URC Daily Devotion Sunday Worship 9th October 2022

Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 9th October 2022

Hope, Healing & Thanksgiving


Today’s service is led by The Revd Dr Elizabeth Welch

Call To Worship
Let us worship God, the Creator of all things, who calls us into God’s loving presence.  Let us worship Jesus, the life-giver and healer, who offers us the gift of life and healing.  Let us worship the Holy Spirit, source of power and peace, who offers us strength and encouragement to live in God’s way.
Hymn       O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing 
Charles Wesley (1707-88) BBC Songs of Praise

O for a thousand tongues, to sing
my dear Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!
2 Jesus! the name 
that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
’tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’tis life and health and peace.
3 He speaks; 
and, listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive,
the mournful broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.
4 My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim
and spread through all the earth abroad 
the honours of thy name.


Prayer of Adoration 
Loving and gracious God, you are the source of all goodness, on earth and in heaven. We praise you for your love for each one of us, love seen in the offering of yourself in your Son Jesus Christ, love that surrounds and uplifts us in our struggles and suffering. We praise you that you touch our lives with your Holy Spirit, bringing us healing from the things that wound us and giving us the courage to try new ways of living.
Living God, one in three and three in one, we praise you that you invite us to share in the relationship of love of the Holy Trinity, reaching out in love to those we meet day by day. But as we come before you, we are also aware of our own shortcomings. We turn to our prayer of confession.

Prayer of Confession 
Gracious God,
Forgive us when we forget your life-giving presence, and live in ways that are not full of life.
Forgive us when, in the midst of all that we have to be thankful for, even in the midst of the most difficult times, we forget to offer you our thanks and praise.
Forgive us when we get caught up in arguments with one another, instead of listening to you and to each other.
A moment of silence for reflection on what we regret in our own lives.
Words of Forgiveness
God knows your voice; God hears your cry for mercy; God turns his ear toward you. God is gracious and righteous, God is full of compassion; in your need God has saved you. Be at peace God forgives you, through Jesus Christ. Amen
2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 
When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” 
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” 
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 
Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” 
But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. 
But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 
So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean. 
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.”
Psalm 111
From Sing Psalms, © The Psalmody and Praise Committee, The Free Church of Scotland, sung at a Free Church Inverness Festival of Psalms 2003 and recorded by Connor Quigley and used with his kind permission.


Praise to the LORD! I will extol him
while gathering with the upright.
Great are the works of God, 
and pondered
by all who in them take delight.
2: His deeds are glorious & majestic;
his righteousness endures always.
He caused his works to be remembered;
kind is the LORD and full of grace.

3: Food he provides 
for those who fear him;
his covenant for ever stands.
His mighty works 
he showed his people
by giving them the nations’ lands.
4: Faithful & just are all his actions;
all his commands are faithful too,
Steadfast for ever and for ever.
The works of God 
are right and true
5: He sent redemption 
for his people;
his covenant remains the same,
Ordained by him 
throughout all ages—
holy and awesome is his name.
6: Fear of the LORD 
gives rise to wisdom;
All those who walk in upright ways
Have insight and good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.


2 Timothy 2:8-15
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David–that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself. 
Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
Luke 17.11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 
When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 
Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Hymn       Give To Me Lord A Thankful Heart
© 1975 Caryl Micklem performed by musicians and vocalists of Victoria Methodist Church, Bristol
and used with their kind permission.

Give to me, Lord, 
a thankful heart
and a discerning mind;
give, as I play the Christian’s part,
the strength to finish what I start
and act on what I find.
2 When, in the rush of days, my will
is habit bound and slow,
help me to keep in vision, still,
what love and power & peace can fill
a life that trusts in you.
3: By your divine and urgent claim,
and by your human face,
kindle our sinking hearts to flame,
and as you teach 
the world your name
let it become your place.
4: Jesus, with all your Church I long
to see your kingdom come:
show me your way of righting wrong
and turning sorrow into song
until you bring me home.
A Prayer for Illumination 
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O God our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen
Hope, healing and giving thanks – these three themes are raised up by today’s passages from a variety of different perspectives. Between them, these passages take us to both the simplicity and the complexity of scriptural texts, and the need to take time to dig in and reflect on what the scriptures, written so long ago, are still saying to us today.
Firstly, there’s Naaman.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus speaks in the synagogue of the Spirit of the Lord being upon him, bringing good news and recovery of sight to the blind. In what he says he refers to Naaman, who was a Syrian, and who was the only person in the time of Elisha who was healed of his leprosy. After hearing this story again, the synagogue crowd gets angry with Jesus, and they take him out and try to throw him off a cliff.
The passage from Kings takes us back to the time when Naaman was ill. Interestingly enough, it was a young Israelite woman, in service to Naaman’s wife, who points him in the direction of Israel as the place of healing. Naaman, the military commander, goes to his king and tells him what the girl has said. The king of Aram writes a letter to the king of Israel. The king of Israel panics, thinking that he can’t heal a leper, and that the king of Aram is trying to pick a fight with him.
Then Elisha hears of all this and suggests that the king of Israel sends Naaman to him, so that Naaman can see that there’s a prophet in Israel and be healed. But the story isn’t just straightforward. Elisha instructs Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan, and be healed. But Naaman gets cross. He wants to meet Elisha for himself and have the prophet wave his hand over him and cure him. He tries to head off in another direction. But his servants say ‘why not give it a go?’ And he does, and he’s healed.
The story continues with more interesting moments. But for today, we’re going to stop at this point and remind ourselves again of the points to which this passage draws attention.
Healing isn’t always straightforward. 
For a start, it took a young girl, of a different nationality, to point Naaman in the right direction. It wasn’t in his home country that he’d find this healing. He needed to trust what this young girl said, listen to her words, and head off for another country. And he did trust her words.
Then, when Naaman gets near to Elisha, he wants something different to happen. He wants to meet the prophet and in this encounter be healed, rather than just listening to what the prophet was pointing him to and doing what the prophet suggested. And so he gets angry and heads off elsewhere. But his servants urge him to do what the prophet said.
And he is healed, by the God of Israel, who has offered healing, regardless of the nationality of the person in need of healing.
This text invites us to be open to hearing God’s voice through the words of unexpected people. It also asks us not just to put our own presuppositions on what we’re looking for in terms of healing, but to be open to the different ways in which healing might come to us.
In Timothy we get the reminder of the centrality of Jesus Christ and the words ‘the word of God is not chained’. The passages continues with a reminder to ‘avoid wrangling over words’. Naaman’s ‘wrangling over words’ almost prevented him from being healed. It was as he listened to his servants, that he came to see the truth of what was being offered. It was as he did what Elisha proposed, that he was healed.
We live in an age where ‘wrangling over words’ is at the front of our lives, in the differing interpretations of what is claimed to be the truth. It can be challenging to think that we need to stop and listen – to the person who is different, to the alien and the stranger, to the one we would rather dismiss. But God takes us in a different direction – the direction of discerning, even in the midst of struggle and difficulty, where God actually is for us, and when and where God will bring us healing.
The themes of hope, healing and giving thanks are taken further in today’s Gospel.
Here we have 10 lepers who are healed. They are gathered together in a village, and hear of Jesus’ coming. Off they go, in a group, to plead for Jesus to look kindly on them. Jesus sends them off to the priests. As they go, they are healed.
It’s at this point that the story becomes interesting. All of them are healed, but only one of them comes back, praises God and gives thanks to Jesus. And this one was a Samaritan.
The story is both about Jesus’ capacity to heal, and about the responses that people make to being healed. Only one person, and this one, a stranger, an alien, a foreigner, returns to give thanks. Perhaps the others wanted to hurry off to get to the priest? Or they were just delighted that they were healed and wanted to get on with their lives?
The story comes as a reminder that God’s healing is open to all people. When we testify to healing today, we don’t just do so for those already in the life of the church. God’s healing is open to all who are suffering. The role of the church is to seek out the suffering and bring good news to each one, regardless of nationality or ethnicity.
It also comes as a reminder about being attentive to giving thanks to God for what God makes possible. One of the commentators on this passage points to the spiritual discipline of ‘listing one’s blessings’ day by day. We live in a society in which it can be easy to think that we have a right to everything. Giving thanks for what we do have then becomes a second order issue, often forgotten. In the Covid times, there has been a real challenge to focus on the blessings we still receive, even in the midst of times of struggle and difficulty. Sometimes the blessings can be for huge changes in our lives, such as healing. Other times, the blessings seem to be small – a smile from a friend or neighbour, enough to eat during the day, a roof over our heads.
Then, Jesus sends the Samaritan out. The healing isn’t just an end in itself, thanksgiving isn’t just an end in itself, the Samaritan is sent to live out his life to the full, and to testify to his faith.
The psalm for today offers a summary of today’s themes. It calls us to praising God for all of God’s works, including providing food, being faithful and just, sending redemption. It focusses on the role of praise and thanksgiving – not just looking inwardly at ourselves in isolation, but lifting our eyes to the God who is both in the heavens and in our hearts. Awe and wonder for God are the beginning of wisdom. And wisdom is about hope and healing and giving thanks, even in the most difficult times.
This is what Naaman learnt in his journey towards healing. This is what the healed Samaritan, giving thanks, testified to.
So let us today look again at our lives in the presence of God’s healing power, let us find hope in what God still offers today’s world, and let us give thanks for blessings both large and small.
Hymn       We Cannot Measure How You Heal
John Bell and Graham Maule © Wild Goose Resource Worship Group, The Iona Community sung on BBC Songs of Praise

We cannot measure how you heal
or answer every sufferer’s prayer,
yet we believe your grace responds
where faith & doubt unite to care. 
Your hands,
though bloodied on the Cross, 
survive to hold and heal and warn, 
to carry all through death to life 
and cradle children yet unborn. 

2: The pain that will not go away,
the guilt that clings 
from things long past
the fear of what the future holds,
are present as if meant to last.
But present too is love which tends
the hurt we never hoped to find,
the private agonies inside,
the memories that haunt the mind. 

3 So some have come who need your help
and some have come to make amends,
as hands which shaped and saved the world
are present in the touch of friends.
Lord, let your Spirit meet us here
to mend the body, mind and soul,
to disentangle peace from pain,
and make your broken people whole.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Loving God, we give you thanks for the blessings in our lives,

  • For the smile of friend and stranger
  • For the days when we have enough to eat and drink
  • For a roof over our heads
  • For your healing touch
  • For companions in the faith with whom we can share our lives
  • For your promise of hope in even the most difficult times

We take a moment of silence to reflect on God’s blessings this day.
Loving God, open our hearts and lives to be attentive to you and to welcome all that you give us.
Prayers of Intercession
Response after each period of silence:
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Gracious God, when we feel troubled and overwhelmed by the difficulties in front of us, come to us and help us and heal us. In the silence we name before you all that oppresses us today.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Healing God, we bring before you our hurts, and the illnesses and struggles of those around us. We pray that you will touch each one’s life with your love, and bring comfort and healing. In the silence we place into your hands the people for whom we are particular concerned this morning.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Peace-making God, we bring before you our troubled world, where too often there is conflict rather than reconciliation, war rather than peace, oppression rather than justice. We pray for countries and governments across the world in need of new beginnings and new ways forward. In the silence we remember those countries and peoples particularly on our hearts and minds today.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
God of justice, we bring before you the people who suffer from injustice, through abuse, racism, homelessness and hunger. We pray for better ways to be inclusive and caring, and to learn from the examples of those who suffer. In the silence we commend into you hands those places and situations we are aware of today.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Creator God, as we give thanks for your bountiful gifts of creation, we pray for the way in which your created world has been misused. Help us to be more attentive to cherishing the gifts of this earth and to working for climate justice across all your created earth. In the silence we call to mind places of your created world that give us life, and all who are working for a better and fairer approach to your creation.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
God of new life, we bring before you those who are dying and those who have died; those who are struggling with the thought of death, either for themselves or amongst their families and friends; those who have passed on and those who are mourning their loss. In the silence we remember those we know.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Loving and merciful God, we give you thanks that you hear our prayers, both spoken and unspoken. Receive now all that we have offered in words and silence, that it may be your will that is done, and your kingdom that comes. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
Offertory Prayer
Gracious God, we give you thanks for your outpouring of love in our lives.
As we have freely received, so may we freely give.  Help us to use your gifts for the upbuilding of your church and the care of your people. Receive now what we offer from our own lives and all that we have.
Bless us and our gifts as we dedicate these to you service this day.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn       Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
                  Henry Van Dyke (1907) BBC Songs of Praise

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away;
giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!
2 All Your works with joy surround Thee,
earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
stars and angels sing around Thee,
centre of unbroken praise;
field and forest, vale and mountain,
flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
singing bird and flowing fountain
call us to rejoice in Thee.

3 Thou are giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
wellspring of the joy of living,
ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
all who live in love are Thine;
teach us how to love each other,
lift us to the joy divine.
4 Mortals, join the happy chorus,
which the morning stars began;
Father’s love is reigning o’er us,
joining people hand in hand.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life

Go now, with thanksgiving in your hearts, to receive day by day the love God offers you, to celebrate the gifts that God gives you and to live out the lives to which God calls you. And the blessing of God Almighty, Father and Creator, Son and Redeemer, Spirit and Sustainer, rest upon each one of you, now and always. Amen.
All liturgical material by Elizabeth Welch
Opening music: Fugue in G Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Closing music: Toccata from Suite Gothique by Leon Boëllman (organ of St Thomas-on-The Bourne, Farnham – 2016)

Thanks to Graham Handscomb, Pam Carpenter, Chris Watson, Sue Cresswell, Walt Johnson, Kathleen Haynes, John Wilcox, Marion Thomas, Esther Watson and John Young for recording the spoken parts of the service. 

Hymn lyrics are public domain, the music in the podcast is delivered subject to the terms of the URC’s licence.

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