Uniting Church Sketty ‘Worship from Home’ for Sunday 24th May 2020

Prepared with you in my thoughts, by Rev Leslie

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 still in God’s presence.  Know that God is with you.

Opening prayer

As I come before you God help me to praise your name. Focus my mind on your presence with me and remind me that I am joined with people around the world worshipping at home. May your name be glorified in our worship. Amen.

Hymn:  Earth’s Creator, everyday God (StF 45)

Sing or read these words or listen here

Readings:  Acts 1: 6-14 and John 17: 1-11

Last Thursday (21st May) was Ascension Day – the day that Christians recall Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  Our reading from Acts tries to describe this and our reading from John prepares for it.

Reflection:  “God.  Glory.  Goodbye”

I’d like you to recall the last time that you saw everyone in church.  For many of us it would have been 15th March – for others another, earlier Sunday perhaps.  But whenever it was, when we said goodbye to each other at the end of the service, we had no idea that it would be so long before we would see each other again.  I invite you just for a moment to bring to mind and in the presence of God, those people you remember seeing.

If we had known at that point that it would be weeks or possibly months before we would see each other again, maybe our goodbyes would have taken on greater significance.

Saying goodbye is part and parcel of life.  Having done two funerals in the last two weeks (how difficult for loved ones in these circumstances), I am reminded that some goodbyes are hugely different from our ‘normal’ goodbyes.

In our gospel reading, Jesus is beginning to say ‘goodbye’ to his disciples.  He is preparing them for a time when he will no longer be with them.  I wonder how they felt?  I wonder if they understood the significance of Jesus’ words?

And then, in our Gospel reading, Jesus starts to talk about ‘glory’ and ‘glorify’.  This is a word that John uses in other places in his Gospel.  I always think it’s a word that’s hard to fully understand, and sometimes we use it in a pejorative sense (eg hogging all the glory).

Let’s remind ourselves for a moment something of the breadth of its meaning when we read it here. 

  • God’s glory is everywhere, but it is not always visible.
  • Sometimes a moment of glory precedes a separation, as it did for the disciples on the mountain-top.
  • Sometimes glory is hard to recognise, as it was for the disciples before the crucifixion.
  • Sometimes glory is hidden, as it was for the suffering Christians.
  • But the glory of God persists.

So back to goodbyes.  The original meaning of ‘goodbye’ is ‘God be with you’.  Knowing that, it takes our understanding of the word from something ordinary to something quite beautiful.  Jesus was literally saying to the disciples ‘goodbye’ – or more definitely ‘God WILL BE with you;.  And God says that to us today too.  In our own homes.  In our isolation from one another – God is with us.

So perhaps next time you say ‘goodbye’ on the phone (or on zoom) to friends from church, and other friends, you can recall this promise from Jesus:  God be with you.  This then goes to the very heart of our faith.

A reflective way into prayer

  • Where have you seen God’s glory this week?  In creation?  In activity?  In other people?
  • How do you react to God’s glory?  How do you want to react?
  • How can you help God’s glory to shine through in our world?

The new (somewhat controversial) slogan from the Government this week includes the phrase ‘Stay Alert’.  I say this:  Stay Alert to God’s glory in the coming week!

A prayer for Aldersgate Sunday

Today (24th May) is Aldersgate Sunday, the day when, in 1738, in Aldersgate, John Wesley experienced a conversion of some kind, when his heart was ‘strangely warmed’.

God of overwhelming grace,

you ignited the spark of your grace in John

and Charles Wesley and a passion for holiness,

justice and sharing your great love with others.

Warm our hearts that we may trust in you.

Renew our conviction and inspire us to

embrace new opportunities even in difficulty.

Pour out your spirit on your people that we

may be united in your love and ready to share

hope with the world through Jesus who is one

with you. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

To End

  • I googled the words ‘God’s glory art’ and one of the images that came up.  reminded me of Caswell Bay (oh, how I miss it!)  If you are creative, maybe this week you would like to have a go at some artwork yourself that speaks of God’s glory.
  • Alternatively, choose now a favourite hymn of yours and sing it or read it

A prayer of blessing

Holy God, be with me as I leave this time of worship.

May I know your glory presence in my everyday and live your message of love and hope.  Amen