September 6 Sunday service
I hope you are all well. I would like to update you on the various stages the churches are at. At Balderton the church is open for prayer on a Sunday afternoon between 3.00 and 4.30pm. We have organized our first Bubble Church meeting which is on Monday at 10am, limited to 10 people, Cathy is meeting with 2 people on Tuesday to discuss when Bubble Church Playgroup can start, again limited to 10 adults. At Collingham the church is open for prayer on a Sunday morning from 10.30 – 12.00, and there will be a Bubble Church Prayer meeting on Thursday morning from 9.15 – 10.00. At North End there is a service at 6pm following the guidelines. And at Long Bennington we have a Church Council meeting on Wednesday at the church at 7.15pm
In the near future we will have to think about Church Council meetings, the dates are set we just need to make sure we are willing to meet in the church buildings. There are a number of things we need to decide as well as the usual business. We need to look at the future of the churches and the Circuit.
We have had a note from Anne Robertson to thank the people at the Methodist Church at Balderton for the fellowship while she has been here. Anne is moving away from the district.
The Coffee Time on Zoom No. is 834 8806 1537 and the Password is Coffee . There are also Re-imaging Church meetings on Zoom on Sunday 6th September and Sunday 13th September both meetings are at 3pm. If you would like to join in please contact me on 01636 706264 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for the ID No. and Password.
Here is the Order of Service for today’s service. I have chosen hymns from Singing the Faith.
Shall we be quiet as we prepare our hearts and minds to worship God
Hymn 167 Colours of day, dawn into the mind
Lord when we consider who you are, we are blown away by the thoughts of your limitless power, existence and omnipresence. Our minds can only grasp a fraction of what you are like, we have to guest or imagine the rest, and of course, we are often so wrong because we allow our own interpretation and prejudices and preconceived ideas of the images from the Bible to colour our thoughts. And yet, we can worship you because you are God, you have shown yourself faithful in all our trials and tribulations. You have shown your power in the miraculous things we have witnessed, lives changed and situations turned upside down. You show your love in the way you care for us and value us, far beyond what we deserve. We thank you, that you have revealed yourself to us through your word. We are grateful for the life of your Son, Jesus, and the record of his life on earth in the gospels. We thank you for the gift of your Spirit which enables us to live to your glory and gives us guidance and strength to stay close to you.
We come before you today to ask for forgiveness for the things we have done wrong. Times when we have deliberately gone our own way and offended you and hurt others in the process. The times we have been unaware of what we have said or done which has hurt another person. And the times we have neglected to spend moments with you because our lives have been so busy. Lord help us to return to you with a fresh vigor and a renewed sense of your presence. Forgive us Lord, and wash away our sin, so that we may be made right with you again. Amen
And now shall we say the Lord’s Prayer together
Reading Exodus ch 3 v 1 – 15
Hymn 673 Will you come and follow me, if I but call your name
Reading Matthew ch 16 v 21 – 28
Hymn 175 Light of the world, you came down into darkness
“The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So, I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land, into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus chapter 3 v 7 & 8
God hears the cry of the suffering of the people of Israel. For a long time, he has watched his people being brutally treated by the Egyptians. And now the moment of action has come. God has come down from heaven to speak to Moses. He intends to ‘snatch’ the people of Israel away from the grip of the Egyptians. The words in Hebrew have overtones of violence in rescue. If the Egyptians resist God’s request, it will be them who suffer. God’s work in rescuing his people will bring a complete contrast for the Hebrews. At the moment, they are an enslaved people but God will lead them to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
There are many people today who are enslaved, some living in this country, there are many people living in awful conditions, oppressed by their boss, their landlord, by individuals, groups or even whole communities. All these people cry out to God. And God calls people to respond to their needs. We see on our TV screens people protesting for various reasons. One demonstration is in Belarus, where they are trying to depose their ‘elected’ president. The election was rigged and so the people are protesting for justice. But the increasing darkness in our world today, is the strength and influence of the superpowers, in this case Russia. Russia has made it known that they will ‘step in’ if the status quo is threatened. We only have to look at Syria to see what happens when Russia ‘steps in’. We also have demonstrations in Hong Kong, where people are asking for freedom from Chinese interference. But perhaps the biggest demonstrations are for the Black Lives Matter campaign. Simply because they are spread over a number of countries. Millions of black people were freed from slavery in the 19th Century. But there has been an ongoing struggle since then to gain equality and recognition. We look to Martin Luther King jr, and his leadership of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, and his influence lives on today. God has raised up men and women to release people from slavery and oppression. God is raising up leaders today to continue in the struggle for freedom
Moses was called by God to be his instrument in releasing the people of Israel from slavery. But Moses response to God’s call was to say, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” Moses was quite right, on his own he couldn’t possibly fulfil that calling. Egypt was a powerful nation, they relied on slave labour. Pharaoh would not listen to Moses. But the other reason why Moses didn’t want to contemplate going back to Egypt was that there was history between himself and Pharaoh. They had grown up together in the Egyptian court. But Moses was wanted for murder, and I am sure that Pharaoh felt betrayed by Moses. There was no way Pharaoh would listen. But also, for Moses he would have to confront his past. He may not have intended to kill the Egyptian, but he did, and if he goes back to Egypt, he will have to face the consequences.
This was a very dangerous mission that God was calling him to and Moses quite rightly felt totally inadequate. Sometimes when God calls us it means that we have to confront our past. This can help us, because God will help us to face our fears and failures. None of us go through life without making mistakes, some bigger than others. For whatever reason we may have hurt someone in the past, and in going back we may have to say that we are sorry for what we did or said. For Moses he thought that he had put enough distance between himself and his past but now God was asking him to deal with it.
The main objection Moses had for not being willing to go to Egypt was that he felt inadequate. And that is a good starting point for us too. It is God’s work we are doing and he will provide all we need. God reassures Moses that he will be with him on this challenging task. Moses must step out in complete faith that God will be with him and use him to fulfill the mission. I am sure we face challenges where we have to have complete faith in God, even when things seem to be going wrong.
Moses now thinks of another problem. Moses is beginning to believe that God has called him, but how will he convince the people of Israel? They don’t know who Moses is, and he has no authority over them. Don’t we face a similar situation when we try and talk to family and friends about our faith. Why should they listen to us? We might feel inadequate like Moses but we have a personal experience of God, and we can share that with them. And, of course, they will look at the way we live our life. Do we live up to what we say? Moses could share his experience of the burning bush but he also needed to know God’s name. He needed to know more about God, so that he could tell the Israelites. The Israelites were a demoralized people, they had lived in Egypt for at least four generations. The gods they knew about were the powerful gods which the Egyptians worshiped. The God of Israel seemed a long way off. The situation is similar today. Many people in this country do not acknowledge God, they live their lives without reference to him. We find it difficult to assert that God does exist and he is in control of our world.
God answers Moses in two ways. First of all, God reminds Moses that he worked in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The people of Israel would remember these stories. It is the same God who now wants to work through Moses to deliver them from slavery. Although, this is a completely new situation, God is able to rescue them. They need to have faith just as their forefathers did. In response to Moses saying, “Who am I.” God responds by saying. “I Am.” In other words, Moses acknowledges his inadequacy but God responds by asserting his absolute supremacy. God will make up for what God lacks.
The second point that God makes is that of who he is. The answer that Moses receives, is not by any stretch of the imagination, a name. It is an assertion of authority, a confession of an essential reality. In Exodus chapter 3 verses 14 & 15, God tries to express to Moses who he is. The phrases have been variously expressed over the years, “I Am that I Am”, “I Am being that I Am being”, “the One Who Always Is”. It is inappropriate to refer to God as “was’ or ‘will be’, for the reality of this active existence can be suggested only by the present “Is”, “Always Is” or “Am”. Other phrases which express who God is are, “I Am always I Am”, “I Am Yahweh your God”, “I Am He”, “I Am first, also I Am last” and “Yahweh Is”.
However absent God may have seemed to be to the oppressed Israelites in Egypt, especially, to the later generations God was there. “Yahweh Is”, which is his Presence. This God who is present, this God who “Is”, this Yahweh, is the one and same God who worked through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thus, the name “Yahweh” is defined in terms of ‘active being’ or ‘Presence’. The expression that helps me to understand who God is, is “I will be what I will be”, God can be anything, there is no limit for him. We can only express who God is with our human words formulated by our finite minds. To summarize who God is I would like you to reflect and hopefully be inspired by our next video.
Video That’s my King by Dr. S.M. Lockridge
Lord we pray for your leadership in our world today. We have lost confidence in world leaders because they only serve themselves. We face so many problems as a nation and also on the world stage. There are so many people now demonstrating against injustice, and we thank you that on the whole these marches are peaceful. We pray that they will remain that way. We lift before you the people of Belarus, Hong Kong, USA and Mongolia. We think also of the Extinction Rebellion protests that bring to our attention the inevitable path we are on. We do pray that in the inconvenience and noise of protests that their voices will be heard, and that both government and business will listen and respond in positive ways.
We pray for the Black Lives Matter campaign, that people will hear the voices of those who suffer from oppression and abuse because of the colour of their skin. We ask that there can be a raising of awareness of the issues which especially effect young black people. We ask that people be treated fairly in all walks of life. And we pray once again that you will help us to examine our own hearts and minds to the prejudice, we may hold against anyone. We pray for our own churches locally and nationally that we may be sensitive to all those who feel oppressed or abused in our society.
We live in uncertain times and our only assurance is the God who holds us in his hands. There is no safer place be. God holds our destiny, he is in ultimate control of our world, even though sometimes it seems as though we are buffeted by the will of man. We know that earthly power slips away from even the strongest and most powerful leader, one day they will kneel before you. We praise you that you are Almighty God and that you care for each one of us. Amen
Hymn God my Rock led by Scott and John Lee from North End