In the church calendar the long stretch of time between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent is known as ‘Ordinary Time.’ Inasmuch as we have celebrated the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the subsequent descent of the Holy Spirit; so this time is often seen as representative of the long ‘Church Age’ when the gospel is preached to all creation.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
All glory to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As it has been from the beginning, is today and forever! Amen
A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.
Lord, hear my prayer!
Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.
But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
He will appear in his glory.
He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas.
Let this be recorded for future generations,
so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.
He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.
But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!
Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
But you are always the same;
you will live forever.
The children of your people
will live in security.
Their children’s children
will thrive in your presence.”
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 Special Seventh Year
At the end of every seven years, you must tell those who owe you anything that they do not have to pay you back. This is how you must do it: Everyone who has loaned money must cancel the loan and not make a neighbour or relative pay it back. This is the Lord’s time for cancelling what people owe. You may make a foreigner pay what is owed to you, but you must not collect what another Israelite owes you. But there should be no poor people among you, because the Lord your God will richly bless you in the land he is giving you as your own. He will bless you if you obey the Lord your God completely, but you must be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you as he promised, and you will lend to other nations, but you will not need to borrow from them. You will rule over many nations, but none will rule over you.
If there are poor among you, in one of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be selfish or greedy toward them. But give freely to them, and freely lend them whatever they need. Beware of evil thoughts. Don’t think, “The seventh year is near, the year to cancel what people owe.” You might be mean to the needy and not give them anything. Then they will complain to the Lord about you, and he will find you guilty of sin. Give freely to the poor person, and do not wish that you didn’t have to give. The Lord your God will bless your work and everything you touch. There will always be poor people in the land, so I command you to give freely to your neighbours and to the poor and needy in your land.
Letting Slaves Go Free
If one of your own people sells himself to you as a slave, whether it is a Hebrew man or woman, that person will serve you for six years. But in the seventh year you must let the slave go free. When you let slaves go, don’t send them away without anything. Give them some of your flock, your grain, and your wine, giving to them as the Lord has given to you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and the Lord your God saved you. That is why I am commanding this to you today.
But if your slave says to you, “I don’t want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you, stick an awl through his ear into the door; he will be your slave for life. Also do this to a female slave.
Do not think of it as a hard thing when you let your slaves go free. After all, they served you six years and did twice the work of a hired person. The Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Rules About Firstborn Animals
Save all the first male animals born to your herds and flocks. They are for the Lord your God. Do not work the first calf born to your oxen, and do not cut off the wool from the first lamb born to your sheep. Each year you and your family are to eat these animals in the presence of the Lord your God, in the place he will choose to be worshiped. If an animal is crippled or blind or has something else wrong, do not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. But you may eat that animal in your own town. Both clean and unclean people may eat it, as they would eat a gazelle or a deer. But don’t eat its blood; pour it out on the ground like water.
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…)
Lord Jesus we thank you for the many blessings of this day,
Give us eyes to see the path ahead,
And faith to reach towards the prize. 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.