SUNDAY - 28 JUNE 2020: REV. ANDREW DART
REFLECTION: REV. DR. ANDY LYONS
Sadly, we are still unable to meet in our buildings for worship and so we have prepared this sheet for you to use at home. A version of the following Service can be found on the Circuit website: www.lambethmethodistcircuit.org.uk and a recorded service will be available on the Southwark and Deptford Circuit website from 10.30 a.m. on Sunday www.southwarkanddeptfordcircuit.org.uk.
Lord calm my thoughts as I come into your presence to worship you. Open my heart to welcome you in and to receive the blessing of Jesus’ love, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
HYMN God has spoken – by His prophets (STF 157)
tune Hyfrydol, which we sing to Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
God has spoken - by his prophets,
spoken his unchanging Word;
each from age to age proclaiming
God the one, the righteous Lord!
‘Mid the world’s despair and turmoil
one firm anchor holding fast,
God eternal reigns forever
God the first, and God the last.
God has spoken - by Christ Jesus,
Christ, the everlasting Son,
brightness of the Father’s glory,
with the Father ever one:
spoken by the Word incarnate,
God from God, ere time was born;
Light from Light, to earth descending,
Christ, revealing God to all.
God is speaking - by his Spirit
speaking to the hearts again;
in the age-long word expounding
God’s own message, now as then.
Through the rise and fall of nations
one sure faith is standing fast:
God still speaks, the Word unchanging,
God the first, and God the last.
George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959)
Let us pray together
Creator God, I praise you for the beauty of the world that you have made, for richness of texture, colour and form in nature, and for the caring communities around me. Forgive me when I fail to be thankful for the good things in my life.
God is full of grace and mercy; I receive his forgiveness and his love. Amen.
TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING
Jeremiah 28:5-9 (NRSV)
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfil the words that you have prophesied and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7 But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.’
TODAY’S GOSPEL READING
Matthew 10.40-42 (NRSV)
40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
TIME TO REFLECT
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ – the Gospel text this week comes as a relief after last week’s text. That was a repudiation of what many people hold most dear – family love and loyalty. Both texts are part of Jesus’s instructions to His disciples about their mission. The whole passage is extremely contextual – that is it was said in a particular situation for that particular time. The early mission of the disciples was dangerous and difficult and there was much resistance to them and their message from both different groups within Judaism and by the Roman Empire. For some of our members I know that you have had to make personal sacrifices to follow Jesus. For many of us we were bought up in Christian homes and we have not had to disown our families or faced any persecution. On the whole our time of following Jesus and missioning the gospel is different – instead of hostility and danger we are more likely to face apathy and indifference. So, I suspect it is best to read these verses from Matthew’s gospel in a way in which we learn to respect and admire what the early Jesus movement did rather than look for a direct link to today (which preachers are often encouraged to do!).
However, we might do well not to overlook the need, expressed in the two verses of out text for today, because the word welcome appears 6 times. To welcome disciples and prophets and righteous people and to water the needy is important. Now I know that every Church I have ever been a part of, as a lay person and now as an ordained Minister, believes that they are a friendly Church. But is this really true? I remember when I first started worshipping at Parchmore Methodist Church in the early 1980’s how difficult I found it to be in a congregation that had many people from African-Caribbean backgrounds there. I was a suburban white boy and somewhat out of my depth in this new situation I found myself! But as I got to know more people what I was to discover was that those very Black people, who I had not know in encounter before, had found it very hard to find a Church that would allow them to worship. I heard stories of how people had been turned away at the door, and even of one case where a letter had been posted from a white member to a new black congregant telling them they should not come back to the Church as they were not welcome.
Okay you say, but things are different now. In Lambeth and Clapham our Churches are multi-ethnic and ‘race’ isn’t an issue. But do we really know that? Do we really listen? Do we know if some still feel excluded? I am writing this piece on the 22 June. This is the anniversary of the Windrush arrival. And, for anyone who informs themselves you know that this story is still not over because the victims were not listened to and even now the compensation, they are due has not been paid out. And I am writing this piece after weeks of protest after the death of George Floyd and the subsequent renewal of protest against racism generally. One thing that has become very clear is that we do not know the stories of the other, or even our own histories/stories. At Lambeth Mission some of my members have asked for a conversation to be set up so that we can listen. Maybe we can do this across the Circuit – maybe, God willing, if we are able to meet by October together, we can have a Black History Month this year that will help us hear each other. For to truly welcome someone must surely be to know them – to hear their experiences.
And further, if we are really honest, we know from the past cases review that the Church failed many people who were subject to sexual abuse. We know that the Church has not always been a place of safety or equality for women. We often do not account for people of different physical and mental abilities to worship in Church. We may be better at welcoming people than years gone by; but there will always be work to be done. My God help us to see and hear others and to welcome all with open hearts and minds.
Take a time to sit quietly
A TIME OF PRAYER
Let us pray for the Church, for the world and for ourselves.
We pray for Your guidance and wisdom as Your Church finds new ways of reaching out into the world with the good news of Your generous love and forgiveness. Gift leaders with the innovation and inspiration that comes from your Holy Spirit so that Your Church may be more effective witnesses of your saving grace.
Lord Jesus, as the world continues to suffer the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, we pray for compassion and fairness in sharing practical resources and medical expertise so that there might be healing and wholeness for all.
We pray that all those who have influence over the lives of others, might make decisions based on kindness and for the common good. We pray Holy Spirit that you infuse with love the hearts of those who use war as a weapon of power. Hear our prayers for an end to all conflict, and for recognition and support to be given to refugees and displaced people around the world.
Compassionate Christ, we pray for comfort and strength for those who are still isolated, for parents and children, for the elderly and those suffering long term illness. Lord, lift anxiety from those who are worried about the future, their jobs, businesses and their financial situation. May they know that they are not alone, that Jesus is always with them.
Holy Spirit we pray for ourselves, for our plans that have been changed, for the people we have lost and miss still, for our hopes and dreams for the future. Strengthen our faith, deepen our commitment to Your ways and help us to better serve God and to see Jesus in everyone we meet.
Thank you, Lord, that you that your love never fails.
The Lord’s Prayer
HYMN I the Lord of Sea and Sky (StF 663)
I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
I, the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people's pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone
Give them hearts for love alone
Who will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?
I, the Lord of wind and flame
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall I send?
A PRAYER OF BLESSING
Receive these words into your heart:
Jesus opens His arms to welcome and accept you, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances. Open your heart and your hands to receive Him now, and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love, now and always. Amen.
Original Materials by Claire Hargreaves, Reflection by the Rev’d Dr Andy Lyons
The government have this week announced a further lessening of the lockdown restrictions and this includes Churches but at the time of writing, detailed guidance has yet to be released. The Methodist Church, in turn, will offer their own advice to Trustees of Local Churches. The changes to the restrictions have not been universally welcomed as it is argued that many people, especially the vulnerable, are still at risk. You will all have your own feelings about what you feel safe to do.
The Circuit will take stock of the advice and judge when the right time will be to start opening any Churches. We will try and coordinate our efforts and it may be that there will be a graduated response depending on individual Churches’ abilities to introduce what will likely be strict protocols.
We will communicate any decisions to Church members as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we continue to be the Church without going to Church and to pray for each other and care for each other in all kinds of innovative but also traditional ways. We want everyone to stay safe and well.
Rev. Andrew Dart, Circuit Superintendent
by Angelo Gater
Today I will praise.
I will praise the sun
For showering its light
On this darkened vessel.
I will praise its shine.
My skin in ultraviolet ultimatums
Demanding to be seen.
I will lift my hands in adoration
Of how something so bright
Could be so heavy.
I will praise the ground
That did not make feast of these bones.
Praise the casket
That did not become a shelter for flesh.
Praise the bullets
That called in sick to work.
Praise the trigger
That went on vacation.
Praise the chalk
That did not outline a body today.
Praise the body
For still being a body
And not a headstone.
Praise the body,
For being a body and not a police report
Praise the body
For being a body and not a memory
No one wants to forget.
Praise the memories.
Praise the laughs and smiles
You thought had been evicted from your jawline
Praise the eyes
For seeing and still believing.
For being blinded from faith
But never losing their vision
Praise the visions.
Praise the prophets
Who don't profit off of those visions.
Praise the heart
For housing this living room of emotions
Praise the trophy that is my name
Praise the gift that is my name.
Praise the name that is my name
Which no one can plagiarize or gentrify
Praise the praise.
How the throat sounds like a choir.
The harmony in your tongue lifts
Into a song of adoration.
For being able to praise.
For waking up,
When you had every reason not to.