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  • Cleckheaton Methodist Church

Worship at home Service sheet Sunday 28th June 2020

Opening prayers

Gracious Father,

Bring your blessing into this meeting of your people gathered yet separate today. Speak into our hearts; through the hymns we sing, the prayers we say, the readings we hear, the message we hear.

Speak to us that we might go refreshed into the world.

That through our lives bring refreshment to others.

Hymn 1

In the darkness of the still night, in the dawning of the daylight, in the mystery of creation, Creator God, you are there. In the breath of every being, in the birthing and the growing, in the earth and all its fullness, Creator God, you are there.

In the homeless and the hungry, in the broken and the lonely, in the grieving of your people, Creator God, you are there. In the tears and in the heartache, in the love through which we serve you, in the anguish of the dying, Creator God, you are there.

In our hearts and in our thinking, in the longing and the dreaming, in the yearning of our heartbeat, Creator God, you are there. In the love for one another, in the sharing of our being, in receiving and forgiving, Creator God, you are there.

In our joys, our hopes, our healing, in awakening to revealing, in your call and our responding, Creator God, you are there. In our prayer and in our service, in our praise and in our worship, in your love that is eternal, Creator God, you are there.

Reading 1: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.

He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building.

He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing, the time for making love and the time for not making love, the time for kissing and the time for not kissing. He sets the time for finding and the time for losing, the time for saving and the time for throwing away, the time for tearing and the time for mending, the time for silence and the time for talk. He sets the time for love and the time for hate, the time for war and the time for peace.

What do we gain from all our work? I know the heavy burdens that God has laid on us. He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. So, I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God's gift.

Prayers of confession We move so fast, God, and sometimes we see so little in our daily travels.

Slow us down. Create in us a desire to pause.

Help us to pursue moments of contemplation. Help us to see in a deeper way, to become more aware of what speaks to us in beauty and truth.

Our inner eye gets misty, clouded over, dulled. We need to see in a new way, to dust off our heart, to perceive what is truly of value and to find the deeper meaning in our lives.

All of our ordinary moments are means of entering into a more significant relationship with you, God. In the midst of those very common happenings, you are ready to speak your word of love to us, if only we will recognize your presence.

Teach us how to enjoy being. Encourage us to be present to the gifts that are ours. May we be more fully aware of what we see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. May this awareness of our senses sharpen our perception of our everyday treasures and lead us to greater joy and gratitude.

Grant us the courage to be our true selves. Help us to let go of being overly concerned about what others think of us or of how successful we are. May our inner freedom be strengthened and our delight in life be activated.

Life is meant to be celebrated, enjoyed, delighted in, and embraced in all its mystery. Guide us to our inner child. Draw us to your playground of creation, God of life, so that we will live more fully.


Reading 2: Psalm 13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?

How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Sermon Rumour has it that we can open for worship on the 5th of July. I say rumour because at the moment, we have had no advice on how to open from the Connexion. For those who don’t know when we talk about the Connexion, we are referring to the national church based in London. In all of everything we have faced the guidance we have received from the Connexion has been in line with the Government guidance but at this time it’s important to remember that it is up to each denomination to interpret the guidance. And so, we wait.

Personally, I’m apprehensive about opening for worship. I see people rejoicing that they can come back to church and I’m looking forward to everyone coming back and to seeing everyone again but we won’t see everyone because there will no doubt be those of us who will still shielding, or are so apprehensive about coming out of their homes that they may not come back to church for a long time.

And I think it’s important to remember that it won’t be like it was before lockdown. There will only be 30 of us allowed in the building at any one time. There will need to be hand sanitisers at every entrance. There will be no hymn books or notice-sheets and possibly the hardest part of all, for us as Methodists at least, no singing. Despite the Prime Minister’s ebullient announcement about 1m plus, the best practice is still 2 m apart without any mitigating precautions. Mitigating circumstances include things like Perspex shields and face coverings. We will have one-way systems to limit contact and then no coffee or refreshments afterwards. Track and trace procedures mean that every person who comes into church will have to sign a register and they will have to use their own pen! To paraphrase Bones from Star Trek; ‘It’s church Jim, but not as we know it.’ Still so keen to gather for worship?

Our Ecclesiastes reading is not a lectionary reading. I’m not sure if it’s ever a lectionary reading but it’s a portion of scripture most people would have heard at some point, either as a funeral reading or as a song by the Byrds. Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes, wrote it at the end of his life and it is a reflection on life in general and his life in general. It provides vastly different picture of Solomon to the one we normally associate with him, as the young, wise king. Here we have an old man asking the

question of what’s the point of it all. It’s also a reminder that no matter how much we think we are in control, ultimately everything that happens, happens because God has allowed it.

That may sound fatalistic but if we honestly believe that God is God then it’s the only logical conclusion. Indeed, Solomon sums it up with the verses ‘So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. All of us should eat and drink and enjoy

what we have worked for. It is God's gift.’

The Psalmist presents a different picture.

Where Solomon ascribes all of life to God, the Psalmist David, protests that God has forgotten him. He asks: ‘How much longer will you forget me, Lord? Forever?’ How many of us have felt like that through this period of isolation, where things have been turned upside down and inside out. No wonder we are yearning for some sort of return to normality. And while David begins by complaining to God in the end, he too recognises that God is the source of all that is good. ‘I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me. I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me, writes David. How many of us can say those words?

There are some of us who have had to rely on God completely. Whether it be for food or for emotional support? They understand what God has done for them, but these things have happened without the traditional trappings of church. I personally think that whatever this lockdown has shown us, it’s that church is not just about meeting on Sunday for worship.

Sunday worship has for so long has been the cornerstone of our existence and now that cornerstone is changed irrevocably. Could it be that the season of Sunday Worship has passed? Maybe it’s better to say that the season is changing because I’m not suggesting that Sunday worship stop but maybe we need to hold it a little more lightly.

God has not forgotten us. He has not abandoned us. But like a good parent he has stretched us in directions we never thought possible. And as I ponder what the future might look like I find myself asking if we truly are rushing back to a pale imitation of what we had before, or is it time to think about worship in a new way, with new rules, in a new season because to quote Solomon again: ‘Everything that happens in this world happens at the time

God chooses.’


Prayers of intercession God of all creation, you hold the depths of the earth in your hands.

You are closer to us than the air we breathe.

Fill our souls with your wonderful love and light. Give us strength and courage to reflect that love and light in the world.

Let us never shrink back from who we are in you or hide our light inside ourselves. Renew in us a sense of joy, painting the dark shadows around us with your light, your love and your salvation. Hear us today as we pray for a world too often darkened by hatred, evil, power and greed.

Within our darkest night, Let your light shine.

God of power and might, your broken world cries out from the depths, a world dominated by the darkness of war, terror, pain, and suffering.

We think of the on-going and deepening conflict across the world.

We share the pain and anguish of those who have had to flee from their homes, countries and livelihoods, who risk their lives, desperate for a new start free from fear and war.

May they see your light, feel your strength and power and know the truth of your promise that we shall not be overcome by the dark shadows of life or the darkness of human nature.

Within our darkest night, Let your light shine.

God of compassion and grace, we share with you our love and concern for people in a dark place today. We have on our hearts the friends and loved ones of the victims of violence and hatred. We pray that they will find your strength in the compassion and love of those around them.

We pray for tolerance in our society. We pray for all Muslims suffering from AntiIslamic hate crimes.

Let your light shine through the darkness of all their pain and their suffering.

Within our darkest night, Let your light shine.

God of life, we ask for your healing power on those who are enduring pain and illness.

We ask your strength for those who serve in our hospitals and care homes.

We especially think of all those we name quietly in our hearts…

We share the grief of people close to us, who’ve recently lost loved ones.

We remember that as we weep with the grieving,

We know your everlasting light shines with us, in moments of great sadness and great joy.

Within our darkest night, Let your light shine.

God of love and hope,

Renew in us a deeper sense of who we are in you.

Help us to be aware of your presence each and every day.

Make us instruments of love and praise. May our words, actions and lives be living examples of your forgiving, healing, life-giving love.

We say together the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples: Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that 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.

Hymn 2 Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided, urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way, sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,

Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

Lord, for that word, the Word of life which fires us,

speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze, teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us, Lord of the word, receive your people's praise.

Lord, for our land, in this our generation, spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care; for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,

Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

Lord, for our world; when we disown and doubt him, loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain; hungry and helpless, lost indeed without him, Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us, self on the cross and Christ upon the throne; past put behind us, for the future take us, Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

Closing Prayers In the uncertainties of this life you are the one we can depend on, the one whose love will never leave us, the one who's peace calms our restless soul, The one whose hope is our confidence, the one whose joy causes us to sing, the one who is worthy of all our praise.

In the uncertainties of this life you are the one we can depend upon - and we thank you, Father, Son and Spirit. Glorious Trinity, be on strength in the coming week, be our wisdom as we make decisions, be our hope as we look to the future.


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