who are just okay too. We ask you to bless and hold close every one as they are your children, made in your image, and we are challenged to see you in every one and remember that you love them even when we see them as less than ourselves. May we stop be greedy so that everyone has all they need to flourish. Amen.
We will say together the prayer that Jesus taught us.
God has been generous in all God’s gifts to us, so let us follow that example in our giving to the work and life of the church now.
Let us pray; God of Abundance, we thank you for providing for us, we recognise how fortunate we are and how generous you are. Take the gifts of our time, money and selves and use them in the world where there is so much brokenness, to share the good news of you through social justice action. Amen.
Thanks to God whose Word was spoken in the deed that made the earth. His the voice that called a nation; his the fires that tried her worth. God has spoken: praise to God for the open Word.
Thanks to God whose Word Incarnate heights and depths of life did share. Deeds and words and death and rising, grace in human form declare. God has spoken: praise to God for the open Word. Thanks to God whose Word was written in the Bible’s sacred page, record of the revelation showing God to every age. God has spoken: praise to God for the open Word.
Thanks to God whose Word is published in the tongues of every race. See its glory undiminished by the change of time or place. God has spoken: praise to God for the open Word.
Thanks to God whose Word is answered by the Spirit’s voice within. Here we drink of joy unmeasured, life redeemed from death and sin. God is speaking: praise to God for the open Word.
Siblings in Christ, go out into the world, Go out with eyes that see the reality of life Go out with hearts filled with compassion and love Go out with hands ready to help lift up the broken and downtrodden Go with God’s abundant blessing. Amen.
Sources and thanks
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name – Edward Perronet Sung by the congregation of St Andrew’s Kirk Chennai Brother, sister, let me serve you – Richard A M Gillard (b 1953) sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise
Opening: Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland(“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020) Closing: Procession by Arthur Wills (organ of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, Italy – 2014)
Thanks to Christopher Whitehead, John Wilcox, Ray Fraser, Kathleen Haynes, Clare Ette and John Young for reading various spoken parts of the service.
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