Sunday 26 June 2022
We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning however, we thought it would be good to offer some excerpts from the Sunday morning service. Where we can, we offer parts of the service in text and audio, whichever works best for you. If you want to plug in headphones to your computer, tablet or mobile phone now is a good time to do it ! If you want to offer some comment or feedback just use the comment box at the end of this post.
The Prayer of a refugee
I pray that the Home Office will make the asylum process easy and faster. Also not allow the establishment of a two-tier refugee system to be passed into law.
I pray that the Home Office should not make life increasingly difficult for asylum seekers and the majority of refugees. Also, we should not be treated differently, because of the colour of our skin, our route of entry, or our religion. Also, reduce their fee, which is over £2,000 per head. Amen
Fintan O’Tooole is a writer for the Irish Times. The attached article highlights some of the issues refugees confront in finding sanctuary.
Luke 9: 51 – 62
Galatians 5: 13 – 25
Praise – O God you search me
Prayers of Approach
We are all kinds of people; storytellers and talkers, the quiet and reserved. We are worriers and carers, the carefree and care-less. We are managers and labourers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Father in Heaven, we are all your children
We who are free and filled with hope,
we who are burdened and weighed down by doubt,
we who are faithful, we who are careful
we who are carefree, we who are hesitant
We who find sanctuary and we who are vulnerable,
We who are refugees and we who have homes
We come now to You, our God,
and recognise that no matter the state of our lives
or the shape of our hearts, You love us, each and every one.
And You invite us to open ourselves to you, to hear, to see
to feel, and to know You are our God. And you invite us to open ourselves to each other and see the face of Christ in each other’s faces and experience the love of Christ in each other’s actions.
In all that we do, say and think in this place of sanctuary may there be an offering of praise and worship to You through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And now we bring this offering to you, in our actions, in our thoughts, in our words and in our prayers, in the quietness of our hearts and the exuberance of our praise we offer our all to you. Lord Jesus, receive our gifts and use them to your glory, for the growth of your kingdom and the benefit of all your children.
Hear us as we join in the words of the Lord’s Prayer saying…
Our Father who art in Heaven Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.
Praise – Let us build a house
History had divided them even though they shared the same roots. Jews and Samaritans shared a common heritage until the time the Babylonians took sections of Jewish society into captivity. In much the same way that Ukrainians civilians have been taken captive and transported into Russian territory; they were taken by force.
Such was the length of time that the Jews were in captivity in Babylon that they began to settle and absorb some of the Babylonian culture. The story of Noah’s Ark, so fundamental in the Old Testament is just one example of a story which in origin is Babylonian not Jewish. None of this really mattered until of course, those who had been held in captivity were able to return home. What should have been a happy home coming actually gave rise to a lot of tensions.
The Samaritans could see that the Jews no longer worshipped in a pure form of their religion, they were tainted with elements of Babylonian culture. The Samaritans claimed therefore to have a more ancient and purer expression of the faith. In other words, it was a sectarian division.
We see a little of that sectarian division when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. In John Chap 4 the woman says: “I see you are a prophet, sir,” “My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans do not really know whom you worship; but we Jews know whom we worship, because it is from the Jews that salvation comes.”
There was a live and real tension between Jews and Samaritans which also helped the Parable of the Good Samaritan to be all the more pertinent and shocking.
It may be a curious decision then, for Jesus to choose to travel through a Samaritan village on his way to Jerusalem. He is rejected by the Samaritans, they would not receive him, because they knew he was Jewish. And disciples James and John were ready to have all those Samaritans wiped out in some Divinely inspired act of retaliation – God would bring down fire from heaven or maybe they knew someone who felt they were serving God by burning out a few family homes. The kind of person who thinks the only good Samaritan is a dead one. The only saving graces in this story is that 1) Jesus wants to build bridges into the Samaritan community and 2) He rebukes the disciples – he won’t tolerate sectarian hatred.
Maybe the refreshing thing is that the Gospels don’t try to hide this kind of division in society, division between peoples, even those who live cheek by jowl.
Maybe the disappointing thing is that not much has changed. Ukrainian refugees are treated differently to those from Africa or Syria. Is that just because they are white and Christian and can speak English? Some Afghan refugees were welcomed with open arms but if you survived the crossing of the Channel from France you might end up on a flight to Rwanda. Why are some held in detention centres and others are left in squalid hotels. Why are asylum seekers not allowed to work and how on earth do they find the Government’s £2,000 fee for processing an asylum claim.
Why can’t we see that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and treat everyone with the same kindness and compassion?
Prayer for Others
Gracious God, who loves the poor and defends the weak, who is the strength of the vulnerable and the oppressed, we pray for those who feel they have no roots, no identity, no sense of belonging.
We pray for those who live as refugees in strange lands, driven from their own homes and country by civil war, oppression, famine, natural disaster or “special military operations”.
We pray for those who have been orphaned as children; those who have been adopted and who long to discover their true parents, those who come from broken homes and are scarred by bitter separation; those who have been abused, those who feel unloved and unwanted.
We pray for our society in which so much of the feeling of community has been lost, where a sense of local and national identity has long gone, where ties which once bound families together have been broken, where values, customs and convictions which once gave stability have been flouted by those who live only for themselves.
Lord of our world, give to us all a proper sense of the worth in those around us, a recognition of the humanity that binds us all together, none greater none lesser than the other. Give us a sense of your love for all people no matter what race or culture, background or circumstances define us.
May your church be a place of sanctuary for all, a place of acceptance, welcome and belonging; that in You our Lord and God all may find their true source of being and the roots of their living.
Lord in your mercy hear our prayers. AMEN.
Praise – A New Commandment
And now may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love now and forever more. AMEN.