Although the government have announced that churches can open for worship on 4th July there is a lot of work that will need to be done before our churches can actually open. We are still waiting for the Methodist Conference to give a decision about when we can open our churches. We will be in touch when we have a clearer idea.
We have started a Coffee and Chat on a Sunday morning from 11.30 – 12.15 on Zoom. This is for my four churches and the information you will need is the Meeting ID: 844 1118 2120 and the Password: Coffee
We have a Quiz which you can access from the Balderton Methodist church page. The Quiz is run on a Wednesday at 8pm but is available afterwards for people to test their knowledge. We also have dial-a-talk, which only costs you the price of a phone call. The sermon is available up to Thursday evening and then it switches to the 10-minute-ministry talk until Sunday afternoon where you can listen to the Sunday morning service from noon. The number to ring is 01636 552255.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to talk to me or you are in need of help. You can contact me on 01636 706264 or on email email@example.com
Here is the Order of Service for Sunday. I have chosen all the songs from Singing the Faith StF except for one which is from Songs of Fellowship SofF
Let us pause to prepare for worship
Hymn SofF 880 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord led by North End
Thank you, Lord for people who use to the full what they have been given; people who are generous with their wealth; people who exercise their skills and talents to enrich our life and your church; people who shoulder great responsibilities; people who gladly give of their best. Thank you for people who harness the gifts of others; people who recognize our potential and encourage us to fulfil it. Thank you for trusting us with your treasures, your money, the things you have given us, giving us opportunity to share your joy as we do the work of your kingdom. But as we come to worship, we are aware that we have not been faithful, we have misused our gifts of time and money and the abilities you have given us.
So, in silence we confess our sin to you.
Forgive us, and renew within us a sense of joy. Help us Lord to have an assurance of your forgiveness and a confidence in the work you have called us to do. Hear our prayer for we ask it in Jesus name. Amen
And now we say together the Lord’s Prayer
Reading Luke ch 18 v 35 – 43
Hymn StF 57 HP 10 Let all the world in every corner sing
Reading Luke ch 19 v 1 – 10
Hymn StF 322 HP 257 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear
As Jesus walks towards Jericho, does he realize the stir he is going to cause. At this point in his ministry he is a popular preacher and miracle worker. Not surprising then that he draws a crowd wherever he goes. Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem and he decides to go through Jericho on his way. As he enters the city the crowd are buzzing with excitement. Will he stop and teach? Will he perform a miracle? The noise of the crowd alerts Bartimaeus, he is begging on the streets, and a large crowd usually means more money in his begging bowl. He asks a passerby what is happening. The man replies, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Bartimaeus to receive his sight. It is like winning the Lottery or being offered a fantastic job.
The beggar cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Bartimaeus knows who Jesus is, if only he could get close to him. He shouts out again, and again. In desperation he shouts with all his strength, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” People in the crowd tell him to shut up, they rebuke him, the people have come to see Jesus and hear him speak. The blind beggar is an irritable distraction. But Bartimaeus continues to shout with all his might. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus hears the man shouting even above the noise of the crowd. Jesus stops and asks that the man be brought to him. People in the crowd lead the man to Jesus, the crowd parts to allow the beggar to approach Jesus. The man who had caused so much irritation had now become the centre of attention.
Bartimaeus stands before Jesus, he is anxious but also excited. Jesus simply says, “What do you want me to do for you?” He shows the man respect, he treats him with dignity and asks him what he wants. Bartimaeus replies, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight, your faith has healed you.” What a wonderful feeling. Bartimaeus could see. What joy that must have brought him. He would no longer have to beg. He could live independently, not relying on others. In an instant, his life was completely changed. I wonder whether he went back to his begging bowl with just a few coins in it. Or whether he followed Jesus, rejoicing that he had received his sight.
But how did Jesus know that Bartimaeus had faith. Because he made a fuss. He didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for himself. Bartimaeus had heard stories about this young preacher from Nazareth, the miracles that he had performed, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead. Bartimaeus might not be able to see but he could listen, and the more he heard about Jesus the more he believed. So, when Bartimaeus got the chance to meet Jesus, he shouted with all his might. He could not afford to let this one opportunity slip away. Even when the crowd tried to discourage him, he would not be thwarted from his goal. And finally, that wonderful moment came when he met with Jesus. Jesus spoke words of healing and Bartimaeus received his sight.
Bartimaeus shows us the kind of faith we should have. He listened and believed. He acted upon that belief when he had the opportunity. He was not cowed or discouraged when people told him to shut up. He shouted even louder. He had an appointment with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and no one was going to stop him. He had faith, he believed, and he acted, and he received a wonderful miracle in his life. What would we do to meet Jesus in our busy, noisy lives? And what would we ask him to do for us?
And so, we carry on with Jesus into the centre of Jericho. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, Luke describes him as a chief tax collector, he must have been good at his job. He collaborated with the Romans and his wealth was gained at other people’s expense. He was hated by everyone. When word came to him that Jesus was entering Jericho, Zacchaeus had to do something, he was desperate to catch a glimpse of Jesus. He went out of his office and saw the crowds already milling around. Because of his height he knew he would not be able to see above the people, and so in desperation he climbed a sycamore-fig tree ( a tree I am informed that is easy to climb). Zacchaeus must have felt ridiculous up in that tree. He could imagine all the people pointing up at him and laughing, but he had to see Jesus. He had heard so much about him and he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. He settled himself as best he could on a sturdy branch, and waited.
It wasn’t long, the crowd got more and more excited as Jesus approached. Jesus was in sight. He could see the young teacher, his efforts to climb the tree had been worth it. As Jesus got closer, he looked up at Zacchaeus, their eyes met for a brief moment. Zacchaeus could not sense any condemnation from Jesus. His eyes seemed to be full of joy and compassion. Then the next moment Zacchaeus was stunned. Did he hear right? Did the noise of the crowd distort Jesus’ words? It then registered in Zacchaeus’ head. Jesus was inviting himself for tea. Zacchaeus was motionless as he took in what Jesus had just said to him. “I want to come to your house for tea.” Zacchaeus clambered down the tree, disheveled as he was, he was overjoyed that this preacher would want to eat with him. But not everyone was pleased, people in the crowd grumbled, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” I am sure some people said a lot worse than that. People were thinking ‘how can this young Rabbi share in the ill-gotten gains of this man’. We perhaps feel the same when our political leaders get too cozy with business leaders who avoid paying their taxes. Or when religious leaders talk to banned paramilitary groups. We feel betrayed. We feel that we can no longer trust them.
The encounter that Zacchaeus had with Jesus made him feel valued and loved. Zacchaeus would not have had many friends in Jericho, but here was Jesus picking him out for special attention. Everyone wanted to meet Jesus and he had chosen Zacchaeus to speak to. Zacchaeus was ready for this moment, despite all the wealth, the nice house and the servants, he was unhappy and lonely. He desperately wanted something in his life but he didn’t know what. Jesus gave him that opportunity to change and Zacchaeus took it with both hands. In this encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus offered to pay back all he had defrauded, and he also offered to give half of his possessions to the poor. This was a completely different person to the calculating, money grabbing tax collector that people knew. Zacchaeus’ life had been transformed and in turn many people were blessed because of this man’s generosity. There would still be some people who remembered the old Zacchaeus but there would be many more who would encounter a generous, caring man whose life had been transformed.
Zacchaeus was unhappy, he wanted to change, and when he got the opportunity he changed beyond recognition. Sometimes our hurts go so deep, and we hold on to them so long that they become part of who we are. Let Jesus heal you, give it all to him. Let him bring his healing balm into your heart. Let go of all the hurt and pain, let Jesus transform you as he transformed Zacchaeus. Both Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus listened and believed, they were desperate and they reached out and Jesus met them where they were. Let us open ourselves afresh to God’s love, for that love to transform each of us, so that we can be the person that God wants us to be. Amen
If anyone would like to talk to me about the service then please do not hesitate to ring me.
Hymn StF 58 Lord I come before your throne
Gracious God, we pray for people who are afraid; those still in ‘lock-down and isolated, those facing ill-health or disability, for those facing the loss of their job, or their home, or someone they love, for those facing violence in places of war, or in their own homes. We pray for those who are afraid because they have done wrong and fear the consequences. We pray for those who have become paralyzed by their sense of failure or inadequacy. We pray for those who feel frustration and anxiety because they cannot do the things they enjoy. We pray for those who live in fear, fear of contracting the virus, fear of going out, fear of passing the virus on to loved ones.
Come into this situation, banish the worry and darkness, the dread and doom with the light of your presence. Give us protection from the virus, guard us from despair with the armour of faith. Let us walk in the hope that you give us and the assurance of your love, which is stronger than death. We ask these prayers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Hymn StF 471 Lord I come to you, let my heart be changed renewed
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