1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
God tells Samuel that God has rejected Saul as king, and God instructs Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. Samuel sees the eldest of the sons and thinks that one of them must be the king, but God tells him that God does not see as human beings do. Then David, the youngest son, is called and anointed to be king over Israel.
Psalm 20
A prayer that God may provide and protect, bringing victory and success to the king, and ensuring that the one who trusts in God remains steadfast.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17
Followers of Christ live by faith and not by sight, and do everything with the view to please God. Although we may at times seem crazy, we are controlled by Christ’s love. So we no longer live our old life, but a new one in Christ for whom we live, and who was raised for us.
Mark 4:26-34:Jesus shares two parables of God’s Reign using the metaphor of seeds. In the first, he speaks about a farmer who plants seeds without knowing how they grow. In the second, he describes how the small mustard seed grows to become a large plant in which birds can nest.
(Summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar on Sacredise)

These lections are full of opposites in tension: divine sight/mortal sight; trusting in the name of God/trusting in chariots and horses; walking by faith/walking by sight; inward appearance/outward appearance; new creation/old creation. The most significant contrast is the mustard seed in tension with the reign of the divine. Is the holy found in vastness or in the tiny mustard seed? (Source: UCC)

Gathering – resources for general gathering prayers

Prayer of Invocation
O God, maker of all that is beautiful,
Jesus gave us the seeds of your justice and peace.
In this time together, touch us, teach us, inspire us
to sow those seeds through our ministries
so that all may share in Creation’s abundance
to make true the promise
that no one will know scarcity
and no one will suffer deprivation in this community and beyond. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Quentin Chin)

Call to worship
All around us, God is looking for those
who will join in serving others.
It is as if God is planting seeds of compassion in us,
watching for them to bloom in our lives.
In our midst, Jesus is walking among us,
tending our hearts, watering us with grace.
It is as if Jesus is trusting that our souls
will grow big enough to welcome everyone.
From morning to evening, the Spirit is at work,
gently tending this garden called life.
It is as if the Spirit has found the perfect spots
to bring forth crops of justice and peace.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Prayer of thanksgiving – general resources for prayers of thanksgiving

Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are/Words of Assurance – general resources on this website.

Prayer of confession
Let us take a moment of silence and reflect on our own lives,
on our limitations, on our sins.
Gracious God, you are indeed generous.
You give us the gifts of the spirit which enable us to have so much.
We forget, however, that we have been recipients
of other people’s generosity.
Believing that what we have is ours,
we forget that all we have is yours.
Forgive us.
Help us to remember that being made in your image,
we should be as generous as you.

Words of Assurance
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a humble spirit and a contrite heart.
By God’s steadfast love for us, we are forgiven of our sins. Thanks be to God.
(Source: Rev. Quentin Chin)

Prayer of confession
How you must grieve over us, God of all. You give us blessings to share with others, but we hoard everything for ourselves. You look for us to join you in serving the most vulnerable, but find us worshiping the wealthy and powerful. You offer us joy and wonder to embrace, but we continue to cling to weapons and things.
Have mercy on us, O God, as you pour your forgiveness into our foolish lives. Plant the seeds of grace, hope, love, and peace in us, so we may blossom and share all these gifts with everyone we meet. (A silence is kept)
Assurance of Pardon
God’s love is not logical and understandable. For God forgives those we never would, and welcomes those we would continue to ignore.
This is the One who has mercy on everyone, pouring grace and joy into everyone, including us! Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Prayer for Illumination- General resources on this website

Sermon reflection
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
“David’s gifts seemed hidden from his whole family, but God showed David and his whole family something they did not see – that David was to be blessed to be the leader of the people of Israel.” (Focus for Worship, Learning, Serving, page 52)
At the bar in the local hotel in a small town in rural South Australia, in the early sixties, a single figure cut a lonely image. The hotel, the bar, and the bar stool had become his home-away-from home, or maybe his home, as he sought friendship and acceptance in a town that seemed to push him to the periphery.
After a few beers, he found courage to attempt to engage in conversation and try to tell his story. He proudly told of the time during World War I when he fought side-by-side with his friend and now Premier of the State. No one paid much attention; their preconceived notions and prejudices thought the stories to be the ramblings and imaginings of a lonely, intoxicated man.
Until one day when the town was abuzz with excitement because of a planned visit by the Premier. The crowd gathered at the Town/Institute Hall, the red carpet stretching from the curbside to the entrance of the building. The council officials, other dignitaries, and a young child in Sunday best, clutching a posy of flowers assembled and prepared to greet the Premier as he stepped from the car.
The Premier arrived to great applause. As he moved toward the outstretched hands of the dignitaries, he spotted someone at the back of crowd. The Premier stepped away from the red carpet and made his way through the crowd, stopping when he reached the one who was at the edge of the gathering. “This is my friend, Tom,” he exclaimed, “he was with me when I was wounded during the war.”
When the prophet Samuel is commissioned to anoint a new king, preconceived notions and prejudices are tested as seven sons are brought to him. Finally, God convinces Samuel to look beyond appearances and see what is not immediately apparent.
The biblical background this week reminds us that “as people of faith we are often called upon to trust in things that are beyond ordinary means of seeing.”
Something to ponder: What hidden abilities and potential remain un-discovered because of preconceived ideas and notions?
Something to share: What story would you tell about looking beyond appearances and seeing that which is not immediately apparent?
(Source: Seasons of the Spirit/Fusion)

Reflections on the readings – Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland

Prayers for others – general resources on this website

Prayers of intercession

Given the need in general, but particularly in the light of this past week or so in the media with the suicides of prominent people, this may be a prayer to offer
From a Recovering Sucidalic
Christ of grace and compassion
The thoughts cannot be un-thought,
The plans cannot be unmade,
The past remains the past,
But hope can be restored and life can be lived.
Help me to discern my gifts and talents.
Show me how others need me to help them,
Even when the only thing I can offer at times is the opportunity for them to use their gifts and talents to help me.
As someone who has stood at that brink,
I know that there is no judgement or pity, only compassion.
Having looked into the peace that I thought promised by the void,
Be with all who struggle with the pain that they feel in living.
Be with all whose stress and anxiety has become unbearable
Be with all whose reserves of hope are running on empty.
Be with all whose sense of self has withered to a longing for others to be set free from the burden of their presence.
Be with all who have lost all sense of meaning and purpose.
May they know you
May they know love.
May they share your vision of their worth
May they know their purpose and meaning as hope.
Be with those who are suffering.
Enfold them in your love.
Hold them in your grace.
Continue to whisper to them hope and comfort,
And the offer of strength for living.
This I humbly pray. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

A related hymn may be O Love that wilt not let me go, written by George Matheson who contemplated suicide after he’d shared with his fiancée the shattering news he’d just received from his doctor that he was losing his sight and would become blind. His fiancée couldn’t take this future life and broke off the engagement. Shattered, he stood on a bridge, peering down into waters as grey as his mood but as he stood on a rail to join those waters, it seemed as some strong unseen hand was pulling him back. And that’s how we got his hymn, “O love that wilt not let me go.” Read the hymn through again with this in mind, and feel the power of his inspired words.

Lord’s Prayer – general resources on this website

Prayer of Dedication – general resources on this website

Jesus’ teachings give us many seeds to sow in this community and beyond.
It is, however, through our offering that we can nurture these seeds
so all may know the gospel’s promise. (the offering is collected)
You have been exceedingly generous to us, O God.
We return a portion of what we have to you in grateful thanksgiving.
Bless our offerings that they will nurture the seeds
of hope and healing in this community and beyond. Amen.
(Source: Rev Quentin Chin)

Prayer of Dedication
Let us remember those seeds of love, hope, grace, and peace which we carry in our hearts and souls, as well as our wallets and purses, so that in remembering, we would offer them to our God for use in the work of reconciliation and hope. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Prayer of Dedication (inspired by Mark 4:26-34)
May the offerings brought this day be used as seeds,
planted faithfully and nurtured lovingly
so that God’s way may be realized anew in this world.
Grant us the humility we need to plant and then tend your precious garden. Amen. (Source: Katherine Hawker, Liturgy Outside)

Benediction and sending out – general resources on this website

May God’s love be with you as you sow seeds of justice and peace
along the paths you will travel so all may know the gospel’s promise. Amen
(Source: Rev Quentin Chin)

Voices in the silence – a spoken liturgy
(this is good to ‘tuck away’ to use when congregations need to remember the seeds of life and fire in the belly in the light of so much of concern that is happening in the world)
We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
― Malala Yousafzai

Shhhhhh [Silence]
Hmmmm [Silence]
Shhhhhh [Silence]
Hmmmm [Silence]
Ahhhh – ohhh – ahhh -ayeee [vocalise solo]

From the bowels of the earth
Seeds of life fill my being
I sense the fire
driving breath throughout my soul

From the caverns underground
Vibrant streams flood my seeing
I behold the colours
Swirling round my core

From the death of fallen fruit
Shoots of green break through terrain
I feel tingling in the cells
Flowing through my veins

[instrumentals, featuring moments of silence, and finishing in silence…]

I raise my voice – out of the void
I raise my voice – out of emptiness
I sing this song – out of the space around me
I sing these words – when no-one wants to hear

I will not be silenced!
I will not withdraw!
I will sing with my every breath –
I will form the words for all –

These are the names of forgotten
The names of those whose harmonies –
are needed to bring peace –
and missing from our tables –
are hidden from the pictures
that we paint of common life.

I will not be silenced!
I will not withdraw!
I will sing with my every breath –
I will form the words for all –
(Source (c) Amelia Koh-Butler, 2018)

Communion – general communion liturgies on this website

Communion – Thom Shuman for COCU43B

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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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