Sunday 10 July ’22
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 – I the Lord of Sea and Sky
Scripture – The Good Samaritan
Luke 10: 25 – 39
Prayers of Approach
Our Gracious Heavenly Father, in rare moments of insight, in glimpses of inspiration. we try to grasp the beauty and the expansive nature of Your love.
No words can describe it
no song can praise it enough
no human being can explain it.
Yet, those who are able to open their hearts to you can see signs of Your love and grace –
In the colours of the sky
in the chaos of the storm
in bird song at the dawn of day.
In our moments of great fear when alone and anxious, You promise to shelter and protect us. You tell us all will be well. Through days of struggle and heartache, joy and achievement, surrounded by the companionship of family and friends, You cover us with a blanket of compassion and kindness. The constancy of Your grace overwhelms us.
Standing at the cross
we are transfixed –
gazing, we are
Your outstretched arms
have enfolded us in a love we’ve never known before, or since.
has healed our troubled souls.
May Your love
now live through 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 – Come Down O Love Divine
Cast your minds back if you will to March 2020 to that time when the dawning realisation was upon us that Covid 19 was gaining ground and we knew we were facing something awful. The NHS was under increasing pressure. And all across the country a little home grown poster campaign came to life. Children everywhere, maybe adults too, were painting a rainbow, the universal and biblical sign of hope, with the words “Be Kind” written underneath. How simple a message! “Be Kind”. Across the country and around the world we were being asked to be mindful of those under stress, those who were in need, those who were and are our neighbours, quite literally those who live next door, who just might need some help. “Be Kind” is a message that speaks of humanity, compassion, community.
Forgive me if there is an all too obvious link between those hand drawn “Be Kind” posters and the conclusion the teacher of the Law comes to as he listens to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. “In your opinion which of these three acted like a neighbour toward the man attacked by robbers? The one who was kind to him, answered the Teacher of the Law.”
Like you, I have read the Parable of the Good Samaritan many, many times. And perhaps like you I get the impression that Jesus doesn’t really answer the question that was posed to him, or he answers it in a peculiar way. Who is my neighbour? Is the question that prompts the parable.
If the context of this parable, and what precedes it, is the relationship between Jews and Samaritans; the Teacher of the Law then is maybe expecting an answer that supports his own sectarian outlook. His neighbour will be his Jewish brother or sister and certainly not that Samaritan over there. The Samaritan who worships the same God as him but does so in a different way and that is sufficient reason for him to ignore them and despise them. Indeed, he might well feel all the more righteous in his own faith by virtue of despising those who are not the same as him.
Nor yet do we know who “the man” lying in the road battered and bruised is meant to be. Just a man.!? A Jewish man or a Samaritan man? Do the Jewish priest and Levite walk by because they see the man is Samaritan? Or equally as bad walk past a Jewish brother lying injured in the road and care not a jot about his welfare. Either way their actions are shocking and the more so because the Jewish faith had a very strong moral code, a strong sense of social justice, to defend the weak, the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. The actions of the Levite and Priest are indefensible.
And so, the story leads the Teacher of the Law to the only possible conclusion. He answers then his own question. Even though he cannot bring himself to say it was the Samaritan, this Teacher of the Law has to admit that the one who was kind was the one who acted as a neighbour. In divided communities acts of kindness that cross the boundaries can draw a lot of attention, they can create quite extreme reactions, but they can also bring healing of that division. Too often we have glibly said that everyone is our neighbour almost as not to be caught out with issues of race, religion, gender… Yet, these things were never part of the equation. It is not who but what. Not who you are; but what you do.
If this is the answer then, the question might have been better put as, “How do I know if someone is my neighbour? Or even, “How will someone know if I am their neighbour?”
They will know by your simple acts of kindness. Go and do the same.
Prayers of Concern
Father God, we pray this day that two small words might change this world, “Be Kind” simple words and simple actions that can transform so much.
In a world torn apart by conflict we ask that leaders of nations might have the wisdom to make right decisions and confront evil with good. May simple words and acts of kindness change the life of the refugee and the enemy. May kindness cause the enemy to burn with shame.
We give thanks to You, O God, for Your unfailing goodness and pray for members of the community who work for and serve the common good.
Sustain and strengthen all those who work tirelessly for the good of others.
We pray especially with those who are part of the emergency services;
doctors and nurses and all the support staff who work in the NHS; whose task is to offer kindness and do so professionally day after day.
Give understanding and wisdom to teachers and administrators and all who work in our education system, schools, colleges and universities when they face challenging pupils whose behaviour disrupts and those who are so quick to learn and hard to keep up with who bring their own set of challenges. May all relationships of teacher and pupil be fashioned in kindness.
Changes and crisis in government, who knows what comes next. Cabinet Ministers resign highlighting the flaws in the present administration, yet defending their potential to move up the ranks. Career moves, like chess moves, seeking to divide and conquer. Where is kindness in politics, where is compassion for the poor, where is the sense of caring for a neighbour. Bring to us Lord, leaders and others who are willing to serve not for their own benefit but for the good of our communities and all those who are oppressed and forgotten.
In all things Lord, may we seek kindness as the hall mark of service.
Give perseverance to all those who are enduring difficult times, in frustrating relationships and challenging work places. Give strength to those who feel they are running out of options and feel unable to carry on. Inspire us with opportunities to carry out deeds of kindness, without us ever being rewarded,
only knowing that what we do is to bring glory to Your name.
Lord hear our prayers as now we give thanks to You, for Your unfailing kindness…
Awaken within us simple words and acts of kindness that transform our world. AMEN
Praise – In Christ Alone
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.