The texts for this week focus on the salvation love of God – to which we respond with hearts and minds and voices: HALLELUJAH! They are:
- Psalm 146
- Ruth 1:1-18
- Mark 12:28-34
- Hebrews 9:11-14
Chloe Axford at engageworship has a wonderful reflection on the meaning of the word “Hallelujah” as well as some creative ideas for the call to worship which can be found at https://engageworship.org/ideas/hallelujah-reflection.
A gathering prayer (based on Psalm 146)
Lord God Almighty,
we gather together this day to praise You
from the depths of our innermost being,
for You are our hope and our help.
You are the Creator of heaven’s glory,
earth’s grandeur, and ocean’s greatness:
through sky and soil and sea You settle us
into this salvation life
which knows no end –
even when our bodies return to dust
and our plans and projects are over.
Unlike all our experts and politicians and distinguished leaders
who fail and fall,
You alone keep all Your promises
and we claim them now –
O Jacob’s Jehovah,
great Zion’s God:
justice for the oppressed (hallelujah),
food for the hungry ((hallelujah),
freedom for the prisoner ((hallelujah),
sight for the blind ((hallelujah),
restoration for the sinner (hallelujah),
protection for the immigrant and the stranger (hallelujah),
support for all left defenceless in their grief (hallelujah).
Lord, You will reign forever:
You are God for good!
So receive the hallelujahs of our hearts:
but all gathered together in Your anthem of love.
Prayer of confession (following the Ruth reading)
The world teaches us many ways to love, but most are based on selfish desires and the fulfilment of our own needs. Seldom are we prepared to make the sacrifice of Ruth, of Christ, and to bind our lives to another, lovingly, completely, unconditionally. And so, this day, we make our confession:
It is painful to confess, O Loving God, how hard it is to love
as You have demonstrated through Your own sacrifice and self-giving.
We long for love;
we pray for love;
we sometimes even beg for love
or lie to secure and hold onto love.
Yet, in our own offering of love,
there is often a hardness of heart,
a brokenness, a poverty
that speaks of past hurts and disappointments;
of an aching chasm between what we need and long for
and what we have received, endured, put up with.
Still, You call us to give expression of our love for You
in the way in which we love our neighbour,
forgive the brother or sister who has wronged us,
and embrace the stranger.
As we sit in the silence and savour Your Love with and within us,
we say sorry for the inadequacies of our own ….
<silence is kept>
Here then the Good News (based on Hebrews 9:11-14):
Christ alone has made our salvation secure, forever.
Jesus has offered himself as the perfect sacrifice that now frees us from our dead works and our hard hearts to worship and serve the living God.
May his love for us cleanse our consciences,
heal our wounds,
and help us to love others as God loves us:
compassionately and completely.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
<the peace may be shared>
Prayers for the world – I wrote a letter to my love
In response to the meditation, the congregation is invited to write a love letter to someone who is suffering: the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner the blind, the sinner, the immigrant or the stranger, someone left defenceless in their grief that were mentioned in our gathering prayer.
For some, these will be people known by name; for others, it may be a person or group of people that they have encountered through the news or social media or church bulletin. Each letter should be a prayer for them in their current circumstances and an expression of our love and care.
After a few minutes of prayerful writing/drawing, the congregation sings “make me a channel of Your peace” – or similar – as they come up to the altar and “drop” their letters into a bowl or heart shaped container symbolising the love of God.
Words of mission
In God’s Kingdom, all are loved for who they are.
Welcomed, loved, healed, forgiven –
we are not far from God’s kingdom.
And now, as we are sent forth,
God’s kingdom is not far from those
who are longing and hoping and searching for love.