ACT OF WORSHIP November 2007 Friday 30 November 2007 Greetings from Scotland this St Andrew’s day. Reminders of our patron saint abound as the saltire flies from public buildings here in Edinburgh and across the country. That singular cross of St Andrew is a reminder of his martyrdom, the brutal end to his life of faithful discipleship; but it is to the beginning of that faith journey that I invite you to turn . For Andrew was in at the start. The gospel accounts name him as one of the first disciples – the first to hear that “follow me” which countless others have heard with gladness or dismay in every age Hymn : Jesus calls us o’er the tumult . It’s relatively easy to clamber aboard a nicely rolling bandwagon, to be caught up in the momentum of a gathering force; but it’s quite another to be, like Andrew, the first to get on board , the first to light a candle in the darkness. As we approach the season of Advent, let us pray with thanksgiving for the coming of the light. Loving God, creator of the world and its redeemer, we come before you with adoration and thanksgiving, acknowledging your wisdom and graciousness and our own great need of your forgiveness. The creation you perfected aches with the wounds of our actions, yet dares to hope for healing and renewal. Trusting in your unfailing love and in the transforming power of the gospel, we give thanks for the bringers of light to a dark world. For those who teach and nurture, sharing their knowledge so that ignorance is removed allowing human potential to blossom; For all who bring the light of scientific discovery to the dark secrets of the universe; For those who shine a beacon of love to dispel fear; For all whose compassion brings the light of hope to those in despair. Most of all we remember with thanksgiving the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious light of the Gospel . Amen. Reading : JOHN 35-41 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by , he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this they followed Jesus. Turning round Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said “Teacher, where are you staying? “ “Come” he replied, “and you will see. “ So they went and saw where he was staying and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah.”
Reflection 10 December is International Human Rights day, commemorating the United Nations Declaration of human rights in 1948 as a response to the horrors of the second world war. For several years now the 16 days leading up to that day have been marked as days of action in support of those suffering from the effects of violence and injustice, particularly women and children. These 16 days begin on 25 November , a day dedicated to the elimination of violence against women, and roughly half way through that 16 day period comes 1 December, recognised since 1988 as World AIDS day. In reflecting on the effects of violence in all its various manifestations there is a natural tendency to despair. We recall the random violence on our streets, the organised abuse of those involved in human trafficking, the casual cruelty of humiliation in the home or the workplace, the indiscriminate bloodshed of terrorism , the fearful machinery of warfare, the stigmatising of those we fear or judge –and the darkness deepens as we struggle to speak a word of hope. Because of the way these particular dates fall, we find that in the midst of this 16 day litany of pain, the advent season also begins, lifting our spirits with its reminder of new possibilities and a different way. Tomorrow is World AIDS day and the day after that is Advent Sunday. It’s easy to see the one as a day of darkness and the other as a day of light, easy, but too simplistic. People are not just dying of AIDS, they are living with AIDS – and lives shouldn’t be defined solely in terms of a physical condition. The reality for all of us is that every day has its light and dark, every day has its hurt and its healing. We are called to live with that tension daily, just as Andrew and those early disciples did . Like them we’re required to recognise the pain and need around us, we’re called to respond to the world as it is, in all its meanness and violence, but to do so confident that change is possible and that God has not abandoned his people. “A light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overwhelmed it.” Paraphrase : Come let us to the Lord our God with contrite hearts return Prayer of intercession : Loving God, hear our prayers for those who suffer from the effects of violence. We pray for children who have been turned into child soldiers , drilled to use a gun and driven by their own fear to learn quickly; We pray for children who now head up their family because their parents have been killed in war or have died from disease. We pray for women who have met abuse where they had hoped to find love; And for women who have been turned into units of trade to satisfy lust and greed. We pray for men who are exploited by their employers and forced to work in dangerous conditions; And for men who have been unable to prevent their hungry children from dying. And we pray for your church, that it may find its voice to speak for the friendless , that it may use its wealth to care for the needy and that it may , as a community of love and trust, welcome the outcast and the stranger. Lord help us to weave threads of healing and justice into the fabric of our common life, so that the cloak of your kingdom may be spread wide to shelter all your children within its folds. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen And the Lord’s Prayer Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be your name Your kingdom come, your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen
Hymn – Thou whose almighty word, chaos and darkness heard And now, as we look forward to this Advent season, a final prayer : Lord Jesus Christ You came to a waiting world with the light of your presence. Help us to walk in that light through a world still longing for the coming of the Father’s kingdom, And may we know the blessing and comfort of your Holy Spirit beside us in that journey, now and always, Amen.