Sunday 18th October 2020

20th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Call to worship

Sing to the Lord and praise him,

Proclaim his glory to all the world,

For the Lord is great and highly to be praised.

Sing to the Lord, sing a new song to the Lord.

 

Hymn

CH4 198

1.      Let us build a house where love can dwell

And all can safely live,

A place where saints and children tell

How hearts learn to forgive;

Built of hopes and dreams and visions,

Rock of faith and vault of grace;

Here the love of Christ shall end divisions:

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

 

2.      Let us build a house where prophets speak,

And words are strong and true,

Where all Godís children dare to seek

To dream Godís reign anew.

Here the cross shall stand as witness

And a symbol of Godís grace;

Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

 

3.      Let us build a house where love is found,

In water, wine and wheat:

A banquet hall on holy ground,

Where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God through Jesus,

Is revealed in time and space,

As we share in Christ the feast that feeds us,

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

 

4.      Let us build a house where hands will reach

Beyond the wood and stone,

To heal and strengthen, serve and teach,

And live the Word theyíve known.

Here the outcast and the stranger

Bear the image of Godís face:

Let us bring an end to fear and danger:

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

 

5.      Let us build a house where all are named,

Their songs and visions heard

And loved and treasured, taught and claimed

As words within the Word.

Built of tears and cries and laughter,

Prayers of faith and songs of grace,

Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter,

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

 

Prayer

Lord may your grace be among us

And your peace be in our hearts 

As we pray now.

Holy Spirit be among us as we worship,

As we share hymns and read your Word,

As we listen,

As we hear and come to know,

As we learn and begin to understand,

Holy Spirit be among us.

We confess be fore you O God,

That we are not always a good example

Of what it is to be a Christian.

We do not feel worthy before you,

And yet you Lord, encourage us

To share your love and reveal your truth,

So that others may come to know you.

We confess that we fail,

And we are sorry.

We confess our inadequacies and carelessness

In standing up for what is right

Against what is wrong.

Forgive us Lord,

And guide us in the ways of justice and truth.

We want to be a good example, a shining example,

Of what it means to be one of your followers.

We continue our prayer with the words of the Lordís PrayerÖ

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

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

1 Thessalonians 1: 1 Ė 10

Matthew 22: 15 Ė 22

 

Reflection

1 Thessalonians 1: 1 Ė 10

This is one of the earliest of Paulís Epistles, written from Corinth around 51 AD. Thessalonica was a busy seaport and the largest city in Macedonia. It occupied a strategic position for trade and commerce. Most of the people living there were Greek but there were other groups, including Jews. Paul preached in the Jewish synagogue but also worked among the Gentiles. He left the city because he was afraid the church would be persecuted, as he himself had been. Paul was unable to return to Thessalonica but sent Timothy to minister to the believers there. Paul wrote the letter in response to Timothyís report that the church in Thessalonica was prospering. In this passage, Paul gives thanks for the church in Thessalonica and praises the believers for their continuing faith, and hope. He rejoices that news of the believers has spread beyond Thessalonica. He reassures them to go on working quietly while waiting for the return of the Lord. The way Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live is how we as present-day Christians try to live too. We are thankful to God; prayerful in our work; going in faith and love to further the Kingdom of God. We try to set an example by living a Christian life. Through the good and bad, the highs and lows, we want people to see us as children of God and in this way, we hope to bring others to the Lord.

As Christians, we should encourage others and reach out to those who need help to deal with the stresses of life. If we have a strong sense of future, if we are positive about the way ahead, we have hope. People who feel they have no hope for the future, for whom the way ahead is uncertain can experience many difficulties. Our faith fills our present with hope for the future. Our faith gets us through the difficult times. Paulís letter to the Christians in Thessalonica encourages them to think positively about the future, in expectation and joy. This same belief allows us to cope with our concerns for ourselves and for others, especially during these difficulties we are experiencing just now. Many people today are concerned with poverty and the struggle to survive on a daily basis. We should be prepared to go beyond our circle of family and friends, to go outside our comfort zone, to show care and compassion to those in need; to bring a message of hope for a better future to those who are struggling. By showing how God has helped us and given us hope, others may come to Jesus through us.

 

Matthew 22:15-22

In this reading from Matthewís Gospel, representatives from two Jewish leadership groups came to Jesus with questions: questions about His authority and about the Law. By asking the questions, the groups were trying to trap Jesus by placing Him in a no-win situation. One of the questions was short and to the point: ďIs it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?Ē Jesusí problem is that by answering yes, then He could be seen as supporting the Roman occupation and this would not be a popular answer among the Jewish people. On the other hand, if Jesus answers no, He could be seen as plotting against Rome. Jesus calls for a coin and asks them to identify whose image is on the coin. When they identify the Emperorís face, Jesus replies ďGive therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperorís, and to God the things that are God's.Ē Jesus used this coin to make an important point. He was implying that those who questioned Him cared more for religious platitudes than the actual heart of the law Ė love of God and love of neighbours. Jesus was making the point that it is much more important to love God and our neighbours than anything else. Loving God and our neighbour must be our main priority. Do we love God? Is everything in our lives first and foremost dedicated to God? Do we offer all our gifts and talents, our health and strength, our wealth and our time in Godís service? Only by doing so, can we be used to help our neighbours. As Godís followers, we are expected to use our gifts to share Godís love and care with everyone within our community. By doing so, we can all help to meet the needs of all those whose lives are blighted by poverty.

 

Prayer

We bring our prayers to God for the Church and for the world.

We have faced difficult times since the onset of Covid 19 Ė good things have happened, and people have shown love and care for one another in local communities and world-wide. However, now, as winter approaches and the days grow shorter the difficulties and challenges seem to be increasing and so let us share once again, the prayer from Christians in Scotland that was written back in March.

Let us pray.

We tun to you, our Father, for we need your help.

Lord Jesus, as you have promised, be with us, whatever lies ahead.

Strengthen us Holy Spirit, as we face this together.

We pray for our world and our country,

As coronavirus threatens our lives and our livelihood,

Leaving many struggling to make ends meet

And our key workers continuing despite the risk.

We pray for government leaders at Westminster and Holyrood,

Responding to medical and scientific advice,

Making tough decisions for the well-being of us all.

We pray for all who serve on the front line in the NHS and social care;

Facing increasing numbers, overstretched resources

And distressing human need.

Bless all those who are ill, those who are alone and afraid,

Those looking after their family, those worried for the vulnerable,

Those fearful for their finances, those shut into their fears.

Thank you for all those who are there to help,

For those working to manufacture much needed resources,

To find a vaccine,

To keep in contact with the isolated,

To encourage others at this time.

Have mercy on us O Lord.

Give us faith, hope and love and hear our prayers,

In Jesusí name,

Amen.

 

Hymn

CH4 192

1.      All my hope on God is founded,

All my trust he will renew:

Safe through change and chance he guides me,

Only good and only true.

God unknown,

He alone

Calls my heart to be his own.

 

2.       Human pride and earthly glory,

Sword and crown betray Godís trust:

Though with care and toil we build them,

Tower and temple fall to dust.

But Godís power

Hour by hour,

Is my temple and my tower.

 

3.      Godís great goodness lasts forever,

Deep his wisdom, passing thought:

Splendour, light, and life attend him

Beauty springing out of naught.

Evermore

From his store

New-born worlds rise and adore.

 

4.      Day by day the mighty Giver

Showers gifts on us below;

his desire our souls delight in,

pleasure leads us where we go.

See love stand

At his hand,

Joy awaits at his command!

 

5.      Still from earth to God in heaven

sacrifice of praise be done,

high above all praises praising

for the gift of Christ his Son.

Hear Christ call

One and all:

Those who follow shall not fall.

 

Blessing

Into a world of confusion and disbelief,

Into a world of welcome and rejection,

We take the grace of God that has been with us,

And the peace of God that has been in our hearts.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us today and evermore,

Amen.