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Worship

This Order of Service is written in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, to use for a virtual service during Christian Aid Week (10-16 May).

Introduction

Welcome to our worship.

Today is the beginning of Christian Aid Week. We are neighbours near and far who are going through this coronavirus pandemic together. May our shared experience unite us in praise and prayer as one human family, separate but together in the home that is God’s world.

Gathering prayer

God of all the Earth, be present with us now,

in each of our homes, as we connect together.

Build us into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,

 offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you

 through Jesus Christ, our risen redeemer and healer. Amen.

Opening song

Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to You.
Make us Your own, Your holy people
Light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Christ, be our light! …..

Longing for food, many are hungry
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us Your bread, broken for others
Shared until all are fed.

Christ, be our light!...
Longing for shelter, many are homeless
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us Your building, sheltering others
Walls made of living stone.

 

Christ, be our light!...
Many the gift, many the people
Many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another
Making Your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light! …
Prayer of confession and absolution

Introduction: How many times have you washed your hands today?

We approach our prayer of confession and absolution, mindful of the ritual significance of hand washing in the Bible.

Hand washing in Scripture is closely associated with innocence and cleansing from sin. (See Exodus 30:17- 21, Psalm 26:6, Job 9:30, Matthew 27:24, James 4:8 to mention a few.)

You may wish to take your device to your sink as we pray this together, or bring a bowl of water, some soap and a towel to a safe distance before your computer. Or simply join in this prayer as you watch the ritual of hand washing. (You can say it in 20 seconds but it may take 30.)

As we turn on the tap

we turn our hearts towards you, O God.

As we wet our hands renew our thoughts,

so we might be transformed.

As we lather soap between fingers and over all our hands,

purge from us all that brings us harm

 and might harm others.

Remove the invisible guilt and shame

that so often keeps us from you.

As we rinse our hands,

we trust in your overflowing grace,

making all things new. Amen.

Reading                Psalm 31.

Gospel reading                   John 14:1-14

Song      Be still for the presence of the Lord

Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here

Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire
With splendour He is crowned

How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of Light
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around

Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
Be still
Is moving in this place

 (Silence)

Sermon

Response

Look at your hands. Have a good look.

However your hands look to you, they are most certainly clean in these days of regular hand washing to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

Our hands really are the most remarkable and useful tools, involved in so much of what we do and how we do things, even in these days of social distancing.

The psalmist writes of committing his spirit into God’s hands, and at times of being in God’s hands. He also describes his desire to be delivered from the hands of his oppressors and from a hidden invisible net that threatens to entangle him.

Our hands have become even more significant in these days of physical distance. We might long to hold the hand of a person we can no longer touch. We pray for the hands of medics to bring healing and comfort. We are grateful for hands stacking shelves and delivering groceries and post. And we are extra wary of everything our hands touch that comes from outside our own home.

This Christian Aid Week we also think of how our hands can be far from idle. Though not handing out envelopes or hosting Big Brekkies or the many things we usually busy ourselves with this week, our hands can still reach out virtually to our neighbours around the world. Neighbours in refugee camps and cramped living conditions, neighbours without adequate hand-washing facilities, neighbours who face the devastating impact of coronavirus with even less of the medical resources we have struggled to access here.

We reach out by clasping our hands together in prayer for our neighbours, and holding our hands open before God as we declare our needs and concerns for their wellbeing and our own.

We also reach out by participating in this digital Christian Aid Week, through making our online donations and sharing the stories from Christian Aid partners, working on the ground to be the hands and feet of love in action. If you wish, you can make a donation online to help vulnerable communities at caweek.org/payin

Let us pray together using our open hands.

Prayer of lament and intercession

God our refuge, we come to you with open hands, some of us with hearts full of questions,

some of us bruised by bereavement,

some of us fearful of what the future holds,

all of us stunned by the events of this year.

Draw close to us now in each of our homes

as we place our honest questions and hopes

into your open, resurrected, yet scarred hands.

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With the honesty of the psalmist,

the wrestling questions of Job,

and the lament of the prophets,

we bring to you our questions or our silence.

(Hold your index finger and, in silence, ask the question that most burdens your heart or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hear the cry of our hearts, Lord,

silent and aloud,

for bereaved neighbours, near and far.

Comfort those pained by being absent,

and hold close those who are hurting alone.

 (Hold your ring finger and pray for comfort for those you know who are bereaved or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In this season of Easter,

renew us with resurrection hope

that while weeping lingers in this night,

joy will come with the morning.

(Hold your middle finger and in the silence tell God what you are most looking forward to in the future or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

On this Christian Aid Week Sunday,

we pray for and with communities

across the world who are

most vulnerable to coronavirus.

We pray for people living in refugee camps

and city slums,

with limited sanitation facilities,

who are unable to wash their hands regularly,

and have little opportunity to isolate from others.

We pray for Christian Aid partners

 working to provide soap and buckets,

communicating clear, accurate information,

raising the voices of the most vulnerable

and ensuring they are kept as safe as possible.

(Hold your thumb as you pray for the most vulnerable, those closest to God’s heart, or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those of us who are self-isolating,

which can sometimes feel like we aren’t doing anything,

remind us that we are all doing our part,

and saving lives by staying at home.

(Hold your little finger and ask God for what you need, or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for much wisdom and resources

for those in local and national authority

for all frontline and key workers here in Britain, Ireland and across the world.

(Put your hands together and pray for the many frontline workers and volunteers and for Christian Aid partners working to help others across the world, or simply sit in silence before God. Hold the silence together.)

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

As we have clapped to honour them,

we clap our hands now in praise

of your glorious creation,

and with the hope that the first shoots

of another possible world are coming into view.

(Clap your hands in praise of God’s glorious creation and with the hope of new possibilities for the world.)

God in your mercy, hear all our prayers. Amen.

Song       Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance now and always;
be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, thou heaven's bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing blessing

May the presence of the Creator refresh you,

may the comfort of the Son renew you,

may the inspiration of the Spirit restore you

to be love in action, even from a distance,

 in our neighbourhoods, near and far,

this day and for evermore. Amen.


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