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Virtual WORSHIP 22/03/2020

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Virtual WORSHIP 22/03/2020

Gathering Prayer
Jesus, our shepherd,
holy and anointed one –
as we gather to worship today,
both in this place and in homes around the Circuit,
open our eyes to see you,
and hearts that we may grow in faith. Amen.

A prayer of praise and adoration based on Psalm 23

Thank you, Lord, for the good gifts that you have given us.
We praise you because you have prepared a banquet for us:
you have anointed us with oil and our cup overflows.
Thank you that your goodness and mercy
follows us all the days of our lives,
and we will dwell in your house our whole life long.
We give you thanks and praise that when we are far off,
when we are blind to everything around us,
you do not abandon us,
but you come and find us, you seek us out.
Thank you, Lord.
Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

God of grace, forgive the blindness that stop us from seeing the best in people,
assuming that we are always right, so others must be wrong.

Forgive the blindness that sometimes makes us regard some people as inferior,
or when we haven’t allowed them a point of view because of disability or status.

Forgive our blindness to poverty, to prejudice, to injustice.
Forgive our blindness when we see people as ‘nobodies’.

Forgive us, Lord, and open our eyes to wonder and to possibilities, to relationships and to community.
Amen.

Read 1 Samuel 16.1-13 NIV The Message

The shepherd boy is chosen as king. Shepherding becomes the pattern of kingship in Israel. In ancient Israel, the king was expected to show a concern and a care for the people. This tradition went back to David himself; for David in origin was a shepherd boy, skilled in looking after sheep rather than people; but God’s call to him was to take all his gift for care and his commitment to his flock and to transfer it into the task of kingship and leadership of the nation. Good kingship mirrors the care and protection God offers his people – as it says in the psalm, The Lord is my shepherd. Later kings were denounced by the prophets when they failed to carry out their task of shepherding the people, directing them in false ways rather than in the ways of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus too is depicted as a shepherd, who will look after his sheep. The sheep know his voice and trust their shepherd. This Good Shepherd will go to any lengths to protect his flock, even at the cost of his own life.

This current time is a time for care. It’s about looking out for one another and showing support in a time of need. We can all exercise this work of caring, even within the restrictions of the current crisis. A phone call, help delivering shopping, a ministry of prayer are all responses that we can make as we show a concern for our neighbour. One of the uplifting features of this time, in contrast to the selfishness displayed in the actions of some, has been the demonstration of community concern and a willingness to offer small acts of kindness in service of others. It is in these small examples of mercy that the kingship of Christ might be made know in our society at this present time.

But if this is a story of care it is also a story about humility. The story of David’s choosing is shot through with a sense of humility. What stands out most clearly is how God chooses not the greatest but the least of the candidates. This is the message that Jesus shares with his disciples in the last supper, when, in an act of humility, Jesus takes on the role of a servant, taking up the towel and bowl, so that he might wash his friends tired and dusty feet. Jesus’ lordship is founded in his willingness to act humbly and take the lowest place in order to give an example to others.

And in the same vein the Old Testament story builds up to a climax as Samuel sees each son in turn, sure that each one must be God’s choice. Is it Abinadab, the eldest? No! Is it Shammah, surely it must be him. Samuel has to see each of the sons in turn, and each one is turned away, because God has already made his choice, though Samuel does not know who it is to be. So finally he has to ask if there are any sons who are not present. And of course, David is away tending the sheep. Little David, who is so insignificant, as not even to be present; yet this is the one whom God has already chosen. Isn’t it true that God so often chooses the least of his people, and not the greatest, to do his work?

And the nub of the story is contained in the saying that will hopefully be carried within our hearts: ‘For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’. If you also want to look at the Gospel passage for this Sunday (John 9.1-41) about the man born blind, allow these words from the Old Testament to speak into that Gospel story – that what on the surface is a debate about physical sight (seeing and not seeing) at a deeper level is revealed to be a story about a different kind of seeing – about insight and what it means to ‘see’ with the eyes of faith. An invitation to look upon others not with the prejudices of human attitudes, but with the eyes of God – and a way of seeing that uses the lenses of humility and care. May we continue to demonstrate these qualities as we make our Christian witness in the season of Lent.

Reflect: How has God been a shepherd to you?
Have you ever been surprised at God’s choice of someone to do his work?
How has he helped you to ‘see’ with the eyes of faith?

Prayers of intercession

Light of the world,
We pray for those who suffer prejudice because of any kind of disability – physical, emotional, social or mental: help us to recognise our prejudices and to treat all people equally.
Open our eyes that we might see.

We pray for all who work for a fairer and more just society, where all can be free to live, no matter what their circumstances.
Open our eyes that we might see.

We pray for all who walk in darkness, with no light and little hope: may they know the joy that only you can bring.
Open our eyes that we might see.

Heal those who mourn, suffering loss and sadness;
those who are alone, rejected by family and friends;
those who are outcasts in our society.
Open our eyes that we might see.

Be with those who are afraid of this Coronavirus pandemic:
those who wonder how they will be able to shop for food, or who they will speak to, day after day.
Help us to take on that shepherd role for one another.
Lord, show us how to be instruments of your healing.
Open our eyes that we might see.
Amen.

A sending out prayer
Take the light of Christ our from this place today, and share it,
that all may have the opportunity to see.
Amen.

By | 2020-03-30T12:58:22+01:00 March 22nd, 2020|Blog, Virtual Worship, Worship|0 Comments

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