Isaiah 65:17-25: The prophet tells of the promise of a new heaven and new earth, with peace and security and ample provision for all.
Isaiah 12: A psalm of praise and thanksgiving for God’s help.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13: The Christians in Thessalonica are asked to follow Paul’s example by working hard for a living. There’s no room for laziness amongst God’s people. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
(This might also offer be an opportunity for a reflection on a theology of work – see below*)
Luke 21:5-19: Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and the troubles ahead for the disciples, and encourages them to remain faithful.

Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday 

Most wonderful God, you are Holy and your name is Love. By your Spirit unite the many melodies, and discords, of our separate lives into one holy harmony of worship. In this hour prepare us for all the other hours of this week, that every place and every task may be
holy. Let your name be our inspiration and your glory our greatest joy. In the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.
(Source: Bruce E. Prewer, Nov 2001)

We praise and worship you, O God, with sincere and humble hearts. We give thanks for your greatness, which, through the power of your Holy Spirit, we experience in our lives as grace and mercy. Jesus revealed such greatness in his life as he loved and served people in
your name. Generations have been blessed by this great assurance your love, and through their witness, we too are blessed. We pray that this time of worship may be an opportunity not only for our mouths to speak and sing words of praise to you for these blessings, but also that our lives will be so touched by your Spirit that the lives we touch are blessed also. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen
(Source: Moira Laidlaw, Nov 2001)

Call to worship
This day! This day we will give thanks to God,
who cradles us in the waters of baptism.
This day! This day we will trust in the One who has saved us,
who strengthens us.
This day! This day we dance to the fountain of life,
drinking deeply of salvation’s goodness.
This day! This day we praise our God for every blessing;
telling everyone of God’s amazing grace in our lives and in our world.
This day! This day we sing God’s praises;
testifying to all creation of our God.
This day! This day our songs are filled with joy, for God is with us,
this day and in all the days to come!
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Prayer of the Day
Creating God:
you grasp chaos and shake it into
new heavens brimming with light,
new earth teeming with life.
You delight in your children so much that
before we finish our sentences, you have heard our hearts;
before we whisper our dreams, you fill our needs.
Word of God:
you shape our lips and loosen our tongues
that we might witness to your kingdom
where enemies take naps together;
where meat-eaters become vegetarians.
Spirit of Wisdom:
open us, that we might trust without fear;
fill us, that we might discern our call to faithfulness;
teach us, that we would make known
our thanks to the farthest shores of the universe. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Most loving God, your mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. Please enable us to so trust you, that grounded in you we may live with serene trust. May we look at change and chance without dismay, seeing in every moment the opportunity for the exercise of resilient faith and tenacious love. Through Jesus Christ, the bringer of the new heaven and new earth. Amen.
(Source: Bruce D. Prewer, 2004)

Prayers of who we are/prayer of confession
We confess that our lives weaken us, Strengthening God. We do not exercise our faith as we should, and so fatigue easily. We see houses as investment property, not as homes built on love, hope, and dreams. We whimper our petty complaints about our friends and families, rather than shouting our hosannas to heaven for the gift of their lives.
You are our hope, Tender God, so forgive us. Create in us new hearts, and fill us with new energy to serve our sisters and brothers, bringing them to the deep wells of salvation, where they can fill their parched souls, even as we have been led to them by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. A silence is kept.
Words of Assurance

Rather than remaining white hot, God’s anger melts into streams of living water, washing us clean of our sins and refreshing our spirits with hope and joy.
This day! This day we give thanks to the God who is our strength and our salvation. Praise God! Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

The worst of it
But you did not tell us the worst
of it, the thirst of it, working resistance
and witness as persecutions’ victims; did not speak
any warning, assuring us that earth-
quakes and famines, plagues and nations
warring and raging were not the imminent
sign nor a sign of an imminent ending
of all we have come to know; you
failed to mention, no hint or veiled
intimation, in preparing us for betrayal,
for violence and hatred to endure; no,
Jesus, your words stopped short of the real
horrors that lay in the future before us,
the ones who took on your name, your
commission, your Way; you did not tell
us that we would become the betrayers,
the haters and persecutors; that we would rage
war and destructions, become the plague
on the nations we feared. Jesus,
our Christ, forgive us, for we did not know
what we would become, when we turned
our gaze from your light to the shadows
holding our enemies, as they
had become.
(Source: Rev Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story, with Soundcloud recording)

Prayer for illumination
The Word of God is planted in our hearts.
May our hearts be receptive to the Word.
The Love of God rains down on us.
May our souls soak in the wonder of God’s love.
The Breathe of God blows softly within us.
May our minds be stirred by the power of God’s spirit.
(Source: Katherine Hawker)

Prayers of Intercession
When we remember…
lives etched as shadows on broken walls following nuclear fission and the fractured bonds of a common humanity: tell us of your new heavens and new earth.
When we see…
oil-fields burning in the desert, clouding any hope of ordinary living,
turning days of opportunity to nights of fear: tell us of your new heavens and new earth.
When we hear of…
young lives lost by the thousand, and forests turned to wasteland to capture a dozen yards of land: tell us of your new heavens and new earth.
When our instinct tells us…
to reject rather than welcome diversity because we have too well learned lessons of terror: tell us of your new heavens and new earth.
When we watch…
athletes compete with strength and skill in ways which conquer war-caused injury: tell us of your new heavens and new earth.
When we despair…and think that nothing changes and no hope is real, or that peace is too elusive and too fragile to survive:
tell us of your new heavens and new earth
and of your Son:
victim of violence,
sentenced to die,
risen from death
the first fruits of your new heaven and new earth. Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Remind us, Holy God, that people draw hope, healing, feeding, reconciliation from the wells of our generosity. So, encourage us to draw from the abundance which is ours to bless those around us, even if we do not know them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Words of mission
Not for us the same-old, same-old, familiar phrases, meaning drowned in long-forgotten memories of those no longer here. This is the time for new songs, fresh praise on instruments played with joy: for God has shown his faithfulness; our God has made love known.
Not for us timid days of fearful quiet, unsure of what’s to come and clinging to a rose-tinted age long past. The sea is shouting, the hills are crying out, the whole earth praises God – and so do we; for God is here, present all across the earth: and God has shown his faithfulness; our God has made love known.
You call us, Lord –
to sing your song,
to demonstrate your justice,
to embody your peace,
to praise your Name
with all of our strength, all of our lives;
and to rejoice in what we have come to know:
that God has shown his faithfulness;
our God has made love known.
Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Source: Church of Scotland, Starters for Sunday)

Now, God who cradles us in baptism’s water, sends us forth,
to draw hope from God’s heart and offer it to others.
Now, Jesus who poured the cup of grace, sends us forth,
to bring food and shelter, love and companionship to our neighbors.
Now the Spirit who teaches us songs of peace, sends us forth,
to offer reconciliation in every broken place, to every shattered person.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

John Howell (Source: 10 minutes on a Tuesday) reflects on the Epistle:
Wonderful and truly important things could be accomplished if we didn’t have to go to work each day. At least, that was the attitude of the some of the Christians in Thessalonica. Because they had been suffering through a time of persecution by the authorities, Paul had written to reassure them of the hope that Christ would re-appear and set up his new kingdom. As a result of their excitement about the prospect of the Day of the Lord, some of them had ceased to work so they could watch for its appearing. But if they weren’t working what were they doing? Inevitably they started meddling in the affairs of others.
In the strongest terms Paul warns these people against idleness and tells them to go back to work. His words, in this last chapter of 2 Thessalonians, have a lesson that we need to hear about the value of work.
We sometimes undervalue our work because of our mistaken tendency to divide life into sacred and secular compartments. Prayer and worship fall into the first compartment, but our regular working day activities we place in the second. As a counter to this kind of thinking we need to embrace “the sacramental quality of everyday living” (AW Tozer). The idea of the whole of our lives being sacred, wherever we go and whatever we do, is woven through scripture. This includes our worship and our work.
Do we need paid clergy?
Through habit, most of us have assumed that a church necessarily involves owning a building where we meet for worship and paying clergy who will arrange the worship and extend pastoral care to the congregation. But there are other models. Neither of these things is essential to the existence of the church. And neither was present at Thessalonica.
Paul, as Jewish rabbi, was not permitted to take payment for his teaching. He carried this same idea into his Christian ministry. He reminds the Thessalonian Christians that he paid his own way when he started the church there (2 Thessalonians 3.8). Not wanting to be a burden on anyone, he generated his keep by practising his trade of making tents (Acts 18.3). Once the church was up and running he left its on-going life in the capable hands of the new congregation, aided by visiting mentors and the advice of his letters.
Similar patterns of ministry have sprung up in our own day. This has come about on some occasions by financial necessity because a congregation can no longer afford to support paid clergy. On other occasions it has arisen out of the necessity to experiment with new forms of ministry for our present age.
One example of this is Local Shared Ministry (known in the United States of America as “Total Ministry”). Local Shared Ministry involves members of a congregation taking responsibility for establishing the mission and ministry of the local church by identifying the gifts and ministries that are present among them. They affirm the gifts of all the baptised and call together a lay ministry team to support this mission and ministry. (see also Assets Based Community Development as it applies to congregations)
The wording “won’t do any work except the work of a busybody” (2 Thessalonians 3.11) in the New Testament Greek is literally, “not working but working-round”. The thought is, instead of working at their own business, these people were wasting time and causing disruption by meddling in the business of others. If we don’t busy ourselves with our own opportunities for work, whether paid or unpaid, we will in all likelihood bring disharmony to the pursuits of others. This is the thought carried by the adage “the devil finds work for idle hands.” In this regard Paul and Timothy had sought to set an example to the new Christians by their own industry. “You surely know that you should follow our example. We didn’t waste our time loafing, and we didn’t accept food from anyone without paying for it. We didn’t want to be a burden to any of you, so night and day we worked as hard as we could.” (2 Thessalonians 3.7-8 CEV)
The reference to those “living in idleness” are not people who are unemployed or economically disadvantaged. The reference is to those in the congregations of the early church who were not contributing to the fellowship meals and other activities of the Christian community. Some church members were sitting back and letting others do the work and meet the costs, while they took advantage of the principles of love and hospitality on which the church was built. Not everyone contributes to the upkeep and mission of the church as they are able; they somehow expect that the church will always be
there for them when and as they wish. Those who do not pull their weight are a burden on the community and threaten its life and mission, if not its very existence. They fail to love their neighbours as themselves. Those who do not do their fair share are often the ones most likely to interfere and hamper the missionary endeavour and economic stability of the congregation by being busybodies. St. Paul reminds them of their responsibilities, yet encourages those who do contribute to continue to treat them with love and hospitality. (Source: “With Love to the World”)


Singing from the Lectionary (Natalie Sims)

Other hymns & Songs
All who love and serve your city TiS 634
Christ from whom all blessings flow TiS 440
Forth in your name, O Lord I go TiS 571
Have faith in God, my heart TiS 619
I will give thanks to you TiS 726
Lord of all hopefulness TiS 613
Make me a channel TiS 607
Sent forth by God’s blessing TiS 531
Strengthen for service TiS 496

TIS #236 Jesus’ hands were kind hands
1. Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all,
healing pain and sickness, blessing children small,
washing tired feet, and saving those who fall:
Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all.

2. Take my hands, Lord Jesus, let them work for you,
make them strong and gentle, kind in all I do;
let me watch you, Jesus, till I’m gentle too,
till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you.


Invitation to the Lord’s table
This is the table where all are welcome;
It is the table around which we gather with Jesus and with all who love him.
So come!
You who have much faith and you who have little,
You who have been here often, and you who have not been here for awhile,
You who have tried to follow, and you who have failed.
Not because I invite you: It is our Lord.
It is his will that those who want him should meet him here.
So come!

Thom Shuman’s communion liturgy follows:
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Behold, God is your salvation!
And also yours!
With joy, draw hope from our God.
We will fill our hearts with the grace of our God.
Say on this day, ‘I will give thanks to God, who loves us.”
Surely God is our song, and our salvation!
When nothingness seemed to stretch into forever, you spoke, Mindful God,
and the days of creation sprang forth, throwing down all chaos,
shaping all that is marvellous and new from its shattered pieces.
In our foolishness, we were led astray by temptation and sin’s sweet words,
but the end did not follow immediately, for you sent the prophets to sing your praises.
But though they spoke to us, we would not listen.
So you sent your Beloved Child, rejoicing in him, so you could delight in your people.
So with busybodies and those who are never a burden,
with our sisters and brothers from every time and place,
we sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:
Holy, holy, holy is God who saves us.
All creation is glad and rejoices in your forever.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who makes your deeds known to all peoples.
Hosanna in the highest!
Surely you are the One who saves us, Holy God, sending Jesus to become one of us, for us. He did not remain idly by your side,  but came so that we might  no longer be children of calamity. Betrayed by those who knew him, he was placed upon the cross, but his opponents, sin and death, could not withstand the power of his love, or contradict his sacrifice on our behalf, for by the endurance of his faith, we gained our souls once again.
As we remember his death offered for us,
as we celebrate his life shared with us,
we speak of that mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, trusting in God completely,
Christ was raised, resurrection drawn from the springs of salvation;
Christ will return, to create us as a joy.
Pour out your Spirit of grace and hope
upon the Table and its simple gifts of life,
and upon your people gathered in this place.
On this day, as we are fed by the Bread of life,
we will give thanks to you,
even as we go to build houses for those who have none,
to fed all who do not have enough to nourish them.
On this day, as we drink from the Cup
drawn from the springs of salvation,
we will remember your great deeds,
by opening our ears to the sound of weeping
in among our friends, and those we do not know,
offering relief to those who cry with distress.
And when all days have come to an end,
and we discover that the Holy One is in our midst,
we will cry aloud, singing out our joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever. Amen
(Source: 2016 Thom M. Shuman)

Great prayer of thanksgiving
It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you invite us to draw deeply from your well of salvation.
You created heaven and earth as the first of your works
and chose a people to be your delight.
Though we marred your creation
with war and insurrection,
you have given us a vision of a day beyond the terrors:
a day when the sound of weeping will give way to delight,
when all creation will live in peace
and people will long enjoy the fruits of their labours.
In your child, Jesus the Christ,
you have begun the re-creation of all things.
When he was betrayed by friends,
arrested, persecuted,
and put to death,
you raised him to new life
and through him, you strengthen us
so that we might not grow weary in doing what is right
but through endurance, gain our souls.
(Source: Nathan Nettleton, 2001, Laughing Bird)

At this table we bear witness to the love
which has been poured into our hearts and lives.
We remember when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet
and sat down at a table to share the meal with them.
[At that meal – he took a loaf of bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,
“This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.]
We remember and we give thanks for such outpouring of love.
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, O God,
and upon these gifts of bread and wine,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ – his life in us.
Renewed by his life and recreated in his image,
we set our minds on fulfilling your purpose for us
and this world of which we are a part.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(Source: Moira Laidlaw, 2001.)

Readings – A4 landscape, folded: cocu66c-p26c-readings-p

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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