Sunday Worship 4 February 2024

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 February 2024

 
Today’s service is led by the Revd Andy Braunston

 Welcome

Hello and welcome to worship.  As we get older, we worry that we forget things – and I’m pretty sure electronic diaries make matters worse!  We hear today of Isaiah’s concern that his fellow believers had forgotten the marvellous deeds of God – deeds with our Psalmist extols God for.  We hear St Paul remind his readers in Corinth of his rights, which he doesn’t assert, as he does not wish to hinder the Gospel.  We too want to remember God’s marvellous deeds and play our part as Christians that others come to know God’s loving kindness.  My name is Andy Braunston and I am the United Reformed Church’s Minister for Digital Worship.  I live up in Orkney, a land of winter gales and glorious summers.  I’m a member of the Peedie Kirk URC here which is where I’m leading worship from today. Let’s worship God together.

Call to Worship

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  The Eternal One sits above all creation and stretches the heavens out as a curtain; God brings the mighty to naught and reminds them they are as dust blown away in the storm.  
We wait on the Sovereign One who shall renew our strength.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  The Most High cannot be compared to another; God has no equal.  God is great in strength and mighty in power.  
We wait on the Sovereign One who shall renew our strength.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  The Mighty one grows not faint nor weary and empowers the weak with loving kindness. 
We wait on the Sovereign One who shall renew our strength.

Hymn     Thou Whose Almighty Word
John Marriott (1780-1825) Public Domain  Sung by St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder; assembled and produced by Tom Morgan, Music Director.  
 
Thou, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight:
hear us, we humbly pray,
and where the gospel-day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light!

Thou who didst came to bring
on thy redeeming wing
healing and sight,
health to the sick in mind,
sight to the inly blind:
now to all humankind
let there be light!
 
Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving holy Dove,
speed on thy flight!
Move on the waters’ face
bearing the lamp of grace
and, in earth’s darkest place,
let there be light!

Holy and blessed Three,
glorious Trinity,
wisdom, love, might:
boundless as ocean’s tide
rolling in fullest pride
through the world far and wide,
let there be light!
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Forgiveness

Holy and blessed Three,
we bring you our thanks and praise today,
we remember all that you have done for us and bring you our gratitude.

We praise you for our freedom to worship,
remembering it was once denied us – 
as it is for so many around the world.

We thank you for the ability to challenge and question the way things are,
remembering how our forebears suffered for that right –
as many still suffer today.

We marvel at our freedoms to love and live,
and remember those hard won battles –
knowing that many battles are still to come.

Lord Jesus, by eschewing power you brought healing and light,
but we prefer darkness and despair;
by standing on the edge of society you showed us how to see,
yet we prefer to close our eyes to suffering;
on your redeeming wing we find delight and freedom,
but we prefer the bondage of sin.
Heal and forgive us O Lord, and give us time to change.  

Most Holy Spirit,
live-giving spirit of truth and love,
speed on your flight and bathe us in your loving kindness
that we accept the forgiveness you offer,
find the courage to forgive others,
and the grace to forgive ourselves.  Amen!

Introduction

Our readings today deal with issues of memory and freedom.  Isaiah tried to reassure his people in the aftermath of exile of God’s loving care – something they’d forgotten in their trauma.  Writing in a similar era the Psalmist gives thanks for God and, in the midst of praise, reminds the people of the things God has done – and things they should emulate.  Paul reminds the troublesome congregation in Corinth that he’d be entitled to be paid for his ministry but forsook a stipend in order not to be a hindrance to the proclamation of the Gospel.  Together these readings, which we hear and sing, remind us of God’s saving actions and our responsibilities as Christians.  Let’s pray to be illuminated as we listen for God’s word in these readings.

Prayer for Illumination

Open our hearts and minds, O God,
that as we hear your Word read and proclaimed
we may remember your great deeds,
and be inspired to serve you in our life together as church
and in our own individual lives.  Amen.

Reading     Isaiah 40: 21 – 31

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Hymn     Fill Your Hearts With Joy and Gladness (Psalm 147)
Timothy Dudley Smith © 1984 Hope Publishing Company Printed and Podcast in accordance with the terms of OneLicence # A-734713  Performed by the Choir, Orchestra and Congregation of All Souls, Langham Place.  

Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
sing and praise your God and mine!
Great the Lord in love and wisdom,
might and majesty divine!
He who framed the starry heavens
knows & names them as they shine!

Praise the Lord, his people, praise him!
Wounded souls his comfort know;
those who fear him find his mercies,
peace for pain and joy for woe;
humble hearts are high exalted,
human pride and power laid low.

Praise the Lord for times and seasons,
cloud and sunshine, wind and rain;
spring to melt the snows of winter
till the waters flow again;
grass upon the mountain pastures,
golden valleys thick with grain.

Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
peace and plenty crown your days;
love his laws, declare his judgments,
walk in all his words and ways;
he the Lord and we his children:
praise the Lord, all people, praise!
 
Reading     1 Corinthians 9:16-23

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Sermon

In J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we’re introduced to a pensieve; a wide and shallow dish made of metal or stone, elaborately decorated, and inlaid with precious stones and carrying complex enchantments.  They are, Rowling, tells us rare and only used by powerful wizards because most wizards are afraid of using them.  Their purpose?  To collect spare memories.  The memories could be re-lived by others with access to the pensieve but they form a convenient place to store memories which get too much for ageing brains.  No longer able to claim to be in my mid 50s I think such an object would be a very useful addition to my tools.  I’ve prided myself on having a good memory, especially for faces, but now I’m not so sure!  With over 30 years of ministry behind me I’m starting to think I’ve forgotten more things than I’ve learned; having an academic interest in history means I’m aware of how much we’ve forgotten as a culture and a church.  A few months ago, a retired colleague told me she’d written a biography of a former principal of Westminster College, the Rev’d John Wood Oman.  Oman was born in Orkney, attended, as a child, a church I preach in regularly and went on to have a career as an academic theologian.  His work isn’t widely known – but he died almost 100 years ago – and he’s not very well known in Orkney, even in the members of the church he once worshipped in.  Such is the complexity of human memory that we forget what was once obvious.  Many of our churches have memorial plaques around them; I remember walking into a tiny village church in Kent where a part of my family are from and being surprised to see, on a war memorial, my surname.  Evidently, William Braunston, my great grandfather died in in the First World War.  My grandfather and father never knew him so there were no stories passed down about him, no memories just a marble plaque commemorating him and 12 others who came from a tiny mid Kent village and never returned.   Our readings today play with this idea of memory and couple it with ideas of freedom and obligation.

The writer of our Isaiah passage assumed that faith is built on memory – memory of God’s saving actions.  The writer assumes that when the collective memory of God’s actions fails so does the faith of the community.  Memory failure can be acute in times of crisis and the writer ministered in the difficult times of the 6th Century before Jesus with destruction and exile generating a crisis of confidence in the Jewish people.  

Did God really care for them?  
Was God really looking out for them?  
Does God really control the future?  

These were key questions for Isaiah’s exiled people and for us now when the collective memory of God fades even as the yearning for spirituality increases.  The people hadn’t forgotten God per se but believed He’d forgotten them – not surprising after their experience of bitter defeat and exile.  I’m sure many on the border of Ukraine and Russia wonder if God has forgotten them.  I wonder if Israelis rushing to shelter as missiles come flying in from Gaza wonder if God has forgotten His Chosen Ones; I’m sure the people of Gaza feel God has forsaken them as they huddle in refugee camps, hospitals and churches attacked with impunity by the Israeli Defence Forces.  

It’s not so much that the Jewish people in Isaiah’s time had forgotten God but had, instead, lost their faith in God’s loving care of them.  The writer’s approach was to remind the people of God’s loving kindness believing that in these memories would be found hope for the current crisis.  Babylon might be an immediate threat, but God’s power and love would outlast even the might of Babylon.  Just as we see God at work in creation, so God is at work in human affairs.  The powers of the age are no more than stubble to be burnt or chaff to be winnowed.  The people, at this time, had become overwhelmed by the crises of their age, crises that made them forget God’s grace and reliability; they’d forgotten the loving kindness of God.  The faint and powerless will receive help from God’s own hand, says Isaiah, if they just depend on God and remember God’s saving works.  

Dudley Smith’s rendering of Psalm 147, which we’ve just sung,  is probably the best, and most familiar, contemporary sung version but it’s a free reworking of the words of the Psalm and misses out the line about outcasts preferring the rather more vague “wounded souls.”  Like the Isaiah passage this Psalm begins and ends with God’s praise.  The command to praise is intertwined with the memories of God’s saving acts – and as such is paired beautifully with the Isaiah passage.  Scholars wonder if this Psalm was composed after the Exile and is, therefore, part of the national project to both remember God’s saving works and to rely again on God’s eternal sovereignty.  The Psalmist combines a jolly good hymn to enrich worship with some sturdy grounded ideas about the God who bandages and mends His people.  The God whom we laud is the one who gathers up the outcasts, heals the broken hearted and binds up wounds.  The one who determines the number of the stars and names them all is the one who lifts the downtrodden and casts the wicked to the ground.  We might, in these days of climate emergency, no longer think that God prepares the rains (humanity has changed the weather patterns so much we can’t blame God for the floods or the droughts) but with the Psalmist we know, and hope, that God takes pleasure in those who fear Him and trust in his steadfast love.  

Paul, in the passage from I Corinthians describes his central approach to his ministry – to proclaim the Gospel of his Lord and to attend to aspects of communal care which are the proper preserve of the Church.  In the verses leading up to this passage Paul established that, even though he didn’t push his rights, he would be entitled by social and religious norms to not to have to work for a living but live from the offerings of the community.  I must admit that as a stipendiary minister my hackles were raised at the idea that I don’t work for a living!   Instead, Paul decided to work for a living so as not to hinder the Gospel.  Paul cleverly mixes his images of being set free from sin – and his understanding of the Law – but at the same time living under the obligations of faith and fidelity to the Gospel.  He was set free to serve not to live the life of a libertine.  In becoming free he has become the slave of all – quite a powerful image in a world whose economic system depended on the enslavement of others.  Unlike the church in Corinth Paul realised that one could be unworthy of the Gospel; unlike those early Christians, and maybe unlike us, Paul realised we have to live out the pattern of Christ who came to serve not be served.  

So how might we weave together these ideas of memory, faith, God’s sovereignty, our freedom and obligations and human suffering?  Is there a resonance with the Isaiah passage for us?  In our age we have many crises – inflation may be down, but prices haven’t lowered (and still rise albeit more slowly) and many of us struggle to pay our bills.  The conflict between Israel and Gaza has locked in hatred, insecurity, prejudice, and discrimination for generations to come; the catastrophe repeats itself.  In America we’re faced with a resurgent group of election deniers determined to seek revenge against the institutions that protected democracy.  China desires Taiwan and seems willing to use violence and coercion to gain it; in the UK many issues are raised in election years, but few are about our fundamental values as a, in theory, free union of nations.  Do these crises make us, as they made the Jewish people of old, forget God and God’s sovereignty?  Does the God-given desire for spirituality give the Church a way in to remind and proclaim God’s grace? I wonder what we might mean by God’s sovereignty in an age of human freedom.  We proclaim that Christ is King but the powers that rule this world pay little, if any, attention to Jesus and his demands.  A few weeks ago we proclaimed, again, peace on earth and light in the gloom but the wars continue.  These aren’t new questions.  The Psalm reminds us that praise is an act of our will; sometimes a deeply subversive, difficult and painful thing to do.  In the face of disaster, the Psalmist trusted in and praised God.  The Psalmist balanced the praise of God with a hymn of praise with ideas deeply embedded in social justice.  We can’t sing God’s praises without being grounded in the messy business of life; yet we need to resist being overwhelmed by life’s vicissitudes which can cause us to forget God’s loving kindness.  Paul brilliantly asserts his freedom – a freedom he freely gives up to live as “slave to all” so as not to hinder the Gospel.  Attending to the weak, realising we must live lives worthy of our calling and seeing that just as we can forget God’s deeds (as Isaiah noted) we can also leave behind the central point of being Christians whilst, at the same time, kidding ourselves we’re still church.  As the Church in the West declines, we find that we spend more and more time looking to assure our members rather than reaching out to those yet to come.  As we realise we’re not to be a members’ club we end up giving lots of attention to our members so they don’t leave.  As we proclaim God’s sovereignty we wonder how the Church will exist in the next generation.

Perhaps some memories will help.  In an era of corruption and cynicism, the Reformers held we could be sure that the true Church subsists wherever the sacraments are rightly administered, and the Word truly preached. In the face of persecution and struggle the Church itself was revived, not just through the Protestant reform but also in the Catholic reaction to it.  In each of our readings today we see a concern to remember God’s deeds, to praise God, and to live well remembering that God’s concern for the forsaken, the broken, the outsider, and the wounded needs to be embodied in our lives and loves.  We remember to embody in our own lives, and the live of our church, that which we remember.  God’s loving kindness, God’s sovereignty might not be seen in the powerful things that Isaiah and the Psalmist hoped for but in the weak and outsider that Paul attended to.  God’s grace is seen in the foodbank and the over 60s group.  God’s power is seen with the asylum seeker resisting injustice and the messy church seeking to connect with those on the edge of our common life together.  God’s power is seen in the AA group meeting in our hall where week after week strength is seen in the lives of the broken and the weak.  We truly administer the sacraments when we remember the Church has to be on the edge, away from the centre of power but embodied and embedded in the lives of the outcasts and failures.  The Word is truly preached when, as a response lives are transformed.  Deep in our memories we know that our roots are on the edge of respectability, outside the law where we found ourselves in unlikely company.  Deep in our communal memory we know that God is there, leading, guiding and assuring – perhaps we need to reach for our pensieves and catch up with what we know to be true.

Let’s pray

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal Home,
help us to remember,
your deeds of might performed with the weak,
your loving kindness offered to the unlovely,
and your hope offered to the hopeless,
that we may be part of your great legacy,
that our people may not perish but flourish.  Amen.

Hymn     Christ is the World’s Light
Fred Pratt Green 1969 Hope Publishing Company Printed and Podcast in accordance with the terms of OneLicence # A-734713  Performed by Koine and used under licence. 
 
Christ is the world’s Light, Christ and none other;
born in our darkness, he became our Brother.
If we have seen him, we have seen the Father:
Glory to God on high.

Christ is the world’s peace, Christ and none other;
no one can serve him and despise another.
Who else unites us, one in God the Father?
Glory to God on high.

Christ is the world’s life, Christ and none other; 
sold once for silver, murdered here, our brother –
he, who redeems us, reigns with God the Father:
Glory to God on high.

Give God the glory, God and none other;
give God the glory, Spirit, Son and Father;
give God the glory, God with us, my brother:
Glory to God on high.
 
Affirmation of Faith

We believe in the Eternal One who has, since before time itself, guided and grieved with us in our pain, sought and saved us when we were lost, rejoiced and redeemed us from the miry pit.  
Woe to us if we do not proclaim the Gospel!

We believe in the risen Lord Jesus who became one with us, that we might learn to love and serve God and God’s people.  Jesus was betrayed by one He loved, given over to unjust trial and grievous execution and all was lost.  But God raised him on high, revealing love in weakness, glory in the gloom.    
Woe to us if we do not proclaim the Gospel!

We believe in the Holy Spirit, fire of God’s love, dynamo of the Church, light for our path; the One who prays within us when don’t have the words, bringer of grace through sign and symbol.  
Woe to us if we do not proclaim the Gospel!

We believe in the Church; agency of God in our world, herald of the Gospel, community of the free, imperfect sign of perfect love.  A place of healing and wholeness, of love and community.  
Woe to us if we do not proclaim the Gospel!

Intercessions

O Most High, we forget  your goodness to us, and turn our minds away from the marvels you have done.  You called us in our mother’s womb, consecrated us to your service, poured love and grace upon us, moved mountains for us and keep us as the apple of your eye.  We thank you for your loving kindness seen throughout our lives, especially in difficult times when your love has held us, even without us knowing.

pause

Bless with your love all those who find life unbearable today:

•    those living in fear of war and dictator, 
•    those crowded in unsafe refugee camps, 
•    those working for peace yet being shouted down by war mongers 
•    those waiting for life to end

and fill us with the memory of your command to work for a better world.

pause

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Risen Lord Jesus, we praise you for your life of loving service, defiant proclamation and truth telling to power.  Remind us of our call to resist the powers of evil that stalk our world, our responsibility to tell the truth whatever the cost and the price of love involved in carrying our crosses.

pause

bless with your love all those who are called to tell the truth this day:

•    whistle-blowers calling out corruption in high office,
•    peacemakers exposing a lust for war,
•    journalists revealing threats to democracy

pause

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Most Holy Spirit, we praise you for the energy you give the Church, ever surprising us and calling us to new forms of life and vitality – even sometimes when we least expect it.  Make us always eager to proclaim the Gospel through word and deed.

pause

Bless with your love those who proclaim your saving work this week:

•    those who donate to and volunteer in foodbanks
•    those who seek to make women’s refuges safe and healing places
•    those who welcome folk into groups for addiction where, step by step, freedom is found

pause

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Eternal Trinity of love, in our thanks and our prayers we bring to you now those we love and worry about.

longer pause

We join all our prayers together as we pray as Jesus taught….

Lord’s Prayer

Offertory

We give because it’s good for us;  
we give because it makes a difference;
we give as it’s a way of resisting both the love of money 
and the poison of consumerism;
we give because we value the causes and organisations we support.

We give to the Church because we value it, 
it makes a difference in so many lives 
and it’s a measure of our discipleship.  

We give in many ways, in little envelopes, by standing order, simply by popping money into the plate.  

However, we give, we ask God to bless our giving and our gifts.  

Let’s pray:

Eternal God,
we offer our thanks for your many gifts to us,
the love you shower us with
the life we live,
those we share living with
and all the creatures with whom we dwell 
and learn to be in harmony with.
Bless these gifts, 
that through them we can make a difference to our world.  Amen.

Hymn     I Come With Joy, A Child of God
© 1971, 1995 Hope Publishing Company music © 2021 Hope Publishing Printed and Podcast in accordance with the terms of OneLicence # A-734713  sung by musicians from Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, Lake Oswego, Oregan, USA. 

I come with joy, a child of God,
forgiven, loved and free,
the life of Jesus to recall,
in love laid down for me.

I come with Christians far and near
to find, as all are fed,
the new community of love
in Christ’s communion bread.

As Christ breaks bread, and bids us share,
each proud division ends.
The love that made us, makes us one,
and strangers now are friends.

The Spirit of the risen Christ,
unseen, but ever near,
is in such friendship better known,
alive among us here.
 
Together met, together bound
by all that God has done,
we’ll go with joy, to give the world
the love that makes us one.

Holy Communion

God is here!     God’s Spirit is with us!
Lift up your hearts     We lift them up to God!
Let us give God our thanks and praise!     It is our duty and joy to worship God!

Eternal God,
from the beginning of time all creation worships you,
the sun, moon, and stars dance with joy in your presence,
all your creatures praise your most holy name,
and we, your people, thank you today for Your Word.

Since the earliest times you have spoken to us;
long ago your voice rang over the waters of the deep,
and now sounds through 
natural wonder, ancient story, and bold prophet.
In the fullness of time your word burst forth in Jesus
who taught us to love and to worship, 
to question and to challenge.  
He spoked the engines of evil in his own age, 
and calls us to do the same today.  

Before he was given over to torture, degradation, and death,
Jesus shared a meal with his friends, and, during that meal,
took bread, prayed the ancient blessing, and said:

Take this all of you and eat it, for this is my body
which is broken for you.  Do this in memory of me.

When Supper was over, he took the cup of wine,
again prayed the ancient prayer of blessing,
gave the cup to his friends and said:

Take this all of you and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant
so that sins may be forgiven.  Do this in memory of me.

Let us proclaim the central mystery of our faith:

Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

After three days in the darkness of death 
your word, O Most High, was heard again, filling Christ with new life, 
confounding the powers of evil that seek to rule our world,
inspiring us to live as he lives,  showing love and compassion, 
and preaching the gospel of your holy love.

May your Holy Spirit come upon us, 
and upon these gifts of bread and wine,
that as we show forth Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, 
by the broken bread and outpoured wine,
we may discern, as we eat and drink, 
Jesus’ presence with us, risen and ascended, 
giving himself for our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
United around this table with the whole Church, we offer ourselves anew 
and rejoice in the promise of Christ’s coming in glory.

Give us, O Most High, tongues to extoll your great deeds,
hearts to respond to the preaching of Your Word,
discernment to bring rest to the weary, excitement to the jaded,
and joy to the downtrodden.  

Bless us all as we remember your deeds of old,
and seek to follow you in our own age,
that as we remember we make real your love and power,
found in weakness and vulnerability,
bringing healing and light 
to a cold and dark world.  

All this we pray through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus,
in the loving power of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, O Most High,
forever and ever,   Amen!

Music for Communion    Crucified Man by Graham Kendrick 
© Make Way Music Podcast in accordance with OneLicence # A-734713  

Post Communion Prayer

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all God’s benefits.

Loving God, we thank you
that you have fed us in this sacrament,
united us with Christ,
and given us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in your eternal realm.

Send us out in the power of your Spirit
to live and work to your praise and glory,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn    O God Our Help in Ages Past
Isaac Watts (1719) Public Domain sung by a 150 voice Mass Choir  for Classic Hymns 1st album “Ancient of Days” Conductor :   Dr Arul Siromoney  of St. Andrews Church Chennai in 2008 and used with their kind permission.
 
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is Thine arm alone,
and our defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received a frame,
from everlasting Thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
are like an evening gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the op’ning day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be Thou our guard while life shall last,
and our eternal home!
 
Blessing

May the One who holds you in the palm of Her hands
help you to remember all that God has done for you.
May the One who lived, died, and rose again for you,
help you proclaim the glorious gospel of freedom.
May the One who came upon you at baptism, 
filling you with the fire of God’s love continue to inspire you to serve,
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Source, Guide, and Goal of all life,
be with you and all whom you love, now and always, Amen.

 

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