August 23 Sunday service
The situation so far at Balderton is that we continue to open the church for prayer on a Sunday from 3pm to 4.30pm. We are looking at ways we can open the church for baptisms and funerals, and we are looking at what other activities we can open on a trial basis. We want to continue to be cautious. At Collingham we have a Stewards meeting on Thursday evening to look at ways of opening the church more. We had a Church Council meeting at North End to decide whether we can open the church. The decision was to open for services again with the guidelines in place to keep people safe. And at Long Bennington we hope to have a meeting early in September to decide when to open the church.
We are looking at organizing small groups to enable us to share fellowship, discuss the future of the church and receive communion. As it has already been said, it is far harder to come out of ‘lock-down’ then it is to enter it. We are doing our best to keep you informed and please do not hesitate to ring me if you need to talk to me. My No. is 01636 706462. There is the usual service online at 10.30am and the ‘Coffee Time’ Zoom No. is 879 8687 6810 and the password is Coffee
I have chosen hymns from Singing The Faith and Songs of Fellowship (S of F)
Shall we quieten our hearts and minds as we prepare for worship
Hymns 24 Come now is the time to worship
64 Praise is rising, eyes are turning to you
Lord we worship you because you are the God of eternity. You have seen our world pass by, revolving on its axis, you have seen the world you have created grow and blossom, produce fruit and beauty. You have seen empires rise and fall. You have witnessed great men and women and children. You have seen an array of human behavior, good and bad. And you remain faithful to us. We get so impatience when things do not go right for us and yet you can wait an eternity for us to repent and acknowledge our sin. We thank you that you are a great God, beyond our understanding and yet you reveal yourself to us in so many ways.
A liturgy by Rev Michaela Youngson
How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
We thought we knew how the world was meant to be.
Day followed night, every week had a Sunday
And that was the day for church
We thought we knew how the world was meant to be.
We made our plans, held our meetings
Kept the roof on the church and the show on the road.
We thought we knew how the world was meant to be.
We would see colleagues, friends and loved ones again
And we would embrace, laugh and share stories as we always have.
And now, we know something new.
We know that the world is not ours to control
And that our plans are confounded by the smallest microbe.
And now we know something new.
We know that church is not committees and agendas and buildings,
It is us, in homes, streets, hospitals throughout the world.
And now we know something new.
We only have today with those we love
Today is the day to say’ I love you’
To mend an argument, to hold on tight
God is teaching us a new song, for a new land
Lord we have taken so much for granted. Our loved ones, our friends, our homes, our jobs, our time on earth, our planet, our plans, our safety and security. Forgive us Lord that we have taken these things for granted. And most of all that we have taken you for granted We have taken for granted your love, your forgiveness, your presence in our life, the fact that you sustain us and our planet. Lord we bring all our sin before you and ask for your full and free forgiveness. Thank you, Lord, that you are a God of love and that your forgiveness is real. That you take away our sin and no longer count it against us. Thank you that our relationship with you is restored
And now let us say the Lord’s Prayer together
Reading Matthew 16 v 13 – 20
Hymn 36 There’s a quiet understanding when we’re gathered in the Spirit
Reading Romans 12 v 1 – 8
Hymn 10 Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
As a society we would much rather talk about the weather, holidays or football than really get to the heart of the matter. People say “Don’t talk about Politics or Religion,” that’s because people feel strongly and passionately about these subjects. People are sometimes willing to talk about religion so long as it doesn’t get personal. To many people their religion, their faith is personal to them and no one else. John Wesley indicates in his writings that it is important to be in a community with other Christians to enable us to be more Christ-like. If we work out our Christian faith on our own, we are liable to drift from the true teachings of Christ. If we are a part of a church and we discuss our faith with others we may realise that some of our thinking is diverging away from God’s word.
In verse thirteen of Matthew chapter sixteen. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Jesus uses the phrase ‘Son of Man’ to refer to himself. The disciples have better access to listening to people in the crowd. They are able to inform Jesus what they have heard. In verse fourteen, they reply. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” It was Herod who beheaded John the Baptist, who thought that John had come back as Jesus. In the Old Testament there is no record of Elijah’s death or that of Jeremiah’s. Both these Old Testament prophets were associated with preparing the way for the Messiah. Some people saw Jesus as a prophet, exalted as these valuations are, placing Jesus as an important figure, and also a character in the ‘End Times’, these evaluations are partially true but inadequate. Jesus was not the supporting character in a play, he was the main character. Without the main character the play falls apart.
Today, if people do recognize Jesus as an historical figure, many of them will not acknowledge that he is the Son of God. People appreciate his teaching, his emphasis on love and forgiveness, and many other wise words he spoke, to help us live at peace with those around us. But Jesus was more than a wise teacher, who led by example, he was more than a prophet. He is God’s Son. We need to take on board the whole package, not just the teaching but the person who Jesus is. It’s like a singer, singing a song with no emotion or feeling, the words sound empty. We know the singer is just going through the motions. It is the same when people repeat the deep truths that Jesus taught without God’s love within them. As St. Paul says, “they are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
We need to be fully committed to God to allow God to influence our life. The people who listened to Jesus words could decide for themselves who Jesus is, but the disciples had already made a commitment. They believed that Jesus was worth following. But Jesus had a question for them. “Who do you say I am?” They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his teaching, they had been witnesses to extraordinary miracles. They must have talked about this question and the answer to it. But to actually express their thoughts and feelings out loud, took a brave man. Peter speaking on behalf of the whole group said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter doesn’t hold back; he gives the full expression of his faith. Jesus response is to say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood but by my Father in heaven.” When other people had been listening to Jesus teaching and seeing wonderful miracles being performed, they had heard and seen by their physical faculties. But when Peter heard and saw these things, he was seeing with his spiritual eyes and listening with his spiritual ears. Peter was allowing God the Father to speak into his heart, allowing God to reveal himself to him. God was beginning to do a work in the hearts of the disciples which would eventually transform them, and the question which Jesus put to the disciples was the turning point. “Who do you say I am?” This is the pivotal question which each of us needs to answer. It gives us the direction for our life and it divided families, nations and the world. It is such an important question that each one of us will have to answer it, honestly, one day. We cannot avoid it. It determines how we live the rest of our life.
Firstly, it opens our spiritual eyes to what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The amazing love that God expresses to us, in allowing his Son to die for our sins. We are eternally grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made, to allow us to be made right with God. St. Paul says in Romans chapter twelve verse two, “Do not conform yourselves to the pattern of the world.” In other words, we need to live our life as God wants us to. We need to take on board the teachings of Christ. And be enabled to live out this teaching by God’s Spirit, and sometimes this requires sacrifice, as our natural desires and inclinations may clash with God’s will. Paul says in verse one, “I urge you brothers (and sisters), in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” It will not be easy to be obedient to God, especially, when many people are turning away from his teaching. For the disciples, the threat to their lives was increasing. They could not avoid the thought that if they continued to follow Christ, they may face prison or death. This thought is summed up by Thomas, when Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to Jerusalem to heal Lazarus. Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him. Ours is not one of sacrificing our physical lives, but one of constant dedication.
Paul says in verse two, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our thinking, out attitudes must change, it is an inner transformation which will be expressed by how we live our lives. The decisions we make, the way we think about other people, and how we respect people and value them. It is in some way like a young adult going off to University. Physically they remain the same, but within a short time their attitudes will change. Their lives will be given a fresh direction, because of the new experiences they will have and the different people they will meet. In the same way, physically we remain the same, but God transforms our thinking and our attitudes, as we gradually allow the Holy Spirit to reveal more of God’s love and teaching in our life. We still retain our free will, but because we love God, we want to please him in all that we do.
The transforming process is not a once in a lifetime experience. It is a continuous work of God in our life. As we become more sensitive to God’s Spirit, he will subtly suggest ways that we can change to please him. It is like when a couple get married, outwardly they make a commitment to each other but also inwardly they allow their partner to influence them. They can no longer think about themselves; they must think about their partner as well. Love is not about keeping rules, it is about maintaining a relationship and wanting to please your partner. It is the same with God, there are rules which we should take seriously, but more importantly, it is about having a relationship with God. That means worshipping God, expressing our love to him, and we do this partly by expressing our love to other people.
We need to serve God, and we do this by serving others. And we need to learn how to please God in what we do. We also need to realise how much we are loved and valued by God. God’s Holy Spirit will continue to work in our life, revealing more of God’s love to us, but also calling us to service and worship. The Holy Spirit wants to transform our hearts and minds so that we are in tune with God, and we know what pleases him. Amen
Hymn S of F 310 Jesus we enthrone you
Led by Scott and John Lee from North End
Lord, today we bring before you all the young people who will be going to University and college. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore life and learn. We pray that you will keep these young people safe, especially from the Coronavirus. We pray that you will help them settle into their accommodation and their studies. That they may make good friends who will support them through the turmoil of University and college life. We pray that you will prepare them for the future and that they may encounter you in this new phase of their lives.
We also, pray for young people who are looking for work. We ask that they may be able to obtain the job or the training course they desire. We pray that more job opportunities will open up in the near future so that these people will be able to progress in their career. We ask that you will minister to those who have not got the grades they wanted from their A-level results. Lift their spirits, help them to see a way forward even though it is not a path they would have chosen themselves.
We again, pray for our nation as we face the continued presence of the Coronavirus. We pray for our government as they make decisions that will combat the disease. We pray for ourselves and our loved ones that you will protect us. As we think about easing the restrictions on our churches, we pray that you will give us guidance in the way we can do this safely.
Hymn S of F 829 I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all for evermore. Amen