This week there are two events to focus on. Firstly, there is the celebrations organized for the anniversary of the ending of the war in Europe. We were planning a service at Collingham on Sunday afternoon but because of the limitations this is no longer possible. If you go online there are various ways you can join in the celebrations, and there is plenty of events televised which you can watch. The second event is the start of Christian Aid week this Sunday. As you may know, charities are finding it very hard to continue their work with the limited resources they have. They have had to adapt to raising money in different ways to what they would normally do. In the case of Christian Aid, it is not possible to collect envelopes and so we are asking people to contribute in a way which is accessible while still at home, there are two attachments to the email which show you how to donate online, but there are also other ways, including waiting for the Lock-down to be lifted and posting cheques to Christian Aid. One of the links is for Newark and Southwell circuit, this indicates` how much has been raised at a local level.
If you do need any help please contact me on 01636 706264 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
God Bless Peter and Cathy
Here is the Order of Service
As we prepare for worship let us focus our minds and hearts on God
Hymn StF 353 HP 290 Jesus is Lord, creations voice proclaims it
Prayer – our prayers this morning are a combination of Christian Aid material and the resources which the Church of England has produced for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day
Dear Lord, As we turn on the tap, we turn our hearts towards you, O God.
As we wet our hands renew our thoughts, so we might be transformed
As we lather soap between fingers and over all our hands
purge from us all that brings us harm and might harm others.
Remove the invisible guilt and shame that so often keeps us away from you
As we rinse our hands, we trust in your overflowing grace, making all things new.
Dear Lord, we have come before you to remember the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, when the sounds of war fell silent on this continent. We come together conscious of our need for your forgiveness for the sin and the desire to dominate others that leads to conflict between people, and war between nations
As we remember the many soldiers, sailors and airmen, who gave their lives restraining evil and opposing tyranny, so we also come in thanksgiving for the years of peace the nations of Europe have enjoyed since the Second World War. We share joyfully, as those who gathered on that first Victory day, glad of each other’s company, and grateful for the laughter and love that follows times of sadness and loss. But above all things, let us pray that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, as we join our voices together and say the Lord’s Prayer.
Reading Acts ch 7 v 55 – 60
Hymn StF 481 HP 70 The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want
Offering – our giving today is towards Christian Aid or your designated charity
Reading John ch 14 v 1 – 14
Hymn StF 440 HP 215 Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
Our theme this morning is ‘Trust in God’. To give a personal example – I worked for the NHS in the Administration section, I had been there a while and had become a bit restless. I started to look at other jobs but at the same time a few people were saying to me, “Why don’t you go to Cliff College for a year” (Cliff is a Christian vocational college in Derbyshire). In the end, I felt God was giving me a choice, either carry on in the business world or go into full-time Christian work. I decided to go to college. The problem, the step of faith I would have to take was that the college fees and accommodation would cost a couple of thousand pound, I actually had just enough money to cover the cost but would have nothing left and no job guaranteed at the end of the course. I applied to the college and was accepted; my Grandma gave me some money towards the fees. It shows that
when we step out in faith then it encourages others to support us or take their own step of faith, whatever that might be.
We briefly read the story of Stephen in Acts ch 7, he was a young man who stepped out in faith. He became a Christian and was an enthusiastic preacher. On one occasion, a large crowd gathered to listen to this young preacher. Later when he was speaking about Jesus, he said that he was the Son of God. At this the Pharisee’s became very angry and picked up stones to throw at Stephen. One of the stones caught the preacher on the head, he fell to his knees knowing he was seriously injured, he cried out “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”. Other stones rained down on him and he died. Here was a man who took a step of faith and it cost him his life. When we are willing to take up the challenge God sets before us, there is no guarantee of success or that it will not cost us dearly. We have to think and pray before we step out in faith but if God is calling us, can we say ‘No’.
Let us look at what Jesus says to his disciples in John ch 14 v 4 & 5. “You know the way to the place where I am going”. Thomas said to him “Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” What would you say to someone who asked you the way? It would be easy if they wanted to know where the bus-stop was, or the nearest shops, but what if someone asked you how they could become a disciple of Jesus Christ? What would you say? Let us pause as we think about our answer. Pause I imagine we would say that they needed to read the gospels and look at the teaching of Jesus and also the way he lived his life. But most of all we would say that they would have to believe that Jesus was Lord and Saviour of their life and that they would need to act accordingly.
The disciples had followed Jesus, they had given up everything for him, they were learning from him. They listened to him, they saw him perform miracles and he taught them how to pray. They thought that he was the Messiah, but they didn’t see the bigger picture, they didn’t see that Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom. The disciples concentrated on the physical image, thinking that the Kingdom would be an earthly place where they would help Jesus in his task of running the kingdom.
We know ‘the Way’ is to follow Jesus, to learn as much about him from the Bible as we can, to read the gospels to understand how he lived his life, the way he expressed love and care for others. We need to have a dialogue with God – to speak to him, and to listen to him. We need to hand over our life to God, to allow him complete control of every aspect of our life. We need to acknowledge the wrong things we have done and to say sorry to God. We need to allow God to lead us, to influence the decisions that we make, and to give us direction and purpose to our life. That is The Way.
But Jesu said something more astounding. He said “I am the Truth”. If we want to know the truth we look to Jesus. This last week I conducted a service at Grantham Crematorium. If you have been to the crematorium you may know that in the grounds there is a wooden cross which stands about 20 feet tall. It is a bold statement; it shouts out to you. This is a Christian symbol, not of failure and despair, but of victory. And in the same way the statement that Jesus makes is such a bold claim, it shouts out to you. I am the Truth – I am the Son of God. But in the crematorium grounds there are trees growing, and if you stand in front of a tree, its leaves and branches obscure the cross. The cross is still there, but it is blocked from view. Some people today, will say that there is no universal truth, in other words, Jesus cannot say “I am the Truth”. People will also say that truth is relative to each society, in a sense, we as individuals can decide what is truth. In other words, we can obscure the Truth, by focusing on what is in front of us, rather than looking at the bigger picture. People are so busy today they do not always have time to reflect on the truth. We obscure truth by our own prejudices and self-interests, we choose what we want to believe. And we obscure truth when we are willing to believe a lie. The truth is before us whether we acknowledge it or not. Jesus was willing to die on the cross to reveal the true nature of God – God is love. The Truth is what we stand by, it is what we live our lives by.
Jesus also said, “I am the Life”, which means that through him people obtain eternal life. But what does it also mean for us today? It means that if we want to be fulfilled in life, we need to follow Jesus because he will enrich our life, he will help us to fulfill the potential that God his Father has put within us. And he will
bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. If we reflect on how the disciples faired in their lives, even though life was not always easy for them, they were richly blessed by God. In the same way, we want to fulfill the potential within us so that God can richly bless us so that we can be a blessing to other people. Jesus is The Way, and The Truth and The Life. Amen
Hymn StF 405 Great is the darkness that covers the earth, oppression, injustice
pain. Nations are slipping in hopeless despair, though many have come in your name. Watching while sanity dies, touched by the madness and lies. The chorus is – Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus, pour out your spirit we pray.
Prayer – material from Christian Aid
God our refuge, we come to you with open hands, some of us with hearts full of questions, some of us bruised by bereavement, some of us fearful of the future, all of us stunned by the last few months. Draw close to us now in each of our homes, as we place our honest questions into your open, resurrected, yet scarred hands. With the honesty of the psalmist, the wrestling questions of Job, and the lament of the prophets, we bring to you our questions and doubts. Be with us in our isolation, continue to inspire people to love their neighbour’s. Remind us that we are all doing our part and saving lives by staying at home.
We pray for much wisdom and resources for those in local and national authority, for all key workers here in Britain. Ireland and across the world. As we have clapped to honour them, we clap our hands now in praise of your glorious creation, and with the hope that the first shoots of another possible world are coming into view. God in your mercy, hear all our prayers. Amen
Hymn For our closing hymn I have chosen a song which we sing at North End. If you are watching on facebook or You Tube you will see John Lee and Scott playing live and singing ‘Gracefully Broken’.
Blessing – from Christian Aid
May the presence of the Creator refresh you; may the comfort of the Son renew you; may the inspiration of the Spirit restore you to be love in action, even from a distance, in our neighbourhoods, near and far, this day and for ever