We are currently in the season of Eastertide. Easter is the annual celebration of the resurrection of the Lord, and has been observed from the earliest days of the church. In the Jewish calendar, Jesus died during the Passover Feast, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days later. The church follows this sequence of events, with the season of Eastertide occupying the 50 days between the two great festivals.
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 song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
How joyful are those who fear the Lord—
all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing
for those who fear him.
May the Lord continually bless you from Zion.
May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.
May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.
May Israel have peace!
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
Rules for Slave Owners
“‘If anyone from your country becomes too poor to support himself, help him to live among you as you would a stranger or foreigner. Do not charge him any interest on money you loan to him, but respect your God; let the poor live among you. Don’t lend him money for interest, and don’t try to make a profit from the food he buys. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give the land of Canaan to you and to become your God.
“‘If anyone from your country becomes very poor and sells himself as a slave to you, you must not make him work like a slave. He will be like a hired worker and a visitor with you until the year of Jubilee. Then he may leave you, take his children, and go back to his family and the land of his ancestors. This is because the Israelites are my servants, and I brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They must not become slaves again. You must not rule this person cruelly, but you must respect your God.
“‘Your men and women slaves must come from other nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. Also you may buy as slaves children from the families of foreigners living in your land. These child slaves will belong to you, and you may even pass them on to your children after you die; you can make them slaves forever. But you must not rule cruelly over your own people, the Israelites.
“‘Suppose a foreigner or visitor among you becomes rich. If someone in your country becomes so poor that he has to sell himself as a slave to the foreigner living among you or to a member of the foreigner’s family, the poor person has the right to be bought back and become free. One of his relatives may buy him back: His uncle, his uncle’s son, or any one of his close relatives may buy him back. Or, if he gets enough money, he may pay the money to free himself.
“‘He and the one who bought him must count the time from when he sold himself up to the next year of Jubilee. Use that number to decide the price, because the person really only hired himself out for a certain number of years. If there are still many years before the year of Jubilee, the person must pay back a large part of the price. If there are only a few years left until Jubilee, the person must pay a small part of the first price. But he will live like a hired person with the foreigner every year; don’t let the foreigner rule cruelly over him.
“‘Even if no one buys him back, at the year of Jubilee, he and his children will become free. This is because the people of Israel are servants to me. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
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.