Apologies to Bible Blog readers who may run into pages like this, which are intended to assist with worship preparation in the Sidlaw Churches.
HELLO SIDLAW MEMBERS AND FRIENDS!
This space is for you if you are preparing for Sunday worship.
Here you will find the BIBLE PASSAGES for the week along with a note of the THEME for each service, and links to online resources for hymns, prayers and other worship materials.
The BIBLE PASSAGES this week are
Matthew chapter 2 vv 13-18
13 But after the Wise men had gone, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up now, take the little child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. For Herod means to seek out the child and kill him.”
14-15 So Joseph got up, and taking the child and his mother with him in the middle of the night, set off for Egypt, where he remained until Herod’s death. This again is a fulfilment of the Lord’s word spoken through the prophet—‘Out of Egypt I called my son’.
16 When Herod saw that he had been fooled by the wise men he was furiously angry. He issued orders, and killed all the male children of two years and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding district—basing his calculation on his careful questioning of the wise men.
17-18 Then Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more’.
Matthew chapter 5 vv 1-16
5 When Jesus saw the vast crowds he went up the hill-side and after he had sat down his disciples came to him.
2-12 Then he began his teaching by saying to them, “How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! “How happy are those who feel sorrow at the state of the world, for they will be given courage and comfort! “Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them! “Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will be fully satisfied! “Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them! “Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God! “Happy are those who make peace, for they will be sons of God! “Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of justice, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! “And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad—for your reward in Heaven is magnificent. They persecuted the prophets before your time in exactly the same way.
13 “You are the earth’s salt. But if the salt should become tasteless, what can make it salt again? It is completely useless and can only be thrown out of doors and stamped under foot.”
14-15 “You are the world’s light—it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house.
16 “Let your light shine like that in the sight of men. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven.”
Both of these are from J B Phillips translation and should be used in worship. Copies can be provided.
Matthew’s Gospel was written around 85 AD possibly in Syria, for the benefit of Christian communities. He had a copy of Mark’s Gospel as one of his sources, along with a colllection of Jesus’ teachings, and other materials for example about Jesus’ birth. From these he wove his story about Jesus. The story of the massacre of the children is unique to Matthew, whereas the blessings of Jesus are also found in Luke, in a shorter form, and the saying about salt is similar to some verses in Mark.
The THEME is “Our duty as Christian citizens in a nation where atrocities have happened.”
The bible story of the massacre proves that the Gospels are not fairy tales of a perfect world. Jesus was born into a world like ours where he only just escaped an atrocity by the skin of his teeth. Wicked people have always done terrible things. The bible story doesn’t waste time denouncing the evil, or trying to sound wise, but focuses on our duty to protect the vulnerable if we can, and on the devastating grief of parents who have lost their children.
The passage from the “Sermon on the mount” gives Jesus’ vision of the kind of people who are fit for God’s kingdom, where they will be truly happy. They are not the people considered happy by worldly standards: the humble minded, the sorrowful, the ones who claim nothing, who desire justice, who are completely sincere, merciful, and good at making peace. Even more strangely Jesus blesses those who are persecuted for the cause of justice. Already in this world they will glimpse their happiness, but they will know it fully in the world to come.
We should look carefully at these virtues, and see how relevant they are to our nation this week; our weapons for fighting brutality and hate. We are not promised that these virtues will completely conquer evil on this earth. Rather we are told that with them we shall be salt and light for the earth. Salt is both a spice and a presevative. We can say that the people whom Jesus calls happy make life tasty and preserve society from going rotten. The light of good deeds shines in the gloom and leads people to God as the source of goodness.
Perhaps no one person has all these virtues, but as a community of faith, we should be able to show them all, for the benefit of society. We cannot expect to transform the world into the kingdom of God, but we should expect that if we think, act and vote as the people whom Jesus called happy, we will give a good taste to life in our country and stop it going rotten.
THE OPENING PRAYER IS:
1. We gather in the name of the universal father, God. 2. We present ourselves to God through Jesus, asking to be freed from our sins. 3 We welcome the Holy Spirit who tells us we are God’s dear children. Our OPENING PRAYER this week might ask God to help us develop the virtues of Jesus’ way, and to forgive us if we have accepted the way of the world.
THE SECOND PRAYER IS:
1. Dedicating our offering and ourselves to God. 2. GIving thanks for God’s blessings. 3. Praying for the world, and the church including our own members. Our SECOND PRAYER this week should include all those involved in the Manchester bombing; and our Muslim partners in Dundee, whose good work is undermined by those who use the name of Allah for hate. We might devise a format for this prayervwhich anyone can use.
HYMNS: We need to know our hymnbook well, so that we know where to look in its different sections. We can get help a) from the TOPICAL INDEX where we can search with our theme in mind; and from b) the BIBLICAL INDEX where we can look at suggested hymns for our bible passages. If the tune is unknown we can decide whether to teach it or to use another tune that fits the words. To find one we need to use c) the METRICAL INDEX. Hymns of praise, thanksgiving and prayer for personal and national life are always relevant.
Hymns from other sources are welcome, provided the music is accessible and the words cane be displayed by projection or printed in the service sheet.
Online help must be used carefully, but good material can be found by googling:
common worship, Church of England – a bit formal but some fine elements
wikihow- 3 ways to lead worship – a bit baptist but some good thinking
worldprayers.org – some dross but full of treasure
oremus and oremus bible browser – for different versions of the bible
hymnary.org – for finding a hymn from its first line
the text this week – for great material when we are using the common lectionary
All these elements combine to make a THEMATIC service in which all the bits fit together. The overall aim is TO HELP GOD’S PEOPLE TO WORSHIP GOD THE FATHER, THROUGH JESUS GOD’S SON, IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT.