Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church Clydach ‘Worship from Home’ 13 September 2020
This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by Rev Linda Woollacott
The theme of our worship is ‘Mercy’, the word comes from both the Gospel and Old Testament readings for today. Mercy is a word rarely heard today, substituted as it is by the qualities of compassion and forgiveness.
Sing: There’s a wideness in God’s mercy (StF 416)
Lift up our souls, O God, to the glory of your presence; our minds to the beauty of your being and our hearts to the purity of your love; now and for ever. Amen Edward Pusey (1800 – 1882)
Gospel reading: Matthew 18: 21-35
This comes just after the hinge point of the Gospel, after Peter’s confession of who Christ is and the story of the transfiguration. If God shows mercy to us then what should our response be to others?
What comes to mind when we hear the word ‘mercy’. For many it will link back to English literature studies and Portia’s speech in The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 1. “The quality of mercy is not strained….” Antonio has borrowed 3,000 ducats to assist another, when the debt cannot be repaid at the agreed date Shylock demands payment of the bond ‘1 lb of flesh’. Portia pleads for mercy. Her argument is that mercy is unrestricted and a 2-way blessing, more powerful in its effect than any monarch’s power and is an attribute of God.
What about mercy in our world today?
Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe, a dual national, who in 2016 was imprisoned in Iran for 5 years on spying charges, now held in house arrest since Spring 2020.
There are 8 other known dual national British/Iranians also held in prison and probably more unknown. A BBC Panorama programme on 24 Aug revealed that the British Government are in debt to Iran for £500million from a failed arms deal in 1979. Are the imprisoned dual nationals not being held for ransom? In delicate international relations who is at fault and where is mercy to be found?
The artist Banksy bought a ship the MV Louise Michel. The ship’s latest journey began on Thursday, August 27, when MV Louise Michel’s crew rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children, off the coast of Libya. The dingy had been taking in water and Louise Michel was first to respond to the call. The crew found the passengers sitting in fuel and salt water, attempting to empty the water with their hands. By Saturday, August 29, the Banksy-sponsored ship had 219 survivors, 10 crew members, and another 33 migrants on an attached life raft. Unable to move due to the weight they too required rescue.
A merciful act or meddling in international politics?
Since 1978 Mercy Ships has worked in 56 nations helping more than 2.8 million people. The current focus is sub- Saharan Africa. Staffed by volunteers from up to 40 nations who offer free life-saving surgery and medical care to those who need it.
Where do you see mercy enacted? Where have you experienced, offered or denied mercy? The Gospel reminds us that if God has shown us such mercy and forgiven our debt, what right have we to do other?
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 50: 15-21
Hear how Joseph’s brothers cannot believe that he will be merciful to them too. But Joseph sees the hand of God at work in all that has happened and the prompt for his actions and attitude.
Lord it is easy to stand in judgement, to consider our position first, forgive us our hardness of heart, our harsh criticism of others and our ignorance to your call for mercy. Reminded by the cost of your love, set us right to serve you as we should.
Lord hear our prayer. And let our cry come to you
We pray for those who are unfairly judged, falsely criticised or imprisoned, and refugees.
We pray for the poor, for those trapped by addiction and debt.
We pray for those who are in leadership positions, internationally, nationally and locally, whose decisions affect the lives of others.
We pray for those known to us who need our prayers, the sick, the lonely, the homeless, the dying and we pray too for our neighbours, family and friends.
We hold a time of quiet to bring before God the prayers of our hearts and minds
Lord hear our prayers. And let our cry come to you. Amen
Sing: O, the Love of my Lord is the essence (StF 431)
Although physically apart, think of others in our congregation and bless one another by saying:
The grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen