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Morning Worship for Creationtide 

The Greeting   

God in Christ has revealed his glory.
Come let us worship.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the Lord’s name is greatly to be praised.
Give him praise, you servants of the Lord.
O praise the name of the Lord!

Prayers of Penitence

We confess our sin, and the sins of our society,
in the misuse of God’s creation.
God our Father,
we are sorry for the times when we have used your gifts carelessly,
and acted ungratefully.
Hear our prayer, and in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We enjoy the fruits of the harvest,
but sometimes forget that you have given them to us.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We belong to a people who are full and satisfied,
but ignore the cry of the hungry.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We are thoughtless,
and do not care enough for the world you have made.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We store up goods for ourselves alone,
as if there were no God and no heaven.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.  

Absolution

The Lord enrich us with his grace,
and nourish us with his blessing;
the Lord defend us in trouble and keep us from all evil;
the Lord accept our prayers,
and absolve us from our offences,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Amen.

Praise

We praise you, living God:
you give strength to the earth that sustains us,
you open your hand to feed all living things.
We praise you, Lord Jesus Christ:
you teach us with stories of seeds and weeds and harvest time,
you call us to accept your word and bear much fruit.
We praise you, Holy Spirit, fire of love:
you are the breath of life in every creature,
you refresh our thirsty souls with grace.
Blessed be God, Source of Wisdom, living Word, abiding Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever.

Readings

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
   then you showed me their evil deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb
   led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
   that they devised schemes, saying,
‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
   let us cut him off from the land of the living,
   so that his name will no longer be remembered!’
But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
   who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
   for to you I have committed my cause.

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:30-37
Jesus and his disciples passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

The Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
    of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
    what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Homily: 

ALL the readings except the Gospel reflect on being made to suffer by enemies. In Jeremiah, the theme is the unrighteous and their hatred for the righteous. In the psalm, a specific historical event is flagged up in the title: David hiding from Saul (1 Samuel 23). This is not comfortable reading for Christians who eschew judgement as indistinguishable from judgementalism.

The readings pit righteous against unrighteous, one group against another, but James offers a solution that is still helpful for those Christians who make a place for the psalms in their daily prayers. For James, the fight is against enemies, but enemies that are internal, such as manifold temptations: the “cravings that are at war within you” (4.1).

Not for the first time, I wonder why a lection has been filleted. In James’s case, the omission (4.4-6, 8b) cuts the exclamation, “Adulterers!” (too old-fashioned?). James goes on to condemn forms of sin which have no direct connection with adultery. It looks like the accusation is really a general form of abuse, like “Bastard!”, which has lost almost all its vituperative specificity in modern English invective.

More problematic than calling his reader an adulterer is James’s reference to God as jealous. This is undoubtedly awkward for us, attuned as we are to jealousy as a sin (akin to coveting), or a form of coercive control. But the price of the omission is too high if we lose James’s reference to God’s opposing the proud but giving grace to the humble.

The Gospel, in contrast, reflects on a human instinct related to the theme of shame which was touched on last week: “They did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.” The disciples had been singled out by Jesus; trusted with a ministry of preaching and exorcism (Mark 3). Given this bond of trust between them, why were they afraid to ask Jesus what he meant? We cannot be sure, but every possibility that we explore points to human beings’ dreading being exposed for stupidity or ignorance.

Years ago, I spent a month learning German at a Goethe-Institut in Bavaria. My teacher was very talented, but I remember her frustration with a group of “japanische Mädchen” (Japanese girls) who would not speak out when they did not understand. To admit incomprehension,in their mind, seemed to amount to a criticism of the teacher. So they smiled a lot, and said they were fine.

I have come across this reaction to ignorance or incomprehension many times as a teacher of Latin and Greek. The relationship with students, managed fruitfully, is one in which the student takes pleasure in learning, and has no fear of admitting puzzlement. The greatest pressure on this is the students’ perception of judgement by their peers. It is the job of a good teacher to banish fear right from the start, and encourage students to “catch” their own enthusiasm for the pleasure of attaining understanding. I use my own forgetfulness to encourage them. “You don’t know what this word means? What this verb form is? Nope, me neither. Let’s look it up.”

Switching from teacher to pastor, there is another truth of human nature in this Gospel. Jesus took the disciples aside to teach them the hardest truths about himself: that he was to suffer and die. They were not ready for this; they could make no sense of it. It’s not surprising. It would probably be like trying to explain the emotional cataclysms of puberty to a five-year-old.

The disciples knew enough, though, to be sure that they did not want to go where his words were taking them. They were not yet ready even to imagine his future suffering. Like children who fear the loss or death of a parent, they were able only to absorb the lesson, and be changed by the new reality that it brought, when they were dropped in at the deep end and given no choice.
As long as following Jesus is a mere lifestyle choice, we would-be disciples cannot really know the meaning of that step. But, once the balance tips and we find ourselves drawn, unable to resist, compelled to choose life in all its fullness (John 10.10), then we are truly ready to become what God would have us be.
                                          Cally Hammond (Church Times)

Afirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith in God.
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord Jesus Christ,
In you will all things in heaven and earth find their completion.
You are beyond all things and in you the whole universe holds together.
All that is finds its fulfilment with you.
To you be all praise and all power.
Help us to be at one with the earth,
so that we know it as home.
Help us to be reconciled to other living creatures,
so that we know them as neighbours.
Help us to be at peace with each other,
so that we may live together in harmony.
Just as you hold the whole world in your hands, hold us too.
Bless us with strength.     
Fill us with love.
And inspire us to care for all that is.
In the name of Christ.                                                          
Amen.

The Lord's Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Dismissal

Go in strong and growing faith.
Trust in the tenderness of Christ
to heal a bruised and broken world.
Thanks be to God.

Go in eager and refreshing hope.
Work with Christ risen from the dead,
to fulfil the promise of a new creation.
Thanks be to God.

Let us go in peace,
to treasure and to tend the world God made and loves.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

 

 

New Patterns for Worship, Common Worship material from
which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2002


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