URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship 2nd October 2022

Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today’s service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 

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Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 2nd October 2022

Jubilee Service


 

 
Today’s service is led by The Revd Andy Braunston

 

Call to Worship
 
A Trumpet Shall Sound
 
You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; ……. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: …. it shall be holy to you…” 
(from Leviticus 25: 8-12)
In this Jubilee celebration, as we make this year holy,  we share in the Biblical hope of jubilee; that all Creation will be honoured for it belongs to God; that those enslaved will be freed; that debts will be dropped and sins forgiven.  
 
This is our hope and joy!
 
Hymn       Let All the World In Every Corner Sing
George Herbert, BBC Songs of Praise
 
 
Let all the world 
in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
The heav’ns are 
not too high,
His praise may thither fly;
the earth is not too low,
His praises there may grow.
Let all the world 
in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
 
2 Let all the world 
in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
The Church with Psalms 
must shout:
no door can keep them out.
But, more than all, the heart
must bear the longest part.
Let all the world 
in ev’ery corner sing,
“My God and King!”
 
 
Prayer of Confession 
 
God of all mercy and understanding, as the hymn fades from our lips
we remember with honest sadness the fading of the hopes we once had. 
 
We are sorry that the Church is still divided, bereft that when once we thought to lead the way we now find ourselves left behind. 
 
We wonder whether we misheard your call, failed in discerning the lessons of our times or were arrogant in thinking we could fulfil your mission.
 
Today we mourn the churches that have closed, the fellow pilgrims who have died, the projects, experiments and programmes that have fallen to dust. 
 
Deliver us from the sins that tempted us; the narcissism that thought we were right, the cynicism that casts blame, the despair that gives in and gives up. 
         
Forgive us, cheer us and renew us, gentle God.
Revive tired pilgrims’ limbs and stir once more the confident hope
that endures all things and rejoices always. 

 
Assurance of Pardon
 
Let all the people hear these ancient and holy words:
 
God has blessed you and will keep you:
God makes His face to shine upon you and has mercy upon you;
God lifts up Her countenance upon you, and gives you peace. Amen.
                  
 
Prayer for Illumination
 
Eternal One, we weep when we realise there is no one to comfort us;
no one, of course except You,  revealed in precious law, hopeful prophecy and enfleshed presence. Comfort us now as we hear your uncontainable word, read and proclaimed, that we may find both truth and hope. Amen.
 
Reading  Lamentations 1:1-6
 
How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
 
The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.
 
Hymn       Nothing Disturb You
from Nada te turbe by St Teresa of Avila, translated by the Rev’d Colin Thompson (b 1945)
sung by students of Mansfield College in the early 1990s
 

 
Nothing distress you, 
nothing affright you,
everything passes,
God will abide.
Patient endeavour
accomplishes all things;
who God possesses
needs naught beside.
 
2: Lift your mind upward,
fair are his mansions,
nothing distress you,
cast fear away.
Follow Christ freely,
his love will light you,
nothing affright you,
in the dark way.
3: See the world’s glory!
Fading its splendour,
everything passes,
all is denied.
Look ever homeward
to the eternal;
faithful in promise
God will abide.
 
4: Love in due measure
measureless Goodness;
patient endeavour,
run to Love’s call!
Faith burning brightly
be your soul’s shelter;
who hopes, believing,
accomplishes all.
5: Hell may assail you, it cannot move you;
sorrows may grieve you, faith may be tried.
Though you have nothing, he is your treasure:
who God possesses needs naught beside.
 
Reading  St Luke 17:5-10
 
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”
 
Sermon
 
We play today with themes of despair, lament, and hope.  Good themes to reflect on from the perspective of the Church in our current age and for the United Reformed Church marking our 50th birthday.  50 years ago the churches in Europe were in a very different place.  They were stronger.  They were more influential.  They were fuller.  An explosion of church building after the war led to many new buildings with new designs – some have lasted the test of time, whilst others haven’t.  

After the moves, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to create united Protestant Churches the impetus here in the UK to try and bring together different traditions into organic union was strong.  Weeks of Prayer for Christian Unity were celebrated; we all wished that “they’d know we are Christians by our love”, and Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in Gethsemane that “they may all be one” was seen as a divine command to get our act together and work for Christian unity.  At the inaugural service of the URC in Westminster Abbey both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster were present to wish us well and pledge to work for unity with us, as were representatives of the other Christian traditions in the UK.  There was a palpable sense of excitement that the URC represented the first step in these islands for a united church.  10 or so years later Pope John Paul II visited the UK and I remember a television interview with a very excited Duke of Norfolk hoping that the visit would lead to a union between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England.  Well, clearly this hasn’t happened.  A proposal to join the Church of England, Methodists and ourselves fell by the wayside in England, whilst a scheme to unite the URC, Church of Scotland, Methodists and the Scottish Episcopal Church didn’t proceed here in Scotland.  A scheme for an ecumenical bishop in Wales also went the way of all flesh.  They may know we’re Christians by our love – but clearly not by our union.
 
The wider context for the Church has changed too.  In the West numbers have declined hugely with a more secular outlook taking hold and church attendance plunging.  In 1980 5.2 million people attended church regularly representing 11% of the population but by 2005 this figure had dropped  to 3.1 million or 6.3% of the population.  Estimates now indicate a further drop.  With the writer of Lamentations we may weep and despair and think that all hope is gone.
 
Lamentations is set nearly 600 years before Jesus after the Babylonians had invaded the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah, destroyed the Temple and carted off the political and religious leaders into exile.   Despite being told by the prophets this was going to happen it must have been a huge shock.   God’s provision must have been doubted; the idea of being a Chosen People must have sounded hollow.  The notion of trusting in God must have tasted like ashes.  
 
At this time the Psalm set for today, 137 – possibly the 1978 version by Boney M is the one that sticks in our minds – gives a glimpse of a dislocated people who sit and weep as they remember the good times.  A song with resonance for those of us who remember the Church in better days. 
 
Yet we’re offered more than a pity party; we’re offered more than funeral rites for a Church in decline because there is always hope.  Whilst the Psalmist saw no hope and desired only revenge against those who plotted with Babylon, the writer of Lamentations continued in a later chapter than today’s passage:
 
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
 
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,  ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
 
In the midst of dreadful tragedy, uncontrolled tears, and the emotion of exile the writer finds hope.  In the midst of abandonment the writer decides to remember and trust in God.  A slither of hope is given us in our Gospel reading too – where Jesus, grumpily it seems to me, tells his disciples that if they have faith even the size of a mustard tree they can move mountains.  Mustard seeds are tiny yet grow into huge plants; intangible faith, says Jesus, can create amazing things.  
 
So where might we find hope now?  Where do we find hope as churches shrink, ministers become rarer and more stretched, and where Church hierarchies need to make ever more difficult decisions about funding and resourcing.  
 
First, we might want to read some signs of the times.  In 2011 60% of the population of the UK identified themselves as Christian in the census; the figures for the England and Wales 2021 census aren’t out yet and the Scottish census was delayed by a year – but it’s reasonable to expect that around half the population want to identify as being Christian.  What that might mean is interesting.  What opportunities this gives the Church is fascinating – especially as other surveys suggest that around a third of the population believe in God,  around 20% pray daily, and 40% or reporting they pray regularly if not daily.  For me this means there is at the very least a keen interest in spirituality which might be identified with Christianity even if that doesn’t translate into church membership.  
 
Second, we have to give up a bit!  By this I mean we have to realise that the work of building the Church is God’s not ours.  That doesn’t mean we can be rude to newcomers, fail to display the truth of our faith in our lives, serve ghastly coffee after worship, offer incomprehensible worship with dreary hymns, or generally be beastly!  It does mean we should relax a bit and realise this is God’s problem!  In doing so we can see what God is doing on the edge of our churches, in our streets, in our society and seek to join in.  If it’s true that people long for spirituality, to gain some ideas about how to find peace or to understand different ways of praying,  then are we offering opportunities for that?  Do we allow people to experience faith before we urge them to sign up to all the rotas?  Do we encourage exploration and questioning?  
 
Third we need to reach back into the depths of our tradition and learn to trust.  In the midst of despair the Psalmist could at least write a lament – one he or she never dreamed would be sung thousands of years later.  In the midst of exile the writer of Lamentations had hope; surveying destroyed buildings and wandering empty streets the writer could still have hope.  In a moment we’ll sing All My Hope on God is Foundedwritten by the German Reformed teacher, theologian and hymn writer Joachim Neander.  Never ordained as he fell out with important people he ended up leading worship at the early service as a parish assistant – the early service being at 5am which gives a clue as to how upset he’d made his boss!  The most important hymn writer in the German Reformed tradition but a man who was impossible to work with; yet despite his frustrations and, I suppose, bitterness about how he was treated, he wrote such words of hope and faith in God. 
 
In an age of church decline we hope that God isn’t finished with us.
 
In an age of ecumenical indifference we hope that God still calls us to find and express our unity in Christ.
 
In an age of spiritual searching we hope that God will still use us to help others explore the richness of faith.
 
In an age of being Church on the margins we hope that we will see things much more clearly than from positions of power and privilege.  
 
Will you pray with me?
 
All our hope, O God, is founded on you
as only You call our hearts to be your own.
Only You are the Lord of the Church – 
despite our efforts to put ourselves in charge.
Only You hold our people in your hands.
Enable us, O God,
to read the signs of our times and see where You are at work.
Enable us, O God, 
to let go of our feeble efforts and follow where you call.
Enable us, O God,
to hope knowing You never fail us.
Amen.

Hymn       All My Hope on God is Founded
Joachim Neander translated by Robert Bridges BBC Songs of Praise
 

All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change 
and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown, He alone
calls my heart to be his own.
 
2 Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care 
and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple, fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.
 
3 God’s great goodness 
aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendour, light, 
and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore from his store
new-born worlds rise and adore.
 
4 Still from earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ his Son.
Christ doth call one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.
 
Affirmation of Faith
 
One:         We are gathered to give thanks to Almighty God for our coming together, 50 years ago, in one church, catholic and reformed; to rejoice in the leading of the Holy Spirit; and to pledge ourselves once again to our common Lord. The faith on which this unity rests, and which we now are firm, is this:
 
Many:      We believe in one living and true God, creator, preserver and ruler of all things in heaven and earth, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: God alone we worship, and in God we put our trust.
 
One:         We believe that, out of infinite love for all people, God gave Jesus Christ our Lord, God’s eternal Son, who became human, lived on earth in perfect love and obedience, died upon the cross for our sins, rose again from the dead: and lives for ever more, Saviour, judge and king.
 
Many       We believe that, by the Holy Spirit, this glorious gospel is made effective so that through faith we receive the forgiveness of sins, newness of life as children of God, and strength in this present world to do his will. 
 
One:         We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, in heaven and on earth, where, by the same Spirit, the whole company of believers is made one Body of Christ: to worship God and serve in the kingdom of righteousness and love.
 
Many:      We rejoice in the gift of eternal life, and believe that, in the fullness of time, God will renew and gather in one all things in Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
 

Intercessions
 
We bring to God the needs of the Church, our world, and those we love.
 
Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy)
 
Eternal One,
we thank you for all that is good in our world,
for its beauty and abundance,
for the acts of loving kindness which touch us and make a difference.
Yet in our praises we also bring to you, O Most High, our pain.
 
We pray for the Church this day,
for where we meet in secret for fear of the authorities,
for where people long for baptism but do so in secret or abroad,
for where it’s dangerous to witness to your love,
for these places, O God, we ask your blessing.
We pray too for places where the Church is met with indifference,
where we’re feeble and failing,
where our witness is no longer heard,
and where we’re preparing to close,
for these places, O God, we ask your blessing.
 
Kyrie eleision
 
We pray, Lord Jesus, for our world,
at war and preparing for war,
where creation groans with eager longing for a redemption long denied,
where the temperatures and seas rise,
and where the poorest will be hit the hardest.
We pray for those who suffer from the cruel economic systems we perpetuate,
for those worried about how they will pay their bills this winter,
for those whose pensions and wages don’t rise with inflation.
 
Kyrie eleison.
 
We pray, Holy Spirit,
for your presence in the midst of our lives,
that as we rejoice and grieve,
you hold us, inspire us and change us.
We pray, in particular for your healing presence amongst those we love and worry about and name now in the silence of our hearts….
 
Kyrie eleison.
 
Holy God, source and Creator of all things,
love made flesh in Jesus Christ,
and known among us through the Holy Spirit,
gather us together in your loving arms
that we may grow in visible communion
and so witness to unity in the world. 
Where your people are broken, may love mend.
When hatred shouts in the world, let love bring peace with justice. 
As creation groans, may redemption come to all the earth. 
Come with your divine love, and enter our hearts.
Move your Church, and move the world,
to reconciliation and unity. Amen.
 
Offertory
 
We are called to give – even in hard economic times.  We’re called to give of ourselves, our talents, our time and, our treasure so that others may be helped, poverty may be relieved and faith may be shared.  The generosity of the Church is overwhelming – itself a response to God’s great generosity to us.  And so we give.
 
Eternal God,
from before the ages you gave
and call us to give in response.
Bless our resources that we return to you
that we may use them to help others in these difficult times,
always seeking to glorify you, Amen.
 
Holy Communion
 
The Trumpet shall sound
 
Come, people of God, come to the feast of jubilee;  come in freedom, come in peace, come as children of God, all welcome, each fed, unity restored, debts forgiven, and your ransom paid.
 
Introduction
 
As we gather, in this place, in this year, and at this table,
we celebrate that in Jesus, God was born among us,
that he proclaimed a time of jubilee, a year of the Lord’s favour,
and gave his life for us and for all who wait for redemption. 
On the third day he rose to new life
and now, on each day of every year, 
he is present with us through the Holy Spirit. 
In the presence of the Apostles and the Saints, 
of our forebears in the faith,
and with all Christians, with whom we are one body,
we come to celebrate this feast of abundant life. 
 
The Thanksgiving
 
Lift up your hearts!
We lift them to the Lord!
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise. 
 
We give thanks to you, O God,
because this beautiful Earth belongs to you,
and you made us to live in freedom,
one church, one people, one world. 
 
Thank you for this time of jubilee, 
for joyful celebration and faithful return,
for your summons to justice
and the restoring of our hope.
 
Thank you for this bread and this wine,
for memories made vivid 
of Exodus and freedom,
of death and sacrifice, 
of revelation and renewal. 
 
With all your people, in earth and heaven,
we join to sing your praise…
 
 
Sanctus
author unknown English and Spanish copyright control
 

 
Holy, holy, holy,
my heart, my heart adores you!
My heart is glad to say the words:
You are holy, Lord!
 
Santo, santo, santo,
mi corazón te adora!
Mi corazón te sabe decir:
santo eres Señor!
 
We praise you for Jesus Christ,
bread of life and true vine, 
his body given for us and his blood poured out. 
On the night when he was betrayed,
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it,
and gave it to them saying,
‘Take eat: this is my body which is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
And he took the cup after supper, saying,
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
 
Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: 
 
Christ has died: Christ is risen: Christ will come again.
 
Remembering the life and teaching, 
the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus,
and confident in his sacrifice made once for all,
we rejoice that he is present with us, 
and that we can walk the way with him. 
 
Send now your Holy Spirit upon this bread and wine,
us your people, and all creation, 
that Jesus may be truly present
and the jubilee he proclaimed
be made real along us. 
 
May the bread that we break be for us the communion of the body of Christ.
May the cup that we bless be the communion of the blood of Christ.
May we continue to be made one with you and with each other,
and may our unity give you glory, 
God who is one in three, a community of love, now and forever, Amen.
 
Let joy ring out! May unity be made! May creation be made new! 
 
The Lamb of God
Lamb of God, you take away,
the sins of the world.
In your mercy come and heal us;
Lord hear our prayer.
Take away our sins, forgive us,
Lamb of God restore, redeem us,
grant us peace, Lord, in your mercy
Lord hear our prayer.
 
Nick Fawcett © 2008 Kevin Mayhew Ltd
 
Post Communion Prayer
 
Loving God, You have fed us generously at this table,
we have remembered Jesus and rejoiced that He is with us today.
We are ready now to follow Him,
and to be Your people in the world.
May Your Holy Spirit show us the way,
make us holy, and fill us with love.  Amen.
 
Hymn       The Kingdom of God Is Justice and Joy
The Rev’d Bryan Rees  © 1973, Alexander Scott sung by students at Mansfield College 
in the early 1990s.
 
The kingdom of God 
is justice and joy;
For Jesus restores 
what sin would destroy.
God’s power and glory 
in Jesus we know;
and here and hereafter 
the kingdom shall grow.
 
2 The kingdom of God 
is mercy and grace;
the captives are freed, 
the sinners find place,
the outcast are welcomed 
God’s banquet to share;
and hope is awakened 
in place of despair.
 
3 The kingdom of God 
is challenge and choice:
believe the good news, 
repent and rejoice!
God’s love for us sinners 
brought Christ to his cross:
our crisis of judgement 
for gain or for loss.
 
4 God’s kingdom is come, 
the gift and the goal;
in Jesus begun, 
in heaven made whole.
The heirs of the kingdom 
shall answer his call;
and all things cry “Glory!” 
to God all in all.

Blessing
 
May you continue to be a sign of unity,
that the world may believe,
and creation rejoice.
 
The blessing of the Creator,
who makes this year holy, be with you.
The blessing of the Christ, the Anointed One 
who proclaimed the Lord’s favour, be with you.
The blessing of the Holy Spirit,
poured out on all creation, be with you,
now and always, Amen.
 
 
Sources and Thanks
 
Opening Music By The Waters of Babylon by Boney M.   Call to Worshipread by Lorraine Webb from Leviticus 25 and Jubilee liturgy, music Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man played by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra led by Marin Alsop at the BBC Proms 2012.   Confession and Assurance of Pardon from the Jubilee liturgy and read by Ray Fraser and Sarah Wilmott.  Prayer for Illumination written by Andy Braunston and read by Walt Johnson.  Lamentations read by John Young and St Luke read by Roy Calcutt.   Affirmation of Faith an adaptation of the original URC Statement of Faith read by Zoe Mather and Andy Braunston.  Communion Blessing  from the Jubilee liturgy. 

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