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Lectionary Readings:

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40
   I'm tired of your feasts...
   A sacrifice of praise
   A parade of the faithful
   Be ready...

Hymns:

 RS 378
 RS 41
 RS 734
 RS 499
 RS 586
 Awake my soul, and with the sun
 For the beauty of the earth
 I'll praise my maker while I've breath
 Have faith in God my heart
 All my hope on God is founded

Opening Sentences: (based on Psalm 50)

          The Almighty God, the LORD speaks;
he calls the whole earth, from east to west.
He says, "Gather my faithful people to me,
those who come to offer a sacrifice."
What sacrifice does the Lord require?
Let our giving of thanks be our sacrifice to God.

Prayer of Approach:

          We come to worship with minds fit to bursting.  We have things to do, messages to pass on, stuff to arrange; we have decisions to make, plans to fulfil and places to go.  Holy Spirit, calm my mind.

We come to worship with burdens to bear.  We have problems in our relationships, there are people we have hurt, we have made poor choices; there are things that frighten us, things that hold us back, things that enslave us.  Holy Spirit, lift my heart.

We come to worship with unfulfilled dreams.  Our lives aren't going where we want them to; our deepest desires for fulness of life and depth of being constantly evade us.  Holy Spirit, make my Spirit soar on eagle's wings.

We come to worship with so much to offer.  Our lives are full of opportunities for joy and thanksgiving, for sharing and for caring; we have enough to live on, and more besides; we have the strength of a loving community of Christians right across the town.  Holy Spirit, open our hands to a generosity that doesn't stop to count the cost.

We come to worship with so many needs.  Holy Spirit, fill us, renew us, challenge us, and inspire us.

Prayer of Confession:

   For the times when our worship was an empty, meaningless habit: Lord, forgive us.
For the days when good intentions were crowded out by selfish concern: Lord, forgive us.
For the words that were calculated not to heal, but to harm: Lord, forgive us.
For the opportunities to enhance life that we let slip by: Lord, forgive us.
For the thousand little compromises that weakened our witness: Lord, forgive us

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.  Release us from our burden of failure and set us free to serve you  in newness of life.  In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Offertory Prayer (RS 404):

  Lord of all good, our gifts we bring to thee,
use them thy holy purpose to fulfil:
tokens of love and pledges they shall be
that our whole life is offered to they will.

     We give our mind to understand they ways,
     hands, eyes and voice, to serve thy great design;
     heart with the flame of thine own love ablaze,
     till for they glory all our powers combine.

          Father, whose bounty all creation shows,
          Christ, by whose willing sacrifice we live,
          Spirit, from whom all life in fulness flows,
          to thee with grateful hearts ourselves we give.

Prayer of Intercession

In Micah 6 it is written

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn child to pay for my sins?
No, the Lord has shown us what is good. And what does the LORD require of us? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.

Compassionate God, we know that you do not crave sacrifice of animals or children or oil.
We have left these things far behind.

Instead we want to offer up our sacrifice of praise, of faith, of justice.
We want to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you.
And so we offer up to you our prayers for the world,
achingly aware of the needs of others, of the despair of their lives.

We pray for people caught up in civil war, those swept along in a tide of hatred against anyone different from themselves and those who suffer because of it. For children who have witnessed unmentionable atrocities which will haunt them for the rest of their lives. For those who have lost family members, homes, hope.
And we pray for all those groups, official and unofficial who are trying to help alleviate suffering.

We pray for people who are hungry. For those who live in countries frustrated by the debt burden they bear. Where much of the countries budgets is taken up with repayments to the west. We pray that a chance may be given, and taken, to make a change. We pray for those in government that they will put the needs of the poor first.
And we pray for all groups involved in Jubilee 2000, campaigning to end debt, and for those agencies involved in helping those who are in need now.

We pray for people who feel hopeless. Trapped in areas of high unemployment, of drink and drug abuse, of despair. People who don't know what to do or who to turn to. For those who suffer discrimination and those who are abused. We pray that those who are in government may look with compassion on these communities, to help people to help themselves, bringing self respect back to individuals and the areas they live in.

And we pray for those people and situations that weigh heavy on our hearts. We talk about them to you in a time of quiet.
make the silence as long as possible - 2 minutes if you can!

Compassionate God, we bring these prayers to you.
And we know that if we are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you, then our prayers must not stop here, but be living prayers, expressed through our actions, our protests against injustice, our small ways of helping others, our compassion and care.
We have shared with you some of the problems that beset the world - may we be part of the solution.

We pray in Jesus' name. Amen