Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church, Clydach, ‘Worship from Home’ 19th July 2020
This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by the Revd Pamela Cram
Prepare for worship
As you settle yourself ready for worship today, focus on these words from Psalm 86:
You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Let’s take each phrase of this prayer by George Fox slowly, receiving and savouring it:
You alone, O God, are infinite in love.
You alone can speak to our condition.
You alone can search the mind and purify the heart.
You alone can flow over our darkness with the ocean of eternal light. Amen.
Introduction to readings: Creation groans
Today we’ll have three readings, each one a part of a set reading for this Sunday, each touching on a struggle, conflict, or turmoil – in the life of an individual, group, or the whole of creation. We don’t know who created this image, headed Creation Groans. In it I see the tension between turmoil and hope, wildness and order, dark and light.’
We can’t know what event was behind this psalm of David. Personally I have found the psalm helpful at a time of inner anguish. I’ve been interested to read that in the verse that speaks of ‘men’ being ruthless and insolent, the word ‘men’ is not there in the Hebrew, so it could be a prayer about inner negative emotions and temptation. At the start of the service we had one verse from this psalm, expressing the belief David clung to.
Hymn: O Love that wilt not let me go (StF 636)
Sing or read or pray or listen here:
Our next reading has been seen by many as deeply significant in relation to the climate crisis, and perhaps it’s become even more poignant with everything having been ‘up in the air’ due to Covid 19. In Jewish thought there was a clear separation between the present time, all bad, and the time to come, all good! Paul here writes poetically, and I think it’s much more nuanced, with words of hope for both the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’.
Matthew 13: 24-30
Our Gospel reading today is a parable of the Kingdom of God. If we had the full reading we’d hear Jesus’ ‘explanation’ to his disciples, but we’re going to be like all the other non-disciples and just hear the parable.
Apparently tares look quite like wheat, and their roots intertwine with those of the wheat plants. This speaks to me of complexity, and a need to be careful in our weeding. In fact the instruction is not to weed at all.
Alan’s the gardener in our house. My contribution is to keep the paths and drive clear of weeds. My pet hate, of course, is the dandelion BUT dandelions are one of the best plants for all those pollinating insects, so maybe I need to learn to be kinder to them! We’ve been struggling over these past months with a virus, but viruses are beneficial in their right place. What seems to us to be all bad, actually has a good side.
Each week during our ‘hibernation’ we’ve been putting a ‘thought for the week’ in the window at Ty Croeso. One of our first ‘thoughts’ was an image of a piece of woven cloth and part of a poem by William Blake about joy and woe being woven fine: ‘Under every grief and pine, runs a joy with silken twine’. Some who read that may have been struggling to identify the joy, and yet for many people lockdown has brought unexpected joys.
At the time of preparing this it felt as though all the pieces of life had been thrown up in the air and not much had yet fallen back down. It felt impossible to imagine any kind of ‘normality’. A YouGov survey suggested that only 9% of us want the ‘old normal’ back, and it’s probably impossible anyway. Changes that were already imperceptibly happening have been massively accelerated by the pandemic.
There will also be changes due to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign. Hopefully there will be unity and not more polarisation. Debate over statues has shown that, as Dylan Thomas put it: ‘We are not wholly good or bad’. Best not to judge, but to leave it to God!
In face of all this what can we do? King David holds on to thoughts of God’s faithfulness; Paul thinks of the pain and joy of childbirth; Jesus’ parable warns against impetuous action that could do more harm than good.
As we wait to see how things come together post Covid:
- Is there a promise or thought that you hold onto?
- Have you identified a silken thread of joy and how will you record and remember it?
- Is there some action you could take to nurture the good, overcome prejudice or promote justice?
The dandelion grows easily in the most inhospitable circumstances: give thanks for any example of resilience and survival you’ve seen this week.
The dandelion attracts and provides nectar for many small insects, but we pull it up: take a moment to lament over any situation you know where some are deprived because of the actions of others.
The dandelion is banished from our lawns: hold before God those who are persecuted, despised or looked down on.
Compassionate God we place all these and ourselves before your love and faithfulness. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
In our own homes, we pray this prayer alongside sister and brother Christians around the world.
Hymn: In Labour All Creation Groans (S the F 704)
Sing (it fits to ‘Amazing Grace’, verses only) or read or pray or listen here:
Sending out – ‘The Serenity Prayer’
May God grant me
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.