Call to Worship:
You are all children of light and of the day,
we are not of the night or of darkness!
So then, let us not fall asleep as others do,
but let us keep awake and give our praise.
Creator God, who has furnished us with all that we have,
we give you praise and thanks.
Remind us of our gifts when we lose sight of them.
Show us where and how to share them.
Give us the courage to offer them freely, as you give to us.
What others may seek to destroy, help us to protect and care,
and give us the conviction to stand fast when we are called to do so.
We come, O God, seeking your forgiveness. You gave us
stewardship of your creation – yet what have we done with it? Our
environments are changing; weather patterns swinging between
extremes. Creatures are becoming endangered as their habitats
are altered by climate change, with some at risk as a result of
being hunted to satisfy man’s greed.
Forgive us, O God, for not being good caretakers of your created
world; help us to right our wrongs. Forgive us for not always
being good caretakers of what you’ve given us personally. You
have given each of us talents. Forgive us for not always using
them wisely, for hiding away those we think too small to be of
consequence. Or for when we brag about what we have and what
we’ve achieved. Forgive our small mindedness, our selfishness,
our greed, our desire for recognition.
Forgive us and help us to grow, and to use well all you give us
to benefit others and further your kingdom.
God’s wrath can be frightening but, because of Jesus, God’s love
and light shine upon us. Because of Jesus, we are children of light.
Because of Jesus, we are loved and forgiven.
The Lord’s Prayer
Reading: Matthew 25:14-3-
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
If there was one thing that I never got used to as a mum – it’s being silently woken up in the middle of the night. Now I’m not talking about being shaken or shouted at….I mean the silent still waking up……when from the deepest of sleep – you slowly stir to sense that someone is watching you – as you open your eyes a child is there….sometimes in a onesie with their hood up dressed as a rabbit or a unicorn or Chewbacca. The kind of slow stirring that makes you jump to the core. I was never ready for those kind of awakenings.
In our reading today from Paul he asks us are we ready? How do we know when Jesus will return? To which Paul says we don’t know. It will be as sudden as the start of labour, as unexpected as a night thief. So, we have to be ready, ready at all times. And not asleep or partying the night away.
But what does it mean to be ‘ready’ in this context? Paul uses familiar everyday strong language and images to talk about being prepared. Today we might use the language and images of superheroes – the cape of faith, the superpowers of love and hope. How would you describe being ready as a Christian?
When we take a trip – whether it’s to the beach for the day, an overnight stay somewhere or a week away – we have to get ourselves ready and prepared. In my house – I create a list – put things in certain bags, lay clothes out, and pack snacks or a picnic or food that we might need. It lays out on the list everything we will need. We all do our bit. Then we are ready!!
But how do we get ready in our daily life for the return of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew – there is a parable. A story. The Parable of Talents. Three servants were given different amounts of money depending on their ability and that amount was entrusted to them. It tells of a master who was leaving his house to travel, and, before leaving, entrusted his property to his servants. According to the abilities of each man, one servant received five talents, the second had received two, and the third received only one. The property entrusted to the three servants was worth 8 talents, where a talent was a significant amount of money. Upon returning home, after a long absence, the master asks his three servants for an account of the talents he entrusted to them. The first and the second servants explain that they each put their talents to work, and have doubled the value of the property with which they were entrusted; each servant was rewarded. The third servant, however, had merely hidden his talent, burying it in the ground, and was punished by his master.
The Gospel parable helps us with Paul’s message of being ready. Being ready is about being accountable. We need to live our lives ready to be held accountable for what we have done with them. Jesus could be suggesting that, whether we start with a little or a lot, we should always seek to make the best of what we have. Perhaps following God is about taking risks, not playing safe.
There is some encouragement though. Paul says, ‘You are all children of the light’ verse 5. He has watched the people of Thessalonica…us as Christians. And at the end of this passage Paul says, ‘encourage one another, build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’
As children of light, we need to be aware of the darkness in this world….the places, the people, the issues that lack and need God’s light, love and hope. Part of being ready – is being alert too…..as children of light we must be ready while also being alert and taking the light of Christ to those who need it. This week may we be that light to each other – in all that we do and may we offer the light of Christ to other people, especially those who do not know Christ – for they need it most. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession:
Creator God, we pray for your world. Have mercy upon it.
We pray for the countries being torn apart by war: for the fighting in Ukraine. And that there will be no escalation in the war between Israel and Gaza by other factions getting involved. Be with those working to seek the release of hostages.
Creator God, have mercy. Blanket your world with peace.
We bring before you your Church. Many countries victimise your followers. They face great dangers; imprisonment or death.
Creator God, have mercy. We pray your strength and safety upon believers in danger.
We pray your hand on the COP28 conference, beginning at the end of this month. Help all in the fight to combat climate change. Help us to maintain your creation for future generations.
We pray for the Icelandic people experiencing earthquakes and those evacuated due to the threat of volcanic activity.
Creator God, have mercy. Sustain your world.
We pray for all young people in education. Help those children skipping school due to bullying and violence. We pray for teachers nurturing young talents. Open doors of opportunity.
Creator God, have mercy. Help all to grow in wisdom and knowledge.
We pray for the exploited. For all lured into modern slavery by false promises made by unscrupulous people. We pray against those using social media for their own ends, for those stirring up dissent.
Creator God, have mercy. Open the eyes of the vulnerable and bring awareness.
We pray good health on our King as he enters his 76th year. May he grow in wisdom.
We pray for our government, at odds with itself over the dramatic reshuffling. Bring cohesion to the corridors of power.
Creator God, have mercy. May those in power serve humbly.
We pray for our communities; for all those working towards making them safer places to live and work. We pray for the lost, the lonely and the hungry.
Creator God, in this winter season help us to use well all that you give us. Help us, your children, to bring light and warmth into the lives of those around us.
Sending out prayer:
This earth, this good earth,
The sunlight, the moonlight,
The sky that reaches over us,
The soil beneath our feet.
We will hold all this in our hands with gentleness and love.
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Reproduced with permission.