Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: This week is set apart by the church all across the world as a time to search our hearts and set our intentions on fulfilling the great desire of the Lord Jesus, “that they may be one…” (John 17:21). Our Invitatory Psalm for the week is the great ecumenical anthem, Psalm 133 and our intercessions reflect this special season. But don’t just pray – get involved with ecumenical events in your area and meet the parts of our amazing global church family that you would otherwise never meet!
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!
The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!
Will those who do evil never learn?
They eat up my people like bread
and wouldn’t think of praying to the Lord.
Terror will grip them,
for God is with those who obey him.
The wicked frustrate the plans of the oppressed,
but the Lord will protect his people.
Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?
When the Lord restores his people,
Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
The Three Visitors
Later, the Lord again appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When Abraham saw them, he ran from his tent to meet them. He bowed facedown on the ground before them and said, “Sir, if you think well of me, please stay awhile with me, your servant. I will bring some water so all of you can wash your feet. You may rest under the tree, and I will get some bread for you so you can regain your strength. Then you may continue your journey.”
The three men said, “That is fine. Do as you said.”
Abraham hurried to the tent where Sarah was and said to her, “Hurry, prepare twenty quarts of fine flour, and make it into loaves of bread.” Then Abraham ran to his herd and took one of his best calves. He gave it to a servant, who hurried to kill it and to prepare it for food. Abraham gave the three men the calf that had been cooked and milk curds and milk. While they ate, he stood under the tree near them.
The men asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“There, in the tent,” said Abraham.
Then the Lord said, “I will certainly return to you about this time a year from now. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were very old. Since Sarah was past the age when women normally have children, she laughed to herself, “My husband and I are too old to have a baby.”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘I am too old to have a baby’? Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! I will return to you at the right time a year from now, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “No. You did laugh.”
Then the men got up to leave and started out toward Sodom. Abraham walked along with them a short time to send them on their way.
Abraham’s Bargain with God
The Lord said, “Should I tell Abraham what I am going to do now? Abraham’s children will certainly become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. I have chosen him so he would command his children and his descendants to live the way the Lord wants them to, to live right and be fair. Then I, the Lord, will give Abraham what I promised him.”
Then the Lord said, “I have heard many complaints against the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are very evil. I will go down and see if they are as bad as I have heard. If not, I will know.”
So the men turned and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood there before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and asked, “Do you plan to destroy the good people along with the evil ones? What if there are fifty good people in that city? Will you still destroy it? Surely you will save the city for the fifty good people living there. Surely you will not destroy the good people along with the evil ones; then they would be treated the same. You are the judge of all the earth. Won’t you do what is right?”
The Lord said, “If I find fifty good people in the city of Sodom, I will save the whole city because of them.”
Then Abraham said, “Though I am only dust and ashes, I have been brave to speak to the Lord. What if there are only forty-five good people in the city? Will you destroy the whole city for the lack of five good people?”
The Lord said, “If I find forty-five there, I will not destroy the city.”
Again Abraham said to him, “If you find only forty good people there, will you destroy the city?”
The Lord said, “If I find forty, I will not destroy it.”
Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me ask you this. If you find only thirty good people in the city, will you destroy it?”
He said, “If I find thirty good people there, I will not destroy the city.”
Then Abraham said, “I have been brave to speak to the Lord. But what if there are twenty good people in the city?”
He answered, “If I find twenty there, I will not destroy the city.”
Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me bother you this one last time. What if you find ten there?”
He said, “If I find ten there, I will not destroy it.”
When the Lord finished speaking to Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection……
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Holy Spirit, guide us through the rest of our day.
May we know your wisdom in our hearts,
Your strength in our bodies,
And your peace in our lives. Amen
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms in Bold – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved
All other Psalms – Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
All other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.