URC Devotion

URC Daily Devotion 31st July 2021

4 hours 19 min ago
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Matthew 1:1; 9:27-31 and 22:41-46
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham...

...As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’  When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’  Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’  And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, ‘See that no one knows of this.’  But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district...

...Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:  ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’  He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

“The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet’”?

If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’  No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Reflection
As we come to the end of our series about David, we turn to Matthew’s Gospel as an example of how these traditions had developed by the time of Jesus.

In the genealogy (1:1, 6, 17, 20) the significance of David is evident and Jesus’ biological descent from David, through Joseph, is stated.  His power to bring sight to the blind is explicitly linked to Jesus being perceived by people as ‘Son of David’ (9:27), the messianic figure in whom hopes for salvation from the rule of Rome and a new kingdom of wholeness, justice and peace, rested.

In 22:41-46 Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees about whom the Messiah might be and the relationship between this figure and David is shown to be less straightforward than suggested!  Jesus’ question quotes Psalm 110:1 and presumes a shared knowledge of 2 Samuel 23:2 – and an uncritical acceptance of both verses being actual words of David.  The Pharisees were silenced and the complexities associated with unpacking all these issues silence me too.

Faith in Jesus as Son of David and Messiah is not an issue that can be established undeniably by reference to scripture or tradition.  We grapple with the scriptures, listening to the different voices of God’s people as they sought to understand God’s unfolding purposes.  We receive the theological traditions of our Jewish and Christian forebears, trying to find language that makes sense of these ideas in our day and age.

In Jesus, Son of David, I glimpse what a flawed individual like me might become, through God’s grace; how this broken world might be transformed into God’s kingdom; how God challenges us to rethink our models and structures as we live in the present with our eyes on the future; and I recognize an eternal king, the assurance of God’s covenant love towards all creation.

Prayer
Using words from James Montgomery’s paraphrase of Psalm 72 (Rejoice & Sing 127)

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free,
to take away transgression, and rule in equity.

Thanks be to God. Amen.   --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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 30th July 2021

Fri, 30/07/2021 - 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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The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,  and the levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt-offerings, to make grain-offerings, and to make sacrifices for all time.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:  Thus says the Lord: If any of you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night would not come at their appointed time,  only then could my covenant with my servant David be broken, so that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with my ministers the Levites.  Just as the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will increase the offspring of my servant David, and the Levites who minister to me.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Have you not observed how these people say, ‘The two families that the Lord chose have been rejected by him’, and how they hold my people in such contempt that they no longer regard them as a nation? Thus says the Lord: Only if I had not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, would I reject the offspring of Jacob and of my servant David and not choose any of his descendants as rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them.

Reflection
These verses close what is called the ‘Little book of Consolation’ in Jeremiah (Jer.30-33); but they are absent from the much shorter Greek (Septuagint) version.  They almost repeat, and then expand upon, Jeremiah 23:5-6.  They belong to a later layer of tradition in this complex book but where and when they originated is disputed.  The former oracle looks forward to an unspecified time when God would raise up a new branch of Davidic monarchy epitomised by wisdom, righteousness and justice, qualities initially associated with David and Solomon.  It reversed the oracle in 22:28-30 which proclaimed the total end of the dynastic line of succession.

Today’s passage not only re-iterates God’s promise of an eternal ‘new’ branch for David, it also speaks in parallel of a Levitical priest having responsibility for an eternal sacrificial cult.  This is expressed as part of an eternal covenant that could only be broken if the whole created order of night and day came to an end – clearly taken to be impossible by the author.  In addition, God’s eternal covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is recalled – and the understanding that both the former kingdoms of Israel and Judah were equally God’s chosen people.  God remains committed to all these covenants and will be merciful.

Absolute confidence in God is being expressed and promises linked with David become part of a holistic understanding of covenant that draws on many biblical books.

‘The days are surely coming’ – but we don’t know when.  What is meant by a ‘righteous branch for David’ remains obscure but we get the idea; and it promises a new era of righteousness and justice.  God is bringing this into existence for all the children of Abraham; and it is as certain as the fact that night leads on to day.  Are you filled with hope?

Prayer
Faithful God, we wait with hope for the coming of your eternal kingdom.   
We acknowledge Jesus as the kingly fulfilment of your promises to David.  
Have mercy on us and help us to grasp the cosmic scale of your loving purposes.  Help us to focus on what lies with the scope of what we understand and what we can do, as we serve Christ in the church and the world.  Amen.   --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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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Pandemic Prayer

Thu, 29/07/2021 - 10:45
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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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Hi folks

this week's pandemic prayer has been loaded up to the URC website and is suitable for both personal and public use.  You can read it here.

with every good wish


Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator, Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church --> --> --> 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 29th July 2021

Thu, 29/07/2021 - 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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A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins…

...Ho, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
    and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.

Reflection
These two passages from the book of Isaiah reveal how ideas connected with David continued to be an important part of the developing faith of Israel centuries later.  In chapter 11 the ‘stump of Jesse’ refers to the Davidic monarchy that had been cut down by the Babylonians and brought to a complete end during the exile.

As Christians we are familiar with this passage being interpreted as a prophecy about Jesus; but its original audience would have understood it as offering hope that God would anoint a new royal leader over them who embodied the ideals associated with David.  It expresses a messianic hope that God’s promises to David will continue to be fulfilled even when there is no longer a nation of Israel (and, therefore, no possibility of a king).

David is explicitly mentioned in 55:3 alongside the concept of covenant.  This oracle is addressed to God’s people in exile, portrayed as being poor (in every sense) and despondent.  It declares that God’s promises to David are being redirected towards the community, the covenant is being democratised.  It offers hope by recalling a ‘golden age’ under David’s leadership and transferring the responsibility for re-establishing such a society to the people collectively, rather than an individual.  God’s steadfast love is promised to them, God is glorifying them in the eyes of the world – there is hope that God’s kingdom is coming and God’s people will be at its centre, attracting the nations to come and join in.

So here we have two different ways of understanding and re-applying theological traditions about David to bring hope to later generations of God’s people.  In both cases the prophetic word speaks into the realities of people’s lives to inspire faith and renew trust in God’s unfailing covenant.  May it continue to speak today.

Prayer
Eternal God we thank you for your faithfulness and for guiding your people to understand afresh the meaning of your promises in new contexts and changed circumstances.  
Help us to interpret the ideals of David’s reign into a vision that is relevant to our age and society.  Help us, as disciples of Christ, to accept our covenant responsibility to share in your work of bringing it into reality.  Amen.   --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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

Wed, 28/07/2021 - 15:45
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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 a home crowd pleaser, led by our own the Revd. Andy Braunston. Andy will be picking up on this year's URC Youth theme of Heroes and Villains. A divisive phrase, potentially a devisive subject? Tune in on Sunday to find out! Hymns include George Herbert's Let all the world in every corner sing, Laurence Housman's Father eternal, ruler of creation, and more!

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  28th July 2021

Wed, 28/07/2021 - 06:00
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  1 Kings 1:1-5, 11-18, 29-30 and 2:1-4, 10-11   King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.  So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant; let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’  So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.  The girl was very beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her sexually. Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king’; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him…

...Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has become king and our lord David does not know it?  Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.  Go in at once to King David, and say to him, “Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then is Adonijah king?”  Then while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.’...

...So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king.  Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, ‘What do you wish?’  She said to him, ‘My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne.  But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it…

...When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying:  ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous,  and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.  Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: “If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.”...

...Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David.  The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned for seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem…

Reflection

This selection of verses tells of events leading up to David’s death and that Solomon succeeded him on the throne; but it wasn’t a smooth transition.  David’s frailty is emphasised: he accepts Abishag into his bed as a hot water bottle rather than as a new sexual partner!  Adonijah, David’s eldest surviving son, attempts to seize the throne before his father is dead.  Nathan and Bathsheba conspire together in support of Solomon and manipulate David into naming Solomon as the next king.  

After reassuring Solomon of God’s covenantal promises, David’s final words are less wholesome.  In 1 Kings 2:5-9 he instructs Solomon to put to death two people whom David had only spared to avoid blood guilt.  

In contrast the Chronicler’s David is in total control of everything.  He makes Solomon king, presents him with a detailed blueprint for the Temple and its systems – that spans 7 chapters! - blesses the people and dies. 

Few of us have any idea what our declining years will bring in terms of physical and mental faculties, or frailties, (which is a good thing) but the approach of death is something we all have to face, for ourselves and our loved ones.  Pretending it will never happen is unhelpful to everyone; and making a will and setting our affairs in order while we remain capable of doing so, is sensible whatever our circumstances are.  

We may aim to grow old gracefully and be no trouble to others; but we cannot guarantee that. The way the elderly are treated by society or family, however, is an issue where we all have an opportunity to make a positive difference.  We can enable someone nearing life’s end to retain their dignity; and love them with patience and compassion.  We can campaign for a just social care system that works!

Prayer 

Loving God we pray for people who struggle to cope with advancing years, their own or another’s.  We pray for any who suffer abuse at the hands of those with a responsibility to care.  We pray for all who provide long-term care and often lack the support they need to fulfil their role.

We pray that your love will meet the needs of those whom we fail.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.     --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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 27th July 2021

Tue, 27/07/2021 - 06:00
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Chronicles 21:1-17, 28-22:1   Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.  So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, and bring me a report, so that I may know their number.’  But Joab said, ‘May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?’  But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came back to Jerusalem.  Joab gave the total count of the people to David. In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and in Judah four hundred and seventy thousand who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.

But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. 8 David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.’  The Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying,  ‘Go and say to David, “Thus says the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, so that I may do it to you.”’  So Gad came to David and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Take your choice:  either three years of famine; or three months of devastation by your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you; or three days of the sword of the Lord, pestilence on the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.” Now decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me.’  Then David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress; let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but let me not fall into human hands.’

So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel; and seventy thousand persons fell in Israel. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but when he was about to destroy it, the Lord took note and relented concerning the calamity; he said to the destroying angel, ‘Enough! Stay your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then standing by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.  David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.  And David said to God, ‘Was it not I who gave the command to count the people? It is I who have sinned and done very wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house; but do not let your people be plagued!’...

...At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he made his sacrifices there.  For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt-offering were at that time in the high place at Gibeon;  but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.  1 Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt-offering for Israel.’

Reflection

Today’s passage parallels the account of the census taken by David and its consequences in 2 Samuel 24; but there are significant differences.  In Samuel God, in anger against Israel, incites David to count the number in his army; whereas the Chronicler transfers this incitement to Satan (cf. Job 2:1-7; Zech.3:1f).  The Chronicler reports briefly Joab’s conduct of it and gives the results - which differ in Samuel - and indicates that the numbers in Levi and Benjamin were omitted (v.6).  The second section of our reading is only in Chronicles.

The Chronicler is rewriting material in Samuel/Kings after exile, when Israel as an independent nation and its monarchy no longer existed.  In this new era the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple and its priestly system is central to Israel’s identity and the locus for God’s ‘name’.  The divine will is made known and enacted through heavenly beings (‘angels’).

God’s promises to David of an unending dynasty of kings are recast in terms of a line of high priests mediating the covenant between God and people; and David is re-presented in a priestly guise as the instigator of this whole structure.

In our reading David’s realisation that the census was sinful, and his personal guilt, is given additional emphasis (vv.3, 16) and he explicitly intercedes on behalf of God’s people (v.17), a priestly function.  Because the tabernacle resides at Gibeon (Benjamin) and David fears to approach it (vv.29f), he purchases a Jebusite site (i.e. Jerusalem) where he builds an altar, offers sacrifices and calls on God to end the plague.   In 22:1 the Chronicler states that David decreed this precise location as the site for the high altar in the temple (to be built by Solomon).

Scripture offers more than one perspective on David to enrich our faith.  We can learn from both.

Prayer

Living God, we thank you for your word to us in scripture.  Forgive us when we fail to take seriously differing perspectives and reject one in favour of another that fits more easily with our preconceived ideas.  Help us to let go of anachronistic understandings of your promises of old; and to reinterpret them in ways that can inspire your people today and bring new life to your church. Amen.     --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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 26th July 2021

Mon, 26/07/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 26th July 2021 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; 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  Psalm 18: 1-24, 46-50
To the leader. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
    so I shall be saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of perdition assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations also of the mountains trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
    he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him,
    his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
    there broke through his clouds
    hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
    and the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
    and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

He reached down from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of mighty waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
    and from those who hated me;
    for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
    but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
    he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his ordinances were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from guilt.
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight…

...The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be the God of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance
    and subdued peoples under me;
who delivered me from my enemies;
    indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries;
    you delivered me from the violent.

For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing praises to your name.
Great triumphs he gives to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants for ever.

Reflection

Although we are focusing on a Psalm today, we could equally have read 2 Samuel 22:1-25, 47-51 (and all the intervening verses in both texts), for both passages are virtually the same.  There are some small differences (e.g. Ps.18:1 isn’t in Samuel) and the Hebrew texts include subtle variations in spelling and syntax, plus the occasional changes in vocabulary that exist in the English translations.

The text hasn’t literally been ‘cut and pasted’ from one biblical book to the other; but both versions undoubtedly depend on a common source.  Some scholars suggest it originally derived from a Canaanite poem, part of an annual ritual celebrating Baal’s enthronement; but most identify it as a Royal Psalm of thanksgiving to God for use after a king’s victory over a foreign nation that has then been incorporated into Samuel.

Although the Psalm’s heading and Samuel 22:1 attribute it to David following his victory over the Philistines, its content lacks any precise details that warrant this.  The ‘enemies’ are unidentified, the metaphors used to describe God’s acts of deliverance don’t evoke the events of a human battle; and the reference to ‘temple’ (v.6) and the phrasing of the final verse suggest that it originated much later when the Judean monarchy was well established under David’s successors.

On this understanding the heading is early evidence for the history of interpretation of scripture during the development of the Bible.  Words that refer to deliverance from a very serious, but non-specific, threat have been put in a particular context by a compiler as David’s expression of thanks to God for his victory.

I find it hard to claim vv.20-24 for myself (and certainly not for David!) but this Psalm enables me to thank God for bringing me safely through very dark times.  How about you?

Prayer

God, you are a rock on which we can depend in every circumstance of life.  Thank you for holding us safe through the Covid pandemic and pour out your steadfast love on all who are still experiencing its devastating effect on their lives.

Give victory to the forces of goodness, justice, love, wherever they are at work in the world, that all your children may have fullness of life.  Through Christ our saviour, Amen.     --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge   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 25th July 2021 - The Revd. Simon Walkling

Sun, 25/07/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 25th July 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
Service for Sunday 25th July 2021
 
Photo Credit: Book of Love by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash
 
The Rev’d Simon Walkling  
Introduction
 
Welcome to worship. My name is Simon Walkling and I serve as the synod moderator for the national Synod of Wales. Croeso i Gymru. In our worship we are going to reflect on one of the prayers in the New Testament letters and receive it as a prayer for us, and as a prayer that God’s expansive and expanding love will work in us and through us.
 
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:      I Will Sing A Song of Love
                  John L Bell © GIA Publications 2004 unknown choir on Youtube
 
I will sing a song of love
to the One who first loved me,
and I’ll sing it as a child of God,
who is named, and known, and free.
For the love of God is good,
it is broad and deep and long;
and above all else that matters
God is worthy of my song.   1: And I will not sing alone,
but with earth and sky and sea,
for creation raised its voice
well in advance of me.
 
2: And I’ll sing with every soul,
every language, every race,
which proclaims this world is good
for God has blessed this place.
 
3: And I’ll sing for what is right
and against all that is wrong,
because God is never neutral
who inspires my song.

4: As I bring to God my joy,
so I’ll bring to God my pain
for there is no hurt which God
requires me to retain.
 
5: While my life on earth still runs,
may my song to God be given,
till through grace
I join the harmony
of all in heaven.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and Declaration of Forgiveness  
Loving God,
we lift our hearts to you in praise and prayer,
thankful for the wonder of creation
and grateful for the good things in our lives.
As we open ourselves to the ways you love us,
we find the ways to love you in return.
We raise our eyes to look beyond our immediate circumstances
and to view the world with your compassion.
As we broaden our perspective, we see the needs beyond our own,
and hear your call to love others.
 
Living God,
we thank you for the promise of your Spirit
to live with us and within us,
connecting us with others following this pattern of worship:
even though we may be separated in time and space
your Spirit connects us as a gathering of faithful people.
So as well as giving worth to you and sensing your expansive love,
may we receive worth from you, and know that we are precious to you.
 
Forgiving God,
sometimes we shy away from growing into your great love.
We are aware of our thoughts and actions that are less than loving;
our comments and communications
that have unintended consequences;
our habitual patterns of reacting that disappoint us and leave us low.
We lament the state of our lives, but also the state of our world,
marred by inequality, violence and careless indifference.
We are sorry.
We long to know that we are forgiven
and experience renewal that will make a difference.
 
Listen and hear the good news:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
He does not treat us according to our attitudes and behaviour,
for as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love for us;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our wrongdoing from us.
Jesus says, ‘You are forgiven,’ He also says, ‘Follow me.’
Thanks be to God. Amen
 
Prayer of Illumination
 
We turn to listen for God’s Word stirred by the Spirit within us
as we listen to words from the Bible.
God of revelation and inspiration,
as we listen, make the words alive for us today.
As we reflect, let the words take root in our hearts.
As we translate them for our situation,
may they be a foundation for our actions,
as we follow Jesus, your living Word. Amen
 
Reading:           Ephesians 3:14-21
 
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Before we reflect on this reading together, we remember that Jesus love is so high you can’t get over it, so wide you can’t get round it. You may remember singing this at other times in other places, and even do some ‘chairobic’ stretches to recall those times and signify the height, breadth and depth of Jesus’ wonderful love.
 
Hymn       Jesus’ Love is Very Wonderful
H. W. Rattle © Scripture Union, unknown performers on Divine Hymns   Jesus’ love Is very wonderful,
Jesus’ love Is very wonderful,
Jesus’ love Is very wonderful,
Oh, Wonderful Love!
 
So high, you can’t get over It,
so low, you can’t get under it,
so wide, you can’t get around It,
oh, Wonderful Love!   Sermon
 
Thirty years ago, around this time of year, I was on holiday with friends, on a narrow boat. We were coming into Gloucester dock and were following the guidebook about where to tie up. I got on the roof of the boat with a rope but realised that I didn’t need to be up there after all, so walked along the roof to get down. The next thing I knew, I was on the deck, six foot below with a dislocated shoulder. I just hadn’t seen the edge of the roof and walked out into mid-air and fell to the deck. Part of the reason for telling you this is that when I arrived at Gloucester Royal Infirmary to get treatment, they asked me my religion. I said, ‘Christian, United Reformed Church.’ They said, ‘We don’t get that very often, I’ll have to look up the code to put on the form… here it is 3d.’ So, whilst I was sitting holding my arm in A&E I thought, ‘3d, I’ll take that: 3 dimensional. I have a three-dimensional faith, not a cartoon caricature of faith, or a flat faith, but a three-dimensional living, breathing, dynamic faith.’ And our reading today reminded me of this, as I thought about how to comprehend the breadth and length, the height and depth of God’s love revealed in Jesus, real for us through the Spirit: the three-dimensional expansive and expanding love of God.
 
The writer says, ‘I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’
 
Before we unpack the prayer a bit more, I want to point out that it is a prayer.  It’s a prayer from the writer to the churches, but I also want us to hear it as a prayer that comes down to us today. I find it helpful to see Ephesians as a circular letter to the churches that Paul planted, maybe from Paul or from those that followed on from him. Perhaps a circular letter, but one which resonated so much with the Christians in Ephesus that they kept it and cherished it and that made it worth including in the books of the Bible. So, I would like us to receive the prayer in our reading today as being for us, with the added blessing of the Ephesians and all those who have drawn on it since.  Many of the New Testament letters include prayers and I think it’s worth reading them as prayers for us now. Like this one, they often start small and
on a human scale, and expand to fill the universe, affirming God’s activity through space and time.
 
To hear this prayer for us, let’s consider the ideas within it. The reasons for it are in the paragraphs before our reading. The good news has been shared with Gentiles – including the Ephesians, including us. Everyone can have access to God through trusting God revealed in Jesus. The church is to make this wisdom known to rulers and authorities. So, we are prayed for.
 
‘I pray that … you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit.’ I guess we instinctively know what this means, but it gave me pause for thought. How we describe our inner being and its connection with our observable actions is coloured by spirituality and personality, psychology and biology. We can also tell from the descriptions in the New Testament that the Spirit has power to help people communicate their faith; to connect people in communion; to equip the church with gifts; and to grow spiritual fruit. So, I pray that we may strengthened in our inner being: to develop positive thought
patterns that give us confidence to live out our faith; to discern direction and renewed purpose for our shared life as a church; to draw on resilience to cope with the changes that we are going through; and to deepen our spirituality to let God influence our rhythm of action and reflection.
 
‘I pray that … Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.’ For me, ‘grounded’ has the sense of solid foundations. It reminds me of the temple imagery in Ephesians 2 and being a ‘temple of living stones’ in 1 Peter, and other places where the imagery about the church is of God building on foundations and the church being the people where God is encountered. For me, ‘rooted’ is a more organic image of growth.  It reminds me of the imagery of the Jesus being the vine and us the branches in John 15, where we read Jesus saying, ‘abide in my love’, ‘those who abide in
my love bear much fruit.’ There’s also an overlap with the description of the Spirit in John 14 who will abide with us and within us. Faith and love are both relationship words that make connections, and here I think Christ dwelling in our hearts is about a felt connection with God, but it is more than a feeling. It is about becoming so familiar with the stories of Jesus and the life of Jesus that they shape the way we relate to God and other people. It is about the patterns of prayer and reflection that keep a living relationship with God. It is about ‘seeking the mind of Christ’ in the corporate life of our church, which is more
than a label for our decision-making processes, but springs from Christ
dwelling in our hearts through faith because of love. So, I pray that Christ may dwell in our hearts, so that Walking the Way and living the life of Jesus today, continually grows from being a pattern we follow to a living relationship in which we share.
 
‘I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,’ Which brings us back to where we began to break open this prayer with the three-dimensional love of God. The wonderful love that’s so high you can’t get over it, so wide you can’t get round it. There is something here about the all-embracing, extravagant love of God, and the way
we see that in God coming as one of us, and Jesus emptying himself and giving himself for us, and the way we know that by the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is more than intellectual understanding of facts, or the kind of comprehension we did at school where we had to answer questions about a story. This is a deep appreciation of love vast as the ocean. The Greek word translated as ‘comprehend’ here has its roots in the verb ‘to catch’ which reminds me of my youth leader who took me through church membership classes who said, ‘love is caught, not taught.’ I think this is emphasised by this love surpassing knowledge, it is not just intellectual, it engages our emotions and our wills, it is not just something inside us, but overflows in our actions. It is not secret information for an inner circle of believers, but light and salt and
yeast that has an affect on the world around us. So, I pray that God’s
expansive and expanding love may work in us and through us.
 
Later, you might like to reflect on other ways our faith and expressions of love may be three-dimensional. How love could influence mind, body and spirit; thoughts, emotions and actions; our head, heart and hands; our relationship with God, others and how we talk to ourselves; or our church life, locally, with our synods, or as a denomination.
 
I said part of the reason that I shared the story about my trip to Gloucester Royal Infirmary was to introduce the 3d theme. The other part was the walking off the edge of the roof had lasting effects. Since then, my body hasn’t trusted my eyes to know where the edge of anything is, and I have a perfectly rational fear of heights. OK so the physical discomfort I get with heights when someone is on the edge of a precipice on the telly is not rational, but in the real world I am trying to get used to coping with heights by concentration and taking care.
 
My observation is that some of our churches are feeling similar. Lockdowns created a sudden drop, and the experience has had after-effects. Decline is giving a feeling that there may be a tipping point and we are in danger of falling over it. We aren’t clear about the best way of changing our mindset and behaviours as local churches or as a denomination to face the future.
 
But the prayer in Ephesians does not leave us with our present circumstances, or our limitations, or just our close circles of belonging. ‘I pray … that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’ and this power at work in us can do ‘more than all we can ask or imagine’ That’s awesome, in both the colloquial and literal sense of the word. I have the sense of the rollercoaster being ready to start: the safety bars are in place, so I know I can’t fall out, but I know that what’s coming will be a whole-body experience. So, I pray that whatever happens, we may be strengthened in our inner being, that Christ may dwell in our hearts,
that God’s expansive and expanding love may work in us and through us, that we may be filled with the fullness of God, and that in the church, in Christ, we will give the glory to God. Amen
 
Hymn:      Here is Love, Vast As The Ocean
William Rees sung by Nikki Rose   Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,
Tosturiaethau fel y lli:
Twysog Bywyd pur yn marw—
Marw i brynu’n bywyd ni.
Pwy all beidio â chofio amdano?
Pwy all beidio â thraethu’I glod?
Dyma gariad nad â’n angof
Tra fo nefoedd wen yn bod.
 
Ar Galfaria yr ymrwygodd
Holl ffynhonnau’r dyfnder mawr;
Torrodd holl argaeau’r nefoedd
Oedd yn gyfain hyd yn awr:
Gras â chariad megis dilyw
Yn ymdywallt ymâ ’nghyd,
A chyfiawnder pur â heddwch
Yn cusanu euog fyd.
 
Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving-kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout heav’n’s
eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And heav’n’s peace & perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.    
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
 
God of nations and generations,
we come to align ourselves with your love,
to begin our response to what we have heard
by connecting with your concern for creation.
We remember how our circle of contacts
has been limited by regulations,
and we think of those who are closest to us,
who we speak with most often, who we see most regularly.
We picture their faces
and think of the ways our lives impact each other.
We pray that your love may be active between us.
We pray for people whose lives are shaped
by particular circumstances at this time:
Children leaving primary school.
Young people planning their next stage.
Patients coping with life limiting illness.
Families living with loss.
Those looking for a way to find mental wellbeing,
and those who need a holiday.

We pray that your love that makes all things new will be at work.
We think of the things that are shaping our national life at the moment. The things we hear about on the news, but also the cultural currents that are shaping and changing our shared values and sense of identity. We pray for those who witness to your love in corporations, institutions and the corridors of power.
 
We pray for our world, ravaged by COVID and climate change. A world where there is unequal impact of these effects and unequal access to the resources to cope with them. Where war displaces people, and the everyday violence of discrimination distorts lives. We think of issues and concerns and the people whose lives are affected. We let our circles of concern expand to include these people we may never know. We pray for your love to turn up as justice.
 
And we pray for the help that each of us needs in the coming week.
For the areas of our lives where we need inner strength, or challenge, or to imagine your world transformed by love.
 
So, God, let your love fill our lives, and overflow to change the world,
use us and your church to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine.

We pray for your coming Kingdom of justice and peace,
using the pattern of prayer which Jesus gave us:

Offertory
 
Offering is part of worship. It is an action which is a response of gratitude to what we have experienced and considered together. It is a symbol of giving our lives in gratitude to all that God has given us. It prepares us for all the ways we will put our faith into action in our daily living. Our gifts of money also keep the church going, supporting our ministry and mission, whatever the current context. So, let’s pray.
 
Giving God,
We give out of duty.
We give because we see the needs.
We give out of gratitude for your love beyond measure.
Accept our gifts and our lives that we offer to you
to be part of your work in the world. Amen
 
Hymn       O Love How Deep, How Broad, How High
from the Latin O Amor Quam Ecstaticus! attributed to Thomas à Kempis and translated by Benjamin Webb in 1851.  Sung by the choir of Sheffield Cathedral.   O love, how deep,
how broad, how high,
how passing thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God,
should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake!
 
2: He sent no angel to our race
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe
of human frame,
and he himself to His world came.
 
3: For us baptized, for us He bore
His holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptations sharp He knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.

4 For us to wicked hands betrayed,
scourged, mocked,
in crown of thorns arrayed,
for us he bore the cross’ death;
for us at length gave up his breath.
 
5 For us He rose from death again;
for us He went on high to reign;
for us He sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen,
and to cheer.
 
6 All honour, laud and glory be,
O Jesu, virgin-born, to thee,
all glory, as is ever meet,
to Father and to Paraclete.  Amen.
  Blessing
 
All that we have heard and hoped begins with God’s grace,
the free gift of love embodied in Jesus, and present through the Spirit.
Let’s pray God’s grace for each other:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all, evermore. Amen
 
Sources and Thanks
 
Call to Worship from the Church of England’s New Patterns of Worship, Affirmation of Faith from the Reformed Church of France translated by Andy Braunston.  All other liturgical material by Simon Walkling.
 
Opening Organ Voluntary: Ach Gott Von Himmel Sieh Darein (“O God from heaven see this”) by Johann Pachelbel (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020). Closing Voluntary: Toccata in Seven by John Rutter
(organ of All Saints’, Odiham – 2020) both played by Brian Cotterill.
 
Thanks to Claire Ette, John Marsh, Sarah Wilmott, George Faris, Andy Braunston and the choir of Barrhead URC for recording 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 25th July 2021

Sun, 25/07/2021 - 06:00
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Psalm 52
  You cunning liar, why publicise
your evil need to harm the good?
Your slanderous tongue is razor-sharp,
honed to fulfil the malicious plans.
you love the lie and hate the truth.

May God rise up to pull you down.
uproot and sweep you far away.
Then may the just look on aghast
and mock the one who valued wealth,
who trusted riches more than God.

God let me, like a spreading tree,
grow as I trust in your sure love.
Where loyal servants offer praise
within your house, I'll add my voice 
to glorify your holy name.

Doug Gay © 2011 Wild Goose Resource Group
You can hear the tune here
https://liftupyourheartshymnal.org/sites/default/files/song-audio/PAS_52A-1.mp3

Reflection

When someone who’s behaviour we dislike gets their comeuppance, we remember it. When someone who’s behaviour we approve of gets rewarded or affirmed, we remember that too. What gets forgotten is all the people who seemingly get away with it or whose goodness goes unnoticed.

The writer of this Psalm rejoices in either their specific predictions, or their general ones that their target exemplifies, coming true. Clearly a decidedly undesirable person has fallen spectacularly from grace, and without fear of retaliation, their power has disappeared with their wealth, the psalmist denounces them. Their target was rich, influential, boastful, mischievous, deceitful, treacherous, evil and a liar. They have gotten their just deserts, have been broken, and are the subject of derision and ridicule. The psalmist concludes their gloating with, perhaps hypocritically, a boast of their own. The Psalmist describes themselves as an evergreen, fruitful and prized green olive tree sitting in pride of place in God’s Temple. Declares their eternal trust and thanksgiving for God’s love and presence. 

The lesson the Psalmist didn’t learn is that our declarations against others weigh twice as heavily upon ourselves. If we are to speak out, discerning God’s will, then we need to acknowledge where we too fall short, less our words evaporate in the heat of our own shortcomings. The psalmist delights in their target’s descent, but forgets that this now much diminished person is a fellow child of God in need of compassion. When the constant targets of our righteous anger occasionally crash to earth, it is incredibly tempting to delight in their diminished circumstances. It is much harder to see, and respond to them, as equally flawed fellow human beings.

Prayer

Living God, inspire us to challenge all that diminishes your dream for Creation.
Remind us that the challenge applies as much to us, as it does to others.
Fill us with the patience and humility to walk this path, and the compassion to respond to all things in love. Amen     --> Today's writer The Rev’d David Coaker serves with Grays URC in 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 Devotion 24th July 2021

Sat, 24/07/2021 - 06:00
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2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:24   When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him.  When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,  and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very many flocks and herds;  but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.  Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’  Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die;  he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’

Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul;  I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.  Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.  Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun.  For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’  David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.  Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’  Then Nathan went to his house.

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, ‘While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.’  But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, ‘Is the child dead?’ They said, ‘He is dead.’

Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.  Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.’  He said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.”  But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.’

Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The Lord loved him.

Reflection

Bathsheba mourns her husband’s death, David takes her as another wife and their son is born; but God is displeased.  Nathan’s parable prompts David to recognize his sins.  His oracle drives home the truth that the wrongs David has inflicted on others also amount to a complete disregard of all that God has given him and done for him; and would have been willing to do for him in addition.  

David had left God out of the equation; but Nathan’s words make him realise that he is nothing by himself and totally dependent on God.  David’s sins will not be ignored by God.  The new-born child will die, not David; he will have to live with the consequences of the mistrust, deceit and family rivalry that his own behaviour set in motion.

The punishment decreed by Nathan foretells the chaotic events that will unfold within David’s family throughout the rest of his life as his sons mirror some of the worst aspects of David’s own behaviour as they vie with one another for supremacy in the hope of succeeding their father to the throne.

David’s immediate response to Nathan is contrition and he pleads with God that the child’s life be spared, fasting and prostrating himself; but God is resolute.  The story concludes with the birth of Solomon, Bathsheba’s second son to David; and this birth accords with God’s purposes and is blessed.
This whole story was probably written long after David’s reign to explain why the great king’s reign was so turbulent and to justify the succession of Solomon instead of any of his older brothers.  To us, however, the story reveals David remaining faithful to God and never turning to the gods of the nations.  He trusted that God’s covenant love would never end because God is faithful – and so can we.

Prayer (using Ps.51:1-2, 10-11)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to you steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Amen       --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge
  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 23rd July 2021

Fri, 23/07/2021 - 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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It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.  David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, ‘This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’  So David sent messengers to fetch her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house.  The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’

So David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David.  When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going.  Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, and wash your feet.’ Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.  But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house’, David said to Uriah, ‘You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?’  Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’  Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day,  David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’  As Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant warriors. The men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite was killed as well.  Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting;  and he instructed the messenger, ‘When you have finished telling the king all the news about the fighting,  then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, “Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall?  Who killed Abimelech son of Jerubbaal?  Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?” then you shall say, “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead too.”’

Reflection

Forget anything you’ve been told about David being seduced by a scheming, adulterous woman; this is a story about male lust, abuse of power and a whole catalogue of sins that can be levelled against David.  He breaks half the 10 commandments and violates other aspects of the Israelite law codes too. 

Bathsheba is engaging in ritual cleansing when David spies upon her from the elevated position of his palace and she has no power to resist the king’s sexual advance.  Her husband is part of Israel’s army and away fighting, (where David should have been as leader); and Uriah, a Hittite, isn’t bound by the covenant codes which David is supposed to exemplify.  Hearing that Bathsheba is pregnant, David summons Uriah home to make it appear that the child is Uriah’s; but Uriah complies with Israelite law in full and David’s plan fails.  When David tries to undermine his resolve, Uriah remains righteous, whereas David abuses his powers and makes Joab complicit in the killing of Uriah, along with the unnecessary deaths of other soldiers too.  This inevitability wasn’t considered when David devised his unholy scheme.

Every aspect of David’s behaviour is sinful down to his anger towards Joab for losing so many men in battle – and all in a futile attempt to hide what would now be described as his rape of another man’s wife.

Why does this story exist in the scriptures?  Because it portrays David, Israel’s greatest king, as a flawed human being, just like all of us.  It shows how easily one sinful act can lead to another; and how things can spiral out of control if we try to preserve our reputation and abuse our position.

The good news is: God remained faithful to David and achieved great things through him.  There is hope for me!

Prayer

Loving God we pray for women and men in our world who are victims of sinful behaviour directed against them, or caught up in the consequences of the abusive use of power by those in privileged positions.  Protect them from wrongful accusations of complicity and restore them to wholeness.
Help us discern truth when others try to keep it hidden; and save us from becoming complicit with perpetrators of wrongdoing.  Amen.   --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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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Pandemic Prayer

Thu, 22/07/2021 - 10:45
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Hi folks

this week's pandemic prayer has been loaded up to the URC website and is suitable for both personal and public use.  You can read it here.

with every good wish


Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator, Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church --> --> --> 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 22nd July 2021

Thu, 22/07/2021 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 22nd July 2021 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; 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Psalm 89:1-4, 19-37
  A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, for ever;
    with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established for ever;
    your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to my servant David:
“I will establish your descendants for ever,
    and build your throne for all generations.”’...

...Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
    ‘I have set the crown on one who is mighty,
    I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found my servant David;
    with my holy oil I have anointed him;
my hand shall always remain with him;
    my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him,
    the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
    and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
    and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, “You are my Father,
    my God, and the Rock of my salvation!”
I will make him the firstborn,
    the highest of the kings of the earth.
For-ever I will keep my steadfast love for him,
    and my covenant with him will stand firm.
I will establish his line for ever,
    and his throne as long as the heavens endure.
If his children forsake my law
    and do not walk according to my ordinances,
if they violate my statutes
    and do not keep my commandments,
then I will punish their transgression with the rod
    and their iniquity with scourges;
but I will not remove from him my steadfast love,
    or be false to my faithfulness.
I will not violate my covenant,
    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness;
    I will not lie to David.
His line shall continue for ever,
    and his throne endure before me like the sun.
It shall be established for ever like the moon,
    an enduring witness in the skies.’

Reflection

The Psalms are traditionally associated with David and this has led to the idea that he composed them.  This is highly improbable; but here is not the place to go into a lengthy explanation of why.  Although vv.1-2 could be read as words of David, the heading attributes this Psalm to a Second Temple era priest; and references to David are all expressed in the third person.  

God’s covenant with the line of Davidic kings is made explicit in vv.3-4 and vv.19-37 share many of the ideas found in yesterday’s passage from 2 Samuel 7.  These latter verses are categorical about the permanence of the divine covenant and the monarchy.

However the whole tone of the Psalm changes in v.38 and the Psalmist accuses God of breaking the covenant (v.39), bringing down the monarchy (vv.38, 39, 44) and giving victory to Israel’s enemies (vv.40-43).  Scholars recognize that this section is responding to the devastating events of exile and that it is part of the theological rethinking of that time (to which I made mention yesterday).

As God’s people we can all fall into the theological trap of presuming that because God has acted in a particular way over generations (e.g. sustaining the Davidic monarchy), God will always behave in precisely the same way towards us.  We confine God, not in an ark, or a temple, but in our doctrines; and deny God the freedom to demonstrate covenant love towards us in totally new ways.

The Psalmist cries out in lament.  God seems to be hidden - there is a longing that God will act as of old – but the final words recognize God’s sovereignty.

I wonder whether our ideas about God need shaking up.  God’s covenant’s love in Christ is assured; but how we experience it and where God leads, may yet surprise us!

Prayer

Sovereign God, you have revealed yourself through your living word and we believe that we can know you well in Jesus; but remind us that your fullness exceeds all that human minds are capable of understanding.

Make us ready to let go of anything that constrains our thinking and denies your freedom to confound our theology; and expectant that your love and life-giving activity may need new ways of expression.  Amen. --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge
  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

Wed, 21/07/2021 - 16:45
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Dear Friends,

Croeso i Gymru!

Sunday's service will be led by The Revd. Simon Walkling, Moderator of the National Synod of Wales. Simon has had the pleasure of knowing me since I was 10 months old, which is remarkable given he's barely turned 30!

Hymns include John Bell's I will sing a song of love, Jesus' love is very wonderful, Here is love vast as the ocean, and O love how deep.

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 21st July 2021

Wed, 21/07/2021 - 06:00
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  2 Samuel 7:1-17
 

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’  Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:  Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?  I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.  Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ 

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel;  and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.  And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly,  from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.

Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.  But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.  In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Reflection

The ark of God is safe in Jerusalem.  David consults a prophet about its housing – a tent seems inadequate for God, especially as the king resides in a cedar palace.  Initially Nathan affirms David’s plans as godly; but then receives God’s word for David which changes the situation.  

This passage expresses what is known as the Davidic covenant, although that word isn’t actually used.  It contains two oracles (vv.5-7, 8-16) which the narrator has skilfully brought together by playing on different meanings of the word ‘house’ – as a physical building (temple) to contain God (symbolised by the ark); and as the dynastic succession of kings.

God has never asked for a house in which to live, says the prophet; nor does God need humanity to provide a place of sanctuary for God.  In contrast God has been on the move with Israel since rescuing them from Egypt; the implication being that wherever God’s people travel, God goes with them.  Sadly Israel lost sight of this truth until their exile experience prompted a radical rethink of theology.

The second oracle reflects Judean ideology and probably emerged from a later period.  It focuses on David as God’s chosen ‘shepherd’ exercising divine rule over a secure kingdom because God will continue to deal with their enemies.  It is explicit about the matter of succession when David dies; God will raise up one of his sons as the next king who will build the house for God’s ‘name’.   God promises that the covenant relationship with David’s line will never be removed, as it was from Saul, even when the kings inevitably sin. 

An understanding of Israel’s subsequent defeat by Assyria and Judah’s invasion by Babylon as expressions of divine punishment resulted from this ideology; but God’s involvement in human history cannot be understood in such a narrow way.

Prayer 

Holy God, forgive us if we imagine that you need us to protect you, or to defend your name or reputation.  Remind us of our dependence on you for everything; and grant us a deeper understanding of your activity in the midst of major events that impact on our lives.  

May we trust in your loving presence wherever life takes us and whatever befalls us today.  Amen.

  --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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 20th July 2021

Tue, 20/07/2021 - 06:00
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Tuesday 20th July 2021
2 Samuel 6:1-5. 14-23

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.  They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart  with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.  David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals…

...David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord.  When David had finished offering the burnt-offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!’ David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honour.’  And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Reflection

The bringing of the ark of God to Jerusalem connects with the traditions that understand this as the place where God determined that God’s ‘name’ should dwell (Deut.12:5-7) and where the Temple would be built.  The story links back to 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2 which tells of the ark being captured by the Philistines and then returned to an Israelite city, although a different one to that named as its location in today’s passage.  

The ark symbolised God’s presence, power and protection; and the ceremony associated with its transfer portrays the polytheistic ideas of introducing a god to a new city.  Great celebrations are depicted and David is central to this joyous worship of God.  He is presented in a priestly role, conducting cultic sacrifices and his scant attire would do little to maintain his modesty (vv.14, 20) as he leapt about and danced.

Here we have a positive picture of David focused solely on worshipping God with his whole self, alongside the story of the ending of his relationship with Michal.  It is interesting to note the emphasis on her as the daughter of Saul (vv.16, 20, 23).  Her feisty reaction towards David mirrors her defiance of her father (1 Sam.19); but it is a reversal of her love (1 Sam.18:20) and loyalty towards David.  She is more concerned about royal status and public reputation than the worship of God (akin to the failings of her father?) and the final statement about her remaining childless marks the ultimate ending of the house of Saul.

I confess that exuberant worship is not my style; but God preserve me from allowing concerns for my own dignity to get in the way of joyful praise and thanksgiving offered to God.  However we worship God, may we do so sincerely, with our whole selves.

Prayer

Eternal God we rejoice that through Christ we know that you are ever present and not confined in artefacts or particular locations.  

Forgive us when we limit our worship of you to specific times and places as though these are the only occasions when we can meet with you.  Help us to be more spontaneous in praise and thanksgiving.  May every moment of our lives be an offering of worship to you.   Amen.


    --> Today's writer

The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge

  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 19th July 2021

Mon, 19/07/2021 - 06:00
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2 Samuel 3:1-5 and 5:1-14

There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker. Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel;  his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom son of Maacah, daughter of King Talmai of Geshur;  the fourth, Adonijah son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah son of Abital;  and the sixth, Ithream, of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron…

...Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh.  For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’  So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years.  At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, ‘You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back’—thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’  Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David.  David had said on that day, ‘Whoever wishes to strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.’ Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.’  David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards.  And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

 

King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar trees, and carpenters and masons who built David a house. David then perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

In Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, David took more concubines and wives; and more sons and daughters were born to David.  These are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon.

Reflection

Conflict between the remnant of Saul’s house and David’s supporters continues, with David gaining strength.  His family expands rapidly with six sons being born, each to a different wife!  Royal polygamy and marriages designed to cement political/tribal alliances were part of ancient custom.  We need to remember that the Bible emerged from a different age and culture to our own and its traditions have very little to contribute to modern debates about marriage.

Eventually the tribes of Israel realise that David is the one chosen by God to rule over all twelve of them and their elders make a covenant with David at Hebron, anointing him as their king as well as over Judah.  His reign will last another 33 years (40 in total); but he doesn’t rule over a truly united kingdom.  Israel and Judah may have the same king but each nation had different understandings of kingship and how succession would be determined.  Does this ring any bells with current issues in our United Kingdom?

It is so easy to overlook fundamental differences in the underlying presumptions of separate parties when we glimpse a possibility of reaching an agreement about anything; but such short-sightedness often ends in tears.

David’s capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, as the city  from where he would exercise his rule was very astute.  Not only was it physically a good place to defend (the implication on v.6) but its prior independence from both Israel’s and Judah’s territories minimised any accusations that he was favouring one tribal group over the other.

The construction of his palace pre-figures the source of materials and craftsmen that will be used for the temple by Solomon (1 Kgs 5-6); but here it illustrates another political alliance.  Verses 13-15 summarise how David’s family will increase as this complex story unfolds.

Prayer

Sovereign God we live in complex times and it is good to be reminded that throughout the ages people have experienced similar situations and discovered that your faithfulness never falters.  

We pray for children living in multiple homes that they may feel secure and loved.  We pray for political leaders facing challenging issues about national and international relationships on our behalf.  Grant them wisdom.  

Sustain us all through your faithful love.  Amen.

  --> Today's writer The Revd Dr Janet E Tollington
A retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge 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 18th July 2021 - The Revd. Sarah Moore

Sun, 18/07/2021 - 09:45
96 URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 18th July 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
Service for Sunday 18th July 2021
  The Rev’d Sarah Moore  
Words of Welcome and Introduction
 
Good morning.  My name is Sarah Moore, and I am a United Reformed Church Minister currently serving as Transition Champion for the National Synod of Scotland.  I also support the work of the General Assembly as its Assistant Clerk.   I live in Dunblane in central Scotland, and my work base is the Synod Office in Glasgow.  As I came into post just before the start of the pandemic, my ministry in this place has been bound to my home rather than out and about across the country.  As our service today, in part, is about the building of a home for the Lord, this is an interesting juxtaposition of circumstance.  It is a privilege to lead worship with you today. 
 
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       Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
after Joachim Neander, Catherine Winkworth and others. BBC Songs of Praise   Praise to the Lord, the almighty,
the king of creation!
O my soul, praise Him,
for He is your health and salvation!
All you who hear
now to His Temple draw near,
join in the world’s adoration!
 
2 Praise to the Lord, above all things so mightily reigning;
keeping us safe at His side
and so gently sustaining.
Have you not seen
all you have needed has been
met by His gracious ordaining?
 
3 Praise to the Lord, who shall prosper our work and defend us;
surely His goodness and
mercy shall daily attend us.
Ponder anew
what the almighty can do,
who with His love will befriend us.
 
4 Praise to the Lord –
O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that has life and breath,
come now with praises before Him!
Let the "Amen!"
sound from His people again;
gladly with praise we adore Him!   Prayers of Approach and Confession
 
Jesus said to the apostles, “Come away to a deserted place
all by yourselves and rest awhile.
Mark 6.31
Holy One, we gather today to offer our praises and our worship.  Risen One, we gather today to remember that we are a people of a story; your story.  Spirit One, we gather today to feel and notice your movement among us, calling us onwards to live out your mission in the world.  We ask that you may hurry our feet and awaken our minds and hearts to your call. 
 
Holy One, we praise and worship you even though we fall short of
your hopes and dreams for us.  Risen One,  we remember your story  recognising that sometimes we lose sight of the truth that your story is our story.  Spirit One, sometimes we deaden ourselves to your call, enliven and heal us. 
 
Three-in-One, strengthen us for a life of sharing your love; through this time build us up, ready to go and do your work. 
 
The Lord’s Prayer
 
Hymn       Amazing Grace
John Newton, sung by the group Celtic Women   Amazing grace!
how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost,
but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
 
2 ’Twas grace that taught
my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did
that grace appear
the hour I first believed!   3: Through many dangers, toils, and snares
we have already come.
‘twas grace that brought us safe thus far
and grace will lead us on.
 
Reading   2 Samuel 7.1-14a
 
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’
 
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.
 
Hymn:      Here to the House We Come
Shirley Erena Murray (b.1931) (alt.) Words: (c) 1992, Hope Publishing Company,
Carol Stream, IL 60188, USA. sung by Paul Robinson   Here to the house of God we come,
home of the people of the Way,
here to give thanks for all we have,
naming our needs for every day,
we who have roof & rent & bread,
sure of a place to rest our head.
 
 
2 There is a knocking at our door,
sound of the homeless of the world,
voice of the frightened refugee,
cry of the children in the cold,
asking the least that is their right,
safety and shelter for the night.
 
3 God who is shelter, who is home,
in borrowed rooms
you came to live,
pleaded to save the dispossessed,
crucified, lay in borrowed grave:
these are no strangers in your eyes,
this is your family which cries.
 
4 We are all tenants of your love;
gather us round a common fire,
warm us in company with Christ,
give us the heart to feel, to share
table and lodging with free hand,
space in our living, in our land.   Sermon
 
Those property programmes that are a regular feature of both daytime and primetime TV schedules fascinate me.  To name but a few, there is, Homes under the hammer, which is about people buying a wreck of a house at auction, doing it up with a view to renting out or selling on and making a profit.  Or, for those after a holiday home, A Place in the Sun which has both home and international options.  The genre has shifted slightly in recent years, perhaps reflecting people’s financial situations and the broader economic climate with more programming about renovating or revamping the homes the participants currently have with Love it or List it and Your Home Made Perfect. 
 
Particularly interesting perhaps are the people who sign up to appear on these shows.  Some have huge expectations about what sort of house that they can afford or where they can live.  Sometimes people are looking for something that doesn’t exist and part of the task of the presenters is to find a way to show people so, usually by starting kindly and becoming more blatant if they don’t get the point.  However unreasonable it might seem that someone is being, what perhaps is most important to remember is that often a person or a couple or a family are buying a home.  A place to rest and to play.  A place that can serve as the centre of their life and this is perhaps particularly the case for those intending to settle in a place for the long term. 
 
In the passage that we have just heard from the second book of Samuel, we encounter one of the most famous kings of Israel, David, in a reflective mood.  David has finally made it to the top, he has become king, and he lives in the place was promised to him.  He has come a long way since the day when the prophet Samuel had his older brothers call him down from his father’s fields, away from looking after the sheep to tell him that one day he would be king.  He has come a long way from his life playing music in the court of king Saul, from fighting countless battles on the side of his own guerrilla army and having to hide out in the open countryside.  Now, David is king.  Now, David is living in a house made of cedar.  Cedar was one of the most expensive building materials available in the ancient near east so it was right and proper for a king to build his palace out of this wood.  Elsewhere we read in the Bible about the cedars of Lebanon and how much the wood from those trees was demand. 
 
Much to David’s embarrassment, the ark of God continues to be kept in a tent.  In the society and culture that David was part of, gods had to be treated seriously and with due reverence.  One needed to keep one’s god on one’s side as one never knew when their blessing was next going to be needed.  Building a house, building a place of residence for God was for David, in some ways, an act of worship.  What more could David offer?  David had his dream house, now he wanted to give his God his. 
 
Before we jump to criticise David too harshly, it is worth our remembering some of the history of church, chapel and place of worship building in our culture.  We live in a country and continent that is littered with grand cathedrals.  These were built to be places of worship but they were too built to reflect well on the person who had given the money for their building.  There was a sense of ‘look at me, look how much I love God and see how much money I have’ buried in the architecture of some of these truly grand buildings.  Even among our own non-conformist forebears there was often an element of competition in terms who could build the biggest chapel either or both in terms of largest number of seats and tallest tower. 
 
Enter the prophet Nathan.  Initially, Nathan’s response to David is “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”  And it is not difficult to understand why Nathan advised David in this way.  David had become king of Israel against all the odds.  He started out as a shepherd boy.  The previous, usurped king, Saul had put a price on David’s head for a long time so you can be fairly sure that there were mercenaries out there who would have been only too pleased to deliver David to Saul, either dead or alive.  According to human understandings of blessing, it is not difficult to believe that David must surely have God’s blessing and favour.  If he did not, he would be dead.  Period.  And was it right that the king of Israel should live in a posh house built of cedar when the creator of all things, the life-giver, the energy behind all that is should be seen to reside in a tent?  And why should not the ways of mortals match the ways of God? 
 
That very same night, Nathan has a dream.  Dreams are significant in the faith and spirituality of the Hebrew Bible, it is not unusual for God to communicate with his people in this way.  The word of the Lord comes to Nathan.  Nathan is directed to communicate a message to David.  The word can be summarised as follows.  This is God speaking.  “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel.  I have been moving about in a tent and tabernacle.  Did I ever ask why I had not been built at house of cedar.  David, I called you from being a shepherd to being a prince over my people.  I have been with you everywhere you’ve been and fought your battles for you.  In the future I will make you a great name with all the great ones of the earth.  I will provide my people with a place to live and they too will not need to worry about their enemies.  After you are gone, your offspring will build a house for my name.  I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me. 
 
The onward story is fairly straightforward.  David was not allowed to build a house to house the name of God but his son, Solomon, when he became king built the first Jerusalem temple.  It was promised to David that he would be the beginning of a great dynasty.  David’s son, grandson and various degrees of great grandsons apparently did rule the land for several generations although how successful this was is open to question.
 
We can read passages like these and find them interesting but most significant question  we can ask here and of any passage from the Bible is what we can learn from this story about our faith and our relationship with God today.  The person who I think is most worth having a second look at today is the prophet Nathan.
 
At the beginning of the story, Nathan it would seem pretty much had matters sown up - or he thought that he did.  David wanted to build a house of cedar to house the name of God.  Fair enough.  A house for God would offer a focal point, a place where worship could be offered and the community could gather.  It would be a place for people to go and do their religious and spiritual stuff, even if, as would most likely have been the case, all they could do would be to stand at the gate and look. 
 
Nathan has his dream and what he dreams is not what he was expecting.  The message that he must give to his king is detailed, and, it is the complete opposite of what Nathan had thought.  What we learn from this dream of Nathan’s is, like Nathan did, is to realise that our God is not quite the God we thought we had. 
 
We realise that we have a God that we encounter on God’s terms and not on ours.  David had fallen into the trap of believing that perhaps because he had become king, he might be able to approach God as a fellow king in his land and show hospitality.  David had attempted to relate to God on human terms.  He wanted to build his God a house.  Only problem was that God was going to build David a house, but not one made of wood, rather one of people that would stretch down through the generations creating a truly lasting legacy. 
 
Many denominations and the local congregations that form them in 2021 have a complicated relationship with our buildings.  On one hand they can be a legacy of our past containing many memories that provide a focus for mission and witness in our localities.  On the other they can be a black hole that continually demands time, energy, and money to the exclusion of other concerns.  Further to all of this our fellowships have spent much of 2020 and a significant slice of 2021 unable to physically gather for worship or to do other work of the Lord together.  In my own ministry I have encountered a number of congregations who for a variety of reasons find themselves with no fixed abode realising that this situation itself can very much be a mixed blessing. 
 
Whether the building of a Temple by the Israelites to provide a home for the Lord, the construction of the buildings of the past, or church building in our time is a good thing brings a wide variety of views.  It is fair to say that in the traditions that make up the URC we build, buy or renovate our buildings to provide a place for people to meet and as a base for mission rather than as a place for the Lord to live. 
 
But perhaps a deeper takeaway from this passage is a simpler one?  I notice that David wanted to build a house for the Lord because he thought that he should.  Some interpretations of this passage chide David for putting God in a permanent box.  I wonder how it would go if we recognise the warning here as being about the danger of reducing God to human terms; to human ‘shoulds’, to what we believe to be right and proper? 
 
We follow a travelling Lord for whom the way is always onwards, for whom a tent is more convenient than a house.  Our buildings are useful treasures but as with some other matters we must take care that they stay helpful tools for mission rather than morphing into masters of our destiny. 
 
Hymn:      Let us Build A House
                  Marty Haugen  Ma (b. 1950) Words and Music:
© 1994, GIA Publications Inc. Sung at BBC Songs of Praise   Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive;
built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
there the love of Christ shall end divisions:


All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

2 Let us build a house where prophets speak,
and words are strong and true,
where all God’s children dare to seek

to dream God’s reign anew.
Here the Cross shall stand as witness
and as symbol of God’s grace;
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:   3: Let us build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard

and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:

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.
  Prayers for the World
 
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognised him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Mark 6.53-56
 
Gracious One, we recall in your presence the breadth and depth of need around the world, in the nations of the United Kingdom, in our own churches and communities, and with those who we love. 
 
Gracious One, as Jesus did with the disciples, we begin by praying for ourselves and for our own needs and concerns. 
 
We pray for those known to us who are bereaved, both recently and longer ago. As we read in the Gospels about communities bringing those among them who were sick to Jesus in the hope of wholeness, we pray for whose among us whose health is not good, asking for your gift of healing.
 
Gracious One, we pray for the world, particularly for equity of healthcare provision.  We pray for the continuing vaccination programmes
and for the research taking place in vaccine science. 
 
Gracious One, we pray for the Church, particularly for the United Reformed Church.  We give thanks for the recent meeting of the General Assembly, particularly for the work of its representatives and officers. 
 
We pray for the work of synods and ecumenical networks, and pray particularly today for our local churches.
 
As we remember the story around David’s desire to build a Temple for the Lord, we pray for those who are charged with the care of our church buildings and manses.  We pray for the work of property committees,
for those who advise us about listed buildings, for church caretakers and cleaners, for those involved in the administration of the URC Trust and the of the synod trust companies. 
 
Help us and those for whom we pray to remember that our buildings
are tools to live out our love of you and our love of our neighbour. 
Gracious One, as we remember so many needs before you, more than we can name, we ask for your gift of compassion.  Compassion for the Church, for the world, for our communities, and for ourselves. 
 
In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen. 
 
Offertory Introduction and Prayer
 
As our Creator God furnishes us with all that we have, we are invited to make our offerings back to God, to live out God’s love in and for our world and communities. 
 
Generous God, accept the offerings we make to you, our offerings of our resources: our compassion, energy, time, and money.  Use all we have to show your way of love, peace, and justice.  Amen. 
 
Hymn       One more step along the world I go
Sydney Carter Words and music © 1971 Stainer & Bell, 23 Gruneisen Road, London N3 1DZ,   One more step
along the world I go,
one more step
along the world I go;
from the old things to the new,
keep me travelling
along with you:
 
And it's from the old
I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling
along with you.
 
2: Round the corners
of the world I turn,
more and more
about the world I learn;
and the new things that I see
You'll be looking at
along with me.
 
3: As I travel
through the bad and good,
keep me travelling
the way I should.
Where I see no way to go,
You’ll be telling me
the way, I know.   4: Give me courage
when the world is rough,
keep me loving
though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me travelling
along with you:

5: You are older
than the world can be,
You are younger
than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me travelling along with you:  
Sending Words & Blessing
 
Go into the world
as people of compassion and good courage,
equipped by the Word
to be Christ’s disciples
walking his way. 
 
May the blessing of God,
who we know as Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit
be and remain with you,
with the people who you love,
and with the people you are called to love.  Amen.
 
 
 
Sources and Thanks
 
Call to Worship from the Church of England’s New Patterns for WorshipAffirmation of Faith from the Reformed Church of France, translated by Andy Braunston.  All other liturgical material written by Sarah Moore.
  Organ Voluntaries played by Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
Ach Gott Von Himmel Sieh Darein (“O God from heaven see this”) by Johann Pachelbel (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)  Toccata from Suite Gothique by Leon Boëllman (organ of St Thomas-on-The Bourne, Farnham – 2016)
 
Thanks to Sue Cresswell, Chris Watson, Mandy Hibbert, Esther Watson and the choir of Barrhead URC for leading the 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 18th July 2021

Sun, 18/07/2021 - 06:00
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Sunday 18th July Psalm 51


Change My Heart Oh God
Make It Ever True
Change My Heart Oh God
May I Be Like You 

You Are The Potter
I Am The Clay
Mold Me And Make Me
This Is What I Pray

Change My Heart Oh God
Make It Ever True
Change My Heart Oh God
May I Be Like You

You Are The Potter
I Am The Clay
Mold Me And Make Me
This Is What I Pray

Eddie Espinosa
© 1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

You can hear this Psalm sung here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtsHWFE6-w

Reflection

I find myself reflecting, with Ian Fosten (URC Prayer Handbook 2021 for today), that ‘we are rather in the habit of drawing up hopes and plans and strategies, and then asking God to bless the decisions we have already made.’ Rather like King David’s plan to replace the dusty movable tent that housed the ark of God, with a more solid, constricting home of cedar.

But then that story from 2 Samuel benefits from the very clear ‘word of the Lord’, indicating the direction and purposes of God. We are reading with hindsight, which makes it all the easier to see that God desired an ever-moving people; fleet-of-foot in their response to the word and not a community locked in an immovable dwelling.

Without God’s tweet or email and without hindsight – indeed even with them, moving from our plans is a real challenge! To free ourselves from the blinkers of habit, from the DNA of our churches, from a direction that harms ourselves and others, can indeed demand our commitment to listen, to pray, to be open and willing to be remoulded – not for the sake of it, but as a change of heart that seeks to return us to the way of the Lord.

To make the prayer ‘You are the potter, I am the Clay. Mould me and make me’, takes real bravery and honesty in self-evaluation: our own selves and our communal selves.

We might ask, what is God remoulding?

What of our own lives, our churches, our environment, our nations, and our global community needs reshaping and reforming closer to the heart of God?

So, in my personal struggle to reshape how much single-use plastic ends up in my bin, or how little I communicate with my MP about poverty in our nation, or as I realise again the devastating effect consumerism has on our mental health – may I be brave enough to sing ‘change my heart O God, may I be like you’.

Prayer

God of free compassion,
as we seek to trust your way
and to return to your heart of love and justice,
give us ears to listen
and eyes to see
and hands and feet to respond.
Make us open and brave to be moulded by you
and to pray as Jesus prayed:
‘yet not my will, but yours be done’. Amen   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/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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