On Sunday 25th September, we had a bumper service! We gave our harvest offerings; welcomed Gwynedd Deville as new church member; ordained and prayed for Sue Walkling and Claire Hughes as elders; broke bread with siblings from our parent denominations; and even learned about Cadoc and the mouse! The whole service was a reflection of God’s love, so there wasn’t a ‘sermon’ as such but included below are some of the prayers and words that were offered. For more, see the YouTube recording at St David’s Uniting Church Pontypridd – YouTube
God above us –
trees, birds and sunshine,
stars and moonlight
God above us.
God beneath us
earth, rocks and rivers,
roots and caverns –
God beneath us.
God around us –
seas, winds and cities,
animals and people –
God around us.
God within us
hope, tears and laughter,
love and wonder –
God within us.
God above us,
God beneath us,
God around us,
God within us,
we celebrate that
you made us,
you love us
and you call us to work and rest with you.
The Lord’s Prayer Liturgy
Claire: Loving God, we remember that Jesus taught us to pray saying, “Our Father…”
All: You created us, you made this world, and you called your creation very good. Yet often we forget that you are our loving Parent who continues to bless your world.
Sue: Jesus told us that you are “…in heaven…”
All: Yet we fail to live in awe of you. We take you for granted, and we don’t see the awesome beauty of the world you have made.
Claire: We pray, “Hallowed be your name…”
All: We confess that our reverence for you does not always lead us to care reverently for your earth, sky and sea.
Sue: We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
All: We confess that we often put our own interests first-exploiting your creation, and living for our own convenience and self-interest.
Claire: We pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
All: We confess that we consume more than our share of the world’s resources, while billions go hungry every day and your whole creation suffers.
Sue: We pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
All: We confess that we see these words only in spiritual terms, while the Bible is filled with teachings about economic justice and creation care.
Claire: We pray, “Save us from the time of trial.”
All: Help us to resist the temptations of spending more, using more, acquiring more, and wasting more.
Sue: We pray, “Deliver us from evil…”
All: Free us from greed and self-centeredness that separate us from you and others.
Claire: We pray, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.”
All: Help us to know that in caring for your wonderful world, we are working for your kingdom, being good stewards of your creative power, and giving you glory.
Sue: We pray, “Amen.”
All: We end our prayers with “Amen,” a word that means “let it be so.” We know we can be faithful disciples by your grace. Amen!
(From Limestone Presbyterian Church, “The Lord’s Prayer and Creation Care:A Litany of Confession.” Written by Revs. Bruce and Carolyn Gillette.)
The Church is wherever God’s people are praising
So, the Church is where we as Christ’s followers are trying to live and to share out the good news of God. Sometimes, when life is good, the church is full, and we’re bursting with joy, sharing God’s good news can feel like an easy thing to do. On other days, when life is tough, the church membership is decreasing, and the church laptop doesn’t work, causing you to reboot it for the twelfth time that day, and losing all the work you’ve done in the meantime, making you want to chuck it out the window whilst shouting some very ungodly language at the top of your voice…well, sometimes sharing a message of good news is harder! And though Jesus didn’t have to deal with dodgy laptops, he certainly knew that sharing a message about God’s goodness was not always easy:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” He once said.
Sometimes, then, we focus on is who’s not here and what we don’t have, sharing a narrative of scarcity but the gospel is a story of abundance. Abundant blessings, extravagant love, unceasing grace.
So Jesus continued – “the workers are few so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest”. We have asked and God has provided. That’s why today we can celebrate the God-given gifts within this congregation. It’s why today we can celebrate the welcome of a new church member by transferal. It’s why today we can celebrate the ordination of Claire and Sue, our newest church elders.
Phil: The Creator God is here.
Sue: The Christ, clothed in creation, is with us.
Claire: The Spirit, the life-breath of all things, stirs again today.
Phil: So come one, come all. Come Baptist and Presbyterian; United and Uniting; Reformed, reforming, revered or reviled…whoever we are. From wherever we have some. Whatever our story – come to the feast where there’s always a space for us all.
Sue: As we thank God for the gifts of creation and heed the call to share those gifts more justly, we remember how Jesus shared meals with all sorts of people. With outcast men and forgotten women, he ate and drank and lived out an alternate world where all are welcome, worthy and wanted – God’s kingdom of justice and joy where lost children would be found, a couple of fish could feed thousands, and the likes of you and me can feast with God.
Claire: But some aren’t keen on sharing so they pointed to these meals of plenty and called Jesus a glutton, a drunkard, a friend of sinners! Some got so angry with Jesus’ life of love that they wanted him gone forever!
Phil: On the night Jesus was arrested, he shared yet another meal with his friends. There they remembered God’s goodness in the past as they shared good food, fine wine, and great times.
Sue: Then, when they had finished eating, Jesus took some bread on the table. He blessed it, and broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. When you do this, remember me.”
Claire: Later, Jesus picked up the cup left on the table and after giving thanks he shared it with his friends saying, “This cup is the new relationship with God. Take this and share it. I shall drink wine with you again in the coming kingdom of God.”
Phil: So now, following Jesus’ example, we remember the past and recreate it in the present. We take and share this bread and wine, these gifts of the harvest through which God continually blesses us. And, as Jesus offered thanks for the gifts of the earth, let us also celebrate God’s goodness. Let us pray…
Sue: Once again today, we praise you, God of the harvest for you bless us with food, drink, and community. You forgive our selfishness and invite us back onto the path of sacred solidarity
Claire: Today, we remember the past to help us see more clearly your presence in the present and your promises for the future. So we remember the stories of Abraham and Sarah, of how you gave them bread to strengthen their family on their journey, and wine to make them glad.
Phil: We remember the story of how you liberated Moses and his people and refreshed them with food and water in the wilderness.
Sue: We remember a meal shared in an upper room on the night before we killed the Christ; of bread broken with a stranger on the road to Emmaus; of breakfast on the beach with a risen friend. We remember that Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Claire: We celebrate, that today – here at your table – you once again offer us bread and wine for the journey, to nourish us as companions on the way.
Phil: So come, Creator God, we pray: renew the face of the earth; come, eternal Saviour: remake us in your likeness; come, Holy Spirit, transform these gifts: that Christ may be known to us in the breaking of the bread and that we may be strengthened to serve him in the world.
Sue: All this we pray in the name of our brother and saviour, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, 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. Forever and ever. Amen.
Claire: The body of Christ broken for us – we do this in remembrance of him.
Sue: The blood of Christ, given for us – let us drink and give thanks!
Phil: The gifts of God for us – beloved children of God. We will eat. We will drink. We will rejoice.
Phil: The bread of life. Thanks be to God.
Phil: The cup of blessing. Thanks be to God.
Sue: Let us continue in prayer…
Jesus Christ, friend and saviour, You have met us at the table so to unite us with
you and with brothers and sisters around the world.
Go with us now into that world,
that we might be a living sign of welcome among refugees,
of freedom among the oppressed,
of peace amid violence,
hope in the face of despair,
and of loving kindness toward the earth and all her inhabitants.
In your holy name we pray. Amen.
Shine Jesus Shine
Phil: Our service in here is coming to an end. Our service out in God’s world begins again.
Sue: So may the heavens bless us. May the sun shine on us. May the rain dance on our wellies and the stars make us smile.
Claire: May the Earth bless us…and may we bless the Earth in planting and protest, in sharing space and food.
So let us go now
Go and revel in God’s world
Go and be creative
Go and work for justice
Go and love our neighbours
Go and walk with God.