Tiree Parish Church Bible verses and Presbytery prayer for this week.
‘So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their mantles on their shoulders….The people of Israel had also done as Moses had told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewellery of silver and gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they despoiled the Egyptians.’ Exodus 12:34-36
‘Be strong and of good courage; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.’ Joshua 1:6
Let us pray: They left carrying everything they could, Lord – liberated into the difficult freedom of a wilderness. What they carried with them ceased to serve them as soon as they left the old, familiar, enslaved yesterday, and arrived in the drastic, intermediate today. In the wilderness, they could rely on you. And-they discovered-they could. You nourished them unexpectedly. What they needed, you gave-yet new, every morning. They could store nothing, hoard nothing. In the wilderness they were remade. Can you do that with us, Lord? Can we relinquish even those treasures we brought with us into this, that now simply weigh us down, and depend solely on you? Can WE be remade? What did we bring with us? What must we relinquish? What dare we not let go? We ask for ourselves, as a Presbytery, and for our congregations. But we ask also for our society, where we are friends, neighbours, kent faces. We pray for those who have “no church connection” because of course they have. It’s us. We are their church connection; our congregations; their members; the neighbours who go to church, thus “preaching a sermon a mile long” Us… We pray for these our friends, ‘with no church connection’, except for us. We rejoice at their insight, which, we are sure, can only have come from you. “We cannot carry on as we have”. “We cannot live by old valueless values, of conspicuous consumption, endless economic growth, the ‘anthropocene’ eating our world” We recognise the truth they have glimpsed and desperately wish to hold on to. We have listened to their incredulity that we might slip back into old ways of living and of being a society. They speak to us knowing who we are, and they look to us, as Jesus’ disciples, as the Church. How shall we meet their need? We pray for those made keenly, sharply and sometimes, by circumstance bitterly aware of what is truly precious-people, family, friends. We pray for those around us, awakened, by partial deprivation, to the little things, taken for granted when life was “normal”. We pray for that sense of gratitude, separated by a paper-thin wall from being gratitude to you, and therefore worship. We pray at this moment, an accidental moment, disease created, contagion created, imposed on us, meaningless-and the different moment you lay upon it, of grace and hope and possibility, of relinquishing and re-grasping. Was not the wilderness already there, when you led your people through it? You led them into it because they had to pass through it, to reach the territory of promise by the way of hope and trust-and because they had to be changed. So with us. So Lord, what shall we learn, now, before the world starts up again? How shall we answer Jesus’ call, in this wilderness, to live beyond the present, out of the hope of the future? How shall we live in the world of injustice, of climate emergency, of unsustainable desire, and meaningless living? How, as a Church, shall we live to give hope to our neighbours-who have glimpsed in lockdown what we have seen in Christ? How shall we be the Church? Lord, let us begin where we must begin, and let us see where we must begin, and where we must strike out for, and where we must go next. Bring to life again what we were working on before all this fell upon us. Fill us with zest for the radical, the bold, the courageous. Hone our thinking, that we may sift our priorities, to make them accord with Jesus. Guide us, o thou great Jehovah, Pilgrims in this barren land. WE are not the sum of your people, for God so loved the WORLD, not just the Church. We are your Church for the World. Give to us to guide and lead in relinquishing, with resolution and joy, in gripping what we must never let go, and in discerning the difference. Amen.