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- Hymn 6 God shall endure for aye Tune Stroudwater (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- All age time
- Reading Romans 14: 1-12 (Good News Bible)
- Hymn 189 Be still for the presence of the Lord Tune Be still (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- Prayer for others
- Hymn 198 Let us build a house Tune Two oaks (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
Welcome and let us worship God
‘Bless the LORD, my soul. He pardons all my wrongdoing, and crowns me with love and compassion.’Psalm 103: 1,3,4
1 God shall endure for aye; he has
for judgment set his throne
to rule the nations equally,
justice to give each one.
2 God also will a refuge be
for those who are oppressed;
a refuge he will be in times
of trouble to distressed.
3 And they who know your name, in you
their confidence will place:
for you have not forsaken them
who truly seek your face.
4 Sing, then, sing praises to the Lord
on Zion’s sacred hill;
let all the earth be made aware
of God’s work and God’s will.
All age time (for ages 0-100)
- Today’s Bible story
In today’s Bible story one of Jesus’ followers, Paul, is writing to the Christians in Rome about handling differences of opinion
- Something to do:
For a whole day this week try to keep a note of how many people express a view with which you disagree: it could involve reading the newspaper, watching or listening to the news, it might be in a conversation with family, friends or neighbours say, it could concern politics, or sport, or music, or fashion, or whatever
- Something to think about
How do you handle someone expressing views with which you disagree: stop reading that article, switch off the radio/television, shout at the radio/television, bite your tongue, argue with them, have a reasoned conversation? Do you think about what they say, and consider whether there are flaws in their argument (or yours?)?
You promised us that you are always with us
that you will not abandon us
that you care about us
that you are always working for our good
that you will equip us for whatever task you want us to do
We praise you and thank you for your care and concern for us
but we confess that we don’t treat you as we should
we take you for granted
we turn away from your ways, from the teaching and example of Jesus
we don’t love others as we should
Help us to be the people you want us to be
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Bible reading Romans 14: 1-12
Welcome the person who is weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but the person who is weak in the faith eats only vegetables. The person who will eat anything is not to despise the one who doesn’t; while the one who eats only vegetables is not to pass judgement on the one who will eat anything; for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge the servant of someone else? It is their own Master who will decide whether they succeed or fail. And they will succeed, because the Lord is able to make them succeed.
One person thinks that a certain day is more important than other days, while someone else thinks that all days are the same. Each one should firmly make up their own min. Whoever thinks highly of a certain day does so in honour of the Lord; whoever will eat anything does so in honour of the Lord, because they give thanks to God for the food. Whoever refuse to eat certain things does so in honour of the Lord, and they give thanks to God. None of us lives for ourselves alone, none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, it is for the Lord that we live, and if we die it is for the Lord that we die. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For Christ died and rose to life in order to be the Lord of the living and the dead. You then, who eat only vegetables – why do you pass judgement on your brother and sister? And you who eat anything – why do you despise your brother and sister? All of us will stand before God to be judged by him. For the scripture says,
‘As surely as I am the living God, says the Lord,
everyone will kneel before me,
and everyone will confess that I am God.’
Every one of us, then, will have to give an account of themselves to God.
1 Be still
for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One, is here;
come bow before him now
with reverence and fear:
in him so sin is found –
we stand on holy ground.
for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One, is here.
2 Be still,
for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around;
he burns with holy fire,
with splendour he is crowned:
how awesome is the sight –
our radiant king of light!
for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around.
3 Be still,
for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place;
he comes to cleanse and heal,
to minister his grace:
no work too hard for him –
in faith receive from him.
for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.
There was a time when a minister faced by today’s reading would think, ‘O no, I’m going to have to explain what this obscure reference to food worries is all about, Jewish food customs and Roman slaughter-house practices. Half the congregation will look bored, and the other half totally confused.’
Actually, nowadays (though for different reasons) many may have encountered serious discussions or arguments with family, friends, colleagues or complete strangers, people of faith or no faith, about meat-eating versus a vegetarian or vegan diet. They can lead to some heated conversations and maybe even fall-outs. We won’t go into the arguments for or against here, simply note what you eat can become a source of division, leading to polarised positions where different sides are convinced that they are absolutely right, and those with different opinions absolutely wrong – or loopy.
It isn’t only food that can have a polarising effect: there are other ‘environmental issues’, from carbon-free transport, to the carbon footprint of food, to how often we wash and with what, to the type of clothes that we wear; there are issues of diversity and inclusiveness from stereo-typing, to cross-over acting, to the debate about toilets and showers for woman and trans-women; there are issues of free speech versus hate speech; and so on.
Some of us may run a mile from any conversation that looks as though it might become heated or polarised, others may love the opportunity to weigh in, express our opinion, and try to score points over those who think differently. We are all different, and respond to such situations differently. What we do need to acknowledge is that in all walks of life, including church, we will encounter people with different opinions from us.
God gives us guidance, through Jesus, on how to live, think, treat others. He also gave us brains to work out for ourselves how to recognise and respond to issues that arise. Unlike some politicians today, Jesus believed in an absolute ‘truth’, and urged his followers to strive for it. Sometimes that means having to accept that we are wrong, and have to change our position (which is always hard, whether you are 2 or 92). Many of us can look back and see where our opinions on various subjects have changed over the years.
Discussion, debate, argument, learning, listening to others, are all part of the process of striving for truth. It is easy to talk past someone, to try to shout over them, it is harder to engage in constructive discussion, listening to other people, evaluating what they say, and seeing whether we want to shift our ground. We may do, but we don’t have to, if we are not convinced by their arguments. We may have to agree to disagree, which isn’t always easy if it is a topic about which we feel passionately, or the other party is an abrasive individual. That is as true of life in the church as life in the wider community.
There are times that we might think that life would be easier if the rest of humanity thought like us, but deep down, would we really want 8 billion clones of ourselves? We are all different, we all have different opinions. Much of life is about finding a consensus or majority view, but God wants us to go beyond that. He has shown to us the values that matter to him, and that he wants to see lived out in the world. If a majority agree on something that goes against God’s values then he does not want us simply to accept it, but to speak out, to act, to strive to change their minds and actions, to achieve a world of peace and justice, wholeness and fullness of life for all. To that end he assures us of the constant presence and support of his Spirit to help us.
Prayers for others
We are grateful that we are free to hold our own opinions
and express our views
without facing persecution or prosecution
and we pray for all those who do not have such rights
Sometimes it is hard to accept that other people have those rights too
when we hear them say things that seem to us so wrong or foolish
help us to cope as you would wish in those situations
and help us all to accept and tolerate each other
whilst also being ready to challenge and debate
We remember that there are many ethical issues around food
help us to listen to them and not ignore them
help us to remember that there are many practical issues around food too
people who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families
don’t know how to provide cheap, nutritious food
have no access to food because the harvest has failed
or they are refugees, displaced or homeless
We pray for all who are ill,
those who look after them
and those who worry about them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one
those who are worried about home, work or money
a friend or a relative
those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters
those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home
those who long to live in peace and safety
those who have fled from their homes seeking safety
We pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
We pray for your church
our own congregation
the wider church in Dumbarton
the world-wide church
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy 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, for ever. Amen
1 Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and sinners tell
how hearts learn to forgive:
built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.
2 Let us build a house where prophets speak,
and words are strong and true,
where all God’s children dare to see
to dream God’s reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness
and as symbol of God’s grace:
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
3 let us build a house where love is found
in water, wine and wheat:
a banquet hall on holy ground,
where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus,
is revealed in time and space,
as we share in Christ the feast that frees us:
4Let us build a house where hands will reach
beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach,
and live the Word they’ve known.
Here the outcast and the stranger
bear the image of God’s face;
let us bring and end to fear and danger:
5 Let us build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed
as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
God the Father sends you out
to be his witnesses wherever you go
to work to bring healing and wholeness in all you do
and the blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain with you,
today, and every day, and for ever. Amen