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Sunday 21st August 2022

Dwelling in Unity

Thank you for joining us. Today’s service is led by Elders Claudette and Celvon Binns, Message is recorded by Rev Pamela Ogilvie. Bible readings Angela & Mya

Call to Worship: Psalms 117

Hymn MP1086: Light of the World You Stepped Down Into Darkness                                                              

Opening Prayers

Holy God you call your people of every generation to put their trust in you, and we praise you.

As we venture out looking forward to spiritual discovery, we thank you for the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Let us as followers of Jesus Christ serve those in need and proclaim the good news.

Give us your grace in our discipleship, and may we find peace in your service.

We ask for forgiveness of any wrongs we have done knowingly or unknowingly during the past week.

Please pardon and forgive us, so we may continue our spiritual journey towards salvation.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord


Hymn 170: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart      


Welcome: Share Good News such as Birthdays, Anniversaries and How God has blessed us this week.



Bible Readings: Psalm 133. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 & 24b -27

Read by Angela & Mya

Hymn MP 784: Ye Servant of God      


The Message

Dwelling in Unity: Pamela Ogilvie

For 12 days, Birmingham had Commonwealth Games fever!  Those of us who are good at forward planning, bid for tickets a year ago and were not disappointed with the range of events and athletes that we were able to see in action. Those of us who are last-minute people were not disappointed either!  I know one woman who got a ticket for the finals of the Jamaica and Australia netball match, literally, with a couple of hours to go.  However, the different ways you came by your tickets and whatever the event, it was an amazing opportunity to participate, with over 1.3 million tickets sold.  The Games also broke the BBC Sport record with over 57 million streams!  Brummies’ can be very proud indeed of what was achieved! 


Diversity met diversity in those 12 days and we showed it off!  The Games featured 72 teams that make up the Commonwealth Nations and territories.  The City of Birmingham is the most diverse in the UK and it hosted teams from every continent in the world in a celebration of sport.  This was also beautifully captured in the volunteers of all backgrounds that gave their services for free and contributed to the smooth running of the Games, likewise, with those who went to watch the Games.  The opening and closing ceremonies had centre stage, the contribution that the diverse communities have made to Birmingham over the centuries.  We were also confronted with the City’s pivotal role in the transatlantic slave trade.  Those enslaved contributed to the economic wealth, not just of Birmingham, but the entire UK that made this country successful.  They were unwilling members of the team, hidden from view and seen as chattel because of the colour of their skin but nonetheless were instrumental to the achievement of Britain. 


How different when teamwork involves willing participants that contribute to success, not just the obvious people but those hidden from view and seen as equally important and of themselves feel valued.  This occurred for those participating in the Commonwealth Games. They represented their countries not only because of their own excellence in their field but because there are people who believe in them and have invested in them.  A more specific example is that of Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, the 17-year-old diver and Christian that took an array of medals at the Games and has since won gold in the European Athletics Championships.  She put her success down to God, teamwork and family.  What a combination working in unity!


People who come together in unity, collaborating, each confident in their own skillset and committed to contributing to the success of others; wanting the best for each other, valuing self and others.  This is the spirit of unity at work that we saw during the pandemic, up and down the country, people of different church denominations and people who had no allegiance to any faith, coming together, putting themselves at risk, because of their shared humanity and concern to reach out to those in need. 


We have seen a glimpse of some of the ingredients that foster dwelling in unity.  The experience resonates with the first verse of Psalm 133: ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’  The Psalmist applauds the virtues of a community that lives peaceably.  The beauty of harmonious relationships is described in two very striking ways, as ‘precious oil’, valuable and treasured that overflow in such measure.  In ancient times oil was valuable and in limited supply in any community.  The second is as ‘mountain dew’.  In a dry and parched land, any droplets of water, however small, were celebrated. The Psalmist, in using the two images, conveys a community that basks in the richness of harmonious living.  God’s heart is for all people to dwell in unity and there is God’s blessing in harmonious engagement.  Not only is the community blessed but unity is an imperative of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I am referring to community in its widest sense, whether it is global, societal, local, or familial.


What does the blessing of God look like when there is unity?  God’s love becomes manifest in the values that are important to a community and in the qualities that are nurtured.  There is trust, respect and compassion.  Each person is valued because of their uniqueness as a child of God.  There is a concern for the welfare of others with the endeavour to enable others to shine which may mean outshining you!  Disagreements and conflicts get resolved quickly even if it is to agree to disagree. This demonstrates humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance.   There is encouragement and affirmation.  There is constructive feedback where the intention is to bring out the best in the other person.  There is sharing in the joys and sorrows and praying one for another.  Where there are the true blessings of God, there are no favourites, and power dynamics that might seek to disrupt the unity of the community are quickly addressed.  The striving for justice becomes the bedrock of such communities, so that all may experience the blessings of a God that shows no partiality.  This kind of community is a continual work in progress. There is no arrival at a perfect state of individual and community wellbeing.  Each person plays their part in nurturing and sustaining a community in the image of God.


In contrast, living in a state of disunity where there is a lack of harmony, where there is a hierarchy that cultivates injustice and destabilising power dynamics, takes its toll on the wellbeing of individuals and the community.  This can manifest in a myriad of ways including emotional, physical, spiritual, financial and social.  This is precisely what Paul, the writer of the First Letter to the Corinthians attempts to address.  He uses the analogy of the human body to address the dysfunction in the church.  He equates the parts of the human body with the diversity of members, all with different gifts and with a particular purpose, none better than the other. He is forthright in declaring that the church is like a body that belongs to Christ.  You can only understand the verses if you have a sense of the wider context.  Paul does not refrain from making it clear what these issues are.  Paul may have taken such a stance because, in the context of the day, those who considered themselves the elite drew parallels with the physical body and ‘human society’ and used this to exploit the most vulnerable in society.  They used this parallel to justify structural inequality.  Those considered at the bottom of the hierarchy were led to believe that it was their duty to maintain this position for the stability of the whole of society.


However, Paul in this instance put forward a counter-narrative based on the Kingdom of God.  He challenged the prevailing ideology. Instead, diversity was God’s gift and all had a vital role to play.  He writes against hierarchical differences and preferential treatment.  In this letter, he advocates that there is no place for this in the vision of the Kingdom of God.  Diversity was God’s gift to the church in Corinth.  It is God’s gift to Elmwood Church.  Diversity is God’s gift to the City of Birmingham.  It is God’s gift to the Commonwealth. Unity in diversity can be achieved.  Human structures and processes can be transformed so that God’s Kingdom come; God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven to the glory of God. 


The Revd Pamela Ogilvie

August 2022

Hymn: By Our Love    


Prayers of Intercession

By Celvon

Prayers: Dwelling In Unity 

God of unity, you have called us in the Body of your Son Jesus Christ to continue his work of reconciliation and reveal you to the world: forgive us the sins which tear us apart; give us the courage to overcome our fears and to seek that unity which is your gift and your will. We give you thanks for the Commonwealth Games, for the diversity of participants, of equal worth in your sight and who seek to excel. May your Spirit of unity and excellence be poured out on all for your glory, through Jesus Christ your Son, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Hear our prayer

Grant to your people, good Lord, the spirit of unity, that they may dwell together in your love, and so bear to the world the ointment of your healing and the dew of your blessing, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

God of harmony and accord, we thank you for the unity of teamwork, those people we see and those who work behind the scenes who are just as important. Inspire us to respect those with whom we work and to honour what they do as every individual is valuable in your sight.  As we trust and encourage each other to walk in their God-given gifts and talents, we thank you that this leads to success.  Where there is struggle, help us to stand strong and grow into all that you have called us to be. 

Hear our prayer

God of Love, we thank you that you hold each person, as we cannot be strong on our own but we have you to lean on to give us strength and hope.  Give us compassion and understanding for all whose ways seem different from our own that in fellowship and communion with each other, we are encouraged in the journey of life.

God of fellowship, just as your Son prayed on the eve of his death, ‘May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe that it was you who sent me’, let it be so with us.  Restore lost relationships, bless with love and harmony families, communities and places of work so that they will know they have been created to live in peace. 


Jesus, Faithful Friend, who is one with us, who shares our burdens, who know our every need and weakness, we thank you that we can turn to you in times of trouble and distress, confident that you hear our cry. Comfort those who mourn and have mercy on those who have no peace and bring them the peace of your presence. 

Hear our prayer


Good Lord, your friendship is for all eternity, have mercy on those who have died after much suffering and those with disturbed or confused minds, and unable to respond to your love. Give them rest in the perfect harmony of your heavenly Kingdom where there is no more pain and all sorrow is taken away. 


God of compassion, we pray that the next Prime Minister will make the right choices, as tax cut overwhelmingly benefit the richest at the expense of the poorest in our society.

National Insurance and corporation tax will benefit big business, not small and medium size organisation, but in a time of want and inflation, it cannot be the right priority.

We should seek to help the poorest people including pensioners, struggling families and disabled on fixed income with fuel and food grants.


Through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Hymn MP 708: To God be the Glory

The Blessing: Ephesians 2 v12-13:

Read by Claudette

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