Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church, Clydach, ‘Worship from Home’ 21st June 2020
This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by the Revd Linda Woollacott
Call to Worship.
God of all, we come to you just as we are. We come to worship you and praise you, faithful God.
Song: Be still and know that he is God
Song/hymn to listen to, read or pray
Today is a Sunday with many labels – the end of Refugee Week, Sanctuary Sunday and also Father’s Day.
Old Testament Reading :- Genesis 21: 8 – 21
The act of surrogacy has altered the power dynamics at the heart of Abraham’s family. Hagar and Ishmael are cast out of Abraham’s household for the 2nd time, refugees in the desert wilderness. But look closely, God promised to Abraham that from both his sons’ great nations will be formed. Abraham is prepared to sacrifice both his sons to the will of God.
Hagar, the Egyptian, the foreigner, is the only woman in the Old Testament to directly encounter God (a theophany), to name Him and to receive the promise that she will be the mother of a large nation. Hagar will be both mother and father to her son, creating a stable family with only God at her side. No-one in the economy of God is an outcast or worthless. Hagar’s story has become important in the comparable experiences of black slaves.
Ishmael, who was left in the shelter of a bush a bow shot away from his mother, grows up to be an archer!
Sparrows – nondescript small birds. Since the 1970s house sparrow numbers have almost halved with a 60% decline in towns and cities in Britain. Tree sparrow populations have declined by 93% in the same period, there are none now resident in Wales. Yet not one falls ‘Without your Father knowing it’ (NIRV)
Gospel Reading:- Matthew 10: 24-39
Part of Jesus instructions on sending out the 12 disciples. In the face of all difficulties ahead of them Jesus tells them 3 times ‘do not be afraid’
City of Sanctuary is a charity supporting a network of groups across the UK and Ireland who are part of a movement to build a culture of welcome and hospitality within their communities. Although this welcome spreads to anyone who may need it, the charity and movement mainly looks at the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees. They celebrate the skills refugees and asylum seekers bring with them and provide a platform for their engagement with their locality and for their voices to be heard. They are a movement built by the grass roots, from the communities who wish to change things where they are, rather than a top down approach.
Swansea became the UK’s second official City of Sanctuary in May 2010.
Within Uniting Church Sketty individuals support this by offering language tuition, sourcing resources and offering practical support, and housing asylum seekers within their homes. The church building offers storage for some of the essential equipment needed when refugees and asylum seekers are offered housing.
All bar one word beginning ‘Sanct’ (Collins Concise Dictionary) are linked to holiness or the sacred i.e the presence of God is there. Sanctuary is therefore at the heart of God’s love.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands. The only channel island to have ‘perquages’, protected ancient paths.
These paths were also called ‘sanctuary paths’, though this link is not officially recognised. The idea being that a sanctuary path was the shortest, but not always the easiest route between a church and the coast, so that those who had sought sanctuary in the church could leave the island undisputed.
Points to ponder:-
- In what way is God’s love a sanctuary for you?
- When has the difficult path in life been the place that has brought you closer to God or wrestled with God?
Lord, forgive us that it has taken lockdown for many of us to become more aware of the wonder of your created world, for neighbours to become more closely interlinked, for those who offer sacrificial love to have been really valued instead of being taken for granted.
May the lessons of these times structure a future more reflective of your love.
We remember before God:-
Those who seek sanctuary today, who move into an unknown future only knowing they cannot go home.
Those who are fearful in these times.
Those who suffer bigotry, hatred and oppression.
Those parts of the world entrenched in poverty, war or victim to corrupt regimes.
Those who are ill, lonely, bereaved, who feel lost or abandoned.
Those charged with making the huge decisions of government in these difficult days.
Those who have fathered us, provided, guided and supported us. We remember those who father others today.
We give thanks for that which has made us smile or laugh, for the unexpected that has cheered us, for the constancy of your love Lord surrounding us now and always.
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit we offer our prayers. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
In our homes, we pray this prayer alongside sister and brother Christians around the world.
Hymn: 693 Beauty for brokenness
Sing or read these words or listen here
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the gentle night to you,
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you,
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you. Amen.
Carl Jenkins setting of an old Gaelic blessing