Circuit Worship: 22 August 2021

Simon Blainey

If you would like to join this service of worship using just the videos playing one after another, you can visit our playlist on Youtube by following the link below:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc2KHyGgDaLvO94LBrOZmGySGKaGdgvmJ

Welcome and call to worship

Hello and welcome to the Oxford Circuit Service for Sunday 22nd August. I’m Simon Blainey, one of the local preachers on the circuit, and I’ll be leading today’s service. Wherever and whenever you are listening to this service, I’m delighted to be sharing in worship with you.

We’ll begin our service with a short to call to worship, which will be followed by a hymn of praise and adoration.

Call to worship

Give thanks to God for he is good.

He loves every person in the world.

He loves you, and he loves me.

So let’s all praise him together.

Hymn:

Christ Triumphant, Ever Reigning (STF319)

Prayers of Praise

Lord, we praise you for bringing light into our darkness and joy into our sorrow;

For filling our lives when we feel empty and for guiding us when we are lost;

For restoring us when we are broken and for holding us when we are hurting;

For giving us life and for creating a world of such beauty and variety.

We praise you for every opportunity to experience something of the riches around us;

For giving us eyes to see the wonders you have made, ears to hear the music of life, and voices to give you the glory.

Lord, we praise you for the utter assurance of your total dependability.

We praise you that your love is for those who are lost, afraid and defeated by all that life throws against them.

We praise you for Christ who set his face like flint in his determination to face the conflict of life for us, and that through this life, death and resurrection he has shown us the full measure of your love that will never be defeated.

Amen

(adapted from David Clowes ‘500 Prayers For All Occasions’)

Reading

Ephesians 6:10-20

Our reading today comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, a letter which seems to have been written to allow Paul’s readers to better understand three things: firstly, the dimensions of God’s eternal purpose and grace, secondly, the goals he has set for individual Christians and the church, and finally, how these goals can be fulfilled. This culminates in the passage we’re going to hear now, which shows how the fulfilment of these goals also means victory over the evil one, the devil himself.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Sermon

Hymn:

What A Friend We Have In Jesus (STF531/H&P559)

Prayers of Confession and Intercession

Lord God, we confess that there are times in our lives when we take the easy option rather than the right option.

When we focus on what is best for us today rather than what is best for your creation for eternity.

When we allow ourselves to be distracted from what we know we should do today, and put it off for a tomorrow that never comes.

When we feed our pride and self-centredness by focusing on other people’s deficiencies, rather than seeking out their strengths.

When we forget to bring our concerns, our troubles, and even our joys to you, but instead turn inward on ourselves.

And so Lord God we ask that you will forgive our shortcomings, the little things we do, or don’t do, that move us further away from you, and we ask that you will remind us how to use the equipment you’ve provided us with to allow us to live as true Christians, as hard-working members of your family here on earth.

We can rejoice, for when we truly repent God always forgives us, and he gives us all that we need to live our lives in his way, as Paul has showed us.

One of the greatest of the gifts given to us by God is prayer, and so we’ll now use the power of this gift to serve some of the many situations which concern us in the world at the moment.

And so, Lord God, we pray for all those affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

For those who have been bereaved, those whose health has been ruined, those who are struggling to recover, those who exhaust themselves in caring for the sick and the dying, those who are unable to see the people they love, those who are vulnerable and continue to have to cut themselves off from society, those who face a seemingly endless wait for a vaccine, those who have lost jobs, support networks, valued hobbies, the things that make life seem worthwhile.

We ask Lord that all these people will know your love and your comfort, and that you will strengthen the resolve of all those who work to bring an end to the pandemic.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We pray too for your world, for this planet Earth, which humanity has done so much to ravage and destroy. We pray that our church will have the strength, the will and the resolve to take a stand in working to limit climate change, to protect the natural world, and to find a way for our society to live lightly in your creation. We pray that our politicians and our leaders will have the courage to do what is right, rather than what is easy, to do what is best for future generations rather than what wins easy votes tomorrow, to set an example of how to live in harmony with the planet rather than using power and privilege as an excuse for behaviour which pushes our world closer to calamity. And we pray that each one of us will have the resolve to make real changes to our lives rather than just the easy changes, to live in a way which is sustainable rather than a way which is expedient.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We pray for every person in your world, that we and they might be alert to the temptations of the powers of evil. We pray that we will have the strength to resist the insidious whispers, the salami tactics, the little things which add up to move us further away from God. We pray that people will be able to find ways to work together to support each other, and that your church will help people live wisely and well, enabling them to become better followers of Jesus, rather than condemning them for the times when they fall short of your example. We pray that we will do all we can to use the tools you have given us to spread your Good News, to share your love, and to set an example of living selflessly in your service.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord God, each one of us will know of particular situations and particular people that are in desperate need of prayer at this moment, and so in this period of silence let us each raise up these situations and people to you.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

And we bring all our prayers together as we say the prayer which Jesus gave us, in its traditional form:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.

For ever and ever, Amen.

And so we come to our final hymn, which reminds us how God guides us, protects us, and sustains us, through all the challenges that life brings – Lord, you are the light of life to me.

Hymn:

Lord, You Are The Light Of Life To Me

Blessing

Lord God, you are the light of life to each one of us.

The rock on which we stand.

The truth that set us free.

And the king who ever reigns.

Help us in all we do to pursue your good and perfect will

So that all those we meet will see your love flowing through us, and join us in glorifying your name and working to build your kingdom here on Earth.

In the name of Christ.

Amen.

Organ Voluntary

Organ voluntary: Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545 (J.S. Bach)

Bart Jacobs plays the organ of St Bavo’s Church, Haarlem, the Netherlands

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