We are still family even while we are apart, so while we are unable to gather because of the ongoing health crisis, I will be sharing material on the blog each Sunday morning, and posting notes to those unable to access the internet. Of course you are free to use this material at any time, but my hope is that as many of us as possible will be reading these words during our usual service time - Sunday at 10:30 if you're new or need a reminder! - gathering in time if not in space.
Call to worship
Begin by holding in your mind all those you would normally be worshipping with, and others that you love and are currently distanced from, and say this prayer: Lord, thank you that though apart we are held together in love and prayer; draw especially close to us in this time and comfort us. Amen.
Song: 10, 000 Reasons
Bless the Lord oh my soul Oh my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before Oh my soul I'll worship Your Holy name
The sun comes up It's a new day dawning It's time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass And whatever lies before me Let me be singing When the evening comes
Bless the Lord oh my soul...
You're rich in love And You're slow to anger Your name is great And Your heart is kind For all Your goodness I will keep on singing Ten thousand reasons For my heart to find
Bless the Lord oh my soul...
And on that day When my strength is failing The end draws near And my time has come Still my soul will Sing Your praise unending Ten thousand years And then forevermore
Bless the Lord oh my soul...
Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman © Capitol Christian Music Group
This feels like a time to learn new rhythms and invest deeply in prayer, so I offer a number of suggestions, which you may find helpful as you pray on your own or with other members of your household. However you choose to pray, I invite you to end by praying the Lord's Prayer.
PRAYING IN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES This is a way of praying in ever widening circles. Start by praying for yourself, so that you might lay down any distractions. Then pray for your loved ones, then your community, then our country, then finally the world.
IN-OUT-UP-DOWN Focus inwards to pray for yourself, then look outwards to pray for those in the communities around you, then up to think of heaven and pray for the church, then down to think of the earth and pray for all its people.
PRAYING WITH YOUR HANDS Open your hands to offer God all that pains and troubles you, then close your hands to take hold of the peace that God wants to give you. Or use your fingers to guide you through different forms of prayer - the little finger for confession, the ring finger for petition (asking help for yourself), the middle finger for intercession (asking help for others), the index finger for thanksgiving, and the thumb for praise.
IMAGINATIVE PRAYER WALKING Current advice is that we can go out for exercise once a day, which may be an opportunity to pray for our communities as we walk/run/cycle through them. But we can also engage in imaginative prayer walking, taking a ‘walk’ through our neighbourhoods in our minds, and praying for the homes and schools and businesses and so on that we ‘see’.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever.
Song: Tell out my soul
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
His mercy sure, from age to age the same;
his holy name, the Lord, the mighty One.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by;
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord,
to children's children and forever more!
Timothy Dudley-Smith © 1962 Hope Publishing Company
Reading: John 21:15-25, read by Mike Greenwood
Reflection, by our minister Leigh Greenwood
Song: Will you come and follow me
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Will you leave your self behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare,
will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?
Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?
Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
John L Bell © 1987, Iona Community, GIA Publications
Close your time of worship by again holding in your mind those you love and would be worshipping alongside, and use the words of the grace: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit remain with us all evermore. Amen.