I hope you are all well. I would like to update you on the various stages the churches are at. In September we are hoping to open up some of the activities in the churches, At Balderton we are continue to open for prayer on a Sunday at 3.00 to 4.30pm. We are trying to organize bubble church for Monday morning, we are also looking at how we can have Playgroup on a Tuesday morning with a limit of 10 parents plus children. At Collingham we want to develop the Sunday morning prayer so that members of the church can read a Bible passage or prayer out loud at the lectern. We also want to have bubble church on a Thursday morning for the Prayer Group which will start on 10th September. We now have services up and running at North End on a Sunday evening. At Long Bennington we have organized a Council meeting on Wednesday 9th September to see when and how we can open the church. Please contact me if you want more details or if you want to talk about the future role of the church, my No is 01636 705264 and my email is email@example.com
The Coffee Time Zoom meeting is on Sunday morning at 11.30 – 12,15 and the ID No. is 819 3364 2843 and the Password is Coffee
I have chosen hymns from Singing the Faith and one from Songs of Fellowship SofF
Let us quieten our hearts and minds and we prepare to worship
Hymn 136 Morning has broken, like the first morning
O God of the burning bush, of the pillar of fire, of the purifying fire, inflame our hearts with your love. Help us to see and feel how holy you are. We sometimes approach you nonchalantly, we sing our hymns and say our prayers as if you are an aged grandfather who as fallen asleep and our words don’t matter, they will not be listened to, or they will be soon forgotten. Yet Lord, you never sleep, you are always aware of every single word we have uttered, every thought, every motive, every attitude is known by you. You are an amazing God, you understand us so well, better than we know ourselves, and yet still we do not always trust you to lead us in the right direction. We struggle to lose control of our life and hand it to you because we lack faith, we struggle to trust you with the most precious things we have, our life and our loved ones. We worship you Lord because despite the inner turmoil in our hearts we want to hand our lives to you
Thank you, God, that you are loving and kind and you always look for ways to bless us. Forgive us when we make a mess of life and then blame you. Forgive us for our selfish nature which sometimes hurts others as well as you. Help us to trust you in all the important things in our life. Thank you that you are a forgiving God who is always willing to wash away our sins. Lord, you took Moses, a man who committed murder, and you turned his life around. Work in us with your transforming love. Amen
And now shall we say the Lord’s Prayer together
Reading Exodus ch 3 v 1 – 15
Hymn 238 Lead us heavenly Father, lead us
Black Lives Matter
I looked in despair at the TV screen. Another black man has been assaulted by a white police officer, and now we hear that he may be paralyzed from the waist down. In the three months since George Floyd was killed, you would think that there would be awareness training for police officers. When we watched the video of the assault this week, we saw Jacob Blake walking round his car to the passenger side. He opened the door and then is shot seven times in the back. We hear later that his three young children are in the car when this happens. This is a terrible event which shows the true effects of racism.
Racism does not just effect the ones who are abused, it eats away at the perpetrators as well. Whether it is a joke, a glib comment, or a preconceived idea expressed in a way that causes hurt. Whether it be discrimination or outright racism, it is harmful, it damages lives, and it destroys them. It eats away at our society; it demeans us as human beings when we accept this kind of behaviour. As Christians we should value all lives – as God does himself. And we should stand up to Racism.
Reading Romans ch 12 v 9 – 21
Hymn S of F 1163 All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give
It seems as though God has been preparing Moses for most of his life. Firstly, Moses is saved miraculously as a boy, and then he is taken into the Egyptian court to learn about the Egyptian way of life. Moses is very blessed because his fellow countrymen are slaves. How much of his Hebrew roots he knew we are not sure about? But we do find him wandering around near one of the building sites. When he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses steps in. He kills the Egyptian and buries the body. The next day he realizes that people know what he has done and so he flees from Egypt. He ends up far from home in Midianite territory. He stays at Jethro’s house and marries one of his daughters. There has been a phenomenal change in Moses life. From being an Egyptian prince to a fugitive. But in all this God is preparing Moses for an extraordinary job. And the preparation continues as Moses learns to be a shepherd, searching out for fresh water and new pasturelands for the sheep, being responsible for the family flock.
God is preparing Moses to lead his people on a strenuous and difficult journey. But first, God as to get Moses attention. Moses appears to be going further than he normally would, looking for grazing land. Moses drives the sheep well into the wilderness and perhaps even beyond. The whole impression is that of a completely new and strange and distant place. When we are in a new place or experiencing something new or different, our sensors are more receptive, we are more aware of things, and if we are brave, we are inquisitive. Some people enjoy new experiences while others feel anxious. As a shepherd Moses would have been used to stepping into the unknown, looking out for danger, but also looking for water and pastureland for the sheep. It is at this point that he sees a bush on fire, he had seen bushes on fire before but this one continued to burn and not be consumed. Moses has got some time on his hands and so he goes over to investigate.
How does God get our attention? To begin with he might do something spectacular, but generally, as we grow and develop as Christians, he will guide us in more subtle ways. Remember that it wasn’t long before God was asking Moses to step out in faith. He asked Moses to go back and face Pharaoh, he wasn’t going to send an army with him, he just allowed Moses to take his brother Aaron, along. We need to be open to God guiding us and speaking to us. It maybe sometimes through the Bible, through prayer, through a friend, or even through circumstances. Things which happen to us, where we feel God directing us in a certain way.
And so, Moses approaches the burning bush, he is inquisitive, he isn’t thinking that he is about to meet God. God meets us in our day to day lives, revealing himself to us, reminding us that he loves us, and he wants to encourage us, and challenge us and help us to grow. God calls Moses by name, just as he knows us personally by name. It must have been a real shock for Moses, out in the middle of nowhere and suddenly to hear someone call your name. Moses answers, “Here I am.” Maybe he senses that it is God’s voice. God said to him. “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” God is making sure that Moses knows that he is in God’s presence. That there are appropriate ways of acting when you come before God. For Moses, it was to remove his sandals. It is not so much what we do, it is more about preparing ourselves to meet God. There may be rituals that are performed. Catholics and some Anglicans may make the sign of the cross, or they may bow to the front of the church. If it helps them to prepare themselves for meeting with God, then it is good.
How do you prepare yourself when you are coming into God’s house or in your devotional time at home? As Methodists we can be a bit lax in our approach to God. That is why some churches prepare the congregation by asking for silence, or by singing a few songs before the service begins.
If you can remember the story of Jacob. He fell asleep in a certain place and had a dream. When he awoke the next day, he realized that where he had slept was holy ground. When Moses went up the mountain to receive the ten commandments, he instructed people not to set foot on the mountain because it was holy ground.
So, God meets Moses in the wilderness. And I believe that God meets us there too, at the crossroads of our life, where life seems meaningless and not worth living. God breaks through our despair, frustration and anger. He meets us where we are, in our homes, the places we work, the places we socialize, the times we are on our own, or in a crowd. God is there with us and for us.
When God meets with Moses, as Moses stares at the burning bush, God says to him, “I am the God of your father.” God is referring to Moses’ father back in Egypt, he is building a link with Moses and the rest of the Hebrews who are enslaved. God is pointing out the belief that Moses’ parents have. He is trying to help Moses connect with the faith of his people. I am sure that it helped us as Christians to see the faith which our parents expressed, but of course, we cannot hold onto that faith. We must grow and develop in our own way, to have a relationship with God that is personal to us. As Moses was taking in the fact, that the God who is now speaking to him, is the same God his parents’ worship. God now stuns Moses by saying, (I am) “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. At this Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.” The realization for Moses as he stares at the bush, is that he is in the presence of God. At this Moses covers his face. He is standing before God and he is afraid. He begins to realise the enormity of the situation, and he is completely unprepared.
None of us are prepared to meet with God. When we come to church on a Sunday, do we really expect God to speak to us? Are we really prepared to meet him face to face? And it is the same in our own homes. Do we expect to experience God when we are watching the service on our computer screen? God is not limited in the way he can communicate with us. But we limit God if we are not open to God revealing himself to us.
God willing, we will continue to look at this story next week. Amen
Hymn 54 I will worship, with all of my heart
Lord, we are saddened and angry that people today are judged on the colour of their skin. That they can be abused and harmed and society turns a blind eye. Lord, we pray for the Black Lives Matter campaign that it will bring real change in our country, the United States and all over the world. We ask that you will work in people’s hearts to transform them from hatred and bigotry. At the same time, we ask that you will give us the courage to look deep into our own hearts and minds to see the prejudices that we may hold. Forgive us Lord, when we have said something or done something which demeans another person.
We pray about the political tensions around the world. We think and pray for Lebanon and Syria, Sudan and Somalia, all countries that are influenced by bigger nations. We ask that you will work in the hearts and minds of world leaders to make our world a better place. We bring before you Christians who are persecuted in North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran. We pray that you will protect our brothers and sisters in the faith, that you will provide for them especially during this Pandemic.
We pray for our own country as we ease the restrictions gradually. Help our government in the decisions they make. We also pray about our economy, as people go back to work help them to stay safe, and as the schools open again, we pray that you will protect the pupils and staff. We bring before you all those whose future is uncertain, whether it is the grades they have not achieved, the reduction in hours of work, or limited job opportunities, we pray that you will guide them in the decisions they make and the career path they have chosen. Amen
Hymn 82 O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder – led by Scott and John Lee
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with all for evermore. Amen