Today marks the first Sunday in our new connexional year, our children have returned to school and college this week or will do very shortly. Our young people are preparing for moves into employment, gap years and university. Presbyters & Deacons have moved appointments and begin life in a new place under very different circumstances and restrictions. We hold all of this in our prayers in the coming week.
O Lord our God,
we sometimes tremble as we think of who we are and who you are.
Bring us now, in this moment, to know you.
See us as we are, and see our yearning to be more like you.
May we lay aside anything that hinders our journey with you,
and with our friends and neighbours.
A reflective way into prayer:
Think of the tiny space you occupy right now – the floor you are standing on, the chair you are sitting on, or the cushion you are kneeling on.
Think of that space in the context of the community you are with right now.
Think of the vastness of earth, of space, of the universe, and beyond.
Now think again of where you are right now,
and let yourself just be in that space with God.
Pray your own prayers of praise and confession or use the words below:
God of the vastness of all that is,
of all peoples and communities,
here we are, part of this place;
gathering to worship and adore you,
marvelling at your love and care and your persistence with us.
You are beyond our imagining.
Again and again, we are engulfed in your vastness and love.
How can we do anything but praise you, again and again?
In the higgledy-piggledy ways of life, Lord,
with challenges and changes pulling us this way and that,
we sometimes find it hard, in the heat of the moment,
to know what is right and what is wrong.
Forgive us for our failings and wrongdoings.
Forgive our insensitivities to the ways of others.
Forgive anything that cuts us off from each other or from you.
The Lord’s Prayer
Bible Reading Matthew 18:15-20
For many summers since before our son went to school we have enjoyed a summer break on the South coast. A popular caravan site being outside Paignton & Brixham, which the children absolutely loved. When I began running – I loved getting up early, putting on my running gear and heading DOWNHILL into Brixham for a 5k, often in the sunshine, where I would sit outside a café watching life around the harbour with a coffee (of course) until my family got up and drove down for breakfast. One afternoon, I decided to head out for a slightly longer run to avoid the family activity of teatime crabbing (I can’t cope with this activity at all). My run down to Brixham harbour had always taken the same route but after studying the maps, I opted for an off-road route and set my mobile to direct me – I headed down a walking path and soon met the 3 way junction BUT which to choose – sadly my mobile signal cut out and I should have took that as a sign to return back to the route I knew. I carried on taking the least hilly option and least muddy one too. To cut this story short – this slightly longer route and a promise of I won’t be longer than an hour ended up being almost 2 hours and 5 adventurous miles that probably should have had walking boots to help me. Many people looked and said are you sure you want to go that way? A couple sat on a bench told me I wasn’t on a direct route but in the right direction and gave me guidance. Eventually I made it to Brixham High Street.
Should I have downloaded the app my friend told me about that works offline and without phone signal? Probably. Did I heed his advise? Not until after this adventurous run. Should I have listened to the locals? Most definitely. Did I? no. Why? Because the first part of that run was hard work and I convinced myself it could only get better? Have I learnt from this experience? Sometimes.
Our gospel passage today is about how we react to each other when we see wrong actions and behaviour or people going in the wrong direction. It’s not an easy passage. Here we are talking about a community – during the time of Jesus there was no formal church, like we understand today. We can imagine a little more easier as we are experiencing lockdown and no physical gatherings have taken place in church for some time. However we read this passage, it’s still about talking to each other about sin or going in the wrong direction. Have we been spoken to about something we have been inappropriately doing or have you spoken to someone else? How easy is it to point out someone’s fault to them?
The Gospel gives us clear teaching in how we can help one another to keep in order as we share our lives together as Christians. The good thing about being a church community is that we are all in the same boat, or all on the same team, we are in Gods team, and we meet together so that we can help each other and build each other up. BUT we are not always very happy to do this. The truth is that we are all going to make mistakes and be in the wrong place with God sometimes, so we need to get use to reminding one another and being reminded without getting too upset about it.
It may not be a wonderful feeling to know that our faults and failings are noticed. But in the long run this is going to help us put things right with each other and with our fellowship with God.
Let us practice being thankful instead of offended; and be ready to help build one another up when every we fall down, so to build up the Christian community of mission, fellowship, service, and love.
Eternal, ever-living God,
we pray for those who this day need our prayers:
those we see around us…
those we have left at home…
family and friends near and far…
strangers and communities we will never meet or know,
but whose peril we hear of and see on our screens…
those whose life is ebbing away
consumed by old age, frailty, illness or neglect…
those who grieve deeply for lives and loves lost…
those who cause grief and chaos in society
and who live seemingly with different values from ours,
for them and their victims and their families…
those who are forgotten, unnoticed, unloved, unmissed…
Lord God, in your abundance of mercy,
hear these and all our prayers.
As we begin the new connexional year – you may want to consider where God is leading you as we are working very differently under COVID19 restrictions. In some Methodist churches, this Sunday would be their covenant service. We are all regularly looking at our lives and what we are doing. May be using our covenant prayer may help in the decisions of seeking God’s guidance in our use of time, priorities, gifts, and money. Your minister, senior steward, treasurer or a member of the church would be happy to talk should you wish to. No one is alone – we are called to be the church together.
The Methodist Covenant Prayer
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’
A prayer of dedication
We bring you our lives and ask you to fill us with your love. Your love for us is so complete that nothing we do can make you love us more, and nothing we do can make you love us less. We are confident of your love for us, so take us as we are and use us to take your love to the people we meet. Glory be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A personal prayer:
Sometimes, O God, I wish I was on my own, not troubled and disturbed by those around me, not jostled and tussled this way and that, but just left to my own devices. But I am not just me, I am part of the community in which I live. Give me patience with those around me, give me love and compassion for those in need, give me understanding of people who are so different from me and give me, above all else, a yearning to do your will.
A sending out prayer:
Being Christian, O God, is not just about ‘me and you’,
not just about our conversations and our love.
Help us to see those we meet beyond these doors
in the way that you see them.
Help us to offer support from what we know of you.
Send us out from here to be a shining light for you,
a guiding light for those in confusion, aloneness and darkness.
All prayers and ideas
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