Sunday 4th July 2021

Worship at Home


Thank you, Lord that we can come together, not in the same place, perhaps not at the same time but we are still together as a community of your people, united with one another, and with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Invitation to worship

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty… Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God (Ps 84:1 & 4).       

Those words of the Psalmist show his love for what he called ‘God’s dwelling place’, and we love our church building. We have put a huge effort into raising money to preserve it for future generations. And thanks to so many people – their prayers and generosity – the building work has now been started. And those words of the Psalmist are particularly appropriate for us at the moment, for Christ Church has just been host for a nesting bird in the scaffolding around the building. Fortunately it vacated the nest before the scaffolding was dismantled!

Hymn HPs 497 –  How pleased and blest was I

How pleased and blest was I

To hear the people cry,

‘Come, let us seek our God today!’

Yes, with a cheerful zeal

We haste to Zion’s hill,

And there our vows and homage pay.

Zion, thrice happy place,

Adorned with wondrous grace,

And walls of strength embrace thee round:

In thee our tribes appear,

To pray and praise, and hear

The sacred Gospel’s joyful sound.

There David’s greater Son

Has fixed His royal throne,

He sits for grace and judgement there:

He bids the saints be glad,

He makes the sinner sad,

And humble souls rejoice with fear.

May peace attend thy gate,

And joy within thee wait,

To bless the soul of every guest:

The man that seeks thy peace,

And wishes thine increase,

A thousand blessings on him rest.

My tongue repeats her vows,

‘Peace to this sacred house!’

For there my friends and kindred dwell;

And, since my glorious God

Makes thee His blest abode,

My soul shall ever love thee well.

Reading 1 – Psalm 137 vv. 1, 2 & 4. The Jews were in exile in Babylon at the time.

‘By the waters of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps… How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?’

Reading 2 – 1 Peter 2: 4-5 & 9-10

As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.


We begin with the Psalm…

The Jews in those Old Testament days were in exile in Babylon, cruelly deported from their homeland by the foreign Babylonian invaders. They were cut off from their familiar territory, but, even worse, they were cut off from the Jerusalem Temple, which housed the Sacred Ark, and that was the place where God was really to be found. Oh yes, God was present everywhere, but there in the Holy of Holies, was the place where God truly dwelt. And they were cut off from all that in a foreign land. And that rings true for us too at this time.

A foreign land! But how indeed can we sing the Lord’s song in this foreign land – because that is where we feel we have been in recent months. We may soon be back in church, but there may be no singing. We may have tried – and some of us also enjoyed – singing along in the Zoom services, but it’s not the same – not the same as being in a full church with the organ sounding out and the exhilaration of singing in community. And like the Psalmist we have been, and to an extent still are, in a sort of exile.

But what has become clear in recent months is that the building is not ultimately important. We knew that in theory anyway. But now we know it in practice. The church is the community and not the building.

And so to our New Testament Reading.

‘…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’

I like the translation of ‘royal priesthood’ that you find in some other modern versions – ‘priests serving the King’.  A community serving the King and working for the Kingdom… Community… that has been so evident in people’s natural, unselfconscious care of one for another: phone calls, e-mails, cards sent by post, doing one another’s shopping, when needed, volunteering at the Food Bank or the Hospital  – all expressing our sense of community, a community that goes way beyond formal church membership.

Thanks be to God for all those who show that care – our minister, elders, church friends and so many, many more Yes, thanks be to God. Amen .

Our time of prayer

Loving Lord, thank you for all those who have shown love and care to us in recent months. Your love has been reflected in their love for us. We thank you.

Loving lord, we know that we have sometimes failed to reflect your love into our surrounding world. We don’t always get around to doing things. Forgive us. Thank you that we know we are forgiven because Jesus died and rose again for us. Set us on our way we pray, to be your agents of the Kingdom in today’s and tomorrow’s world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Loving Lord of all… We think of people caught up in situations of conflict. Be with all those who work for reconciliation and peace, we pray. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We think of places stricken with Covid, particularly where there are inadequate resources. Be with all those at home and abroad who work to control the virus – researchers, vaccine producers, health workers and volunteers. And be with all those in our own land struggling with Covid or post-Covid. Heal and comfort them, we pray.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We think of our church community and those we know personally – the bereaved, those ill, waiting for medical diagnosis or treatment, those facing some other problem or concern.  Enfold them in your love, we pray.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, we know you hear our prayers. Answer them according to your perfect will, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

A blessing :

May the blessings of the earth and sky be upon us,

May the earth beneath our feet give us firm footing.

May the air breathe life into us.

And may the heavens above provide light to illumine our way.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Spirit, be with us all. Amen                 

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