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
A psalm of David.
Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of their gods.
Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
I will bless the Lord who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
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
Lot Leaves Sodom
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting near the city gate. When he saw them, he got up and went to them and bowed facedown on the ground. Lot said, “Sirs, please come to my house and spend the night. There you can wash your feet, and then tomorrow you may continue your journey.”
The angels answered, “No, we will spend the night in the city’s public square.”
But Lot begged them to come, so they agreed and went to his house. Then Lot prepared a meal for them. He baked bread without yeast, and they ate it.
Before bedtime, men both young and old and from every part of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house. They called to Lot, “Where are the two men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sexual relations with them.”
Lot went outside to them, closing the door behind him. He said, “No, my brothers! Do not do this evil thing. Look! I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. I will give them to you, and you may do anything you want with them. But please don’t do anything to these men. They have come to my house, and I must protect them.”
The men around the house answered, “Move out of the way!” Then they said to each other, “This man Lot came to our city as a stranger, and now he wants to tell us what to do!” They said to Lot, “We will do worse things to you than to them.” They started pushing him back and were ready to break down the door.
But the two men staying with Lot opened the door, pulled him back inside the house, and then closed the door. They struck those outside the door with blindness, so the men, both young and old, could not find the door.
The two men said to Lot, “Do you have any other relatives in this city? Do you have any sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or any other relatives? If you do, tell them to leave now, because we are about to destroy this city. The Lord has heard of all the evil that is here, so he has sent us to destroy it.”
So Lot went out and said to his future sons-in-law who were pledged to marry his daughters, “Hurry and leave this city! The Lord is about to destroy it!” But they thought Lot was joking.
At dawn the next morning, the angels begged Lot to hurry. They said, “Go! Take your wife and your two daughters with you so you will not be destroyed when the city is punished.”
But Lot delayed. So the two men took the hands of Lot, his wife, and his two daughters and led them safely out of the city. So the Lord was merciful to Lot and his family. After they brought them out of the city, one of the men said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Run to the mountains, or you will be destroyed.”
But Lot said to one of them, “Sir, please don’t force me to go so far! You have been merciful and kind to me and have saved my life. But I can’t run to the mountains. The disaster will catch me, and I will die. Look, that little town over there is not too far away. Let me run there. It’s really just a little town, and I’ll be safe there.”
The angel said to Lot, “Very well, I will allow you to do this also. I will not destroy that town. But run there fast, because I cannot destroy Sodom until you are safely in that town.” (That town is named Zoar, because it is little.)
Sodom and Gomorrah Are Destroyed
The sun had already come up when Lot entered Zoar. The Lord sent a rain of burning sulfur down from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed those cities. He also destroyed the whole Jordan Valley, everyone living in the cities, and even all the plants.
At that point Lot’s wife looked back. When she did, she became a pillar of salt.
Early the next morning, Abraham got up and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the Jordan Valley and saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
God destroyed the cities in the valley, but he remembered what Abraham had asked. So God saved Lot’s life, but he destroyed the city where Lot had lived.
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 Father, we commit to you the work already done today,
Bless the work of our hands and forgive our many errors,
That we may we be empowered to serve you ever more fully. 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.