Sunday Reflections

Sunday Reflections (September 2020)


Reflections for 27th September 2020

Join Robin for our final service in September. Press Play to start the video.

Sunday Reflections 27th September 2020

Note: For technical reasons this service will not be available on our YouTube channel.

Welcome

CH4 43: O God, you are my God alone

Opening prayer

In this place and in our homes, God who is ever present, help us to be still.

In our freedoms and in our lockdown, Christ who is ‘I am’, be with us in our journey and in our solitude.

Spirit of the living God, who breaks all barriers of time and space, be our connection this morning. In all places, we are Gods people.

Alone, we seek your presence.

Together, we seek your peace.

Each of us, reaching out for your forgiveness. Accept us, for who we are.

If the prospect of this new lock down casts a shadow across our souls. Lord Jesus, shine in the dark places. Lift our spirits and help us to see God in all places, Christ in all people, and the presence of the spirit, in this place. As God’s people we say, LP. Amen.

Readings

Exodus 17:1-7 (The Message)

17 1-2 Directed by GOD, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing GOD?”

3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”

4 Moses cried out in prayer to GOD, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”

5-6 GOD said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”

6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarrelling) because of the quarrelling of the Israelites and because of their testing of GOD when they said, “Is GOD here with us, or not?”

Matthew 21:23-32

True Authority

23 Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?”

24-25 Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. You answer my question and I’ll answer yours. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans?”

25-27 They were on the spot and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ we’re up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they answered.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.

The Story of Two Sons

28 “Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’

29 “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.

30 “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went.

31-32 “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?”

They said, “The first.”

Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.

Once again we light this candle… We light this candle in memory of those whose lives will never be the same again, because of Covid 19.

SILENCE

Video: in Christ alone

Reflection: Testing God

I think without realising it, we test God all the time. It seems to me a natural human thing to do. When things are not going as we would like them to, we complain to anyone who will listen. For example, we all have our opinions on how the government has handled the Covid pandemic. The people of God, as they wandered the desert, continually offered their opinion to Moses.

When water was running out, they complained. I think we might have joined in. You are not going to last long in a desert without water. This was literally a life or death situation.

What is interesting is Moses response. Why are you testing God? Now, there is an assumption here. A theology underlying everything that was happening to these people. The assumption of the writer is this, God is in control. The problem was it did not feel like that to the people. So, they test God, and say to God, are you really in charge here? Or are you just going to let us all die in the wilderness? They were challenging the very presence, or even existence of God.

Moses is in despair. What am I going to do with this lot? Why did you put me in charge! His despair is not just the threat of violence against him, but the people’s lack of faith in God. Even up to the very edge of their existence, they were meant to trust God. See past everything that was happening to them, now and know, ultimately, that God is in control, and water would be found.

What would we have done? Be part of the crowd or the lone voice shouting, ‘trust in God’. It is difficult to go against the crowd. Yet there are times when the church is asked to swim against the tide of public opinion. To stand in solidarity is one thing. To stand alone, like Moses, is another.

So, what happened? Taking his staff that struck the Nile, Moses strikes a rock and water flows from it. We don’t need to understand the miracle to understand the story. If only they had waited, God would have supplied their needs.

God had no intention of anyone dying of thirst, but he pushed their faith to the limit, and they failed God. They did not fail their humanity. They failed God. Failure is built into us as being human. Its going to happen. That is not the point of the story. How long can we wait? In a situation we have no control over. When do we say, we have had enough of this and seek to take the situation into our own hands?

Covid can feel a bit like that. We are asked to trust others, who make decisions on our behalf. The experts and politicians. How often have we heard the phrase, ‘we were following the science’ and we have said, how about following common sense. No matter who is right, in our comments, there is a breakdown of trust. So, what happens next? Hopefully, most people will comply with new restrictions, but there is always room for complaint.

The encounter between Jesus and the High Priests is all about who has authority, and who is right. As Moses was challenged by the people, so is Jesus. That is what happens, there will always be people who challenge authority, and remember, people in authority, are not always right. So much we have to take on trust.

Jesus says, he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we believe that, there will be occasions when Jesus pushes our faith to the limit. In our response, do we complain, or do we wait that little bit longer? Do we take authority into our own hands, or do we listen, to how God wishes his kingdom to be? Either way, it is never easy, but that, is what faith is all about. Amen.

CH4 532 Lord, you have come to the seashore

Video: the prayer

2nd Prayers

Lord our God, if our collective hope has been reduced because of the crisis of Covid, help us to turn our eyes to Christ. Lift us up from this place, and set us once again, on the road to faith and trust.

If the way is unclear, be our guide.

If God seems out of sight, give us vision to see.

If it all seems too hard, give us patience to wait and the courage to endure.

(Silence)

May our prayers be honest
Our thoughts kind
Our words truthful
Our actions just
May we see you in the kindness of friend and stranger,
Hear you in sounds of laughter, cries and in silence

May your Spirit be at the heart of all we do.

Through the work of your church, may your Kingdom be made real in our communities, guided by your wild and untamed Spirit. AMEN

Blessing

Video – The Lord bless you and keep you (John Rutter)

Reflections for 20th September 2020

Revisit the first worship service held in the Church since lockdown started in March.

Reflections for Sunday 20th September 2020

Time to remember

We are still living in the midst of a global pandemic and although we might welcome our return to worship. I believe we must first of all, take a moment to remember. In response to Covid 19, to everything that has happened over the past 6 months, and the many, worldwide, who have suffered loss and those whose lives will never be the same again. Our time begins with an ancient text. After which a single candle will be lit. Listen to the words of:

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15, There’s a Right Time for Everything

3 There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

14 I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

15 Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.

We light this candle in memory of those who have lost their lives, and are still losing their lives, to Covid 19. We remember the bereaved and those still coming to terms with the death of a loved one. We remember today, those still living with ongoing Covid side effects. To God we bring, lost opportunities, lost employment, months of isolation, feelings of loneliness, and moments of fear and worry, for the future.

Lord God we ask, place your hand of healing upon all who are in pain.

Lord Jesus Christ we ask, ‘Light of the world’, give peace to those who are anxious and worried

Spirit of the living God, be with all who feel there is no one else.

John 8: 12

12 Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.

Amen.

Reflection on time

It all started with these words, “From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction, you must stay at home.” Boris Johnston announces the lockdown in the UK, on March 23rd, 2020.

Six months have passed and Covid 19 has not gone away. We have learned to live the ‘new normal’ of lockdown, and the restrictions placed upon our lives. For many, life has been hard. Challenging. Cut off from family and friends. Anxious about whether they will have a job to go back to. Families living in flats with no space to call their own. No escape from domestic abuse. NHS staff saving lives and loosing patients in Covid wards. For many, these past 6 months have been a time of loss. I believe, it is right that we looked back, and we remember.

Here we are, once again allowed to worship in this place, but it is different. Look around, social distancing and masks. And many, are missing.

This morning, I want to reflect, just for a moment, about time. No matter how much we come to understand it or indeed structure our lives around it. We are never in control of it. Age will always catch up with us. As time moves on, it can seem to us that we are powerless, like a ship being thrown around in the waves, of something far bigger than we are.

God says to us, there is a time and a place for everything. In times like these, that is hard to understand. Pandemics are actually part of the cycle of life. 101 years ago, there was, “Spanish flu”. Public buildings were closed then, and people wore masks. History, time, repeats itself. It is our hope, this time, that with modern medicine, the death toll will be greatly reduced.

I was thinking, nature can be cruel. We see that in the animal kingdom. The cycle of life. Survival of the fittest. At this moment, we are in the midst of the ebb and flow of life. It has always been so, but this virus challenges who we are and our place in the world. We, humanity, looks at the progress we have made, and all of a sudden, it is put in perspective by a virus. We are not creators; we are part of the created, and life is always shades of light and darkness. In our experience, we know that to be true.

If we have no control over time or what happens to us, there is still a promise. God is in control. Sometimes that is hard to believe. God says to us, you are more than ships tossed in the ocean. If buffeted by life and loss, if we find ourselves in the darkest place, then even there, God is still light. We might not see it, but that does not mean the promise is not true.

We have all been through dark times. But we are here to say. God is light, shining into the moments of our lives we don’t understand, and when we look ahead, we believe Christ guides our stumbling footsteps, with a faith for today and hope for tomorrow.

Amen

2nd Prayers

We give thanks for all those who experienced the Covid wards and have survived.

We say thank you for all front-line staff in NHS, social care, and care homes.

We are grateful for modern means of communication that has kept us in touch.

We pray for those suffering from stress and problems with mental health. Father God reach deep into the dark places.

We remember at this time, all who have endured loss, are in pain and who seek a healing touch upon their lives. Be with them.

We ask, that Jesus Christ, light of the world, will guide his people through the challenge of change and in the midst, of these uncertain times. Amen.

Reflections for 13th September 2020

Reflections for Sunday 13th September 2020

Reflections for 6th September 2020

Reflections for Sunday 6th September 2020



Sunday Reflections for August 2020 ...