Sunday 4th July 2021
Call to Worship
Walk about Zion go all around it, count its towers, consider well its rampart: go through its citadels: that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. God will be our guide forever.
God of the generations
we come to worship you
God of women in childbirth
We come to worship you
God of those wrecked by storms
We come to worship you
God of the humble
We come to worship you
God of the poor
We come to worship you
God present in Jesus
We come to worship you
Hymn - Lord of all Hopefulness (R&S 531)
Opening Prayer and Lords Prayer
Hymn - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (R&S 492)
Bible readings: 2 Samuel 5.1-15, 9-10 Mark 6. 1-13
Address: By Mr Stuart Scott 'When I am weak, then I am strong'.
While Saul was king, before he himself was crowned, David had led the people to victory in military campaigns. He is one of them, their own flesh and blood. After Saul’s death, the tribes come to him, recognising that he is called by God to be their ruler and their shepherd. In due course David makes a covenant with the leaders of the people. They accept his rule over them as their king but there are boundaries, conditions, expectations.
David is king for forty years, initially reigning in Hebron and over Judah, the southern kingdom, for seven years and then uniting the kingdoms of north and south, Judah and Israel, for a further thirty three years. He captures the city of Jerusalem, takes over the fortress and calls it the city of David. He becomes more and more powerful, because the Lord God is with him.
Zion becomes the city of the great King, set on God’s holy mountain. It is the city of God, as well as David’s city. It is a symbol of power and stable government. In the language of the Psalmist, opposition flees, their pain like that of women in labour, or destroyed like ships caught up in a storm and wrecked. The importance of the city points to the greatness of God. The Psalmist bids hearers join the procession around its walls. As they see the strength of the city, they become more aware of the power of God,its protector.
We have a very brief and stark account of David coming to power. Do we get a sense of David’s place, his entitlement, his calling? Is there always some sense of inevitability in the way that authority is givenand power is assumed? What is happening in the Old Testament narrative that is invisible to us? Is there wheeling and dealing, negotiating? How did it feel to be involved, an elder of Israel, or uninvolved, ordinary, absent from the corridors of power and so perhaps from the annals of history but experiencing its impact?
As the Old Testament narrative unfolds it will become clear that David has weaknesses as well asstrengths, failures as well as successes. Here the text highlights not his righteousness or his integrity but his power. We see a particular and patriarchal social model and form of government. The question for us might be – is this as a template for good government, or simply of its time and unenlightened?
We might in any case construe the “covenant” that the king makes with the elders as putting some checks and balances in place, providing a way for some to speak truth to power. This also might have something to say to us about our rights and responsibilities in our parliamentary democracy. How do we use the opportunities we have to speak truth to power?
We might note a contrast between this morning’s Old Testament narrative and images and what we read in the New Testament. The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, describes his experience of the thorn in the flesh and how he asks three times for it to be taken away. However, he learns to live with it and to comes to terms with weakness. Indeed, he will boast only of his weakness as he learns that God’s power is made perfect in weakness, and God’s grace is sufficient for him. When he is weak, then he is strong.
In Mark’s gospel, we find Jesus in Nazareth, his home town, the place of his childhood, on the streets where he grew up and which he knewwell. This is a place he knows, and where he is known, a familiar place, his patch. That familiarity brings with it some expectations from those who knew him, from his neighbourhood and even his own flesh and blood, his family. Some may even be jealous: Jesus should know his place, where his own people seek to put him.
A prophet is not without honour, Jesus says, except in his own country. This is perhaps the preachers defence when there is little response, the self-justification of the preacher who isn’t bringing the flock along with them or the pastor who feels undermined or undervalued. Jesus’ statement may be a projection of the entitlement of prophets or preachers to honour and respect, but it may also question whether prophets require honour to fulfil their calling before God and people. Jesus, after all, does not demand honour but continues both to preach and to heal. Then he calls the twelve togetherand sends them out, two by two.
The followers of Jesus are sent out on his mission. They carry no symbols of power and authority but are given authority over evil spirits. They travel apparently ill equipped – with no bread, no bag, no money, but simply a staff for their protection and stability. They wear sandals to protect their feet and speed their journeying, but no extra tunic. They journey dependent on hospitality and welcome and, if that is not there for them, they move on. They make themselves vulnerable, and go, preaching repentance. They are effective in the ministry entrusted to them. They know their place and help others to find theirs. Lives are changed; people find peace, healing, wholeness.
Do we know our place this morning and are we ready to help others find theirs? Our security and stability come from God, who makes himself known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and equips and empowers us in the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus today, we do not look for honour or respect, power and authority for its own sake. We have what we need for the tasks of ministry and mission, discipleship, witness and service and we offer ourselves in humility and obedience. We can know our place in God’s loving purposes without claiming our rights and our entitlement. In humility, looking to the grace of God, we know our place and give space to others that they might find theirs, their place, a home among us in God’s grace and love.
Hymn - Make me a channel of your peace (R&S 629)
Good News, Inspiration, Birthdays, Anniversaries and how God has blessed us
Prayers for the church and the World Prayer of intercession for the church and the world - 4th July
Lord of all hopefulness we come before your presence this morning to worship and magnify Your name. We ask you to hear our prayers. Luke 9:23-24 says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me".
You have given us your humble servants, what seems like an impossible task with this passage. You have asked us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow You. Even when our spirits are willing, the flesh is weak. You know our hearts and our minds, Father, help us, with Your Holy Spirit, to examine our hearts and listen to Your words. The longer we walk with You, the more we are changing into Your image. We desire to become more and more like You, less selfish and more selfless, willing to deny ourselves in any and all situations. You have told us that when we lose our life for Your sake, we will save it. We pray that You save us from ourselves, God.
We bring before you this morning our prayers and petitions as it says in Ephesians 6:18 where it tells us to 'pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests'. As we lift up these words for our church and the world, help us to come before You Lord with humility and a willingness to obey, and out of that obedience help us to put others first and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord may we seek You first, putting aside our own desires. May we become intercessors for our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we pray more and criticize less. May we be encouragers and up lifters of Your word.
Lord of all kindliness reveal Yourself to us as humans we find letting go of our lives feels like the hardest thing to do. Even the thought that we might not be in control of our lives can bring anxiety. Help us to realise that Your ways and thoughts are far above ours. In our daily struggles to lay down our lives and our ideas of what life should be, give us comfort knowing that our lives are being held in the most trustworthy hands. When we start thinking about our failed plans and what tomorrow might bring, remind us of the future hope we have in Christ. Help us to remember that hope is not only for eternity, but that it is meant to transform the way we live our lives today. In all things, let Your will be done and our will be set aside
Lord of all faithfulness you have given us Earth as our heritage, we humbly ask that you guide us in our thoughts and actions that we are forever mindful of Your grace and mercy and we will gladly do Your will. Bless the world and save us from any violence, conflict, misunderstandings, pride, arrogance and every evil way that You disapprove of. Ensure that those who are in entrusted with the authority of government and leadership are provided with the spirit of Your wisdom to promote obedience of Your laws, so we may have justice and peace amongst the nations of the earth. Provide our leaders with the love of truth and righteousness and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve the people. In our time of prosperity, let the nations hearts be filled with thankfulness, and in the days of troubles, help us to not fail in our trust and faith in You.
We pray for the victims and their families of the building that collapsed in Miami, for the 400,000 who are facing famine in Tigray in Ethiopia,for the victims of the heat wave and fires in Canada, for the victims of extreme weather caused by Global warming, for the people of Afghanistan as the USA leaves their country, for the families of the victims who lost children who attended the residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. we pray for our nation as we are trying to control the spread of the Delta variant and we ask that you bless our schools and colleges so they can return to lively centres for sound learning, discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom without the interruptions that COVID is bringing to the learning environment
Lord of all gentleness Your word says that we are healed by Your stripes, so we pray right now for divine healing for all those on our prayer list for their families and their carers. Please touch all those that need that one special touch from you so that they may be restored to health and be healed. We pray against all illnesses right now, both mentally and physically and Lord we look to You as the source of our healing in Jesus’ Name.
Lord of all Wisdom we don’t know what tomorrow holds, but You do. That is why we bring these prayers and requests to you, that You will guide us in the direction we are meant to go. Give us wisdom, peace of mind, and bring trustworthy people into our lives who are wise advisors and helpful friends. For the week ahead help us to trust that You go before us, increase our dependency on You and may we all have a blessed week ahead.
In your precious name we pray for all these things.
Hymn - The kingdom of God is justice and joy (R&S 200)
May we find a welcome in the world,
among the vulnerable, the kind and compassionate,
Those ready to receive us with generosity and grace
And in all our meeting, in familiar and unfamiliar places.
May we seek and know God, Father, Son and Spirit,
alive in and through us in peace, love and hope.