We were warmly welcomed and the notices given out.
Call to Worship "O sing to the Lord a new song.
Declare God's glory to all people.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name.
Worship the Lord in holy splendour."
An impossible task. How can we tell of God, just as He is? How can we strip away the fog of our hopelessly imperfect version of the Perfect Love; the Untarnished Truth; the Eternal Creator? But we must continue to try.
Prayer of Invocation Helen prayed for us, that we might experience God's grace and peace and give Him praise for it. Sometimes we wonder where God is in our lives but we only have to look at what is good; what leads to light; what causes our love for each other to show through. That's God in our lives.
Hymn TIS 72 "From all who dwell below the skies" A song celebrating God's goodness to us. Everything that isn't God owes Him grateful praise.
Scripture Reading Susan read to us from Luke 7: 1 - 10. The healing of the Centurion's slave. This man knew about power but he knew Jesus' power was something far beyond his own. Then why don't we trust Him to take care of things! Why don't we hand over the reins and trust?
Reflection Not works or race but Faith. Helen began by explaining that today's reading begins a new section on the "inclusive gospel". A gospel that includes everyone. All people are welcome; all people are loved. People of that time would have been thunderstruck. For the Jews remaining Holy was of major importance and that included not defiling themselves by mingling with those who did not keep the law. Jesus did just that and in doing so, changed the boundaries of what constituted holiness. Not all the people who responded to Jesus were the people anyone would expect to respond. The Roman Centurion in today's reading would not have been expected to seek out Jesus. He knew that himself, and asked that Jesus not enter his house because he knew what a kurfuffle that would cause. Instead he acknowledged Jesus’ authority, declaring that all that was needed was His word. This was a man that knew about authority and recognized a unique kind in Jesus. Jesus' response was to say that He had never seen such faith - and this was in a Gentile. No one is outside God's love.
Helen then recounted a story concerning a woman she had come across in her work as an OT. This woman's standard greeting was "Having Fun" even when the staff were clearly not doing anything like that. When Helen heard she was leaving she was delighted that this daily irritation was going. However on her last day the woman came to Helen holding a copy of Psalm 23 saying it had changed everything for her - it had given her hope. It seems an antique Salvation Army lady had given to her. That Salvation Army lady knew that the gospel is for all. Helen said she felt ashamed.
How often do we not bother to extend a chance to meet God to someone because we see them as someone who doesn't fit the category of our idea of what a Christian might look like.
Prayer A prayer from Helen that we will see others as God sees all of us. No worse nor better but each made in God's image.
Freewill Offering Given with the prayer that the little we give can make a difference in God's hands.
Hymn TIS 640 "Kneels at the feet of his friends" Jesus did not think He was above washing His disciples’ feet. Neither should we think any task too humble for us or that we should be careful about which people we show God's love to.
Prayer for Others and The Lord's Prayer Graham prayed on our behalf, that we should have faith like that of the Centurion and then called our attention to the appalling events happening world-wide, far from us geographically and far from us in terms of any influence we could have over them. He prayed that we bring these matters to God, the only One with the authority and power to deal with them. Graham then prayed for the more personal concerns of the congregation and we joined together in The Lord's Prayer.
Helen then gave the invitation to share in the taking of the bread and wine, clear, saying it is for all who were seeking to love God more and apart from that there are no other qualifications.
"For it is here, at this time, we remember the body of Christ broken for us,
and the blood of Christ poured out for us."
Hymn TIS 693 "Come as you are" - "Love sets no limits...love never ends...don't run away shamed and disheartened...come as you are." I once spoke to a person much wiser than myself about not feeling worthy of calling myself Christian or worshipping as one... I felt such a fake. It had been an issue with me for some time but her answer settled it forever: "God called you as you are." That's the answer- it's not about me - it's about God.
Scripture Reading John 13: 1 - 11. This was a paraphrase of the account of Jesus, realizing His time on Earth was coming to an end, set about clarifying His role and the role of the disciples towards others. At first Peter questions the possibility of Jesus washing his feet but when Jesus says it is necessary to Peter's discipleship, Peter goes overboard and asks Jesus to wash feet, hands and head. Jesus had to make it clear that his concern was holiness not hygiene.
Because of this, Helen directed us to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.
Symbolically, Helen washed her hands, asking God to wash away her iniquity and cleanse her from her sin. Likewise, having been cleansed, she was able to minister to the elders and washed their hands, praying that they would be cleansed.
"Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on us
Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world. Grant us peace.
Scripture Reading John 13: 12 - 17. Paraphrasing again. Jesus has to make sure the disciples understood what had happened. Just as He had ministered to them, so must they minister to each other. If He, the Master and Teacher humbled Himself to care for them, so must they humble themselves to care for each other. "If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it - and live a blessed life." As we used to write beside important points in our school books, "NOTE WELL"
Hymn TIS 655 "O let the Son of God enfold you" Over and under, around, through, within, without - soaked in Jesus Spirit. Give up every part of ourselves.
Prayer over the Elements By your Word and Holy Spirit, Lord, bless these gifts, that we may truly share Christ's body and blood, and become by grace, Christ's body, given for the sake of the world.
The Distribution we were all invited again, to partake, in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice and as a sign of the bond that ties us together.
Following Communion The Lord be with you/ And also with you
Go in peace to love and serve the world/ In the name of Christ
Hymn TIS 549 "God be in my head" A sort of reminder, in simple language of what had gone before. May God direct my thinking, my perception of the world and people around me, the words I speak, my motivation. May God be with me until the end.
Fulfillment with "the lot".