URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion Friday 18th June 2021

13 hours 5 min ago
96 URC Daily Devotion Friday 18th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 18th June 2021

Revelation 19: 11 - 16

Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’. 

Reflection

From an earthly perspective, the Seer witnesses the heavens opened, and a divine warrior riding out on a white horse leading the heavenly armies.  Although we are told that only the Rider knows his name (v.12), we are left in no doubt that this is Christ, known as the Word of God (v.13) and ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (v.16).  This seeming contradiction reinforces the mystery surrounding Christ’s return.

But we know that Christ will return, and that the return will bring judgement, as powerfully portrayed in v.15.  The ‘sharp sword’ protruding from the Rider’s mouth recalls the ‘sword of the Lord’ familiar from various Old Testament passages (e.g. Deut. 32:41; Isa. 34:5-6; Ezek. 21:3-5; 30:24; 32:10), a potent symbol of eschatological judgement.  The ‘rod of iron’ which the Rider wields to rule the nations offers a messianic interpretation of Psalm 2:9.  ‘Treading the winepress’ is a further metaphor for divine judgement (Isa. 63:2-3).

During this time when nations seem to be increasingly divided, and our world more fragmented than ever, the Seer reminds us that ultimately all will be accountable to Christ.  National identity will be irrelevant when we are confronted by the Christ whose robe is stained with the blood he shed for the whole of errant humankind.

Prayer

Gracious God,
Forgive us our complacency:
our cowardly desire to shy away from your fiery gaze
which illuminates our failures and wrongdoing.
Forgive us our divisiveness,
when we distinguish between ‘them’ and ‘us’
and fail to recognize our responsibilities
towards one another in our fractured world.
Forgive us, and help us
to overcome the dividing barriers
as one people united
in the Christ who died for all.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Gillian Poucher, Minister, Gainsborough United Reformed Church Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

This Week's Pandemic Prayer

Thu, 17/06/2021 - 09:43
96 This Week's Pandemic Prayer View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
This Week's Pandemic Prayer

Dear Friends,

we're still continuing to produce the weekly pandemic prayer as things are still, in the UK, uncertain and, of course for much of the rest of the world Covid ravages through towns and cities where there is little access to either medication or vaccine.  I wrote this week's prayer which you can access here; it can be used in personal devotions, small groups or in Sunday worship.

with every good wish

Andy --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend -->
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Thursday 17th June 2021

Thu, 17/06/2021 - 06:15
96 URC Daily Devotion Thursday 17th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 17th June 2021

Revelation 19: 1 - 10

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,

‘Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
     for his judgements are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
    who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’

Once more they said,

‘Hallelujah!
The smoke goes up from her for ever and ever.’

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the throne, saying,

‘Amen. Hallelujah!’

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
    small and great.’

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,

‘Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
    with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’  Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

Reflection

Isn’t heaven noisy?  The voice of a great multitude – the hubbub of a huge gathering.  And yet this is supposed to be a time of worship. 

‘Hallelujah’ - praise the Lord - is the repeated refrain punctuating troubling and awesome descriptions of God, confirming shared faith, affirming promises.  And the focus is kept firmly on worshipping God by the angel guiding our witness to this scene, John.

So noisy – like the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunder peals.  Almost as bad as an all age service when the babies are squealing, the kids are giggling, the teens are shouting, and the hearing aids are squeaking.  How glorious!  With the songs and prayers in these as much as in the more formal words and music giving glory to God.

For this is indeed the great all-age altogether worship of heaven – with both great and small exhorted to praise God and serve God, to be holders of the testimony of Jesus together.  After all this is a wedding party, which is the joining together of multigenerational family: the Groom’s and the Bride’s, the saints and the servants. 

‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ – it is going to be quite a party.  I’m so glad all ages, all stages, all cultures, all races, all shapes, all sizes, all colours, all genders, all abilities, all types are on the invitation list – and will be a blessing to each other as they share the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb together.  Hallelujah!

Prayer

Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
     for his judgements are true and just.
Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
    small and great.
Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Amen. 
 
-->

Today's writer

Dr Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, member of mayBe Community, Oxford Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's coming

Wed, 16/06/2021 - 15:30
96 Sunday's coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

Sunday's service is led by the Revd. Wayne Hawkins. Wayne is a minister at Guildford United Reformed Church, and former Mission Secretary for Europe at the Council for World Mission. Amongst other things, we will be reflecting on this week's Refugee Week. Hymns include Bell/Maule's Jesus calls us here to meet him, William Whiting's Eternal Father, strong to save, and Fred Kaan's For the healing of the nations.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,


Dan


Dan Morrell
Editor, Daily Devotion Sunday Services from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 16th June 2021

Wed, 16/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 16th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 16th June  

Revelation 18

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendour.  He called out with a mighty voice,

‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
    It has become a dwelling-place of demons,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
    a haunt of every foul bird,
    a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.
For all the nations have drunk
    of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,
and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.’

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

‘Come out of her, my people,
    so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.
Render to her as she herself has rendered,
    and repay her double for her deeds;
    mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
    so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in her heart she says,
    “I rule as a queen;
I am no widow,
    and I will never see grief”,
therefore her plagues will come in a single day—
    pestilence and mourning and famine—
and she will be burned with fire;
    for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.’

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning;  they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgement has come.’

 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more,  cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble,  cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.

‘The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendour
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!’

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    clothed in fine linen,
        in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
        with jewels, and with pearls!
For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!’

And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off  and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

‘What city was like the great city?’

And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    where all who had ships at sea
    grew rich by her wealth!
For in one hour she has been laid waste.’

Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgement for you against her.

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

‘With such violence Babylon the great city
    will be thrown down,
    and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flautists and trumpeters
    will be heard in you no more;
and an artisan of any trade
    will be found in you no more;
and the sound of the millstone
    will be heard in you no more;
and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more;
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more;
for your merchants were the magnates of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.’

Reflection

Prophecy shows what is to come and urges us to act as if the prophecy has already come true.  In the midst of empire the Seer is told that it had already fallen and was instructed to call God’s people out - just as Moses had called the Jews out of slavery.  This deeply subversive passage would have both terrified and excited its first hearers. How does one live in the midst of an empire as if it had already fallen?

Of course the Church struggled with this dilemma.  Instead of resistance it took on imperial trappings:  early pacifism gave way to pragmatism,  separation gave way to inclusion, bishops united their ministry of service with becoming imperial functionaries. Even now some traditions refer to bishops’ “thrones”; it’s not so long ago that popes wore a triple crown.  

Yet how do we live with empire now?  As we explored yesterday the legacies of Britain’s imperial past are still with us.  America and China function as if they were imperial powers, financial systems still colonise and oppress.  Do we resist or collude?  Of course it’s hard, we feel powerless, we don’t know what to do but then nor did the Seer who had to write Revelation.  In telling our stories of freedom and liberation we learn to be free.  In rejoicing at empire’s end we help overthrow it.  In seeing the world as it really is we help change it.

Prayer

Blow the trumpets on Mt Zion!
Christ shall come a second time
ruling with a rod of iron
all who now as foes combine.
Fables’ garment sweet rejected
and our fellowship is o'er.
Babylon is fallen is fallen is fallen,
Babylon is fallen to rise no more!

(you can hear this Civil War hymn sung here)

Help us to live, O God,
as if empire had fallen,
as if we were free,
that we might free your people.
Amen.
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four URC congregations in and around Glasgow. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 15th June 2021

Tue, 15/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 15th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 15th June  

Revelation 17

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgement of the great whore who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the inhabitants of the earth have become drunk.’  So he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.  The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.’  And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly amazed. But the angel said to me, ‘Why are you so amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will be amazed when they see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

‘This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings,  of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain for only a little while.  As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.  And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.  These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.’

And he said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the whore is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.  And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the whore; they will make her desolate and naked; they will devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.  For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by agreeing to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.  The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’

Reflection

In recent years there has been more understanding of our imperial legacy.  From drinking tea (served in China), civic wealth based on slavery and tobacco, and our health problems with sugar (more slavery) it is clear that imperial legacies hide in plain sight.  

What is normal isn’t seen as evil.  Until last Summer’s protests, statues of slave traders and imperial despots on our streets or public squares were barely noticed by most white people.  Public hostility to immigration hid the fact that for much of the 20th Century the British gave citizenship (and the right to live and work here) to our subject peoples though, of course,  we didn’t refer to them as such!  A generation of people brought up with tales of Britain ruling the waves and singing patriotic songs with jolly good tunes helped hide imperial reality.   Given Britain’s original identity as a Christian, Protestant, nation this is all rather strange given the strong things Revelation has to say about empire.

Today’s passage shows the writer’s horror of empire - the image of a prostitute is troubling to our values but could also be translated as “idolatress.”   The writer understood the reality of an imperial system which conquered and subjugated nations.  The brutality of empire led puppet kings astray blunting any national resistance.  The fall of Jerusalem would have underlined the terrible brutality of Rome.  

The purpose of this part of the vision was to make the Seer aware, to understand things as they really were, to place the situation he found himself into a wider context of world politics,  and to offer a religious understanding of imperial evil.  

Passages like this should make us reflect on empires - past and present - and the part our nations played in the brutality of empire, the ways in which we justified it, and the poisonous imperial legacies that are reflected in racism and power even now.  The first step towards repentance is seeing things as they really are.

Prayer

Open our eyes, O God,
to see the world as it really is
and see the systems that rule our world;
that we may resist evil 
and wait with eagerness
for the coming of Your Kingdom,
where there will be no more tears,
no more pain,
no more mourning,
and where all the oppressed 
will run free.  Amen.
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four URC congregations in and around Glasgow.  Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 14th June 2021

Mon, 14/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 14th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 20th January

Revelation 16

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’

So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped its image.

The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.

The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.  And I heard the angel of the waters say,

‘You are just, O Holy One, who are and were,
    for you have judged these things;
because they shed the blood of saints and prophets,
    you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!’

And I heard the altar respond,

‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty,
    your judgements are true and just!’

The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire;  they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.

The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony,  and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.

The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet.  These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.  (‘See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.’)  And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.

The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’  And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent was that earthquake.  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found;  and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until they cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague.

Reflection

This chapter continues with the woes that will fall on the earth in the last days.  It is full of symbolism and mystery.  

We see a reference to Armageddon towards the end of the chapter.  Near the end is a good place for it, as that is where the final battle will take place.

These bowls of wrath seem to be poured on those who do not worship the one true God, but on those who “had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image”.  Today everyone is suffering many curses, but these are not from God, but from the actions of humankind.  Let’s look at a few from this passage and what is happening by our action, or inaction, today.

The first was sores.  The world is suffering from a pandemic, in some ways caused by how we treat animals and keep them confined.  People in poor countries are dying because the rich countries have ordered so much vaccine.  Because of this some poor countries can’t get any vaccine for their vulnerable citizens.

The second caused every living thing in the seas to die.  The world produces 20,000 plastic bottles every second.  Plastics are in many products and the seas are polluted by all types and sizes of plastic from massive pieces to microscopic particles.  Marine life is being killed by this pollution.

The fourth was excessive heat.  We are suffering climate chaos and while we in the UK might welcome warmer summers other parts of the world are devastated by drought and famine.  Even in Britain the uncertainty about the weather is causing farmers problems and distress.

We live in God’s world and we need to all act together to stop destroying it.  As Christians we can join with others to lead the way in bringing about change.
 
Prayer
 
Loving God,
Give us a love for all creation
Help us to protect your world
Show us how to live to do the least harm.
Teach us to respect your world and all people and animals who live in it.
We pray that we will not cause damage to your world.
Help us to lead others to change their attitudes and lifestyles to reduce damage.
In Jesus name
Amen 
 
-->

Today's writer

John Collings, Lay Preacher, Rutherglen URC Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 13th June 2021 - The Revd. Sarah Hall

Sun, 13/06/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 13th June 2021 - The Revd. Sarah Hall View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
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.

This service includes Holy Communion. If you would like to take part, you may wish to have some bread and wine/juice with you before you begin the service.
Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church
Service for Sunday 13th June

The Rev’d Sarah Hall
 
Introduction
 
Hello! My name is Sarah Hall and I'm a minister working alongside Mark Robinson with three churches and some University chaplaincy in Southampton and Chandlers Ford.  Before Coronavirus one of our churches operated a weekly drop-in service for asylum seekers and refugees, in partnership with three local charities, which we hope will be able to resume once restrictions are eased.  Usually we hold a big party for Refugee Week, with song and dance, music and drumming, and lots of pizzas and samosas.  So at the beginning of Refugee Week 2021 I'm glad to be able to share worship with you, and in particular to be able to share the feast of Communion. Though we cannot physically be present to each other, first appearances can be deceptive. For through the power of God's Spirit, we each of us and all together can join in with Jesus and his friends, as they shared prayer and food, two thousand years ago in Palestine.
 
Call To Worship
 
We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love
who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain,
and heals our wounds.

God is our light and our salvation.
In God’s name we light this candle and are reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World, God’s own Voice who came to live with us.
May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always. Amen.

Hymn       In Christ there is no East or West
Words: William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham) (1852-1941)
 
In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

2 In him shall true hearts everywhere
their high communion find;
his service is the golden cord,
close-binding humankind.

3 Join hands, then, people of the faith,
whate'er your race may be;
who serves my Father
as His Child is surely kin to me.

4 In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north;
all Christ-like souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness
 
Wondrous and holy God, creator of the universe, you make all people in your own image. You bless us with an immense variety of cultures and ways of responding to you. You show us new patterns of living and loving in Jesus. You give us strength by your Holy Spirit.
Forgive us when we seek to put boundaries around your presence, love and work; when we use diversity to divide people - to demonise some and give privileged status to others; when we seek to dominate or destroy those who are different from us. Have mercy on us all.
 
Listen: here is good news. Christ Jesus came into the world
to forgive us in our failure, to accept us as we are,
to set us free from evil’s power and make us what we were meant to be. Through him God says to each of us:
You are accepted. You are forgiven. I will set you free.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
 
Prayer of Illumination

Guide us, O God,
by your Word and Spirit,
that in your light we may see light,
in your truth find wisdom,
and in your will discover peace,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Readings
 
1 Samuel 16:4-13
 
Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
 
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’  Then Jesse made Shammah pass by.  And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17
 
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil…
For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
 
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.  So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
 
Sermon
 
* I'll start with a question for you: what do these people all have in common? Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Olivia Newton-John, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, David and Ed Miliband, Jesus, Albert Einstein, Ben Elton, Marlene Dietrich, Jackie Chan and Victor Hugo?***
 
That's right. It's obvious really, isn't it? They're all either refugees or the children of refugees.
 
OK, so it's not quite so obvious. Some of those I knew about, vaguely. After all, we all know Jesus was a refugee, don't we? That worrying time we don't preach on much, just after Christmas, when Joseph gets a dream, warning him to get out of Israel with the family before Herod's soldiers can slaughter Jesus with the rest of the local toddlers. But the others? In many cases I had no idea that they or their parents had begun life in a different country, that they'd had had to leave behind everything they knew and put their talents and energy to work somewhere new. We don't even categorise most of them as foreign, let alone as refugees, but admire them for their great achievements, whether in music, politics, science, drama or literature.
Hindsight is always 20-20 vision. But I wonder what we might have thought of any of these high achievers if we'd met them when they were younger, struggling to adapt to their new culture. Would we have seen the seeds of future greatness in them? I'd like to think so - but to be honest, I'm not sure. Any more than I'd be sure I'd have picked David out of the line-up when Samuel came to Bethlehem looking for a new king to replace Saul. In fact, to start with, I'd have had no hope at all - because David wasn't even there. He was out looking after the sheep - because somebody had to, and his father Jesse must have reckoned that when it came to Samuel's unexpected visit, David was the most dispensable.
 
I imagine the scene a little like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, without the girls. Seven fine, strapping young men - surely one of them will be king material? But a still small voice in the back of Samuel's mind keeps on saying: Don't be impressed by how tall he is, or how good looking either. God doesn't care about external appearances. God's more interested in the heart. So from one to the next Samuel goes down the line saying, No. No, not this one. Nope, not him either. Next, please! Don't call us, we'll call you. He holds his nerve, but when he's got to son number seven and God still hasn't said yes, he must have been panicking a little bit. 'Don't you have any more sons?' he demands of Jesse. Jesse, shrugging his shoulders, gets someone  to fetch David, still in his working clothes and smelling strongly of sheep. And finally God says to Samuel: This is the one! The least expected candidate. The one nobody bothered to fetch. It's him.
 
Now I always think this story is spoiled a little bit by the text reassuring us right at the end that David is a handsome broth of a boy, with beautiful eyes. Yes, we know God looks on the heart - but even before the invention of TV, we human beings looked for a bit more by way of appearance in our leaders, a bit of eye-candy. Till Donald Trump, anyway...
 
Be that as it may, it's the God's-eye view that our next reading, from Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth, wants to explore further. From now on, therefore, Paul writes to his friends in Corinth, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. Which leads in my mind to the question: if Paul and his readers once did know Christ from a human point of view, what did that look like?
 
Well, we have a man in his thirties. Not highly educated - or at least, we don't know anything about his schooling. Trained as a carpenter, though he can argue with the scribes. Not married, no job, no children. Not obviously handsome - or at least, that's not come down to us in the records. Good talker, bit of a medic. Gained a lot of followers, moved on the capital, betrayed by a close follower, arrested, tried and executed for a failed leadership attempt. Oh yes - and executed by a method specifically cursed in the Scriptures.
Now looked at from a human point of view, without inside knowledge, would we have thought there was anything particularly remarkable in Christ? Not if we reckon Isaiah was talking about him: he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
 
For most of us, I hope, that feeling of being despised, held of no account is not part of our experience. Yet many who seek refuge and asylum in this country are met not by welcome but by a hostile environment among officials assuming they are at the best freeloading or at the worst criminal. They may well also recognise the dangers which Paul, in his own following of Jesus, describes in the previous chapter of his letter: being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. It is not easy for those of us who have led more comfortable lives to understand even some of what they have faced; though sadly some of you may have known prejudice and discrimination, even within churches, if you didn't fit in. Maybe it was because of your race, your gender or gender identity, your sexuality, your ability... Let's face it, there are all too many reasons people, even Christians, can find for rejecting one another. Basically: you were different, and therefore unacceptable.
Yet according to Paul, willingly undergoing such a process of humiliation was Jesus' aim; and so that we may be transformed. He died for all, Paul writes, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. It's for that reason we, Christ's followers, no longer need to see him from a human point of view.
 
But it goes further than that. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view... if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
 
We regard no one from a human point of view, Paul says; we do not value them less or more because of their race or gender or pronouns, their sexuality or age, their bank balance or health or family status. We recognise each of them as someone whom God loves; for whom Christ died; who, through the Spirit's power is becoming a whole new person. And that applies to everyone, whether their family has been here since Stonehenge was built or whether they came here last week and are looking for the chance to offer their strengths and talents for the common good.
 
Some refugees will give us outstanding service. Others will manage to mess things up in the usual human way - even David, let's face it, was no stranger to that  problem. But beneath every appearance, both those we find attractive and those that repel us, God sees the heart. So at the beginning of this Refugee Week, let's practise the art of seeing all people as God sees them. For then we can joyfully sit down at table with them and with the Lord. Even when our table fellowship is the virtual variety.
 
Music for Reflection        Redemption Song
Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Affirmation of Faith

We believe in God.
Despite His silence and His secrets we believe that He lives.
Despite evil and suffering we believe that He made the world
so that all would be happy in life.
Despite the limitations of our reason
and the revolts of our hearts,
we believe in God.
 
We believe in Jesus Christ.
Despite the centuries which separate us
from the time when he came to earth, we believe in His word.
Despite our incomprehension and our doubt,
we believe in His resurrection.
Despite his weakness and poverty, we believe in his reign.

We believe in the Holy Spirit.
Despite appearances we believe He guides the Church;
despite death we believe in eternal life;
despite ignorance and disbelief,
we believe that the Kingdom of God is promised to all.
Amen.
 
Offertory
 
God loves a generous giver. And our giving can sustain not only our church communities in this difficult time but can also, through charities such as the British Red Cross or the Refugee Council, demonstrate in a practical way our recognition of refugees as people for whom Christ died. Let us pray as we offer to God our money, our time, and ourselves.
 
Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour and the majesty, for everything in heaven and on earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you. Amen.
 
Hymn:      I come with joy to meet my Lord
Words: Brian Wren (1936- ) © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd
 
I come with joy
to meet my Lord,
forgiven, loved, and free;
in awe and wonder to recall
His life laid down for me.
 
2: I come with Christians
far and near,
to find, as all are fed,
the community of love
in Christ’s communion bread.
 
3: 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.
 
4: And thus with joy
we meet our Lord,
His presence, always near,
is in such friendship
better known;
we see, and praise him here
 
5:  Together met,
together bound,
we'll go our different ways;
and as his people
in the world,
we'll live and speak his praise.

Narrative of the Institution
 
Jesus often shared food and drink with those he loved. Outcasts and ne'er-do-wells, fishermen and tax-collectors, deniers and traitors, his friends and his family. Today, Jesus wants to share bread and wine in your own home with you. So I invite you now to prepare yourself to eat and drink with each other and with him.
 
Eucharistic prayer
 
Lift up your hearts
WE LIFT THEM TO THE LORD
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE OUR THANKS AND PRAISE
Generous host, you made the whole world for us to enjoy and to share. You came in Jesus to teach us how to be your guests.
Your Spirit joins us together in the joy of hospitality.
So we praise you, saying:
 
All:            Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
                  Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
                  Hosanna in the highest.
Leader:    Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
All:            Hosanna in the highest.
 
Come to us where we are, God our Host,
Worshipping, may we meet around your table
as we remember Jesus, who, on the night before he died,
took bread and wine, blessed them
and gave them to his invited guests,
saying: 'This is my body; this is my blood.
Eat and drink to remember me.'
And I invite you to join with me in saying:
Pour out your Holy Spirit,
on this bread and this wine; and on these your people.
May we worship you with body, heart and soul
Gathered around our tech and in the whole of our lives.  Amen.
 
Let us proclaim together the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
 
As Jesus taught his friends, let us pray together:
 
Our Father…
 
Among friends, gathered around a table, Jesus took bread [take bread] and broke it and said, ‘This is my body, broken for you.’
 
Later he took a cup of wine [raise cup] and said, ‘This is the new relationship with God made possible because of my death.
Take it, all of you, to remember me.’
 
So eat this bread. It is the bread of life [eat]
And drink this wine. It is the cup of blessing [drink]
 
Prayers of thanksgiving and concern
 
As we come to our prayers of thanksgiving and concern,
I invite you to pause the recording as you pray.
If you were to finish the sentence:
In spite of Coronavirus I thank God for... how would you end it?
Give your thanks to God. [pause]
 
If you were to say the sentence:
These people, this place, this situation,
needs God's healing touch: how would you begin it?
Give God the concerns of your heart. [pause]
All our prayers, all our fears, all our hopes,
we give to Jesus,
who knows what it means to be a refugee. Amen.
 
Hymn       Jesu, Jesu
Tom Colvin copyright © 1969, 1997 Hope Publishing Company
 
Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbours we have from you.
 
1 Kneels at the feet of his friends,
silently washes their feet,
Master who acts as a slave to them.
 
2 Neighbours are wealthy and poor,
varied in colour and race,
neighbours are near us and far away.
 
3 These are the ones we should serve,
these are the ones we should love,
all these are neighbours to us and you.
 
4: Loving puts us on our knees,
willing to wash other’s feet;
this is the way we should live, like you.

Blessing
May God who is light shine in our darkness.
May God who is love be the love between us.
May God who is life be our life, everlasting.
And the blessing of God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit
is with us and all people, now and always. Amen.
 
Sources and thanks
 
In Christ there is no East or West Words: William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham) (1852-1941)
sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise
I come with joy to meet my Lord Words: Brian Wren (1936- ) © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd unknown performers on YouTube.
Jesu, Jesu Words: Tom Colvin copyright © 1969, 1997 Hope Publishing Company sung by the First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
 
Organ Pieces
Opening: Ein Feste Burg (“A mighty fortress”) by Max Reger (organ of Basilica Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy – 2016)
 
Closing: Komm Gott Schӧpfer Heiliger Geist (“Come God, creator Holy Ghost”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of Basilica Santa Maria Dei Assunta, Montecatini Terme, Italy – 2016)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks, from Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Thanks to Sue Cresswell, Graham Handscomb, Helen Sharpe, Tina Wheeler and Anthony Denman for reading various spoken parts of the service. --> 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

  Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 13th June 2021

Sun, 13/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 13th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 13th June 2021

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
our ever-present aid,
and therefore, though the earth be moved,
we will not be afraid
though hills into the seas be cast,
though foaming waters roar,
though all the mighty billows shake
the mountains on the shore.

2 A river flows whose streams make glad
the city of our God,
the holy place wherein the LORD
Most High has his abode.
Since God is in the midst of her,
unmoved her walls shall stand;
for God will hasten to her aid
when trouble is at hand.

3 The nations rage, the kingdoms move,
but when his voice is heard,
earth melts with trembling fear before
the thunder of his word.
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

4 O come and see what wondrous works
the hand of God has done;
come, see what desolation great
he brings beneath the sun.
In every corner of the earth
he causes wars to cease;
the weapons of the strong destroyed,
he makes abiding peace.

5 "Be still and know that I am God,
the LORD whom all must claim;
and every nation of the earth
shall magnify my name."
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

You can hear the tune, Noel, here
https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/148371

Reflection

It’s always valuable to look at Bible readings in different versions or formats.  Looking at this hymn version of Psalm 46, I am struck by two opposites in the imagery: motion and stillness.  The earth moves, the hills are cast into the sea, the waters roar, the mountains are shaken.  The nations rage and the kingdoms roar.  Everything is in turmoil.  

In contrast, God is. God is our refuge and our strength.  God is in the midst of the holy city, here envisaged in a similar way to Revelation 22. The Lord of hosts is on our side.  The God of Jacob is for us a refuge strong and sure.  And God calls for us to ‘be still and know that I am God’.

During the last year or so, some have been in turmoil – working from home, home-schooling children, juggling many responsibilities.  Some have been working in healthcare – long, tiring, emotional hours. Many have continued to work in situations that leave them feeling at risk.  Others have been forced to be still – perhaps shielding or just staying at home.  For everyone, life has changed – and keeps changing.

But whether busier than ever, or quieter than you have known; God is.  God is on our side, God is our refuge strong and sure.

As we (hopefully) start to come out of the restrictions forced upon us over the last year or so, some will be less stretched and have time to be still.  Others may struggle to go back out into the world  and perhaps fear freedom.  Many will be mourning loved ones or a lost way of life.  As we emerge, God continues to call us to be still, or as The Message puts it: ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’  And God is our refuge and strength.

Prayer

Father God, help us to step out of the traffic and find the stillness of you.  Be our refuge from the storms of life, and refresh us ready to step back out, taking that stillness with us and sharing with all whom we meet. 
Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol Area. Member of Zion United Church, Frampton Cotterell. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

This Week's Pandemic Prayer

Sat, 12/06/2021 - 10:55
96 This Week's Pandemic Prayer View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Prayers in a Pandemic

Dear Friends,

this week's Pandemic Prayer was written by Ann Barton a lay leader at Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod.  You can read it here.

best wishes

Andy

The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend -->
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 12th June 2021

Sat, 12/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 12th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 12th June 2021

Revelation 15

Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

‘Great and amazing are your deeds,
    Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your judgements have been revealed.’

After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened,  and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests.  Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever;  and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended.

Reflection

Have you missed the experience of worship in a big gathering in the last year? A festival, like Greenbelt or Spring Harvest, with thousands of people celebrating together.  A packed cathedral for a special service. Arriving in Santiago de Compostela cathedral square in a company of dusty pilgrims from all over the world. Or indeed, being in a football crowd cheering on your team!  Life is poorer without these mountain top experiences.  Mask wearers distanced in church, or screens on Zoom, don’t lift us in the same way – but better than not meeting at all, and online worship has enabled us to connect with people far away.

Without Revelation, our hymn imagery would also be poorer.  We wouldn’t have all the saints casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea, or the children in white crowned like stars, or being brought safe through Jordan to the Father’s throne.  Leaving aside the riches of the Old Testament, we’d have glimpses of the glory of God in the Christmas angels, Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration, the angels at the tomb and the road to Damascus.  But add Revelation and we find the glory of God in the brightness of the glassy sea, the fire and the shining crowns; the sound of harps and joyful praise and dancing; the sense of joining a huge crowd in a never-ending stream of praise and adoration of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to understand it: we can just go with the flow, lost in wonder, love and praise.
 
Revelation is a book of hope based on symbolism. My hope this summer is to join again the countless host streaming in through the gates of Greenbelt to sing praises to God spilling out of the tent of worship (and the tent of beer!): God’s Kingdom on earth and a foretaste of heaven.  What’s yours?

Prayer ( from Psalm 150)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in his mighty firmament
Praise him according to his surpassing greatness
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
 
-->

Today's writer

Ruth Tompsett is an elder at Newport Pagnell URC Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 11th June 2021

Fri, 11/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 11th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 11th June

Revelation 14: 6 - 20

Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people.  He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’

Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, ‘Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.’

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them.’

Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand!  Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.’ So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.’  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.

Reflection

Three angels declare that those who worship God get life-giving water, but that Babylon is now fallen and is drinking only God’s wrath, and that all those who worship the monster and the statue will know this same wrath.
 

In other words, those who have been chasing the wrong things in life will be cut off from that intoxication, and need to turn to God, who deserves true worship, and who will give true life. In our day these ‘false gods’ might be materialism, greed, and exploitation of the earth. So what should we do?
Turn to God.


Three more angels appear: one tells the crowned son of man to take his sickle and reap, the second also has a sickle, the third tells the second to ply the sickle, too.

We might think this is a scene of punishment, but the coming judgement is described as a harvest. The grapes are not just cut and trampled to be destroyed, but to yield the goodness of their wine, and John’s Revelation declares that the whole earth is now God’s vine, not just the people of Israel. There is good news for all the saints – God is going to take the things of this world and produce a harvest. From the mess of this world, God will draw the richness of the life-giving kingdom. Kingdom life will be an overwhelming flow – vast as a lake of wine.

Is this a vision about the end of time? – almost certainly. There is hope here that in the end God will save the good things of this world and finally remove all impurity. But the vision could also be about our individual lives – God is always ready to distil something pure from the lives we lead, producing a harvest of goodness from the most unlikely of us, through overwhelming grace.

Prayer

God of the harvest,
we turn to you.
Take the grapes of our lives
and with truth and grace
produce a harvest of celebration and joy.
In your time, 
with your wise judgement,
make this world into your place
where all may know life in all its fulness.
We ask this through the grace of your son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Ruth Whitehead, minister of the URC currently serving as South Western Synod Moderator. Member of Taunton URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  10th June 2021

Thu, 10/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  10th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 10th June

Revelation 14: 1 - 5

Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.  And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,  and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth.  It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb,  and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

Reflection

“And there was war at the end of the day between the Road of the Crowned Ones and the People of the Utter East.  But when the final day of the Seven Days had come, the victor approaches dancing in a stern manner.”

Did you get it? There was an evening ratings battle between Corrie and Eastenders, but the winner was Saturday’s Strictly.

We understand that sentence because we know what Corrie and Eastenders are, but imagine you are from the year 4021, living on a Mars colony and communicating by thought waves in a language composed of musical notes. What would you know of TV ratings from that Neanderthal age when people looked at little screens and voted by email – how quaint and archaic!

Those Mars colonists could easily read all kinds of things into the TV listings that are not there. Are we supposed to be The Crowned Ones and fight people from the East? What are these mysterious Seven Days – seven literal days or are they seven ages of civilisation?

Just as those folks on the Mars colony would have trouble understanding things that make perfect sense to us, so we can have problems when we read the Bible – prophetic books especially, and Revelation in particular.

So let’s not get hung up on the virginal 144,000, or the names written on foreheads, or the four living creatures. When John wrote this, the early Christians would have understood it, because pretty much the whole of Revelation is referring to their culture and Old Testament imagery. But we, from a distance of 2000 years - different culture, different language, different ways of communicating - often miss the references, read all kinds of weird things into incidental details, and overlook the big picture.

So what is the big picture? Jesus is king. Lots of people love him and worship him. It’s impressive. And it’s good. ‘Nuff said.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
Please help us to see
the big picture of the Bible:
That you are Lord,
you are good,
you are just,
and you are wonderful,
for that is really all we need.
Amen.
 
 
-->

Today's writer

Fay Rowland, author and graduate researcher at Wesley House, Cambridge, worshipping at Christ the King, Kettering. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's coming

Wed, 09/06/2021 - 15:45
96 Sunday's coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

This Sunday's service will be led by The Revd. Sarah Hall. Sarah is a Minister of Word and Sacraments in the Southampton area. As we look towards the beginning of Refugee Week 2021, we'll be reflecting on this ever-important topic. Hymns include In Christ there is no east or west, Brian Wren's I come with joy to meet my Lord and Tom Calvin's Jesu, Jesu.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,


Dan


Dan Morrell
Editor, Daily Devotion Sunday Services from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 9th June 2021

Wed, 09/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 9th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 9th June

Revelation 13: 11 - 18

Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.  It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed.  It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all;  and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived;  and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,  so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.  This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred and sixty-six.

Reflection

Another beast, the last of our unholy Trinity of perverse powers arises from the earth, acting with the authority of the First Beast, and sounding like the dragon which came before. Contrast this beast with the church, which has been given authority by Jesus Christ (Matthew 18.18-20), and seeks to be renewed constantly by the Word of God – perhaps this is our clue. The cults of the Roman Empire had their own priests and power, evangelising people to accept the claims of their man-God-Caesars. This beast is a shadow reflection of a Holy Spirit, it animates death and fear. It has the power to put to death those who refuse to ‘worship the image’ of the emperor who is a self-declared god. The Christians have reason to fear this beast, or pretend not to see it, but they refuse to give it power over themselves by studying it, and seeing it for all it is. This beast is wounded but not yet dead. Its power is surely waning?

Those who read Revelation looking to see if we are yet in the moment it describes often fix on the last part of this passage – when the Christians will know the human beast by the riddle of its number, 666. This string of three numbers can start to be everywhere if you look for it, but trying to read the number into our present instead of that of the seven churches may miss the mark. The transactions of buying and selling permitted only through the beast’s mark – think of the man-god’s face upon the coinage – represent not just trade but seeking social approval. As we see in Revelation 14, the faithful are themselves marked out by the names of Christ and God written over their hearts and minds.  Beware that the desire to succeed, fit in, and be loved God’s holy claim that “you are my people and I am your God”.

Prayer

Today reflect with these words from Martin Luther, translated by Stephen Orchard, and pray for the strength to face up to evil in all its forms.

 “And though the world seems full of ill,
  with hungry devils prowling,
  Christ’s victory is with us still,
  we need not fear their howling.
  The tyrants of this age
  strut briefly on the stage:
  their sentence has been passed.
  We stand unharmed at last,
  a word from God destroys them.”  
                        (Rejoice and Sing, 585)
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev'd Dr ‘frin Lewis-Smith is a healthcare chaplain in Salford and member of The Church at the Centre, Tonge Moor Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 8th June 2021

Tue, 08/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 8th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 8th June

Revelation 12: 18 - 13: 10

Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore.   And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names.  And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority.  One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast.  They worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’

The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.  It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.  Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.  It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

Let anyone who has an ear listen:

If you are to be taken captive,
    into captivity you go;
if you kill with the sword,
    with the sword you must be killed.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Reflection

The dragon (12:3-18), the beast from the sea (13:1-10) and the beast from the earth (13:11-18). They make quite an unholy trinity. Today’s verses portray the second figure of the three, a kind of shadow Christ, a denial and parody of Jesus and all that he stands for. For Jesus ‘was in the form of God’ (Philippians 2:6), and the beast comes in the image of the dragon, with its seven heads and ten horns. It even displays an old wound, a copy of the mark of the nails, a mimic and mockery of death and resurrection.
 
Revelation often echoes the Old Testament. Here are all four creatures from Daniel’s dream (Dan 7:1-8), blended into one dreadful monster. As the four once stood for rulers and kingdoms (Dan 7:17), so this beast depicts the ugliness and terror of power at its worst. The Roman Empire was surely in John’s mind. But other empires too have risen in history, tyrannical and totalitarian.
 
The beast carries authority among the peoples of earth – a devilish gift that Jesus had declined (Luke 4:5-8). Credulous and cringing citizens offer worship. But the empire’s words are false and its actions self-serving. ‘The saints’ – people of Jesus, who serve a different Lord – are a particular target. There are still places in the world where harsh regimes threaten the church, and Christians need great courage to hold the faith.
 
Eventually this beast will perish (Rev 19:20). But for the moment it stands for any human power that claims the kind of loyalty which only God deserves. Such regimes look solid and confident, yet they are hollow inside and terribly thin-skinned. Bad rule can be a monster, ravaging and wrecking the lives of others. Power can be, when people get addicted to it, a true anti-Christ.
 
For reflection and prayer

Remember people who hold power in the world, in governments and local communities, in work and church and family. Pray that they would be honest and humble as they fulfil their duties. Then think about any power you hold yourself. Ask that the wisdom and goodness of Jesus would shape and strengthen you for the task.
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d John Proctor is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC, Cambridge  Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 7th June 2021

Mon, 07/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 7th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 7th June

Revelation 12: 13 - 17

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.  Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.  But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.  Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

Reflection

Here we are.  A woman is pursued by a beast yet has wings to fly above.  What do I tell you about with this vision?  The woman is a victim?  Many victims are skilled in ‘flying out’ of abuse (detachment) in order to manage it?  That a woman is often the Other, no matter how many crowns or how much power she has?  Do I tell you what it is like to be the writer of revelatory tales and to have powerful visions?  I know about visions as surely as I know the woman as victim, but there is more here. 
 
What else? I affirm that the book of Revelation is not literal. No one knows who wrote it, yet there is much in it to which we somehow hang on.  We have a tendency to hang on to the mysterious and to hang on to what is considered ‘scripture’ when we may want to use the words for our own ends.  Revelations in these pages preserved for our reading are human visions of fascinating fictional dramas, unfolding a passionate belief in God, a passionate belief that God connects with humanity and a passionate belief that the earth itself is an agent of action – here the earth opened its mouth to save the woman from certain death (though her children may die).
 
Where is good news here?  Scraping aside much, I am awestruck by the passion of the visionary, though saddened by the stereotypes which, when having been seen as Scriptural truth, pursue us through centuries. Good News is that we have the power to name these readings as astonishing faith community fictions, we can name that humans have astounding visionary capacity; we also have permission to release them from having too much power in our own faith journeys.   
 
Prayer

God, gorgeous and eternal truth,
Give us conviction to stand back from what we read and hear so that we may test our understanding with other knowledge, with other people and with your Spirit living inside us.
Empower us to always seek your Good News.
Give us grace to welcome fresh insight and to use it for gracious love and just action.
In the name of Jesus and the presence of Holy Spirit,
Amen 
 
 
-->

Today's writer

The Revd Elizabeth Gray-King, URC Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s URC Oxford Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 6th June 2021 - Kirsty-Ann Mabbott

Sun, 06/06/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 6th June 2021 - Kirsty-Ann Mabbott View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
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.
United Reformed Church Daily Devotions’ Service

for Sunday June 6th 2021
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott
Introduction
 
Good morning and welcome to worship on this second Sunday after Pentecost. My name is Kirsty-Ann Mabbott and I am a Church Related Community Worker in Coventry, part of the West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church.  Our service this morning is focusing on Mark 3:20-35, the “who is my family” passage. So let us worship God together.
 
Call to Worship
 
We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love
who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain,
and heals our wounds.

God is our light and our salvation.
In God’s name we light this candle and are reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World, God’s own Voice who came to live with us.
May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always. Amen.
Hymn       All hail the power of Jesus’ Name
Edward Perronet
 
 
All hail the power of Jesus' Name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him,
crown him, crown him,
and crown him Lord of all.
 
2: Ye seed of Israel's chosen race,
Ye ransomed of the fall,
Hail him who saves you
by his grace, and crown him,
crown him, crown him,
and crown him Lord of all.
 
3: Sinners, whose love
can ne’er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
Go, spread your trophies
at His feet and crown him,
crown him, crown him,
and crown him Lord of all.
 
4: Let ev'ry kindred, ev'ry tribe,
on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him,
crown him, crown him,
and crown him Lord of all.
 
4: O that with yonder sacred throng
We at his feet may fall;
We'll join the everlasting song,
and crown him,  crown him, crown him,
and crown him Lord of all.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession
 
Timeless God, you created the universe and all of creation, yet delight in personal relationships with each of us. We thank you for the guidance you give through your Word and the call you lay on our hearts to make a difference in the world.
 
You sent Jesus not only to show the way to you, but to help bridge the divide that we had created. You also sent the Spirit to us with gifts that would enable us to live our lives as true disciples, making a difference in the world around us.
 
But we confess that we do not always follow your guidance, we do not always listen to what Jesus told us and we do not use the gifts from the Spirit. We leave our gifts unopened, unexplored, unused because of selfishness and fear.
 
When our thoughts are muddied, help us find the still small voice that is yours so that we can better listen and act. Help us face the fear, so that we can fully utilise the gifts you have bestowed upon us, so that we become more fully the people you have called us to be. Enable us to unpack the gifts so that they and we can benefit the whole of humanity and creation.
 
Forgive us God for being wayward, for ignoring the Dove and the Wild Goose, for thinking of our own wants and calling them needs, for being unkind and uncaring. Forgive us and help us to be more open to you and others. Amen.
 
Declaration of Forgiveness
 
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and of love. God forgives all who humbly repent and trust in God’s Son as Saviour and Lord. God has forgiven us, and we are one in Christ. Amen
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
Guide us, O God,
by your Word and Spirit.
Inspire us, O God,
into action and compassion.
Lead us, O God, into wisdom and light. Amen.

St Mark 3:20-35
 
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.  But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
 
‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter;  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
 
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters] are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
 
Hymn       Brother, Sister, let me serve you
Richard A M Gillard (b 1953)
 
Brother, sister,
let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may
have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
 
2. We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
 
3. I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
 
4. I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I'll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we've seen this journey through.
 
5. When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.
 
Sermon
 
How do you define family? Depending on your experience of family you will probably have a whole host of answers…Jesus states at the end of our reading that “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
 
The thing with family’s is that for most people they are the place that you are safe, loved and protected, but they aren’t perfect and can be a place where you get frustrated, feel like you are being held back, or stopped from doing what you want to do. There are also some folk who come from families that are harmful, and their experience cannot and should not be minimised because those experiences inform their idea of how families look and function and that can and will affect how they hear and perceive ideas that are described as familial.
 
When Jesus’ siblings and mother show up, they are wanting to pull Jesus away because they are worried for him, they are worried what might happen to him, they are worried about the authorities coming down on him and them. It’s not my job to judge if they were right or wrong, I can’t say for definite whether I would have been with them or Jesus in the moment. They were doing what many families do and were trying to protect Jesus from himself, but Jesus knew they couldn’t do that, he knew that he had another purpose. Jesus didn’t cut them off, but he did redefine the idea of family not just being about blood ties. I had five sets of grandparents growing up plus a great grandmother who I adored, which in 2021 might not sound so strange, but in the 1980s it wasn’t the typical normal, but I didn’t see it as odd or different, I just knew I had lots of adults who loved me, cared for me and encouraged me. Today many children experience extended families and blended families and schools teach that there are many different types of families.
 
I have one grandmother still living, which I am blessed to say, but I also have a lot of wonderful ladies in my church who are of a similar age to my grandmother who are open to ideas and proposals about how we can better serve the local community. They are kind and patient, and have a lot of wisdom. They are people of faith who have a lot to offer and have weathered many storms in life. I consider these ladies as much my family as my grandmother, and I appreciate their wisdom as much as they appreciate my wacky ideas.
 
Jesus’ family don’t walk away from him when he doesn’t get up and leave with them, they may have been concerned about the anger from the authorities that was starting to bubble up around him and the socio-political/spiritual movement that was forming, but they didn’t walk away. And maybe that is one of the things about being a family, that you may worry about the people in it, but you stand with them, you support them, you encourage their passions and you enable them to move forward. My mother is one of those people, she doesn’t always agree with me, there have been many discussions where I have challenged some of her opinions about social justice issues and there have been times when she has been exasperated with my liberal stance on many things, she has also questioned why I have faith and why I have answered a call to ministry, but those questions have not been asked cruelly, they have been asked from a point of concern and worry. Now by no means am I claiming that my mother is anything like Jesus’, but it has given me an understanding that I suspect those who are parents might get more fully than myself, and that is that as parents you want the best for your children, and regardless of how grown they are, you still worry for them because you remember when you were the one who protected them from the world, and at some point you couldn’t do that anymore but you still wanted to. Mary wants to protect Jesus from the people who have the power to cause him real harm, but she can’t, so instead she simply stays and supports him as she is able to, to do the will of God.
 
Families are messy, they are the best and worst of relationships and that is because they involve people, but Jesus shows us that those families do not have to be insular boxes that create “us and them” camps, they can be open, inclusive and radical. Families in the broad sense of the word can challenge the status quo of society and bring positive change, they can be places that nourish faith and reach out to those who have been isolated, oppressed and marginalised.
We are all children of God, which means we are all siblings, we just have to be prepared to see one another in that way. Amen.

Hymn:      Beauty for Brokenness
Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music
 
Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in the suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!
 
2: Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise
 
God of the poor, friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray.
Melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love, from a spark to a flame
 
Affirmation of Faith
 
We believe in God.
Despite His silence and His secrets we believe that He lives.
Despite evil and suffering we believe that He made the world
so that all would be happy in life.
Despite the limitations of our reason
and the revolts of our hearts,
we believe in God.
 
We believe in Jesus Christ.
Despite the centuries which separate us
from the time when he came to earth, we believe in His word.
Despite our incomprehension and our doubt,
we believe in His resurrection.
Despite his weakness and poverty, we believe in his reign.
We believe in the Holy Spirit.
Despite appearances we believe He guides the Church;
despite death we believe in eternal life;
despite ignorance and disbelief,
we believe that the Kingdom of God is promised to all.  Amen.
 
Intercessions
 
Let us turn our attention to praying for specific issues, people and the world; as we come before you O God, we desire to see change in the world.
 
We bring before you the poor, hungry and neglected, both here in the U.K. and around the world. Prick the consciousness of the privileged and legislators so that they hear the cries and feel compelled to bring about real change.
 
We hold before you O God, all places of learning, those who learn and those who teach, but we raise up those who are trying to learn in places where even the basic equipment is hard to come by, as education is precious to them. Help those who want for nothing in an educational setting to know how blessed their learning experience is, and help them use their learning to make a difference in the world.
 
We bring before you O God, all those who are marginalised, oppressed and reviled because they are different. We thank you that here in the U.K. that many of those groups of people are protected by law, but we recognise that that law does not go far enough and in many places around the world being different is not protected. We bring before you: Differently Abled people; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people; Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people; people of other faith traditions; Women. Stir in us O God the desire to campaign for better equity here and around the world especially for asylum seekers and refugees. At the beginning of June we especially remember our LGBT+ siblings as Pride month gets under way. We thank you that we live in a place where people do not have to hide their sexuality and gender and we pray for a legal and cultural change in Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates where the death penalty is still in place for those found to be LGBT+.
 
We hold before you O God, those who are sick, injured and dying. We thank you for giving knowledge to doctors, nurses, medical staff and scientists so that disease and illness can be tackled. Set in each of us the desire to challenge our government to do more on the international health stage so that children around the world do not have to die of curable illnesses such as TB, Polio and Measles; and so Women do not have to risk their lives during pregnancy and birth. We remember all those who have been affect by Coronavirus to date. We also remember those who have died from Cancer and HIV/AIDS. Encourage scientists to keep on working to eliminate these diseases too.
 
We bring before you O God, the natural world, the seas and oceans that we are filling with plastic, the rain forests that we are decimating and turning into desert wastes, the animal populations that we are bringing to the brink of extinction and beyond. We have no excuse for the way we have treated the earth that you gave to us in stewardship and we don’t know if it is too late to undo any of the damage, but we have to try. Create in us a burning fire of desire to work to save the planet, make that fire fizzle up so that we demand the government make real changes, not tokenistic change so that they don’t lose their profits.
Finally O God, we pray for every person in the world, those who will enter this world today and take their first breaths, and those who will leave this world today and take their last breaths. We pray for every person who is joyous and every person who is despairing. We remember all those who are just okay too. We ask you to bless and hold close every one as they are your children, made in your image, and we are challenged to see you in every one and remember that you love them even when we see them as less than ourselves. May we stop be greedy so that everyone has all they need to flourish. Amen.
 
We will say together the prayer that Jesus taught us.
 
Our father…
 
Offertory Prayer
 
God has been generous in all God’s gifts to us, so let us follow that example in our giving to the work and life of the church now.
 
Let us pray; God of Abundance, we thank you for providing for us, we recognise how fortunate we are and how generous you are. Take the gifts of our time, money and selves and use them in the world where there is so much brokenness, to share the good news of you through social justice action. Amen.
 
Hymn:    Thanks to God Whose Word Was Spoken
RT Brooks Text Words © 1954, Ren. 1982 Hope Publishing Company
 
 
Thanks to God whose Word was spoken
in the deed that made the earth.
His the voice that called a nation;
his the fires that tried her worth.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.
 
Thanks to God whose Word Incarnate
heights and depths of life did share.
Deeds and words and death and rising,
grace in human form declare.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.
Thanks to God whose Word was written
in the Bible's sacred page,
record of the revelation
showing God to every age.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.
 
Thanks to God whose Word is published
in the tongues of every race.
See its glory undiminished
by the change of time or place.
God has spoken:
praise to God for the open Word.
 
Thanks to God whose Word is answered
by the Spirit's voice within.
Here we drink of joy unmeasured,
life redeemed from death and sin.
God is speaking:
praise to God for the open Word.
 
Blessing
 
Siblings in Christ, go out into the world,
Go out with eyes that see the reality of life
Go out with hearts filled with compassion and love
Go out with hands ready to help lift up the broken and downtrodden
Go with God’s abundant blessing. Amen.
 
Sources and thanks
 
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name - Edward Perronet Sung by the congregation of St Andrew’s Kirk Chennai
Brother, sister, let me serve you - Richard A M Gillard (b 1953) sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise

Beauty for Brokenness - Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music – sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise
 
 
Organ Pieces
 
Opening: Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland (“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Closing: Procession by Arthur Wills (organ of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, Italy – 2014)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks, from Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Thanks to God Whose Word Was Spoken - RT Brooks Text Words © 1954, Ren. 1982 Hope Publishing Company - unknown performers on YouTube
 
Thanks to Christopher Whitehead, John Wilcox, Ray Fraser, Kathleen Haynes, Clare Ette and John Young for reading various spoken parts of the service.
 
  --> 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

  Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday 6th June 2021

Sun, 06/06/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 6th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 6th June 2021  Psalm 45

For the honour of our King
every skill we have we bring
no one stirs the heart to sing
like our royal Saviour.

When he speaks the truth is heard
grace and power in every word
falsehood trembles at the sword
of our royal Saviour.

Righteousness and joy are found
lasting justice will abound
all because the King is crowned
as our royal Saviour

See the splendour of Christ's bride
led in honor to his side
chosen loved and beautified
by her royal Saviour

Now and to eternal days
all God's people join to raise
one unending song of praise
to our royal Saviour
 

Martin Leckebusch © Kevin Mayhew Ltd

You can hear the tune, Monkland, here     
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UqLo_XXg4M

 

Reflection

Psalm 45 is thought to have been written as a wedding song to honour the wedding of the king to his beautiful bride. We can only imagine the pageantry at such an event. However, the words of the Psalm are also interpreted by Christians as pointing to another, future wedding “between a king and his bride” – or Christ and His Church.

The Psalm tells us that the King was coming to be joined with the bride. Today, Christians understand that the bride represents the Church, and the Church is described as being very beautiful.  The Church is the body of Christ - the assembly of all who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.  Those that belong to the Church, have their sins forgiven. Therefore, the King sees them as being beautiful and pure.

Jesus used the idea of a wedding, or a wedding feast to demonstrate what the kingdom of heaven would be like, indicating the importance of the bond that exists between Christ’s believers and the Lord.

The reason that Jesus used this imagery, is the love that is always found in such events. When I attend a wedding, I know that there will be beauty, joy, and love.  The message of Jesus Christ is known as  “The Good News” because it contains a message of beauty, joy and love.

When we become Christians, a giving of allegiance occurs. We cannot sit on the fence.   Either we become one with Christ or not. The Psalmists’ words were wise for the new bride of the king, and they act as a warning for all Christians.  Being joined to Christ, and being added to the Church means that we become part of the family of God.

It is no surprise many of the Illustrations picture a wedding! We are married to the eternal King through the grace of God and the Good News, the Gospel, of Jesus Christ!

Prayer

 Heavenly Father, we stand in awe.
That out of your goodness and grace
you would choose us to be saved
through faith in the Lord Jesus,
and that we should be given the place of honour
in becoming His bride.
May we always deserve to be part of the family of God.  Amen

 
-->

Today's writer

Ann Barton, Lay Leader, Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 5th June 2021

Sat, 05/06/2021 - 06:30
96 URC Daily Devotion 5th June 2021 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 5th June 2021
 
Revelation 12: 7  - 12

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back,  but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

‘Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God
    and the authority of his Messiah
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
    who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
Rejoice then, you heavens
    and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
    because he knows that his time is short!’

Reflection

Although there are three Anglican churches within a couple of miles of each other dedicated to St. Michael in Oxford, I’d never really thought much about who he was.  He only appears in two other books of the BIble - that other great piece of apocalyptic literature, Daniel, and in the letter of Jude.  Roman Catholic thinkers have developed a sophisticated picture of Michael’s role, while Protestants, including Luther, have seen Michael as a form of fore-runner to Christ.  I’ve been pondering those ideas but I’m not finding them very useful.

On the other hand, if you were given this passage without attribution you might question whether it was from the Bible or from a novel by J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman or C. S. Lewis, as the style is so novelistic, and the idea of war in heaven is so shocking.  And depictions like the memorable Jacob Epstein sculpture on the wall of the new Coventry cathedral (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Michael%27s_Victory_over_the_Devil ) reinforce the rather fantastical nature of this story.  So perhaps we should read this passage in a similar way to the way we might read the Creation myths - a way of making sense of the existence of evil, and a promise of the perfection of heaven.

I suspect a number of us will find the martial depiction of Michael leading a squadron of fighting angels somewhat hard to relate to - unlike the characters in the Epstein sculpture, it’s not always obvious in our lives whether we are the angel or the demon in a particular context, and looking at conflicts across the world, it’s often the case that we can see why both sides are aggrieved.  So we may hesitate to see fighting as the best way to further the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer

We give thanks for the promise of eternal life, and pray in the words of the hymn:
Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
and let me set free, with the sword of my youth,
from the castle of darkness the power of the truth.    Amen.

(When a knight won his spurs, ‘Jan Struther’, Rejoice and Sing 556).

 
 
-->

Today's writer

Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba's URC, Oxford

Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Pages