Call to worship
The steadfast love of the Lord is established forever. His faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. The Lord invites us and welcomes us. Let us worship the Lord.
Let us Pray
Lord God most merciful, we confess that we have sinned, through our own fault, in thought, word and deed, and through what we have left undone. We ask to be forgiven. By the power of your Spirit turn us from evil to good, help us to forgive others, and keep us in your ways of righteousness and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
You O Lord are the glory and the strength! Your love is secure and unending. Your righteousness and mercy are without measure. Accept our praise and adoration, Lord we pray. Amen
- Romans 6:12-23
Ask anyone in the street today do we still have slavery in the world? Most would think it is a thing of the past. Most women think that we still have it in our homes!!
Back in 2007 we celebrated 200 years since emancipation, which is now 213 years ago. Thanks to men like Clarkson, Wilberforce, John Brown and Revd John Newton, the latter being a former slave ship captain.
What was a slave?
A slave was a person who lost their freedom and carried out manual work without payment. They were considered to be the property of their masters. They could be bought from slave owners or born into slavery or taken in repayment of debt or paying back for things that had been stolen, see Neh.5:5-8
Under the old Roman law, a slave had no rights and could be disposed of in whatever way the owner liked. In ancient Biblical times, slaves did have rights even the power to conduct business and ownership of other slaves while still serving their masters. The Second World War under both the Nazis and Japanese occupation we had a lot of prisoners being forced into slavery.
Today we still have slavery
Today it can go under the name of HUMAN TRAFFICKING. This is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms coercion of abduction or of vulnerability or giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. New slavery has two chief characteristics – it’s cheap and it’s disposable.
Slaves today are cheaper than ever. In 1850 an average slave in the American South cost the equivalent of $40,000 in to today’s money. Today a slave cost about $90 on average worldwide. (Source: Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.)
Today we have other forms of slavery. People are enslaved to drugs, drink, many of our crimes are as result of needing money to pay for such enslavement. People are enslaved to ambition and money. A lady once shared with me many years ago how she became enslaved to offers that came through the post, all she had to do was to purchase what was on offer in the hope to gain a prize.
Two forms of slavery
Our reading from Romans 6:12-23 speaks of two forms of slavery, and when we look at the passage we will understand that there are two masters here also. Serving one the devil will lead to death while the Lord Jesus offers us life. Verses 16-18, Don’t you know that when you offer yourself to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Note, the use of the word righteousness; what does this word mean? It means upright and free from wrong. Righteousness includes such qualities as kindness, unselfishness, truthfulness, and justice. Because God is righteous He demands the same from us.
Paul is using slavery as a picture; this is language that the people back in those days would be familiar with. What he is saying to the people of his day and to us today in effectively we are slaves to sin. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. What Paul is referring to is members of their bodies being used for sinful acts in contrast to believers who are now no longer slaves to sin but slaves to God which leads to eternal life. So our bodies should be made available to God to be used by Him for His glory, surrendering completely over to God free from sin. But you ask how do I come to Jesus? How do I get God’s gift of eternal life? The answer is simple, come just as you are and put your trust in the blood of Christ, God’s Son who died on the cross to take away your sin. The hymn writer Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) wrote,
‘Just as I am without one plea. But that thy Blood was shed for me; and that Thou bidst me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come'
Prayers of Intercession
We pray for those on the fringes of society; for those who feel rejected; for those who are overlooked; for those whom others avoid; for those who are lonely; for those in prison; especially those kept in isolation; for children excluded from school; for their families and those with responsibility for their education. May they know they are welcome in your kingdom, may they know the welcome of your love. Loving God, as you welcome us, may we welcome others with warmth and steadfast love. Amen
May the blessing of the God of peace and justice be with us; may the blessing of the Son who weeps the tears of the world’s suffering be with us; and may the blessing of the Spirit who inspires us to reconciliation and hope be with us; from now into eternity.