Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 11 July 2021

by Rita Wright 11 July 2021

Welcome to our worship today, which is designated as Action for Children Sunday.

Our call to worship today is Psalm 103
1 Praise the Lord O my soul: and all that is within me praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord O my soul: and forget not al his benefits,

3 Who forgives all your sin: and heals all your infirmities.

4 The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: slow to anger and of great goodness.

5 He will not always be chiding: nor will he keep his anger forever.

6 He has dealt with us according to our sins: nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

7 For as the heavens are high above the earth: so great is his mercy over those who fear him;

8 As far as the east is from the west: so far has he set our sins from us.

9 As a father is tender with his children: so is the Lord tender to those that fear him.

10 For he knows of what we are made: he remembers that we are but dust.

11 The days of man are but as grass: he flourishes like a flower of the field;

12 When the wind goes over it, it is gone: and its place will know it no more.

13 But the merciful goodness of the Lord endures for ever and ever towards those that fear him: and his righteousness upon their children’s children;

14 Upon those who keep his covenant: and remember his commandments to do them.


Song: God’s Circle is Wide

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Loving God, We give you thanks and praise for your abundant mercy and grace that we receive.

Lord Jesus, we ask you to give us peace in our mind, body, soul and spirit. Help us to bring healing to this broken world, bringing peace and hope to families and children in these uncertain times through the work of Action for Children.

Give those who work for the charity the wisdom to make the right choices for those they help.

Bring peace to those who are overwhelmed by circumstances that are sometimes beyond their control.

You are the Prince of Peace and we put our trust in you.

In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Prayer by Elizabeth Bishop, Action for Children District Advocate for Yorkshire West District

The Lord’s Prayer

Reading - Psalm 78:1-8

Hymn - All Things Bright and Beautiful

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Reading -  Matthew 18:1-5

Today has been designated as Action for Children Sunday. During lockdown the conditions for children considered to be ‘at risk’ seriously worsened - in fact 20,000 children had to be supported by the Coronavirus Emergency Fund assisted by Action for Children. Poverty among poor families also deepened during the pandemic and now 4.2 million children are reported to be living below the poverty line.

Children are, importantly, the seeds from which the future of our world - the heart of communities will grow. Whilst they are small and when they are young adults, they need mature adults with worldly experience to protect and care for them.

In the newspaper I recently read about a young girl whose mother had died and whose father was not considered suitable to bring her up as he was an alcoholic. She is now grown up but tells her story of being passed between several foster homes, not really knowing what stability was. Now, as a mother herself, she has begun to try and trace members of her mother’s family in an effort to gain the apparent ‘normality’ of having a family behind her -  something she always envied in her school friends.

The stories of children helped and supported by Action for Children are often harrowing, but almost always different. There is no typical child in trouble, they all have differing problems and need many different courses of action to bring about real solutions.

When we hear those statistics -  the numbers of children needing help, it can sound overwhelming and we wonder hat we can actually do in the face of such enormity that will make any kind of difference.

To my mind, it’s a bit like a sewing group making a patchwork quilt - each person works on one small piece and makes it fit in with what the next person is doing until eventually the whole quilt is finished and fit for the job. If we each do our bit, together we can make a difference.

When Jesus had children around him, he always seemed to single one out and used that one as an example of how we should treat and regard all children.

Remember the feeding of the 5,000? Jesus accepted the loaves and fishes from a young boy and turned them into a picnic for the whole crowd. Then, in the gospels we heard how, when the disciples were arguing among themselves about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus took a small child in His arms and said “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”.

Jesus also reprimanded the disciples when they tried to prevent the children getting close to Him because they didn’t consider them important. Jesus said, “Let the children com to me, don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children”.

So, children are important to God. Just because we don’t have many, or even any, children in our churches doesn’t mean we should ignore them, or go all out to get some into church! If lockdown has shown us anything, it has shone a light on the ways children communicate with each other using technology. It was considered to be groundbreaking when Esther Rantzen introduced Childline, a telephone line where children in trouble could get help, but we have moved on since then and there are many ways for children to tell someone that something is wrong. We just need to find ways to tap into this network.

For those of us unfamiliar with it, navigating the technology can sometimes seem like a chaotic minefield but we should look to those same young people to show us what to do!

I read article last week about computer gaming, something I have always regarded as a useless and destructive waste of time, but my eyes were opened when I read that it’s a way that it is used by the young as a way to connect with each other, making friends and having conversations.

For those of us who are no longer young, we can be comforted in the knowledge that Jesus said we can all be considered as “children of God” when we obey his commands. That doesn’t mean following a set of rules no matter what, as the Pharisees thought in Jesus’ time. It means we that we should love God first of all and then love one another. Jesus said that everything else changes on those two things - just think logically, if you love everyone, you wouldn’t do any of the “thou shalt nots” in the ten commandments.

Also, we have a job to do with the children we come into contact with, Psalm 78 charges us with the responsibility of passing on the truth about God and his power and awesomeness in such a way that they will then pass it on to their children.
You can find our more about the work of Action for Children  here

Hymn: I will offer my life

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Prayer for Action for Children
Ever-present God, we thank you that you are active in our world, declaring your love for all people through the work of Action for Children.

We earnestly hold before you today all those children and families that need to be supported – those surrounded by the horrors of abuse, neglect, violence, poverty, exploitation and other peace- shattering circumstances.

Every child and family member is precious to you and so we humbly ask for the work of the charity to continue to make a real difference in their lives. May they be blessed with all the things that will allow them to live and flourish as you intended, secure in the knowledge that they are loved and treasured.

We also hold before you the leaders, staff, volunteers and supporters of Action for Children. May every one of them continue to recognise the promptings of your Spirit as You guide them along the right paths to provide the life-giving support that is needed.

To struggle against the challenging circumstances of our time can be frightening, heartbreaking

and energy-sapping – physically, emotionally and mentally – not only for the children and their families in need but also for those people in Action for Children who come into contact with them. And so we pray fervently that all involved may be instilled with your strength and your peace.

Lord of Peace, give them peace at all times and in every way, and may they know the hope that is possible through following Jesus. Amen.

Prayer by Steve Oliver, Action for Children District Advocate for Manchester and Stockport District

Song: May You Find Peace

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May the Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Sprit be with us all evermore. Amen