Sunday 24 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 – Love Divine
Luke 11: 1 – 13
Colossians 2: 6 – 15
Prayers of Approach
Most Holy God, we take this moment to pause, and wonder. And we ponder Your greatness balanced by Your humility; Your judgment balanced by Your mercy.
How we should praise a God as wonderful and complex as you!
We seek stillness of spirit before You, and wait in awe, yet we are also bold enough to lift up our eyes to see You, face to face.
This day, Lord, we sing Your praises!
This day, Lord, we rejoice in Your generosity!
This day, Lord, we are glad You continue to reach out to us with love.
Father God, we acknowledge before you that it does not take us long to stumble from the heights of praise, to the valley of remorse as the awareness our failings
swamps our spirits and our minds. There are flaws in our characters, and petty triviality that trips us up each day. Forgive us the hasty word, the harsh thought, the judgment of others that is not tempered by mercy, the spiteful reaction that is uncalled for.
We are complex people, hard to understand and sometimes hard to love yet, you have never given up on us, you love us and always will. You give us a second chance, another chance, and we sorely need it.
Expressing our love for you we offer our all to you. We offer what we have; material things that help us offer a witness to your love. We offer our time that in the day to day, in the ordinary stuff of life we might live and act for you. We offer our talents that in our creativity we might reflect the glory of a God of creation. We offer our prayers that in relationship with you we might learn to be the people you created us to be.
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 – O God you search me
Some of you may be aware that my late father, Roy, was also a Minister of the Church of Scotland, he was a mature student and entered the ministry when he was around 50 years old. He ministered at Lochee Old St. Luke’s Church in the Presbytery of Dundee through most of his time in ministry. In my early years in ministry, when I was in Kirkaldy Presbytery, we often swapped stories, or more accurately, gossiped about the goings on in church life.
Forgive me if I can’t now quite remember the context but I do remember the comment my Old Man made one day about some or other minister preaching on the Lord’s Prayer. It was something to the effect that you must really think your congregation is ignorant if you have to preach to them on the meaning of the Lord’s prayer. It was a pretty cutting remark to make, maybe that’s why it has stayed with me. And at the same time, I sort of know what the Old Man meant.
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and we still say that prayer every week when we gather together. I doubt if any of us sat down to learn The Lord’s Prayer but by simple weekly use of that prayer we have come to know those words and they are now written upon our hearts. I’ve seen the elderly frail in nursing homes, blissfully unaware of the day of the week but still able to say the Lord’s prayer. These are words that live with us long after the “important” things have vanished. The Lord’s Prayer is just so foundational to worshipping together, so intrinsic to our identity as followers of Christ that to preach on it is almost to insult you.
You’ll find The Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew and Luke’s Gospel although Luke’s version is shorter. Indeed, it might be the first thing you notice – The Lord’s prayer is short and its words are simple, not like the prayers I and others prepare for Sunday mornings that somehow have to have clever words, tackle complex issues and use lots of imagery. Sometimes I cringe at the language used in prayers these days. Prayer has become an exercise in creative writing when it should be a time for talking with God in simple, honest, robust language. Just the kind of thing we do when we chat with friends and “put the world to rights”. We express our point of view and it does not need to be PC (politically correct) gender balanced, racially sensitive or anything other than our own expression of what is in our heart. And at the same time, we have to be prepared that God, in Christ, might challenge some of our viewpoints. Then that’s what a relationship with God is about.
In fact, Jesus describes prayer as being like calling on a friend’s door at midnight; a friend who is less than impressed by being disturbed and is not going to answer the door to you. But keep on asking, keep on knocking at the door and he will give you what you need because you can be persistent. It cannot be wrong then that we say The Lord’s Prayer each week and at other times too, we are persistent in our prayer, the Lord will answer.
And that sort of flies in the face of what we do in church changing our prayers each week, praying for this that and the other, trying to be concerned for everyone and everything. Or is that broad concern expressed very succinctly in simple words – “may your Kingdom come”?
And when we pray for those in far off countries who teeter on the edge of starvation, or families here at home who cannot afford to feed their children, or those who live in places of war and conflict who cannot find food to eat; is that prayer more succinctly put like this, “give us day by day the food we need”.
And when we pray for family and friends and communities and all the relationships that form between people and how fragile those relationships can be at times; is that prayer not more succinctly put like this, “forgive us our sins as we forgive others”?
There you go. I’ve done what I should not have done. I hope I have not insulted you.
Prayers for Others
The process moves forward; two candidates stand out above the rest; the membership will vote and in just a few weeks we’ll know who is to take up residence at 10 Downing Street. Something of an unknown lies before us Lord and we, the public, have no real say in the matter. But we do know that we need someone brave and competent leading government as all the forecasts say that difficult times lie ahead of us – inflation, recession, rising interest rates. We know that those least able to weather this storm will be hardest hit. All we can do is trust in you our God to influence the hearts and minds of those with a say and we pray for compassion and wisdom to be in the hearts of all who lead our country. Lord hear us in our prayers..
We have swithered and been unconvinced. We have listened to the arguments, the contradictions and become confused. We have waited for governments to act but they are too slow. What does it take for us to see that there is genuinely a crisis with our planet. The planet is changing and we have caused those changes to accelerate at such a pace that life on earth simply cannot keep up. Unbearably hot days that threaten life and communities, floods that sweep away all in their path, not isolated events but patterns of change. Help us Lord to turn the clock back to when we were not so greedy for energy, when we heated one room not the whole house, when we lived simpler lives. And maybe Lord, though it is painful to hear it, rising energy costs may be just the thing our planet needs as we use less and pollute less and seek alternatives that are less harmful. Lord as we pray for a planet under threat we pray for ourselves because change begins with us. Lord hear our prayers…
We thank you Lord for listening to our cries, sharing our concerns and giving us hope for tomorrow and strength for today. AMEN.
Praise – Spirit of God
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.