An Unemployment Service without Holy Communion

Worship / Produced by partner of TOW

This Sample Service is part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more services, prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.

UNEMPLOYMENT SERVICE
Version 2: Service without Communion

 

INTRODUCTION

We come together to worship God. We stand in his presence. We open ourselves to his goodness and his love. We come to confess our sins, and those of our nation, against those who are unemployed. We come to pray for all those who bear the burden of unemployment, for those who serve them, and for our nation. We pray for a new willingness to bear one another's burdens; a new determination to value one another. We come in the hope that God will show to us, and to our nation, how together we may overcome this great evil.

 

HYMN

(Praise my soul the king of heaven)

Let us pray:
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord.

Lord, you support those who stumble and raise those who are oppressed. Forgive our indifference and our lack of compassion.

Father, forgive us, we have wronged our neighbour, we have condoned injustice, we have marred your image in us. Help us to hunger and thirst to see right prevail, so that all people may be free to live and praise your name. Amen.

May God show us mercy by forgiving our sins and confirming us in his goodness. May we continue to share Christ's risen life and so bring life to others. Amen.

 

PSALM 8

O Lord our God: the whole earth glorifies your name!
Your praise stretches to the heavens on the lips of
infants and children.

You tower over your enemies,
and defeat all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky, the moon and the stars you created,
how insignificant humans seem, and yet you cherish them.

You share your glory with men and women,
as if they were gods beside you.

You have made them masters of creation:
everything is subject to their authority,
Cattle and sheep, and every living creature,
soaring birds, sea fish and the teeming life of the oceans.

O Lord, our God: the whole earth glorifies your name.

 

FIRST READING

(Isaiah 40:1-11)

 

MODERN READING

Unemployment Is...
Unemployment is feeling utterly useless as far as one's contribution to society is concerned.
Unemployment is seeing everyone else with a job, a purpose, while you wander around aimlessly.
Unemployment is having to face the indignity, time and time again, of signing on with the same DSS assistants.
Unemployment is the guilt of having to rely on society's money in order to simply exist.
Unemployment is the shame of bumping into colleagues in the city, former workmates from the times when the going was relatively good.
Unemployment is seeing that one's clothes are wearing out and yet not knowing where the next set is going to come from.
Unemployment is getting a pair of the cheapest shoes in town, smelly and ill-fitting and looking cheap.
Unemployment is having to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, not knowing how you're possibly going to get through or fill the day.
Unemployment is often absolute loneliness for hours on end.
Unemployment is seeing a new book you want in a shop and knowing you cannot afford it.
Unemployment is wanting to go to see a play at the theatre, or a film at the cinema, and knowing you cannot afford it.
Unemployment is experiencing the distance of relatives and friends, because they also do not know how to cope with the despair and desperation of the situation.
Unemployment is suddenly losing friends who simply do not want to know you any more, or relatives who simply can't be bothered to accept the pain of caring enough.
Unemployment is losing confidence regarding the talents one once had.
Unemployment is watching Neighbours at midday, because you've nothing better or more exciting to do.
Unemployment is being too old for even Restart to bother with you.
Unemployment is taking it out on the wife because you've no-one else to take it out on.
Unemployment is an unshakable whinge and whine and moan because you don't know where else to put your frustration.
Unemployment is to be kicked about by DSS and Council officials without any status or redress.
Unemployment is to be told you don't qualify for benefits even when you've followed all the rules.
Unemployment is being offered the dirtiest, noisiest and most vulnerable flats in town.
Unemployment is having to borrow from friends in order to survive until the next dole cheque.
Unemployment is absolute terror when the dole cheque doesn't arrive on time.
Unemployment is simply surviving one day at a time.
Unemployment is to lose yourself in drink or cheap sex as sheer necessary escape.
Unemployment is to seriously consider suicide.
Unemployment is sometimes to feel that the whole world has forgotten you.
Unemployment is to get washed and shaved in the morning for you do not know what.
Unemployment is to stop wearing masks because you no longer have the energy to maintain them.
Unemployment is to find a strength and a courage and power and a will-to-live within yourself that you never knew you had.
Unemployment is time to review the past for what it was, even if you cannot see much of a future.
Unemployment is developing a hard nose to take any blows the world may hurl at you.
Unemployment is a determination to stick up for one's rights whatever the cost.
Unemployment is a coming closer to God, a going deep within yourself and finding the deepest spiritual roots.
Unemployment is seeing prayers answered in little ways every day.
Unemployment is seeing the unmistakable hand of Providence at work every day.
Unemployment is potentially a unique destiny granted by God.
Unemployment is an opportunity to become spiritually grounded like you've never been before.
Unemployment is seeing the society around you with the eye of Spirit: greedy, grasping, materially obsessed and insane.
Unemployment is making yourself rich by making your wants few.
Unemployment is being appalled at society's worship of consumer idols, its superficial and empty vanity, its utter lack of meaningful values.
Unemployment is seeing clearly "I'm all right, Jack" and "What can I do anyway?"
Unemployment is seeing the futility of laying up treasure on earth instead of treasure in heaven where rust cannot corrupt.
Unemployment is finally accepting the gift of the desert, the urban slums where life - and values - are turned inside out.
Unemployment is seeing:
In the desert, a highway ...
In the desert, a flower ...
In the desert, a fountain.
(Geoff Smith)

 

HYMN

(God of the world's great cities)

 

SECOND LESSON

(Matthew 6:19-end)

 

STATEMENT OF BELIEF

(To be said together or alternately by different groups)

We believe
in a God of justice,
tender to the poor and oppressed
who hears their cries;
creating, loving, redeeming
throughout history.

We believe
in the Son of God,
made human.
He suffered and died,
because he challenged and upset
the powers of his day.

We believe
in the Spirit of God,
the Spirit who gives life and joy,
who moves us, touches us
and keeps us going.

We believe
that people are born
to lead fulfilling, creative
and productive lives.
We believe that unemployment
and frustrating work
are a denial of God's image in us.

We believe
that we have to
search for the truth,
be brave enough to proclaim it,
and realise that we need each other
to build community.

 

LITANY

Lord, we pray for your Church:
for those who lead us...
for those who teach us...
Help those of us who are unemployed
to share with those in work
in the struggle for justice
for all men and women.

Lead us out from darkness
to walk as children of light.

We pray for our national leaders...
for those who advise them...
for the leaders of industry and commerce...
for writers and broadcasters...
May they work together
to strengthen the weak
and empower the powerless.

Lead us from darkness
to walk as children of light.

Father, be with all of us who are in work...
those facing redundancy...
those in training...
those whose work is unpaid, or
undervalued...
and those without a job...
May we support and love one another
as Christ loves and values us.

Lead us out of darkness
to walk as children of light.

Father, we pray for the casualties of our
economy...
for those whose work is monotonous...
for those poorly paid...
for those suffering discrimination...
for unemployed people and their families...
for those living in poverty...
for those who are homeless...
for those who are ill...
for those in despair...
Help us reject the notion that some have the
right to wealth at the expense of others.

Lead us out from darkness
to walk as children of light.

Lord, we thank you for all those people who
have struggled for justice and peace in
their generation.
May we rejoice with them by continuing that
struggle until the world reflects your glory.

Lead us out of darkness
to walk as children of light.

Turn our hearts, O God we pray, towards the saving example of your Son Jesus Christ. In his life, death and resurrection he brought salvation for each of us, and charges each of us to live out our faith in the way of the cross. We would follow, O God, however hard the way. Turn our hearts we pray. Teach us the way of self-sacrifice and openness to others. Amen.

Lord God, we remember before you those known to us personally who are unemployed. In the silence of our hearts [or out loud] we name them before you.... Lord, send your Holy Spirit upon these people, and all others known to you; that they may find renewed strength, restored hope and the certainty of your everlasting love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, who made us all in your image and fashioned us for creative work. Have mercy on all, employed and unemployed alike. Help us to organise our common life alongside one another, and to understand what kind of help we need to give one another. Guide the leaders of our country, that they may take wise decisions that will benefit us all. Finally, we ask you Lord to guide us in the knowledge that we all have worth and are all of equal value in your eyes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers, for the sake of your
Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

HYMN

(Worker God who planned creation)

 

SERMON

(Suggested Sermon: Restoring Fellowship)

 

A RESPONSIVE PRAYER

Whether we work at home, or at school,
in a factory or an office,
indoor or out of doors,
we give our work to you,
Lord God

Whether we work alone, or with others,
with hand or brain,.
in a shop or a hospital,
we give out work to you,
Lord God.

Whether our work is paid or unpaid,
interesting or boring,
with computers or with people,
we give our work to you,
Lord God.

Whether our work involves manufacturing or planning,
travelling or homemaking,
teaching, learning or caring,
we give our our work to you,
Lord God.

Whatever we do,
give us a sense of wonder.
Whatever we make,
give us a sense of achievement.
Whatever we build,
grant us a sense of glory.
Whatever our work,
grant us a share in your purpose.
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray,
Amen.
(Greater Manchester Industrial Mission)

 

HYMN

(All my hope is firmly grounded)

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord Jesus, we celebrate the goodness you give us as we commit ourselves to building a community of honesty, of openness and of truth. We believe that in the church God is creating a community of people who care for each other, bear one another's burdens and reach out to the wider world with the good news of God who cares and creates and who builds his kingdom today. Open our eyes to see the needs of your suffering people so that we can respond with compassion, without judgement and in partnership. We ask this for your name's sake. Amen.

 

BLESSING

May the God who creates
and sustains you
fill your hearts with peace and joy,
courage and commitment
to make our world a living community
of justice and love.
And may the blessing...
...Amen



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