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May 24 Sunday Service

Dear Friends,

I hope you are able to cope with Lock-down, we are adjusting to the situation and using the internet a lot more than normal. It is enabling us to get more proficient using the tools of the internet eg Zoom. It is important that we keep in touch with each other, especially as we cannot meet at church. Next Sunday is Pentecost and so there will be a Circuit service going out at the normal time of 10.30am using the Circuit website www.newarksouthwellmethodists.org.uk

I will also produce a service which will go out live at 4pm on Facebook or you can get the service by going to  www.baldertonmethodistchurch.co.uk  after 5pm. You can also go to our YouTube channel (balderton methodist church) to see the video later.

If you do need help or someone to talk to please contact me on 01636 706264 or on peter.bates857@yahoo.com.

Here is the Order of Service for Sunday 24th May 2020. I have chosen hymns from Singing the Faith StF and Songs of Fellowship S of F

As we approach God let us quieten our hearts and minds to focus on him

Hymn   StF 430     My lips shall praise you, my great Redeemer

StF 451     Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you

Prayer – written by Rev. Ken Howcroft

How shall we praise you, Lord, our God? When we are locked down, how shall we praise you? When the doors to your house are barred, and your people cannot assemble? When those desperately in need of money and work cannot even wait in the market place? When we have to circle round people in the street, and to queue for shops maintaining safe distance? When we can only communicate by hearing on the phone, or seeing on the screen; or digitally messaging, or even just waving through a window? When we cannot even meet our parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, or other family members and friends? When we cannot touch them in their own flesh and blood, to know they are really alive? How shall we praise you? How, like Thomas, shall we not see yet believe that your Son is raised among us? How shall we praise you?

How can I praise you, Lord? Are you plaguing us with this virus to punish us because we have all done wrong, or thought wrongly, or felt wrongly, or just been wrong? If so, why do only some die, and those apparently, the ones who are least worst or most caring amongst us? Or are you trying to teach us a lesson? If so, why is it so hard to learn? And how are we to find the answer when we do not know the question? Or are you still the same loving God, coming to us in our sufferings and opening up the way to new life in Jesus?

Lord, I will try to praise you. Through gritted teeth, I will try to praise you. I will try to remember that you have created all things, and this virus is part of your creation. I will try not to hate it but seek to mitigate its harm. I will try to keep myself and others safe. I will work to pray for them and seek to help in any way I can

Lord, when I cannot pray or worship help me to be aware of all your people and your saints and angels hovering around me, lifting me up. When I feel alone, let me feel you near me, even if only for a moment that enables me to go on. Let me hear you say “Peace be with you”. Lord, I will praise you. Let all the peoples praise you.     Amen          And now shall we say the Lord’s Prayer together

Reading     Mark ch 8 v 31 – 35

Hymn   S of F 261     I want to walk with Jesus Christ, all the days I live my life

Reading     Acts ch 1 v 6 – 14

Hymn   StF 341 HP 251     All for Jesus – All for Jesus, this our song shall ever be

Sermon

Cathy and I would like to visit Jerusalem in the near future. It would be wonderful to be in a place where Jesus walked, where he spent time with his disciples. Where he was killed and rose again. We have seen Jerusalem many times on the TV, we have read the stories in the Bible about Jerusalem. We can imagine what it is like and now we have a longing to go there.

In Acts ch 1, we read about the conversation the disciples had with Jesus about Jerusalem. v6 “So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?” Even then the disciples were still focused on an earthly Kingdom, they wanted to know if Jesus was going to over throw the Romans, and restore Israel to its former glory. Jesus did not want the disciples to be distracted with political issues, he wanted them to focus their hearts and minds on the kingdom of Heaven. Some of them still had a long way to go to understand God’s call on their life. The disciples had understood the teaching about the Messiah to be one of restoring Israel’s glory, but the bigger picture was for the world to see God in all his glory and that was going to start in Jerusalem.

The tribe of Judah settled in the region south of Jerusalem, and in time became the most powerful and most important tribe. Not only did it produce the great kings David and Solomon, but also, it was prophesied that the Messiah would come from among its people. The emblem of Jerusalem is a lion, this comes from Genesis ch 49 v 9 “You are a lion cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness-who dares to rouse him.” In both Christian and Judaism, the symbol of the lion and the lamb represents the Messianic age. In Revelation ch 5 v 5 Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah. v 5 states, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has triumphed.”

What attributes do we associate with a lion – strength, kingship, pride, courage, nobility, stateliness and valour. In the book by C. S. Lewis entitled ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, the four children are told about Aslan. Lucy and Susan’s thoughts go to what Aslan is really like. “Is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Certainly not” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “I tell you he is the King of the wood, and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the -Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the lion, the great lion.” Susan said “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe” said Lucy. “Safe” said Mr. Beaver, “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you. Who said anything about being safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he is good. He’s the King I tell you.” What amazing imagery C. S. Lewis conjures up as he portrays Jesus as Aslan the lion.

In a sermon preached by Augustine in 375 AD, Augustine said about Jesus, “He endured death as a lamb: He devoured it as a lion.” It brings to mind the lyrics of the song entitled ‘Living Hope’, in which Jesus is placed in the tomb. The last verse says, “Then came the morning that sealed the promise. Your buried body began to breath. Out of the silence, the roaring lion declared the grave has no claim on me.” What amazing imagery this is. You can imagine the stillness of the night, the darkness surrounding the tomb, the stone is gradually moved to one side. Light flickers in the darkness, and then, suddenly light blazes from the entrance and a huge roar is heard, and Jesus appears, triumphant over death. This is the Lion of Judah. He is not escaping from the tomb, he is triumphant over it, he has conquered death.

But if we look again at the image of the lion. You would never go and sit next to a wild lion; you do not know what the lion might do. We prefer to look at them from a safe distance – in a Zoo, or a Safari Park, where we can admire their beauty and splendor. If we are not careful, we do the same with God – we admire him, we worship him, from a safe distance, and we do not let him get too close to us. Both Jesus and Paul condemned the Jews because of their complacent attitude towards God. The prophets in the Old Testament criticized the people of Israel for paying lip-service to God in their worship.

The words of Susan, in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, echo in my mind, “Is he – quite safe?” Of course, he’s not safe. He is God Almighty, and he will turn your world upside down, if you let him. We think we can contain God in a box, a cage, or even a church. Look what happened when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost. The disciples were not in control. The Holy Spirit took hold of them. This was the roaring Lion announcing his presence, and the world would never be the same. When we come into God’s presence, we come in awe and wonder. It is like approaching a lion, we come with reverent fear. God cannot be contained in a box, a book, or a church. God said to Moses, “I am what I am”, I will be what I will be. When we think we know God, he will always surprise us.    Amen

Hymn   StF 351     In Christ alone, my hope is found  –  North End

Prayer

Today, we pray for our nation, we are in unprecedented times and we need your help as we make our way through the effects of this pandemic. We pray for those who have the virus, that you will bring healing to them. We pray for those who are recovering from the virus, that you will enable their bodies to make a full recovery. We pray you will comfort those who have lost loved ones. We pray for our government, that you will give them wisdom and guidance in the decisions they will make. We also continue to pray for the NHS workers and all who are doing essential work, that you will protect them and their families.

We think now of the economic situation. Our country is sinking into recession with all the negative effects that has on all of us. Help us to see a way through this. We pray for individuals who have lost their business or lost their jobs. Minister to them with your compassion, help them to rebuild their businesses and for those who are unemployed help them to obtain another job. We pray for those on Furlough who may be worried about whether they will have a job to go back to, enable their employers to continue to provide for them until the situation gets better. We pray for those who face financial hardship, that support systems can be put in place to help them in the short term. We pray that you will enable our government to respond to the financial situation, that they will have the resources available to respond in the right way in this crisis. We pray for all people who are in ‘Lock-down’ who are suffering from loneliness or anxiety because of family pressures. Bring them your peace, help them to feel your presence with them at all times. Lift their spirits by revealing your love for them and enable them to find your joy in everyday things.     Amen

Hymn   StF 503 HP 267     Love divine, all loves excelling

Blessing

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you for evermore.     Amen

Blessing – the National Church blessing

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