Sunday Reflection 11.10.20

Sunday Morning Reflection   11.10.20   

Good Morning , I am Karen Harbison, the Minister of Westburn Parish Church , Greenock and I am glad to welcome you  to this time of worship. Everyone is welcome, whether you are often at Westburn Parish Church, or whether you have never been there in person before. Everyone is welcome as we, each in our own places, our own homes, come to worship God.

A special birthday, a graduation, an anniversary, a long planned reunion, a family get together, a church picnic….. a wedding. I’m sure we can all think of parties and special occasions  which we have not been able to celebrate as we had planned and hoped over these last months and many are having to change their plans or abandon their plans even today. There has been disappointment, frustration and sadness over these special times missed or marked in very different ways or put on hold. Perhaps there has also been a chance to reflect upon what is really important about these celebrations and to plan . For those who have gone ahead with some kind of party, there has been the difficulty of who to invite to comply with restrictions in numbers. The parable Jesus told about the invitations the king set out to the wedding banquet has a new layer to it in these times.

Opening words

Based on Psalm 106.

Praise the Lord! Let us give thanks to the Lord,  for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever.  May we never forget the Lord our God  but seek after God’s justice that we may know his glory.

Let us worship the Lord!

Hymn – Listen to the words of a hymn written by Caroline Winfrey Gilette , based on the parable from Matthew 22 and to the music of some songs on the theme of welcome

Welcome everybody

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table

For everyone born a place at the table

A king planned a party — a feast, rich and hearty.
He sent invitations to all of his guests.
So what could be better than getting a letter
And being invited and welcomed and blessed?


“My work needs attention,” said one, “Not to mention,
My family is growing. There’s so much to do.”
“My farm,” said another, “Is big, and — oh, brother —
I’m busy with hobbies I want to pursue.”

“The wedding is ready! My guests are not worthy!”
The king told his servants when nobody came.
So go search the alleys, the hills and the valleys,
And bring in the poor and the blind and the lame.”


That day there was singing and halls that were ringing
With laughter and joy in that wonderful place.
For those who attended knew how they depended
Upon the king’s generous mercy and grace.

O God, you invite us! You seek to delight us.
Your table is ready for those who say “Yes!”
Do we make excuses when you want to choose us
To sit at your table, forgiven and blessed?


And, Lord, as you welcome us into your kingdom,
May we reach to welcome the world by your grace.
You love the outsider. Now may we reach wider
To welcome the world with your loving embrace.

Let us pray

Lord God, you invite one and all, so here we are.

You make space for us whoever and wherever we are.

May we feel your welcome and extend that same grace to others.

Wherever we have been, whatever brings us to this act of worship,

may we experience encounter with you, O living God,

and may that encounter transform our lives,

may encounter with you transform our despair into hope,

our fear into joy and our loss into new beginnings.

Here, may we know ourselves seen and heard by the living God,

loved as we are and made new by your grace.

Forgive us for all that we have done which dishonours your love and hurts our neighbours,

renew what we shall be and take us from here inspired to serve you in the world.

Keep on working in us and through us until we extend our reach and our arms in welcome and you are worshipped as you ought to be in every corner of the world.

And hear us as we pray as Jesus  taught

Our Father who art in heaven

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts

as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory

Now and forever . Amen

Let us hear the Word of God and Bill Dempster reads for us today

Bible Reading – Psalm 106: 1 – 5, Matthew 22: 1- 10

Reflection

A king’s son was getting married. It was going to be the event of the year. Everyone who was anyone was to be invited. Otherwise the king would be dishonoured and laughed at. So the king made sure all the invites went out to all the right people. So many excuses were made. The king was shocked and disappointed and hurt at what he read. The king asked his servants to go into the towns and villages and ask everyone, no matter who they were. The feast was ready and there was food for all. So the servants did so and people flocked to the wedding, everyone was welcomed. And Jesus said, this is what the Kingdom is like: a place for everyone, and enough for everyone. There is a rejection in the parable of a ‘them and us’ attitude to the kingdom and a highlighting of the way of the table being open and including all. The ones on the edges, the ones often overlooked , the ones who are really in need of a meal , are welcome. There is also the affirmation of the idea of a meal being one of the central images of the kingdom. It is an image that has always been with the faith. It is an image of abundance and welcome.

The parable reassures us that we are welcome at God’s table….. and so also challenges us , for if we are welcome, how do we welcome others ? How good or bad are we at extending an invitation, showing love , budging up a bit and moving over so that each person has a place ? And how do we continue to show invitation and welcome and love when the ways in which we can meet others is restricted at this time ? The challenge of the parable , always calling us to reflect and think and act in different and imaginative ways so that all are included , demands not less but more of us in these days. May the king of all kindness who welcomes us in with the wonder of love and the power of grace, transform and renew us and enable his love to flow from us. Amen

Let us pray

Lord of invitation and welcome and  love

give us wider arms and bigger hearts and greater understanding

to know that sharing what we have will not diminish us.

You bless us so that we might bless others.

Lord hear these our prayers for others.

We pray for those who feel left out, alone, lost,

those who stand on the edges and worry about why they are not invited, welcomed, loved.

We pray for those who are left out because others, because we build fences based on fear, prejudice and what we see as difference rather than extend the table so that all share the banquet.

This Challenge Poverty Week, we pray for those who are struggling in communities around our country , struggling with damp housing, or the impact of violence or with lack of resources to get through the week and we pray that families and communities may come together to give support and hope.

We pray for those who are ill, those who are bereaved and those finding it hard to live through these days of uncertainty when so many things seem so different to what we are used to.

In quietness we offer our own prayers for others, naming before you those we are concerned about today.

Lord of invitation and welcome and love, may those for whom we pray know your presence and may we all live in your ways, today and always. Amen

Please take time to listen to the song ‘ Come all you vagabonds ‘ on the you tube link I have given.

Blessing

Each time we meet God throws a party. He is glad we came, delighted we made the effort. You are God’s special guests. Remember this as we leave our time together. God the Creator, Jesus the Son, the Spirit our guide, makes time for us each and every day

May the blessing of God , the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you today and always. Amen

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