URC Devotion

URC Daily Devotion 5th December 2020

12 hours 3 min ago
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Wait for the Lord

The Taizé Community in France was founded by Reformed pastor Roger Schutz who had helped Jews escape over the border into Switzerland during the war. It is an ecumenical community working with the young in particular with distinctive worship based on simple chants. Today’s song takes up the Advent theme of waiting.

Reading

1 Thessalonians 5:4-11


But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Song

Wait for the Lord, His day is near.
Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.


© Les Ateliers and Presses de Taizé
You can hear the chant here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7GexIvX8HU

Reflection

Some 30 years ago, while I was a university student, I made two visits to Taizé which had a profound influence on my walk with Christ.

In Brother Roger’s own words, it is “a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the centre of everything.” We readily understand the notion of “kindness of heart”, but how about “simplicity”? 

Simplicity manifests itself in Taizé not only in the food, accommodation and facilities, but mostly linguistically. 

Taizé’s guests usually stay for a week, so there is a constant change in the mix of languages. There is no default or ‘langue de préférence’. This means that in services, Bible-studies, and group discussions, songs are short, few in words, and readings just one or two verses.

If you are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, you will recognise similar elements in the Taizé style of worship and Bible study.  And, as in any monastic tradition, in Taizé, silence is an important part of the common life with 10-15 minutes of silence in every service.

Today’s chant from Taizé has its roots in Psalm 27:14. The Psalm expresses  longing for God in the many different aspects of life.

If you have ever had a pet dog, you will know how quickly they eat their dinner, but if you give them a bone, they will spend many happy hours gnawing it.  For me, this is a metaphor which reflects the time-commitment, simplicity and joy to be found in waiting for the Lord.

When we read the great stories in the Hebrew Scriptures, we learn that God’s purpose is worked out in years, decades and generations.

In our modern times, we seldom need to wait and have grown impatient. We tend to fill every moment with activity, even in our church services. Have we stopped waiting for the Lord?


Prayer

Loving God,
forgive us for not waiting for You:
when we speak to You, and we do not wait to listen to You;
when we ask You in prayer, and we do not wait to hear Your answer;
when we fill our lives with noise, and we do not wait for You in the silence;
This Advent, help us to wait for You, to keep watch and to take heart. 
Amen. --> Today's writer Walt Johnson, Ordinand at Northern College and Member at Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC in Chorlton, Manchester. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 4th December 2020

Fri, 04/12/2020 - 06:00
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In the popular mind Advent is about preparing for Christmas but we’re also called to prepare for the Second Coming of our Lord.  Wesley’s great hymn reminds us of this.

Revelation 1: 3 - 8

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,  and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him,even those who pierced him;  and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending
Charles Wesley


You can hear the hymn here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PddmTDEyu1k

Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

2 Ev'ry eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

3 Ev'ry island, sea, and mountain,
heav'n and earth, shall flee away;
all who hate him must, confounded,
hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgement! Come to judgement!
Come to judgement, come away!

4 Now Redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

5 Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the pow'r and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
O come quickly, O come quickly;
alleluia! come, Lord, come.


Reflection
So often, we spend the time of Advent looking back – back to the time before Jesus was born – we want to hurry towards Christmas as we hear the stories of Mary and Elizabeth and their babies, and to sing the Christmas songs and carols before the season of Christmas starts (but then stop singing them before the season ends!)

Advent, however, is not just about the past and remembering what happened. While we need to remember the past and learn from it, we also need to look forward to the future, and remember that God is always doing new things.

So, we need to keep Advent properly – a period of preparation. Preparation for Christmas, in the sense of remembering the amazing gift of God’s only Son, rather than the need to cook, shop and write cards.  But also preparation for the time when Jesus will come again – in a way that no-one will be able to ignore.

Charles Wesley’s hymn pictures that future day of judgement described in Revelation.  A day that some might fear: ‘deeply wailing’.  A day that others wish would come: ‘O come quickly’.

At my school, this hymn was always sung at the last assembly of the autumn term (though there was also a carol concert).  It reminds us that Advent is not just a taster for Christmas, but part of a long discipleship journey through life, so that we might confidently feel we belong to the group wishing the day would come quickly, knowing that God loves each of us as a special child.

This Advent, we may look back 2000 years, but let us also remember to look forward and allow God to do something new in our lives and in our churches.

Prayer

Father God, you are always making things new for us, looking forward rather than back.  Help us not to get stuck looking back to the past, but forward to the new future you want for us.  Amen --> Today's writer The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol and member of Zion United Church, Frampton Cotterell. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Some More Recorders Needed

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 10:59
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Hi folks,

we have a small team of people who can, at reasonably short notice, record either a Daily Devotion or a part of a Sunday service.  We like to have a variety of voices, especially in the Services.

How it Works....

I send out an email asking people to volunteer to sign up for a piece to read and record which is on a Googledoc (like a Word document but shared on the internet).  People pop their name against one piece and then record it - usually on their phones - and email it in.  We suggest people find somewhere quiet to record, sit in a corner (it helps with echo) and speak as a steady pace.  

The Difference it Makes....

Many people prefer to listen to the Daily Devotions rather than read them - for those who are visually impaired this is a great blessing.  One of the reasons the Sunday services have been so well received is we've not only had ministers and worship leaders from all over the URC but we've used the voices of people from all over as well.  This helps us realise that we're wider than our local church or Synod.

If you can help....

could you go to this link and sign up.  You just need to leave your email address, first and second name.  If you are already on this list you don't need to sign up.  Please, however, only sign up if you have the time and inclination to record pieces.  Service pieces normally need to be recorded within a few days, Daily Devotions normally need to be recorded within two weeks.

with every good wish


Andy --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend --> New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 3rd December 2020

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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This plainsong hymn comes from 8th Century France and reminded people of the Kingship of Christ in the face of the kingship of earthly sovereigns.  Sung at coronations it might have been a wee bit subversive.  

Revelation 11: 15 - 18


Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
    and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.’

Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshipped God, singing,

‘We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
    who are and who were,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
    but your wrath has come,
    and the time for judging the dead,
for rewarding your servants,[b] the prophets
    and saints and all who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

Christus Vincit

You can hear Christus Vincit here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JIBNGunMrs

Christ conquers,
Christ is King,
Christ is the Lord.

O Christ hear us,
to the Holy Church of God, uniting
souls across the divisions of the nations: perpetual peace!

Christ conquers….

Reflection

When we worship we join with the hosts of heaven - the elders seated in God's presence are moved to prostrate themselves to acknowledge God’s power and authority as the time of judgement arrives
We may flinch at the military sounding language. However the strong holy leadership of God is meant to be reflected in human leadership.

In this year, we have been reminded that what affects one, affects us all.

We have seen how good it is when:
  • international cooperation in medical research has hastened vaccine research & development;
  • where we have glimpsed the possibility to live simpler and more fruitful lives;
  • when we have been reminded of the preciousness of life and relationships;
  • when we realised a little more the need for perpetual peace.
We long for wrong to be punished, for faith to be vindicated and rewarded. Blue skies and birdsong have brought greater understanding of the effect we have on our beautiful planet.

The song of the elders reminds us of the Judgement that awaits those who mistreat it.

“What shall we do to hasten the time, the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be full of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea”

We can join our prayers with the hosts of heaven and work to bring about peace, unity and shalom. In so doing we align ourselves with the purposes of God.

Prayer

May all I say and all I think
be in harmony with thee,
God within me,
God beyond me,
maker of the trees. Amen.
 - Chinook prayer, Pacific Northwest Coast, North America

http://www.worldhealingprayers.com/2.html --> Today's writer Rev’d Viv Henderson is Minister of Minehead URC & a mental health chaplain with Elysium Healthcare in Wellington. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's Coming

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 15:45
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Dear Friends,

Sunday's service, Advent 2, is looking at the theme of Judgement. Modern Christians tend not to refer to God as a judge much, but there is so much talk of it in the Bible so cannot be shyed away from. This week's hymns include Graham Kendrick's O Lord, the clouds are gathering, Noel Richards' Great is the darkness, a rousing rendition of O God of earth and altar, and Colours of Day, amongst others.

Once again, this service contains several meditations by Nick Fawcett, has been coordinated by Andy Brauston and Lesley Thomson.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,

Dan

Dan Morrell
Technical support, Daily Devotions from the URC --> If you have a problem...   Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

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URC Daily Devotion 2nd December 2020

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 06:00
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Today’s song was written by the 4th Century bishop Ambrose of Milan.  He was elected bishop before being baptised or ordained!  He became famous for his preaching and was influential in converting St Augustine.  

Isaiah 9:6-7

For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

You can hear the hymn, from Kings College Cambridge, here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLAzsIdjgAU

Come Thou Redeemer of The Earth
Ambrose of Milan (340-397)


Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth:
let every age adoring fall;
such birth befits the God of all.

2 Begotten of no human will,
but of the Spirit, thou art still
the Word of God, in flesh arrayed,
the Saviour, now to us displayed.

3 From God the Father he proceeds,
to God the Father back he speeds,
runs out his course to death and hell,
returns on God's high throne to dwell.

4 O equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now,
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.

5 Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness glow with new-born light,
no more shall night extinguish day,
where love's bright beams their power display.

6 O Jesu, virgin-born, to thee
eternal praise and glory be,
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Spirit, evermore. Amen.

Reflection

What a difference between two consecutive chapters. In chapter eight Isaiah warns of God’s punishment in that He would send the dreaded Assyrian army that God would send to destroy Jerusalem as a punishment for disobedience to God’s will. In chapter nine, we see a very different picture. In this chapter God offers a message of hope. There would be a new King in Jerusalem, a King who would bring joy, a move from sadness to joy, from oppression to freedom, from war to peace. Was this in it’s original form referring to the birth or coronation of king Hezekiah, son of the ineffective king Ahab?
No doubt over the next few weeks churches and Christian fellowships will celebrate the season of Advent with a service of nine lessons and carols. In such a service one of the earlier scripture readings would be today’s reading. We are again reminded of verse six of this passage in one of the more famous choruses in Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’. In this passage we see God meeting human need by introducing a human agent to meet human need whether it was Hezekiah who stabilized the political state of Israel in the Old Testament context and Jesus who brought love and hope in both the New Testament times and subsequent generations of all backgrounds.

Prayer
Saviour of the world, open our hearts and minds to the joys and expectations of Advent. Help and guide us, despite all the pressures of the present age to think only of the material element of this season to turn our thoughts and energy to proclaiming what Advent and Christmas is really about. We ask this in our Saviour’s name.    Amen --> Today's writer Rev’d Colin Hunt is a retired minister and member of Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 1st December 2020

Tue, 01/12/2020 - 06:00
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The Advent Responsory often marks the start of Advent Carol services and comes from the Magnificat and Matins; it reminds us that Advent is intended to be a time of preparation and repentance.  We remember Christ’s coming in glory as both judge and saviour.

St Matthew 25: 31-33, 41-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,  and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

The Advent Responsory
You can hear the Responsory here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3p9z1uCFLY

V: I look from afar:
R: And lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.
V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?
V: High and low, rich and poor, One with another,
R: Go ye out to meet him and say:
V: Hear, O thou shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come?
V: Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come
R: To reign over thy people Israel.
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R: I look from afar: and lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.
V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?

Reflection

As Protestants within the Reformed tradition, we claim to adhere to the Pauline/Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith alone. The understanding of saving faith as complete reliance on God’s grace revealed in the crucified and risen Jesus is foundational to us.

But gift brings demand.  In this passage, the Matthean Jesus steers us firmly away from the danger of embracing the concept of ‘cheap grace,’ of thinking ‘once saved, always saved’, as a licence to pursuing our own selfish ways.  The vision of Jesus returning in glory to enact judgement confronts us with the overwhelming requirement that we are to make a positive response to the good news of the gospel, if we hope to secure a place in the kingdom. 

This positive response involves our active engagement with the vulnerable: giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, visiting the imprisoned, and caring for the sick.  The accursed ‘goats’ have failed in these responsibilities towards the vulnerable.  Their sins are sins of omission, rather than commission.  We hear their bewilderment, imagine their terror, as they ask, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

Tragically for them, ignorance is no excuse, as the one coming to reign identifies with ‘the least’ in all their need and vulnerability.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, protector of the weak and friend of the friendless,
provider to the needy and healer of the sick,
prick our consciences and stir our compassion
to notice you among the vulnerable,
to seek you among the suffering,
and to respond with hearts overflowing with your love,
in the hope of your coming among us again.  Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr Gillian Poucher, Minister of Gainsborough United Reformed Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 30th November 2020

Mon, 30/11/2020 - 06:00
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Philemon

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,  To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker,  to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God  because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus.  I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.  I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.

For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment.  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me.  I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel;  but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever,  no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you.

Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you,  and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow-workers.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Reflection
If you’re like me you might be struggling to remember much about the letter to Philemon.  Paul pleads for Philemon to accept the runaway slave Onesimus as a brother in Christ.  I offer four suggestions on why this letter has something to say to us today:
  1. Christian ethics still matter.  Both Paul and Onesimus were convinced that the right thing to do was for Onesimus to return.  In their time and place this was the right way to do things, and it’s a challenge to us now to make sure we try to do the right thing.
  2. Courage is important.  The letter to Philemon is a tremendous tribute to courage.  Onesimus had no idea what his fate might be, but he went back anyway. 
  3. Persuasion is better than power.  This beautiful letter to Philemon is a masterful example of the art of gentle persuasion, rather than brute force.  It’s a psychological masterpiece: Paul doesn’t wish to flex his apostolic muscle, but he does intend to nudge Philemon in the right direction. 
  4. Take the long view.  Paul isn’t interested in today or tomorrow, but in the long term, Onesimus’s long term welfare.  We can so often find ourselves only seeing the short term, but God challenges us to look at the long term.

Those of us like Philemon might find ourselves challenged to make radical changes in or lives, while those of us like Onesimus might find ourselves challenged to go back and face our terrors, taking the risk that it might not turn out all right.  There may be a bit of Philemon and Onesimus in most of us: it isn't easy to apologise or to forgive, nor to face our own fears; but God enabled a damaged relationship to be restored.  Following is tough - just like crucifixion - but the rewards are eternal - just like resurrection.

Prayer

Good morning God.
Please give us strength:
strength to hold on,
and strength to let go.  Amen. --> Today's writer Revd Michael Hopkins, Minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches based around Farnham, Surrey, and Clerk of the URC General Assembly. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship - 29th November 2020

Sun, 29/11/2020 - 09:45
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Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
  click here
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service. URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 29th November 2020
Advent 1: ‘Waiting and Longing’

  Opening Music

Tomorrow – by U2 (abridged)
…Won't you come back tomorrow?
Won't you be back tomorrow?
Will you be back tomorrow?
Can I sleep tonight?
'Cause I want you, I, I want you
I really, I, I want, I, I
I want you to be back tomorrow
I want you to be back tomorrow

Will you be back tomorrow?
Won't you be back tomorrow?
Won't you be back tomorrow?
Will you be back tomorrow?

Open up, open up
To the lamb of God
To the love of he who made
The blind to see
He's coming back
He's coming back
Oh believe it
Jesus's coming
I'm gonna be there
I'm gonna be there mother
I'm gonna be there mother
I'm going out there, ooh

Introduction
 
Hello.  My name is Andy Braunston and alongside my work with four lovely churches in and around Glasgow I coordinate the Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church and have been helping to ensure we’ve had a Sunday service every week since mid-March.  We have a special series of Daily Devotion services for Advent.  We thought we would do something different for our Sunday Advent, Christmas and Epiphany services and use reflections written by Baptist writer, Nick Fawcett, who offers meditations based on the perspective of various people in the Biblical story.  We’ve mixed these with music - sometimes secular like today - and a range of hymns.  The reflections take the place of sermons and we hope that, for the next few weeks, you sit back and enjoy these, slightly different, services.  If they aren’t quite to your taste, don’t worry, we have a more traditional Carol Service, Christmas Eve midnight service and Christmas Day morning service for you as well!  I’m now going to hand over to my colleague Lesley Thomson who is an ordinand at the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College.  Lesley is undertaking a placement in my churches and has helped put these services together.
 
Lesley Thompson
 
In our service today we think about waiting and longing through the eyes of two characters in the stories - a guest at a dinner party and Simon the Zealot as well as through the eyes of a nominal believer. Many Christians, when they celebrate Holy Communion announce: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. I wonder how many of us really believe that Christ will come again. It’s one of the great Advent themes and yet it’s not something we often dwell upon in our Christian lives. Christ’s coming again is bound up with the idea of justice and judgement - again ideas we don’t like very much in contemporary Christianity. These themes should make us wonder - wonder if we’ve used our gifts wisely, thought of others as well as ourselves, been honest in all our dealings, offered forgiveness just as God has forgiven us, and responded to Christ in the lives of the poor, the weak and the hungry.  These are difficult things to ponder as we journey together through Advent.  
 
Call to Worship
 
We wait for the Lord and in His word we hope.
We wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning
 
This is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
O people, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love.
and with God is plenteous redemption.
 
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Glory be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
 
There is no darkness in you, O Lord.
 
Come let us worship
  Hymn       Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending
                Charles Wesley 1707 - 1788
  Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! 
Alleluia! 
Alleluia!
God appears, on earth to reign!
 
Those dear tokens of His passion,
still his dazzling body bears;
cause of endless exultation
to His ransomed worshippers,
with what rapture, 
with what rapture,
with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars!    
Yea, Amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory:
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly!
O come quickly!
O come quickly!
Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness
 
Lord God, 
 
We come as guest invited to join in praise and worship, 
grant us this time of serenity and peace
Allow us to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of life
And Calm our minds from distracting thoughts
So that we may share in the words prayers and praise of this service. 
 
There have been times when we have ignored your invitation Lord,
Displaced our graciousness with contempt and ignorance
Please forgive us for these lapses in judgement and guide us in your way.
Grant us the fulfillment of joining in your praise and worship.
 
Forgive us Lord, for those times when we allow our faith to be hidden from view
Remind us of the work undertaken by Christ with the poor, outcast and estranged.
Provide us with the grace to follow in his footsteps as we walk in the world today
 
Thank you for reminding us of our journey, 
open our eyes and keep us ever vigilant as we step along your pathway of love and understanding.
And hear us now as we pray together in the words Jesus taught us, saying..
 
Our Father who art in heaven…
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
Lord as we listen to your word today  
we ask that you be in our hearts and in our minds,
That you be in our mouths and in our speaking
And that you be in our heads and in our understanding
 
Amen
 
St Luke 14: 16-24
 
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many.  At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.”  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.”  Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.  For I tell you,[b] none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”
 
Meditation of a guest dining with Jesus and Simon the Pharisee 
 
Turn down the chance of a feast!
Can you see that happening?
I can’t
It’s possible, I suppose, that one or two wouldn’t be able to make it – 
    A pressing engagement, perhaps,
    An unavoidable commitment –
    But the majority would move hell and high water to be there,
    Not just for the chance of a free meal, though that’s reason enough, 
    But for the whole occasion,
    The fun, frivolity, friendship
    Everything an event of that sort symbolises.
Would people really turn their backs on that,
    Let alone respond with open hostility?
No, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t ring true,
    The prospect not only ridiculous but, quite frankly, incredible.
And yet, isn’t that precisely why Jesus told the story,
    To bring home how foolish it is
    To turn down the invitation he brings,
    To turn our backs on the joy, blessing and fulfilment
    He so longs for us to share in?
It should be incredible, shouldn’t it?
But sadly, it’s not,
    Time and again his love rejected,
    His offer of new life thrown back into his face.
We all do it, if we’re honest,
    Even though we may think we’re committed.
We’ve time enough for him when it’s convenient,
    When it suits us to make time,
    But we’re only too ready to thrust him aside
    When “more pressing” concerns raise their head,
    His call then relegated to second place.
Not now, we say,
    Tomorrow will do,
    But, all too often, tomorrow never comes.
Thank God he’s ready to make allowances – 
    Only don’t push it too far
    And certainly don’t go counting any chickens,
    For the invitation may not hold for ever,
    Not even for us.
If we’re too busy to respond, there are others ready,
    Others only too conscious of their need
    And the privilege extended to them.
Delay too long,
    And you may find your place at table taken,
    Your seat occupied,
    The banquet God had in store for you consumed by another.
Think about those words of his,
    That message he tried to put across.
It’s not just about others;
    It’s about you –
    The response you’ve made,
    The response you continue to make.
The guest list is made up,
    But it can easily be changed.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
 
Hymn       Wait for the Lord
               Jacques Berthier © Les Presses et Ateliers Taize 
 
Wait for the Lord whose day is near,
wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.
 
St Matthew 25: 1-13
 
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.  But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.”  Then all those bridesmaids[c] got up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.”  But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”  And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.  Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.”  But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
 
Meditation of a Typical Nominal Christian
 
Not ready!
What’s he trying to say?
Of course I’m ready,
prepared for the coming of the kingdom whenever that might be -
no way you’ll catch me on the hop!
All right, so I’ve not done anything about it,
not yet, anyway,
but I will when I need to, you mark my words.
What’s the hurry, though, that’s what I say -
there’ll be time for change later -
live a little first while you have the chance,
let your hair down,
push the boat out,
enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
Oh, you may tut and shake your heads,
but there’ll be ample opportunity to make amends, you’ll see.
Don’t think I’m stupid,
I’Il be watching for the signs as well as any,
and if it’s ever clear that my time’s up,
the writing on the wall either for me or this world of ours,
I’ll make my peace with God soon enough.
But all that’s for later,
no point worrying about it now.
I’ve got years left in me yet, haven’t I? -
haven’t I?
Lord, what’s going on …
help … I never thought …
never imagined for a moment!
Lord … are you there …
are you listening?
Oh Lord!

Hymn       Give Me Oil in My Lamp
                Trad.
 
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
Keep me burning till the break of day.
 
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King of kings!
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King!
 
St Luke 12: 35-48
 
‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.  If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
 
‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’
 
Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’  And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.  Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.  But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk,  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating.  But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
 
Meditation of Simon the Zealot
 
Meditation of Simon the Zealot, one of the twelve disciples
We thought the waiting was over,
After all those years looking forward to the dawn of the Messiah,
    we dared to hope the moment had arrived’
    the day when God’s kingdom would at last be established
    and his servant would rule over all.
But apparently not,
    for here he was,
    our friend Jesus, whom we had looked to with such confidence,
    such anticipation,
    telling us to be dressed for action,
    prepared once again for his coming.
It left us bemused, bewildered,
    for why did he have to leave us?
Why not simply stay and claim the kingdom now?
Only it wasn’t that simple, unfortunately,
    a time apart needed before we could truly be together,
    and it came as a bitter blow.
It had been hard enough for those of before us to keep faith,
    to hold on to the belief that the Messiah would come
    despite centuries of disappointment,
    and now here he was talking of another long delay in store,
    no telling how long it might be before his return;
    even, indeed, whether we might see it in our lifetime.
It takes courage to go on trusting then;
    a special kind of faith to keep hope fresh
    and the flame burning as brightly as the day it was lit.
We may think we’re ready and waiting,
    but it doesn’t take long for carelessness or complacency to set in.
He will come, we tell ourselves.
    but not today,
    not tomorrow,
And probably not the next day;
so relax,
take it easy,
plenty of time for more serious discipleship.
He will come,
    but there’s no sign of it yet,
    not even the slightest indication that the day is near;
    so, for the moment at least,
let’s accommodate the way of the world,
a little pragmatism to balance faith.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
We say we believe,
    that our faith is as vibrant as the day it was born,
    but it no longer makes any difference to our lives,
    its life – giving breath slowly anaesthetised
    by habit and familiarity.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Don’t be caught short when the day finally dawns.
I know his promise seems a long time ago
    and its fulfilment equally as far away,
    and I know how easy it is
    to feel like those who waited so long for the Messiah’s coming yet never saw it.
The difference is that we’ve seen him for ourselves,
    we’ve watched as he dwelt among us,
    lived, breathed, suffered and died;
    and we know now, despite everything that may seem to deny it,
    that, as he came, so he shall come again.
 
Hymn       Christ is Coming! Let Creation from her Groans and Travails Cease
               John Ross Macduff (1818-1895)   Christ is coming! Let creation
from her groans and travail cease;
let the glorious proclamation
hope restore and faith increase.
 
2 Earth can now but tell the story
of Thy bitter Cross and pain;
she shall yet behold Thy glory, 
when Thou comest back to reign.
 
Come on back home!
Come on back home!
Come on back home!
Haste that joyous jubilee
 
3 Long Thy people have been pining,
for Thy peace and rest in Thee.
Soon in Heavenly glory shining,
there restored shall they see.
 
4 With that blessed hope before us,
let no harp remain unstrung;
let the mighty Advent chorus
onward roll on every tongue.   Affirmation of Faith
 
It is not true that creation and the human family
are doomed to destruction and loss—
 
This is true:
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
 
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
 
This is true:
I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
 
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
 
This is true:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
 
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
 
This is true:
To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
 
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
 
This is true:
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions
and your old men shall have dreams.
 
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind,
of justice, of human dignity, of peace
are not meant for this earth and for this history—
 
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now,
that the true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
 
Intercessions
 
We join together in our prayer for others
 
Loving God,
We pray for the oppressed and the forgotten, 
for the hungry, the lonely and the victimised.
So many people throughout the world will go without food today,
Without hope for the future, or the friendship of others to sustain them
Give strength to the weak, the marginalised and the hungry
Allow us to hold them in our prayers 
 
We hold them in our hearts now…
 
Creator God,
We pray for our world today, 
That we pay attention to the needs of the planet
Let us not be blind to the damage we are causing
to the environment and creatures we share this world with
Remove the necessity of consumption from our lives
Allowing us to remain the caretakers of your creation.
 
We hold creation within our hearts now…
 
Gracious God, 
We find ourselves living in a time of global pandemic
With concerns for the health of all people
Concerns over physical health and the damage caused by Covid 19
Concerns over the damage to mental health caused by the restrictions to our lives
Wrap your arms around the world Lord, 
Remind all people that you are here for them
 
We hold the sick within our hearts now…
 
Lord, 
We now take this time to hold those dear to ourselves, 
Those who are struggling with health concerns or financial concerns
Those who are lonely or grieving the loss of a loved one.
 
In this time of silence we hold those close to us within our hearts…
 
Loving Lord,
Let us be ready and prepared to share your love with the world around us
Amen
 
Offertory Introduction & Prayer
 
Week after week we are guests at the banquet Jesus throws open to all.  Week after week we are invited to give - of our time by simply being here, of our talents, of our love and of our financial gifts.  Our churches across these islands have been blessed by the generosity that our people continue to show even in these strange times as we’ve kept up with our envelopes, made our standing orders or made a special gift.  Let us give thanks now for this generosity.
 
We come to your banquet,
O servant King,
as guests uninvited,
ready to accept your generosity
which we do not deserve,
yet you raise use, feast with us, and pour your gifts upon us.
Take our paltry gifts which we offer in return,
that they may be used to further your coming Kingdom
which is breaking into our world.
Amen.
 
Hymn       Comfort, Comfort Now My People
                based on Isaiah 40: 1-5, Johannes Olearius (1611-1684) translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
  Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak of peace, so says our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning 'neath their sorrow's load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.
 
2: For the herald's voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all folk to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.
3: Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain;
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits God’s holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now o'er earth is shed abroad;
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.
 
Blessing
 
Be people of peace.
Let peace live in your heart and share the peace of Christ with all you meet.
Share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear.
Share peace by listening to all sides of the story.
Share peace by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share peace.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share peace and hope with those you meet. 
Amen.
 
Closing Music - Blinded By Your Grace by Stormzy (abridged)
 
I'm blinded by your grace
I'm blinded by your grace, by your grace
I'm blinded by your grace
I'm blinded by your
 
Lord, I've been broken
Although I'm not worthy
You fixed me, I'm blinded
By your grace
You came and saved me (x2)
 
One time for the Lord
And one time for the cause
And one round of applause
One time for Fraser T Smith on the chords (woo!)
I feel we got one
I stay prayed up, then I get the job done
Yeah, I'm Abigail's yout, but I'm God's son
But I'm up now, look at what God's done
Now I real talk, look at what God did
On the main stage runnin' 'round topless
I phone Flipz, then I tell him that we got this
This is God's plan, they can never stop this
Like, wait right there, could you stop my verse?
You saved this kid and I'm not your first
It's not by blood and it's not by birth
But, oh my God, what a God I serve
 
Lord, I've been broken
Although I'm not worthy
You fixed me, I'm blinded
By your grace
You came and saved me (x2)
 
I said a prayer this morning
I prayed I would find the way
To another day, I was so afraid
'Til you came and saved
You came and saved me…



 
References
Call to Worship from The Worship Source Book
Meditations by Nick Fawcett
Affirmation of Faith from Daniel Berrigan, S.J. in Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, Orbis Books, 2004.
 
Tomorrow by U2 Songwriters: Adam Clayton / Dave Evans / Paul Hewson / Larry Mullen. Tomorrow lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group
Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending taken from BBC’s Songs of Praise
Wait for the Lord sung by 7pm Choir St Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Give Me Oil in My Lamp performed by Nathan Jess
Christ is Coming! Let Creation from her Groans and Travails Cease performed by Matt Scott in 2017
Comfort, Comfort Now My People sung by the Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
Blinded by Your Grace byUzoechi Osisioma Emenike / Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Junior / Fraser T Smith
 
Thanks to
Lesley Thomson for preparing and reading the prayers.
 
Tina Wheeler, Alison Jiggins, John Young, Morag Donaldson, Pam Carpenter, David Shimmin and Andy Braunston for reading various spoken parts of the service.
 
Marion Thomas, David Shimmin, Christine Shimmin Carol Tubbs and Alison Jiggins for reading the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762
  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Sunday 29th November 2020

Sun, 29/11/2020 - 06:00
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To you, O God, I lift up my soul;
lift up my spirit to my Lord.
To you I lift up my soul. (Rpt 1st time)

1 Make me to know your ways, O God;
teach me your paths, guide me.
You are my Saviour.

2 Good and upright our gracious God,
showing the way,
guiding the humble to justice.

3 Steadfast and kind your ways, O God;
all who revere your covenant
know your friendship.

© Bob Hurd 1991.

You can hear this Psalm here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WllurpdAepc


Refection

I started writing this reflection in a week when lockdown measures were beginning to ease, but in Wales I am still not allowed to travel further than five miles.  I haven’t seen my sister for 14 weeks and it looks like it’ll be another 2 before I can. 

It feels like forever and when the First Minister announced that extra time I could’ve cried.  I didn’t so much want to lift up my soul but shout some rather choice words.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s emotions have been all over the place over the last few months when all of life, including our spiritual life, has changed drastically.  I’m also conscious that you will be reading this on Advent Sunday, a time when we reflect on the past and look to the future with anticipation and hope.

Over the last few months, we have had to learn to adapt and rely on others more.  For some it has not been easy, after all we live in a society which promotes self-sufficiency and instant gratification.  Yet our Psalmist prays that instead of living for self, and depending on our personal resources, we should depend on God.  Finding our hope and trust and security in God.  Having confidence, not in ourselves, but in God.

This is a characteristic Psalm of petition seeking the Lord’s intervention at a particular time of need.  It can be easy to dismiss the Psalms as irrelevant, how can something written so long ago have any bearing on our lives?  But we need to remember that God is active in our lives now, we just don’t always recognise such intervention as coming from God.

There is much we can learn from the Psalmist and so we pray…

Prayer

Lord of life we put our trust in you.  
When life is hard, you are there to support us.
When life is good, you share our joy. 
As we enter this Advent season, 
help us to recognise and give thanks for your presence in our lives.  
Amen --> Today's writer The Rev’d Branwen Rees, East Wales Regional Minister Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 28th November 2020

Sat, 28/11/2020 - 06:00
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Hebrews 13

Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.  Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honour by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence,

‘The Lord is my helper;
    I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?’

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.  Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.  We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent  have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood.  Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.  For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.  Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.

Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things.  I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon.

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,  bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free; and if he comes in time, he will be with me when I see you.  Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings.  Grace be with all of you.

Reflection

The beginning of this chapter uses known stories as a reminder to people to live in and with love for others. Reminders of Abraham and Sarah, reminders of Jesus teaching the disciples and I, like many of you, have hosted strangers and walked with those who are in prison, both actual prison buildings and imprisonment by substance issues, health, disability, abuse, homelessness etc. 
 
I get stuck when we are asked to remember our leaders and imitate their faith (I paraphrase). I get stuck because it feels like we ask more of our leaders than we do of ourselves, we hold them in a way that doesn’t allow for mistakes. Faith leaders are no less sinful than everyone else. Leaders may promise to live holy lives, but shouldn’t all people of faith promise the same? But it doesn’t mean we will be sinless all the time.
 
The great pearl in this chapter, for me, is the reminder that Jesus is unchanging, and we are strengthened by Grace. Surely, that is the bit we need to go out and share, the bit that is our Good News! Jesus is unchanging and offers us Life through Grace! And the best bit is it doesn’t have to be words, it simply needs to be through non-judgemental openness and kindness. Practicing the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of it.
 
So I dare you today to greet every person; friend, stranger, by-passer on the street with non-judgemental openness…give it a go. When you notice yourself thinking something judgemental, unkind, or holding your bag, phone etc tighter, remember that those are the people Jesus would have been hanging with, those are the folks that Jesus was trying to get us to see as God’s children too.

Prayer

Unchanging God, help us to live by the Spirit of the law, not the letter of it.
Enable us to hear your voice pricking our conscience when we judge others by rules we don’t hold ourselves to.
Breathe your loving kindness into and through us to others daily.
Amen.   --> Today's writer Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker, St Columba’s & Ansty Road URC’s Coventry   Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 27th November 2020

Fri, 27/11/2020 - 06:00
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Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.  See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent,  even though he sought the blessing with tears.

You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest,  and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them.  (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’)  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  and to the assembly  of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’  This phrase ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

Reflection

How did the Jews who followed Christ as saviour navigate the implications of this new life? The persecution from Synagogue and State; the amalgamation of Gentiles in their ranks, and the challenges this brought to the practice of long held Jewish customs and rituals; the knowing that Christ is Saviour, but the not knowing of what comes next.
 
These issues are played out in this letter, and at the risk of sounding flippant, I can’t help but draw parallels with our midst-covid world. Thrown from a situation of relative certainty, where the Church simply ‘was’ and has always been; a physical place of sanctuary; a mark on the landscape; a familiarity and a comforting presence in our lives, we find ourselves nervous and exhausted, knee deep in risk assessments, faces covered, advising long standing members not to come to worship, for their own benefit. In this scary new world, it’s so easy to look back, to long for that old certainty of rhythm and ritual, the confidence of our forebears in God's purpose for us, and to get back to how it was.
 
This section of the letter to the Hebrews, reminding them that Jesus, to put it crudely, ‘trumps all’ has much to say to us. Just as the Hebrews were forced to consider their own culture from a new Jesus shaped perspective, we too have an opportunity to re-assess, to re-centre Jesus, to remember that the church can be shaken, but the Kingdom cannot. With or without us, the Kingdom will continue to grow, as it always has. Jesus is ‘out there’, beyond the boundaries of our church walls, with the oppressed, the hurting, the maligned and the broken. Isn’t it about time that we got out there and joined him?  

Prayer

Oh God,
sometimes you feel far away.
The past looks rosier than the future.
It used to all make sense.
 
I seek you out, Jesus,
first born of God, made flesh,
now sat at the right hand of the Father,
yet, right here with me.
 
Send your Spirit,
to whisper new ways,
infuse in me faith,
hurry me on and into the world,
Where I might join
in the dance of your Heavenly Kingdom.
Amen   --> Today's writer Liz Kam CRCW Levenshulme Inspire Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 26th November 2020

Thu, 26/11/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Thursday 26th November  Hebrews - Jesus’ Example
Hebrews 12: 1 - 13

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,  and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
    and chastises every child whom he accepts.’

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Reflection

Many times I have heard people say, “I’ll be glad to see the back of that year.”  What promise a new year brings to those who are struggling, but what really is different with the turn of the calendar?  I never really understood.  Life is sometimes tough, and a new year offers hope.  As we approach the end of this year, I do understand.  This year I look forward to the promise of next year.

I’m not particularly athletic, but I, along with you and everyone else, have been running this year.  We have run to keep up with legislation, with technology, with the needs of our communities.  We have run to find appropriate ways to support each other while distancing.  We have been running for months.  Many of us are tired.

We have managed to keep running because we have that cloud of witnesses around us.  Our friends  have encouraged us, have offered ideas, have laughed and cried with us. Stil it has been a tough race. Our hands may be drooping.  Our knees may be weak, and we keep running.  People need us.  They need us to fight for justice, to work for the planet, to offer a caring presence.  In the midst of brokenness, they need us to create a community of healing.

In the midst of struggle the author of Hebrews wants us to remember who is our guide and why we are still running.  So whatever today holds Christ continues to guide us.  We are called to run--even the least athletic among us.   Listen to voices of encouragement and keep moving so that what is lame, broken in our world, may be healed.  

Prayer

God, thank you for the witnesses who encourage us, who guide us.  Give us courage to keep running.  Help us create communities of peace and justice.  Give us the gift of love in the face of pain.  God, grant us strength to be your people on the race for your kingdom.  Amen.    --> Today's writer The Rev’d Martha McInnes, Minister, Cardiff and Penarth Churches    

 

  Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's Coming

Wed, 25/11/2020 - 16:15
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Dear Friends,

This Sunday's service is the first Sunday in Advent. We're doing Advent services a little differently from the normal structure. But we hope you will find them all a refreshing departure from the norm. This one, like the remainder of Advent Sunday services, won't have a sermon. But instead a series of reflections written by Baptist minister Nick Fawcett. Hymns for this Sunday include Wesley's (Charles!) Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending, the Taizé chant Wait for the Lord, a rousing rendition of Give me oil in my lamp, and more! T

Services will begin and end, during advent, with a secular song instead relevant to the theme. This week we have U2 and Stormzy.

With every blessing,

Dan Morrell
Technical Support, Daily Devotions from the URC --> If you have a problem...   Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

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URC Daily Devotion 25th November 2020

Wed, 25/11/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Wednesday 25th November - Hebrews
Hebrews 11

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’  And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going…

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac...  By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph...

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered abuse suffered for the Christ  to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though  he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land... By faith the walls of Jericho fell...By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient...

And what more should I say?... Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,  since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.

Reflection

In September 2019, we moved back into our main church, beautifully remodelled to meet the needs of the 21st century and our wider community. We welcomed new faces, embarked on new ventures, provided a home for other groups to flourish, planned further development, then…coronavirus arrived and the doors shut.

It is said that the way to make God laugh is to tell him our plans! All our previous plans are on hold (in July), but the learning has not stopped. As in congregations across the country, we have found new ways to share our worship, support each other and deliver our message beyond the church walls.

When the doors re-open, there will be no familiar “normal” for the foreseeable future. We will have to adopt new practices and give extra thought to helping those who have lost so much this year.

What we might have lost – and gained – casts a light on this chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. Most of those Jews who had responded to the good news about Jesus still clung to the old ways, steeped in the rigid laws as prescribed by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Paul’s encouragement to spread the gospel to “unclean” Gentiles was just one of many ways in which they felt embattled.

The letter-writer reminded them that their ancestors had one thing in common, and one vital gift to offer – the importance of holding high their faith in God.

Little did they know that in a few years their embryonic church would disappear from Jerusalem after the Roman siege, but that many who escaped would become torchbearers for the gospel to non-Jewish communities they barely knew of before.

We too need to hold on to our faith and promote it with all the tools in our armoury, becoming the torchbearers for Jesus in our time.

Prayer

When we face change and challenge, Lord,
help us to learn valuable lessons from the past;
live with confidence and courage in the present,
and plan as best we can for the future,
knowing you will guide and support us.   Amen   --> Today's writer Pat Stannard is an Elder at Muswell Hill URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 24th November 2020

Tue, 24/11/2020 - 06:00
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Hebrews 10: 32 - 39

But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,  sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting.  Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward.  For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  For yet
‘in a very little while,
    the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one will live by faith.
    My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.’

But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Reflection

Remembering the bad old days – or were they good old days? It rather depends what exactly we dwell on when we remember. My father had lifelong memories of his ten years in the Army (1910 – 1920) when, having been badly wounded in 1916, he spent several years in a POW camp in dire conditions, and suffered for the rest of his life. World War I had been a terrible experience, yet one he would not have missed. He told its stories and sang its songs with humour and a sense of gratitude that he had survived, and was glad to be able to work and keep his family.

As I read this passage, my first thought was that the “bad old days” lived by the Hebrew Christians were not so different from my father's experience. Nor indeed were they unlike the continuing experience of people today who suffer “public abuse and persecution” (and sometimes prosecution) because of the colour of their skin or their faith or their sexual orientation – or because of their determination to convince governments of the reality of climate change – or who campaign for prison reform, for safe working conditions, for a fair Benefits system or affordable housing … All these are long-term projects, part of the ongoing Christian commitment to the kingly rule of Christ. They need people of compassion and generosity, confidence and endurance … and, most of all, people of faith and hope and love. So that all will be able to say with the writer of Hebrews,

We are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Prayer

God of Love and Justice and Hope
give us clear vision to see the needs around us;
make us quick to hear the weeping of the world
and ready to offer your healing and comfort.
Let us never shrink back from your call to Love,
but keep us ever faithful to know and to share your salvation. Amen --> Today's writer Heather Pencavel, retired Minister (Workplace Chaplain), member of Thornbury URC   Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 23rd November 2020

Mon, 23/11/2020 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Monday 23rd November  Hebrews - The Danger of Apostasy   Hebrews 10: 26 - 31

For if we wilfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy ‘on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know the one who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Reflection

Did you ever stay out after curfew, or eat sweets before your dinner?  Did you then receive the punishment due for breaking the rules?  As we grow up, our parents teach us right from wrong, and teach us the rules we are to follow in life – whether laws of the land, or household instructions.  And we follow them – mostly – and, usually as teenagers – see how many of them we can at least bend!  But we know when we have bent or broken the rules, we will feel the disappointment or even wrath of our parents for our disobedience.

What we are warned in our reading is slightly more serious than whether we put our dirty clothes in the washing basket.  When we accept Christ into our lives, it is not just a commitment to an hour a week on a Sunday. It is a complete change of life.  It is a way of life that inspires us to do the right thing all the time, to put away our own desires and plans and to live for Christ.  If we choose to stray from that path we are doomed to judgement.  Of course, we are going to get it wrong sometimes, but this is more than that.  It’s a deliberate choice to turn our back on everything we believe and act as though we had never accepted Christ, making his sacrifice for nothing.  Then we will feel the full force of God’s judgement.

We spend so much time focussing on the security and love and hope we have in Christ, that we often forget that there are consequences to our actions if we deliberately choose to reject him.  Be warned.

Prayer

Lord God, we don’t want to be scared about following you, but sometimes we rely too much on your forgiving love that we take advantage and stray too far.  Remind us of your judgement that we might realise the consequences of our actions and so focus more on our commitment.  May we use the love you have shown to us to motivate all our actions that we may follow your true path.  Amen.    --> Today's writer The Rev’d Ruth Watson Bolton and Salford Missional Partnership Minister      Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 22nd November 2020

Sun, 22/11/2020 - 09:45
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Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
  click here
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service. URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 22nd November
Christ the King

The Rev’d Michael Hodgson

Introduction
 
Good morning, I’m Michael Hodgson and I’m the Minister of two churches in Surrey- St Andrew’s in Walton-on-Thames, and Weybridge URC.  St Andrew’s story begins in 1928 when a group of people, mainly Scots or people with Scottish roots, began to meet for services in the local theatre.  Weybridge’s story begins back in 1860 when a wealthy local resident began holding services in his own home to offer a service principally aimed for the domestic servants who lived and worked in the many big houses in the area then.  Things have changed a lot now.  We are just within the M25 circle and very much in the London commuter belt.  Both Walton and Weybridge are outwardly extremely affluent areas but within both towns there are areas of poverty and of social deprivation.  It’s therefore both a joy and a challenge to live and to minister here which is much more socially mixed than it may initially appear.
 
Call To Worship
 
The wisdom of God calls to us, from the heights, along the paths, and at the crossroads. Come into God’s presence to worship, sing, and pray.

From our scattered places we come. Let us worship God.

Hymn
       Alleluia Sing to Jesus
                  W. Chatterton Dix, Tune: Hyfrodol

1 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus;
His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph,
His the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood;
"Jesus out of ev'ry nation
hath redeemed us by His blood.
 
2 Alleluia! Not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now.
Alleluia! He is near us;
faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him
when the forty days were o'er,
shall our hearts forget His promise,
"I am with you evermore"?
 
3 Alleluia! Bread of Angels,
Here on earth our food, our stay!
Alleluia! here the sinful
Flee to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, friend of sinners,
Earth’s redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless
Sweep across the crystal sea.
 
4 Alleluia! King eternal,
Ye the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! Born of Mary,
Earth thy footstool, heav’n thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered,
Robed in flesh, our great high priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim
In thy Eucharistic feast.

Opening Prayer, Confession and Assurance and Pardon
 
God of Wonder and God of love, with the whole church on earth, and with the whole company of heaven, we praise your name.  You have brought us to this hour and to you belong the glory and the praise.  You made us in your image and, through Jesus, you save us.  You love us with a never-ending love and so we pray that you will cleanse us by your grace and guide us by your Holy Spirit.  May we honour your name and may we offer you to acceptable worship; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
Remember not, Lord, our offences,
Nor the offences of our forebears;
Neither take vengeance of our sins,
But spare us, good Lord.
Spare your people, whom you have redeemed
With your most precious blood,
And be not angry with us for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.
 
Grace to you and peace from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.   Your sins are forgiven- thanks be to God.
 
And as one family we say together the Lord’s Prayer…
 
Reading:  St Matthew 25: 31-46
 
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’  Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Hymn:      There Is A Land of Pure Delight
                  Isaac Watts
  1 There is a land of pure delight
Where saints, immortal reign
Infinite day excludes the night
And pleasures banish pain.
 
2 There everlasting spring abides
And never withering flowers:
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heav'nly land from ours.
Could we but climb where Moses stood
And view the landscape o'er
Not Jordan's streams nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from this shore


3 O could we make our doubts remove
Those gloomy thoughts that rise
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes!
 
Could we but climb where Moses stood
And view the landscape o'er
Not Jordan's streams nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from this shore (x2)


Sermon
 
The liturgical comes to an end this Sunday and today is known by a number of names.  It’s “The Sunday next before Advent”; it’s “Stir Up Sunday”;  it’s “Christ the King” Sunday to name but a few.  Today encourages us to look forward to the reign of Christ the King and, as a musician, my brain is already mentally singing, “Christ triumphant, ever reigning, Saviour, Master, King.”  My guess is that after the year we’ve been through many of us will find looking forward a rather more pleasurable prospect than looking back.  2020 is not a year that we’ll ever forget although I sense that during it a number of people have found great strength and comfort in their faith.  As I prepare this sermon I am reading that there has been a considerable increase in the number of people who say that they are praying regularly now. 
 
Our Gospel reading this morning is a well-known passage, unique to Matthew.  It speaks of the judgement of the Son of Man and it follows three parables which are all about preparing for the coming of the Son of Man.  The first of those is the “Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servants”.  The second is the “Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids” or the “Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins”, as some of us may more readily know it.  And then, the third is the “Parable of the Talents.”  Those three parables are all about being prepared for the coming of the Son of Man.  In each of them everyone knows that the master will come, even if he doesn’t arrive as soon as was initially expected.    What is required in each of those parables, however, is watchfulness.  That is why the wicked servant, the foolish bridesmaids and the lazy steward fail:  and the faithful servant, the wise Bridesmaids and the enterprising stewards all succeed.  Everyone knew what to do but when push came to shove, some did it and some did not. 
 
The three parables then climax with the story of the judgement of the Son of Man which is our Gospel reading today. 
 
I always find it both a comforting and a disturbing passage.  I know that I can think of occasions when I’ve been both a sheep and a goat and being realistic, I suspect that I’ve fallen short of the mark far more frequently than I’ve reached it.  In my preaching since the middle of March, however, I’ve quite often looked at each Sunday’s Bible readings and explored them through the lens of lockdown and the COVID pandemic.  I’d like to try to do that this morning though you will all be aware that these sermons are prepared well in advance.
 
When I said the Blessing in church at the end of worship on 15th March I think I knew that it could well be a long time before I did that again.  The next few weeks were certainly a steep learning curve for a lot of us.  The church moved online and once my brain moved out of panic mode and rebooted in safe mode I realised that a significant change was taking place all around me.  I live in an area not necessarily known for being a close-knit community these days but suddenly people were coming together, looking out for each other, helping others and being aware of other people’s needs and situations, not just their own.  As  “Clap for the Carers” progressed I met neighbours I’d never even seen before, let alone spoken to.  A WhatsApp group was established.  People started smiling at the each other, saying, “Hello”.  Having moved here from mid Wales, where buying a pint of milk can easily take an hour, it was wonderful.  Suddenly there was human contact.  When the NHS asked for volunteers to help people get prescriptions etc they were overwhelmed by the response - and to me this all ties in directly with the first part of our Gospel reading this morning.  To pick up Matthew’s language, people were fed, given food, clothed and visited by phone or by Zoom or by keeping a 2 metre distance outside.  One of my own more unusual pastoral moments was a visit to a church member in the last weeks of a terminal illness.  He was in bed and I, since I couldn’t go in, I was standing in a flowerbed by an open window.  Weird - but a visit I’m so glad I did.  I think that I always knew it would be the last time I’d actually see him. 
 
A number of churches have also been heavily involved in community response and support, members and ministers alike being key workers in trying to mitigate some of the effects of the lockdown.  Our online churches have been out there meeting spiritual needs and it’s interesting that many suddenly found themselves with bigger congregations than they had pre-Covid days-  and covering much greater areas too.  So, when I read about the judgement of the Son of Man and about the sheep and goats this year, I dare to respond to it with a little more positivity.  That’s not to be complacent.  I don’t dismiss the times when we have failed.  I don’t dismiss the times when we didn’t welcome, we didn’t give food or a drink, didn’t clothe, or didn’t visit-  but if those three parables which precede our Gospel reading are all about knowing what to do and doing it then I dare to hope that we’ve done rather better this year.   Surely this year we should give thanks to God for all the appropriate responses as well as confess the times we failed.  We should give thanks that God has been with us through it all- our refuge and out strength, as the Psalmist writes.  Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that when we are judged our faith should have been expressed through obedient and loving behaviour to all, not just to those we like.  After the year we’ve been through -  and after the way we’ve responded, a little more carrot and a little less stick is surely appropriate today.
 
So, having looked back a bit, I’d like finally to look forward and two hymns by Isaac Watts always seem to say so much at this point.  “There is a land of pure delight”, he writes and says the we need not fear that because, if we could just see it then nothing would “fright us from the shore”.  In the other hymn Watts imagines that he’s been given a special pair of wings to allow him to do precisely that.  He asks “the saints above” how they got there and tells us that, “they, with united breath, ascribe their conquest to the Lamb, their triumph to his death.”  I’ve long found those words both encouraging and reassuring.  They may have been written a little over 300 years ago but I believe them still to be at the heart of our faith and a joy upon which to meditate.
 
So, as the liturgical year comes to an end I find myself looking forward with hope and with optimism.  2020 has been a difficult year.  I have lost members of my congregations to the COVID-  but I do hope that we’ve risen to its challenges with faithfulness, resourcefulness and courage. 
 
Our Gospel reading is always a challenge.  There is always room for improvement but this year I read it knowing that in so many ways a lot of people have done their very, very best to deliver that standard.  And where we’ve failed to meet that standard, I also believe in a God who is merciful.

Hymn:      Christ, Of God Unseen, The Image
                  The Rev’d Leith Fisher, (b1941) based on Colossians 1: 15-20
  1 Christ, of God unseen the image,
born before creation’s birth;
through whom all things were created,
all that live in heaven and earth –
realms and rulers, thrones, dominions,
powers great and forces small
through and for Him made and fashioned –
He is in and over all.
 
2 Christ the firstborn of creation,
Christ in whom all things cohere,
all things’ Maker, seen and unseen,
low and lofty, far and near,
Christ the head of His dear body,
of His Church the living core,
risen from the dead before us –
Him we gladly now adore.  
3 Christ in whom the very fullness
of the living God is found,
Christ who reconciles creation
turning earth to holy ground,
Christ the home of God’s good pleasure
through whose blood is made our peace,
in whose Cross, beyond all measure,
is our freedom and release.
  Affirmation of Faith
 
Do you believe in the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the Church through Word and Spirit. This God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end. We do
 
Do you believe that God is the One who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people. We do.
 
Do you believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, and the wronged? We do.
 
This is the faith of the Church!  We are proud to confess it in Jesus Christ, our Lord.   Amen.
 
Prayers of Intercession
 
Loving, living God, today we as we think of the reign of Christ the King we give thanks and pray for all those who, in the terms of our Bible reading, have acted as sheep.  We pray for those who have given the hungry food, those who have given the thirsty a drink.  We pray for those who welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit those in prison.  We give thanks for the many acts of kindness and caring shown in these difficult and frightening times.
 
In our prayers we continue to pray for those involved in the caring professions.  We pray for those trying to improve the lot of their fellow human beings, particularly remembering those doing so in the face of uncaring or unjust leaders.  And we pray for the scientists working for a vaccine for Covid (and the other dreaded diseases) at the moment.
 
And we pray for those who are hungry and thirsty today.  We pray for the sick.  We pray for the dying and we pray for those who are mourning.  We pray for the stranger, the frightened, the homeless and we pray for those whom we know and who are finding life a struggle at this time.
 
And we pray for ourselves.  Open our eyes and open our hearts that we may respond as those Biblical sheep did. May we live our lives in a state of preparedness for your coming, setting our eyes on that “land of pure delight where saints immortal reign”  which we may glimpse through faith.  May we do everything in our power to share that glimpse with others through our lives and through our actions.
 
In a moment or two of quiet we bring our own, personal payers before God…
 
And the collect for this Sunday,- stir-up Sunday.
 
 "Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
 
Offertory Prayer
 
O God, from whom we receive both our gifts and our power to give; grant that our offerings, which we bring to you, may be used for in your service and for your glory;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Praise god from whom all blessings flow
Praise him all creatures here below
Praise hm above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
 
Hymn       Christ triumphant, ever reigning
1 Christ triumphant, ever reigning,
Saviour, Master, King!
Lord of heaven, our lives sustaining,
hear us as we sing:
Yours the glory and the crown,
the high renown, the eternal name.
 
2 Word incarnate, truth revealing,
Son of Man on earth!
power and majesty concealing
by your humble birth:
Yours the glory...
3 Suffering servant, scorned, ill - treated,
victim crucified!
death is through the cross defeated,
sinners justified:
Yours the glory...
 
4 Priestly king, enthroned for ever
high in heaven above!
sin and death and hell shall never
stifle hymns of love:
Yours the glory…
  5 So, our hearts and voices raising
through the ages long,
ceaselessly upon you gazing,
this shall be our song:
Yours the glory...

Blessing
 
Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you all now and always.
 
Amen.
 






Thanks to
 
Jonnie Hill and Adam Scott, Ruth and Kingsley Browning, Phil, Lythan and Carys Nevard for recording the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith. Andy Braunston, Addie Redmond, Aaron Wood and Ray Fraser for other spoken parts of the service.
Alleluia Sing to Jesus- (W. Chatterton Dix, Tune: Hyfrodol), sung by the Choir of Kings College Cambridge
There Is A Land Of Pure Delight- (Isaac Watts), Red Mountain Music
Christ, of God Unseen, The Image- (The Rev’d Leith Fisher, (b1941) based on Colossians 1: 15-20), Edinburgh University Singers, Ian McCrorie (Conductor), John Kitchen (Organ)
Christ Triumphant, Ever Reigning- (Michael Saward), Jubilate Hymns
 
Organ Pieces
Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland (“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach, (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Nun Danket Alle Gott – Marche Triomphale (“Now thank we all our God”) by Sigfrid Karg-Elert, (organ of All Saints’, Odiham – 2020)
 
Both pieces played by Brian Cotterill

http://briancotterill.webs.com  --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762
  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Sunday 22nd November 2020

Sun, 22/11/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Sunday 22nd November 2020 p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; font-size:inherit !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Sunday 22nd November Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord's (Men)
And everything in it (Women)
The earth is the Lord's (Men)
The work of His hands (Women)
The earth is the Lord's (Men)
And everything in it (Women)
And all things were made (All)
For His glory

(Last time)
And all things were made
Yes, all things were made
And all things were made
For His glory

The mountains are His
The seas and the islands
The cities and towns
The houses and streets
Let rebels bow down
And worship before Him
For all things were made
For His glory

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1986 Thankyou Music

You can hear this Psalm here 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAompuKQZo0#action=share

Reflection

In the church I grew up in we used to take turns to say verses of the Psalms. An imaginary line down the centre of the congregation determined who would speak the odd or even lines. As I look at our Psalm song, I see something that should seem similar. And yet those bracketed instructions to the (Men) and (Women) look so curious on the page.

Both the song and my memory of sharing out the psalm lines come from the mid-1980s. The same decade saw a growing conversation about who gets to speak, whose language is considered normal, and who gets to say what. I have never sung this hymn without noticing, and regretting, that only men get to sing of God’s lordship, whilst women just sing in reply. The female voices never get to begin an idea, only to elaborate upon the point the men already made. Perhaps unconsciously, perhaps deliberately, this Psalm setting connects the Lordship of God to male authority. I find it hard to sing, which is a shame as Psalm 24 is such a powerful and beautiful poem.

The way we speak of God, and who we listen to as we talk of God, can limit our imagination. Psalm 24 points in the opposite direction – everything in this world belongs to God, and all have their part to play in worship. Who gets to speak, whose life experience is assumed to be normal, who is made to feel like a token presence, and who is encouraged to stay silent still matters. In each generation grows a new awareness of who has been kept quiet and what has previously been left unsaid. May we listen with the Holy Spirit to the chorus of God’s created people. And may we notice how every voice needs to be honoured and brought out for us to begin to imagine the fullness of life which God promises.

Prayer

How does the sea worship you?
Through its ebbs and tides, and consistent action? Or its constant recreation of beaches and rain clouds?

How does a city worship you?
Through the buildings which point to the heavens? Or its openness to the stranger, protection of the vulnerable?

How do I worship you?
Through my prayer and reflection? Or in my speaking, listening, and action?

As all of creation seeks to worship you, may every thing speak of your glory.
Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d ’frin Lewis-Smith is a healthcare chaplain in Salford and a member of Tonge Moor URC  Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion  21st November 2020

Sat, 21/11/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  21st November 2020 p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; font-size:inherit !important; 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Hebrews 10: 19-25

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Reflection

Paul had confidence born of faith. Confidence built on Christ. That’s surely one of the reasons that his ministry was as wide ranging and impactful as it was. It’s no wonder that he urges others to have that same confidence. 

Nevertheless, confidence alone is no guarantee of the quality of anyone’s faith, or the quality of their message. After all, the false prophets, to whom Paul alludes elsewhere, probably also displayed a similar confidence. However, Paul reminds the Hebrews that the right sort of confidence and the right sort of message should provoke them to love and good deeds. They can see from the fruit growing within their community, or the lack of it, whether or not the confidence is warranted.

Paul also tells the Hebrews to meet together. One of the many good reasons for doing this is so that they can discern together the worth of any message. Whilst an individual can be led astray by a new and exciting preacher, the community as a whole will more easily discern a false apostle. In other words, when we get back to having coffee after worship, we should also return to the old, old ways of discussing the sermon over the biscuits. This will allow us to absorb all that has been said that is good and to discard anything not so good.

Paul then prompts the Hebrews to encourage one another. So often those with the strongest gifts do not recognise them for what they are. It is only when they are encouraged by others that they may have the confidence to step forward and to offer those gifts to God and to the community. So coffee time needs to become encouragement time too. That way, those with unrecognised gifts can discover both the gifts and the confidence to use them.

Prayer

Living and loving God,
We praise you that we can stand before you
in the confidence that through Christ we have been forgiven.
We ask you now to grant us the discernment to know what you would have us do
And the confidence to step forward in your name and to do it.
Thanks be to God
Amen.     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Jacky Embrey, minister in the Bolton and Salford Missional Partnership   Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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