Sunday 3 July 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.
Praise – God sent his son
Luke 10: 1 – 11
Galatians 6: 7 – 18
In quiet prayer, with grateful hearts, Lord God we acknowledge you as the God who has made all things, who made us and looked upon us and saw that we were ‘good.’
You the God who has woven heaven and earth together, who taught the sun to rise and the stars to dance, You who is mighty and everlasting, strong in Your love and tender in Your touch.
How can it be then, that this very God, this highest host of heaven knows and loves each of us?
How can it be then that this very God has made it so that we might draw close
in worship and adoration; here, now, in this very place? Draw close, even when we have wandered far away, draw close, even when our hearts are heavy.
When we struggle to believe You care or that You are even there at all. Hear us, Lord, and be merciful to us.
We only know Your love because of the offering Christ made through His life, death and resurrection; a complete giving of himself to us. And now we give of ourselves to You our God, offering the love of our hearts and expressing it through the love of our neighbour; offering our resources that your physical church may continue, offering our time and talents that others may come to experience your love. Our offering Lord, may not be as full or as perfect as that of Your Son’s yet we still give of ourselves; receive our gifts to the Glory of Your name.
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.
I hate things being dis-jointed. Dis-jointed stories are just the worst. How on earth are we meant to make sense of things when the bits don’t connect together in a nice smooth time line?
I think Luke chapter 9 going into 10 is dis-jointed.
Jesus is leaving the Sarmatian Village which refused to receive him, to go to another village. We are not told if this other village is Samaritan or Jewish or Gentile. As they go on their way to this other village a series of short conversations take place from would be followers of Jesus but Jesus rejects those who are not immediately available, or maybe who don’t share the same sense of urgency in the task that he does. The Kingdom of God is now and so utterly important that there is no time for saying goodbye to family or retuning to bury deceased parents.
All of a sudden Jesus has chosen another seventy two men. Where did they come from? Luke doesn’t describe them as disciples, just men, random men who presumably felt that sense of urgency for Jesus message. We still don’t know if they were Samaritan or Jewish or who they were. It would be all the more remarkable a story if those men were Samaritans in light of the sectarian rejection of Jesus which came before.
With a clear message and clear instructions and a pretty good idea of what to expect those 72 men were sent on ahead of Jesus to every town and place that he was about to go. And as we read on those same 72 men came back full of stories about how amazing their experience had been. Even the demons obeyed them. Maybe Jesus really was trying to carry the Samaritan peoples with him by demonstrating the truth behind his words. It is in this context that we get the Parable of the Good Samaritan., which is not some generalised teaching about loving your neighbour but a very real lesson to a Teacher of the Law that his neighbour was the Samaritan. It is an anti-sectarian parable (but I jump ahead too much).
If those 72 men were in fact Samaritans going out to Samaritan villages with the words of Jesus the Jewish teacher and preacher then it makes this story all the more wonderful and we might appreciate why Jesus says I’m sending you out like lambs among wolves. And yes, a Samaritan was more likely to hear those words if they were spoken by another Samaritan but they were still the words of a Jewish teacher.
I suppose it is an early lesson on Message and Messenger; how these two things are so closely tied together and how Jesus saw the message of the Kingdom of God as being more important than him. The only way Jesus could get the message of the Kingdom of God into the Samaritan community was to entrust it to those 72 Samaritan men.
And he has done the same with us. Jesus has entrusted that message to us so we can pass it on to those who will listen to us.
Praise – I am weak
Prayers of Concern
Lord and God we come to you offering our concerns for others, for our world, a world that has become so restless, angry, chaotic, fractured. When once we thought that normality would resume in the aftermath of the pandemic, somehow the vacuum has been filled with chaos.
We see the unrest and backlash in the United States to the repealing of Abortion Laws, each State now at liberty to choose its own path like some kind of postcode lottery. Abortion rights, gun laws, race relations – a toxic mix of disharmony that touches everyone. There are some problems we just don’t have good answers to.
How do we extend rights to those who cannot speak for themselves, the unborn, defending the defenceless, and where that might conflict with the rights of the mother? In our imperfect world, we make imperfect decisions, in our imperfect human existence and all we can seek is the grace of God, his love and his compassion.
Lord God, we pray to you for the chaos of conflict that we see in Ukraine. Amidst threats from Russia Finland and Sweden receive the invitation to join NATO and Ukraine are in process of joining Europe – the very things that Vladimir Putin’s conflict was meant to prevent. Does this throw Putin’s premiership into question and bring an end to conflict? Or does it nudge us closer to greater conflict. Only time will tell, but these are increasingly anxious times for Ukraine, for NATO, for Europe.
And we think on those most vulnerable, those in Africa who depend on grain from Ukraine, where supplies have now stopped and there is no prospect of improvement. Putin’s chaos reaches far beyond Ukraine; Lord bring us back to order, stability and peace.
A summer of strikes
And at home we see the pressures of the rising cost of living affecting so many. Workers on strike or planning strike action, seeking better pay that may further increase the cost of living. Unrest can so easily lead us into a spiral of unrest. When there are no easy answers and no quick fixes, when economies take years to recover, Lord give us patience, give us forbearance and give us compassion toward those who genuinely struggle to survive.
In our imperfect world, we make imperfect decisions, in our imperfect human existence and all we can seek is the grace of God, his love and his compassion. AMEN.
Praise – Your Kingdom Come
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 for evermore. AMEN.