OPENING SENTENCE- Happy are they who dwell in your house
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. Amen.
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.
GLORIA sung by Sue St Joseph
Almighty and eternal God,
by your generous love
you grant to those who pray
more than is desired or deserved:
pour down your mercy upon us,
forgiving what our conscience fears
and granting what we dare not ask;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
1 Kings 8: 22-30, 41-43 read by Debbie Johnson
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.
Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.
EPHESIANS 6:10-20 read by Olive Burbridge
The Whole Armour of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
JOHN 6:56-69 read by Dean Burbridge
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 6 beginning at verse 56
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
The Words of Eternal Life
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
How would you like to be remembered? I remember reading a book by Gerald Hughes – God of Surprises and in one of the chapters Gerald Hughes asks us to write our own obituary. The rationale behind this exercise was it showed very clearly what really mattered to you and what were your priories in life. Today in our Old Testament reading we see that King Solomon wanted to be remembered as the person who built the temple.
There had been talk of building a temple to the glory of God for quite some time. The Israelites believed that the Lord God dwelled in a tent. When the Israelites were wandering through the desert and living in tents themselves, it only made sense for the people to regard God as also dwelling in a tent. By living in a tent, God was able to travel everywhere that the people did. Wherever the people wandered God could travel with them. The people no longer lived in tents out in the desert. Instead, they lived in houses in villages and towns. It just did not seem right for God to dwell in a tent when the people enjoyed all the comforts of living in houses. It was only appropriate for God to have a permanent dwelling place as well. It was Solomon’s goal to build a temple.
It took seven years for King Solomon to actually build the temple. Of course, his father, King David, had spent many years prior to that making preparations and gathering supplies. So, this was a long-term project. Skilled workers were employed. Only the best materials were used. This was to be a beautiful temple built for God’s glory. When all the work for the temple was finished, the last step was bringing the Ark of the Covenant and placing it in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, putting it beneath the wings of the cherubim. It was the first Temple of the Israelites and it was a magnificent and splendid edifice, unlike any in their subsequent history.
It was not solely a Temple for a city but the Temple for the country – a national cathedral. The Israelites had worshipped at the portable Tabernacle throughout their 40 years of desert dwelling and the years of Canaan conquering. Now they were to have a permanent place of worship and witness, a place of fixity, solidity and beauty. It was here that the divine Presence was manifested. This day of dedication was a long- awaited day and now a vast crowd assembled for the history making occasion.
This history making occasion was quite different from how we dedicate buildings today. Men and women dedicate buildings with either a bottle of champagne or a ribbon cutting ceremony. For Solomon though, such a practice would not be enough. This was not just an ordinary building but the temple of God. This is the place where sacrifices for sins would occur. This is where the holy ark of the covenant would lay within the most holy place. This is where the priests would converse with God. This was not an ordinary building dedication, but the dedication of the Lord’s temple.
For this occasion, Solomon has had a platform built which was five cubits wide and five cubits long and three cubits high. This was made of either brass or copper and Solomon took his position on this platform. In this way he would be visible to all the people and they would all be able to hear him.
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel….” This was a public prayer. The place of prayer is before the altar. We see his prayer posture was one of standing and kneeling. “He stood and spread out his hands toward heaven.” Here he is said to have stood before the altar. He both knelt and stood. There is no one posture for which we should argue. It is the posture of the heart that matters most with God. “He spread out his hands toward heaven.” This is a posture of reverence, resignation, dependence and reliance. What a sight! The ruler of the people is going to lead the whole nation in prayer! The ruler is on his knees before One who is the great Ruler of the universe.
By his posture Solomon is saying, “Here I am, totally surrendered and subservient to Your sovereignty and dependent upon Your mercy, O God! He came boldly to the Throne but humbly as well.
So far, we have the place of prayer at the altar and the posture of prayer, one of standing and kneeling and now we have a prayer of praise. Solomon’s prays: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.” Prayer is not all requesting from God certain benefits, although Solomon does ask for specific blessings later in his prayer. He begins, however, by praising God. Joseph Parker writes defining prayer as follows: “It is fellowship, communion, identification with God; it is the soul pouring itself out just as it will in all the tender compulsion of love, asking God for blessings, praising God for mercies, committing itself to God in view of all the mystery and peril of the future.”
Solomon’s prayer reveals that he was no stranger to the God to Whom he prayed or to the practice of prayer. He pours out his soul in this prayer, beginning with praise. His praise is twofold: He praises God for who He is. He is “the Lord God of Israel.” On this occasion He was addressed as the national God of Israel. He is also the personal God of all who come to Him through the Door which is His Son, Jesus Christ. Then He can be addressed personally.
He praises God for Who He is. “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.” God is sovereign – “there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You.” Also, he says “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” God is ever present. He is all
around us not just in the church building. God is sovereign and he is faithful- he keeps his covenant of love and mercy. Truly “there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like Him.”
Thus far we have seen the place of prayer, the posture of prayer and the praise in his prayer. Now we turn to the basis of his prayer. The basis of Solomon’s prayer are the promises of God. In these verses He is recalling and relying upon the promises as the basis for the appeals that he is going to make. God promised David that Solomon would build this house of worship and Solomon is praising and praying because of those promises. He predicates his prayer upon the promises of God. Praying the promises of God is the Bible way to pray. Solomon, in praying, cites the promises of God, claims the promises and clings to them. There is no reason that we cannot do likewise. We can take a promise in God’s Word, run to the throne of God with it and gain God’s ear!
The basis of Solomon’s prayer is founded on God’s promises, and the burden of Solomon’s prayer is himself and others. In the body of Solomon’s prayer, he prays for his people, who will come to this newly built house of worship in the future, and themselves pray. He begins, however, praying for himself. He asks that God’s ears will be open. He asks that God’s eyes will be open. He knows that God is omniscient and omnipresent; that He knows all and sees all, but in asking God to hear and see he is expressing in human terms his desire for God to be actively shepherding His sheep at all times and in every circumstance.
Nine times the phrase “hear in heaven” is used in his prayer – one time in relation to himself and 8 times in relation to his people. His 8 requests for the people are as follows: 1. Hear in heaven and forgive. 2. Hear in heaven and judge. 3. Hear in heaven and restore. 4. Hear in heaven and send rain. 5. Hear in heaven and minister justice. 6. Hear in heaven, the foreigner. 7. Hear in heaven and give victory. 8. Hear in heaven, deliver and preserve. What a prayer! What a pray-er! Solomon the wise, Solomon the King, on this great day in the nation’s history, prays for those who, in the future, would pray either at the Temple or turn their faces toward the Temple and pray. He is a caring King and, having prayed for his people, now draws his prayer to a close.
We have the benediction to Solomon’s prayer. He concludes his prayer with blessings. “And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, that he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven….” He blesses the people. “Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice…” He blesses God, saying: “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Solomon continues with some final requests.
He requests that God’s presence would continue with them. “May the LORD our God be with us. He requests that God’s people would continue with God- “that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments…” Solomon knew that the human heart is fickle and that Israel’s history, to this point in time, had proven it. He, therefore, prays that God would govern their hearts and guide their feet in the way of His commandments. He communicates a desire that God will be known- “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.” “Solomon had a ‘missionary vision’ for the Gentile nations.
Finally, Solomon closes with a challenge. “Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.” This prayer of dedication was followed by great offerings made to God and then the people celebrated with a fourteen- day feast. This was an occasion, the likes of which would never again be equalled on earth by Israel. Wouldn’t it be a little touch of heaven on earth to have the head of government in our country Nicola Sturgeon, or in any country for that matter, pray publicly for their citizens as Solomon prayed openly and unashamedly for the people in his kingdom?
I often wonder how was this church, St John’s dedicated. Was St John’s dedicated by a bishop with the same passion and heart as Solomon, praying for the people in that day and also for the future generations like you and I today. The call today for you and I is to keep meeting to worship God here in this place and to have a missionary vision like Solomon for all peoples. We can also follow Solomon’s model of praying… thinking of our place of prayer or prayer posture, our heart’s inclination and our praise. The basis of our prayer like Solomon is for ourselves and also for all peoples, especially today for those in Afghanistan. With such prayer much can happen and God is honoured and glorified. 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.
Jesus, Holy One, you are the Word of Eternal Life.
Strengthen and encourage your church in declaring your love.
Keep us faithful in proclaiming the message
no matter how difficult it is in our increasingly secular age.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus, Holy One surround with your spiritual armour
all who defend the vulnerable and powerless.
Give courage to leaders to advance the cause of all
for equality, respect and dignity.
Sustain the integrity of those under pressure
where conflict or selfishness would threaten to destroy.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus, Holy One, you knew the companionship of friends
and the pain of people turning away.
Be with the lonely and those who have been abandoned.
Strengthen them in you,
and draw significant others around them.
Deepen their security and identity in you,
and assure them of your presence and power.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus the Holy One, speak your word of peace
to any whose mind is troubled.
Where there is despair bring hope,
where there is hated bring love,
where there is worry bring your calm.
Be our strength whatever our distress
and may our ears be ever open to our cry.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus the Holy one, we bring to you the heartache
that we are witnessing on our screens in Afghanistan, especially Kabul.
We pray for wisdom in the Taliban governance,
and ask that all will be treated with equity and dignity.
We pray for those most vulnerable,
thinking of the women and children there,
and cry to you for their freedom and right to justice.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus the Holy one, enfold in your love
those struggling with sickness at this time.
In the quiet we lift to you people known to us
in this church and in the wider community.
Be their strength and shield,
Healer and Guide.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus the Holy One, be near to the broken hearted.
Raise up those who have died in faith
and grant that they may dwell in your house forever.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Jesus the Holy One, abide with us on our daily life’s journey
Grant us your insight and vision and fill us with joy, perseverance and hope.
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.