On Sunday July 10th our local preacher, Rosemary Green led worship at Wesley Chapel. Worship began when we sang ‘O Worship the King all glorious above’. Rosemary led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. We sang, ‘Break thou the bread of life’ before we reflected on the attitudes we should have to others as shown in the Bible passages. The Old Testament reading was from Leviticus 19v9 which included instructions not to glean to the edges of the field, so the poor could glean at the edges; they were to love their neighbours as themselves. The gospel reading was the familiar story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10.25-37. We then sang, ‘When I needed a neighbour were you there?’
Rosemary told us that both readings expressed the command to love your neighbour as yourself. Love springs from our relationship with God. Jesus put together the two greatest commandments to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbour as yourself. You had to love yourself as a child of God and be as gentle with yourself as God is with us. Rosemary reminded us about ‘The Water Babies’ and two particular characters; Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by, who was a popular person in contrast with Mrs Do-as-you-have-done-by, who was not as popular! What do we want to do for ourselves? We need food, shelter and clothing and yet not everyone in the world has got those things. We want more than that, we want love not just charity. We want understanding and justice; we want to work or to use the time we have profitably. We want leisure for reading, art or sport as we can enjoy ourselves with those activities. Most of all we want purpose for our lives. We should also want those same things for our neighbours. Who is my neighbour?
We have all heard the story of the Good Samaritan so many times that it has lost its impact. If we do a good turn for others then we are like the Good Samaritan. However we have to remember the shock the story was for the first hearers. The Samaritans lived outside the law and were regarded as beyond the pale. Here the Samaritan was helping a stranger; he had no idea if the stranger was good or bad, or a foreigner; all he knew was here was a man robbed, stripped, beaten and left half dead. The priest and the Levite saw the injured man there but they did not get involved. Why? Would it be dangerous? Would he make them ritually unclean or perhaps they left him as he would delay their journeys. Only the outsider came along, moved with pity and administered first aid and passed him on to the care of the innkeeper, paying him for the care and promising to reimburse him later.
We are told to help those in need; that is anyone needing our help who comes across our path. The organisation of Samaritans provides listening ears to anyone who calls, no matter what problem they might have, even if they can’t always provide a solution. At our chapel there is still the organisation ‘Forward Together’ which was originally formed to help people on their own to socialise and have a hot meal. Now it is still there but on a smaller scale to do the same. The Harrogate Homeless project was formed as a need was seen and the demand for support for the homeless continues to grow. Our former caretaker’s home has been converted into facilities to provide showers, advice and a hot meal for homeless in need as well as the hostel for overnight accommodation. People who work with the homeless try to make sure homeless have no second night out so accommodation is found for them as a temporary measure. St Peter’s Church provides breakfasts and gives out meals to those in need most days. The food banks are needed for people in need in an apparently prosperous town. There is so much need in Harrogate as rents are so high that they are unaffordable for those on low wages.
As it was ‘Action for Children’ Sunday Rosemary explained about the first National Children’s Home opened on July 9th 1869 in London. There was formerly an orphanage on Pannal Ash Road in Harrogate, where up to 70 children who lived in 8 houses in family groups. Later on Children’s homes fell out of favour when fostering or adoption was preferred. Action for children provide daytime activities and help young families struggling in their homes. They also provide short breaks for parents with disabled children. We are all challenged not to be too busy with our own affairs or even with church to show love to neighbours who are not of our choosing. What kind of love are we supposed to show? As 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us; love is patient and love never ends; holy love is gentle and calm and can never harm others. Holy love seeks justice for all. Eternal love helps us from above.
We then sang, ‘We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet.’ The words of this new hymn are poignant as we bring all our and the world’s needs to our Lord and pray in the final verse:
O Spirit, on us breathe,
With life and strength anew;
Find in us love, and hope and trust,
And lift us up to you.
Rosemary led the prayers of intercession for our broken world. She reminded us of the 100th anniversary of Donald S Bell’s V.C. in the battle of the Somme as he was a member of Wesley Chapel and his name was on a plaque in the vestibule. We still live in a broken world. The prayer was based on Luke’s gospel. Worship concluded when we sang ‘Forth in thy name O Lord I go.’