Home Service 3rd September 2023

A prayer of approach

Invisible and mysterious God, you are the challenge to our right living.
We are humbled, apprehensive and full of wonder before your all-powerful nature.

You have power over all creation; your majesty oversees all we do;
and your intimacy approaches our hidden selves.

· We pray with fear and humility, not valuing our worth, and afraid of your judgement
· We pray and find you reaching out to us in poverty and lowliness
· We pray and find you already listening


Welcoming God, forgive us when we fail to be welcoming:
· when we show others the door or make excuses not to open our arms
· when we fail to feed the hungry
· when there’s no visit for those who are at a distance from us
· when we refuse to re-clothe those who live naked lives.

Forgiving God,
· forgive our selfishness and greed, our inhospitality:
· forgive the fear of the stranger in us
· forgive our fear of intimacy, and of rejection
· forgive us when we fail to recognise you in those we meet.

You persist in forgiving us, you melt our hearts, encountering us in strangeness and poverty.
We are forgiven because you forgive … even us. Amen.

Please read 1 Kings 17

Elijah, one of the greatest of the prophets, has some of the best and most exciting stories in the Old Testament. He’s an Israelite, and his career is marked by a conflict with Israel’s wicked and semi-pagan King Ahab. He’s introduced here with words of judgement on the land: a drought and a famine (verse 1). He himself is fed ‘bread and meat’ by ravens (verse 6); perhaps we’re to understand ‘carrion’, the ravens’ normal food. His request for bread from the widow of Zarephath, who with her son is at the point of starvation, provides an object lesson in faith: do the right thing even when it seems absurd, it says, and God will bless you.

We should be careful how we read this story, though. Miracles tell us what God can do; they don’t guarantee what he will do. Sometimes we act in faith and do what we believe is right, and in the eyes of the world we don’t gain a thing: the flour and oil do run out. That’s when we need to hear other Bible stories, too: like that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, for instance. Told by the king to worship his god or be thrown into a furnace, they answer that God is able to rescue them; but ‘even if he doesn’t’, they won’t bow down to his statue.

Perhaps that’s the point about faith: there are no guarantees, otherwise it wouldn’t be faith. As Job says, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him’ (13.15, NIV).

A sending out prayer

We are fed and full of your Spirit.
We respond to the Word.
We will act on what we have heard
and now, we go in peace to serve the Lord
and to find sustenance in surprising places.


Suggested listening Alleluia! Sing to Jesus – www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJDWFYIkBns A Touching Place – www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTIwZ3XNyEY

O for a thousand tongues – www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O9kw3cILpg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.