LITURGY

30th Sunday of the Year

WORD OF GOD
I will gather them
from the far ends of the earth,
all of them: the blind and the lame,
women with child, women in labour,
a great company returning here.
(Jeremiah 31:8)
 

WORD FOR TODAY
We do not require a physical or mental illness to need God’s healing power. What is it that God is trying to get us to look at in our own lives and in the needs of others? What words of warning or encouragement do we miss because we are hard of hearing? All of us are partially sighted and a little bit deaf.
 

WORDS FOR WORSHIP
Father of the scattered nations, you have promised to comfort your people and lead them back once more to you. Listen to the prayers we have brought before you today for ourselves and for those of our world in need. In your continuing goodness gather us together in the unity of your Holy Spirit that we may bear witness to the healing power of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
 

FAITH IN FOCUS: DOOM AND GLOOM?
Jeremiah is often dubbed the prophet of doom. This is because he saw the faithlessness of Jerusalem and warned people that God would get fed up with them before long. When the Jews were deported to present-day Iraq his words were proved right in many people’s minds.
Yet Jeremiah was not just an old misery. He was a prophet who spoke God’s words to the people. And today we hear him speaking to those people in exile in Iraq. But he doesn’t gloat. He offers them consolation, hope and support. He tells them that God will never abandon them completely but will gather them together and lead them home once more.
People who like things to be neat and tidy have problems with this side to God. They can accept that God has laws and is just. They are comfortable with people being punished who fall foul of the law. But they find it hard to cope with God relenting and letting people off. It clashes with their sense of justice.
God, however, always seems to relent when people sincerely approach him. And it seems that it’s never too late to turn to God and to be led back into the fold once more. Maybe it’s because God considers it more important for people to be repentant than to be punished. The returning exiles knew this only too well.
Whether it’s the blind man Bartimaeus who wants his sight restoring, or the helpless, the lame and the oppressed, it’s in God’s nature to want to heal and restore. Destroying people, even sinners, is not part of God’s scheme.
Jeremiah promises that all who turn to God in faith will share in this joyful event of salvation and restoration. Doom and gloom, or something worth shouting about for the world today?
 

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