Act of Worship for Sunday 26th June 2022

This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use if you are unable to attend church. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you.



Stained glass of The Descent of the Holy Spirit, St Aloysius, Somers Town

Call to worship

I cry to God in distress,
I cry to God and he hears me.
God, your ways are holy!
What God is as great as our God?
You are the God who does marvellous deeds,
Brought nations to acknowledge your power,
With your own arm redeeming your people,
The children of Jacob and Joseph.

Hymn: Moses I know you’re the man (Singing the Faith 473)

Sing / read / pray / proclaim the words or listen to a performance of "Moses I know you’re the man" , or sing a verse of a hymn that comes to mind.

'Moses, I know you're the man,'
the Lord said.
'You're going to work out my plan,'
the Lord said.
'Lead all the Israelites out of slavery,
and I shall make them a wandering race
called the People of God.'

[ Refrain
So every day,
we're on our way,
for we're a travelling, wandering race,
we're the People of God.]

'Don't get too set in your ways,'
the Lord said.
'Each step is only a phase,'
the Lord said.
'I'll go before you and I shall be a sign
to guide my travelling, wandering race;
you're the People of God.'

[ Refrain ]

'No matter what you may do,'
the Lord said.
'I shall be faithful and true,'
the Lord said.
'My love will strengthen you as you go along,
for you're my travelling, wandering race,
you're the People of God.'

[ Refrain ]

'Look at the birds in the air,'
the Lord said.
'They fly unhampered by care,'
the Lord said.
'You will move easier if you're travelling light,
for you're a wandering, vagabond race,
you're the People of God.'

[ Refrain ]

'Foxes have places to go,'
the Lord said.
'But I've no home here below,'
the Lord said.
'So if you want to be with me all your days,
keep up the moving and travelling on,
you're the People of God.'

[ Refrain ]

Let us pray together

God of Creation,
you have always been on the move.
You are faithful and sure,
yet also constantly transforming, re-creating,
bringing fresh order out of chaos.

Humankind is looking, constantly, for an order which can be controlled
but finding, constantly, that we are powerless
in a world which is so much bigger than we are.

Thank you for the example of Jesus,
who understood small world and vast universe.
He showed us how to be true to ourselves and to you,
even when it costs us.
He taught us to love all that you have brought into being;
even the mysteries of life.

Forgive and heal us of the arrogance which wants to be in charge.
Grant us the assurance in our hearts that we are not only forgiven,
but healed and transformed by your loving mercy and grace.
Amen

Jesus exorcising the Gerasene demoniac, from the Hitda Codex manuscript

Today’s Reading from the New Testament

Galatians 5: 1, 13-25

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Today’s Gospel Reading

Luke 9: 51-62

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

Mosaic of the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, dating to the sixth century AD

Time to Reflect

by Reverend John Morton

Sunday’s Gospel passage records Jesus as saying let the dead bury their own dead. These words belong to the second in the group of three incidents in which Jesus impresses on potential followers the absolute priority of the claims of the Kingdom of God over everything else.

Here he calls on a man to come along with him as his disciple. The man is not unwilling, but says, ‘let me first go and bury my father’. A reasonable request, one might have thought: burial took place very soon after death, so if his father had just died, he would probably be buried the same day. The man would then be free to follow Jesus. If he was the eldest son, it was his responsibility to see to his father’s burial. It may be, however, that he meant, ‘Let me stay at home until my father dies; when I have buried him, I’ll be free of family obligations, and then I will come and follow you.’

This is not the most natural way to take the words, although it makes Jesus’ response less harsh. But an interpretation which makes Jesus’ demands less harsh than they seem to be at first reading is probably to be rejected for that very reason. His demands were high and exacting.

So important in Jesus’ eyes was the business of following him and promoting the kingdom of God that it took precedence even over the burial of the dead. So Jesus implies that this man is procrastinating.

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but there is a difference when we avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination, in large part, reflects our struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we'll feel tomorrow, or the next day.

Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that's their way of justifying putting things off.

There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys team-work in the work-place and private relationships.

Conversely, the people began rebuilding the Temple just 23 days after the Old Testament prophet Haggai’s first message. Rarely did a prophet’s message produce such a quick response. How often do we hear a sermon and respond ‘that was an excellent point – I ought to do that’ only to leave church and forget to act? These people put their words into action. Perhaps when we next hear a sermon, we could ask what we should do about the point(s) made and then make plans to put it or them into practice.

Stained glass of the Holy Trinity symbol

Time to Reflect

by Verity Phillips

Living with settled churches, we easily forget how Jesus’ ministry was that of a wandering rabbi.

The Samaritan town rejected this rabbi and his followers who were heading for Jerusalem since they must therefore support the Judaism which looked down on Samaritans for practices which were not entirely authorised; the Samaritans had mingled with people of other faiths, other standards, other ways.

James and John emphasise this rivalry and lack of respect between people of the same nation but opposite sects, which upsets Jesus. Soon he would send them out in twos to discover for themselves that most people are just people, and there’s no need to attack one another.

He seems to feel alien in a world which has such different priorities to himself. Everyone seems to expect so much, but will anyone give to him of their time or will there always be other things which come first for them? He seems to reflect on this, and to decide to send out the disciples in less threatening numbers to get alongside the local population as far as that’s possible; and to just let people be where they’re not welcome; let go of any bad feelings by shaking off the dust.

Sometimes when we think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we expect people to be angels at all times, but we, too, are human, and have to work things through, often by personal experience. The letter to the Galatians warns people against enslaving themselves to emotions which aggravate situations: let go, and move on. That doesn’t mean we should then enslave ourselves to others’ expectations of our behaviour. Sometimes we too will get annoyed. When we live freely, paying attention to God’s love and respecting the freedoms of others, we will find the fruits of the Spirit naturally emerge despite our initial reaction. It’s not about following rules. It’s about our attitude and direction of travel.

What attitudes do we demonstrate towards people who are different to ourselves - who have different values, different ways? How might we respond to the hospitality of a Christian with whom we strongly disagree? Could we show hospitality to those who make us feel uncomfortable?

What does it mean to be ‘free’? Does it mean giving in to every desire, or could it mean being open to discover God’s love in new situations? Always ready to travel with him in our thinking as much as the disciples travelled the roads with him?

What does freedom mean to you – and how does that freedom impact on the freedoms of others?

Take a time to sit quietly.

Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer

A time of prayer

Loving God,
Thank you that Jesus was truly human,
as we are,
and not just human in form.
That he had all the emotions we have,
and wrestled with them as we do.

Sometimes, in our distress, our priorities do get confused,
and we miss the needs off.
Thank you for those who make the time to notice others, and to be there for them.

We pray for the nations where there is division
between different groups who despise one another, often because of their shared history.
We hold in mind those who are suffering because of war and violence.

We pray for those whose experience of violence is hidden from view, unacknowledged, or imprisoned by fear.
We pray for people who make themselves available to help those who hurt in private;
and for those brave enough to speak out.

We pray for those who are enslaved by others,
or by their society, or by their own habits, values, or expectations.
We thank you for those who help to set them – and us - free.

We hold before you all who are unwell,
and all who are grieving.

And we bring you such prayers as you inspire in our hearts with groans too deep for words. …

Thank you, Lord, that you hear our prayers.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom
The power and the glory
For ever and ever
Amen.

The Resurrection, by Ukrainian artist Ivanka Demchuk. Christ in white robes is standing in a blue circle outlined in gold, surrounded by figures dressed in white, helping him step down

Hymn: Waymaker

Sing / read / pray / proclaim the words or listen to a performance of 'Waymaker’, or sing a verse of a hymn that comes to your mind.

[ Repeat 2 times:
You are here
Moving in our midst
I worship You
I worship You
You are here
Working in this place
I worship You
I worship You]

[ Repeat 2 times:
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who You are]

You are here
Touching every heart
I worship You
I worship You

You are here
Healing every heart
I worship You
I worship You

You are here
Mending every heart
I worship You
I worship You

You are here
Turning lives around
I worship You
I worship You

[ Repeat 2 times:
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who You are]

[ Repeat 4 times:
That is who You are]

[ Repeat 2 times:
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Waymaker
Miracle Worker]

[ Repeat 4 times:
Even when I don't see it, You're working
Even when I can't feel it, You're working
You never stop, You never stop working
You never stop, You never stop working]

[ Repeat 6 times:
Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who You are]

God The Creator mosaic by Hildreth Meiere in St Bartholemew's, New York City

A prayer of blessing

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Amen.