This week's Order of Service
17 January 2021
10.45-11.15 Morning Worship, available on Zoom, led by Mrs Andy Bevan
Before opening the Zoom link, we will sing
Opening Hymn: This is the day [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsxtAnZNAVE]
If possible, you are invited to join the Zoom service. At 10.35am we join for a short social period; the service will start at 10.45am. Please click HERE to join the Zoom service, the Zoom Meeting ID is 880 6118 0122 and the Password is Heiswithus.
Opening prayer, we say together
This is the day, Lord you have called us to be with you, we rejoice in your creation, and give you thanks for this and every day which brings new challenges and joys to us. Praise the Lord!
Lord God, thank you for bringing us to the start of this new day. Thank you for being with us on our journey through this life, for supporting us through the difficult times and rejoicing with us in times of great news and achievements.
Lord God, we know that you hold open your arms to receive us as your children and we ask your forgiveness when we reject your way of love, causing hurt to others and to you by our actions and words or lack of them.
Lord God Almighty help us in our struggle to be worthy of calling ourselves your church. Amen.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer together
We share the Grace before Pioneers leave for their Youth Alpha session.
Solo – sung by Kirsty
New Testament reading: James 2: 1 - 13
Reflection – Which Lives Matter?
To help us in our wider thinking of the part we, as Christians, play in the world, the Outreach Group will be setting quarterly themes for us to explore, with the theme for this quarter being Equality.
We heard much on this theme during 2020 – how the Covid-19 pandemic showed no impartiality in selecting its victims, the Black Lives Matter campaign, the increasing “political correctness” of television adverts and even our Prime Minister saying that, with Brexit achieved, he is working on making the whole country more equal.
But is our world honestly more equal than it has ever been? The pandemic has shown that those in well-paid white-collar jobs can more easily work from home, with no adverse effect on their earnings, as their savings increase because they have not been able to have their holidays and evenings out, whilst the key workers in our communities have been more exposed to the virus, working with the sick, the elderly and providing essential services, often at minimum wage.
In all the action taken for the 'Black Lives Matter', two actions stay in my mind. One was the football match where the players wore armbands in support of eradicating prejudice from sport, but then did nothing in response to the racists’ chants against a player during the match that followed. The other was the comment following the recent storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters, mainly white Americans. Many commented on the law enforcement agencies’ response to the crowds forcibly entering the seat of American democracy, where one person was shot dead, saying “would this have been the same if the crowd had been predominantly black people?”
Have you noticed how adverts have changed? McCain oven chip families are now multicultural; no-one was accountable for their actions or sent to the naughty step by Tesco’s at Christmas; even the Tia Maria advert starts with a disabled person, an amputee, running towards the camera continuing with showing a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds until ending with a women happily despoiling a wall alongside which she is running, Does this message really say all are equal who drink Tia Maria – even if they vandalise their communities in the process?
I have twice heard programmes on the radio recently which say the pandemic has clearly shown the divisions and inequalities in our world.
One offered two definitions of wealth, saying wealth could be defined either by material possession or by wellbeing, for is it not the nurses, police, doctors, care home workers who have brought the most benefit to society over the past nine months.
Surely if nothing else, this pandemic has clearly shown us what is truly important in life; friends and family, neighbours and strangers, all showing love and concern.
But divisions are not just caused by money, the haves and have-nots, for Christ did not condemn the rich man for his wealth, purely for the god of wealth he worshipped. Christ taught us the all- important law is to love our neighbour and to love God. But how do we follow that law. James, in our reading, gives us a clue – in verse 23 he tells us always to speak and act as people who are to be judged under a law which make us free. In that judgment there will be no mercy for those who have shown none, Mercy triumphs over judgement.
But let us not confuse mercy with pity. James speaks of showing mercy, to show compassion, whilst to show pity is to show sadness at the plight of others. Mercy demands action whilst pity is only to display our feelings. We are judged not on how we feel about a person, but how we respond to them and their differences.
Mercy and love are intertwined; as we are all created in God’s image, an image of love and acceptance for all, we are called upon to show love to all God’s creation. Both the planet and its inhabitants, whether animal, vegetable or mineral.
God does not discriminate, for did He not welcome both the wise men and the shepherds at His Son’s birth, did not that Son accept water from the Samaritan women at the well, even though she had broken the moral rules of her society, and was not the robber who was crucified alongside Christ accepted by His Father, and ours, that same day in paradise.
Perhaps Tesco’s was right this Christmas – there is no naughty seat for we have all broken the rules at some point in our journey through life, but still God accepts us, whatever our skin colour, whether we are blind or deaf, have one leg or two, rich or poor, whatever our sexual orientation, accountant or care worker. Do we honestly show that same mercy? Amen
Piano solo by Kirsty
We pray for a world of diversity where we are all equal but all different, where we are created in God’s image but all have our own personalities, our own beliefs. We thank God for giving us the freedom of choice to journey through this life and we pray for those whose freedom of speech has been robbed from them by others of differing views. Lord who created all to be equal help us to play our part in righting such wrongs in the world.
We pray for those enslaved today, bound to others who fail to see them as people, but only as possessions to be abused and impoverished. Lord be with them in their slavery, that they may have the strength and courage to face another day. We pray also for the people who hold the lives of these slaves in their hands. Lord who created all to be equal help us to play our part in righting such wrongs in the world.
We pray for all those imprisoned or persecuted for their faith and culture, the Rohingya in refugee camps since 2017 having been forced from Myanmar, the Xinjang in Chinese “re-education” centres, separated from their families, and all who are suffering today from repression by the more powerful of this world. Lord who created all to be equal help us to play our part in righting such wrongs in the world.
We pray for those who have their lives challenged each day because their body does not conform to “the norm”, who are unable to walk into buildings because they cannot climb stairs, who cannot see people speak because they are unable to lip read through the pandemic masks, who cannot hear due to the ceaseless background noise which fills our day. Lord who created all to be equal help us to play our part in righting such wrongs in the world.
Lord God, we pray for all who experience discrimination as part of their everyday lives, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, their faith, their sexual orientation. Lord who created all to be equal help us to play our part in righting such wrongs in the world.
Silent and spoken prayer, for the world, the church and for those known to us we are concerned about and with whom we celebrate. Amen
Closing Prayer, we pray together:
Lord, give me strength in my weakness, give me faith in my fear, give me power in my powerlessness, give me love in my heart for you and for all your creation. Amen
Please close the Zoom link, then we will sing our final hymn.
Closing Hymn: O the deep, deep love of Jesus [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJcxZHeXEdw&feature=emb_logo]
Thank you for joining with us today. Stay safe and well until we are able to meet together.