CCL 125049 Charity No SC002937
- Hymn 113 God the Father of Creation Tune Cwm Rhondda (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- All age time
- Reading Matthew 23: 1-12 (Good News Bible)
- Hymn 694 Brother sister let me serve you Tune Servant song (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- Prayer for others
- Hymn 192 All my hope on God is founded Tune Michael (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
Watch the service from 10:30am on YouTube: https://youtu.be/5caeGiVxQok
Welcome and let us worship God
‘Give joyful thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share the heritage of God’s people, in the realm of light.’Colossians 1: 12
Paul addressed the Corinthians as ‘God’s holy people’ or the ‘saints of God’. In the Reformed tradition to which we belong, we are all called to be God’s holy people, or if you prefer, saints.
All who have been baptised have received the Holy Spirit from God, and the Spirit is always working with us to make us holy people (even if at times it is a hard task).
When some parts of the Church celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days, we may reflect on God’s calling to us, and celebrate that we are part of the company of God’s people through time and space.
Hymn 113 God the Father of Creation
All age time (for ages 0-100)
Today’s Bible story
In today’s Bible story Jesus gets cross with some of the religious/community leaders. He says that they tell people what they should do, but don’t follow their own instructions. He also criticises them for wanting to be given special treatment because they are the ‘leaders’
Something to do
- With greaseproof paper/ tracing paper, coloured pencils or tissue paper, design a stained glass window (it can be abstract if you prefer) and put it up in your house window to brighten the place up in November
- Use your search engine to do some research into people commonly known as Saints – eg Peter, Paul, Andrew, James and John; Columba, Ninian, Serf, Patrick; Augustine
- Play a Hallowe’en game of dooking for apples or eating a scone on a string
- Be rash and phone a friend and tell them a joke, sing a song or recite a poem
Something to think about
- Can you name people whose influence encouraged you to keep coming to church (when you had the choice not to), to identify as a Christian or to be interested in knowing more about the Christian faith (including reading this)?
- What was it about them that got you interested?
- Are there lessons that you can learn from them and put into practice yourself?
In every age you have summoned
men and women to serve you,
and in serving you to reflect
your truth and glory.
We who inherit their witness today
and reap what others have sown
bless you for our fathers and mothers in God.
Like them may we so love and serve your church
that those yet unborn
may benefit from our labour;
and when the grace of life on earth is past,
may we enjoy, with them,
the company of heaven.
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
Bible reading Matthew 23: 1-12
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples. “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorised interpreters of Moses’ Law. So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practise what they preach. They tie on to people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads. They do everything so that people will see them. Look at the straps with scripture verses on them which they wear on their foreheads and arms, and notice how large they are! Notice also how long are the tassels on their cloaks! They love the best places at feasts and the reserved seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and to be called ‘Teacher’. You must not be called ‘Teacher’, because you are all brothers and sisters of one another and have only one Teacher. And you must not call anyone here on earth ‘Father’, because you have only the one Father in heaven. Nor should you be called ‘Leader’ because your one and only leader is the Messiah. The greatest one among you must be your servant. Whoever makes themselves great will be humbled, and whoever humbles themselves will be made great.
Hymn 694 Brother sister let me serve you
‘Do as I say, not what I do.’ Almost 2000 years may have passed since Jesus said that, but we can still relate to it today:
- Some of us may remember John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ campaign in the 1990s, with its emphasis on ‘family values’. It provided a field day for the media – especially the tabloids – to unearth all sorts of stories about the private lives of government ministers and MPs
- More recently we may recall their reaction to the trip to Barnard Castle, and the impact that had on public trust in the government and government restrictions
- We could look beyond politics and consider the church’s authority to speak on matters of ethics and morals. Court cases, media stories and commission reports have exposed long years of mishandling (or covering up) sexual abuse, the work of adoption agencies and the treatment of unmarried mothers, which has undermined public trust.
In all these cases it may only have been a relatively small number of individuals who were actually involved, but the impact on public opinion and public trust affects the whole group. It takes a long time to build trust, but it can be lost very quickly.
Jesus spoke out against things that he felt were wrong, that went against God’s values and standards, and he wants his people to be ready to do the same. Apart from being wary about speaking out in public against things like injustice, prejudice, cruelty, poverty, abuse – because we know that in some cases we may be challenged by articulate opponents, or might stir up opposition from trolls and other ‘bullies’ – there is always the fear that people can point to us and ours and say ‘put your own house in order before you start criticising us’. (It was alright for Jesus, he was perfect!) It’s a difficult tight-rope to walk, but it needn’t put us off:
- we have to be careful how we phrase things, so that we don’t preach at people. How many of us feel the hackles rise when someone says ‘What you should do is…’ or ‘You shouldn’t be doing that..‘?
- sometimes it helps if we try to stop being personal (‘The trouble is people like you, who…’ and focus instead on issues (‘how do we get people to?’)
- we have to work at tying up what we say and what we do. We’re not Jesus, we’re not perfect, we will make mistakes, we will not live up to the standard that God expects of everyone, but he gives us his Spirit to help us to try to be more like Jesus. Recognising where there are areas in our lives that we need to work on is a good start, and then asking for his help.
Jesus criticised the behaviour of the religious and community leaders in seeking special treatment on account of their status. His attitude to leadership was entirely different ‘the first shall be last…the master of all shall be the servant of all.’ That was how he behaved, and it was how he wanted others to behave. Matthew may well have included this passage in his Gospel not so much to have a swipe at contemporary synagogue leaders (though he may have been doing that too) as a reminder to contemporary church leaders of Jesus’ example and words. There have been times, in all church traditions, when its leaders have enjoyed having their status marked, and sometimes members enjoyed having their status marked too (if their church was ‘posher’ than the one down the road). For all of us Jesus’ words are a reminder that his example (as much as his teaching) is to be the servant.
Prayers for others
As we remember all who have gone before us in the faith
we remember what a mixed group they were
some were natural leaders
some fled from the limelight
some were so gracious
some were irascible
some had plenty to say
some hardly said a word
some had views with which we would strongly disagree
some behaved in ways that we find hard to tie up with the teachings of Jesus
but it is not for us to sit in judgement on anyone
you called all into your church
as you have called us
and as you call everyone today
and generations yet unborn
We pray for your church
our own congregation
the wider church in Dumbarton
the world-wide church
especially we pray for those
for whom being a follower of Jesus
or speaking out for your values and standards
means estrangement from family, friends, community
may put their lives in danger
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 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
Hymn 192 All my hope on God is founded
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