URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship 6th November

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
 

to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.

Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 4 November 2022

 
Today’s service is led by The Revd Fiona Bennett

 
The Season of Remembrance

Introduction
 
Good morning and welcome to the URC’s Sunday Service with Daily Devotions.  I am Fiona Bennett, minister of Augustine United URC in Edinburgh and currently also service as the URC’s Moderator of General Assembly.   Where ever you are it is good to be with you and share with you in worship. Our worship includes communion. If you would like to join in with this please have some bread and juice available to you.
Let us worship God together…
 
Call to Worship 
 
God of the past                  Source of all being
God of the present             Saviour beside us
God of the future               Shaper of hope
God beyond time                Holy three in one, we worship you.
 
 
Hymn:   Sing for God’s Glory
              © The Rev’d Kathy Galloway, sung by the Rev’d Paul Robinson    

 
Sing for God’s glory that 
colours the dawn of creation,
racing across the sky, 
trailing bright clouds of elation;
sun of delight 
succeeds the velvet of night,
warming the earth’s exultation.
 
Sing for God’s power 
that shatters the chains 
that would bind us,
searing the darkness of 
fear and despair 
that could blind us,
touching our shame 
with love that will not lay blame,
reaching out gently to find us.
 
Sing for God’s justice 
disturbing each easy illusion,
tearing down tyrants and 
putting our pride to confusion;
lifeblood of right, 
resisting evil and slight,
offering freedom’s transfusion.
 
Sing for God’s saints 
who have travelled 
faith’s journey before us,
who in our weariness 
give us their hope to restore us;
in them we see 
the new creation to be,
spirit of love 
made flesh for us.
 


Prayer with focusing movement

 
You are welcome to join with the movements or simply remain still as you feel comfortable.  
 
Holy One, we pray…as we point behind us
God of the past who has fathered and mothered us 
 
as we point in front      
God of the future who is always ahead of us                  
 
as we open our hands
God of the present, who is here in the midst of us         
 
God of all time, we offer you our worship and praise.
 
We gather in this moment bringing with us:
joy and sadness from our past,
hope and fear for our future,
faith and doubt in the present.
 
God of all time,
You have seen our love and fear.
You have seen our prejudice and acceptance.
You can see our self-loathing and our kindness.
 
God of all time and beyond time, help us always to trust in your love.
 
As we look to the past, grant us wisdom and insight.
As we look to the future, inspire us with vision and hope.
As we live in the present, transform us with your love 
which knows no limits.
 
We unite our prayers together in the Lord’s prayer, using the form of words most worshipful for us…
 
Song     Lord of Life    
Catherine Walker (b1958)  Macduff Parish Church. Vocalist Aileen Sim Accompanist Morven McNeil used with their kind permission.
 
Lord of life, we come to you.
Lord of all, our Saviour be,
Come to bless and to heal
with the light of your love.
 
Through the days of doubt & toil,
in our joy and in our pain,
guide our steps in your way,
make us one in your love.

 

 Readings
 
Job 19:23-27
 
O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
 
Hymn    Psalm 145
from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal sung by Brian Cochran and used with his kind permission
 
I will extol you, O my God,
and praise you, 
O my king;
yes, ev’ry day and evermore
your praises I will sing.
Great is the Lord, 
our mighty God,
and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable,
above all glory raised.
 
Each generation to the next
shall testimony bear,
and to your praise, 
from age to age,
your wondrous acts declare.
Upon your glorious majesty
and honour I will dwell,
and all your grand 
and glorious works
and all your greatness tell.


Your mighty acts and awesome deeds we shall with awe confess;
of your great goodness they shall sing, and perfect righteousness.
Most gracious and compassionate is God, who reigns above;
his wrath is ever slow to rise, unbounded is his love.

 
 Luke 20:27-38
 
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 
 
Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 
 
Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
  
Sermon
 
Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing.
Where have all the flower gone? Long time ago.
Young girls have picked them every one…
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
 
Pete Seger wrote the first 3 verses of this song in 1955 and in 1960 Joe Hickerson added the verses “Where have all the soldiers gone, gone to graveyard everyone…”
 
It was widely used as an anti-war protest song in response to the Vietnam war which ran from 1955 to 1975.
 
It is the last repeated line which came to me as I was reflecting on the readings for today…
 
When will we ever learn?
 
And I would want to add to that, when will we remember what we have learned?
 
The Pandemic was a horrific experience of loss and challenge, yet there were lesson in it; without travel, the pollution levels dropped and the planet began to heal itself.  The clapping for the NHS and key workers, made us realise what some of the most important roles within our society are.  And the checking on neighbours and offering to do the shopping, reminded us of the power of our humanity to make each other’s lives so much better.
 
Any of these things we could have talked about intellectually before the pandemic, but during those lock down years, we lived it; there is nothing like living something to really sink it into our understanding;
Yet a year on and pollution and the temperature of the planet is up, key workers are struggling to buy food, and many neighbours are no longer in touch…
 
When will we ever learn? If a Pandemic can’t do it, what will it take to make us learn and to build our lives and define our priorities differently?
 
When I think about this, I can feel myself spiralling down into a cage of frustration with the world and also with myself, for not living out the wisdom I have learned… which takes me to our readings for today…
 
The character Job had a very hard time. Everything which could have gone devastating wrong for him, went wrong. His friends tell him that this is God punishing him for some hidden sin, but Job stands his ground throughout the story and says that he has committed no sin, that he is not hiding anything and he would like answers from God as to why he is suffering? Yet, despite his justified frustration with his friends, his family and with God, Job does not stop trusting in God; by which I mean trusting that God is steadfast in love and justice. Job wants an iron pen to write his story in stone, so one day after he is gone to dust, some member of his wide family will be able to present his stone cut tale and he will be vindicated.
 
The story of Job gives no answers to the questions as to why people, good and innocent people, suffer, but it does affirm God, and in fact Job’s story as a whole, is a way of saying to us:  people have struggled and suffered… there are no apparent answers sometimes as to why… but always remember God is steadfast in love and justice, even when it is hard for us to feel it or believe it right now.
 
Job’s words remind me of the quote which Martin Luther King Jr made from Theodore Parker: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
 
MLK hung onto this in the midst of the struggle which cost him his life.
 
I believe this is one of the key messages of all the Bible; to discipline ourselves to remember that God is steadfast in love and justice and to trust God – not to trust we will get what we want – that is not the way – to trust that in any time and any experience God is acting in love and justice and growing goodness for the whole world, even when we cannot perceive it.
 
The second message from the readings todays, which I feel responds to my spirally down into that cage of frustration, is Jesus sharp reply to the Sadducees to focus their minds and energies on what was important to bringing abundant life to all in the present.
 
The Sadducees believed in a physical resurrection for everyone, but that led them into complex imaginings about what that would mean for a woman who had been widowed and had (following the Biblical Levite teaching) remarried; Which husband would she be married to in the afterlife? Jesus challenged the Sadducees not to waste their energy tying themselves and others into knots about the afterlife – both side of the grave are in God’s hands. What they should concern themselves about is how to live and shape for all, God’s eternal life now. There is a challenge not to go down distracting and unproductive theological rabbit holes.
 
As I think back on the story of ecumenism throughout the Church, I wonder how often we have hidden in theological rabbit holes, to avoid the radical changes truly working together would bring?
 
I also wonder at a personal and community level, how often we have let theological or emotion rabbit holes of false shame, fear or greed distract us and prevent us from focusing and acting on how to live and share with all God’s eternal life now?
 
It is easy to shut ourselves in cages of frustration, despair and apathy about the failure of the world and the failures of ourselves to learn from the past, but these passages challenge us to unlock those cages by remembering and trusting who our God is; the one who is steadfast in love and justice
 
And unlocking those cages by remembering not to invest our energy in that which distracts or seeks to disable us from living and sharing God’s eternal life for all now. It may look sensible to hoard and not share; we may convince ourselves we are righteous to dominate; it may appear logical to exclude… but all of these are distractions, rabbit holes which suck our energy away from following Jesus Way, which is to live and share from an understanding of abundance; to seek righteousness through the slow power of love; to allow God’s Spirit to transform us through inclusion and interdependence. 
 
I began by thinking about the song of lament and frustration by Pete Seger & Joe Hickerson – Where have all the flowers gone? … when will we ever learn?
 
I would like to end with a reworking of today’s psalm which is a song to help us remember the God steadfast in love and Justice and to live share with all the abundant life God brings today…
 
Psalm 145 Redux 
By Carla Grosch-Miller
 
A Conversation
 
Still point and Centre,
Wonder and Way.
I praise You.
 
Eternal Source,
Cohering Power,
Mystery Beyond our Knowing.
 
What song can I sing
that could capture Your essence?
I am dumb.
only silence may suffice.
 
Yet try I must,
that the generations will know, 
and the seeking will find
and the finding will live
with grace and purpose,
in peace and patience,
with joy and kindness.
 
The old words clang,
their resonance lost in time.
Yet the power beneath
remains,
to tease and taunt,
as shackle and lifeline.
 
This is our conundrum:
To glimpse eternity
in the frail vessels
that are words,
that our own flesh
– equally frail – 
may tell the story
of life abundant.

Music for Refection 
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 
sung by the Kingston Trio
 
 
Prayers of the People 
 
Wind of God,
blowing from the four corners of the earth, breathe on us.
Where our bones are dried up and hope is lost,
breathe hope and sinew into desperate spirits:
in flooded villages, in refugee camps, in hungry homes.
May your arm be under the head of the helpless,
may they rise up from the graveyard of despair
and find new life through the power of love.
 
Hurricane of God,
blowing across the universe, stir the hearts of the compassionate,
overturn the caution of the hesitant, that the resources of the world
may be shared with the hungry, that tanks may be turned into tractors
and the debts of those ensnared in poverty cancelled.
 
Breath of God
gently whispering in our ears, remove the dust of apathy
which clouds our vision.
Energise us that we may be:
a source of comfort for the sick,
a solace for the bereaved.
Holt Spirit of comfort and change, send us out in confidence and joy
to keep the faith and share it.  Amen.
  
Offering & Dedication
 
Praise God from whom all blessing flow
Praise God all creature here below
Praise God above, You heavenly host
Praise Maker Christ and Holy Ghost
 
Communion 
 
The Invitation
 
The first time this story was told they gathered around a table:
a ragged collection of people – sinners, betrayers, the power-hungry,
fragile, lonely, lost.
 
The first time this story was told, Jesus promised that is was for all time, that whenever the bread was broken and the wine was poured, wherever the story was told around the table he would be there.
 
Today we tell the story as it has been told a thousand times over;
we break the bread, and we pour the wine; sure, as we do, that we belong at this table and that Jesus is here with us.  So, let us hear the story of how this meal, this sacrament, began:
 
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, took bread gave thanks, broke it and said: ‘this is my body, broken for you’.  Then he took the cup saying: ‘this is my life of the new covenant, poured out for you, do this whenever you drink it, to remember me’.  So now following Jesus’ example and command, we take this bread and this wine, the ordinary things of the world which Christ will make special. 
 
Prayer of Blessing
 
Send down your Holy Spirit on us, and on these gifts of bread and wine.
That they may become for us your body, healing forgiving and making us whole; and that we may become again your body, loving and caring in the world until your Kingdom come. Amen
 
If we come to this table angry, let this bread and wine be our peace.
 
If we come to the table as sinners, let this bread and wine be our grace.
 
If we come to this table betrayed, let this bread and wine be our wholeness.
 
If we come to this table broken, let this bread and wine be our hope.
 
If we come to this table empty, let this bread and wine be our life.
 
For this is a holy table, with food to fill a hungry world and wine to quench thirsty hearts.  It is God’s in the making, and ours for the taking.
 
Let’s take the bread together…..
 
The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus  (Eat bread)
 
Now we share the wine….  The wine of the Kingdom  (drink wine)
 
Prayer after Communion
 
God our salvation,
we thank you for our communion with the Risen Christ
and with all those who love him in earth and heaven.
We pray that, strengthened by his grace, we may serve you faithfully all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 
Hymn    Let us talents and Tongues Employ
The Rev’d Fred Kaan  sung and played by members of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church and used with their kind permission.
 

Let us talents and tongues employ,
reaching out with a shout of joy:
bread is broken, 
the wine is poured,
Christ is spoken 
and seen and heard.
 
Christ is able to make us one,
at his table he set the tone,
teaching people to live to bless,
love in word and in deed express.
 
Jesus lives again; 
earth can breathe again.
Pass the Word around: 
loaves abound! (repeat)
 
 Jesus calls us in, sends us out
bearing fruit in a world of doubt,
gives us love to tell, 
bread to share:
God (Immanuel) everywhere!
 
Jesus lives again…
 
repeat last verse

 

 

Blessing 
 
May the blessing of God,
the source of all life,
the source of all living,
the source of all abundance,
be with us today and always,
Amen.
 
 
Sources
 
Prayers of the People by Kate McIlhagga (The Greening Heart of the Snowdrop – WGP) 
Communion Liturgy by Ruth Maxey
All other liturgical material by Fiona Bennett
 
Opening music: Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland (“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
 
Closing music: Nun Danket Alle Gott – Marche Triomphale (“Now thank we all our God”) by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (organ of All Saints’, Odiham – 2020)
 
Thanks to Diana Cullum-Hall, Sarah Wilmott, Liane Todd and Esther Watson for recording the spoken parts of the service. 
 
Copyright: 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
 
This material is only for use in local churches not for posting to websites or any other use.  Local churches must have copyright licences to allow the printing and projection of words for hymns.
 

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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