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URC Daily Devotion Thursday 24th June 2021

URC Devotion - Thu, 24/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 21: 1 - 27

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’

And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’  Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’  And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.  It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites;  on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.  And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.  The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles;  its length and width and height are equal.  He also measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using.  The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  the fifth onyx, the sixth cornelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.  Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.  People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations.  But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Reflection

“See, I am making all things new.”
If “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” have not “ganged agley” by the time we read this we should be experiencing Burns’ “promis’d joy!” on this Midsummer’s Day.  With lockdowns removed and life returning to  - to what?  “Normal” is what has led to so very many problems in the first place.

After so many highly coloured visions of destruction John reaches the culmination of his Revelation with a vision of total renewal. The sea “has remained, both on earth and in heaven, as a symbol of an incomplete victory and an incomplete sovereignty” (G B Caird), but now it is no more.

Yearning as we do for complete renewal, we all know the temptation to hope to get away with partial renewal – changing what causes us least inconvenience as though that were enough. But we really know that is one of the main reasons for the dire state of humanity.

How dare I write these words? I want a comfortable life; I do think of others, but I cannot solve all their problems – I wish them well, but… Is that enough?

The focal point of John’s vision of total renewal is that “the home of God is among mortals … God himself will be with them.” Where this version has “home” older translations use the word “tabernacle”– recalling the Hebrew reliance on the physical presence of a holy object representing God. In the renewed order there is no need for such substitutes, God dwells with his peoples.

Here is the comfort and the challenge of John’s vision. There is no hiding place; good and evil are starkly clear and a refusal to face bad facts is the path to destruction.

So, may we live our lives knowing that our renewing God is with us.

Prayer

Loving God, we thank you that we are not abandoned to the consequences of human sinfulness but can play our part in bringing about your renewal. May we know your guidance and strength as we walk in the way of our Saviour: Amen     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Macro, Retired Minister, member of Verwood URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's coming

URC Devotion - Wed, 23/06/2021 - 14:30
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Dear Friends,

This Sunday's service is led by The Revd. Paul Robinson. Paul is minister at The United Church in Rhyl. A fellowship in two buildings on the North Coast of Wales. Paul also had the privilege/honour of having his two-year placement at the church I attended, when he was training for ministry. So he is one of the few who will remember me with a mop of hair and a squeaky voice. Anyway, onto worship...

This week's service will be looking at John Wesley's Aldersgate Experience. Hymns include Praise to the Lord, the almighty, I will wait for you, and finishing with (other) Wesley's Love Divine.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,


Dan


Dan Morrell
Editor, Daily Devotion Sunday Services from the URC --> If you have a problem...   Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

If, however, the email isn't in your Spam/Junk folder please go to devotions.urc.org.uk and read it there.  

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URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 23rd June 2021

URC Devotion - Wed, 23/06/2021 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Wednesday 23rd June
Revelation 20: 11 - 15

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.  And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done.   Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Reflection

Are you on the list? I don’t mean my Christmas Card list, or (writing this on Census Day for most of the UK) the register of householders, or the algorithms which predict our shopping needs and wants, or the NHS system which invites us for our Covid vaccine. God’s list - the Book of Life which records who will be saved to be a resident of the new Jerusalem on the day of judgement, or cast into the fiery pit after a brief resurrection. Are any of us on that list? What might we have done to have inadvertently opted-out?

Revelation offers a vivid picture of what happens after the last battle between the forces of good and evil, when the ultimate judge will open the ledgers and start the reckoning. For the beleaguered Christians of the first century it would have been both an inspiration and a warning, calling them to choose between allegiance to God’s kingdom or succumbing to participation in the Roman emperor’s cult. This powerful register is mentioned in various places in the Hebrew Scriptures, often highlighting ways in which individuals are blotted out from it. In his letter to the church in Philippi Paul speaks positively of his co-workers “whose names are in the book of life”.

We face choices, sometimes speaking up against the wickedness of empire on which judgement is needed and at other times commending those individuals in whose lives and actions we see God’s love shining. Those who follow John Wesley’s rule of life: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Prayer

God of grace
look kindly on me
when I stumble and trip up.
Confront me with my failings
and show me ways to restoration.
Shake my complacency
when I am dazzled by the comforts of empire,
so that my name may remain in your book of life.
Amen     --> Today's writer The Revd Fiona Thomas, freelance facilitator,  member of Christ Church Bellingham. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 22nd June 2021

URC Devotion - Tue, 22/06/2021 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Revelation 20: 7 - 10

When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison  and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea.  They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from heaven  and consumed them. And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Reflection

John's vision has some strikingly powerful images. 

The words apocalypse and revelation make us think of end times and destruction, but the original meaning is simply about revealing.

To anyone who has ever been to anywhere volcanic, the lake of fire and sulphur conjures up images of the world being torn apart. Perhaps it transports us to Dante's Inferno, the world of Tolkein or maybe Game of Thrones. 

It shows us chaos and battles where good appears to lose to evil. Wars where justice is trampled into the dust, where hope diminishes and truth perishes.

In a world that has been ravaged by a disease caused by a virus that we can't see, it has been possible to glimpse an apocalyptic vision.

The words of this last book in the Bible are difficult to understand. The images they conjure up are troubling. But they were written in troubled times for a people being persecuted, and alongside the devastation they describe there is hope.
 
We are more geared nowadays to thinking in terms of positive and inclusive language in our churches, we often fight shy of words like evil, the Devil, Satan. But there are plenty of aspects of our world where we need to call out and act where we see things that harm us. Injustice, greed and selfishness can & should be challenged. 

Although this passage speaks of destruction, waiting there is a God of love. We're called upon to act in ways that show that love. 
 
Standing by while people are trafficked into modern slavery, vast swathes of forests burnt, and children are given guns to fight in wars aren't just distant things that don't concern us. They are the fire and brimstone of a world burning beneath our feet. 
 
We have the gospel imperative to spread the Good News to help to put out those fires.
 
Prayer

God of power
Empower us to share your love and your healing power
Help us to call out and fight anything that harms your world and diminishes your people
Give us courage to stand up to evil
And the strength to protect, to listen to and to encourage those who suffer
Amen     --> Today's writer Sam Goodman, Elder, Derby Central URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Monday 21st June 2021

URC Devotion - Mon, 21/06/2021 - 06:15
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Revelation 20: 1- 6

Then I saw an angel coming down from  heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,  and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Reflection

How often has someone asked a question to which there appears to be an uncertain answer to which the reply might be, “How long is a piece of string?”  Today’s reading could well place us in the situation where that piece of string comes to mind.  Early Christianity was still influenced by Judaism, and to some extent variations in what Jewish leaders were teaching  concerning the coming of God’s kingdom and resurrection raised questions to which there appeared to be conflicting answers. 

There were a variety of thoughts about the details of the Kingdom of God.  In particular, the question as to how resurrection would come about.  The devil would be bound for a thousand years and Christian martyrs would be resurrected rather than most believers who had not been martyred  This would be followed by a thousand years in which Christ and His saints would reign.  This was not an exclusively Christian belief, but found in some Jewish Messianic beliefs.

These time differences are referred to in Psalm 90 verse 4 and 2 Peter 3 verse 8.  Our passage today ends by emphasising that physical death is not to be feared for it becomes the entrance to eternal life.  The most ordinary person can share in the Kingdom of God when they express their faith by the very way they live their earthly life. None of us knows when this will happen for the individual believer, so how long is that piece of string?

Prayer 

Timeless God, so often we make the mistake of thinking we know best and have control of everything, forgive our arrogance.  
Help us to see this life and beyond in your terms, not trying to guess our futures, forgive our impatience.
Help us to see Your kingdom as You reveal it to us in our everyday experiences.  This we ask in the name above all names.    
Amen.   --> Today's writer Rev’d Colin Hunt, retired minister, a member of Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex  Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 20th June 2021 - The Revd. Wayne Hawkins

URC Devotion - Sun, 20/06/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 20th June 2021 - The Revd. 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Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
  click here
to listen to the service and sing along with the hymns.  This will open up a new screen, at the bottom of the screen you will see a play symbol.  Press that, then come back to this window so you can follow along with the service. United Reformed Church Daily Devotions
Sunday 20th June 2021

Photo Credit RA Dragon via Unsplash
 
The Rev’d Wayne Hawkins Introduction
 
Good morning.  My name is Wayne Hawkins and I am the minister at Guildford United Reformed Church.  Welcome to worship.

Call to Worship

We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love
who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain,
and heals our wounds.
God is our light and our salvation.
In God’s name we light this candle and are reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World, God’s own Voice who came to live with us.
May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always. Amen.
 
 
Hymn       Jesus calls us here to meet Him
                  John Bell and Graham Moule  
Jesus calls us here to meet him
as through word & song & prayer
we affirm
God’s promised presence
where his people live and care.
Praise the God
who keeps his promise;
praise the Son who calls us friends;
praise the Spirit who, among us,
to our hopes and fears attends.
 
2: Jesus calls us to confess him
Word of Life
and Lord of All,
sharer of our flesh and frailness
saving all
who fail or fall.
Tell his holy human story;
tell his tales that all may hear;
tell the world that Christ in glory
came to earth to meet us here.
  3: Jesus calls us to each other: found in him are no divides.
Race and class and sex and language - such are barriers he derides.
Join the hand of friend and stranger; join the hands of age and youth;
join the faithful and the doubter in their common search for truth.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness
 
God our creator
And lover of all,
we come as your hope-filled people,
bearers of your good news,
seeking your wisdom for our living.
 
God our guide
And inspiration,
we come looking for
support and strength,
comfort and healing.
Guide and direct us
As we walk through this life
Trying to live in the way
You have called us.
 
God our lover
And faithful friend,
We come hopefully and sorrowfully,
Comfortable and uncomfortable,
Carefree and troubled,
Coming clean about the ways we
Try and fail,
Act generously and hoard,
Care and act selfishly.
 
In a world where the storms of life
Threaten to overwhelm us,
In a time where people have struggled
With distance and isolation,
In a place where difference and diversity
Are viewed with suspicion,
We strain to see and hear,
To discern and discover
Your presence declaring
“Quiet! Be still!”
And so, having heard and seen
May we continue on life’s journey
With your peace and presence
Empowering our living.
 
Prayer of Illumination

Spirit of God, inspire us
That we maybe steadfast
In our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing,
and our living.
 
Reading: St  Mark 4:35-41
 
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
 
Hymn:      Eternal father, strong to save
William Whiting 1825-1878
  Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm doth bond
the restless wave
who bids the mighty ocean deep
its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
for those in peril
on the sea.

2 O Trinity of love and pow'r,
thy children shield in danger's hour;
from rock and tempest, fire, & foe,
protect them where-so-e'er
they go;
thus, evermore shall rise to Thee
glad hymns of praise
from land and sea.   Sermon

I am not sure where you are listening but I hope you are sitting comfortably.  Perhaps if you have some cushions nearby you might like to plump them up and get really cosy – though I’d appreciate you not nodding off to sleep at least for the next few minutes.  That’s right – plump up your cushions, adjust them if you need to and settle down.
 
The gospel reading that we heard moments ago tells the story of Jesus sleeping peacefully on a cushion in a boat whilst the disciples are frantic at the storm which threatens to overwhelm and even drown them.  The disciples know their Hebrew Scriptures with its graphic imagery of chaotic waters that bring pandemonium and panic.  They recall Genesis and the myth-history of creations formation where with a word God divided the waters of chaos and brought forth life.  They remembered Moses who had led the people through the sea on dry land, as the Psalm writers celebrate:
 
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
He led them through the depths as through a desert.
 
They remember how Job, whose own life experienced more than its fair share of turmoil, could still declare of God:
 
Who shut up the sea behind doors
When it burst forth from the womb,
When I made the clouds its garment
And wrapped it in thick darkness,
When I fixed limits for it
And set its doors and bars in place,
When I said, ‘This far you may come and no father;
Here is where your proud waves halt’?
 
The disciples knew that the water and sea was physically dangerous but was a metaphor in the Hebrew Scriptures describing the watery chaos which was a constant threat and which God kept at bay.  Now on this day, when Jesus invited them to ”go to the other side,” the sea threatens to engulf their little boat.  And all this time Jesus is asleep on his cushion.
 
We will all have stories of different boat journeys we have made, perhaps as part of a hobby, sport or simply for fun.  I recall when working for the Council for World Mission occasions when visiting a member church, especially in the Pacific, and you would be invited to take a boat to visit another village community and church.  And of course, you ask yourself how safe it is and where are the life jackets. 
 
This past week in the UK has been Refugee Week when we are invited to consider those whose life stories can involve far more hazardous boat journeys; long distance walks across hard going terrain; climbing into the back of vehicles to sneak across borders and simply arriving at a port of entry to trust a system as you ask for asylum.  All united in making a trip “to the other side.”
 
We remember:
 
  • Refugees fleeing war and conflict; persecution because of religion or ethnicity.
  • Economic migrants who seek a better life for themselves and their family.
  • Asylum seekers who seek safety from persecution in their own country because of their race, ethnicity, religion or political opinion.
  • People who experience trafficking and forced to migrate against their will.
 
Many words and categorisations to describe people who make dangerous journeys to travel “to the other side.”  Shiar and his family who travelled on foot, boat and bus to escape Syria and find refuge in Europe.  Amin who fled from Iran to Belgrade after his father reported him to the police for having a male partner.  Buraq who came with his grandmother from Iraq when he was just a toddler and is now training to be a doctor in the NHS.  The point being that behind every story of migration is a human face that is known, a name that is shared by others, an individual valued and cherished by God, family, friends and neighbours.
 
The diversities among us are, I suggest, something to be celebrated.  The theme for Refugee Week has been “we cannot walk alone,” that we live in a multi-cultural society reminds us our diversities and that these enrich our common life.  The presence of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants is helpfully unsettling, perhaps a little like the presence of Jesus among the disciples, which calls for much soul searching and self-examination both individually and as a society.  The welcome and hospitality, the compassion and care that the vulnerable and weak among us receive is a sign of the kind of society we are. 
 
Pope Francis reflected in 2019:  “…the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risks being overlooked in a prosperous society.  That is why it is not just about migrants.  When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow…”
 
The Jesus asleep on a cushion at the stern of the boat is a disturbing presence.  The disciples awaken him and he rebukes the wind and waves and the disciples who are distraught at the danger they face and what looks like Jesus’ indifference to their plight.  “Do you not care that we perish?”  The disciples do not yet understand who Jesus is and so his presence is unsettling to what the disciples know of the world and assume to be the fixed order of nature – if you like the way things are round here.   Who is this man who sits asleep in the stern and wakes up to silence and wind and waves?  His unsettling presence disturbs our sitting comfortably
on our cushions as he invites us to get into the boat and travel with him to the other side. 
 
That Jesus is able to relax and even rest on a cushion throughout the storm indicates his keen awareness of God’s presence with him.  While the storm rages all around him Jesus is able to find comfort and even peace.  I wonder where it is that we find comfort and peace even in those times when we experience turmoil and trouble in our lives?  We remember Jesus sleeping and discover what it means to be at ease in God’s love.  Jesus doesn’t escape or evade the storm, but remains with his friends both in the boat and in the storm.  His presence is a reminder of God who is present.  The storm rages and God still loves. The storm brings chaos and God is still with us.  The storm threatens to sink us and God is there. 
 
Jesus and the disciples crossing over to the “other side” reminds us of how uncomfortable it was for the first communities – Marks’ readers – to cross the social divisions between Jew and Gentile.  In this story, Mark’s faith community is being invited to make its journey towards integration – to travel to the Gentile shore on the other side.  Battling with the wind and waves of opposition and resistance on the journey, the disciples are at first reluctant and perhaps the reality of including others felt like drowning or losing their own cultural identity. 
 
In the same way, we are invited to make the journey to the “other side” towards inclusion of those who at first seem different.  To include those who are pushed aside perhaps because of their orientation or identity, excluded because of economics or status, whose presence among us disturbs and challenges but who hold out fresh insights for us and new life that is itself a gift from God.
 
Hymn:               Heaven Shall Not Wait
John Bell and Graham Maule
  Heaven shall not wait
for the poor to lose their patience,
the scorned to smile,
the despised to find a friend:
Jesus is Lord;
he has championed the unwanted;
in him injustice
confronts its timely end.

2: Heaven shall not wait
for the rich to share their fortunes,
the proud to fall,
the elite to tend the least:
Jesus is Lord;
he has shown the master's privilege
to kneel and wash
servants' feet before they feast.

3: Heaven shall not wait
for the dawn of great ideas,
thoughts of compassion
divorced from cries of pain:
Jesus is Lord;
he has married word and action;
his Cross and company
make his purpose plain.
 
4: Heaven shall not wait
for triumphant hallelujahs,
when earth has passed
and we reach another shore:
Jesus is Lord;
in our present imperfection:
his power and love
are for now and then for evermore.   Affirmation of Faith
 
We believe in God.
Despite His silence and His secrets we believe that He lives.
Despite evil and suffering we believe that He made the world
so that all would be happy in life.
Despite the limitations of our reason
and the revolts of our hearts,
we believe in God.
 
We believe in Jesus Christ.
Despite the centuries which separate us
from the time when he came to earth, we believe in His word.
Despite our incomprehension and our doubt,
we believe in His resurrection.
Despite his weakness and poverty, we believe in his reign.
 
We believe in the Holy Spirit.
Despite appearances we believe He guides the Church;
despite death we believe in eternal life;
despite ignorance and disbelief,
we believe that the Kingdom of God is promised to all.
Amen.
 
Intercessions
 
Loving God,
You care for all your people,
Knowing each one by name;
Knowing each home and every need.
Give peace and love to all who call.
 
Bless all of us who share in worship today,
Our homes, faith communities, our neighbourhoods
That love and joy would dwell among us
And that we will learn to live in peace with one another.
 
We share in prayers from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland,
Written especially for today Refugee Sunday.
 
God of family,
We bring before you the parents who are weeping and lamenting,
Who are waiting for their children,
Whose trace is lost in the sea,
In the desert, in railway tracks,
In shipping containers and uncertainty;
Men, women and children
Who had escaped from the war zones, the famine and poverty of this world, with the hope for a better, safer life.
 
God of life,
We bring before you our lament for the dead,
Stranded at the borders of safety,
Who died fleeing through deserts, over mountains and seas.
We call to you and join in the cry
Of all those who sought justice
And a better life for themselves and their children
And perished in the process.
God of justice,
We bring before you political leaders,
Advisers and decision-makers
Who hold the fate of others in their hands.
Make them aware of the causes of migration and flight.
Keep their consciences alive so that refugees
Are offered protection and dignity.
Let them agree rules of residence
That are based on human rights and guided by solidarity compassion.
 
God of peace,
Give us strength to be witnesses of the suffering of the world
And fill us with the fire of your spirit
To renew our efforts to serve those in need
And give us the grace to welcome,
Learn and share our lives with people
Who come to live in our communities. Amen.
 
Offertory
 
The churches and good causes we support continue to need our generosity, through our finances and support.  We are encouraged to continue that support especially at this time, as a sign of the abundance that enriches our lives.
 
God, giver of life and source of freedom,
You invite us to be stewards of your abundance.
You call us to use your gifts wisely and to share them generously.
May this faithful stewardship
Be a witness to the love of Jesus
That fills our lives.  Amen
 
Hymn:      For the healing of the nations
Fred Kaan (1929-2009)
  For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord;
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.
 
2: Lead us forward into freedom,
from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war
and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.
Show us how, through care
and goodness,
fear will die and hope increase.
 
3: All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow life's brief span.
 
4: You, Creator-God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness,
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.
Blessing
 
May God bless us, our God,  who called the world into being,
who breathed us into life,  who provides us with new strength.
 
May God bless us, our God,
whose love does not know borders nor walls,
whose justice will come.
 
Our God,  who casts down the mighty from their thrones
and lifts up the lowly.
 
May God bless us, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, Amen.
 
Sources and thanks
 
Prayers of Intercession and Final Blessing: Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) resource “God is with us.” https://ctbi.org.uk/god-with-us/
 
Sermon: Pope Francis 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/pope-francis-message-world-day-migrants-refugees-full-text.html (viewed 29.3.2021)
 
Jesus calls us here to meet him - John Bell and Graham Moule © Wild Goose Resource Worship Group - sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise
Eternal father, strong to save - William Whiting 1825-1878. Sung by the Military Wives Choir on BBC’s sSongs of Praise
Heav’n shall not wait - John Bell and Graham Maule © Wild Goose Resource Worship Group.  Performed by Ruth and Joy Everingham 2020
For the healing of the nations- Fred Kaan (1929-2009) Words © 1968 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188 - Sung by the The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Virtual Choir
 
Organ Pieces
 
Opening: Ach Gott Von Himmel Sieh Darein (“O God from heaven see this”) by Johann Pachelbel (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Closing: Nun Danket Alle Gott – Marche Triomphale (“Now thank we all our God”) by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (organ of All Saints’, Odiham – 2020)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks, from Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Thanks to Jacqueline Kwawu, John Wilcox, Diana Cullum-Hall, John Young and Geoffrey Roper for reading various spoken parts of the service. --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762
  Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Sunday 20th June Psalm 47

URC Devotion - Sun, 20/06/2021 - 06:15
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Clap your hands, O faithful people!
Shout to God a song of praise!
From the dust of conquered nations,
God a realm of grace shall raise.
To God's name forever faithful,
may we prosper all our days.
     Clap your hands, O faithful people!
     Shout to God a song of praise!

With a shout, and blast of trumpet,
God shall mount a throne on high;
let our praise, as finest incense,
rise to meet God in the sky.
Fill the world with glad rejoicing,                     
heav'n shall sing, the earth reply.
     Clap your hands, O faithful people!
     Shout to God a song of praise!

Let your hearts be filled with gladness,
as the Lord your life shall bless;
live as heirs of God's own justice,
wear the cloak of righteousness.
God will grant us earth's dominion,                
all things good, and nothing less.
     Clap your hands, O faithful people!
     Shout to God a song of praise!

Words © 1999 Michael Morgan.
You can hear the tune Nettleton here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dyvr6IFt2Q

Reflection

I look forward to getting back to the theatre and the concert hall.  Glad though I am to have had access to online and recorded performances, and good though many are, they very often lack an immediacy and an energy. Similarly, pre-lockdown, it was great to be able to go to one’s local cinema and ‘attend’ performances remotely of operas and ballets and plays from the great houses of the world.  

In truth, often I find the curtain call and the applause one of the more energetic and energising elements of the evening.   Perhaps it is the corporate nature of the action that does it. We obey the Sunday School injunction, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”. It is a declaration of our approval and assent  (as here to God’s kingship of all).  It is a physical action through which our feelings break free.  In Denmark the applause moves from random clapping into a settled rhythmic applause as a sign that we are all in this appreciation together. That’s why it feels good, not only for the performers, but to us too.

In church, however,  I am not quite so liberated.  Raised in the days of respectable restraint in most things,  I remember well the times when (perhaps particularly a child’s) input into a service - a poem, a reading, a song … - led to hesitation. Applaud or not? Was it right to bring the habits of the musical hall into a place of worship? Many feel more at ease with our faces ‘properly’  in the hymn book, keeping our worship cerebral.

But perhaps that’s  why I leave church with exuberance more rarely than I do the theatre or concert hall. Have we sucked out a lot of the elements otherwise released in clapping out of our worship? I confess that I am not by disposition (or probably training) that comfortable with what we often disparagingly called ‘happy-clappy’ worship. 

We each find different styles of worship appropriate and helpful, but somehow our praise has to be a joyous, affirmative, shared whole-person experience.

Prayer

Before you, God of all the earth, may we open our hearts in praise and thanksgiving, adoration and commitment, in the release of all that we have and are. Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr Jack Dyce, Emeritus Professor of Nordic Theology, Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College, and a member of Port Glasgow URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Saturday 19th June 2021

URC Devotion - Sat, 19/06/2021 - 06:15
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Saturday 19th June 2021
Revelation 19: 17 - 21

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God,  to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.’  Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army.  And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur.  And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Reflection

Flesh eating birds and being burnt alive in a lake of fire!  What are we to make of verses containing such stark and apparently gross images? 

In our own rather materialistic age it is only too easy to miss the spirit of the teaching in Revelation.  On the one hand, instead of seeing it as something to capture the imagination, we reduce it to a timetable of prophesied events.  On the other, we may be tempted to rationally dismiss it too lightly as mere fantasy and mysticism.  However, to understand and gain the most from Revelation it is helpful to see it as a book of vision and imagination AND as a work firmly rooted in history.

Written at a time of intense persecution of the early Church when Christians may have been losing heart that the long anticipated second coming of Christ had yet to occur, the book was conveyed in a form designed to inspire as well as to instruct. Its poetic and visionary tone, its use of symbol and imagery, would have struck a clear familiar tone with its first century audience. God is in control no matter how things may look. Christ, not the emperor, is lord of history and holds the key of destiny.  So, rather than revert to reliance on the things of the world, the realm of the flesh, the call is to remain steadfast and focused on Christ, the true King.

During the past 18 months, many of us may also have become despondent and begun to lose hope. The world seems out of kilter, and we feel at the mercy of powerful forces beyond our control.  But the enduring message is that, despite all appearances, this world and all that happens in it is in God’s hands. His love and care for his people is unfailing.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
In the dark night of the soul,
where all appears lost,
and there seems
to be no meaning
and no sense
in the world
… help us to remember
and to discover anew
that you are Lord,
and in your embrace
we gain solace and peace.
Amen.   --> Today's writer Graham Handscomb, formerly Convenor of the URC Stepwise Task and Finish Group and member of Christ Church URC, Chelmsford Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Friday 18th June 2021

URC Devotion - Fri, 18/06/2021 - 06:15
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Friday 18th June 2021
Revelation 19: 11 - 16

Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’. 

Reflection

From an earthly perspective, the Seer witnesses the heavens opened, and a divine warrior riding out on a white horse leading the heavenly armies.  Although we are told that only the Rider knows his name (v.12), we are left in no doubt that this is Christ, known as the Word of God (v.13) and ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (v.16).  This seeming contradiction reinforces the mystery surrounding Christ’s return.

But we know that Christ will return, and that the return will bring judgement, as powerfully portrayed in v.15.  The ‘sharp sword’ protruding from the Rider’s mouth recalls the ‘sword of the Lord’ familiar from various Old Testament passages (e.g. Deut. 32:41; Isa. 34:5-6; Ezek. 21:3-5; 30:24; 32:10), a potent symbol of eschatological judgement.  The ‘rod of iron’ which the Rider wields to rule the nations offers a messianic interpretation of Psalm 2:9.  ‘Treading the winepress’ is a further metaphor for divine judgement (Isa. 63:2-3).

During this time when nations seem to be increasingly divided, and our world more fragmented than ever, the Seer reminds us that ultimately all will be accountable to Christ.  National identity will be irrelevant when we are confronted by the Christ whose robe is stained with the blood he shed for the whole of errant humankind.

Prayer

Gracious God,
Forgive us our complacency:
our cowardly desire to shy away from your fiery gaze
which illuminates our failures and wrongdoing.
Forgive us our divisiveness,
when we distinguish between ‘them’ and ‘us’
and fail to recognize our responsibilities
towards one another in our fractured world.
Forgive us, and help us
to overcome the dividing barriers
as one people united
in the Christ who died for all.  Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr Gillian Poucher, Minister, Gainsborough United Reformed Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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This Week's Pandemic Prayer

URC Devotion - Thu, 17/06/2021 - 09:43
96 This Week's Pandemic Prayer p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; font-size:inherit !important; font-family:inherit !important; 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line-height:150%; text-align:left; } .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#036B74; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ color:#524E48; font-family:Georgia; font-size:10px; line-height:125%; text-align:center; } .footerContainer .mcnTextContent a{ color:#524E48; font-weight:normal; text-decoration:underline; } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ body,table,td,p,a,li,blockquote{ -webkit-text-size-adjust:none !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ body{ width:100% !important; min-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #mainBackground,#templateHeader,#templateBody,.templateContainer{ max-width:600px !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnRetinaImage{ max-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImage{ width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnCartContainer,.mcnCaptionTopContent,.mcnRecContentContainer,.mcnCaptionBottomContent,.mcnTextContentContainer,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer,.mcnImageGroupContentContainer,.mcnCaptionLeftTextContentContainer,.mcnCaptionRightTextContentContainer,.mcnCaptionLeftImageContentContainer,.mcnCaptionRightImageContentContainer,.mcnImageCardLeftTextContentContainer,.mcnImageCardRightTextContentContainer,.mcnImageCardLeftImageContentContainer,.mcnImageCardRightImageContentContainer{ max-width:100% !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Dear Friends,

we're still continuing to produce the weekly pandemic prayer as things are still, in the UK, uncertain and, of course for much of the rest of the world Covid ravages through towns and cities where there is little access to either medication or vaccine.  I wrote this week's prayer which you can access here; it can be used in personal devotions, small groups or in Sunday worship.

with every good wish

Andy --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend --> New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Thursday 17th June 2021

URC Devotion - Thu, 17/06/2021 - 06:15
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Thursday 17th June 2021
Revelation 19: 1 - 10

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,

‘Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
     for his judgements are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
    who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’

Once more they said,

‘Hallelujah!
The smoke goes up from her for ever and ever.’

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the throne, saying,

‘Amen. Hallelujah!’

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
    small and great.’

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,

‘Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
    with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’  Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

Reflection

Isn’t heaven noisy?  The voice of a great multitude – the hubbub of a huge gathering.  And yet this is supposed to be a time of worship. 

‘Hallelujah’ - praise the Lord - is the repeated refrain punctuating troubling and awesome descriptions of God, confirming shared faith, affirming promises.  And the focus is kept firmly on worshipping God by the angel guiding our witness to this scene, John.

So noisy – like the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunder peals.  Almost as bad as an all age service when the babies are squealing, the kids are giggling, the teens are shouting, and the hearing aids are squeaking.  How glorious!  With the songs and prayers in these as much as in the more formal words and music giving glory to God.

For this is indeed the great all-age altogether worship of heaven – with both great and small exhorted to praise God and serve God, to be holders of the testimony of Jesus together.  After all this is a wedding party, which is the joining together of multigenerational family: the Groom’s and the Bride’s, the saints and the servants. 

‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ – it is going to be quite a party.  I’m so glad all ages, all stages, all cultures, all races, all shapes, all sizes, all colours, all genders, all abilities, all types are on the invitation list – and will be a blessing to each other as they share the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb together.  Hallelujah!

Prayer

Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
     for his judgements are true and just.
Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
    small and great.
Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Amen.    --> Today's writer Dr Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, member of mayBe Community, Oxford Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's coming

URC Devotion - Wed, 16/06/2021 - 15:30
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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Dear Friends,

Sunday's service is led by the Revd. Wayne Hawkins. Wayne is a minister at Guildford United Reformed Church, and former Mission Secretary for Europe at the Council for World Mission. Amongst other things, we will be reflecting on this week's Refugee Week. Hymns include Bell/Maule's Jesus calls us here to meet him, William Whiting's Eternal Father, strong to save, and Fred Kaan's For the healing of the nations.

The service will be sent out, as normal, at 9.45 on Sunday morning for a 10am start.  If you have any problems receiving it please read on for advice.

with every blessing,


Dan


Dan Morrell
Editor, Daily Devotion Sunday Services from the URC --> If you have a problem...   Sometimes the Daily Devotions emails go astray.  As we send out over 4,000 a day some internet service providers label them as Spam or Junk.  If an email doesn't arrive check your Spam/Junk Folder in the first instance.  If the email is there then add this email address to your contacts and, if you have one, a Safe Senders' List.  If you google your email programme and the words "safe senders list" you should find out how to do it. 

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URC Daily Devotion Wednesday 16th June 2021

URC Devotion - Wed, 16/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 18

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendour.  He called out with a mighty voice,

‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
    It has become a dwelling-place of demons,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
    a haunt of every foul bird,
    a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.
For all the nations have drunk
    of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,
and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.’

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

‘Come out of her, my people,
    so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.
Render to her as she herself has rendered,
    and repay her double for her deeds;
    mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
    so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in her heart she says,
    “I rule as a queen;
I am no widow,
    and I will never see grief”,
therefore her plagues will come in a single day—
    pestilence and mourning and famine—
and she will be burned with fire;
    for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.’

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning;  they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgement has come.’

 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more,  cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble,  cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.

‘The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendour
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!’

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    clothed in fine linen,
        in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
        with jewels, and with pearls!
For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!’

And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off  and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

‘What city was like the great city?’

And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out,

‘Alas, alas, the great city,
    where all who had ships at sea
    grew rich by her wealth!
For in one hour she has been laid waste.’

Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgement for you against her.

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

‘With such violence Babylon the great city
    will be thrown down,
    and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flautists and trumpeters
    will be heard in you no more;
and an artisan of any trade
    will be found in you no more;
and the sound of the millstone
    will be heard in you no more;
and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more;
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more;
for your merchants were the magnates of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.’

Reflection

Prophecy shows what is to come and urges us to act as if the prophecy has already come true.  In the midst of empire the Seer is told that it had already fallen and was instructed to call God’s people out - just as Moses had called the Jews out of slavery.  This deeply subversive passage would have both terrified and excited its first hearers. How does one live in the midst of an empire as if it had already fallen?

Of course the Church struggled with this dilemma.  Instead of resistance it took on imperial trappings:  early pacifism gave way to pragmatism,  separation gave way to inclusion, bishops united their ministry of service with becoming imperial functionaries. Even now some traditions refer to bishops’ “thrones”; it’s not so long ago that popes wore a triple crown.  

Yet how do we live with empire now?  As we explored yesterday the legacies of Britain’s imperial past are still with us.  America and China function as if they were imperial powers, financial systems still colonise and oppress.  Do we resist or collude?  Of course it’s hard, we feel powerless, we don’t know what to do but then nor did the Seer who had to write Revelation.  In telling our stories of freedom and liberation we learn to be free.  In rejoicing at empire’s end we help overthrow it.  In seeing the world as it really is we help change it.

Prayer

Blow the trumpets on Mt Zion!
Christ shall come a second time
ruling with a rod of iron
all who now as foes combine.
Fables’ garment sweet rejected
and our fellowship is o'er.
Babylon is fallen is fallen is fallen,
Babylon is fallen to rise no more!

(you can hear this Civil War hymn sung here)

Help us to live, O God,
as if empire had fallen,
as if we were free,
that we might free your people.
Amen.     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four URC congregations in and around Glasgow. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 15th June 2021

URC Devotion - Tue, 15/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 17

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgement of the great whore who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the inhabitants of the earth have become drunk.’  So he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.  The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.’  And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly amazed. But the angel said to me, ‘Why are you so amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will be amazed when they see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

‘This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings,  of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain for only a little while.  As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.  And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.  These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.’

And he said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the whore is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.  And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the whore; they will make her desolate and naked; they will devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.  For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by agreeing to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.  The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’

Reflection

In recent years there has been more understanding of our imperial legacy.  From drinking tea (served in China), civic wealth based on slavery and tobacco, and our health problems with sugar (more slavery) it is clear that imperial legacies hide in plain sight.  

What is normal isn’t seen as evil.  Until last Summer’s protests, statues of slave traders and imperial despots on our streets or public squares were barely noticed by most white people.  Public hostility to immigration hid the fact that for much of the 20th Century the British gave citizenship (and the right to live and work here) to our subject peoples though, of course,  we didn’t refer to them as such!  A generation of people brought up with tales of Britain ruling the waves and singing patriotic songs with jolly good tunes helped hide imperial reality.   Given Britain’s original identity as a Christian, Protestant, nation this is all rather strange given the strong things Revelation has to say about empire.

Today’s passage shows the writer’s horror of empire - the image of a prostitute is troubling to our values but could also be translated as “idolatress.”   The writer understood the reality of an imperial system which conquered and subjugated nations.  The brutality of empire led puppet kings astray blunting any national resistance.  The fall of Jerusalem would have underlined the terrible brutality of Rome.  

The purpose of this part of the vision was to make the Seer aware, to understand things as they really were, to place the situation he found himself into a wider context of world politics,  and to offer a religious understanding of imperial evil.  

Passages like this should make us reflect on empires - past and present - and the part our nations played in the brutality of empire, the ways in which we justified it, and the poisonous imperial legacies that are reflected in racism and power even now.  The first step towards repentance is seeing things as they really are.

Prayer

Open our eyes, O God,
to see the world as it really is
and see the systems that rule our world;
that we may resist evil 
and wait with eagerness
for the coming of Your Kingdom,
where there will be no more tears,
no more pain,
no more mourning,
and where all the oppressed 
will run free.  Amen.     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four URC congregations in and around Glasgow.  Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 14th June 2021

URC Devotion - Mon, 14/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 16

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’

So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped its image.

The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.

The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.  And I heard the angel of the waters say,

‘You are just, O Holy One, who are and were,
    for you have judged these things;
because they shed the blood of saints and prophets,
    you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!’

And I heard the altar respond,

‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty,
    your judgements are true and just!’

The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire;  they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.

The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony,  and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.

The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet.  These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.  (‘See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.’)  And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.

The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’  And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent was that earthquake.  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found;  and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until they cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague.

Reflection

This chapter continues with the woes that will fall on the earth in the last days.  It is full of symbolism and mystery.  

We see a reference to Armageddon towards the end of the chapter.  Near the end is a good place for it, as that is where the final battle will take place.

These bowls of wrath seem to be poured on those who do not worship the one true God, but on those who “had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image”.  Today everyone is suffering many curses, but these are not from God, but from the actions of humankind.  Let’s look at a few from this passage and what is happening by our action, or inaction, today.

The first was sores.  The world is suffering from a pandemic, in some ways caused by how we treat animals and keep them confined.  People in poor countries are dying because the rich countries have ordered so much vaccine.  Because of this some poor countries can’t get any vaccine for their vulnerable citizens.

The second caused every living thing in the seas to die.  The world produces 20,000 plastic bottles every second.  Plastics are in many products and the seas are polluted by all types and sizes of plastic from massive pieces to microscopic particles.  Marine life is being killed by this pollution.

The fourth was excessive heat.  We are suffering climate chaos and while we in the UK might welcome warmer summers other parts of the world are devastated by drought and famine.  Even in Britain the uncertainty about the weather is causing farmers problems and distress.

We live in God’s world and we need to all act together to stop destroying it.  As Christians we can join with others to lead the way in bringing about change.
 
Prayer
 
Loving God,
Give us a love for all creation
Help us to protect your world
Show us how to live to do the least harm.
Teach us to respect your world and all people and animals who live in it.
We pray that we will not cause damage to your world.
Help us to lead others to change their attitudes and lifestyles to reduce damage.
In Jesus name
Amen    --> Today's writer John Collings, Lay Preacher, Rutherglen URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 13th June 2021 - The Revd. Sarah Hall

URC Devotion - Sun, 13/06/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 13th June 2021 - The Revd. 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Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today's service.   You can either simply read this or you can
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This service includes Holy Communion. If you would like to take part, you may wish to have some bread and wine/juice with you before you begin the service. Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church
Service for Sunday 13th June

The Rev’d Sarah Hall
 
Introduction
 
Hello! My name is Sarah Hall and I'm a minister working alongside Mark Robinson with three churches and some University chaplaincy in Southampton and Chandlers Ford.  Before Coronavirus one of our churches operated a weekly drop-in service for asylum seekers and refugees, in partnership with three local charities, which we hope will be able to resume once restrictions are eased.  Usually we hold a big party for Refugee Week, with song and dance, music and drumming, and lots of pizzas and samosas.  So at the beginning of Refugee Week 2021 I'm glad to be able to share worship with you, and in particular to be able to share the feast of Communion. Though we cannot physically be present to each other, first appearances can be deceptive. For through the power of God's Spirit, we each of us and all together can join in with Jesus and his friends, as they shared prayer and food, two thousand years ago in Palestine.
 
Call To Worship
 
We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love
who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain,
and heals our wounds.

God is our light and our salvation.
In God’s name we light this candle and are reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World, God’s own Voice who came to live with us.
May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always. Amen.

Hymn       In Christ there is no East or West
Words: William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham) (1852-1941)   In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

2 In him shall true hearts everywhere
their high communion find;
his service is the golden cord,
close-binding humankind.

3 Join hands, then, people of the faith,
whate'er your race may be;
who serves my Father
as His Child is surely kin to me.

4 In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north;
all Christ-like souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.
  Prayers of Approach, Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness
 
Wondrous and holy God, creator of the universe, you make all people in your own image. You bless us with an immense variety of cultures and ways of responding to you. You show us new patterns of living and loving in Jesus. You give us strength by your Holy Spirit.
Forgive us when we seek to put boundaries around your presence, love and work; when we use diversity to divide people - to demonise some and give privileged status to others; when we seek to dominate or destroy those who are different from us. Have mercy on us all.
 
Listen: here is good news. Christ Jesus came into the world
to forgive us in our failure, to accept us as we are,
to set us free from evil’s power and make us what we were meant to be. Through him God says to each of us:
You are accepted. You are forgiven. I will set you free.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
 
Prayer of Illumination

Guide us, O God,
by your Word and Spirit,
that in your light we may see light,
in your truth find wisdom,
and in your will discover peace,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Readings
 
1 Samuel 16:4-13
 
Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
 
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’  Then Jesse made Shammah pass by.  And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17
 
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil…
For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
 
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.  So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
 
Sermon
 
* I'll start with a question for you: what do these people all have in common? Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Olivia Newton-John, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, David and Ed Miliband, Jesus, Albert Einstein, Ben Elton, Marlene Dietrich, Jackie Chan and Victor Hugo?***
 
That's right. It's obvious really, isn't it? They're all either refugees or the children of refugees.
 
OK, so it's not quite so obvious. Some of those I knew about, vaguely. After all, we all know Jesus was a refugee, don't we? That worrying time we don't preach on much, just after Christmas, when Joseph gets a dream, warning him to get out of Israel with the family before Herod's soldiers can slaughter Jesus with the rest of the local toddlers. But the others? In many cases I had no idea that they or their parents had begun life in a different country, that they'd had had to leave behind everything they knew and put their talents and energy to work somewhere new. We don't even categorise most of them as foreign, let alone as refugees, but admire them for their great achievements, whether in music, politics, science, drama or literature.
Hindsight is always 20-20 vision. But I wonder what we might have thought of any of these high achievers if we'd met them when they were younger, struggling to adapt to their new culture. Would we have seen the seeds of future greatness in them? I'd like to think so - but to be honest, I'm not sure. Any more than I'd be sure I'd have picked David out of the line-up when Samuel came to Bethlehem looking for a new king to replace Saul. In fact, to start with, I'd have had no hope at all - because David wasn't even there. He was out looking after the sheep - because somebody had to, and his father Jesse must have reckoned that when it came to Samuel's unexpected visit, David was the most dispensable.
 
I imagine the scene a little like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, without the girls. Seven fine, strapping young men - surely one of them will be king material? But a still small voice in the back of Samuel's mind keeps on saying: Don't be impressed by how tall he is, or how good looking either. God doesn't care about external appearances. God's more interested in the heart. So from one to the next Samuel goes down the line saying, No. No, not this one. Nope, not him either. Next, please! Don't call us, we'll call you. He holds his nerve, but when he's got to son number seven and God still hasn't said yes, he must have been panicking a little bit. 'Don't you have any more sons?' he demands of Jesse. Jesse, shrugging his shoulders, gets someone  to fetch David, still in his working clothes and smelling strongly of sheep. And finally God says to Samuel: This is the one! The least expected candidate. The one nobody bothered to fetch. It's him.
 
Now I always think this story is spoiled a little bit by the text reassuring us right at the end that David is a handsome broth of a boy, with beautiful eyes. Yes, we know God looks on the heart - but even before the invention of TV, we human beings looked for a bit more by way of appearance in our leaders, a bit of eye-candy. Till Donald Trump, anyway...
 
Be that as it may, it's the God's-eye view that our next reading, from Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth, wants to explore further. From now on, therefore, Paul writes to his friends in Corinth, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. Which leads in my mind to the question: if Paul and his readers once did know Christ from a human point of view, what did that look like?
 
Well, we have a man in his thirties. Not highly educated - or at least, we don't know anything about his schooling. Trained as a carpenter, though he can argue with the scribes. Not married, no job, no children. Not obviously handsome - or at least, that's not come down to us in the records. Good talker, bit of a medic. Gained a lot of followers, moved on the capital, betrayed by a close follower, arrested, tried and executed for a failed leadership attempt. Oh yes - and executed by a method specifically cursed in the Scriptures.
Now looked at from a human point of view, without inside knowledge, would we have thought there was anything particularly remarkable in Christ? Not if we reckon Isaiah was talking about him: he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
 
For most of us, I hope, that feeling of being despised, held of no account is not part of our experience. Yet many who seek refuge and asylum in this country are met not by welcome but by a hostile environment among officials assuming they are at the best freeloading or at the worst criminal. They may well also recognise the dangers which Paul, in his own following of Jesus, describes in the previous chapter of his letter: being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. It is not easy for those of us who have led more comfortable lives to understand even some of what they have faced; though sadly some of you may have known prejudice and discrimination, even within churches, if you didn't fit in. Maybe it was because of your race, your gender or gender identity, your sexuality, your ability... Let's face it, there are all too many reasons people, even Christians, can find for rejecting one another. Basically: you were different, and therefore unacceptable.
Yet according to Paul, willingly undergoing such a process of humiliation was Jesus' aim; and so that we may be transformed. He died for all, Paul writes, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. It's for that reason we, Christ's followers, no longer need to see him from a human point of view.
 
But it goes further than that. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view... if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
 
We regard no one from a human point of view, Paul says; we do not value them less or more because of their race or gender or pronouns, their sexuality or age, their bank balance or health or family status. We recognise each of them as someone whom God loves; for whom Christ died; who, through the Spirit's power is becoming a whole new person. And that applies to everyone, whether their family has been here since Stonehenge was built or whether they came here last week and are looking for the chance to offer their strengths and talents for the common good.
 
Some refugees will give us outstanding service. Others will manage to mess things up in the usual human way - even David, let's face it, was no stranger to that  problem. But beneath every appearance, both those we find attractive and those that repel us, God sees the heart. So at the beginning of this Refugee Week, let's practise the art of seeing all people as God sees them. For then we can joyfully sit down at table with them and with the Lord. Even when our table fellowship is the virtual variety.
 
Music for Reflection        Redemption Song
Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Affirmation of Faith

We believe in God.
Despite His silence and His secrets we believe that He lives.
Despite evil and suffering we believe that He made the world
so that all would be happy in life.
Despite the limitations of our reason
and the revolts of our hearts,
we believe in God.
 
We believe in Jesus Christ.
Despite the centuries which separate us
from the time when he came to earth, we believe in His word.
Despite our incomprehension and our doubt,
we believe in His resurrection.
Despite his weakness and poverty, we believe in his reign.

We believe in the Holy Spirit.
Despite appearances we believe He guides the Church;
despite death we believe in eternal life;
despite ignorance and disbelief,
we believe that the Kingdom of God is promised to all.
Amen.
 
Offertory
 
God loves a generous giver. And our giving can sustain not only our church communities in this difficult time but can also, through charities such as the British Red Cross or the Refugee Council, demonstrate in a practical way our recognition of refugees as people for whom Christ died. Let us pray as we offer to God our money, our time, and ourselves.
 
Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour and the majesty, for everything in heaven and on earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you. Amen.
 
Hymn:      I come with joy to meet my Lord
Words: Brian Wren (1936- ) © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd   I come with joy
to meet my Lord,
forgiven, loved, and free;
in awe and wonder to recall
His life laid down for me.
 
2: I come with Christians
far and near,
to find, as all are fed,
the community of love
in Christ’s communion bread.
 
3: As Christ breaks bread
and bids us share,
each proud division ends;
the love that made us,
makes us one,
and strangers now are friends.
 
4: And thus with joy
we meet our Lord,
His presence, always near,
is in such friendship
better known;
we see, and praise him here   5:  Together met,
together bound,
we'll go our different ways;
and as his people
in the world,
we'll live and speak his praise.

Narrative of the Institution
 
Jesus often shared food and drink with those he loved. Outcasts and ne'er-do-wells, fishermen and tax-collectors, deniers and traitors, his friends and his family. Today, Jesus wants to share bread and wine in your own home with you. So I invite you now to prepare yourself to eat and drink with each other and with him.
 
Eucharistic prayer
 
Lift up your hearts
WE LIFT THEM TO THE LORD
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE OUR THANKS AND PRAISE
Generous host, you made the whole world for us to enjoy and to share. You came in Jesus to teach us how to be your guests.
Your Spirit joins us together in the joy of hospitality.
So we praise you, saying:
 
All:            Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
                  Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
                  Hosanna in the highest.
Leader:    Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
All:            Hosanna in the highest.
 
Come to us where we are, God our Host,
Worshipping, may we meet around your table
as we remember Jesus, who, on the night before he died,
took bread and wine, blessed them
and gave them to his invited guests,
saying: 'This is my body; this is my blood.
Eat and drink to remember me.'
And I invite you to join with me in saying:
Pour out your Holy Spirit,
on this bread and this wine; and on these your people.
May we worship you with body, heart and soul
Gathered around our tech and in the whole of our lives.  Amen.
 
Let us proclaim together the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
 
As Jesus taught his friends, let us pray together:
 
Our Father…
 
Among friends, gathered around a table, Jesus took bread [take bread] and broke it and said, ‘This is my body, broken for you.’
 
Later he took a cup of wine [raise cup] and said, ‘This is the new relationship with God made possible because of my death.
Take it, all of you, to remember me.’
 
So eat this bread. It is the bread of life [eat]
And drink this wine. It is the cup of blessing [drink]
 
Prayers of thanksgiving and concern
 
As we come to our prayers of thanksgiving and concern,
I invite you to pause the recording as you pray.
If you were to finish the sentence:
In spite of Coronavirus I thank God for... how would you end it?
Give your thanks to God. [pause]
 
If you were to say the sentence:
These people, this place, this situation,
needs God's healing touch: how would you begin it?
Give God the concerns of your heart. [pause]
All our prayers, all our fears, all our hopes,
we give to Jesus,
who knows what it means to be a refugee. Amen.
 
Hymn       Jesu, Jesu
Tom Colvin copyright © 1969, 1997 Hope Publishing Company
 
Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbours we have from you.
  1 Kneels at the feet of his friends,
silently washes their feet,
Master who acts as a slave to them.
 
2 Neighbours are wealthy and poor,
varied in colour and race,
neighbours are near us and far away.
 
3 These are the ones we should serve,
these are the ones we should love,
all these are neighbours to us and you.
 
4: Loving puts us on our knees,
willing to wash other’s feet;
this is the way we should live, like you.
Blessing
May God who is light shine in our darkness.
May God who is love be the love between us.
May God who is life be our life, everlasting.
And the blessing of God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit
is with us and all people, now and always. Amen.
 
Sources and thanks
 
In Christ there is no East or West Words: William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham) (1852-1941)
sung on BBC’s Songs of Praise
I come with joy to meet my Lord Words: Brian Wren (1936- ) © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd unknown performers on YouTube.
Jesu, Jesu Words: Tom Colvin copyright © 1969, 1997 Hope Publishing Company sung by the First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
 
Organ Pieces
Opening: Ein Feste Burg (“A mighty fortress”) by Max Reger (organ of Basilica Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy – 2016)
 
Closing: Komm Gott Schӧpfer Heiliger Geist (“Come God, creator Holy Ghost”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of Basilica Santa Maria Dei Assunta, Montecatini Terme, Italy – 2016)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks, from Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Thanks to Sue Cresswell, Graham Handscomb, Helen Sharpe, Tina Wheeler and Anthony Denman for reading various spoken parts of the service. --> Where words are copyright reproduced under the terms of Barrhead URC’s CCLI licence number 1064776,
Some material reprinted, and streamed, with permission under ONE LICENSE A-734713 All rights reserved.
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762
  Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 13th June 2021

URC Devotion - Sun, 13/06/2021 - 06:00
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Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
our ever-present aid,
and therefore, though the earth be moved,
we will not be afraid
though hills into the seas be cast,
though foaming waters roar,
though all the mighty billows shake
the mountains on the shore.

2 A river flows whose streams make glad
the city of our God,
the holy place wherein the LORD
Most High has his abode.
Since God is in the midst of her,
unmoved her walls shall stand;
for God will hasten to her aid
when trouble is at hand.

3 The nations rage, the kingdoms move,
but when his voice is heard,
earth melts with trembling fear before
the thunder of his word.
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

4 O come and see what wondrous works
the hand of God has done;
come, see what desolation great
he brings beneath the sun.
In every corner of the earth
he causes wars to cease;
the weapons of the strong destroyed,
he makes abiding peace.

5 "Be still and know that I am God,
the LORD whom all must claim;
and every nation of the earth
shall magnify my name."
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

You can hear the tune, Noel, here
https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/148371

Reflection

It’s always valuable to look at Bible readings in different versions or formats.  Looking at this hymn version of Psalm 46, I am struck by two opposites in the imagery: motion and stillness.  The earth moves, the hills are cast into the sea, the waters roar, the mountains are shaken.  The nations rage and the kingdoms roar.  Everything is in turmoil.  

In contrast, God is. God is our refuge and our strength.  God is in the midst of the holy city, here envisaged in a similar way to Revelation 22. The Lord of hosts is on our side.  The God of Jacob is for us a refuge strong and sure.  And God calls for us to ‘be still and know that I am God’.

During the last year or so, some have been in turmoil – working from home, home-schooling children, juggling many responsibilities.  Some have been working in healthcare – long, tiring, emotional hours. Many have continued to work in situations that leave them feeling at risk.  Others have been forced to be still – perhaps shielding or just staying at home.  For everyone, life has changed – and keeps changing.

But whether busier than ever, or quieter than you have known; God is.  God is on our side, God is our refuge strong and sure.

As we (hopefully) start to come out of the restrictions forced upon us over the last year or so, some will be less stretched and have time to be still.  Others may struggle to go back out into the world  and perhaps fear freedom.  Many will be mourning loved ones or a lost way of life.  As we emerge, God continues to call us to be still, or as The Message puts it: ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’  And God is our refuge and strength.

Prayer

Father God, help us to step out of the traffic and find the stillness of you.  Be our refuge from the storms of life, and refresh us ready to step back out, taking that stillness with us and sharing with all whom we meet. 
Amen   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol Area. Member of Zion United Church, Frampton Cotterell. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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This Week's Pandemic Prayer

URC Devotion - Sat, 12/06/2021 - 10:55
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Dear Friends,

this week's Pandemic Prayer was written by Ann Barton a lay leader at Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod.  You can read it here.

best wishes

Andy

The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend --> New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12th June 2021

URC Devotion - Sat, 12/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 15

Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

‘Great and amazing are your deeds,
    Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your judgements have been revealed.’

After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened,  and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests.  Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever;  and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended.

Reflection

Have you missed the experience of worship in a big gathering in the last year? A festival, like Greenbelt or Spring Harvest, with thousands of people celebrating together.  A packed cathedral for a special service. Arriving in Santiago de Compostela cathedral square in a company of dusty pilgrims from all over the world. Or indeed, being in a football crowd cheering on your team!  Life is poorer without these mountain top experiences.  Mask wearers distanced in church, or screens on Zoom, don’t lift us in the same way – but better than not meeting at all, and online worship has enabled us to connect with people far away.

Without Revelation, our hymn imagery would also be poorer.  We wouldn’t have all the saints casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea, or the children in white crowned like stars, or being brought safe through Jordan to the Father’s throne.  Leaving aside the riches of the Old Testament, we’d have glimpses of the glory of God in the Christmas angels, Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration, the angels at the tomb and the road to Damascus.  But add Revelation and we find the glory of God in the brightness of the glassy sea, the fire and the shining crowns; the sound of harps and joyful praise and dancing; the sense of joining a huge crowd in a never-ending stream of praise and adoration of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to understand it: we can just go with the flow, lost in wonder, love and praise.
 
Revelation is a book of hope based on symbolism. My hope this summer is to join again the countless host streaming in through the gates of Greenbelt to sing praises to God spilling out of the tent of worship (and the tent of beer!): God’s Kingdom on earth and a foretaste of heaven.  What’s yours?

Prayer ( from Psalm 150)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in his mighty firmament
Praise him according to his surpassing greatness
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!   --> Today's writer Ruth Tompsett is an elder at Newport Pagnell URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 11th June 2021

URC Devotion - Fri, 11/06/2021 - 06:00
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Revelation 14: 6 - 20

Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people.  He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’

Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, ‘Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.’

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them.’

Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand!  Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.’ So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.’  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.

Reflection

Three angels declare that those who worship God get life-giving water, but that Babylon is now fallen and is drinking only God’s wrath, and that all those who worship the monster and the statue will know this same wrath.
 
In other words, those who have been chasing the wrong things in life will be cut off from that intoxication, and need to turn to God, who deserves true worship, and who will give true life. In our day these ‘false gods’ might be materialism, greed, and exploitation of the earth. So what should we do?
Turn to God.

Three more angels appear: one tells the crowned son of man to take his sickle and reap, the second also has a sickle, the third tells the second to ply the sickle, too.

We might think this is a scene of punishment, but the coming judgement is described as a harvest. The grapes are not just cut and trampled to be destroyed, but to yield the goodness of their wine, and John’s Revelation declares that the whole earth is now God’s vine, not just the people of Israel. There is good news for all the saints – God is going to take the things of this world and produce a harvest. From the mess of this world, God will draw the richness of the life-giving kingdom. Kingdom life will be an overwhelming flow – vast as a lake of wine.

Is this a vision about the end of time? – almost certainly. There is hope here that in the end God will save the good things of this world and finally remove all impurity. But the vision could also be about our individual lives – God is always ready to distil something pure from the lives we lead, producing a harvest of goodness from the most unlikely of us, through overwhelming grace.

Prayer

God of the harvest,
we turn to you.
Take the grapes of our lives
and with truth and grace
produce a harvest of celebration and joy.
In your time, 
with your wise judgement,
make this world into your place
where all may know life in all its fulness.
We ask this through the grace of your son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Ruth Whitehead, minister of the URC currently serving as South Western Synod Moderator. Member of Taunton URC. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2021 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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