Our promises - God's Promises

September 2020 

This short act of worship has been prepared for you.  I invite you to share in a few moments with God knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.

Revd Martin Slocombe.

Covenant Rainbow

THE COVENANT SERVICE

Hymn – O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdE_NKyY_o0

 

   1      O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
           consider all the works thy hand hath made,
           I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
           thy power throughout the universe displayed:
                Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee:
                how great thou art, how great thou art!
                Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee:
                how great thou art, how great thou art!

   2      And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
           sent him to die, I scarce can take it in
           that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
           he bled and died to take away my sin:

   3      When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
           and take me home — what joy shall fill my heart;
           then shall I bow in humble adoration,
           and there proclaim: my God, how great thou art:

Stuart K. Hine (1899–1989)
Carl Gustaf Boberg (1859–1940)

Let us pray.

Glory to the Father, the God of love, who created us;
who continually preserves and sustains us;
who has loved us with an everlasting love,
and given us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Blessèd be God for ever.

Glory to Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who, though he was rich,
yet for our sake became poor,
and was tested in every way as we are, yet without sin;

who proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross;
who was raised from the dead and is alive for ever, and has opened the kingdom of heaven to all who trust in him;

who is seated at God’s right hand in glory, and will come to be our judge.

Blessèd be God for ever.

Glory to the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
by whom we are born into the family of God, and made members of the body of Christ;
whose witness confirms us;
whose wisdom teaches us;
whose power enables us;
who will do for us more than we can ask or think.

Blessèd be God for ever.

To the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be praise and glory for ever. Amen.

Silence

God of grace,
through the mediation of your Son,
you call us into a new covenant.
Help us therefore to draw near with faith
and join ourselves in a perpetual covenant with you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

A reading from the Law.

Deuteronomy 29: 10-15

10 You stand assembled today, all of you, before the Lord your God—the leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officials, all the men of Israel, 11your children, your women, and the aliens who are in your camp, both those who cut your wood and those who draw your water—12to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, sworn by an oath, which the Lord your God is making with you today; 13in order that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you and as he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14I am making this covenant, sworn by an oath, not only with you who stand here with us today before the Lord our God,15but also with those who are not here with us today.

Reflection

I have probably mentioned before that one of my interests is family history.  I have traced branches of my family tree back to the late 1500s, and there are currently 2,744 names on my tree, all of which I am directly related to.  I recently found the first record of family shame – my 4xGt grandfather was transported to Australia in 1820 – for killing a horse! 

What I find fascinating is that for me to be here now, all of those people had to meet, marry and have children (not always in that order), and if any one of those chance meetings in a field or the lanes of Somerset hadn’t happened, whole groups of families would not have existed.  We are inextricably linked to our past, and also to our future.

Our Bible reading this morning records the ratification ceremony of the people of Israel as they enter into a covenant with God, acknowledging the laws Moses had put before them (and recorded in chapters 12-26) and the punishments for failure (chapter 28) that the covenant required.  They do so, not as individuals but as a whole community, from the greatest to the least.  But what caught my attention when reading this passage were verses 14 and 15, which I have highlighted.  The covenant is entered into, not only by those present at the time, but also by those “who are not here with us today.”  What does that mean?

The obvious answer are the people who were not part of the crowd for whatever reason, but I think there is a wider context here.  Central to the lives of Israel was the issue of descendance.  They existed, not only in the present time, but were also inextricably linked to their ancestors and their descendents.  And their actions would have an impact upon the lives of those to come.

As we gather today to share in this covenant service, we do so, not only for our own sake, but also in continuity with the Methodists who have met here in the past, and those who will come in the future.  There have been some changes to the words over the years, but essentially this Covenant service is not that different to what was used 200 years ago.

Today, we also acknowledge the refurbishment we have carried out during lockdown, the removal of the pews, the laying of carpet, and installation of an AV system.  We had some challenges with the Conservation officer, but when they came to inspect the building, they noted that many changes have been undertaken over the years, and therefore, this building tells the story of Methodism in this place, with all its twists and turns.  Perhaps you are sad that we have done this, but we are responding to the needs of the current time.  The chapel was expanded and realigned more than once in its lifetime, when more space was needed, and now we have made the changes we need for today.  And in years to come, long after we have left, future generations will be able to read part of our story.

We worship a God who’s love is unchanging, but a God who responds to the present day, and to the future.  How many times have you read passages in the Bible written more than 2000 years ago, and noticed how closely they speak to us today.  Our faith is not stuck in the past, but is a living and growing thing, which changes and evolves to the needs of the present time, but is rooted in the past, and at the same time, guides us into the future.

Perhaps, for some, the words of the Covenant we will be sharing in a moment are outdated (we will be using the more modern version), and for those outside of the church, they might well seem archaic and irrelevant.  We repeat these words today, in the words of Moses, “not only with you who stand here with us today before the Lord our God,15but also with those who are not here with us today”.  We say them with those who have gone before us, and for those who will come after us.  We continue the Covenant that God made with the people of Israel, and pass it on to the next generation.

We are all concerned about what the future holds for our churches in light of the decline in membership and the lack of younger people attending.  What the Coronavirus has taught us is that faith continues even though we have not been able to meet together in church in the ways we have always done.  But we have found new ways of worshipping God and supporting each other.  The reality is that we may not be able to support our churches in the future as they are now, and we may have to find new ways of being God’s people in the world.  That is nothing new.   God’s people have always adapted to meet the needs of the current time, and we are no different.  But we do so in the knowledge that our faith, our Covenant relationship with God, and his unconditional love for us remains unchanged by pandemic or changes in society.

We love, as God first loved us, and in that unchanging knowledge and assurance, we prepare to make our Covenant promises in this place, together today, and with those who are not here with us.

Amen

Silence

 

THE COVENANT
God made a covenant with the people of Israel, calling them to be a holy nation, chosen to bear witness to his steadfast love by finding delight in the law.

The covenant was renewed in Jesus Christ our Lord, in his life, work, death and resurrection. In him all people may be set free from sin and its power, and united in love and obedience.

In this covenant God promises us new life in Christ. For our part we promise to live no longer for ourselves but for God.

We meet, therefore, as generations have met before us, to renew the covenant which bound them and binds us to God.

Let us then seek forgiveness for the sin by which we have denied God’s claim upon us.

Let us pray.

God of mercy, hear us as we confess our sins.

For the sin that has made us slow to learn from Christ, reluctant to follow him, and afraid to bear the cross:

Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has caused the poverty of our worship, the formality and selfishness of our prayers, our neglect of fellowship and the means of grace, and our hesitating witness for Christ:

Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has led us to misuse your gifts, evade our responsibilities, and fail to be good stewards of your creation:

Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has made us unwilling to overcome evil with good, tolerant of injustice, quick to condemn, and selfish in sharing your love with others:

Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

Silence

Have mercy on me, O God, in your constant love;
in the fullness of your mercy blot out my offences.

Wash away all my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Give me the joy of your help again
and strengthen me with a willing spirit.

 

If we confess our sins,
God is faithful and just,
and will forgive our sins,
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Therefore to all who truly repent this is his gracious word:
‘Your sins are forgiven.’

Amen. Thanks be to God.

Sisters and brothers in Christ,
let us again accept our place within this covenant
which God has made with us and with all who are called to be Christ’s disciples.

This means that, by the help of the Holy Spirit, we accept God’s purpose for us,
and the call to love and serve God in all our life and work.

Christ has many services to be done:
some are easy, others are difficult;
some bring honour, others bring reproach;
some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests,
others are contrary to both;
in some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.

Therefore let us make this covenant of God our own. Let us give ourselves to him, trusting in his promises and relying on his grace.

Eternal God, in your faithful and enduring love you call us to share in your gracious covenant in Jesus Christ.
In obedience we hear and accept your commands; in love we seek to do your perfect will; with joy we offer ourselves anew to you.
We are no longer our own but yours.

I am no longer my own but yours.

Your will, not mine, be done in all things,

wherever you may place me,

in all that I do and in all that I may endure;

when there is work for me and when there is none;

when I am troubled and when I am at peace.

Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded;

when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking;

when I have all things, and when I have nothing.

I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose.

Glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours. May it be so for ever.

Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.

Silence seated
 

As we have entered this covenant not for ourselves alone, but as God’s servants and witnesses, let us pray for the world.

Loving God, hear us as we pray for your holy catholic Church:

make us all one, that the world may believe.

Inspire and lead all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world:

establish justice and peace among all people.

Have compassion on all who suffer from any sickness, grief or trouble:

deliver them from their distress.

We praise you for all your saints who have entered your eternal glory:

bring us all to share in your heavenly kingdom.

Let us pray in silence for our own needs and for those of others . . .

Silence

Lord our God, we thank you for all that you have given us to use in your service.  In the faith of Jesus Christ, we dedicate the refurbishment of this chapel, its seating, floor coverings and technology system to the glory of your name.  We give thanks for those who have enabled it to happen, and pray that this building may be used in new and exciting ways to bring your word to those who seek your presence in this place.

Lord our God,
you have helped us by your grace
to make these prayers,
and you have promised through Christ our Lord that when two or three agree in his name you will grant what they ask.
Answer now your servants’ prayers
according to their needs;
in this world grant that we may truly know you, and in the world to come graciously give us eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing of the offering

 

THE LORD’S SUPPER

The Peace

The Lord has made an everlasting covenant of peace with his people.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

 

THE PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS

Hymn – Bread of Life

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZgYcIvqgHU

I myself am the bread of life.
You and I are the bread life,
Taken and blessed,
Broken and shared by Christ that the world might live.

This bread is spirit, gift of the maker's love,
And we who share it know that we can be one:
A living sign of God in Christ.

I myself am the bread of life.
You and I are the bread life,
Taken and blessed,
Broken and shared by Christ that the world might live.

Here is God's kingdom given to us as food.
This is our body, this is our blood:
A living sign of God in Christ.

I myself am the bread of life.
You and I are the bread life,
Taken and blessed,
Broken and shared by Christ that the world might live.

Rory Cooney

 

THE THANKSGIVING

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

God our Father, fountain of goodness, creator of all that is,
you have made us in your own image. You have given us life and reason, and love for one another, setting in our hearts a hunger for you.

In darkness you are our light, in adversity and temptation our strength. You bear patiently with our folly and sin, granting us your law to guide us and your prophets to renew our faith.

In the fullness of time you came to us in love and mercy in Jesus Christ, your living Word, full of grace and truth.

He lived among us,
declaring your forgiveness
and revealing your wisdom
in works of mercy and in his word of power.

For us he suffered and died upon the cross, by death destroying death.

You raised him from the dead and exalted him to your right hand on high.

Through him you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your people, gathered together in every time and place to glorify your holy name.

With them and all the company of heaven we join in the unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessèd is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Holy God, pour out your Spirit
that these gifts of bread and wine
may be for us the body and blood
of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
‘Take this and eat it.
This is my body given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’

In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many,
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, whenever you drink it,
in remembrance of me.’

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

And so, Lord, we obey his command with this bread and this cup,
by which we recall his death and resurrection, the source of our life and salvation.
Grant that we, who share in this holy sacrament, may be united by your Spirit and grow into perfect love.

Bring us, with those who have done your will in every age, into the light of your presence and the joy of your kingdom.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the power of the Holy Spirit,
we worship you in songs of everlasting praise.

Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught his disciples, we pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD

The presiding minister breaks the bread and lifts the cup in the sight of the people in silence.

THE SHARING OF THE BREAD AND WINE

PRAYERS AND DISMISSAL

Let us pray.

Faithful God,
with these holy gifts
you have fed and strengthened us
in Jesus Christ your Son.
Guide us on our way,
that with all your faithful people
we may come to share the feast
of your eternal kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Hymn – O Jesus, I have promised www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaKT4scxct0

   1      O Jesus, I have promised
           to serve you to the end;
           Lord, be for ever near me,
           my master and my friend;
           I shall not fear the battle
           if you are by my side,
           nor wander from the pathway
           if you will be my guide.

   2      O let me feel you near me;
           the world is ever near;
           I see the sights that dazzle,
           the tempting sounds I hear;
           my foes are ever near me,
           around me, and within;
           but, Jesus, now draw nearer,
           and shield my soul from sin.

   3      O let me hear you speaking
           in accents clear and still,
           above the storms of passion,
           the murmurs of self-will;
           O speak to reassure me,
           to hasten or control;
           Lord, speak, and make me listen,
           O guardian of my soul.

   4      O Jesus, you have promised
           to all who follow you,
           that where you are in glory
           your servant shall be too;
           and, Jesus, I have promised
           to serve you to the end;
           O give me grace to follow
           my master and my friend.

John Ernest Bode (1816–1874)

 

The presiding minister says:

The blessing of God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.

 

 

 

CCLI Licence 354889


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