Circuit Worship: 12 September 2021

Led by Peter Powers

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 this linkor simply pressing play on the first video below.

Welcome & Call to worship

Welcome:
It is a great delight to welcome you to this time of worship. Wherever you are
and whatever your circumstances, we hope you will find comfort and hope in
this service. My name is Peter Powers and I am one of the Ministers that work
in the Oxford Circuit.

Call to worship:
Come to worship,
to be comforted and disturbed,
challenged from our complacency,
but also offered forgiveness
and the hope of eternal life.
Come to Jesus, prophet, priest and king.

Hymn:

Opening prayers

Most merciful and gracious God,
we offer you our heartfelt love and praise
because your Son, Jesus Christ,
was willing to risk everything for the whole world.
Even for us.
We come to worship you,
earnestly seeking your will for us –
however risky that might be, you are worth it.
Amen.

Creative God,
you called us into your kingdom,
and adopted us as your children.
Redeeming Saviour,
you showed us how to be servants,
denying ourselves to serve others.
Sustaining Spirit,
you give us strength to take up our cross
in the service of the kingdom of God.

Teach us to serve others,
and in doing so, to serve you.

Lord, you walked with your disciples from village to village.
And on the way you talked to them about many things.
Giving them your teachings

Some things were not easy to hear or to understand.
We meet you here today, Lord, to hear these things too.
Giving us your teachings

You don’t call us to sit doing nothing.
You want us to be on the move:
taking risks to change our world and save our lives.
Help us, then, to draw close to you,
to be ready to listen. Then to act.
Giving us your teachings

‘Who is Jesus?’
For the times I have been asked this question, and have
struggled to give an answer:
Forgive me, Lord, and give me your words to speak.

For the times I have been ashamed to acknowledge you:
Forgive me, Lord, and grant me courage.

For the times I considered only human concerns, and not God’s:
Forgive me, Lord, and widen my horizons.

For the times I saw opportunities to take risks for God but
looked the other way through fear or indecision:
Forgive me, Lord, and build up my confidence in you.

For the times I only take the chocolates I like out of your box:
Forgive me, Lord, and make me whole,
ready to do your good will.
Amen.

We have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The same Jesus who took up his cross and died for our sins.
The same Jesus who looks on us now with love and intercedes on our behalf.
Open our hearts to receive your forgiveness and blessing, Lord.
Amen.

Reading:

Reading: Mark 8.27-38

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLk8IDkauko&list=PLc2KHyGgDaLtHbFcGw1ezK3Nc4pHF0Zii&index=4

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the
way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered
him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the
prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered
him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone
about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great
suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and
be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his
disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are
setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to
become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and
follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose
their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it
profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can
they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my
words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will
also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy
angels.’

Sermon

As I look back on our journey, I remember Caesarea Philippi as a group of
villages straddling the hilltops. Jesus brought us from Tyre to walk above the
olive groves out to the fields of sheep, where the eye could look across great
distances, and dwell on the expanse of the valleys and mountains. He was
expansive in his questions. ‘Who,’ he asked, almost meditatively, ‘do people
say I am?’ We looked at one another. It was a question we had heard many
times on the edges of crowds. We answered him as they did: ‘John the Baptist,
reincarnated.’ ‘Elijah, returned from heaven.’ ‘Any one of the prophets!’
There was a pause, as Jesus considered our answers. He cocked his head on
one side, and a smile played around his mouth. ‘You’ve been listening to
gossip,’ he said. ‘Alright…when you hear those speculations, who do you say I
am?
… He looked right at us. There was an embarrassed silence, which grew until
the beating of my heart and the stirring in my chest grew too loud to ignore. I
blurted out what we had talked about among ourselves, ‘You are the Messiah.’
The smile reached Jesus’ eyes. And we walked on. There was nothing more to
be said as that thought, finally articulated, rolled around in our minds and
hearts. Messiah. Messiah. Then Jesus told us to stop overthinking and
concentrate on a place to stay for the night.
Later that evening, as we sat watching the fire burn low, Jesus returned to the
subject. Messiahs don’t always come in triumph. Had we thought that maybe
God had another plan in mind? Had we considered that the path ahead might
not end in glory, but in suffering, rejection, torture and death? There would be
glory, but not in the way we expected. It would come on the third day, when
death would be conquered for ever.
It was late. In my defence, I was tired and confused. I took Jesus aside. This was
no sales pitch. Who would want to follow Jesus if the stakes were so high? But
Jesus was angry. He sent me to bed with a flea in my ear, calling me some rude
names. But the next morning, he settled down with the people who crowded
around him, so that he could unpick the familiar story of Messiah and reweave
the story of salvation in his own way.
‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and
those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save
it.’ Jesus carried on talking for a long time – riddles that we didn’t understand
until much later. What I understood him to mean was, that if we live life as we
please, our lives will soon be over and that’s it; but if we live to please God, we
gain everlasting life.
Then he looked straight at me. He was a prophet of course, as well as Messiah.
He said, ‘Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous
and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he
comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ That prophecy was to
come true in time to come. I was ashamed of him. I denied him three times. I
repented…on the beach, when Jesus challenged me, oh so gently, so lovingly.
He was not ashamed of me. Never. He forgave me and gave me a new
commission: to feed his sheep.

Hymn:

Thanksgiving Prayers

Lord God, we praise you that your ways are not our ways.
We praise you for the gift of your wonderful Son.
Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed redeemer!
Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of his excellent greatness!
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!

He took risks for us, greater than we can ever comprehend. He
took on the troubles and heartaches of the world, and died on
the cross.
Praise Him…
He rose again and gave us new life in him. Life in all its fullness.
Life forever.
Praise Him…
Amen.

Prayers for others:
So many people in our world today are taking huge risks with their lives for
causes they believe in. We think particularly of those in Afghanistan who have
taken to the streets to protest about the rule of the Taliban. It’s difficult to
comprehend how frightening and disorientating it must be for the Afghan
people to be living with this rapidly changing reality and so we pray for safety.
For those showing huge courage, we ask that their voices are heard, and that
we in the west keep listening, thinking and praying for them. We pray that
leaders with influence use the power they have to guide those who
desperately need it to safety.
Loving God draw close to the people of Afghanistan,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer’
Caring is very much in the news this week and we are reminded of both the
cost of care in pounds and pence and the personal costs for those who do the
caring. Thank you Lord God for everyone who cares. Whether for elderly
relatives, for people with disabilities, or for the frail and infirm in care home
settings. May we never devalue the care givers. And as we as a society wrestle
with the cost of care, help us not to lose sight of the human lives that are
deeply affected by care needs and caring. Thank you that you are a God who
deeply cares for us all. Help us to understand the full meaning of being cared
for and cared about by our Creator.
Loving God draw close to all who give care,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
We are aware of many different people and groups fighting hard for climate
justice; trying to bring to our attention the peril the world is in and effect
change. Thank you for people who care deeply about the environment and are
not afraid to use their voice to speak about it. We pray for everyone preparing
for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year. We particularly pray
for the young people who are mobilising their friends and classmates. Thank
you for their thoughtful concern and the energy they devote to thinking about
such huge global issues. May they be determined rather than daunted by the
scale of the challenge and be encouraged in their pursuit of change.
Loving God, draw close to the people around us who fight continually for
climate justice,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer’
Many of us will have examples of Christian around this world facing
persecution and danger. Brothers and sisters who live in countries hostile to
their beliefs and for whom expressing their faith is a highly provocative act.
Please draw near to everyone who is in danger today because they follow
Christ. Help persecuted Christians around this world find safe spaces to express
their faith and, for those for whom there is no safe space, may they know your
deep love for them. May they powerfully feel the presence of your Holy Spirit
and hold onto the promise of the Gospel.
Loving God draw close to all for whom discipleship is costly,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
Finally, we pray for ourselves. Whatever circumstances face us in the week to
come may we face them in the knowledge that you are always with us. May we
learn how to let go of the things of this world that weigh us down or distract us
from serving you.
Loving God draw close to all of us this week as we work out what discipleship
means,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Hymn:

Blessing

Blessing:
Loving God,
we commit to following you this week
into corners of the community
we usually prefer to ignore.
Help us to pray and speak and act for change.
Amen.

Organ Voluntary

Organ voluntary: Nimrod, from the Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (Edward Elgar)

Jonathan Scott plays the Klais organ of WeiWuYing – National Center for the Arts, Taiwan

https://youtu.be/u2E8qcKcgAU

Circuit Worship: 5th September, 2021

Led by Paul Carter

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 this link, or simply pressing play on the first video below.

Welcome and call to worship

Welcome in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m Paul Carter and I’m one of the ministers here in the Oxford Methodist Circuit. Whether you are joining us from one of the churches in our circuit, or from a church somewhere else, or from no church at all, you are welcome, to worship God.

Song: 

CSB 96 Living God, your word has called us

Prayers

With the breath of the Spirit, let us enter the holy place which is prayer.

God, give us eyes to see your presence,
ears to hear your word.

We come and lay all that is on our hearts at your feet,
knowing that, where we have missed the mark, you offer forgiveness,
knowing that, where we do not feel worthy, you offer acceptance and grace and love.

You are the water in the wilderness, the sea without a shore.

You sustain life; you quench our thirst.

We praise you for your Son, Jesus.
The water that he gives will become in us a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

You are the sea without a shore, the water in our wilderness.

Amen.

Song: 

StF 53 How shall I sing that majesty

Readings

Isaiah 35: 4–7a

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
   ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
   He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
   He will come and save you.’

 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
   and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
   and streams in the desert; 
the burning sand shall become a pool,
   and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,*
   the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 

Mark 7: 24–37

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.* He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir,* even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

Sermon

Song: 

StF 706 Longing for light — Christ be our light

Prayers 

With the breath of the Spirit
and in the name of Christ
we pray.

Gracious God,
whose Spirit helps us in our weakness
and guides us in our prayers,
we pray for the Church and for the world
in the name of Jesus Christ.

Renew the life and faith of the Church;
strengthen our witness;
and make us one in Christ.
Guide us at the beginning of this Methodist new year,
with new teams and new ways of doing things.
Grant that we and all who confess that Christ is Lord
may be faithful in your service
and filled with the Spirit,
that the world may be turned to you.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Guide the nations
in the ways of justice, liberty and peace;
and help them to seek
the unity and welfare of all people.
Give to all in authority
wisdom to know and strength to do what is right.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Comfort those in sorrow;
heal the sick in body or in mind
and deliver the oppressed.
Grant us compassion for all who suffer,
and help us so to carry one another’s burdens
that we may fulfil the law of Christ.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Receive our thanks and praise
for all who have served you faithfully here on earth,
and especially those who have revealed to us
your grace in Christ.

May we and all your people
share the life and joy of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Blessing

And now may the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit
be with you and those you love,
today and always.

Amen.

Organ Voluntary

Trumpet Tune (Philip Tordoff) https://youtu.be/XWy4Soyn24c

Alexander Binns plays the organ of Derby Cathedral

Circuit Worship: 29 August 2021

Led by Ian Leck.

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://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc2KHyGgDaLt5lu6tFpuPu7TbEqWZ-U1k

Welcome and call to worship

Hello, and welcome to this online service from the Oxford Methodist Circuit. I’m Ian Leck, a Local Preacher from Woodstock, and I look forward to sharing with you in this service. Whoever you are and wherever you are, you are most welcome, and I call you to worship. (Pause)

Come together as God’s people. Come together and be yourselves. Bring to God your joys and your struggles. Bring to God your hopes and your fears. Bring to God your beliefs and your doubts. Come together to be God’s people; and let us praise the living God as we hear the words of no. 28 in Singing the Faith – “Jesus calls us here to meet him as, through word and song and prayer, we affirm God’s promised presence where his people live and care.” I’ve chosen this hymn particularly because of its third verse, which reminds us of the inclusiveness which should characterise the Church.

Song:

“Jesus calls us here to meet him” (Singing the Faith 28)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvBGtFPd6TQ

Prayer for forgiveness

We now share in a prayer for forgiveness, which will include a time of silence in which to ask God’s forgiveness for whatever wrongdoing is most on our minds. Let us pray.

Loving God, you come to us in so many ways, but so often we fail to welcome you, or even to realise that you are there. Forgive us the weakness of our faith, the pride which makes us unable to learn your way and your truth, the complacency with which we view our own feeble efforts. Forgive our failures to welcome those companions on our “common search for truth” who differ from us. Forgive our abuse of your creation, and our failure to love you with all our being and our neighbours as ourselves. Forgive our failure to respond wholeheartedly to the call to follow Jesus …

God forgives us. God makes peace within us. We claim this healing, in faith and hope. Amen.

We now listen to the gospel and epistle readings appointed for today. We’ll then reflect on the epistle’s call to us to care for those in need, as the song “Brother, sister, let me serve you” is played.

Readings

Gospel – Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Epistle – James 1: 17-27

Gospel: Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’

Epistle – James 1:17-27: Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Song:

“Brother, sister, let me serve you” (Singing the Faith 611)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQaOErUUjm8

Reflection/Prayers

Prayers of concern:

We’ll now share in our prayers of concern. These again will include periods for silent prayer; and also, each time I say “We pray for faith”, I invite you all to join in the response “May we follow where you lead.” Let us pray.

We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.

Creator God, we pray for the world in days when it is hard to believe that the hungry will be fed, that there will be justice and freedom throughout the world, and that damage to our environment will cease. We pray for people driven by war or intolerance or poverty to leave their homes, and for the leaders and peoples of the countries to which they go… We pray for the world even if we cannot see you within it. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.

We pray for humankind in days when it is hard to believe that love is stronger than hatred, that the sick will be made well, and that death has been destroyed. We pray for those suffering as a result of the Covid pandemic and other disorders, for all workers in the health and social services and in medical research, and for all those known to us who are passing through difficult times … We pray for humankind even if we cannot see you among us. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.

We pray for the Church in days when it is hard to believe that we have a message for the world, that our unity is greater than our division, and that we will ever serve you as we should. We pray for the many Methodist ministers and deacons who will be moving to new homes and churches this week, and for the communities to which they will minister… We pray for the Church even if we cannot see you at work within us. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.

Eternal God, increase our faith in the love made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and inspire us to follow him. Amen. (CRCL 1:140, altered)

And we join in the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer.

Our closing song challenges us to love God by loving our neighbours – which is surely what it means to be doers of the word. It’s number 256 in Singing the Faith – “When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there?”

Song:

“When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there?” (Singing the Faith 256)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym8yOdCFGPc

Sending out

Loving God, you have placed your word in our hearts. Send us out now to be not just hearers but doers of your word, to work as your agents with those of every creed and colour and name to make the world a better place. Amen.

Organ Voluntary

Organ voluntary: Ciacona in E minor (Dietrich Buxtehude)

Kimberly Marshall plays the Fritts organ of Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

https://youtu.be/EV3yR_qDsmc

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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