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Worship Sheet for Sunday 4 September      Eyes wide open  

Jesus talks openly about the difficulties that face his followers – and will, to a greater or lesser extent, all of us. He encourages us to think things through, to “count the cost” and not simply make a rushed emotional response. We shouldn’t underestimate the joys and blessings nor Jesus’ promise to be with us every step of the way, but we need to have our eyes open.
Call: O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise. O Lord, may we open ourselves in worship, being honest with ourselves and with you.
O Lord, may we appreciate the cost of calling and willingly give of ourselves in worship and service.  O Lord, receive our praise as we gather to worship you.

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Listen to the 1st Prayer

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Pray : Creative God, you designed the universe and poured out your unconditional love to make it. We are in awe of you. Jesus Christ, you gave yourself freely to the world, taking on human form, offering us love and inviting us to build your kingdom with you. We are in awe of you. Loving Spirit, you are within us and all around us, gently nudging and guiding us along, when we allow you in. We are in awe of you. Loving Parent, you know us completely, every fibre of our being is made by you, We are truly in awe of you. You have freely given us life, love and a call to love you in return. You continue to love us and call us to you, allowing us to choose freely to follow or turn away. Forgive us, for those times when we choose to turn away, for those times when the cost seems too great for us to bear and instead, we choose our own selfish desires. Lord, remind us that you long to forgive us, that your love for us is eternal and that no matter how often we fail you or turn away, you are always there for us, waiting to welcome us when we choose to come to you. You are all we need, and when we turn to you and choose to follow you with our heart, mind and soul, everything else falls into place. You give us all we need to go forward day by day, continuing the work of building your kingdom, here and now. Hear our prayers for the sake of Jesus your Son, Amen.

Todays Bible reading - Listen by clicking on the image or using the sound bar below
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Luke 14:25-33.  Jesus speaks of the cost of following him.                    
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Thought- Honesty is the best policy so the saying goes, though most of us are very wary of over the top marketing claims – working on the principle “If it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t true”. The disciples were probably squirming at Jesus highlighting the difficulties and trials faced by believers but I have no doubt that many more have followed him because of his openness about the “downside” of faith than would had he tried to hide the costs. Of course, there is still room to highlight the joys and blessings that come from following Jesus – and of his presence with us through all the dark times. We need to be honest with others and with ourselves and live ready to “climb the steep and rugged pathways” as well as rest near the “quiet waters”. It makes sense to take everything into account; no point ignoring the tough times but there again they bring home to us just how marvellous journeying through life with Jesus is. And whatever the cost of following Jesus is to us, it isn’t a patch on all he has done for us! Don’t try to blinker yourself (or others) from the hardships in life and in following Jesus – rather hold firm to one who loves us come what may.  

Praise: CH4 255         Father, hear the prayer we offer.
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Listen to the 2nd Prayer

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Pray: Merciful God, we thank you for the life you give us, for the people who journey with us and the wonders of the natural world that never cease to amaze us. Your unconditional love is overwhelming to us and we are in awe of it all. Your love continues to pour out upon the world and you invite us to work with you, putting all else behind us and building your kingdom of love and service. You long for the world to become a place where all are welcome, where all live in peace. You desire people to work together to bring justice for everyone. Lord, we hear your call and ask for your help as we contemplate what you are asking us, remembering all you have given for us and knowing you ask little in return, even when at times a little can seem a lot. Lord, we pray for all who know and love you already, for all who use their gifts to build your kingdom and who willingly accept the cost of their service. Lord, we pray for all who don’t know you yet but strive to make the world a better place, based on love and justice. May they come to know you as we do and continue to serve you. Lord, we pray for all who have come to know you but feel the cost is too much to bear and who choose to live their life their own way. May they know you will always be there for them and welcome them when they are ready to return. May they have a sense of your presence in their lives no matter what choices they make. Lord, we pray for all who are coming to know you and wondering what you are asking them to do. We pray for all who are considering a call to some kind of ministry in the church. May they be open to your call and willing to take the risk of serving you in this way. Lord, we pray for your church, facing the cost of fewer members and restructuring. May all the pruning and change bring new growth and life, preparing the church for this next phase of kingdom building. In our prayer walk this week we pray for the Church of Scotland as a whole. Lord, we offer these prayers and concerns for those most in need of your loving touch. We are thankful that you promise to answer them in your own time and way. Help us to be ready to receive and act on the answers when they come.

SILENCE. Hear our prayers silent and spoken for Jesus’ sake Amen.  

Blessing - May the Lord bless you. Amen.