Sunday 31 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 – When I Survey
Luke 12: 13 – 21
Colossians 3: 1 – 11
Prayers of Approach
Gracious God, you have promised to all who love you a peace that passes understanding. Forgive us that we have failed to make this peace our own. We rush about, our minds preoccupied by our problems. We brood over situations we cannot hope to change, magnifying them out of all proportion. We worry about what the future may hold instead of focusing on the present moment and living each day as it comes. Teach us that you hold all things in your hands and that, even when our worries prove justified, you will give us strength.
Whatever clouds may appear on the horizon and whatever storms life might throw against us may our minds be at rest, our spirits at peace and our hearts untroubled through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now as we come to worship you remind us of the peace you give to all who trust in you. Allow us to feel your presence with us now and throughout this day that our worship and joyfulness in your presence may not be limited to just one hour or even just one day but that our whole lives in every living moment might rejoice in you.
What gift can we bring? What offering can we make to a God as loving as you? The gifts we offer this day seem too small and even if we could offer to you the whole of creation would that be enough? Yet Lord, you are not impressed by vast sums of wealth or endless treasures; all you seek is our free and loving response to you. And we come here Lord to do just that, offering ourselves in prayer and praise, in worship and service, holding nothing back.
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 – To God be the Glory
A wise teacher poses a maths problem to her Primary 7 class. It went like this:
A wealthy man dies and leaves £10 million in his estate to be divided up.
1/5 goes to his wife, 1/5 goes to his son, 1/6 goes to his butler and the rest goes to charity.
Now, what does each get?”
After a very long silence in the classroom, one boy raises his hand and says, “I think Miss, they each got a lawyer!”
We’ve been there before… Whether personally or in the lives of people we know or perhaps in the rumours that circulate… the dividing up of an estate can get oh-so ugly. The dispute over furniture, dishes, silverware, house, land and savings left by the deceased can leave a rift between family members that never heals. Is stuff really worth that?
And yet, such is human nature. It is not a big surprise that exactly the same thing happened in Jesus time. A man in the crowd shouts to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide with me the property our father left us.” It is reasonable to think that this man was hoping Jesus would be someone his brother would listen to; maybe respect the authority of a Teacher, but Jesus declines to intervene. And that seems strange to us when we think that Jesus often defended the poor, the oppressed and those treated unfairly.
For some reason this request for justice is turned into a teaching on greed. And it is often understood that the man in the crowd crying out to Jesus for help is the one being greedy. Actually, I tend to think that it is the brother who refuses to share the inheritance that is being greedy, keeping more than his fair share of the estate. The lesson is that a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns.
Some years back an experiment took place to enquire into people’s relationship with money. As it turned out, and it comes as no surprise, money created a sense of security and self-reliance and made those in the experiment less open to helping others. They didn’t have to be rich, it didn’t even have to be their money, just counting someone else’s money made them more likely to ignore the needs of others. So, let’s not kid ourselves on money and possessions change our attitude towards others. Just like the son who had kept all of his father’s estate to himself; he no longer cared about his brother. And if you don’t love your brother how can you say that you love God, and how can you say you love God and not love your brother, or sister.
We all appreciate that Jesus was not wealthy. His dad, Joseph, was a carpenter so tradition has it, he earned a living but was not wealthy; there was not much if anything of an inheritance waiting for Jesus. Jesus chose instead to live the lifestyle on an itinerant preacher, which is not even a way to earn a living. Jesus and his disciples had a common purse looked after by Judas Iscariot, even though Judas was a common thief and would steal from the purse. Living a religious life relies on the wealth of others to support it. Jesus and his disciples relied on the pennies that the poor would give and on the gifts that wealthy followers, often wealthy women, were able to give. How else would Jesus and his disciples be able to buy food as they travelled from village to village?
So, Jesus lives a life of poverty that depends on the generosity of the wealthy. Even his life had a complex relationship with money and possessions. This may be a little cynical of me but I cannot help but wonder if Jesus refusal to intervene in the dispute between brothers is in some way tied to his own need for those with wealth to offer support. Even IF Jesus moral stance is a little compromised we still grasp the truth behind his words, “a person’s true life is not made up of the things they own, no matter how rich they may be.” As one TV advert puts it, “Will we look back on our lives and regret not having bought a bigger TV, a faster computer, a thinner mobile phone?” do any of these things actually define us or matter at all.
What truly matters is who we are.
Prayers of Concern
Somalia, Drought & the Humanitarian Crisis
Father God, we’ve seen it before and hoped we would never see it again, to witness those whose lives are meagre suffering from the worst effects of drought. The land parched and barren, animals dying of starvation, children malnourished, medical centres stretched to the limits, doctors making decisions on who survives and who does not. The world is not a fair or just place, that we know all too well and we would try to help those, like the people of Somalia, but we are anxious for ourselves too and our own resources are being stretched and we see problems for ourselves on the horizon. Lord help us not to be like the rich young fool who would rather have riches in this world than riches in heaven. Help us to remember that those who live in Somalia also look to you for their daily bread. Lord hear us in our prayers…
Strikes and threats of strikes
We face a summer of unrest and maybe much more than just the summer. Images come to our mind Lord of the Thatcherite days and the head on collision with Miners’ Unions, the strikes, the power cuts, the running battles with the police. And we remember the hardship and poverty Miners and their families endured, they became broken and bitter people. And it seems that RMT union is squaring up for a fight with any government that limits their right to strike. Is the past to repeat itself? Father in Heaven, help us, help them, help government to find a better way, a way that listens and compromises and reconciles. Lord may this be our prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come”. Lord hear us in our prayers…
Our Own Prayers
And so, Lord we offer our own prayers to you for family and friends, both near and far, who face times of struggle, those who endure ill health, who are in places of danger and conflict. And as we pray for them so we pray for ourselves that we might be channels of your grace, love and strength to them. Lord hear us in our prayers…
Praise – In moments like these
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.