Welcome to WORSHIP AT HOME for SUNDAY, 16 JANUARY 2022 with Ron Mapplebeck
Call to Worship: Shout it in the street, tell it to your friend, Spread it through the earth from end to end, go to every people, tell them all to come, for the Spirit of God shall make us one. Listen in the world, listen in your room, listen for his call come late or soon, ready for adventure, following his will, for the Spirit of God shall lead us still.
We start with a hymn of praise and assurance taking us through the changing scenes of life, in times of both trouble or of joy. This is an emotive hymn for me as it was sung during the funeral or thanksgiving services for both my parents, even though those events were separated by more than 20 years, and a further 20 years have elapsed since then.
Hymn: Through all the changing scenes of life
Prayers and Lord’s Prayer
Confession: Let us pray. Lord, we praise and glorify you, but we also come before you to say sorry. Sorry that we are not very good at it – being your disciples we mean. We whisper your name quietly when we should shout; we keep silent when we should speak. Sometimes we are so certain that we know who you are, yet at other times we deny we ever knew you. Sometimes we doubt and will not believe until we see your power at work with our own eyes. Often we are reluctant to give up what we are and all that we have and follow you. We really struggle at times to understand your Good News. We even argue among ourselves. And, yes, Lord, we know we have betrayed you so many times. We sing “come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for you” yet when you knock we say: not today, Lord, come back some other time. We know how you come like a mighty, rushing wind, but still we fight against it and put up our barricades. We think we can manage on our own, and make a mess of things. Yes, Lord, we are sorry for being such poor disciples. (Silence)
Assurance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners like us. This is his gracious word: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Amen. Thanks be to God.
We say together the prayer that Jesus taught us:
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 trespasses, As we forgive those who 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.
Our Old Testament reading is the one set by today’s lectionary and is read for us by Ruth Taylor
Reading: Isaiah 62. 1-5
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. 2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. 3 You will be a crown of splendour in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (meaning my delight is in her), and your land Beulah (meaning married); for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. 5 As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
Hymn: Lord, you call us to your service
When I first looked at today’s lectionary readings the words that grabbed me came from the very first verse of that Old Testament reading from Isaiah. Those words being: I will not keep silent, followed by: I will not remain quiet. It seems to me that in the matter of our Christian witness in today’s world there is a clear, yet serious, message for each of us in those phrases: Had Dr. Martin Luther King lived, it would have been his 93rd birthday yesterday 15 January. I think we all know that because he would not keep silent he died at the hands of an assassin, and that was on 4 April 1968, when he was a few months short of his fortieth birthday. His impact on human history was such that in 1983 both the US Senate and the House of Representatives agreed that they should never forget Dr. King’s contributions to the world and the third Monday in January was declared a national holiday, which America celebrates tomorrow. In that country this Sunday (today) is now also widely regarded as Martin Luther King Sunday. I’m also not forgetting that Tuesday, 18 January, marks the start of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It must indeed be right to focus on: I will not keep silent; I will not remain quiet. It was back in August 1963 that Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP4iY1TtS3s) It was powerful and emotive stuff then! It still is! And, almost 60 years down the road, this world is still trying to fully satisfy this dream. And quite a lot of work is still needed. Martin Luther King did not keep silent, he did not remain quiet, and he paid for it with his life. We too can have a dream, can’t we? However, we cannot be blind to our present position. While the continued existence of Christianity long-term is not in doubt, and new-style churches will always be starting up, many of our traditional churches, of whichever denomination, are not in the strongest of positions with what are predominantly congregations in the older age groups (apologies to the youngsters looking in!). If that situation doesn’t change then in 10….20 year’s time we’re going to have to do a lot of paddling between now and then simply to stand still. I don’t think there’s any quick fix. But we must do something. Do we just wait and pray for a revival? By itself that is not enough? There are various actions we all can and should take. These can be so simple and straightforward. Indeed, some may think they are so obvious that it’s a case of not seeing the wood for the trees. Have a dream and know what it is; do whatever Jesus tells us. Above all, we will not keep silent, we will not remain quiet, we will take any opportunity that presents itself to tell others about what we ourselves know of the Good News of Jesus and of the Glory of God. This might then begin the resurgence of faith and belief which we all want. Amen
Prayers: Let us pray.
God we thank you – we thank you for what you have given to us. We thank you for the abilities and talents that we know we have, and for those that we do not believe we have – but which those who love us tell us we have. Help us, God, to accept the working of your Spirit in our lives, help us to use, in faith and in trust, the gifts you have given us, and by them, and by the different gifts that we see in our brothers and sisters, build up our church and minister to our community. We thank you for calling us together as a one body – one church – and giving to us the various gifts we need to care for each other, and for our world – and for you. Amen
Intercessions: We pray for the world and its people, for places of famine and epidemic, for war zones and disaster areas… For politicians and journalists, for all who work in the media, and those who have no one to speak for them… For the unemployed, for those who use local food banks and those who run them… For those who are ill, for the very old and very young and those who care for them… For the leaders of all our faith communities, for those who lead our churches, and for those who worship and pray there… Lord, hear our prayers and reveal your glory. Amen.
Our closing hymn is actually an evening hymn, one often sung at funerals, but it reminds us that even though we ourselves may be resting at that time of day other parts of the world are awake. Let us particularly commend to ourselves the last two lines of verse 3 and of verse 4.
Hymn: The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended.
Blessing and Benediction
Let us pray. God of glory, You speak to us through your written word, And share our lives through your living Word. Send us out so that we do not keep silent, we do not remain quiet. Send us out so that our lives and words speak of your glory in all that we do and say this week and every week. Amen. We say the Grace to and with each other: The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.
Thank you for listening to Worship at Home from the Middlesbrough and Eston Methodist Circuit in north-east England. Goodbye and God be with you through all the changing scenes of life today and into the future.