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URC Devotion - Thu, 19/11/2020 - 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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  Hebrews 10: 1 - 10

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshippers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
    (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’

When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Reflection

It seems to me that the writer is telling all that the never-ending following of the Law as the years go by; approaching God, making offerings and seeking forgiveness, will not make them – or us perfect because if that were so – and perfection without sin is the ultimate goal – then having sins forgiven once for all, would negate the need to keep asking.  They and we would be left only with the memory of the first time that we were forgiven.  An echo of a past event only.  The result would be that there would be no further need to enter God’s presence and obey the Law for would they not be cleansed and perfect already? 

Now Christ has entered the world, and all is changed.  The Lord takes away the Old Testament to establish the New, “by the body of Jesus Christ”.  The incarnation had its foundation in the love of God.  It was the beginning of the Lord’s own self-sacrifice in fulfillment of the will of His Father, that leads all the way to the cross and there, if we accept His sacrifice and let Him into our hearts and lives, God will sanctify us and make us clean again for all time.

 Prayer

Lord Jesus,
Our hearts cry out to you today.
We acknowledge you as our Lord and our God.
And yet we know that today and on every other day
We have not listened to you or done your will.
Again and again we did not carry through what you asked of us.
Forgive us.
Help us to see clearly what you are asking us to do.
Help us to follow you, listening always to your voice in our lives.
We can then reflect your love
And become more perfect in your eyes.
Amen.     --> Today's writer Ann Barton, Lay leader and member of Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's Coming

URC Devotion - Wed, 18/11/2020 - 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 Christ The King. The theme being based around the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. Thinking about how we are called to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless... Hymns include Alleluia, Sing to Jesus, Isaac Watts' There is a land of pure delight, Christ, of God unseen, the image, finishing with Michael Saward's Christ Triumphant, Ever Reigning.

The service will be led by Revd. Michael Hodgson, with contributions, as usual, from far and wide. Michael is the minister of two churches in Surrey, Wessex Synod.

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 good wish


Dan


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

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

Finally, a reminder if you need to change your email address please use the link, below, "update your preferences".    Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 18th November 2020

URC Devotion - Wed, 18/11/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Wednesday 18th November  Hebrews - Christ’s Sacrifice Takes Away Sin
  Hebrews 9:23 - 28

Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Reflection

‘Once for all.’ There is such a wealth of hope in these words. In our human lives, we launch out on the really meaningful things in our lives once for all, and when we make these commitments we mean them. But we are human, and weak, and fail. Marriage entered into with such hope and shining eyes too often falls apart into unbearable unhappiness, and separation and divorce follow on from that once for all promise.

Sometimes the very words betray the fact that we do not believe in ‘once for all’. A mother at the end of her tether telling a wayward child that she’s telling him  for the last time, once for all… but in her heart she knows as she speaks the words that it won’t be the last time.

In our transient world, there seems to be no permanence, no ‘once for all’ that we can truly believe in. Which is why the Gospel is so wonderful. Counter-cultural. A God who says what he means and does what he says he’ll do. A God who does the amazing cosmos-transforming thing once for all and it really is once for all.

There is a sufficiency about Christ that marks him out from all the changing uncertainties of humanity. And how we need his unchangingness to cling onto. Not as something in past history but as something for the now, and something for the future. For if we can be confident in his once for all sacrifice, we can be equally confident that he will return again for those who wait for him. 

Prayer

Steady us, Lord Jesus, in the sureness of your love.
Forgive us for our frailty and fickleness, for our difficulty with the once for alls in our own lives.
And help us rejoice in your once for all sacrifice, and look forward to your return,
Amen.  
    --> Today's writer Dorothy Courtis, Lay Preacher, Thurso 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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Duplicate Email Problem

URC Devotion - Tue, 17/11/2020 - 10:04
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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,

over the last few days Mailchimp has, for reasons of its own, sent out duplicate copies of the morning Devotion to some people.  I have no idea why this has happened.  Looking ahead I can see that only one copy of the Devotion is scheduled for each day between now and 6th January.

Many people seem to have got annoyed at the duplicates; a few have made comments that suggest they have forgotten that the Daily reflections are written, edited and managed entirely by volunteers. 

I realise that lockdown in England raises anxiety but please remember to be kind to each other.  If the system causes duplicates to be produced again again please just press the delete button - it takes a couple of seconds at most.

with every good wish

Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC. --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend --> New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 17th November

URC Devotion - Tue, 17/11/2020 - 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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Hebrews 9: 1 - 22


Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.  For a tent  was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence;  this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies.  In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;  above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties;  but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper,  but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),  he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will  is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.  For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent  and all the vessels used in worship.  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Reflection

Ponder the image of the Holy Place from which there is the awesome possibility of being allowed into the Holy of Holies.

Maybe the Holy Place is a loved place of worship. We give it time, energy and money because it matters to the congregation and is a sign of the presence of God in the community. But we also remember those precious moments when, although sat in a very familiar place, some music, or a Bible verse, or an especially rich silence took us beyond the familiar into a stunning sense of the Emmanuel - God with us - that felt like a glimpse of the Holy of Holies. The memory sustains us when church life is difficult or simply tedious.

Such memories may also help us believe that the best of this life, even the Holy moments, are only the merest of hints of what God has in store when we go beyond the curtain of Death; go into the Holy of Holies, not accessible while we are constrained in human bodies. In contrast to the crematorium curtain that hides the coffin before it is destroyed, this curtain is thrown open to reveal the full life ahead. Without that, the writer reminds us, the Holy Place is a con.

But the Good News comes at a price. The blood of animal sacrifices was a different sort of hint of what was to come. God did not require Abraham to shed the blood of his son Isaac; for the time being a ram would serve. Yet animal sacrifices were never going to be enough to establish our relationship with God as fully as God desired. Only when his own Son’s blood was shed was the Holy of Holies opened to all.  

Prayer

Lord God
We thank you for the Holy Places that we cherish.
May we tend them so that others might find their refuge and hear their challenge.
We thank you for the special moments when we have known you close to us.
May they equip us for the hard parts of today.
We thank you for your Son’s sacrifice to open the curtain.
May I live as someone who knows your gift.

Amen.            --> Today's writer John Ellis is Synod Area Leader for West Kent and East Sussex and Secretary of Capel United Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion

URC Devotion - Tue, 17/11/2020 - 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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Hebrews 9: 1 - 22

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.  For a tent  was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence;  this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies.  In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;  above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties;  but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper,  but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),  he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will  is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.  For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent  and all the vessels used in worship.  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Reflection

Ponder the image of the Holy Place from which there is the awesome possibility of being allowed into the Holy of Holies.

Maybe the Holy Place is a loved place of worship. We give it time, energy and money because it matters to the congregation and is a sign of the presence of God in the community. But we also remember those precious moments when, although sat in a very familiar place, some music, or a Bible verse, or an especially rich silence took us beyond the familiar into a stunning sense of the Emmanuel - God with us - that felt like a glimpse of the Holy of Holies. The memory sustains us when church life is difficult or simply tedious.

Such memories may also help us believe that the best of this life, even the Holy moments, are only the merest of hints of what God has in store when we go beyond the curtain of Death; go into the Holy of Holies, not accessible while we are constrained in human bodies. In contrast to the crematorium curtain that hides the coffin before it is destroyed, this curtain is thrown open to reveal the full life ahead. Without that, the writer reminds us, the Holy Place is a con.

But the Good News comes at a price. The blood of animal sacrifices was a different sort of hint of what was to come. God did not require Abraham to shed the blood of his son Isaac; for the time being a ram would serve. Yet animal sacrifices were never going to be enough to establish our relationship with God as fully as God desired. Only when his own Son’s blood was shed was the Holy of Holies opened to all.  

Prayer

Lord God
We thank you for the Holy Places that we cherish.
May we tend them so that others might find their refuge and hear their challenge.
We thank you for the special moments when we have known you close to us.
May they equip us for the hard parts of today.
 
We thank you for your Son’s sacrifice to open the curtain.
May I live as someone who knows your gift.

Amen.        --> Today's writer John Ellis is Synod Area Leader for West Kent and East Sussex and Secretary of Capel United Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 17th November 2020

URC Devotion - Tue, 17/11/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 17th November 2020 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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Tuesday 17th November Hebrews - The Earthly and Heavenly Sanctuaries
  Hebrews 9: 1 - 22

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.  For a tent  was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence;  this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies.  In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;  above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties;  but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper,  but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),  he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will  is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.  For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent  and all the vessels used in worship.  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Reflection

Ponder the image of the Holy Place from which there is the awesome possibility of being allowed into the Holy of Holies.

Maybe the Holy Place is a loved place of worship. We give it time, energy and money because it matters to the congregation and is a sign of the presence of God in the community. But we also remember those precious moments when, although sat in a very familiar place, some music, or a Bible verse, or an especially rich silence took us beyond the familiar into a stunning sense of the Emmanuel - God with us - that felt like a glimpse of the Holy of Holies. The memory sustains us when church life is difficult or simply tedious.

Such memories may also help us believe that the best of this life, even the Holy moments, are only the merest of hints of what God has in store when we go beyond the curtain of Death; go into the Holy of Holies, not accessible while we are constrained in human bodies. In contrast to the crematorium curtain that hides the coffin before it is destroyed, this curtain is thrown open to reveal the full life ahead. Without that, the writer reminds us, the Holy Place is a con.

But the Good News comes at a price. The blood of animal sacrifices was a different sort of hint of what was to come. God did not require Abraham to shed the blood of his son Isaac; for the time being a ram would serve. Yet animal sacrifices were never going to be enough to establish our relationship with God as fully as God desired. Only when his own Son’s blood was shed was the Holy of Holies opened to all.  

Prayer

Lord God
We thank you for the Holy Places that we cherish.
May we tend them so that others might find their refuge and hear their challenge.
We thank you for the special moments when we have known you close to us.
May they equip us for the hard parts of today. 
We thank you for your Son’s sacrifice to open the curtain.
May I live as someone who knows your gift.

Amen.       
  --> Today's writer John Ellis is Synod Area Leader for West Kent and East Sussex and Secretary of Capel United Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 16th November 2020

URC Devotion - Mon, 16/11/2020 - 06:00
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But Jesus  has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.

God finds fault with them when he says:

‘The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah;
not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors,
    on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
for they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord.
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach one another
    or say to each other, “Know the Lord”,
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful towards their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.’

In speaking of ‘a new covenant’, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.

Reflection

As a child I remember being struck by a particular prayer that spoke of Jesus as our mediator and advocate. As one of three sisters there was often a need for mediation at home.

A mediator is one who brings people together, who fosters understanding and brings about reconciliation by helping parties to find common ground. For humanity Jesus as mediator brings about the promise of a new covenant.

We are used to advertising that offers us ‘new improved versions’ of goods that still have value and worth. It seems that built-in obsolescence is the hidden basis to spur economic growth. Most things are not built to last.

However God’s New Improved Offer is a genuine development - it offers something better for all God’s people. We are being invited to have a deeper renewed relationship with God.

This Covenant transferred from tablets of stone to hearts and minds is enabled by the presence of the mediator - the writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah, picking up threads of the Old Testament for those familiar with it, and establishing a longer pedigree for those new to Jesus’s thought.

We need a new improved covenant because the old one wasn’t working - that relationship had broken down through inability of humanity to keep the terms. The new arrangement had been talked about by the latter prophets is being put in place with Jesus. It is still on offer - we too can leave the slavery of our Egypt. God comes close through this new living way.

As we continue to work out how to be God’s people today, let us not return to what is obsolete but jettison what is no longer helpful and let the Spirit of Jesus lead us into a deeper relationship with God.

“Past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of the years to live for. Christ alone.”

Prayer

Lord, in these times of change, 
help us to embody your promises and explore what they mean for us today. 
As we ponder anew how to be your people, 
draw close to us and enable our hearts and minds to be renewed by your Spirit.
For Jesus’ sake and for the transformation of the world
Amen

    --> Today's writer The Rev’d Viv Henderson is Minister of Minehead URC & a mental health chaplain with Elysium Healthcare in Wellington   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship - 15th November 2020

URC Devotion - Sun, 15/11/2020 - 09:45
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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. URC Daily Devotion Worship for Sunday 15th November

Revd. Catherine McFie
  Introduction

Hello and welcome to worship.
My name is Catherine McFie and I am a minister within Mersey Synod. Half my time is dedicated to being the minister of two congregations: St Columba, Hunts Cross and St George’s, Maghull both of which are in Liverpool. A quarter of my time is dedicated to the role of Pastoral Office within the Liverpool Area. The final section of my time is allocated to Synod Directed ministry. I moved to the area at the start of March this year and was inducted to this varied ministry, 2 days before the country went into lockdown.
 
I am recording this in the study of the Manse, which is in the Liverpool suburb of Wavertree.  My study has patio doors, so the space is light and airy. While I am working, I often find myself looking out at the garden especially when I see the movement of a bird or squirrel out of the corner of my eye.
 
Let us come and worship God.
 
Call to worship
 
The wisdom of God calls to us, from the heights, along the paths, and at the crossroads. Come into God’s presence to worship, sing, and pray.
 
From our scattered places we come. Let us worship God.

Hymn       Jesus Is the name we honour
                  Philip Lawson-Johnston
  1 Jesus is the name we honour;
Jesus is the name we praise.
Majestic Name above all other names,
The highest heaven and earth proclaim
That Jesus is our God.
 
We will glorify,
We will lift Him high,
We will give Him honour and praise.
We will glorify,
We will lift Him high,
We will give Him honour and praise.
 
2 Jesus is the name we worship;
Jesus is the name we trust.
He is the King above all other kings,
Let all creation stand and sing
That Jesus is our God.
 
We will glorify...
 
3 Jesus is the Father's splendour;
Jesus is the Father's joy.
He will return to reign in majesty,
And every eye at last shall see
That Jesus is our God.
 
We will glorify…
Prayers of approach, confession and forgiveness
Loving God, what a delight it is to be in your presence once again,
Even though you are with us every second of every day
It is good to make time to come before you with our praise and worship.
We come with hearts full of thanksgiving as we remember your generosity to us,
Thank you for the gift of this new day and the opportunities it holds to serve you,
Thank you for your faithfulness to us
Thank you for your love which surrounds us and keeps us close to you
 
Thank you most of all for the gift of your Son Jesus.
We remember his example and teaching
We remember his sacrifice on the cross
We remember the joy of the resurrection
There are not enough words to express our gratitude for all that you have done for us,
for all that you have given us
But know that these simple words come from the depths of our hearts – thank you, Lord.
 
We also come to say we are sorry.
We are sorry for the times when we have turned away from you to follow our own path
We are sorry for the words we have said that have hurt others and have not glorified you
We are sorry for the things we have left undone, thinking not of others but ourselves.
Gracious God, we seek your forgiveness.
 
Sisters and brothers,
Because we belong to Jesus we do not have to fear,
He lived, died, and was raised for us,
Believe the promise of his words when he says “your sins are forgiven”
My we forgive each other and forgive ourselves.             Amen.

Prayer of illumination
God of words and action,
As we prepare to listen to Matthew’s gospel,
As we think about parables
As we seek understanding
As we wait for you to lead us,
Open our hearts and our minds,
Fill us with your Spirit that we may be ready to learn from you.
In Jesus name we pray.
Amen.

Reading – Matthew 25: 14 – 30
14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26 But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Hymn       Lord for the years
                  Timothy Dudley Smith (1926- )
 
1 Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.
 
2 Lord, for that Word, the Word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the Word, receive your people's praise.
 
3 Lord, for our world, when we disown and doubt you
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,
hungry and helpless, lost indeed without you:
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

4 Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne;
past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.
             
Sermon
This week’s reading from Matthew focuses on Jesus’ teaching about the end times and is the third of four parables on this theme. Much has happened since Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem, earlier in the week. Jesus has cleared the moneychangers out of the temple and cursed a fig tree. He answered questions about paying taxes, resurrection and talked about which commandment was the greatest. Jesus denounced the Scribes and the Pharisees, wept over Jerusalem, and told the disciples the temple would be destroyed. Now it was time to prepare the disciples for the future, a future that would not include him, but a future that held the hope and promise of Jesus’ return. And so he began his parable.
 
The man in the parable was going on a journey and while he was away, he needed someone to watch over his property and ensure that his business interests were protected so he summoned three of his slaves.  He recognised the different abilities of the three people and gave them each talents accordingly – to the first he gave five talents, the second two, and to the third he gave one talent. A silver talent was valued at six thousand denarii and would be about sixteen and a half years wages for a manual labourer. Looking at talents this way helps us to understand the large responsibility the man gave his slaves but also suggests an abundance that is difficult to imagine. No instructions are given with the money so the slaves must have known from experience, what the master expected of them.
 
Once the man left on his journey, the first two slaves began at once to trade and make more money. This was probably not a risk-free activity, but they were willing to take chances, put in the effort and their hard work paid off. Over time they both generated enough of a profit to double what they have been given. The third slave took a different approach and was focused on just keeping the money they had safe. At a time when safety deposit boxes did not exist, the safest place to keep such a large sum of money was in the ground. So the third slave dug a large hole, buried the talent and waited quietly for the master’s return.
 
A long time passed but the master did return and he was anxious to settle accounts with those he had trusted to look after his property.  Each slave had the opportunity to speak to the master and give a summary of what they had been doing during his absence.
 
Although the first two slaves received a different number of talents, their story to the master was the same. They had taken the money, made some sound business decisions and had managed to double the money that they had been given. They were excited to tell the master that they now had ten and four talents respectively. The master was very well pleased with both these slaves and the work they had done. They had proven themselves to be hard working and trustworthy and as a reward they were to be given more responsibility. The master also invited them to share in his joy.
 
I wonder how the third slave felt as he listened to the others wax lyrical about what they had done and how much they had gained during the master absence. Now that it was his turn to speak about what he had achieved, did he regret simply burying the talent. As he began his account he didn’t tell the master about his actions, but instead began with a critique of the master’s business practices. He called the master a harsh man and accused him of stealing from other farmers, suggesting he was not a man to be trusted. The slave used this critique as an excuse for his inaction and admitted that he made his choices out of fear. He was afraid of losing any of the master’s money, so he simply buried it. He returned the 1 talent to his master and felt his duty had been adequately discharged.
 
There was no word of praise for the third slave as the master declared him to be wicked and lazy. This does seem a bit harsh considering the slave had not lost the master any money, but when his actions are compared to those of the other slaves we can understand the master’s point of view. The master does not confirm or deny the accusations levelled against him but the way he says “you knew did you…” suggests that maybe, the third slave’s opinions was not accurate. The slave is told that the bank would have been a better alternative because there would have been interest that accrued.  This slave had not proven himself trustworthy and the responsibility that he had been given was taken away. The one talent was given to the slave who had accumulated ten talents. This time the actions of the third slave had different consequences. He was to be thrown out into the outer darkness, away from the safety of the master’s home and denied the opportunity to share in the master’s joy with the others.
 
When I first read though this passage there was much that worried me. There is a sense that only those who work get the blessing. There is a sense of unfairness – why should those who have receive more and vice versa? There is a sense of confusion – why was the third slave described as wicked for keeping the master’s money safe? There is sense that this passage could easily be abused to justify a materialistic or capitalistic approach to life. Yet, while all these concerns are on my mind, I remember that this is a parable and so it isn’t supposed to be taken literally. The story has a deeper meaning beyond the obvious. We have to look beyond Jesus’ words to seek out what he is telling us about the end times.
 
The first lesson from the parable is that the waiting, the time between now and when Jesus returns, is not a time of inactivity. In our communities there is work to be done for the kingdom, and as disciples this is our work to do. The master did not treat the three slaves the same and God does not treat us the same. The work we are given to do will consider our abilities but we all will have work to do. The third slave faced the judgement of the master not because he hadn’t made any money but because he had been inactive, he had not made the most of the responsibilities and the opportunities he had been given.
 
Today, this parable is a prompt for us to think about how we are working for the kingdom. Are we making the most of the responsibility and the opportunities God has given us to build the kingdom in our areas?
 
The second lesson comes from looking the way the slaves emulated the master. I have assumed that the master had a successful business because he was able to hand over 8 talents to his slaves. The first two slaves emulated the master by trading, taking risks and by making a success of what they attempted. Their focus was on doing something for the master.  The third slave made no attempt to trade, took no risks, and didn’t try to make any money. His actions were the opposite of the master. His focus was on himself and what was best for him rather than on what was best for the master.
 
So do we try to emulate Jesus in the work that we do for the kingdom? For example, do we challenge injustice, show compassion, question those in authority, help those in need, take risks to make a difference? It is easy to fall into a pattern of discipleship that is safe and based on what we need, what time we are happy to give and what we are willing to do. This style of discipleship that doesn’t reflect the characteristics or values of Jesus because it is focused on the wrong things. Our actions and view are centred on our needs and wants rather than on the will of God and the needs of the kingdom.
 
Finally, it was a surprise to hear the third slave being so critical of the master and openly accusing him of bad business practices. For someone who took no risks during the master absence he appears to be taking a big risk speaking in such a way publicly. We don’t know if the accusations were true or false but if they were false, why did the third slave have such a negative view of his master? While the third slave’s words are a surprise they shouldn’t really be. Experience has taught me that even within the church and amongst disciples there are those who have a false view or limited view of God or Jesus. This can occur when we are inactive in our discipleship, when we focus on ourselves and reflect the values of the world rather than the values of our master.
While we will never truly understand God, we can be active in trying to know God more. As we seek answers and as we learn more, we gain a different and deeper understanding of God and we change as people. Our values and attitudes begin to emulate that of our master, and we are eager to work for the kingdom. The opposite is also true. If we don’t seek to know more about God, we can find that the little knowledge and understanding we do have, gives a limited idea of who God is and what God can do. We also stop seeing changes in our own lives, it becomes difficult to emulate the master and we struggle to actively work for the kingdom.  
 
This parable teaches us how we, as Jesus’ disciples today, should spend our time while we wait for his return. How will the master respond when we are asked to settle our account? Will we be invited into the joy of the master or will be cast out into the outer darkness? Amen.
 
Affirmations of Faith
 
Do you believe in the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the Church through Word and Spirit. This God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end. We do
 
Do you believe that God is the One who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people. We do.
 
Do you believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, and the wronged? We do.
 
This is the faith of the Church!  We are proud to confess it in Jesus Christ, our Lord.   Amen.

Hymn       Lord of creation
                  Words: John Copley Winslow, Tune: Slane
 
1 Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and might are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.
 
2 Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfill.
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song,
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.
 
3 Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind;
rich truth that surpasses and knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.

Offertory introduction and prayer
God has entrusted us with different gifts and resources
Let us offer to God a generous measure of what we have received
with a thankful heart and in an attitude of praise.
 
Generous God, for all that you are and all that you do
We give you our heartfelt thanks
We wait in hope for the return of your Son, Jesus,
And offer our time, talents and the fruit of our labours
And pray that you use them to further your kingdom on earth.
 
In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Intercessions
 
Almighty God, you welcome us into your joy and entrust us with your Gospel.
In hope and with love, we bring before you our prayers for the world
 
For those who live in fear this day…may they have courage.
For those who have questions and doubts…may they be reassured.
For those who have little…may they receive a fair share of the world’s resources
For those who have been enslaved…may they be given freedom
For those who are out of work…may they find employment
For those who seek your will for their lives…may they receive guidance
For us, your church…may we be faithful workers for your kingdom.
Faithful God, we offer up these prayers and the prayers of our hearts in the name of Jesus. Amen
 
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn
       Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go
                  Charles Wesley

1 Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labour to pursue;
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think, or speak, or do.
 
2 The task Thy wisdom hath assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfil;
In all my works Thy presence find,
And prove Thy good and perfect will.

3 Thee may I set at my right hand,
Whose eyes mine inmost substance see,
And labour on at Thy command,
And offer all my works to Thee.
 
4 Give me to bear Thy easy yoke,
And every moment watch and pray,
And still to things eternal look,
And hasten to Thy glorious day.

5 For Thee delightfully employ
Whate’er Thy bounteous grace hath given;
And run my course with even joy,
And closely walk with Thee to Heaven.

Blessing
God of patience and opportunities
Guide us as we seek to learn more about you,
Encourage us as we work to build your kingdom,
Challenge us to know your will.
 
May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you today and always. Amen.





Thanks to
Jonnie Hill and Adam Scott, Ruth and Kingsley Browning, Phil, Lythan and Carys Nevard for recording the Call to Worship and Affirmation of Faith. Melanie Hall, Ray Fraser, Carol Tubbs, Anne Hewling for reading other parts. Evie Richardson (aged 5) for the offertory prayer.
 
Fugue in G Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
(organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Komm Gott Schӧpfer Heiliger Geist (“Come God, creator Holy Ghost”) by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of Basilica Santa Maria Dei Assunta, Montecatini Terme, Italy – 2016)
 
Both pieces played by Brian Cotterill: http://briancotterill.webs.com
 
Jesus is the name we honour (CH4 481 – words + tune by Phil Lawson-Johnston) - Performed by Ingrid DuMosch
Lord for the years (CH4 159 – words by Timothy Dudley Smith) – from BBC’s Songs of Praise
Lord of creation, to you be all praise! (CH4 500 – Words by John Copley Winslow), performed by Seventh Day Adventist Choir from Sacramento
Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go (CH4 529 – words by Charles Wesley), performed by St Michael’s Choir, Absolute Marketing Int. Ltd.


  --> 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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 15th November 2020

URC Devotion - Sun, 15/11/2020 - 06:00
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My shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

Isaac Watts
You can hear this Psalm here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUeiC1McJEU

Reflection

This, perhaps more than any other Psalm, is likely to have associations for all of us - weddings, funerals, the Vicar of Dibley, fill in your own memories!  This particular setting reminds me of the great Carolyn Brock, who programmed it in a concert marking the 250th anniversary of Isaac Watts’ death in 1998.  Carolyn was a musician who could make people sing better just by stepping into a room!  If you don’t feel up to the full Virgil Thomson, then a simplified harmonisation of the tune Resignation can be found in Common Ground, Church Hymnary 4 etc as a setting for Psalm 63.

In his excellent recent book ‘Living with the Psalms’ (SPCK, 2020), John Bell points out that as well as the image of the Lord as a shepherd, who would typically be male, the Psalmist uses a more female image for God when describing God spreading a table, as that might be a task more usually done by women.  This becomes more poignant for me when I consider Isaac Watts’ addition in the closing lines ‘No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home’.  Do we now have God as father and mother, making a home for us, the singers, God’s children?

I write this reflection in mid-July, several months into lockdown, and I for one am hugely missing singing in company with others; singing along to zoom or a podcast just isn’t the same.  Being able to sing together once more will be a homecoming of another sort, and I look forward to singing the Psalms in worship again, joining the saints across the ages in using these ancient texts to reflect on our relationship with God.

Prayer

God our father, God our mother,
We give thanks for the comfort you bring us when times are hard.
We give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, and the guidance you give us when we listen for your voice.
We pray that we may be generous in the comfort we give others, and the blessings we share.
And that all your children may feel at home in your love.

Amen.     --> Today's writer Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba’s URC, Oxford   Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 15th November 2020

URC Devotion - Sun, 15/11/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Sunday 15th November Psalm 23


My shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

Isaac Watts
You can hear this Psalm here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUeiC1McJEU

Reflection

This, perhaps more than any other Psalm, is likely to have associations for all of us - weddings, funerals, the Vicar of Dibley, fill in your own memories!  This particular setting reminds me of the great Carolyn Brock, who programmed it in a concert marking the 250th anniversary of Isaac Watts’ death in 1998.  Carolyn was a musician who could make people sing better just by stepping into a room!  If you don’t feel up to the full Virgil Thomson, then a simplified harmonisation of the tune Resignation can be found in Common Ground, Church Hymnary 4 etc as a setting for Psalm 63.

In his excellent recent book ‘Living with the Psalms’ (SPCK, 2020), John Bell points out that as well as the image of the Lord as a shepherd, who would typically be male, the Psalmist uses a more female image for God when describing God spreading a table, as that might be a task more usually done by women.  This becomes more poignant for me when I consider Isaac Watts’ addition in the closing lines ‘No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home’.  Do we now have God as father and mother, making a home for us, the singers, God’s children?

I write this reflection in mid-July, several months into lockdown, and I for one am hugely missing singing in company with others; singing along to zoom or a podcast just isn’t the same.  Being able to sing together once more will be a homecoming of another sort, and I look forward to singing the Psalms in worship again, joining the saints across the ages in using these ancient texts to reflect on our relationship with God.

Prayer

God our father, God our mother,
We give thanks for the comfort you bring us when times are hard.
We give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, and the guidance you give us when we listen for your voice.
We pray that we may be generous in the comfort we give others, and the blessings we share.
And that all your children may feel at home in your love.

Amen.         --> Today's writer Gordon Woods, Elder, St. Columba’s URC, Oxford   Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 14th November 2020

URC Devotion - Sat, 14/11/2020 - 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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Saturday 14th November  Hebrews - The New Priesthood

Hebrews 8: 1 - 5

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up.  For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.  Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.  They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.’

Reflection

The third voice from our Reformed tradition that I invite you to listen to is Karl Barth (1886-1968). Born in Basel and educated in Switzerland and Germany, Barth emphasised that God is wholly other than humans often imagine God to be. His monumental Church Dogmatics expounds at great length the God who loves us in freedom in Jesus Christ.
 
I take it that we have all experienced discord or bad feeling toward someone close due to a sharp disagreement. When this happens, it affects everything, and we long to make things right again. But who makes the first move to patch things up when both you and they feel equally aggrieved; when both you and they judge and feel judged? 

Under the sub-heading of Jesus Christ as the Judge judged in our place, Barth considers Christ also as the great High Priest sacrificed in our place. Like Calvin and Schleiermacher before him, Barth employs the threefold office of priest, king, and prophet to interpret Christ’s mission and significance. Suppose we understand sin as discord between us and God; sacrifice is the attempt to restore harmony to our relationship. Jesus is both our great High Priest who offers that sacrifice and is the once-for-all Sacrifice; he is both Priest and Lamb of God. Like the ancient High Priest, Jesus represents all people unable to live harmoniously due to discordance in their relationship with God. But unlike the ancient High Priest, Jesus as the great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary is able to plead the perfect offering of his own life. Jesus freely offers his own wholly attuned human life to restore us and the whole Creation to harmony with God (Church Dogmatics, IV/1, 274-8). 
 
If we are to be priestly people attuned to Jesus’s atoning sacrifice, we are called to sacrifice our pride and make the first move to patch things up. This applies not only to our relationships with other people but also to our relationship with Creation.

Prayer

O God who loves in freedom,
I have confessed ‘Jesus is Lord’,
yet when it comes to disputes with others
I too often confess my own point-of-view as final.
Attune me to Jesus’s sacrifice of self,
help me to be the bigger person who says “sorry” first,
help me to create harmony with other people and with Creation
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Amen   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC, New Barnet   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 13th November 2020

URC Devotion - Fri, 13/11/2020 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Hebrews 7: 26 - 28
  For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.  For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.

Reflection

The second voice from our Reformed tradition that I invite you to listen to is Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834). Influenced by the German Romantic movement, Schleiermacher was a preacher and theologian who tried to make religion believable to people with modern assumptions. With his definition of religion as ‘the feeling of absolute dependence on God’, he is regarded by some as the founder of modern theology. 

What was singularly important to Schleiermacher about the earthly Jesus was his unbroken consciousness of God and relationship with God. By virtue of this, Christ remains the advocate on behalf of the entire human race. Like a high priest, Christ brings our prayers before God and delivers divine blessings to us. At the same time, though, Christ is the end of individual human priesthood traditionally understood. Christ passes his priestly activity to the communal body of the faithful in such a way that Christians as a whole are called a priestly people. The Church’s mission is to be Christ’s advocate to the entire human race (Christian Faith, §104.5-6).

One of the most powerful parts of the Gospel message we advocate is the belief that Christ offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for sin “once for all.” The Cross towers over all disputes about who did what to whom, claiming that the price has been paid, reparation has been made, and redemption has been achieved for all who embrace it. We embrace redemption when we let go of our grievances, and our achievements, and lay them at the foot of the Cross. Christ’s perfect once-for-all self-sacrifice on the Cross reduces our grievance and achievement tally to zero. This is not, or ought not to be, license to neglect justice. It is rather the permission to regard oneself and others as equally loved and redeemed sinners in the sight of God. Schleiermacher believed that we need to feel redemption—affectively—in order to believe and experience it. Redemption necessarily involves heart and head and body.

Prayer

O God our Redeemer,
we sometimes find it difficult to let go of our grievances and achievements.
In such times, set before us the once-for-all offering of Jesus. 
Let his perfect God-consciousness reset our grievance and achievement tally to zero,
and liberate us in heart and head and action to share his blessedness.
 
Amen        -->   Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC, New Barnet 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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12th November 2020

URC Devotion - Thu, 12/11/2020 - 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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Hebrews 7: 20-25
  This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath,  but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him,

‘The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest for ever”’—

accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 

Reflection

In this reflection, and in the reflections tomorrow and the day after, I invite you to listen to three voices from our Reformed tradition and hear what they have to say about Christ’s priesthood. The first voice is that of John Calvin (1509-64) who was born and educated in France and became the influential Reformer of Geneva. 
 
In his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, Calvin says that the highest human good is to be united with God, who is the fountain of life and of all good things. However, it is often our sense of unworthiness that prevents us from approaching God. What we need, therefore, is someone who will reassure us and vouch for our worthiness. This is what Christ our perpetual high priest does. But why is he qualified to do this? The author of Hebrews has already told us “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15) Jesus has lived a truly human life with its ups and downs, its strengths and weaknesses; yet he also placed no sinful obstacle to prevent the flow of God’s grace through him. Therefore, Calvin writes that Jesus is qualified to be our Mediator who stretches out his hand and leads us to approach God’s presence. 

Jesus takes us by the hand and introduces us to the One before whose burning holiness we instinctively shrink back. Yet Jesus introduces us as those who are saved by his gracious action, and also does something distinctively priestly: intercedes on our behalf in order that we find favour with God. Calvin writes that Jesus is both our intercessor and advocate who turns the Father’s eyes away from our sins and toward his righteousness. Our approach to God’s throne that at first filled us with dread is instead filled with grace and kindness (Institutes 2.16.16).

Prayer

O God of burning holiness,
sometimes I shrink from your presence.
Help me to grasp the hand that Jesus offers;
the hand of my high priest and intercessor and advocate.
In his strong grasp I dare to believe 
that my true self is not diminished by sin
but enlarged by grace.
By that same grace, 
help me to share Jesus’s good news with others. Amen       --> Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC, New Barnet 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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion

URC Devotion - Thu, 12/11/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; font-size:inherit !important; font-family:inherit !important; 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Hebrews 7: 20-25
  This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath,  but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him,

‘The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest for ever”’— accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 
  Reflection
  In this reflection, and in the reflections tomorrow and the day after, I invite you to listen to three voices from our Reformed tradition and hear what they have to say about Christ’s priesthood. The first voice isthat of John Calvin (1509-64) who was born and educated in France and became the influential Reformer of Geneva. 
 
In his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, Calvin says that the highest human good is to be united with God, who is the fountain of life and of all good things. However, it is often our sense of unworthiness that prevents us from approaching God. What we need, therefore, is someone who will reassure us and vouch for our worthiness. This is what Christ our perpetual high priest does. But why is he qualified to do this? The author of Hebrews has already told us “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15) Jesus has lived a truly human life with its ups and downs, its strengths and weaknesses; yet he also placed no sinful obstacle to prevent the flow of God’s grace through him. Therefore, Calvin writes that Jesus is qualified to be our Mediator who stretches out his hand and leads us to approach God’s presence. 

Jesus takes us by the hand and introduces us to the One before whose burning holiness we instinctively shrink back. Yet Jesus introduces us as those who are saved by his gracious action, and also does something distinctively priestly: intercedes on our behalf in order that we find favour with God. Calvin writes that Jesus is both our intercessor and advocate who turns the Father’s eyes away from our sins and toward his righteousness. Our approach to God’s throne that at first filled us with dread is instead filled with grace and kindness (Institutes 2.16.16).

Prayer

O God of burning holiness,
sometimes I shrink from your presence.
Help me to grasp the hand that Jesus offers;
the hand of my high priest and intercessor and advocate.
In his strong grasp I dare to believe 
that my true self is not diminished by sin
but enlarged by grace.
By that same grace, 
help me to share Jesus’s good news with others. Amen         --> Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC, New Barnet   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12thNovember 2020

URC Devotion - Thu, 12/11/2020 - 06:00
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Hebrews 7: 20-25

 

This was confirmed with an oath; for others who became priests took their office without an oath,  but this one became a priest with an oath, because of the one who said to him,

 

‘The Lord has sworn

    and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest for ever”’—
 

accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 

 

Reflection

In this reflection, and in the reflections tomorrow and the day after, I invite you to listen to three voices from our Reformed tradition and hear what they have to say about Christ’s priesthood. The first voice is that of John Calvin (1509-64) who was born and educated in France and became the influential Reformer of Geneva. 

 In his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, Calvin says that the highest human good is to be united with God, who is the fountain of life and of all good things. However, it is often our sense of unworthiness that prevents us from approaching God. What we need, therefore, is someone who will reassure us and vouch for our worthiness. This is what Christ our perpetual high priest does. But why is he qualified to do this? The author of Hebrews has already told us “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15) Jesus has lived a truly human life with its ups and downs, its strengths and weaknesses; yet he also placed no sinful obstacle to prevent the flow of God’s grace through him. Therefore, Calvin writes that Jesus is qualified to be our Mediator who stretches out his hand and leads us to approach God’s presence. 

 

Jesus takes us by the hand and introduces us to the One before whose burning holiness we instinctively shrink back. Yet Jesus introduces us as those who are saved by his gracious action, and also does something distinctively priestly: intercedes on our behalf in order that we find favour with God. Calvin writes that Jesus is both our intercessor and advocate who turns the Father’s eyes away from our sins and toward his righteousness. Our approach to God’s throne that at first filled us with dread is instead filled with grace and kindness (Institutes 2.16.16).

 

Prayer

O God of burning holiness,

sometimes I shrink from your presence.

Help me to grasp the hand that Jesus offers;

the hand of my high priest and intercessor and advocate.

In his strong grasp I dare to believe 

that my true self is not diminished by sin

but enlarged by grace.

By that same grace, 

help me to share Jesus’s good news with others. Amen

--> Today's writer

 

The Rev’d Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC, New Barnet   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Sunday's Coming

URC Devotion - Wed, 11/11/2020 - 15:30
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Dear Friends,

Sunday's service, looking at the Parable of the Talents, will be led by Revd. Catherine McFie, ministering in the Mersey Synod. Hymns this week include Phil Lawson-Johnston's Jesus is the name we honour, Dudley-Smith's Lord for the years, John Copley Winslow's Lord of creation, to you be all praise and Charles Wesley's Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go.

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
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URC Daily Devotion 11th November 2020

URC Devotion - Wed, 11/11/2020 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Wednesday 11th November  Another like Melchizedek

Hebrews 7: 11 - 19

 

Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood—for the people received the law under this priesthood—what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron?  For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.  Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

 

It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek,  one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life.  For it is attested of him,

 

You are a priest for ever,

    according to the order of Melchizedek.’

 

There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.

 

Reflection

Today is “Armistice Day” marking the end of fighting in Europe in 1918. While there was great rejoicing then the fact that WW2 started some twenty years later showed what little success there was in establishing a just and lasting peace. There was much tinkering with the old order but little desire for radical change to the ways in which nations treated each other and so the high hopes of so many were dashed.
 

I write as the Covid-19 virus continues to take its toll on human life and people in the UK wonder when or whether life will return to normal, while wanting the “new normal” to be quite different. Will that be so? How ready and willing are we for radical change?

Those to whom the Letter to the Hebrews was written will have been steeped in the traditions of Judaism, with a tribal-based priesthood and established laws regulating all aspects of life. But as our author points out, “If perfection had been obtained through the Levitical priesthood … what further need would there have been to speak of another priest..?” The role in their early history of the shadowy figure of Melchizedek who came to bless their ancestor Abraham, though unconnected with their tribal traditions, was taken as a clear indication of the need to break with the accepted, established order, so pointing to Jesus as the true High Priest who alone could lead to perfection and the “better hope, through which we approach God.”

Such changes as followed the 1918 Armistice did not lead to a better world because leaders, and those they led, were not ready to make truly radical changes and, for example, adopt the Sermon on the Mount as the basis for living – so how ready and willing are we for the radical change we now need?

Prayer

Almighty God, we praise You  that in Jesus we have a better hope and invitation to Walk in his Way. Forgive us that we so easily fall into old ways, contributing to the unrest of the world; discriminating against those we consider different; relying on weapons of terror to uphold peace; showing less concern for the needs of others than we should want shown to us in our need. Help and strengthen our resolve, we pray: Amen

--> Today's writer  

The Rev’d Julian Macro, retired Minister, member of Verwood URC

 


 

Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 10th November 2020

URC Devotion - Tue, 10/11/2020 - 06:00
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This ‘King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him’; and to him Abraham apportioned ‘one-tenth of everything’. His name, in the first place, means ‘king of righteousness’; next he is also king of Salem, that is, ‘king of peace’. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest for ever.

See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils.  And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred,  though these also are descended from Abraham.  But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes  from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.  In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.  One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham,  for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Reflection

Hebrews calls Jesus ‘high priest’ but wants to distinguish him from the priests of the Jewish temple. Melchizedek offers a different template for priesthood. So Jesus is ‘high priest of the order of Melchizedek’ (6:20).
 
Melchizedek contributes only briefly to the Old Testament. He greets Abraham in Genesis 14. He crops up, almost in passing, in Psalm 110. Yet these two snippets of scripture help the writer of Hebrews in three ways.
 
First, Melchizedek was king and priest rolled into one. In Hebrews, Jesus is that too, a royal leader and a gentle pastor, a figure of both power and compassion. 
 
Second, Melchizedek is timeless. He steps into Genesis from the ether, without notice, background or ancestry. He vanishes just as abruptly. We never see him die. So by linking Jesus to Melchizedek, Hebrews suggests that his roots too are beyond time in eternity. Jesus too is a priest whose ministry will never end.
 
Third, Melchizedek was honoured by Abraham. Abraham in turn was ancestor of the priestly tribe of Levi, who for their part received tithes from the people of Israel. Yet their forefather Abraham actually paid tithes to Melchizedek. Melchizedek was, you might say, priest to the priests. He brought the blessing of God at the very start of the nation’s life.
 
The first readers of Hebrews would ‘get’ these arguments. But even if we do not share their standpoint, we may still learn from the approach of this letter. For Hebrews tries to reach beyond familiar patterns, to present Jesus. And we too shall only make proper sense of Jesus if we think outside the box. We cannot contain him in the categories and precedents of history, nor in the standards and stereotypes of earth. He is utterly one of a kind, and one with God.
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
  outside our boxes,
  beyond our history,
  bursting the place where we buried you,
      we turn to you for blessing,
      for your powerful and tender touch,
      for your living presence 
         in the demands, duties and difficulties
         of our days and years. Amen.
     --> Today's writer The Rev’d John Proctor is 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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 9th November 2020

URC Devotion - Mon, 09/11/2020 - 06:00
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Hebrews 6: 13- 20

When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,  saying, ‘I will surely bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.  Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute.  In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath,  so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.  We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Reflection

Having dealt with love in the previous section, the writer to the Hebrews turns to faith and hope.

These three are intimately connected, with love being the ground from which faith and hope spring. Faith being “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Abraham is the great example of this – promised a son when he and his wife were both beyond child-bearing age and holding firm to that promise until he saw its fulfilment in Isaac.
But hold on a minute, what about that business with Ishmael? I’m not saying that I’d have done any better, but Abraham slipped up rather when he tried to make God’s promise come true by himself. Of course, you can follow his logic. Sarah was too old, and any children by Sarah’s servant would still be Abraham’s. Perhaps that’s what God meant all along?

But no. God’s route for Abraham was not the clearly way-marked path across broad meadows, but through deep canyons of seeming impossibility. When his own methods of fulfilling the promise had failed, Abraham was left with just one option: faith.

Abraham was forced to rely on God, and maybe that’s why God left it so long before Isaac was born. Sometimes we need to have our own solutions stripped away before we are ready to look at God’s.

Looking back at the start of this year and the changes wrought by coronavirus, many of us have had things that we relied upon stripped away. Our routines have changed beyond recognition. School has changed, work has changed, even church has changed. Some of us have lost livelihoods, health or tragically, loved ones.

We may feel as lost as Abraham, shipwrecked in a storm grasping only to an unreasonable promise. But hope in God is not a piece of floating driftwood. It is fastened to the bedrock of the earth, and well worth holding on to.

Prayer
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Thank you that even the great heroes of faith
are fallible humans like me.
Thank you that you cope with our failures
and patiently restore us.
Help us to see beyond our own plans
to the greater plans of yours
and to place our hope
always in you.
Amen.   --> Today's writer Fay Rowland, graduate researcher Wesley House, Cambridge, member Christ the King Church of England, Kettering   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 © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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