Feed aggregator

URC Daily Devotion Monday 5th October 2020

URC Devotions - Mon, 05/10/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Monday 5th October 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 5th October 2020 1 Thessalonians - Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 1
 
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
 
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly  remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you,  because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake.  And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit,  so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.  For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God,  and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
 
Reflection
 
Read this first chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians and I suspect that many of us come away with that ‘feel good’ factor.  The letter is thought to be one of the oldest – probably the oldest – of the books contained in the New Testament. Written in about 51 CE merely twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection and here were a group of people for whom the gospel had come alive. Not only had it come alive for them in Thessalonica but they had spread the message through the province of Macedonia and Achaia.

In this prayer of thanksgiving, Paul talks of them as faithful, hopeful and loving, chosen by God but crucially people who responded with joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was this joy and inspiration that enabled the gospel message to be spread beyond their own city. And so it was that Paul gave thanks, not just for a group of faithful people but in recognition that God is at the centre of their lives and the journey of faith which they are travelling.
 
Wouldn’t any church be pleased to receive such affirmation and encouragement. 2000 years later it might cause us to look carefully at our own situation and to ask the question ‘is this the church to which I belong?’
 
As I write this at the end of May we have lived through 10 weeks of lockdown. There is much talk of what the world post Corvid-19 might look like and encouragement to churches to think about how the experience will shape their future ministry and mission. Of one thing we can be sure, as the Thessalonians had found, that future must be built on having God at the centre, enabling a faithful, hopeful and loving people to be witnesses in a changing world.
 
Prayer
 
Eternal God,
we hear your call to be faithful, hopeful and loving citizens of your kingdom.
May our joy in your service inspire us to witness to you, our living and true God.
Amen
-->

Today's writer

Val Morrison member of the URC in Doncaster  Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Worship for Sunday 4th October, the Rev'd Ruth Dillon

URC Devotions - Sun, 04/10/2020 - 09:45
96 Worship for Sunday 4th October, the Rev'd Ruth Dillon View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.
Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 4th October 2020



 
 
The Rev’d Ruth Dillon
           
Introduction
 
Good morning and welcome to worship.  My name is Ruth Dillon and it is my privilege to serve two United Reformed Church congregations in Wessex Synod.  Today we will be thinking about one of the most striking images in Matthew’s Gospel, the strong vineyard imagery, and the challenging, threatening and violent image of the parable that Jesus shares with his disciples.  
 
Call To Worship
 
The wisdom of God calls to us, from the heights, along the paths, and at the crossroads. Come into God’s presence to worship, sing, and pray.
 
From our scattered places we come. Let us worship God.
 
Beautiful City, Heavenly Salem  
from a Latin 7th Century hymn translated by JM Neale (1818-66)
 
Blessèd city, heav’nly Salem,
vision dear of peace and love,
who of living stones upbuilded
art the joy heav’n above,
we, with all thy holy people,
glorious to thy glory move.
 
2: Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and corner-stone,
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion’s help for ever,
and her confidence alone.
 
3: All that dedicated city,
dearly loved of God on hight,
in exultant jubilation
ours perpetual melody.
God, the One in Three, adoring
in glad hymns eternally.
 
4: To this temple where we call thee,
come, O Lord of Hosts, today
with thy wonted loving-kindness
hear they people as they pray;
and they fullest benediction
shed within its walls for aye.
 
5: Hear vouchsafe to all thy servants
what they ask of thee to gain
what they gain for thee for ever
with the blessed to retain,
and hereafter in thy glory
evermore with thee to reign.
 
Prayers of Approach and Confession
 
Leader:  Come, the Holy Spirit encourages us to glorify
 
All         the one true God,
             the Almighty
             the creator of heaven and earth
 
 
God of Grace in whom we live and move and have our being,
We come to you this joyful day, aware of your presence in the world.
 
Each new day we marvel at your touch – we feel the breeze caress our face, or a person smile when greeting one another.
 
We marvel at your creativity – as we ponder the fragility of butterfly wings, and the wonders of the human body.
 
We marvel at your fragrance of freshly baked bread and the heady rose in summer bloom.
 
All these things, and many more bring us to the point of saying  you are a creative and awesome God. A God worthy of praise and adoration.
 
God of grace, you have moulded us in love. But there have been times when we have refused to acknowledge your presence in the world:
when our lack of touch has been cold and disheartening;
when our lack of creativity has been unhelpful and destructive;
when our lack of sensitivity sours our relationships;
 
In the silence we humbly come before you and ask your forgiveness
 
Silence
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
God of grace in whom we live and move and have our being.
By your grace we are restored healed and transformed.
By your grace we can bathe in your love.
You have wiped the slate clean.
 
Enable us to be your touch in the world,
enable us to be your fragrance in the world,
enable us to be your voice in the world.
Illuminate our whole bodies, physically, emotionally and spiritually to your goodness and open our minds to your words of forgiveness and wisdom.
 
You say to each one of us ‘your sins are truly forgiven’, yet you also say these words, ‘come now and follow me’.
 
And now let us say together the prayer that Jesus taught his friends to say.
 
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Readings
 
Isaiah 5: 1-7 (The Message)
 
Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.  He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it;  he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
 
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.  What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?  When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?  And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.  I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured;  I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.  I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;  I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,  and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting;  he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry.
 
Matthew 21:33-46 ( The Message)
 
"Here's another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.
 
"The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away.
 
The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment.
 
The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. 'Surely,' he thought, 'they will respect my son.'
 
"But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. 'This is the heir! Let's kill him and have it all for ourselves.'

They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.
 
"Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?"

"He'll kill them - a rotten bunch, and good riddance," they answered. "Then he'll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it's time."
 
Jesus said, "Right - and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles: The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God's work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!
 
"This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life.
 
Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed."
 
When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them.
 
They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.
 
Hymn:      Inspired by Love and Anger
John L Bell and Graham Maule © Iona Community Wild Goose Resource Group

Inspired by love and anger,
disturbed by need and pain,
informed of God's own bias,
we ask Him once again:
"How long must some folk suffer?
How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self-interest
turn prayer and pity blind?"
 
2: From those forever victims
of heartless human greed,
their cruel plight composes
a litany of need:
"Where are the fruits of justice?
Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners
and dreams find their release?"

3: From those forever shackled
to what their wealth can buy,
the fear of lost advantage
provokes the bitter cry:
"Don't query our position!
Don't criticise our wealth!
Don't mention those exploited
by politics and stealth!"
 
4: To God, who through the prophets
proclaimed a different age,
we offer earth's indifference,
its agony and rage:
"When will the wronged be righted?
When will the Kingdom come?
When will the world be generous
to all instead of some?"
 
5: God asks, "Who will go for me?
Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen,
will prophesy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome,
will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow,
will walk the road I show?"
 
6: Amused in someone's kitchen,
asleep in someone's boat,
attuned to what the ancients
exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
A saviour without safety,
a tradesman without tools
has come to tip the balance
with fishermen and fools.
 
Sermon… This is not a pretty parable
 
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts here, be acceptable to you O Lord, for you are our Rock, our Strength, and our Comforter.  Amen
 
This is not a pretty parable.
 
Over recent years, violence seems to have been on the increase. From the tragic and pointless death of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993, to the murder of Anthony Walker in Huyton in 2005, then to the recent global scene of violence in North America, Hong Kong and the Middle East, to name just a few. In fact the list is endless. These images have burrowed into my imagination relentlessly, and perhaps they have for you, too…and for many of our people.

Violence - inexplicable, seemingly random violence - is part of what is most frightening. It is becoming clear that not only is there no easy way to protect vulnerable crowds from gun violence, but also that we can discover no motive, which makes these acts of horrific violence seem even more random and harder to understand, and also makes us all feel more vulnerable.

Who next?
What next?
We think about ‘when’, not ‘if’.
 
We may think that random violence is a recent phenomenon, but we would be mistaken. Random violence has been immersed in our culture since Cain and Abel. Two themes are often present: power and possessiveness are traps that we can all fall into; however for some people it is a thirst for power and desire to possess everything that causes the earth to groan through the petty feuds of humankind; and the blood stained earth cries out ‘why?’ 
 
This is not a pretty parable.
 
It is violent and threatening, and the situation was all too familiar to Jesus’ audience. Absentee landlords were not uncommon. Someone buying a field, improving it, leasing it to tenants, and then departing to live in another region was part and parcel of the ancient world, where a very few people often held much of the land and agricultural wealth.
 
Nor would it have been terribly uncommon to imagine tenants resisting the landlord’s assertion of authority and demand for a return on investment. We don’t know how long the landlord had lived away. It could have been years. The tenants may have assumed by this time that the landlord had died, or forgotten about them, and may have similarly assumed the land was now theirs by right of possession and labour.
 
None of this is uncommon. What is uncommon is the repeated requests of the landlord. Once, is ok… but several times? More likely, a landlord wealthy enough to buy and improve land while living abroad, and who employed multiple servants - well, this kind of landlord likely would have sent not just servants but soldiers to collect his due.
 
There are two things that don’t make a lot of sense about this parable. 
  • The first is the tenants’ assumption that, if they kill the heir, they will now be inheritors, an assumption that the crowds listening to Jesus’ parable intuitively contradict. It is, in short, a little far-fetched.
  • The second is the landlord sending his son and heir, alone and unaccompanied, to plead for a sensible response from these tenants after all this violence. It is, quite frankly, the act of a landlord so desperate to restore relationship with these wayward and wicked tenants that he is willing to try anything, do anything to repair the breach between them. Or maybe it’s the act of a desperate parent who will try anything, do anything to draw back a wayward child into a loving embrace. Or the act of a desperate God who will try anything, do anything to win back a wayward people.
 
This parable, violent as it seems, is about a passionate kind of love. The kind of love that makes no sense, that will listen to no counter argument, and that will never, ever give up, risking even violence, rejection, and death in order to testify to God’s commitment to these tenants…and to us. Violence was ever present in the days of Jesus and we see the culmination of that violence towards Jesus in the stark and bloodied cross, with Jesus’ arms outstretched, still desperate to find a way for God’s people to turn to the God who is Love.
 
Matthew tells this parable to accuse those who rejected Jesus and to assure his community that justice, in time, will be served. But I do not think this parable is only about Jesus’ opponents. I think that ultimately this parable tells the truth about how often we get caught up in our own devices and demands, to the point of absolutely rejecting God’s just claim on our devotion, and also just how far God will go to win us back.

Jesus does not shrink from the sacrifice on the cross, he does not return with vengeance, he does not kick anyone out of the kingdom of heaven. Instead, the resurrected Jesus, having taken on the worst that our violence can inflict, comes back and instructs his disciples to take the good news of the Gospel to the very ends of the earth, promising to be with them always.
 
And for me, reflecting on the violence in the world you and I live in, that good news means in part that violence does not, and will not, have the last word.
 
That the only response to violence is not more violence.
That tragedy and death and loss and hatred are, in the end, no match for love and life and forgiveness and peace.
 
Historians have suggested that members of Matthew’s largely Jewish community, perhaps worn down by distress and danger in the wake of the destruction of the Temple, were contemplating returning to the faith of their youth and that Matthew consequently saw the Pharisees as competitors for their loyalty.
 
When I keep in mind that Matthew’s community was a vulnerable religious minority of the day, I can sympathize with his plight and response. But I still regret it, because when Christianity went from a minority to a majority religion of the Roman Empire, and grew into the most powerful political and cultural force in Europe, these same verses, and others like them, helped to justify centuries of mistreatment of Jews by Christians. Violence yet again.
 
For while Jesus’ words, Matthew’s words, and our words all matter, Jesus’ deeds matter even more, as Jesus’ death and resurrection create more possibilities than those we can see, including the possibility of peace.
 
  • In the Gospel of John we hear the words, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid’.
  • In the Gospel of Matthew we hear the words, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’.
  • And again from Matthew’s Gospel, ‘Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’.
  • And finally from Romans, Paul writes, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.’
 
As I said, this isn’t a pretty parable, but it is one that is steeped in the context of its day, and yes, in ours too.
 
This does not erase our grief or lessen our call to act to make such atrocities less likely. But it does, in the meantime, offer us hope; and hope is the birthplace of faithful action, compassion, and resolve.
 
Let us pray
 
Enter our lives, Lord, that we may understand that tragedy, death and hatred  can be replaced by life, forgiveness, and peace.
 
Enter our lives, Lord,  that we may accept the work that needs to be done in your name.
 
Enter our lives, Lord, that the peace that is truly beyond all human understanding  will be with us this day and each day we live in your service. Amen
 
My Song is Love unknown
Samuel Crossman (1624 – 1683)
 
My song is love unknown,
my Saviour’s love to me;
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh, and die?
 
2 He came from His blest throne
salvation to bestow;
but folk made strange,
and none the longed-for
Christ would know:
but oh, my friend,
my friend indeed,
who at my need
His life did spend.
 
3 Sometimes they strew His way,
and His sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
then “Crucify!”
is all their breath,
and for His death
they thirst and cry.
 
4: Why what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! yet they at these
themselves displease
and ‘gainst him rise.
 
5 They rise and needs will have
my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of life they slay.
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
that He His foes
from thence might free.
 
6 In life, no house, no home
my Lord on earth might have;
in death, no friendly tomb,
but what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heav’n was His home;
but mine the tomb
wherein He lay.
 
7 Here might I stay and sing,
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
 
Affirmation of Faith
 
Do you believe in the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the Church through Word and Spirit. This God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end. We do
 
Do you believe that God is the One who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people. We do.
 
Do you believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, and the wronged? We do.
 
This is the faith of the Church!  We are proud to confess it in Jesus Christ, our Lord.   Amen.
 
Prayers of Intercession
 
Landowner God, you have planted and tended the vines,  you have pruned us  that we may continue to bear good fruit.
 
We pray for the world; that the world may hear your words of justice and peace and act in harmony with each other instead of competition and possessiveness…….
 
Silence for personal prayer 
 
We pray for those finding life hard; for the victims of violence left with external and internal scars, who find it difficult to express emotions and feelings and to experience love and tenderness…….
 
Silence for personal prayer 
 
We pray for your Church, that they may always be witnesses to unity and community and wherever conflict emerges,  your Spirt of Hope and reconciliation will prevail…..
 
Silence for personal prayer.
 
Landowner God, we pray for ourselves that the fruit on your vine will always yield a bountiful harvest obedient to your word and message …….
 
Silence for personal prayer
 
God of the vines, source of all nourishment and growth, keep us always in your vineyard, tend and care for us for the Glory of Christ and the creativeness of the Holy Spirit  Amen 
 
Offertory
 
Lord God, we offer what we have; coins of different worth, notes of different colours. Accept these gifts for we give them gladly, for they are the work of our hands of minds; they are our faithfulness in action; they are an expression of all that you mean to us, and for our brothers and sisters throughout your world. Bless us in our giving Lord and bless us in our discipleship. In Jesus name we pray  Amen  
 
God of the Poor
Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music
 
Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in the suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

2: Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can't speak

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame
 
3: Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain
 
4: Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

5: Lighten our darkness
breathe on this flame
Until your justice burns
brightly again
Until the nations
learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
and bring you their praise
 
Blessing
 
May the faithfulness of God keep you secure and safe
May the friendship of Jesus bring you joy and contentment
May the inspiration of the Holy Spirit enable you to break from the fears you have, and rediscover what is means to live in harmony with each other.
May you feel God’s blessing every moment of every day now and for evermore. Amen
 
  
 
 
Sources and Copyright
 
Call To Worship from Worship Aids for the Revised Common Lectionary from the Presbyterian Church of the USA
Affirmation of Faith from selected sections of the Belhar Confession of Faith.
All other prayers by Ruth Dillion.
 
Beautiful City, Heavenly Salem, Latin 7th Century translated by J M Neale performed by Vocal Ensemble Magnificat, 6th February 2016.
 
Inspired by Love and Anger written by John L Bell and Graham Maule of the Iona Community © WGRWG performed by Stephanie Hollenberg and Luke Concannon.
 
My Song is Love Unknown by Samuel Crossman sung by the Choir of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Truro.
 
God of the Poor by Graham Kendrick performed by the writer. 
 
Biblical readings taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group

Opening voluntary: Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland (“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach
(organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)  Closing:  Songs of Praise Toccata by Robert Prizeman
(organ of St Andrew’s, Farnham – 2019)  played by Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com

 
Thanks To:
 
Jonnie Hill and Adam Scott, Ruth and Kingsley Browning, Phil, Lythan and Carys Nevard for recording the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith. Morag Donaldson, John Wilcox, Ruth Watson, Carol Tubbs, Anne Hewling, and John Young for recording other spoken parts of worship.
  --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762

  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday 4th October 2020

URC Devotions - Sun, 04/10/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 4th October 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 4th October 2020 Psalm 17

LORD, listen to my righteous plea;
you will not find deceit in me
as my prayers rise.
Examine me and probe my heart
to see that I have kept apart
from ways of sin.

Lord as the apple of your eye
may I be kept in safety 
by your mighty hand.
Beneath the shadow of your wing
protect me from all evil things surrounding me.

For your own people you provide;
with gifts their children you supply
from your great store.
At dawn I will be satisfied,
when I in righteousness abide before your face.

you can hear v1 here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28TXaVjiO8M

Reflection

Oh dear readers, why did I choose this Psalm?  That any writer could call themselves righteous is beyond me, and how on earth could any of us say that we have kept apart from the ways of sin?  Then there’s the apple of the Lord’s eye bit!  We like to imagine that we are the apple of God’s eye.  But. Wait. There is the ‘even the hairs on your head are numbered’ bit from Jesus, saying in different words that we are all apples of God’s amazing eye. Hm, perhaps the too righteous one here is me?  Thinking how could another call themselves righteous, when it is my self-righteousness that is doing this name-calling?

This Psalmist makes a plea to be put right with God, to be examined and known, appealing to be the apple of God’s eye and therefore worthy of protection.  First reading could show a puffed up-with-self-presumption writer, but deeper reading reveals a fearful human, worried about almost everything, seeing evil all around, desperate for God’s care.  Here is a faithful human, naming God’s provision for others and desperately hoping to receive the same, so perhaps, perhaps tomorrow, fear goes away.

This appeal to receive the same mercy as others goes deep.  It is deeper than the cry of ‘why me?’ It is a cry of ‘why can’t my life be treated with the same value as theirs?’  It is the cry of my brown and black family, the wail of my sisters and brothers and partners and neighbours all saying – ‘why won’t you protect me, too?’  We each may own this cry to God for ours and for other’s lives.  And we and you and I and all of us from anywhere need to prepare to be God’s very active answer, fruitful in justice.
 
Prayer

Dearest God who loves us all whether we like it or not, open our minds and hearts more thoroughly than we have ever allowed.  Don’t shield us from what we need to know about ourselves and need to see from other people’s eyes. Humble us then drag us into courage to act. We trust you.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Elizabeth Gray-King, Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s Oxford Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Saturday 3rd October 2020 Colossians - The Apostolic Spirit and Final Greetings

URC Devotions - Sat, 03/10/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Saturday 3rd October 2020 Colossians - The Apostolic Spirit and Final Greetings View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 3rd October 2020 Colossians - The Apostolic Spirit and Final Greetings

Colossians 4:2 - 18

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should. Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts;  he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.

Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him. And Jesus who is called Justus greets you. These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills. For I testify for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea.  And say to Archippus, ‘See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.’

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Reflection

Two friends had to get to the island airport.  They didn’t have any transport and so set off on foot hoping to hitch a lift.  But there weren’t any vehicles on the road.  They knelt down and screwed up their eyes in earnest prayer.  When they opened their eyes, they saw the back of a bus disappearing into the distance; the moral of the story is watch and pray!

As I write this over the last few weeks we have been encouraged to keep alert because of the ongoing threat of COVID-19.  Keeping alert has been associated with illness, danger and even fear.  Here Paul is associating it with thanksgiving.  He rejoices despite his circumstances – he is in prison with no prospect of being released.  Hopefully as you read this we will be experiencing greater freedoms.  But Paul encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances.  He is able to count his blessings and recognises that God is at work.  He is thankful for his friends, companions and fellow ministers.  He doesn’t see his imprisonment as an impediment to the spread of the Gospel.  God’s love cannot be constrained by a cell or chains.  But he also recognises that it is not just about him, he affirms his fellow workers for the sake of the Gospel. And above all else he recognises the power of prayer.

Whatever our circumstances might be, may we not forget the power of prayer, but let us keep our eyes open to see what God is doing and rejoice.  Let us give thanks for the way that the Gospel has spread in word and deed despite lockdown and let us rejoice for our brothers and sisters who minister with us in places and ways we can’t.

Prayer

Dear God,
We rejoice in your goodness and blessings. 
Lift up our eyes beyond all that seems to imprison and constrain us.
Let your Gospel, your Good News reach beyond us to those who need to hear it today. Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d George Watt, Minister Reigate Park Church Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Friday 2nd October 2020

URC Devotions - Fri, 02/10/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Friday 2nd October 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 2nd October  Colossians - Home and Hearth

Colossians 3: 18 - 4:1

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Slaves, obey your earthly masters  in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.  Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters,  since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve  the Lord Christ.  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.  Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Reflection
Wives and husbands, children and fathers – we still have them today. And, let’s not kid ourselves, we’ve still got slaves; some held illegally, some trapped in slave-like working conditions. You can say what you like about the advice in these verses (and lots has been said), but the social and economic relationships they address are as important to us today as they were to people back then.
There’s some distance between ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female’ (Galatians 3:28) and, ‘wives be subject to your husbands … slaves obey your earthly masters.’  No wonder some say that the same person could not have written both.

I’ve got to say I’m a bit bemused and disappointed with today’s advice.  Being a child of my time, I’ve no wish to make my wife subject to me, even ‘in the Lord’, I wouldn’t dream of owning a slave, not even in a nice sort of way.  And I don’t think these verses authorise me to do either.  O that the author had had the guts to be more radical than realistic - “family members will live in equality and all slaves are to be freed forthwith” – not just to advise people to live well within the rules of a very imperfect system.

If I’m really honest, though, I’m not too disappointed.  Like most children of any time I’ve little appetite to have my life uprooted.  Today, whilst sipping my fairly traded coffee, I advised some people to join me in donating to Christian Aid, not to destroy the world’s skewed trade system, tearing down the pillars of the international economy and society.  I don’t think they would have done so, even if I had asked.

I wonder, how Christians reading Daily Devotions in two thousand years will judge my advice?  I hope they will be kind about my realism/pessimism/cowardice [delete as appropriate], but not feel obligated to do just the same as me in their time

Prayer

Master in heaven,
May I be just and fair to others whenever I know it’s possible.
Make me braver in seeking out what’s possible in the here and now.
Give me a vision for how the impossible can be made possible.
And all this in your good time - which might be now.
Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Trevor Jamison is minister of St Columba’s URC in North Shields Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Thursday 1st October 2020 - Colossians - Christian Behaviour

URC Devotions - Thu, 01/10/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Thursday 1st October 2020 - Colossians - Christian Behaviour View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 1st October - Colossians - Christian Behaviour

Colossians 3: 5 - 17

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.  But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices  and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.  In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Reflection

Years ago there was a book entitled “How To Make Friends And Influence People. ” Folk wanted to know how they could make others like them.  The writer of Colossians was answering those questions, but in a very different way.  

The writer says that we should not be trapped in sinful ways and there’s quite a range mentioned; but rather each one of us should be renewed.  Our passage then goes on to tell us we need to be people others want to have around if we are to truly make friends.  We need to: “Put on … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And most importantly, put on love”

So, when we put on the ‘new self’ Paul says it looks like this:
  • A Compassionate Heart – which is a yearning to meet the needs of those less fortunate. 
  • Kindness – believing that you are not better than others and that you place the needs of others in front of yourself.
  • Humility – understanding who you are before a holy God. 
  • Meekness – having a gentle spirit but not being a doormat.
  • Patience – able to be with people in difficult times…
  • Bearing with one another… being there to lift others up. 
  • Forgiving – discounting our right to judge and pass judgment. 
Having love. This is the most important characteristic Paul points out.  This type of love binds us to God and to others.  Love brings about harmony and success within the Body of Christ. We are called to live in community with one another; to learn to love one another, and be tolerant and forgiving and, above all, to encourage one another in what we say giving thanks to God for everything.
 
Prayer
 
God, help us to be compassionate towards others, kind to those who can’t offer us anything in return, humble and realize life is not just about us; gentle, and patient.  Help us to forgive and to love in every situation. Help us to let peace have the final say in our souls.  Help us to find reasons to be thankful in every situation.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Sue Henderson, retired URC minister, member of Bradford on Avon United Church. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's Coming

URC Devotions - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 14:45
96 Sunday's Coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

Sunday’s service explores the theme of the parable where the vineyard owner's staff and, eventually his son, is beaten and murdered by the workers.  It's not a pretty parable but the Rev'd Ruth Dillon leads us through it with great skill.  Hymns include Beautiful City, Heavenly Salem from the 7th Century, John Bell and Graham Maule's haunting Inspired by Love and Anger, Samuel Crossman's evocative My Song is Love Unknown and Graham Kendrick's hymn about justice God of the Poor.  

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every good wish


Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 30th September 2020 Colossians - Life Giving Union with Christ

URC Devotions - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 30th September 2020 Colossians - Life Giving Union with Christ View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 30th September 2020

Colossians - Life Giving Union with Christ

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,  for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Reflection

At first sight these words of Paul seem to reflect a very hierarchical view of the world.  God is above – high above us in heaven and we are below, here on earth and we are being called to reach up the ladder to where God and Christ sit in glory.  The image from the film, A matter of life and death’ comes to mind with its long moving stairway going up between earth and heaven.’

This hierarchical view dominated our culture for many centuries.  It is the kind of world where everything is in order, with the rich and powerful on top and the ordinary folk kept in their rightful place.  As that less popular verse of ‘All things bright and beautiful’ puts it: ‘The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them, high or lowly, and ordered their estate.’

In Scripture Paul, like John’s Gospel, uses the language of ‘above’ and ‘below’ not to define a spiritual hierarchy but to speak of two orders – that dominated by self and guided by the Spirit of love and compassion.  Only a kind of dying and rising again will free us from one order to live as people of a different Way.

So set your minds on the things that are ‘above’ not to reach the top of some spiritual ladder, but to join Christ in his world turning way – God’s Kingdom.  He came not to serve but to serve and challenges his disciples do the same.  He confronted the abuse of power wherever he found it – in the home, the temple, the city and nation – and calls us to do the same.  And he reaches out to us where we are.  As Brian Wren put it so beautifully in another hymn, ‘we strain to glimpse your mercy seat and find you kneeling at our feet.’

 Prayer 

Reveal your life within me,
Risen Christ.
Reveal your strange glory,
made known not in pomp
or circumstance,
but in grace filled love.
Raise me up with you.
  -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Terry Hinks, minister of Trinity, High Wycombe and Cores End URC Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 29th September 2020 Colossians - False Asceticism

URC Devotions - Tue, 29/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 29th September 2020 Colossians - False Asceticism View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 29th September 2020

Colossians - False Asceticism

Colossians 2: 16 - 23

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

Reflection

Paul mentions “disqualification” (v. 18) and “regulations” (v. 22).  Both can have a negative connotation: that we have not done enough, know enough, are good enough to be acceptable to God.   (I concede that in our Dissenting genes there is a suspicion of human rules and regulations in the Church setting!)

One of the most memorable of Church Council meetings in my home church – over thirty years ago – was the occasion our minister asked us whether we would support a request for confirmation by young people with Down syndrome.   He feared some might consider the candidates themselves might not be able, in the minds of the rest of the church membership, to understand the obligations of membership.  When asked how the request had come about he told us that they had simply said, “I love Jesus.  I want to be a church member”.    On hearing that the Church Council made its decision very quickly:  these candidates not only should be received into membership, they were likely to embody a greater insight into the key reason for confirmation!  By contrast, I can recall Holy Communion services in which only a proportion of the congregation received the bread and wine.   Their stated reason for not making their communion was invariably, “I’m not good enough”.   In the church at Colossae there was a similar tendency:  to intimidate and unsettle Christian disciples with the threat of disqualification and failing to meet the requirements of the regulations.   Paul insists that none should be excluded from the circle of those who are regarded as “in Christ”.   Rigid enforcement of prescribed festivals and rituals, dietary and piety requirements, particular theology and worship styles, has potential for missing the real point.   Perhaps, to be able to say, “I love Jesus” is the place to start … and to which we should return?

Prayer

Loving God,
we thank you for your gracious acceptance of us – 
beyond any deserving or qualification on our part.
Enable us to be generous in our regard of those whose festivals, food and drink, 
theology and worship styles differ from our own 
and grant us the wisdom to regulate our living and loving 
by what we see revealed in Christ Jesus, in whose name we pray.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Geoffrey Clarke is Moderator of East Midlands Synod and a member of St Andrew’s with Castle Gate, Nottingham Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Monday 28th September 2020 Colossians - Christ alone is head

URC Devotions - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Monday 28th September 2020 Colossians - Christ alone is head View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 28th September 2020

 Colossians - Christ alone is head

Colossians 2: 9 - 15

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.  In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.  And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,  erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Reflection

This passage on first reading can be somewhat confusing and baffling!  It also seems very focused on physical things and the physicality of Christ and its spiritual parallels and one can get a little bogged down in it all.  Indeed C.F.D.Mould, in his commentary, suggests 5 different attempts at unravelling this. We also need to have an understanding of the ‘mindset’ of the Colossians Paul is writing to which is probably more Jewish in background than other communities. Therefore the discussion about circumcision is of more relevance than a more Gentile church. That is not to say the Gentiles are also not included in this passage ‘God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses’ - it depends where you put the emphasis ‘he forgave us all’ or ‘all our trespasses’.  Yet if we get too bogged down we may miss the three essentials: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection.  It echoes the theme of the earlier chapter, ’through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross’.  It is this great wonder of our faith that God has chosen to be us, love us so much to die for us and in the empty tomb promise us that peace and justice will prevail.  No ruler or authority can ever compete with the selfless love of God in Christ Jesus.  They think they have power and indeed many rulers have, do and will continue to do horrific things to their fellow human beings but that is not and never will be the final word. 

We are reconciled people and called to be people of reconciliation in our lives. We are in Christ and Christ is in us; may God continue to work in and through us to his glory.

Prayer

Generous God we thank you that in being reconciled to you we find our peace and our ‘home’.  May we strive to bring peace and reconciliation into our homes, communities and world.
 
We pray for all who, today, will be unjustly treated or killed.  May we dare to speak out against injustice.
 
Incarnate, crucified, and living God we ask these prayers through Jesus Christ. Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Hilary Collinson is one of the ministers serving the Tees and Swale Pastorate. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 27th September

URC Devotions - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 27th September View this email in your browser

Sunday Service from the URC

-->
worship for challenging times
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service.
URC Daily Devotion Worship
for
Sunday 27th September 2020
 
The Rev’d Branwen Rees
 



Introduction
 
Hello, my name is Branwen Rees and I am a United Reformed Church minister serving as East Wales Regional Minister.  This covers an area from Llanvaches to the east and Brynmawr in the west, and I have pastoral charge of 3 particular churches, Cwmbran URC, Ebenezer URC in Pontnewynydd and Sardis Chapel in Ynysddu which is a URC and Presbyterian Church in Wales ecumenical partnership. I am recording this in the study of my manse in Pontypool, looking out on a lovely view of my drive! So, let us worship God together.
 
Call To Worship
 
One:         To all who are imprisoned,
Many:       God says, “Come out.”
One:         To all who are living in darkness,
Many:       God says, “Show yourselves”
 
One:         To all who hunger and thirst,
Many:       God gives food and springs of water.
 
One:         To all who are far away,
Many:       God makes smooth the way home.
                God will not forget us, we are inscribed
                on the palms of His hands.
 
Hymn:      At The Name of Jesus
                Caroline M Noel (1870)
 
At the name of Jesus
ev'ry knee shall bow,
ev'ry tongue confess Him
King of glory now.
'Tis the Father's pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word.
 
2:  Humbled for a season
to receive a name
from the lips of sinners
unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it
spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious,
when from death he passed.
 
3 Since then, this Lord Jesus
shall return again,
with his Father's glory,
with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire
meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him
King of glory now.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Forgiveness
 
Eternal God and Father, you are the source of all life, the fount of all wisdom, the wellspring of all grace.
 
Your days are without end, your loving mercies without number.
We depend on you: and we remember your goodness to us and to those who have gone before us.
 
We tell you story in every generation:
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
God of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel,
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
God of a pilgrim people, your Church.
You are our God, ahead of us, leading us, guiding us and calling us:
you are the Lord God, the all-wise, the all-compassionate.
 
Yet Lord, despite all you have done for us
we confess that we have rebelled against you
and broken your law of love.
We have not loved our neighbours
nor heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray,
and free us for joyful obedience;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen
 
And so let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Lord’s Prayer, the family prayer …
 
Our Father...
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
As we hear words of Scripture, may our hearts and minds be open to new thoughts, new ideas and new feelings as the Spirit moves us.  Amen
 
Reading  Philippians 2:1-13
 
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
 who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
     he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.
 Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
 
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
 
Hymn:      Meekness and Majesty
                Graham Kendrick
 
Meekness and majesty
manhood and deity
in perfect harmony
the Man who is God;
Lord of eternity
dwells in humanity
kneels in humility
and washes our feet.

O what a mystery, meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship for this is your God.
This is your God

2: Father's pure radiance
perfect in innocence
yet learns obedience
to death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life
conquering through sacrifice
and as they crucify
prays “Father forgive.”
 
3: Wisdom unsearchable,
God the invisible;
love indestructible
in frailty appears.
Lord of infinity,
stooping so tenderly,
lifts our humanity
to the heights of His throne.
 
Sermon
 
I’m sure anyone who has an older brother or sister knows what it is like to live in their shadow.  It may be constantly being compared to them or at the very least being called by their name!  When I was in my first year of Grammar School one of my teachers called me Bethan (my sister’s name, who is five years older than me).  I must have pulled a face or something and this teacher turned around and said I will just have to get used to being compared to Bethan.  When I told my mum what had happened, within a couple of weeks I had moved school.  You see, my sister and I, although close, are very different people and my Mum realised that even at a young age, I needed to find my own place in the world.

It is not easy to be considered a clone of someone else so I can’t imagine what it is like if you are an identical twin!  But is this what Paul is expecting of us, ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’?
 
This passage of Scripture is perhaps one of the best known and best loved of Paul’s many letters; and it’s not just the words, there is something rhythmical about it.  There are different ideas about its origins including that Paul adapted a hymn from an earlier non-Christian composition.  Whatever its origins it has become an important passage but if I’m honest, I try to avoid preaching on it, why?  Quite simply because it is so wonderfully overwhelming that I fear I can never do it justice.
 
Yet when I think about it, it’s not the words I should worry about, I’m more concerned about not being able to do justice to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and let’s face it, I will never be able to do that with a mere few words of a sermon!
 
But still, it doesn’t matter if I can’t do justice, I just need to try and try and keep trying.  I won’t get it right all the time, I probably won’t get it right most of the time, but still I keep trying.  Because we are called to be imitators, to do our best in following the ways of Jesus.
And perhaps that is the key, we are called to be imitators, not clones or impersonators.  We are called to imitate the ways of Jesus.  In the same way we learn by copying others, whether it’s learning to write or drive, we learn by copying and so we learn to have the same mind that is in Christ Jesus by copying his ways.
 
But gosh, it’s hard.
 
After all what did Jesus do?  Jesus went to the places that we are generally loath to visit.  He went and partied with those society had rejected; he sat down to eat with collaborators and criminals he touched those who could contaminate him.  At a time of Covid 19 I’m sure if that doesn’t scare us then it certainly unnerves us.
 
You see we are respectable church communities, we may say we want to be like Jesus, but when it comes to it, it’s all a bit overwhelming so let’s just stick with what we know and what we are comfortable with.
Let the same mind be in us as was in Christ – that mind should be in all our relations – with God, with our neighbours and ourselves.  That mind is one of obedience, humility and service.  Three words which may be considered old fashioned.  When we think of these 3 words what spring to mind?  Someone who is a bit of a pushover, who you can walk all over.  That’s hardly something we should aim for, is it?  But then would you say Jesus was someone you could walk all over – it’s certainly not how the Scribes and Pharisees viewed him – if it was, would they have gone to all the bother of having him arrested, tried and crucified?
 
When we imitate Christ, church fellowships can be places of welcome and nourishment, of support and encouragement but such fellowships can also be places where people are hurt and damaged.  A few years ago, there was a falling out in the church I was attending.  It was over something very trivial, but things came to a head and a number of people left the fellowship.  When I was recounting this story to a non-church friend she was stunned.  ‘I thought people who go to church were supposed to be nice’ she said.  And it struck me then that churches often accept behaviour that would not be tolerated in any other organisation.  Why is that?  Are we so desperate to retain members that we let bullying and other such behaviour go unchallenged?  If so, then we are not imitating Christ.
 
Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians as so unlike your Christ’.  Admittedly he said this in the face of occupation and his struggle to free his people but still it should strike a chord with us.  How like Christ are we?
I wonder if Paul was using this hymn to condemn self-serving, individualistic behaviour.  But rather than tell them off he reminds them of what event created and defined their way of life.  Whatever the issues were in the church in Philippi, whether it was a major disagreement or the usual pettiness, he responds not with a big answer but with a creed, a hymn, a confession of faith.  We would do well to remember these words when the pettiness of church disputes raise their ugly heads.
 
You see Jesus is not about status, or power or ambition, or winning the argument.  No, Jesus is about being concerned with the interest of others, ‘having the same mind … the same love’.
 
Yet how many of us can honestly say we have taken on the self-giving mantle of Jesus Christ.  There are notable examples you could say Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Martin Niemoeller (although I’m sure they had their faults) and I’m sure others will come to mind but they may well be few and far between.  Perhaps too often as Christians we have skipped the self-emptying of Jesus, taking on the role of a servant part, and gone straight to the exaltation part.
 
As a community of Christians perhaps we need to go back to the basics of our faith and try to be more Christ like.  How about that age old, and perhaps overused, question, WWJD or what would Jesus do?  Are we afraid to ask the question because we know the answer lies in humility and service and vulnerability?  Jesus embodies the answer – love, compassion, encouragement, and fellowship.
 
John Wesley once described Christianity as a ‘social religion’ and so our response to the gospel should never simply be between us and God – we live our faith in community – the Trinity shows us that.  This year we’ve had to learn to practice our faith in a new way – in community, just not physically.  It’s not been easy, but we have found new and different ways to give expression to our faith, in fact anecdotal evidence suggests that people have engaged with online worship and prayer who would not normally enter our buildings.  There may be something to learn from that.
 
What we do know is that when Christians take Christ’s teaching seriously, they become light in the darkness.  And we now know how to do that for Paul is telling us, ‘this is the gospel, this is what God is like, this is what God has done for you and this is what God expects you to be like.  So go work out what that means for you.’  We have seen how that works in practice - we have seen how churches who minister to those on the margins have brought light and hope to many during desperate times.  Foodbanks, night-shelters, advice centres, so many examples.
 
Yes, we may fail in following Jesus’ footsteps but still, God’s grace is there to save us.  As we declare Jesus Christ as Lord and strive to follow in his footsteps, we can be assured that his way is God’s way and the final victory will be his.  Think of it, when Paul was writing, Christianity was a small sect in the ancient world and yet he confidently proclaimed that ‘every tongue’ would confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  We can take heart from these words as I’m sure the early church did, after all 2000 years on, ok, not every tongue may proclaim Jesus as Lord, but with an estimated 2 billion followers, almost a third of the world’s population, Paul’s prediction is doing quite well!
 
But what does it mean for us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord?  This one statement upends our assumptions of God, it is radical because when we confess Jesus as Lord we should not be looking for status or power – which I fear all too often happens in our churches (and has always happened).  Jesus certainly didn’t – washing the disciples’ feet, serving and not being served; born in weakness and vulnerability and accepting poverty and humility. 
 
We are being challenged to give up the trappings of material success, our striving after positions of prestige, and all those things by which we seek to build up our feelings of self-worth. Paul is encouraging us to put our faith in God and to live by the values and lifestyle of Jesus, to free us from the treadmill of reliance on what is in the end a false confidence.
 
For when we put aside self-interest and self-obsession and take on the needs and pains and hopes of others then we will begin to know what Paul meant by having the same mind as Christ.  We will know God is at work in us as we become imitators of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
So, let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.  Amen
 
Hymn:      Jesus is Lord, Creation’s Voice Proclaims It
                David Mansell  ©1982 Springtide/Word Music
 
Jesus is Lord!
Creation’s voice proclaims it.
For by His power
each tree and flower
was planned and made.
Jesus is Lord!
The universe declares it;
sun, moon and stars in heaven
cry: Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!
Praise Him with ‘Hallelujahs’, for Jesus is Lord!
     
2: Jesus is Lord!
Yet from His throne eternal
in flesh He came
to die in pain
on Calvary ’s tree.
Jesus is Lord!
From Him all life proceeding,
yet gave His life a ransom
thus setting us free.
 
3: Jesus is Lord!
O’er sin the mighty conqueror,
from death He rose
and all His foes
shall own His name.
Jesus is Lord!
God sends His Holy Spirit
to show by works of power
that Jesus is Lord.

Affirmation of Faith
 
We believe in God, creator of all,
whose word sustains the life of humanity,
and directs our history. God is our life.
 
We believe in God’s Son,
born amongst the poor, light in our night,
first-born from the dead. He is alive.
 
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
who gives birth to the new life of God,
who breathes life into the struggle for justice,
who leads us to hope. Who is a living force.
 
We believe in the holy universal Church,
herald of the Good News
which frees people and brings new life.
We believe in the coming of a new world
where Jesus Christ, our Lord, will be all in all. Amen.
 
Offertory
 
Although we may still be meeting separately, we remain the Church, the Body of Christ.  Part of our responsibility to the Body is our giving, whether through our time, our talents, or our money.  During months of lockdown you may have been giving through cheque, standing order or bank transfer.  Or you may have continued to give by putting money in your envelopes each week.  However you are giving, thank you and let us pray:
 
Generous God all we have has come from you and so we give just a little back: our money, but also our time, our talents, our very lives.  We ask you to bless both the gift and giver through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen
 
Prayers of Intercession
 
We come together for our prayers of intercession, our prayers for the world and those with whom we share it.
 
Loving Lord, we are living in strange and uncertain times.  It feels as if everything we were sure of now fills us with fear and doubt.  Yet throughout it all you remain constant, the great unchangeable I AM.
 
Still there is much in our world that we would want to pray for.
We pray for those working on the frontline, especially in our NHS and those working towards a cure and a vaccine for Covid 19.
 
We remember all those people and professions who previously we may have taken for granted.  We pray that this new-found respect continues even as our lives return to some normality.  We think especially of our shopworkers, delivery drivers and refuse collectors and many, many more.
 
We bring before you those areas of the world which have largely disappeared from our screens, replaced by news closer to home: continued fighting in Syria and Yemen and Libya; refugees and asylum seekers who have been particularly affected by the pandemic; the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel.
 
We think of the homeless in our own towns and cities.  We remember how accommodation has been found for them during the height of the virus and pray that this may be the beginning of the end of rough sleeping.
 
We pray for those who usually sit next to us, in front of us and behind us. Although distanced, may we feel each other’s presence in our lives.  
 
We spend a moment in silence, recalling those we know who particularly need our prayers at this time ...
 
Lord, we pray that the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus so we can go and be your agents of change in the world.  Amen
 
Hymn:      Bring Forth the Kingdom
                Marty Haugen © 1997 GIA Publications, Inc.
 
You are salt for the earth, O people:
salt for the Kingdom of God!
Share the flavour of life, O people:
life in the Kingdom of God!

Bring forth the Kingdom of mercy,
Bring forth the Kingdom of peace;
Bring forth the Kingdom of justice,
Bring forth the City of God!

2: You are a light on the hill, O people:
light for the City of God!
Shine so holy and bright, O people:
shine for the Kingdom of God!
 
3: You are a seed of the Word, O people:
bring forth the Kingdom of God!
Seeds of mercy and seeds of justice,
grow in the Kingdom of God!
 
4: We are a blest and a pilgrim people:
bound for the Kingdom of God!
Love our journey and love our homeland:
love is the Kingdom of God! 
 
Blessing
 
As this time of worship comes to an end and you return to the duties and responsibilities of the world: may the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus and may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds as you serve God in the world.  Amen
 
 Sources and Thanks
 
Call to Worship from Feasting on the Word Year A
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Forgiveness taken from the Methodist Worship Book: Second Service.
Affirmation of Faith from the Reformed Church of France.
All other liturgical material by Branwen Rees.
 
At the Name of Jesus – BBC’s Songs of Praise.
Meekness and Majesty Graham Kendrick © Thankyou Music, Thank You Music Ltd. Sung by the author and congregation on Songs of Praise.
Jesus is Lord sung by Gareth Moore, Isle of Man Methodist Church
Bring Forth the Kingdom, Marty Haugen, from the Album Anthology II
 
Organ Pieces Opening: Lobt Gott Ihr Christen (“Praise God ye Christians”) by Johann Gottfried Walther (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020). Closing: Toccata from Suite Gothique by Leon Boëllman (organ of St Thomas-on-The Bourne, Farnham – 2016).  Played by Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Thanks to John Wilcox, Marion Thomas, John Young, Lorriane Webb, and Anne Hewling for recording various parts of the service and to the choir of Barrhead URC for recording the Lord’s Prayer.  Thanks to  Kathleen & Callum Haynes, Elfreda Tealby-Watson & Greg Watson, David & Christine Shimmin, Elizabeth Kemp,  Marion Thomas, Tina Wheeler and Myra Rose for recording, virtually, the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith.
  --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762

  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Sunday 27th September 2020 Psalm 16

URC Devotions - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 27th September 2020 Psalm 16 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 27th September Psalm 16 

1 Protect me, God, I trust in You
I tell You now, 'You are my Lord'.
On You my happiness depends.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

2 Your people are a chosen race
And I delight in faithful friends,
But pagan ways I will not share.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

3 Lord God, You are my food and drink
My work for You is joy indeed,
Glad is the heritage that's mine.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

4 Thank You, my Lord, for warning me,
By night and day You guide my thoughts
With You before me, I stand firm.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

5 So now I'm glad in heart and soul
For I have found security
Among the dead I shall not rot.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

6 Not death, but life, shall be my path
Abundant joy Your presence grants
An honoured place, and happiness.
Protect me, God, I trust in You.

Paraphrase of Psalm 16, Michael Saward (born 1932)
© Michael Saward/Jubilate Hymns

you can hear v1 here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47_vlGH3OB0

Reflection

I have no defence but God. In the face of all that life throws at me, I place my trust in God. God is my protector, my sanctuary.
God’s ways tend towards goodness, so I strive to follow them. God has my devotion, allegiance and fidelity.

I ask for the strength, courage, and inspiration to truly be a beacon of God’s nature, blessing and joy.

I weep for the world, split by violence, fear and selfishness. I weep for myself as I struggle for unity, peace, comfort and equity.
I give thanks that my life is held within God. Whatever life brings, I will trust in God. There is always a silver lining, a lesson to look back on, an opportunity for goodness. A struggle can bring strength. A mistake can bring wisdom. The moment may be overwhelming but time can give perspective.

I give thanks for the still small voice, the urgings of my conscience, and the insights of dreams.

I strive to keep my focus upon God, to remember God’s presence beside me, to cheer my heart, lift my spirit, and quieten my fears.
In life, and in death, I am within God. The blessing of life is before me and God invites me to experience, share and celebrate its joy and delights.

Prayer

Protect me God, I trust in you.
When it is hard, and when it is easy - trust in God.
When I am safe, and when I am unsure - trust in God.
When life affirms, and when it denies - trust in God.
In life and in death - trust in God. Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d David Coaker serves with Grays URC in Essex. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Services to Continue

URC Devotions - Sat, 26/09/2020 - 11:29
96 URC Daily Devotion Services to Continue View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Services to Continue

Dear Friends,

Since lockdown began in March we have produced a service for every Sunday as well as for Good Friday and a Stations of the Cross service for Holy Week.  We have used a wide range of people as our preachers ensuring that a variety of places and perspectives are represented.

I had indicated that the services would continue over the Christmas period.  We will have a slightly different style of service for Advent, the Sunday after Christmas, and Epiphany using, in place of sermons, reflections written by Nick Fawcett, a Baptist minister, who writes his material from the perspectives of characters in the Biblical stories.  These will be mixed with music and prayers.  I am pleased that Karen Campbell, our Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries will preach at a Carol Service which is being prepared for the week before Christmas, the Rev'd Kirsty Thorpe of Wilmslow URC (and a former Moderator of General Assembly) will lead a Midnight Communion service on Christmas Eve and the Rev'd Wilbert Sayimani of Richmond St Andrew's URC in Bournemouth will lead Christmas Day morning worship for us.  We hope that whatever is happening in our local churches these resources will be helpful as we mark this holy season in a rather different way this year.

I can also now confirm that, thanks to some administrative and technical help from Dan Morrell,  the services will continue until Pentecost in May next year.  I am currently recruiting people to lead those services and have already had confirmation from The Rev'ds Memona Shabaz, Helen Everard, Clare Downing, Geoffrey Clarke, Ruth Whitehead, Susan Durber, Cath Atkinson, and Jan Adamson as well as Mr Peter Pay.  I'm waiting to hear back from several more who have been invited.  

We don't know what the Winter will bring, the number of Covid cases is increasing fast and it is expected hospital admissions will climb back up again alongside, of course, the winter flu problems.  We don't know if church services will be suspended again - we know in Scotland it is one option the First Minister has been considering as a last resort. 

We are aware that many of our churches have not returned to worship yet, those who have may be experiencing problems with pulpit supply, and many of our members have no desire to return to in person worship until they feel it is safe to do so.  For all these reasons we are continuing with the services which could be used in place of live services, as an addition to them to further enrich faith, for those who are housebound or shielding, or even used as a form of pulpit supply!  We wonder if some churches could plug a memory stick or CD player into a church sound system and play the service - pausing where needed - to offer good worship when there is no one to lead.  We do send the services out in advance, a month or so at a time, to a separate list for local church contacts to pass on either through paper, CD or memory pen.  We include a link to download the sound file too so it might be used on a local church website or telephone system.  If you would like to join that list please click here and send me an email so I can forward you the October services which were sent out to this "early bird" list last week.

Finally, I wonder if there may be a small number of you who might like to help with some admin stuff on the Daily Devotions.  After the writers submit their work I edit and then templates for the Mailchimp Email programme need to be created and the writers' work transferred over to those templates and queued up ready to be sent out each morning.  This admin work is rather dull and very repetitive.  I have two people who help already but if we could get a group of 5-6 people who feel comfortable using the email programme and could spare an hour or so a month it would be a great help.  If you think this might interest you please do drop me an email and say if you have any experience of Mailchimp (or similar) or if you think you'd be willing to learn.

with every good wish


Andy --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend -->
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Saturday 26th September 2020 Colossians - Avoid False Teaching

URC Devotions - Sat, 26/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Saturday 26th September 2020 Colossians - Avoid False Teaching View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 26th September 2020
 
Colossians - Avoid False Teaching
 
Colossians 2: 6-8

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Reflection

Competing philosophies and alternative spiritualities are ever-present in the cultural milieu. God is at work outside of the walls of the church and we would be wise to take notice. However, far-out yarns and ideologies do exist - be they overt or covert – which threaten the spiritual moorings of the Body of Christ.
 
History shows one such movement occurred when the political pendulum first swung in the favour of the church. In 380 CE Christianity was declared the state religion. Persecution ceased and the church grew dramatically over the following century. This growth was fuelled by many people wanting to be on the winning side. However, the discipling tradition of the previous centuries was undermined by an emerging nominal Christianity. (Shelley Weddell, Fruitful Discipleship.)
 
Today’s reading illustrates Christian faith received as a gift which should be nurtured and encouraged to grow. This is the everyday life of a Christian disciple, not just a vocation for the professional religious person. But that growth can be frustrated.
 
Space does not allow me to critique every narrative that is blowing through the church. I can only remind us that they do exist, and we need to be mindful of them. They may be captivating to the imagination, but they can lead us somewhere else entirely.
 
Prayer
May we be mindful of the winds that may blow us away from Jesus
But lean our sails into the tailwinds of the Holy Spirit.
May we be watchful of the words of Christ coming from unexpected sources
But cautious of voices that offer no allegiance to Christ.
In his name,
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Daniel Harris, Minister with the North Manchester Mission Partnership Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Friday 25th September 2020 Colossians - Paul’s Concern

URC Devotions - Fri, 25/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Friday 25th September 2020 Colossians - Paul’s Concern View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 25th September 2020
 
Colossians - Paul’s Concern

Colossians 2: 1 - 5

For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.  For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Reflection

As I read this passage, it made me wonder if Paul could have done with ‘Zoom’ or its equivalents to make contact with his churches, here he refers to those who he has not seen face to face. He could well have done with social media to see the people face to face. 

The Colossian Church was not one that he knew personally, neither did he know other churches in the Lycus valley, including Laodicea, but he wants to encourage them, and he writes to them with an attitude of affection. He is seeking to build links with this Christian community that he has not met. The church was made up of Christians converted by Paul’s friends and colleagues. 

They are to be bound together as a community showing mutual love, and it is in this loving community that they are to gain knowledge of the mystery that is above every mystery, this is God’s purpose disclosed in Christ.. 

Earlier the letter Paul indicated that he was praying and asking that they would be filled with God’s knowledge and all spiritual wisdom. Such treasures are hidden in Christ. To be hidden in Christ does not mean that they are hidden from all understanding, but that they are only known through understanding Christ. 

Paul remains anxious that they are not misled by those with plausible arguments. They are to be careful of those with rational arguments, which are plausible but unsound.  

Paul may not have seen the Colossian Christians face to face, he may not have lived in the generation of ‘Zoom’ but he is with them in spirit and he is confident in the strength of their faith. 

Paul wants to be involved with these Christians he has not met, he wants them to be open to the message that he teaches and which will only thrive in a community drawn together in love. 

Prayer 

Gracious God
We are part of the Church,
Existing throughout the world,
A few members we know,
But many millions we do not.

Though we have not seen each other face to face
Like Paul,
Let us be filled with concern for each other,

In our separate communities,
And as communities together
May we bound together in love,
And may we gain the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
Hidden in Christ,
In whose name we pray.
Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr David Whiting, Minister, Sunderland and Boldon URC Partnership Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Thursday 24th September 2020 Colossians - Paul’s Labours for the Gentiles

URC Devotions - Thu, 24/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Thursday 24th September 2020 Colossians - Paul’s Labours for the Gentiles View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 24th September 2020
 
Colossians - Paul’s Labours for the Gentiles

Colossians 1: 24 - 29

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,  the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

Reflection
Paul responds to his sufferings with “rejoicing”.   He speaks from the reality of enduring persecution – literally imprisonment – as a result of his commitment to Christ.   That may not, I suspect, be exactly how many of us feel!

I recall the words on a poster I saw many years ago:  “If you were accused of being a disciple of Jesus would there be sufficient evidence to convict you?”   In his exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad, 2018) Pope Francis said this:  “Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance.  He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others.  Unless we wish to sink into an obscure mediocrity, let us not long for an easy life, for “those who want to save their life will lose it” (Matthew 16: 25).”   He goes on to contrast the persecution we face as a result of steadfast faithfulness with suffering we bring on ourselves:  “… we are speaking about inevitable persecution, not the kind of persecution we might bring on ourselves by our mistreatment of others.  The saints are not odd and aloof, unbearable because of their vanity, negativity and bitterness.”   He concludes, “Accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems:  that is holiness”.

For Paul it is not all about himself but about Christ:  “It is he whom we proclaim”.  (Colossians 1: 28)  Elsewhere (2 Corinthians 12: 9) Paul acknowledges that it is not in his own strength that he can endure suffering but through God’s all-sufficient grace.   That grace has potential to reach and strengthen us – even in lockdown. 

Prayer

God of all grace,
enable us to live as those who are worthy of persecution:
may we not be odd and aloof
or unbearable because of our vanity, negativity and bitterness.
Enable our lives more and more to reflect the love of God seen in Jesus.
Bless all who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
May they know your strength and help in their suffering.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Geoffrey Clarke is Moderator of East Midlands Synod and a member of St Andrew’s with Castle Gate, Nottingham Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday's Coming

URC Devotions - Wed, 23/09/2020 - 11:30
96 Sunday's Coming View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday's Coming

Dear Friends,

Sunday’s service is led by the Rev'd Branwen Rees who serves as a minister in East Wales. Hymns include Caroline Noel’s At the Name of Jesus, Graham Kendrick’s Meekness and Majesty, David Mansell’s Jesus is Lord, Creation’s Voice Proclaims It, and Marty Haugen’s Bring Forth the Kingdom.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every good wish


Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC -->

If you have a problem...

  Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".   
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 23rd September 2020 Colossians - Our Share in Salvation

URC Devotions - Wed, 23/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 23rd September 2020 Colossians - Our Share in Salvation View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 23rd September 2020

Colossians - Our Share in Salvation
 
Colossians 1: 21 - 23

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled  in his fleshly body  through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Reflection

“Keep the faith, baby” was a catchphrase in the church group I attended at university in the late 70s, connecting with the Liberation Theology which inspired us.  The letter to the church at Colossae expresses it more formally, exhorting listeners to “continue securely established and steadfast in the faith.” A faith that sustained people living in a mixed place, famous for the wool from its sheep, on a trading route between towns, cities and countryside. People who had found in Christ a straightforward alternative to the mystery religions common in the area. Whatever they had been before, they were now won, reconciled and redeemed by his love for them. Their response was to show that love to others.

“Keep the faith, baby” is the title of a 1967 book of sermons by, and a 2002 film about,  Adam Clayton Powell Jr, a Baptist minister who became New York’s first African-American congressman in 1944. A charismatic campaigner and controversial politician, he spoke directly against the attitudes and legislation which disenfranchised Black Americans. Combining church and society made sense.

As I write this the UK is on the verge of taking steps out of the Covid-19 lockdown. For eight weeks and counting, millions of people have restricted themselves to their homes, motivated by a desire to shield the vulnerable, protect the NHS, and save lives. Churches have closed their buildings and carried on sharing the love of God in other ways. People of all faiths and ideologies have made sacrifices as much for the sake of others as for themselves. Perhaps it is not so far off the church at Colossae being told to persevere, motivated by the hope promised to them in the good news of God’s love for the whole world. Keep the faith, baby.

Prayer

God, 
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
you have helped us to keep the faith.
When life has been cruel,
in times of desolation and heartbreak,
when we have been weary and resentful,
in places of threat and isolation,
when injustice has become routine.
 
Today, whatever we encounter
whether  joy or ecstasy or terror or boredom
help us to keep the faith.
Amen
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Fiona Thomas is a freelance learning facilitator, and member of Christ Church in Bellingham.  Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 22nd September 2020 Colossians Christ is the Head of All Creation

URC Devotions - Tue, 22/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 22nd September 2020 Colossians Christ is the Head of All Creation View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 22nd September 2020
Colossians  Christ is the Head of All Creation

Colossians 1: 15-20

He is the image of the invisible God,
   the firstborn of all creation;
for in him all things were created
   in heaven and on earth,
things visible and invisible,
   whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers
all things have been created through him and for him.

   He himself is before all things,
       and in  him all things hold together.
   He is the head of the body,
       the church.

He is the beginning,
   the firstborn from the dead,so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
   and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
   by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Reflection

Many Bibles set this passage out as prose, but I’ve laid the words out as a poem to emphasise that is a poem, based on the different meanings of the Hebrew word for ‘head’.  As in English, so in Hebrew, the relevant word can carry several different ideas, and Paul is cleverly exploring and exploiting some of them.

Jesus Christ, he says, is the firstborn.  That’s the first meaning, which comes twice.  Jesus Christ is supreme.  Jesus Christ is the head of the body, which is the Church.  Jesus Christ is the beginning.  Paul uses this to remind the Colossians that the more they get to know, and know about, Jesus Christ, the more they will understand who the true God is and what he’s done; who they are as a result; and what it means to live in and for him.

There are three things in particular which the poem reminds us about Jesus:

It’s by looking at Jesus that we discover who God is.  Jesus is ‘the image of God, the invisible one’.  Nobody has ever seen God, but in
  1. Jesus he has come near to us and become one of us.
  2. Jesus holds together the ordinary world that we live in, and the new world that is to come.
  3. Jesus is the blueprint for the genuine humanness which is on offer through the gospel.
As the head of the body, the Church; as the first to rise again from the dead; as the one through whose cruel death God has dealt with our sins and brought us peace and reconciliation; and, above all, as the one through whom the new creation has now begun.  in all these ways, Jesus is himself the one in whom we are called to discover the fullness of what the best of being human means.

Prayer

Loving heavenly Father, we have not seen you.  We don’t even know what it might mean to see you, but you have shown us Jesus, and because we have seen him, we have seen you.
Help us grasp what it means that everything was created by him who was before all things, and that all these things hold together through him.
In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Michael Hopkins, Minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches based around Farnham, Surrey, and Clerk of the URC General Assembly. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion Monday 21st September 2020 Colossians - Greetings

URC Devotions - Mon, 21/09/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Monday 21st September 2020 Colossians - Greetings View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 21st September 2020 
Colossians - Greetings

Colossians 1: 1 - 14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful  brothers and sisters  in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel  that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.  This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow-servant.  He is a faithful minister of Christ on your  behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s  will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully  giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Reflection

This letter was written in the context of a different empire from that of today, in a time when Christianity was only just beginning to grow and develop and there were many challenges to faithful following and believing. Yet today, with the decline of Christianity in the west, some of the challenges remain the same – the challenge to find a distinctive Christian identity and to speak and live out the Christian faith with wisdom and understanding.

One of the challenges today is the contemporary emphasis on the ‘turn to the self’, where ‘what I think’ or ‘what I do’ is what matters most, rather than having a loving care for, or being in relation to, one another and God’s world.

This letter opens with words that remind us of our mutual belonging – both to God and to one another. This mutual belonging is embodied in our prayer, prayer that opens our lives to God and what God makes possible in our lives.

There were many ups and downs in the life of the early church, as the epistles often demonstrate. What’s interesting is that this letter starts not with criticism, but with thanksgiving, followed by a prayer for the people of Colossae, that they may be strengthened in their faith. It’s based on the understanding that the people are united in Christ, whatever their differences may be, and that God will lead each one to grow in the knowledge of God and the ability to live out this knowledge in service of others. People are not left on their own. Each one has a place and a purpose in God’s love.

In an increasingly polarized world, the possibility that the Christian faith offers for mutual belonging and affirmation, for thanksgiving and wisdom, is an ever more valuable gift.

 Prayer:

Wise and loving God,
fill me with your wisdom and understanding,
may I grow daily in my knowledge of you.
May my life be pleasing to you.
May I bear your fruit in the actions I take.
May I be strong with your strength.
May I be patient when faced with challenges and in times of difficulty.
Fill my heart with thanksgiving for the people with whom you call me to live and share together.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, retired from pastoral charge, active ecumenically and theologically, member of St Andrew’s Church, Ealing. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Pages

Subscribe to East Midlands Synod aggregator