Isaiah 5:1-7: A metaphorical prophecy of judgement against Israel and Judah, pictured as God’s vineyard, for their lack of justice.
OR Jeremiah 23:23-29: A prophecy against false prophets who make up lies in God’s name, compared to God’s true word which burns like fire and smashes rock like a hammer.
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19: A Psalm of repentance for abandoning God, and praying for God to once again tend and protect God’s people as a vineyard that is well cared for.
OR Psalm 82: This Psalm, picturing a ‘council of the gods’, has God speaking judgement over the gods of nations who oppress the poor and allow injustice to continue unchecked.
Hebrews 11:29-12:2: A reminder of the “great cloud of witnesses” – people of faith who suffered for their message and stayed committed to God through great trial and heartache – who surround us. They encourage us to stay firm, and follow Christ – the one who endured the cross – faithfully.
Luke 12:49-56: Jesus grieves his coming suffering, recognising the conflict that will arise over his message, and challenging people to discern the true nature of the time they live in, in the same way that they interpret the weather.
(Bible readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Church of Scotland
Singing from the Lectionary

Companions on the Way reflection on the Gospel reading (2022)

Call to Worship
The One who commands the clouds
calls us to be poured out for others.
We can, by faith, be the waters of peace
which quench the fires of hatred
The One who creates mercy and hope,
longs for a world of fair play and grace.
We can, by faith, let righteousness and
justice be our constant companions
The One who is with us in every moment
composes a love-song for our hearts.
We can, by faith, teach this song
to everyone we meet
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

A prayer of thanksgiving
Loving God, thank you for this place of worship, built in the name of your love. Thank you for holding the space for us to gather together as your church community, and for accepting us as we come and go from this sacred place. Thank you God for your abundant love and your faith and trust which you have in us, and for the cloud of witnesses who inspire our faith. Thank you for Christ’s caring example, which has woven us into a supportive and loving community of faith. Thank you God for providing us with the building blocks with which we have built our church community of unconditional love, peace and acceptance.
In gratitude for you we pray, Amen
(Source: National Youth Assembly Worship Team, Church of Scotland)

Prayer of Thanksgiving
O Lord our God,
We thank you for the many people throughout the ages
Who have followed your way of life joyfully:
For the many saints and martyrs, men and women,
Who have offered up their very lives, so that your life abundant may become manifest.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.
O Lord, we thank you for those who chose the way of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of trial, they held out hope,
In the midst of hatred, they kindled love;
In the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power;
In the midst of despair, they clung to your promise.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.
O Lord, we thank you for the truth they passed on to us:
That it is by giving that we receive;
It is by becoming weak that we shall be strong;
It is by loving others that we shall be loved;
It is by offering ourselves that your kingdom shall unfold;
It is by dying that we shall inherit life everlasting.
Lord, give us courage to follow your way of life.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you
(Source: Consider Your Call)

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Luke 12.51
Not us-versus-them. Not good people on one side
and everybody else on the other. Not you against neighbors.
But you, distinct from what others want of you.
You, not what will please them.
The real you, true and unmodified,
standing for what you know and care for,
regardless of how others baulk and resist and criticize
and cajole and manipulate and persecute and crucify.
Beware: those whose hearts are unwhole
will try to draw you in to complete them;
but you cannot be them for them. This is the great division.
You must be yourself, and let their incompleteness go,
without ceasing to love them. Let them press against you
even as you stand for them.
Jesus prays for strength for you to stand as self,
to stand without pleasing, without apologizing.
Stand with hope and trust, though you be alone—
for, standing alone, you find your true companions,
bound not by opinion but by the Whole, What Is,
given, not made, the Body of Christ.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Prayer of commitment (relates to Hebrews reading)
God of Jesus and our God,
mindful of all those choice souls who have gone on ahead of us,
teach us, and each twenty-first century disciple of every race and place,
to follow their example to the best of our ability:
to feed the poor in body or spirit,
to support and comfort the mourners and the repentant,
to encourage the meek and stand with them in crises,
to affirm those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
to cherish and learn from the merciful,
to be humbled by, and stand with, the peacemakers.
Let us clearly recognise what it means
to be called the children of God,
and to know we are to be your saints
neither by our own inclination nor
in our own strength
but simply by the call
and the healing holiness of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Amen!
(Source: Bruce Prewer)

Thanksgiving and Intercession
O Lord our God,
we thank you for the many people
who have followed your way of life joyfully:
for the many saints and martyrs, men and women
who have offered up their very lived
so that your life abundant
may become manifest
and your kingdom may advance
Optional sung response
They chose the way of your Son,
our brother, Jesus Christ.
In the midst of trial, they held out hope;
in the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power;
in the midst of despair, they clung to your promise.
Optional sung response
O Lord, we thank you for the truth
they have learned and passed on to us.
Give us courage to follow their way of life.
For your love and faithfulness
we will at all times praise your name.
Optional sung response
We pray for the millions in our world who must go hungry today,
all who are exploited and marginalized
because of their caste or class, colour or sex,
that they may not lose their hope,
and may find the strength to struggle for their dignity.
Optional sung response
We call upon you for those who are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured
or threatened with death because of their witness to justice and peace.
For those who have “disappeared” because they dared to speak,
that their spirits may not be broken by their bodies’ pain.
Optional sung response
We remember those who live in regions torn by tension and war,
by disaster, famine and poverty…
We pray especially for the Middle East, for Pakistan, for Haiti,
for the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the horn of Africa, for Sudan …
(other places and situations can be mentioned at this point)
We pray for the millions of refugees around the world,
that in the midst of tears and bitterness
they may discern signs of hope.
Optional sung response
Lord, into your hands we commend our earth,
ever-threatened with disaster,
and all persons and situations we have spoken about,
written down or remembered in the silence of our hearts this day.
Optional sung response
Strengthen our will for peace and justice;
increase our faith in your kingdom
where “love and faithfulness will meet,
righteousness and peace will embrace”
and may your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
(Source: “Choose Life; Choose Peace with Justice,” in Midday Prayers for Peace and Justice on Hiroshima Day, August, 2010. Posted on the World Council of Churches website)

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As you share your blessings with us, Gracious God, you show great faith that we will use them wisely and offer them generously to others. So, by faith, may our gifts bring healing to the broken, hope to the despairing, and laughter to those who mourn. This we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

In faith, we have worshipped the God of all grace and hope.
By faith, we will go to be poured out for all around us.
Through faith, we have come to follow the Servant of the poor.
With faith, we will go with our companions,
justice and righteousness, to serve the oppressed
By faith, we learn the songs of the Spirit of love.
In faith, we will sing these songs with those
for whom the music has gone silent
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Thom Shuman Communion Liturgy
Prayer of the Day
Gracious God,
in the debris and litter of the world,
you clear a place where we can be planted:
your justice which can bring hope to the oppressed;
your righteousness which can receive
even our enemies in peace.
Jesus Christ:
you break up the stony ground of our hearts,
so grace might be planted.
You take us by the hand to lead us through
the waters of baptism, so we can stand
on the far shores on your kingdom.
Holy Spirit,
early every morning, you are out ahead of us,
walking the paths of life,
clearing away all the temptations
which would cause us to stumble and fall.
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus our Brother
has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Being human, we never find it easy to ask for forgiveness. But as God’s children, called to live in relationship with one another, we know we must speak of how we have hurt others, so we might be forgiven and restored to new life. Please join me as we pray to God, saying,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
What more can we say, Expectant God, that you don’t know already? You long for justice for all people, but it is washed away by the flood of violence in our world. You hope that righteousness will walk with us, but you hear the clear cries of those we mistreat. You ask us to speak up for those in need, but we shut our mouths and turn away.
Forgive us, Righteous God. Have mercy when we do not bear the fruit we could. Even though we have not lived our faith to the fullest, may we receive the promises of hope and grace you have given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. A silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Shhh, listen! Can you hear them? The saints of heaven – those who have gone on before us – are cheering us on as we run towards the finish line of our faith.
Thanks be to God! The victory has already been won for us in Jesus Christ. We are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One whose heart is broken for us.
Offer your praises and joy to the God who is our Creator.
We sing our love-songs to the One who loves us and watches over us.
It is our greatest joy to offer our thanks and praise to you, God of all time.
At the dawn of creation, you sang your love-song:
covering mountains with cooling shade,
directing the clouds to pour rain upon the cedar seedlings,
filling your garden of grace with all the goodness we would need.
But longing for a view of temptation’s delights,
we chopped down the hedges surrounding Eden and protecting us,
and we were devoured by sin and death.
You sent the prophets to tend and nurture us,
pruning us so we could bear the fruit of justice and righteousness.
You took pity on us as we weakened ourselves by our pride,
and placed your hand upon Jesus sending him to be strong for us.
Therefore, we lift our thanksgiving to you,
joining our voices with the witnesses of every age,
echoing their glad songs of praise, offering our hope to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Creator of the Vineyard.
By faith, all creation cries out for your salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to run with perseverance
the race which is set before him.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Shepherd of all people, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your sign of hope and grace. Surrounded by all the faithful, he humbled himself, coming to set the pace for us in this race we call life. Worthy of all glory and praise, he disregarded human acclaim, and died on the cross that we might be given life. Picking up sin and death, and tossing them aside, he cleared the way to you, that we might enter your kingdom. As we remember his death and resurrection, as we look for signs of his life in our time, we receive that mystery of faith which is promised to us:
Christ died, the perfecter of salvation;
Christ was risen, the pioneer of resurrection;
Christ will come again, for the sake of our joy
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon the gifts of the bread and cup, and upon those who, by faith, come to your Table. As we receive these signs of a grace we cannot see, may we be transformed into signs of peace and hope for our time. As we taste the broken Bread, may we draw strength to serve a shattered world. As we drink of the gift of grace, may we become robust in our giving to others. As we open our hands to you, may we go to hand out justice to the lost, the little, the least. Then, when we are no longer divided, but all people are gathered around the Feast of the Lamb, we will never turn away from you, but will sing our songs of love to you through all eternity, God in Community, Holy in One, forever and ever. Amen.
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

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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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