URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship 20 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

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Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 20 November 2022

Today’s service is led by The Revd Elizabeth Gray-King

Worship for Safeguarding Sunday

Welcome to worship from the United Reformed Church.  
I’m Elizabeth Gray-King, URC Minister and visual theologian.  I work as the Synod Pastor for North Western Synod part of my working life and the rest of the time I am an artist with paintings in some URC churches and in the chapel of HMS Queen Elizabeth. 
You can see much of my illustration throughout Stepwise and the Elders’ material on the URC Learning Hub and also in the book, Appreciating Church
Let us worship in joy and hope. 
Call to Worship
When we are happy, when we are full of joy and laughter:
God welcomes us.
When we are angry, when people let us down and make us sad:
God welcomes us.
When we are tired, when we need to stop, curl up,  and rest:
God welcomes us.
God of welcome, whose door is always open: 
We are glad to meet you here!
Hymn    Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
              Reginald Heber 1826 Recorded by the Hymn Project

Holy, holy, holy! 
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning 
our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, 
merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, 
blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! 
All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim 
falling down before thee,
which wert and art 
and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! 
Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful folk 
thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; 
there is none beside thee,
perfect in pow’r, in love, 
and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! 
Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth, and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! 
merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, 
blessed Trinity!

Prayers of Approach and Confession

God, tireless creator, 
With ever new energy, you make a way for our tired souls to find you.
When we are exhausted, you wake us to the depths of your love.
When we are strong and eager, you bring us to the heights of your pain.
You who gave light as gift to the dark, call us into your powerful reality and we praise you. 
You dared flesh.  You lived it, touched it, named it, healed it, challenged it.  You named the lies and walked in truth.  Jesus Christ, flesh of all flesh, bone of all bone, life of all time, we praise you.
You dare flesh still.  Your creative eyes see through all eyes, damaged or free.  Your energy, pain and power move through the flesh that will have you; touch the flesh which fears you.  Holy Spirit, wind of all time, breath of all life, love of all todays, we praise you.
God, tireless creator, flesh of all flesh, love of all todays, you hear us this day.  We confess our tiredness—of living, of understanding, of knowing.  We confess as we hold our breath against the realities we fear.  We complain that you are absent, that we are unknown.  
Yet you do know us, and as you know us, forgive us.  In this silence, we bring our confession.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Tireless, loving, daring God.
You hear us and we praise you.  
You know us and as we are afraid of this knowing, 
we are somehow grateful. 
Let us know, O love of all todays that this day we are yours again.  
You name us as your own. 
We are forgiven.  
Alleluia, Amen. 
Prayer for Inspiration
Eternal Word, 
open our hearts to know you, 
our minds to hear you 
and our souls to receive you 
for your glory’s sake. Amen. 
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord.  Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord.  Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.  I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.  The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Psalm 46
reworked by Joe Tyrpak  © 2009 Church Works Media, Used by Permission 
last verse from St Mark 4: 35-41 & Rev 19:15
God is our strength and refuge, 
a helper ever near.
While resting in His shelter, 
no evil will we fear —
Not if the mountains crumble 
into the angry sea,
Nor if the surging ocean 
exceeds its boundary.
A quiet stream refreshes 
the city of our God;
His throne stands unaffected 
while kingdoms rise and fall.
One word from Jacob’s Saviour 
will melt the raging throng.
The Lord of Hosts is with us; 
He is our fortress strong.
Behold God’s glorious power: 
He makes all warfare cease.
Each weapon He will shatter; 
the world will be at peace.
“Be still!” cries Heaven’s Sovereign, “Be still, for I am God!
All kingdoms — all creation —
will bow beneath my rod.”
The violent sea turned placid when Jesus cried, “Be still!”
Fears gone, 
twelve men stood gasping 
when waves obeyed His will.
And soon the same voice speaking will calm earth’s rebel storm.
This Lord of hosts is with us 
both now and evermore!

 St Luke 1:68-79
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty saviour for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,  to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
Aspiration v Reality
Sometimes, I enjoy taking the Bible literally.  I like the words from both Jeremiah and Luke today, and I find that they speak to us in fascinating ways, just as written.  It may help to know something about Jeremiah the Prophet, about his life, his ancient geography, his faith and his pre-scientific mind.  But with all that read and captured, the only thing I come back to is Jeremiah’s passion to speak, and to speak truth to those who were not keen to listen.  This is an eternal thing with no surprises.  Films like Don’t Look Up are just the latest in the long line of films, novels and histories which remind us that people saying uncomfortable truth are seldom believed.  No matter that our planet is traumatised and that the world is weighed under by greed, people will still only hear what they want to hear.  Jeremiah’s passion to speak is astonishing.  He must have had some almighty relationship with God. 
Luke’s writer points us to another passionate speaker with another almighty relationship with God.  Zechariah.  We are to believe he was made speech – less by the angel’s revelation that Zechariah and Elizabeth were to be parents long after they thought it was impossible. Not only parents, but parents of a prophet who would name truth and bring people to God. Zechariah could only open his mouth for words when the passion to speak the truth opened it.  I have to confess that as a parent, I can’t imagine saying this about one of my sons no matter how much I was moved to do so by my God relationship.  Both of my boys are amazing humans, but they’re no prophets, and I can’t say, knowing what I know, that I would wish this kind of mission on them.  In hindsight, we also know that John, that amazing son, didn’t end well, being caught up in the kind of greed which keeps some people in power and makes sure that others die in the process. 
What we have in both of these passionate prophecies is the spelling out of aspiration in the midst of harsh reality.  Jeremiah’s prophecy spoke the universal truth that in the midst of human greed and control, there is a new way.  Jeremiah named the harsh reality that people have ignored people in need, or worse, sent them elsewhere. That people are afraid, they know evil personally, they long for peaceful community.  Jeremiah said that the Lord would provide the safety, the shelter, the community if we only did one thing – behave as if God knows us and will fill us with the power to exercise care. 
Move on a period of huge time, and we find Zechariah aspiring, on behalf of God, for the same good news in the midst of harsh reality. Zechariah predicts that the way of being God power in the midst of evil is to see that soon, God will have brought that new way into the midst of them in human form.  God is too heartbroken by broken human aspiration and the activity of greed to continue to speak through prophets.  God has to be present.  So dear Zechariah’s baby boy will grow to be the one to prepare the way for the New Way of God, God’s self. The promise of old made real in midst of harsh reality.  People won’t be afraid any more, there will be profound hope and peace.   In hindsight, we know that even the Jesus Way was attacked, as ever, that the powerful and greedy took action and that God present in that one human ended.  
But, but.  God’s reaction wasn’t to wring hands and murmur Oh Well. God’s reaction was to forgive – there was no ancient myth of killing the enemy lived out when Jesus died.  No, it was new life, forgiveness for the greedy powerful and their submitting servants.  The aspiration of new life, of new ways of being in the midst of our pained planet and lives is not a hollow dream. Resurrection life is the reality for many.  We have a responsibility, like all good writers of laments of old, to remind ourselves and others that God did not die no matter what it feels like, that hope is tangible, that people can live without fear. 
Today is Safeguarding Sunday.  If ever there is a message to bring hope in the midst of trauma, it is the message that those who are victims will be heard and will eventually be safe.  There is news every day that greed and power continue making so many people’s lives into harsh reality. It is painful for us to see that that many people who ought to care don’t, many people who ought to protect others choose that very role of protection to abuse someone even more.  There seems to be no limit to the kind of abuse or the age of the abuser or victim. There seems to be no limit to the damage caused by some in respectable roles who, for their greediness for whatever solace they may gain, will take away control, power and safety from another.  We aspire to be a fair, safe, caring society.  We aspire to be people and communities who care with love beyond ourselves.  We aspire, as did Jeremiah and Zechariah, filled with God’s love, to be homes, families, workplaces, societies and global neighbours who will go out of our way to protect.  
Today is Safeguarding Sunday.  Today, please, let’s move beyond aspiration. Let’s dare to notice the children who may be too quiet.  Let’s dare to notice the teenager who lingers.  Let’s dare to notice the young adult who seems to need too much attention.  Let’s dare to wonder why we haven’t seen that older person you used to.  Dare to speak for yourself, to name your own truth and to ask for help. Please, take on the deep aspiration of the prophets who spoke truth to power even in the midst of the harsh realities of their own communities. They had God-opened eyes and developed God-inspired ways to speak.  For those who may think I have no idea what it’s like to name my own truth. I do. Trust me on that.  Our voices can be heard. 
Oh dear planet, oh dear people.  What if Jeramiah had been silent?  Who would have reminded people that there is a greater love who knows our fears?  What if Zechariah had remained tongue tied?  Who would have seen a parent, frightened by the news of his own child’s future, telling it anyway to give hope and inspiration?  God will have found other speakers. God does.  Yet let us now, in the harsh realities in which we presently live, take our God power and do something. Notice. Speak.  Aspire. Share hope. Find rescue.  Let us safeguard people and planet with all the courage we can muster. It’s our call. God will give us strength to do it.  Amen. 
Hymn    Love Divine All Loves Excelling
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)  Choir and Congregation of Westminster Cathedral, London.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter every trembling heart.
Come, almighty to deliver;
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, & praise thee, without ceasing
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish then thy new creation:
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee,
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Affirmation of Faith
I believe.
I believe that before me, 
before my forebears, 
before theirs, 
there was Eternal Love, creating everything.
I believe this Eternal Love is called God.
I believe God called into being
the world on which I plant my feet, 
the globe on which I plot my space, 
the creatures who share earth’s life.
I believe this Creative, Eternal, Loving God 
honoured all life and the life I live by being human.
I affirm the name of Love in human form as Jesus, 
in a particular place and time.
I believe Jesus was killed by misunderstanding, greed and confusion.
I believe Creative, Loving God, Jesus
changed from being dead to being alive.
I believe Creative, Loving God, who was Jesus, 
is the breath I breathe and the loving life between people.
I affirm the name of Love’s life inside people as Holy Spirit.
I believe that God, 
Eternal God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, 
Three in One and One in Three, 
is alive and loving in the world  
and my world.
Prayers of intercession
Oh God of all time and this time, 
eternal one, lover of all, present in each of us, 
draw us to you now.  
It’s in this time we remember.  It’s this moment when words from a few moments ago may have moved deeply in our deepest selves.   Thank you that we are here.   Our presence in this service is a very real sign that we have made it to this place.  Whatever we thought would kill us didn’t.  
We are yours and we thank you.
We think now of those who need this reassurance. In this time of silence, we ask you to move in our minds and help us notice. We search in our heads for the people who have drawn our attention.  Let us notice them now and inspire us with what to do. 
We search in our minds for the communities we know where there is suffering.  Thank you for the relief they get and let us notice what more is needed.  If there is something we can do, move in us to know what that is. 
Oh Loving God, some of us feel powerless.  Help us to notice that you have moved our hearts, you draw us to prayer, you open our minds.  Thank you for your power in us to encourage us to feel and to think beyond ourselves.  Reassure us that our powerlessness is your power, leading us to gently and gracefully find ways to share hope.  
In this silence, we bring what we feel moved to bring to you.
We draw these prayers to a close by together praying the Lord’s Prayer in whatever language or version we prefer. 
Offertory prayer
How can we respond Oh God? With some of ourselves, with some of the fruits of our time and planning, with some of what may cost.  We give it freely with hope that it helps unpick need, pain and suffering.  We give it freely in hopes that it helps share your Good News of safety and peace. 
[physical collection or silence]
Bless you God, for what you have allowed us to offer to you.  We commend it all to your service.  Alleluia, Amen. 
Hymn    A Dream of Dignity
George Stuart (Creative Commons Licence) Tune: Darwall’s 148th
Sung by Adam and Gillian Earle.
A dream of dignity
for all humanity;
it is a dream so bold;
‘Can’t happen,’ we’ve been told;
but we can strive
to keep alive
this hope for human harmony.
A dream of dignity
for all humanity;
a dream that Jesus saw
was not achieved through law;
a change of heart
can be the start
of bringing in love’s ministry.
A dream of dignity
for all humanity;
is Jesus’ call to care;
life can be so unfair.
He calls for change,
to re-arrange
all cultures of inequity. 
A dream of dignity
for all humanity
is still with us today;
we find in Jesus’ way
how to respect
and thus protect
the beauty of both you and me.

May God who is light shine in your darkness.
May God who is love be the love between you.
May God who is life be your life everlasting.
And the blessing of God, 
Creator, Christ and Spirit 
be with you and remain with you 
now and forever. Amen
Call to Worship from the Three Thirty Eight Resource Pack for Safeguarding Sunday, all other liturgical material by Elizabeth Gray-King.
Opening music: Ein Feste Burg (“A mighty fortress”) by Max Reger (organ of Basilica Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy – 2016)
Closing music: Trumpet Voluntary in D by John Baston (organ of Basilica Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy – 2016)
Thanks to Graham Handscomb, Chris Watson, Diana Cullum-Hall, Christopher Whitehead, Kathleen Haynes, Pam Carpenter, Sarah Wilmott, Hilary Eveleigh and John Young 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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