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
Then Israel arrived in Egypt;
Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
And the Lord multiplied the people of Israel
until they became too mighty for their enemies.
Then he turned the Egyptians against the Israelites,
and they plotted against the Lord’s servants.
But the Lord sent his servant Moses,
along with Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians,
and wonders in the land of Ham.
The Lord blanketed Egypt in darkness,
for they had defied his commands to let his people go.
He turned their water into blood,
poisoning all the fish.
Then frogs overran the land
and even invaded the king’s bedrooms.
When the Lord spoke, flies descended on the Egyptians,
and gnats swarmed across Egypt.
He sent them hail instead of rain,
and lightning flashed over the land.
He ruined their grapevines and fig trees
and shattered all the trees.
He spoke, and hordes of locusts came—
young locusts beyond number.
They ate up everything green in the land,
destroying all the crops in their fields.
Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home,
the pride and joy of each family.
The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold;
and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they were gone,
for they feared them greatly.
The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering
and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.
They asked for meat, and he sent them quail;
he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven.
He split open a rock, and water gushed out
to form a river through the dry wasteland.
For he remembered his sacred promise
to his servant Abraham.
So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
his chosen ones with rejoicing.
He gave his people the lands of pagan nations,
and they harvested crops that others had planted.
All this happened so they would follow his decrees
and obey his instructions.
Praise the Lord!
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
Cities of Safety
When the Lord your God gives you land that belongs to the other nations, nations that he will destroy, you will force them out and live in their cities and houses. Then choose three cities in the middle of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own. Build roads to these cities, and divide the land the Lord is giving you into three parts so that someone who kills another person may run to these cities.
This is the rule for someone who kills another person and runs to one of these cities in order to save his life. But the person must have killed a neighbour without meaning to, not out of hatred. For example, suppose someone goes into the forest with a neighbour to cut wood and swings an ax to cut down a tree. If the axe head flies off the handle, hitting and killing the neighbour, the one who killed him may run to one of these cities to save his life. Otherwise, the dead person’s relative who has the duty of punishing a murderer might be angry and chase him. If the city is far away, the relative might catch and kill the person, even though he should not be killed because there was no intent to kill his neighbour. This is why I command you to choose these three cities.
Carefully obey all these laws I’m giving you today. Love the Lord your God, and always do what he wants you to do. Then the Lord your God will enlarge your land as he promised your ancestors, giving you the whole land he promised to them. After that, choose three more cities of safety so that innocent people will not be killed in your land, the land that the Lord your God is giving you as your own. By doing this you will not be guilty of allowing the death of innocent people.
But if a person hates his neighbour and, after hiding and waiting, attacks and kills him and then runs to one of these cities for safety, the elders of his own city should send for the murderer. They should bring the person back from the city of safety and hand him over to the relative who has the duty of punishing the murderer. Show no mercy. You must remove from Israel the guilt of murdering innocent people so that things will go well for you.
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…)
Mighty God, as we come to the end of our week,
Grant your blessings over all we love and your increase upon all we do,
We ask this in Jesus name. 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.