Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
COLLECT FOR PURITY
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.
God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
sung by Billy Dewar Riddick
whose providence orders all things in heaven and earth;
keep from us everything harmful,
and lead us to all that is good:
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
Hosea 1: 2-10 read by Gill Swales
The Family of Hosea
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of prostitution, for the land commits great prostitution by forsaking the Lord.” So, he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel, for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
The Restoration of Israel
Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered, and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
Colossians 2:6-15 read by Margaret Morton
Fullness of Life in Christ
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Watch out that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by the removal of the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
Luke 11:1-13 read by Rev Chris Wren
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 11 beginning at verse 1
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
The Lord’s Prayer
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
So, he said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, may your name be revered as holy.
May your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
Perseverance in Prayer
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything out of friendship, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So, I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asked for a fish, would give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asked for an egg, would give a scorpion? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
Passwords, passwords, and more passwords! One of my pet hates is passwords. Anyone here tired of passwords? Anyone here have a good way of remembering your passwords? Passwords are the open sesames to protected systems on the Internet. Want to pay for an item on eBay with PayPal? You need a password. Want to sign in to Apple, or Yahoo? You need a Password. Want to micro-blog on Twitter? You need a password. Want to see your kids while you talk to them on Tokbox or Skype- you have got it you need a password. If you do not produce the right password access is denied. Some people think that prayer is a bit like a password –if you don’t get the prayer right, access to God is denied. Prayer is then regarded as having a special formula or sacred language. In a Peanuts cartoon Charley Brown is kneeling beside his bed for prayer. Suddenly he stops and says to Lucy, “I think I’ve made a new theological discovery, a real breakthrough. If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for.” Hmm! One thing is clear- there is much misunderstanding about how you pray and why you pray!
How do you pray and why? We are not the first to ask. The disciples of Jesus came to Him one day and said, “Lord, teach us. Teach us to pray!” Notice something here. When did the disciples ask for this? When did they make this request? Was it after Jesus gave a lecture on prayer? No! Was it after Jesus led a seminar on prayer? No! Was it after Jesus preached a powerful sermon on prayer? No! None of these! Remember how it was recorded in today’s Gospel Reading “Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he finished, they said to him, Lord, teach us to pray.'” They saw the power of prayer in Him. They saw how important prayer was to Him. Here, before their very eyes, they saw a personality in whom prayer was vital and influential! The more they lived with him, the more they saw that they could never explain him or understand him unless they understood his praying and so their request was nothing to do with new theological arguments, but rather to do with the amazing spiritual power released in him by prayer. They wanted him to tell them how to pray.”
How do we pray? When we pray are we just speaking to ourselves, or are we speaking to God? Do we merely ask for something, or do we ask to be transformed? If you feel somewhat inadequate in knowing how prayer works and exactly how to pray, then take heart you are in good company. For none other than the disciples felt the same way. Even Paul wrote in Romans “We do not know how to pray as we ought.” Teach us how to pray? In response to the disciples’ request Jesus’ answer comes in two parts. He first gives them a model prayer. We call it the Lord’s Prayer and it has been our model for more than 2000 years. It seems to me that the Lord’s Prayer is WHAT we should pray. The second part of Jesus’ answer is this rather strange little story. It tells us HOW to pray. This morning I am focussing on the second part of Jesus’ response- contained in the short parable on how to pray.
To grasp the meaning behind the parable of a friend calling at midnight, we need first to set the scene. In the small villages in the Middle East, retiring for the night did not mean that you hit the remote on the TV, let the dog out one last time, turn down the thermostat, check on the baby in the nursery, look into the kid’s rooms to make sure that they weren’t reading comics under the covers and retire to the master bedroom. Nothing could be less the case.
The poorer Palestinian houses consisted of one room with only one little window. The floor was simply of beaten earth covered with dry reeds and rushes. The room was divided into two parts, not by a partition, but by a low platform. Two thirds of it was on ground level. The other third was slightly raised. On the raised part, the charcoal stove burned all night and round it the family slept, not on raised beds but on sleeping mats. Families were large and they slept close together for warmth, for to rise would inevitably disturb the whole family. Further, in the villages it was customary to bring in the livestock, the hens, cocks and goats into the house at night.
Not quite the dwelling that you will return to after worship this morning! In such a setting having the children in bed with you was more than a figure of speech. To respond to the knocker’s request, you would have to climb over the reclining forms of the other family members. There would be a wooden door, probably fastened from the inside with a bar across it. You wouldn’t have to worry about turning on the light because a clay lamp would have been left burning, and you would want that lamp to see where you were walking when you stepped off the raised platform in case you trip over an animal. In carrying the lamp, you would be hoping that the activity and the light would not cause the rooster to think that the sun was coming up. As you made your way across the lower level you would want to make sure to pass in front of the donkey and behind the goat. At the doorway, you would have to find a place to set the lamp because it would take two hands to lift the bar and set it aside to open the door. Are you getting the picture?
Perhaps the first knock is rather soft. The knock comes again, more firmly and still again-you decide you have to respond. “Go away. My children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and open the door at this time of night”. Then the knocker announces his problem. A guest has arrived unexpectedly and I have nothing to set before him. Suddenly we have a major problem here. Travellers would often journey late to avoid the heat of the day, and on arrival a visitor was to be provided with refreshments. In the East the law of hospitality was a sacred duty and to fail to offer food and drink would be a major breach of etiquette. Not only would he but also the neighbour he called to be shamed and humiliated if they did not feed the visitor. They would bring shame on the whole village and be the cause of all gossip!
So with a sigh, and in order to protect your name and honour you get up and give him everything he needs. Can you imagine Jesus telling this story without a twinkle in his eye and what was the point of his story? You might think the point is persistence-a bit like this young three- year- old in the grocery store with his mum. Before they entered, she had certain instructions for the little child: “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him in the child’s seat and off they went up and down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. Seeing the chocolate chip cookies he said, “Mum, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items she had to back track and they ended up in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down and be quiet.” Finally, they arrived at the checkout. The little boy sensed knew this was his last chance, and so he stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Everyone in the checkout lanes laughed and applauded. Do you think the little boy got his cookies? You bet! The other shoppers moved by his daring pooled their resources. The little boy and his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. Is the point of the story persistence like that three -year old? Surely not!
The lesson of this parable is not that we must persist in prayer. It is not that we must batter at God’s door until we finally compel him for very weariness to give us what we want, until we coerce an unwilling God to answer. Far from it, God delights to hear from us in prayer and though his answer at times may be no, he is not uncaring or indifferent to the things that we rightly or wrongly attach a lot of importance to.
A parable literally means something laid alongside. Here things are laid alongside each other in contrast. What Jesus is saying is: if a churlish and unwilling householder can in the end be coerced by a friend’s shameless persistence into giving him what he needs, how much more will God who is a loving Father supply all his children’s needs. If you he says, who are not sinful, know that you are bound to supply your children’s needs, how much more will God.
This does not absolve us from intensity in prayer. After all, we can guarantee the sincerity of our desire only by the passion by which we pray. But it does mean this that we are not wringing gifts from an unwilling God, but going to one who knows our needs better than we know ourselves and whose heart towards us is the heart of generous love. No password is needed for us to access this generous love. What is needed however -is an open heart. How we pray-we pray in the knowledge of God’s character- in the certainty that God is a God of generous love, who cares and wants the best for us. How do pray-we pray in trust and confidence in God because he cares for us? Who prays – all of us – no matter our age or stage in life whether we starting out in life’s journey of faith or whether we have travelled a good distance.
What do we pray- we pray the guidelines of the Lords’ prayer. No sacred language, no special posture, no special format is required for access to God and to his love- no password is required! We enter the throne room of God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. God welcomes us and delights in hearing from us. When Mother Teresa was asked about her prayer life in an interview, she said that in prayer she listens to God. The interviewer asked her what does God say, she replied: Oh He listens too.” Prayer is being one with God, and discovering what friend we have in Jesus. Amen
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Knowing that our loving God
supplies all our needs
let us pray to him now
on behalf of the church and the world.
Generous God, you chose to reveal yourself to us in Christ.
In Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit
we can draw close to you
through the privilege of prayer.
Help us to cherish prayer
and to never take it for granted.
Like your first disciples we ask
“Teach us how to pray.”
give us our daily bread
you choose to work your purpose and love
through us the church, your holy body.
help us to reflect your generosity
and to be your hands of love and care to others.
give us our daily bread
you never gave up or abandoned your people
but met them at their physical and spiritual points of need.
may we not forget or ignore those in difficulty
but generously help them
in whatever ways we can.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you have blessed us with many gifts
and we thank –you especially for the gift
of education and technology.
We are grateful for the benefits they bring to our lives
and as we read and watch the news
help us to take to heart,
those struggling in different parts of the world,
and we lift them to you in prayer.
give us our daily bread
We pray for the Middle East with all its internal turmoil
and ask for cessation of hostilities and for peace.
We lift to you in the quiet-
the broken and damaged countries
and communities in our world,
thinking particularly of Ukraine,
seeking your help, support and restoration.
give us our daily bread
we offer to you our homes and relationships
for you to generously work in and transform.
We offer you our meetings and conflicts
and ask that your will is done
and your love and kindness prevail.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, we lift to you all
all who suffer or are heavily burdened;
hear us as we pray for their comfort and refreshment,
wholeness and restoration,
but above all for the consciousness
of your presence in their pain and your love for them.
In the quiet of our hearts,
we bring to you people known to us,
and ask for your holy touch and healing.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you call all in faith to yourself,
be especially close to those
who are coming to the end of their earthly lives.
Prepare them for the heavenly place
you have for them,
and be with their families,
as they reluctantly let them come to you.
Give to all a holy death and a heavenly welcome.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, in
whom we live and have our being,
fills us with gratitude for all we have,
and help us to count our blessings
and give you our praise.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ.