Uniting together, Caring for all, Seeking God

Service Sheet 14th June 2020

Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church, Clydach, ‘Worship from Home’ 14h June 2020

This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by the Revd Leslie Noon.

Prepare for worship

Wherever you are sitting, at whatever time of day, with whatever emotions you are currently carrying, take a few moments to become aware of God

Opening Prayer

We come before you, gracious God, just as we are.
We come with our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities.
We come with our fears and apprehensions.
We come with faith and doubt.
We come to offer and receive.
We come to you, the king of love –
in the name of your Son,

and in the power of your Spirit.  Amen.

Lord, you have called us to the privilege of service,
but we have failed to serve.
You have given us the blessing of peace,
but we have chosen discord.
You have loved as a shepherd tends his sheep,
but we have strayed from your way.
Forgive us, and show how to live and how to love,

just as Jesus taught us.  Amen.

Hymn:  Jesus is Lord! (StF 353)

Sing or read or pray or listen here:

How shall we live? How shall we love?

These two questions underpin our thinking for today.  In our readings, we sit alongside people who have been especially called by God – not for any particular privilege, but in order to live as God commands and love as God commands.  The challenge is implicit I think for us – as people whom God has also called.

Exodus 19: 2-8a

Remember the story leading up to our OT reading!  God makes the world→Adam and Eve→Noah and the flood→Abraham and Sarah→Joseph and his brothers →the Israelites become slaves in Egypt.  How factual these stories are is unknown, but in so many different ways they define humanity and God’s relationship with humanity and are stories that are lived over and over again.  And this brings us to our reading today.  Again, remember the story.  God calls Moses from a burning bush and he then leads the Israelites out of slavery.  Of course, before they get to that point, God sends the ten plagues.

Plagues – is that another word for a pandemic, I wonder?  An outbreak of some kind.  An affliction.  And certainly, that describes what the world is facing today in terms of coronavirus.  But there are other kinds of plagues as well – racism, greed, materialism, lack of care for the environment.  To some degree or other, we are all enslaved to these plagues.

But, as we know, Moses leads the Israelites out of their slavery, and they wander in the wilderness for 40 years on the way to the promised land.  And in our reading today, three months after they have put the plagues and Egypt behind them, the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses and with guidance from God, begin to regroup.

Of course, they do not reach the promised land that quickly, but in the next chapter we read how they are given the Ten Commandments, or in other words rules on how they are to live and how they are to love.

We are more or less three months on from the start of the pandemic in the UK, and perhaps we are beginning to regroup, to seek, under God’s guidance, what the ‘new normal’ might be for us.  Let’s just hope we won’t be in the wilderness of lockdown for 40 years!  However, perhaps this story reminds us of what God is saying to us about how we are to live and how we are to love.  We need to listen to God, and like the Israelites, be prepared for things to be different.

Matthew 9.35 – 10.8

Just as God chose Moses and the Israelites to be his special people, in our Gospel reading Jesus choses twelve apostles to be his special followers. 

In the chapters preceding this passage, we read about Jesus’ ministry – a ministry of compassion, as Jesus preaches, tells stories and performs miracles of healing.  In words and in deeds, Jesus is showing how we should live and how we should love – and in our passage for today, he now clearly expects his apostles to do the same.  These apostles, flawed in every way, as we are flawed, yet nonetheless called and sent!

Apostle means ‘sent out’.  Equipped by the Holy Spirit they are sent out to live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loved. 

And what about us.  Two weeks ago on Pentecost we all said ‘come holy spirit, come into our lives’.  Did we mean it, and if so, how is God calling us to live and to love?  That’s the challenge for us today.

Perhaps, because our worship is currently not centred around a building, it must, more than ever be centred around relationships.  Is this what God might be saying to us in this moment?  The Ten Commandments, the instructions that God gave to the Israelites about how to live and how to love were all about relationships – relationship with God, with one another and with community.  Similarly, the Jesus Way, the way Jesus lived and modelled for us is based on relationships – ultimately love God and love your neighbour.

May the Holy Spirit send us to live and love as Jesus did – with or without the building!  Amen

Image of the Last Supper

  • Think of famous picture of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.  Think of the different poses of each of the apostles shown. 
  • Where would you be sitting?  Near Jesus, or at the end?
  • What might you be saying to the person next to you?
  • Jesus has called you to go and continue his work when he leaves you, and that moment seems to be coming soon.  How do you feel about this call?

Prayers

Let us offer to God people and situations where there is pain and suffering.

For those who are ill of covid or not.

For those who live daily in the reality of racism

For those who are lonely and bereaved

For those who are worried about their future.

For those living in areas of war and violence.

Lord, in all these situations, help us to be your disciples, to live and love as you did.  Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

In our own homes, we pray this prayer alongside sister and brother Christians around the world.

Hymn:  Lord I come to  you (StF 471)

Sing or read or pray or listen here:

Blessing

Go to serve; go to love;

go to bring healing; go to bring peace;

go in the strength of the Father;

go in the power of Jesus;

go united by the Spirit.

Go – and know God’s grace.  Amen