Sunday Services

Sunday Church Service

Sunday 5th July 2020

Call to worship.

Jesus says: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Let us come to the Lord Jesus. Let us seek his rest. Amen.

MP 7 All Creatures of our God and King

1 All creatures of our God and King,

lift up your voices, let us sing:

Alleluia, alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

thou silver moon that gently gleams,

O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

2 Thou rushing wind that art so strong,

ye clouds that sail in heaven along,

O praise him, Alleluia! Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,

ye lights of evening, find a voice:

O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

3. Thou flowing water, pure and clear,

make music for thy Lord to hear,

Alleluia, alleluia!

Thou fire so masterful and bright,

that givest man both warmth and light,

O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

4. And all ye men of tender heart,

forgiving others, take your part,

O sing ye Alleluia!

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

praise God and on him cast your care:

O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

5. Let all things their Creator bless,

and worship him in humbleness,

O praise Him, Alleluia!,

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One:

O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Prayer and Lord’s prayer.

 

We come today, Lord, to worship you. we bow our heads before you, to learn by your wisdom by your love.  Lord, open our hearts to receive you, in ways beyond whatever we could ever ask or even think. Father God, we are here today, to praise you, to learn from you. Your wisdom, shown to us through Jesus, is far greater than that of the world. It has the power to amaze all our hopes and wishes. We approach you now as children, sitting at your feet, bathed in your love. Speak to us, Lord.  Lord, forgive us for the times when our picture and understanding of you are far too small; when we try to fit you into a small compartment of our daily life. Forgive us, Lord, and make us whole. Lord, we like to think we don’t need anybody’s help. Even when the going is tough, we will plough it alone. That is what is we believe to be expected in this world, pride and self-sufficiency, never giving in. But you see that this is the way of slavery: you offer us a different yoke. We confess the need of your help, your guidance, until and we fall into step with you.   As Jesus praised his Father in heaven, so do we. We praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You have hidden things from the wise, and revealed them to us, your children, through Jesus, your most precious Son. We praise you, Lord. ----- Lord’s Prayer

 

All age talk

 

Do you ever get tired? So tired that you just want to lie down and go to sleep? There are a lot of things that makes us tired, like too many jobs to do and not enough time to do them.  Or playing sports too often or getting too much homework, well we feel sometimes it’s too much. And when we go on a long, boring journey? Sometimes people even get tired in church. People get tired physically. People also get tired spiritually. Here's why: I want you to think you have a huge rucksack and today we will put some different weights in it. First one is a big stone and it has the word anger on it. Put that in. And another with jealousy and all the rest of the stones we carry in our hearts stones of “sadness,” “sin,” lying”, “swearing,” “not praying” etc.  Now, who would like to wear this for a whole week 24 hours a day and even go to bed with it on. It will be very heavy and so uncomfortable with all the rough stones sticking out every corner of the rucksack.  I don’t fancy that. Now carrying this packed bag around would make anybody very tired. So what can we do with all the stones that we have been carrying around making us so tired? Well Jesus told his disciples, and us, “come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” So we may take our heavy rucksacks filled to Jesus.  And pray for them to be taken from our backs. Jesus takes the stones upon himself and we can feel the weight being taken from us and receive the rest we need. Of course they will come back at times but we need to keep praying and asking the Lord to take on our yoke as we walk with him.


Prayer: Thank you Jesus for taking my heavy burdens away. Amen.

 

CH4 530 One More step along the world I go

 
 

1 One more step along the world I go,

One more step along the world I go;

From the old things to the new,

Keep me travelling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;

Keep me travelling along with you.  

 

2 Round the corners of the world I turn,

More and more about the world I learn;

All the new things that I see

You'll be looking at along with me.

And it's from the old I travel to the new;

Keep me travelling along with you.

 

3 As I travel through the bad and good. 

Keep me travelling the way I should.

Where I see no way to go,

you'll be telling me the way, I know.

And it's from the old I travel to the new;

Keep me travelling along with you.  

 

3 Give me courage when the world is rough,

Keep me loving though the world is tough;

Leap and sing in all I do,

Keep me travelling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;

Keep me travelling along with you.

 

4 You are older than the world can be,

You are younger than the life in me;

Ever old and ever new,

Keep me travelling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;

Keep me travelling along with you.

 

Reading Psalm 145 Verses 8 – 14

MP 51 Be thou my vision   

1 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

naught be all else to me, save that thou art—

thou my best thought by day or by night,

waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

 

2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;

I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;

thou my great Father, I thy true son;

thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

 

3 Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;

be thou my dignity, thou my delight,

thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:

raise thou me heaven-ward, O Power of my power.

 

4 Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

thou mine inheritance, now and always:

thou and thou only, first in my heart,

High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

 

5 High King of heaven, my victory won,

may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Prayers of intercession

We pray for churches throughout the world, that we may learn new ways of sharing the gospel. We give thanks for the vision and compassion, the integrity and faithfulness of our national and international church leaders. We pray for all leaders and ministers in our local church families. We pray too for those who have been damaged by religion, for one another in our daily encounters, and for those we hold in our hearts who we would love to see come to faith Lord God, we lift your children before you.  We pray for all in authority, that they will be respectfully conscious of the weight on their shoulders, and that they will act responsibly for the people they serve. We pray for them in their personal lives, with the worries and cares that only they see. We pray for our friends, family, colleagues. We pray that as we walk alongside them, you will use us to bring them close to you, and they will learn of your love. We pray that we might be sensitive to the needs of those around us – the people we see every day, perhaps as fleetingly as at the shops, or in the bus queue. We have no idea what burdens they are carrying, or if they need a kind word from you that only we can give. We pray that we will see the positive in people, even when it’s hard, and reach out to encourage them. Lord, you know how weary and bowed down we feel sometimes. We come to you for rest. We come to you in emptiness and cry to you for your fullness. Rescue and fill us, Lord. To you, God of love, we entrust our prayers in Jesus name. Amen.

MP 275 I heard the voice of Jesus say.

1 I heard the voice of Jesus say:

'Come unto Me and rest;

Lay down, O weary one, lay down

Your head upon my breast.'

I came to Jesus as I was,

Weary and worn and sad,

I found in him a resting place,

and he has made me glad.

 

2 I heard the voice of Jesus say:

'Behold I freely give

The living water; thirsty one,

Stoop down and drink and live.'

I came to Jesus, and I drank

of that life-giving stream;

My thirst was quenched,

my soul revived,

and now I live in him.

 

3 I heard the voice of Jesus say:

'I am this dark world's light;

Look unto Me, the dawn shall rise,

and all your day be bright.' 

I looked to Jesus, and I found

In Him my Star, my Sun;

And in that light of life I'll walk

till travelling days are done.

Gospel Reading Mathew Ch. 11 verses 16 – 19 – 25 – 30                  

Sermon.  

I’m exhausted … I’m stressed to the limit … I’m bone-tired … I feel drained … I’m running on fumes … I’m on the edge. Have you ever heard yourself or someone else say those words? At one time or another, most of us have been there. We live in a fast-paced world, where we’re often overachievers -- hurrying, rushing, working too hard, until our energies are depleted and our well-being is in tatters. And then we come to church. Welcome! Welcome to this church, -- this place for tired, weary people. In our text for today, Jesus gives a clear invitation and a promise: “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” We may come to church for many different reasons. But we also know that too many of us come here stressed and worried, troubled and tired. We really have to take time for Jesus’ promise to work its way, into our very being. Jesus understood this need. He knew the importance of rest -- time for replenishing his soul. People were often crowding around him; they wanted what he offered -- healing, forgiveness, courage, hope, life. Jesus is all compassion, He never turned anyone away. But he did take time to find a quiet place to rest and pray. In the text today, Jesus is giving us an invitation from his own practice: “Come to me … and I will give you rest.”  Now let’s do what it says! Let’s take some silence, some time to rest, and allow Jesus’ words to enter into your hearts and minds. Take a minute to be still, in the quiet, gifts are given that we cannot give ourselves. His yoke is a gift. Learn from this gift, turn to Jesus for the guidance and pray that the burden may be lightened. When our heart is open. The first is the gift of time. Time to be with Him, Jesus in church it provides the room for Jesus’ invitation. He’s echoing one of the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” Sabbath is a gift, a day of rest. We know when God made the world he worked six days, and then rested on the seventh day. If it was good enough for God, it’s good enough for us. The second gift Jesus offers is release -- the opportunity to let go of stresses and pressures, release the inner obstacles that block us. The song from the film Frozen “Let it go, let it go.” The words ‘let it go’ should be ones we take on board and rest when we are tired or like God on the seventh day we come into his presence and ‘let it go’ in our prayers and worship. Whatever dilemma, problem or anxiety is clogging our insides, “let it go.” In the silence, this time of rest.  The third gift in Jesus’ invitation is the ‘gift of the inner being’ at peace. When we can let it go, we’re removing all that stops us from being with God and just taking the time to do so. When we do this we will feel refreshed and God wants us to feel him give us fullness of life. That wellspring flows with goodness; it’s the source of our being. Jesus tells us, “I have come that you might have abundant life” -- fullness of life (John 10:10). Not existence, not half-life, but aliveness, fullness of life. This life force comes to us from the inner wellspring -- “that of God in every person. The fourth gift. When we go to God -  we receive the gift of energy for our work in the world. We have to restore ourselves to do this we have to take time to allow the energy to be replaced. Jesus is our role model; He was often going off to pray, to re-connect. Then he would head back to his ministry. This pattern is the model for all of us. We all have our personal leadings, our callings for specific work that continues the mission of Jesus, those we serve. Come to me, Jesus says -- to my way, my practice. I will give you rest. This rest is better than sleep; it’s rest for the soul. He’s echoing Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd. … God leads me beside still waters. God restores my soul.” Restores my deepest self! When we get to the place of genuine rest, we re-connect with the source of life, abundant life. Come to me, Jesus says, and find life-giving rest. Amen.

We are more used to asking God for a blessing than raising our voices to bless God ourselves, but that is what this psalm is about. All God’s creatures praise and bless God, proclaiming his goodness and mercy to the whole world. The question for us today is: do we live out God’s goodness and mercy as we live in the world? And, if we live it, do we also make God known?

MP 708 To God be the Glory.

To God be the glory, great things he has done;

So loved he the world that he gave us his Son.

Who yielded his life an atonement for sin,

And opened the life-gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,

Let the earth hear His voice;

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,

Let the people rejoice; O, come to the Father,

through Jesus the Son,

And give Him the glory;

great things He has done!

 

2 Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,

To every believer the promise of God;

The vilest offender who truly believes,

That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Praise the Lord…

 

3 Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,

and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;

But purer, and higher, and greater will be

Our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord

 

Benediction

Jesus has called us to come to him and blessed us with his richness. Now he sends us out into his world, to make sure people see him, and listen to him, through us. Go forth with Jesus, joined to him, in friendship, love and prayer. We are yours, Lord. Use us as you will.

Amen.

Sunday 28th June 2020

Call to Worship

The steadfast love of the Lord is established for ever.
His faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
The Lord invites us and welcomes us.
Let us worship the Lord.

 Hymn 241 Holy Spirit, we welcome you

Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Loving God, we gather in response to your invitation; we gather together, welcomed by you. May the warmth of your welcome inspire and enhance the worship we offer to you in Jesus’ name. O God, your Spirit draws us into your presence, and so we come – drawn by love, upheld by grace – to encounter Jesus, our Saviour. We know him as our master. We know him as our friend. We draw close in faith to offer our praise and worship. We are sorry, Lord, for the times we judge others and find them wanting. We are sorry that we turn away from your children in their need. We are sorry that we think we are too busy. We are sorry for the times our welcome has been lukewarm. Forgive us, and help us to remember the warmth of your welcome, and to be inspired to share that warmth with all people. You, O Lord, are the glory and the strength! Happy are those who know Your love is secure and unending.
Happy are those who know Your righteousness and mercy are without measure. Accept our praise and adoration, Lord, we pray.

Let us join together in the Lord’s prayer Our Father.


Good Morning today imagine yourself in your own home. And it is nearly lunch time, and just before you start preparing lunch, there is a knock at your front door.  And when you open the door can you just imagine your feelings when you discover that it is Jesus who has come to visit you.  Well you would be absolutely amazed and so glad you would ask him in.  What would you do then? I know what I would be doing, I would be rushing to sit Jesus at the best seat at the dining table and give him a refreshing drink to make him welcome. And then making sure that there was someone from the house to sit with him until I made lunch. Now Jesus being Lord of all what could I possibly make for such a distinguished guest.  Give me some ideas please, what would you make?  Ok, thank you for these welcome ideas.  I will make the best meal for Jesus that I can.

Now a few days later at the same time a member from the church arrived knocking on the door. This person has not got a lot and is not very well dressed and a wee bit smelly. Would I be as keen to do the same for this person, would I even invite this smelly untidy person into my home? Of course I would especially if I followed in the steps of Jesus, then I would certainly treat this person in the same way as I did with Jesus when he visited my home.  Jesus said something very encouraging to His disciples as He prepared to send them out with the message of God’s kingdom to the people who lived in the local towns. He told them that “anyone who welcomes you welcomes me.”  That is quite an amazing statement isn’t it?  Anyone who welcomes a fellow believer into their home and looks after their needs, is actually welcoming Jesus.  Have you entertained Jesus in your homes recently?      Amen.

MP 954 We are Marching in the light of God

Reading Psalm 89 Verses 1 to 4 then 15 to 18.

Intercession Prayer

Loving Lord, we pray in your name and in the name of peace for the worn torn countries of the world, for countries where violence is rife, for communities where tensions run high. We pray Lord for people who have been hurt or killed by other hands and for any who took it upon themselves to try and intervene and help in dangerous situations and we pray for the families left bereaved at these times. We pray in the name of justice for the marginalised people of the world, for those who are discriminated against and for those who are trafficked.
We thank you for those who stand up for the oppressed, and for those who pray for the victimised, and who speak out for the silenced. We pray in hope for economic challenges to be overcome, for opportunities to be embraced and for changes to be long lasting.
Lord hear our prayer.  Lord Jesus, we pray in faith for your church throughout the world, for those entrusted with leadership, for congregations reaching out to their communities, for one another to live as we pray.  Loving Lord, we pray in thankfulness for businesses and venues preparing to open again, for families preparing to meet up again, for friends preparing to socialise again and we pray for all in government as they continue to monitor and measure the levels of infections around the UK. And also for all who are still fighting this pandemic throughout the world. We further pray for John our minister as he continues his study leave be with him and the family and give him the peace and tranquillity he requires as he studies ever more of your words to him. Father we pray for the grieving and ask you enfold them in your loving arms and help us to do likewise. Lord hear our prayer, for you are our strength and our inspiration and in you we trust.
Amen.

MP  929 Sing to the Lord a Joyful song.

Reading Mathew 10 verses 40-42

Sermon

How many of you have a welcome mat at the front door of your house? A welcome mat usually has two purposes. It’s used to encourage people to wipe their feet so that they won’t trail mud into the house. And, they are placed outside your door as a sign to let people know that they are welcome to come in. In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus talks about welcoming people. Generally, Matthew draws attention to the disciples being good hosts, but in this part of the Gospel he turns it round. The disciples are the ones being cared for by others. Just like today, we need to be gracious guests and accept help from others. Often the most caring people are the ones who are least likely to accept any help for themselves. As Christians, we need to be both care-givers and receivers. We need to allow others to use their gifts to help us. Each and every act of kindness contains Christ’s love for the world. It is a love we can share anytime and anywhere whether the kindness be big or small.

The identification of the littles ones in need of a cup of cold water lifts the person to an equal status of the whole of the church alike. When the disciples were first sent out by Jesus, they were completely dependent, first on God and then on the hospitality of the communities that received them. Their vulnerability and dependence were the key to the success of the mission. Just as we are when we live out our lives in the community. We are dependent on others. Our vulnerability and dependence is the key to the success of our mission. Jesus teaches that receiving His messengers is the same as receiving Him, and that receiving Him is the same as receiving His Father. The One who is sent represents the Sender. The same reward given to the prophet will also be given to the one who receives the prophet. God is glorified when we do acts in His name and also when we receive another in his name. He is honoured when we give a drink of water to a disciple because He is a disciple. When we receive a messenger, we receive Christ. God will reward us for everything we do in faith in His name. The simplest deed in discipleship in Christ will be recognized by God. God doesn’t only reward “big” important” works. He loves to give and reward obedience, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to us. There are so many in need especially just now and we know we cannot possibly help them all by ourselves and we can say, “That’s not my problem!” and shut the needs of others from our minds; or we can say, “I can’t change everything, but if we each try our best and trust in prayers then we can help in some small way to help where we can. It is the same with those we can help. We don’t have all the answers, but as we come to grips with the enormity of the problem, it’s amazing how we begin to see the needs and hear the Holy Spirit say, “Help, here!” or “Do something about this!.” When we do that, we can and do make a difference.

Christ lives in His people. They become His ambassadors. How they are treated is how He is treated. Welcoming His ambassadors is the same as welcoming Him. Jesus equated Himself with God. He also knew that God gave Him authority, and He claimed that authority. Hospitality is a witness to the unconditional love of Christ. That lifts us up and saves all who would be saved. It’s open to everyone.

The “little ones”- both the poor and those who are new to the faith - are our guests of honour. They might be angels in disguise or even Christ Himself in disguise. Our task is to see Christ in everyone and attend to the Christ in everyone-the stranger, the enemy, the friend, the spouse, our sibling, a politician, even someone who believes differently than we do. Christ is in everyone. When we regard everyone as Christ, then maybe they will see the Christ who is in us.

The simple act of leaving our personal comforts to care for the needs of another demonstrates the love Jesus shared with us when He left the ultimate comfort and joy of heaven to live life here on earth. Serving another person is inconvenient. It takes time, energy, personal resources, and sometimes, personal discomfort. It is so much easier to look away and assume someone else will do it. Jesus invites us to serve Him by caring for the needs of others. Today and every day the invitation. The great, ancient African theologian, Augustine, sheds further insight about the dynamics of living the Christian life, of living your purpose with joy. A little more than 1,600 years ago, Augustine was reflecting on how much God values us, so much that great rejoicing in the heavens transpires when just one is saved. Then he prayed that God would inflame us, excite us so that we would come to delight in praising God. People who delight in praising God will spontaneously, and with delight, long to serve their neighbours when Jesus comes to them in the person of these neighbours. Christian living, living out your purpose, is no burden. When you're clear about your value to God, Christian living is a wonderful opportunity to flourish and thrive.

Hospitality is crucial to the gospel message because unless we change our point of view, unless we change the state of our hearts and minds about those that society oppresses, unless we can see others as children of God, then we can’t fulfill our orders to share the Good News of forgiveness and healing, of justice and mercy, of righteousness and hope. How about in our churches? Do you think that people are always welcome at our church home? Do we speak to those people who are visiting our church that we do not know? If someone comes to our church and they are dressed different from the way we are dressed, do we make sure that they are made to feel welcome? Jesus said, “He who receives you receives me.” If we turn that around, we will understand that if we do not welcome others into our homes and into our churches, it is the same as if we are refusing to welcome Jesus. We wouldn’t do that, would we? Well, let’s put the welcome mat out - and let’s be sure that we mean it!                                 Amen                                                                        

MP 428 Lord for the Years

Benediction Go now to follow the way of Jesus. See others as he did, dare to give freely as he did and to love unconditionally as he did. And may the blessing of God rest upon us and abide with us now and forever more.                                 Amen.

Call to worship

The steadfast love of the Lord is good.  God’s mercy is abundant. Let us draw near to God’s presence

Hymn MP465 Meekness and Majesty.

Prayer and Lords

O Lord, we enter into your steadfast love, asking that you will respond to our prayers; we trust in your abundant mercy and ask that you will come to us.  Lord, make your presence known to us; draw near to us; redeem us, set us free; for we seek to be your faithful disciples.
We are sorry for the times we get our priorities wrong – when we do not put you first; when we fail to see the needs of our neighbours; when we lack the courage and faithfulness of true disciples. Grant us forgiveness; grant us perseverance; grant us vision; that we may serve you as you desire, and play our part in establishing your kingdom. Lord, you have called us to be your disciples. Thank you for trusting us with this privilege. Thank you for empowering us in the ways of service. Thank you for giving us courage when we are fearful. Thank you for your strength when we are vulnerable. Thank you for knowing us, loving us, enhancing our lives. Thank you, Lord. Let us join together in the words that Jesus taught us saying Our Father, Amen.

Good morning! This morning I want you all to look at the back of your hand. I want you to count the number of hairs you have on the back of your hand. I'm going to count to ten o give you a little time to do this and Okay? Ready, steady go!  How many did you count? How many did you say 10, 50, 100?  Wow! That's a lot! Now, what if I asked you to count the hairs on your hand and your arm? Maybe not today. What if I asked you to count the hairs on your head? Well that is a lot of hair! More so at the moment as we cannot get our hair cut.  In our Gospel reading today, Jesus says that God knows us so well that even all the hairs on our heads have been counted. He made us and knows us inside and out -- even right down to the littlest detail. Why did Jesus want us to know that? Why would it matter that God knows us that well? Well I think it is because we are special to God. He cares about us enough to know everything about us. He also takes good care of us, especially when things get really hard in our lives. No matter what happens to us, God is there, watching over us and giving us what we need. Jesus told his disciples know that there were going to be hard times for them when they began to tell all the people about God. Have you ever known the right thing to do but it seemed like you were the only one? The disciples were in situations like that all the time. Jesus wanted them to know that they could be brave and do the right thing because God was backing them up. God knows us. and there is a song which just came into my head When the going gets tough the tough get going. By Billy Ocean. This is when we know that when times get tough; God stands with us and helps us do the right thing. It's good that he has counted all the hairs on our heads. It makes me feel good to know that he knows me so well.

Prayer: God, thank you for knowing us so well. You made us inside and out and are always taking good care of us. Amen.

MP 272 I have decided to follow Jesus

Prayer of Intercession

Lord, we are your disciples:  make us one in you. We pray for those whom you have called to service far from their homes – doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, and many more…
We are your disciples: make us one in you. We pray for those who serve you in the church – those who clean, make tea and wash up, arrange flowers, offer a welcome, and many more…
We are your disciples:  make us one in you. We pray for those who serve you by telling your story – those who teach, lead assemblies, speak at meetings, preach the gospel, and many more… We are your disciples: make us one in you. We pray for those who engage in a ministry of prayer –We pray for own faith, that we may face our challenges with courage. We are your disciples:  make us one in you. May our united love and faith further your work and help to establish your promised kingdom. In your name, we pray. Amen.

MP 988. How deep the Fathers love for us?

Reading Mathew 10, 24-39

“You don’t have to anymore talented, any richer, any slimmer, any smarter, any more or less of anything to partner with God. All you have to be is willing to be used by him in everyday ways - “Quote by Bill Hybells form his book Just walk across the room (2006)

We all have fears, some real, some imaginary, yet real to us; some healthy, some unhealthy; some known to us, others unknown to us. But we do have them. How can we tell the difference between each of our fears how can we tell someone else about them? Let’s just think of what our fears may consist of. We may fear that others don't like us, and certainly wouldn't like us if they knew our inner thoughts and outer behaviours. So we do what most people do. Instead of showing them, we keep everything bottled up inside, thus avoiding true intimacy. Some fear what might happen to our families if anything ever happened to us. We may also fear the loneliness and isolation of growing old and becoming worn out, unable to care for ourselves. So, we tend to hide away our fears in the corner, of our lives we may spend a lifetime of fear hiding behind our criticism of others who refuse to live up to our standards. Or, we may hole up in our comfortable little communities by revolving our life around our immediate family. Or, in our social groups, we talk about everything under the sun, except who's hurting, who's in pain. So, is there a brave way to be scared? Ashley Montague, in his book On Being Human, says, "Yes," because "to be human is to be in danger." No one ought to be more willing to take risks for the right reasons than the person of faith. Jesus offers a powerful response to our usual fears. "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell." The early church took that literally, as "the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church." Despite their fears about getting tossed to the lions, nailed to crosses, they stood and died in the power of the risen Christ. They acted upon the strong belief that the final judgment of life's issues is made, not before human courts, based on personal opinions, even on those made by political and religious gurus, but before the court of God. "Fear not!" Jesus' words echo down the corridor of time. Fear not, for our lives consist, not in the abundance of our plentiful possessions, or personal opinions, or political decisions, but by every word that proceeds from God's mouth.  In the power of Christ, we can discard our false fears of power, pride, prejudice, planning, yes, even peace-making. We do so because we know that we are of infinite worth in God's sight. Fear not! God has more concern for us, the highest creation, than for the hairs on our head and for the birds of the air.
Perhaps more than anything we need to learn how to distinguish between essential and nonessential fear. It's a fact that while our forefathers and mothers looked forward to automation, we are almost threatened to death by it. Someone has begun a group called "The Lead Pencil Society," as a protest against the mechanical devices of our age. Life and reality lie in the realm of knowing what to fear, and what not to fear. Again, the Scripture instructs us "not to fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; but rather to fear (revere) him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." We may well destroy each other, if not physically, then psychologically. We've seen plenty of each kind of destruction on both sides of every conflict, as we announce to the world, in the words of Bob Dylan, "God's on our side." Yet, we humans cannot destroy the spirit, the real self, try as we do. The answer lies with our relationship to the living Lord of history. For Jesus' final words from the Cross were not, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" but, "Into your hands I commit my Spirit." A woman complained bitterly about her minister who ministered to her in a time of deep sorrow. "He had nothing new to tell me, just the same old business about Christ, the resurrection, nothing different, just the same old thing." What a contrast with a little boy sitting alone on the train. The pastor, noticing him, took a seat beside him and asked, "Aren't you afraid traveling alone like this?" "Oh, no," he replied. "My father is driving." Of course, no matter how deeply committed to our faith, we will have bad days. Sometimes, in our agonizing, debilitating fears, we will cry out with Job, "Why was I born?" However, the Lord is in the driver's seat. God still controls the universe. Christ continues to care, more than we care for us, and for the world. He is Lord. We turn to him in our fears, because he first turned to us with his love. Amen.

 

MP  769 Who is on the Lord’s Side.

 

God goes before us to show the way.  God goes behind us Let us not stray. God goes with us Bless us we pray and may God grant his blessing to us as we go forward, keeping alive our faith day by day. Amen.

Sunday service 14th June 2020

Call to worship

Loving Lord, your grace draws us to your presence; your peace unites us in your love; your hope inspires us to praise your glory. May our worship be worthy of you. Amen.

MP 395 Judge eternal

Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

We come before you, gracious God, just as we are.  We come with our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities. We come with our fears and apprehensions. We come with faith and doubt.
We come to offer and receive. We come to you, the king of love –in the name of your Son, and in the power of your Spirit. Lord, you have called us to the privilege of service, but we have failed to serve. You have given us the blessing of peace, but we have chosen discord.
You have loved as a shepherd tends his sheep, but we have strayed from your way. Forgive us, and show us the path of obedience and faithfulness that your Son walked. We unite with the whole world in praising you, creator God. We come before you with gladness and thanksgiving. We praise your goodness; we praise your faithfulness; we praise your tenderness. We are yours and we worship you. We bless your name for ever.
Amen

Let us come together in the words that Jesus taught us.  Our Fathe…r 

All age.  Happy Father's Day to you!  I want you to imagine you are in the church this morning. I want you to say to one other person in the church "Happy Father's Day”. Doesn’t matter who it is. Now just as we sometimes greet each other by shaking hands I would like you to do this by wishing each other Happy Father’s Day. --- Now   "I would like everyone in the congregation who heard the words 'Happy Father's Day' from another person here today to raise a hand." Wow!  Look at all those hands go up. We began by telling Just One person yet all these people heard it in such a short time? That is good news. Jesus wanted the good news of his kingdom to be told to the whole world. How can just one person or just a small group of people tell the whole world?  IMPOSSIBLE! And yet it happens when we tell just one person at a time -- like we did here today. This is how God tells the whole world about the good news of Jesus. One person tells another how much Jesus loves them and before you know it -- EVERYBODY KNOWS IT!    Dear God: Help us tell the good news to others so that everyone can know this good news. Amen.


MP Hymn No 541 One shall tell another.

 

Intercession Prayer.

In long summer evenings when light lingers and sunsets have time to deepen from light pink to deep red, we offer You our thanks and praise.  We remember and hold before You people in your world where the fading of the light brings not only darkness, but sadness and discomfort.  May they know Your light.  When we gather and share food and laughter with friends, and family, we offer You our thanks and praise.  We remember and hold before You those who today will share meals tainted with sadness, those who through no choice of their own eat alone, those who are hungry and have little food. May they soon know joy and plenty.  When we have been offered hospitality that was generous or unexpected – we have been blessed and we offer thanks and praise. We remember and hold before You refugees and those who are strangers in a foreign land, those for whom exceptional warmth and hospitality would mean so much. May they know a rich welcome and ongoing support.  Dear God, we thank you for our world and all that fills it.  We thank you for all we can do to make your world a better place. Help us to care for the world around us for the people of today and the generations of tomorrow. May our words, our actions and our thoughts change this world and change the lives of those around us and around the globe for the better.  Ever creating, ever loving, ever encouraging God, we offer You our deep thanks. Use our gifts, talents and skills in the world so that our lives may tell out Your praise and where possible, aid those whom we have remembered before You today. Hear our prayers, through Jesus Christ our loving Saviour.                                                                                                                     Amen


Matthew 9.35-10.8

Sermon
When Jesus lived with us here on earth, he had so much work on his hands. He wanted the whole world to know about his good news. To him it was like a harvest that had come. When it is time to harvest, it must be done the right away!  Jesus wanted the whole world to know about the good news he came to tell. He wanted the world to know right away! He said it was like a harvest waiting to be picked. Have you ever looked out on a golden grain field in the summertime?  I love seeing the fields weaving around as the breezes blow around them. Spears of grain, standing straight, reaching out toward the sky, ready for some useful purpose.
That's what Jesus sees here. He sees men, women and children of every age and nation who make up this field. These people are the most important fruit of the earth. Someone is eventually going to reap this harvest. To put it in the simplest terms, people are going to be won for good or evil.  So, at home and abroad, and within the church itself, we are on God's mission. In the imagery of our text here, we are called to be labourers in God's harvest. Jesus then is challenging us here when, first of all, he reminds us that the harvest truly is great; secondly, he reminds us of the obstacles in meeting this challenge when he tells us that the labourers are few; and finally he gives us the answer to the challenge when he says, "Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into the harvest." Today, then, let us talk about THE CHALLENGE OF GOD'S HARVEST.

The opening words of Jesus here are just as true today as they ever were. "The harvest truly is great!" The major challenge to the Church today lies in the fact that more than ever before people are in need to hear a spiritual word. That's the way in which "the harvest is truly great" - people's hearts are "set up" as never before to hear a healing word from God. During the last several years there has been a phase of disillusionment. We looked to technology for pleasure and comfort, and somehow thought we could reap the rewards of personal security and inner contentment as well.
The phase is over, today our social system is at such loose ends that many people openly talk about the breakdown of our society as we know it. These are days that get us down. One wonders what the world is coming to next. Many people are so confused, that they are ready to throw in the towel and just simply exist. People feel shackled by life. They listen to the voice of their own insecure heart which says, don't look, you might see. Don't listen, you might hear. Don't think, you might learn. Don't make a decision, you might be wrong. Don't walk, you might stumble. Don't run, you might fall. Don't live, you might die.
In such a context we may say that the time for hearing God's healing, encouraging message has never been better. And in addition to this the harvest is also great when we consider the large number of young people today. Young people, as always, are looking for a star to which they may hitch their wagons. They will latch onto that promise which appears most inviting. So many young people, tired of life already at twenty-one. They've seen it all, they've experienced it all, but we are called to be God's harvesters.  Every Christian is called to share the good news of the Gospel, the news that brings hope and new life and a new outlook. Let's not get the idea that we merely want to lure more people into the church though.  Christianity is not a monument. It is a movement. It is because it has a moving message - that is, a message that is able to move people, so that they begin to have meaningful, creative lives again. God once moved to love us and to make us his own. In a sense Jesus Christ is the only labourer in this harvest. He alone could do it. He alone has made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. He alone went the ugly way of the cross, loving us to the end as he suffered and died for us there. He alone has demonstrated the amazing love of God so that our eyes are opened and we call God our Father. Is there anyone among us here who does not need to hear that message? Is there anyone here not ready for such good news? Everyone - and all of us - wait for God's good Word in Christ. Truly the harvest is great!
The easiest thing in the world is to agree with Jesus that the harvest is great. The saddest thing in the world is that the labourers are so few - when there might be so many. As Christians we sometimes find it difficult to live and pass the message of God's love to all people. But Jesus gives us an answer to the challenge of the harvest. He says finally, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into the harvest." To pray is to be committed to God's will and way. When we pray we are asking God to give us the zeal, faith and consecration to be one of the labourers ourselves. As we pray let us say "Here I am, Lord, send me!

 

MP Hymn No.229 Here I Am Wholly Available

.

Benediction

Go to serve; go to love; go to bring healing; go to bring peace; go in the strength of the Father go in the power of Jesus; go united by the Spirit. Go – and know his grace. Amen.

 

MP 643 Light to the world

We are thinking today about Jesus’ command to his disciples to pass on all that he had taught them about God’s love. Imagine holding a ball of wool and, at the beginning of the ball of wool, there is a piece of paper with the words of Mathew 28 verse 19 attached to it. This, the word of God, that has been handed down from the disciples to us. It is now our task to pass this message on. Now, I want you to think you are at church altogether and read the verse and pass along the wool to each other as a commitment to sharing our faith with others. As the wool unwinds and if the wool gets in a tangle, then think, we sometimes unravel on our way but we know that God is with us through the rough times and we need to help others to know that even through bad patches we still have God and each other. We are not alone, but bound together in love. We need to take the ball outside as a sign of spreading the good news.


MP 624 Take my life, and let it be

Now, we might just have noticed that many people do not like taking orders and that some will often do whatever is necessary to avoid obedience.

I found this story from a minister to his congregation when looking for inspiration. “I recall reading of a water shortage a few years ago in a town in Alaska. An order came from the commanding general there that passes and liberty would be cancelled until the water supply was back to normal. All the armed forces complied except a small outpost of Seabees, about 30 in number, under the command of a rough-and-ready warrant officer. Saturday evening came and the Seabees stormed the nearly abandoned city only to be rounded up by the MP’s and returned to their base. The chief warrant officer was brought before the Provost Marshall and asked if he had received the general’s order. “Yes, sir.”  “Then why didn’t you comply?” he roared. “Well, sir, I didn’t think it applied to us.” “And why not?” “Because, sir, when my men go to town, they don’t drink water.”

Fortunately, those men who first heard the Lord’s orders did not look for ways to get around them, but did what they were told. There is comfort in that. After all, these disciples were not super-human in their capacity for faithfulness. Just a few days ago, they had seen their master dragged before the court of Pontius Pilate, condemned to death and crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem on a hill. They felt, in their disappointment, that they had been separated from the very person who had led them. To be with him (Jesus ) now, even though Jesus  had returned from the grave and they were seeing him in the flesh once again, as the reading says, “…but some doubted.” We today are a bit like the disciples worried about what is happening in our world and certainly missing church as it was.  But we have the comfort of knowing that we will be together again at some point. It has been great to know that many more people have been picking up on services on the television and on the media stations.  So we have the comfort of knowing we are in good company.  Yet, we still ask questions when the world is dark just like the hill on Calvary.  Have you ever had doubts about your relationship to Jesus Christ? I have. Have those doubts bothered you? They have bothered me. Do those doubts at times make you feel guilty? They do me, but as I read these words, “…but some doubted,” and realize that the “some” are some of Jesus’ most intimate friends who had some doubts about what was going on. What made them special was that they did not let their doubts keep them from following orders. If we can go along with that, we are doing as we should. Think of the orders those disciples got that day in Galilee. Jesus was obviously the main person. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” It is good to know that if you are about to get some orders to follow that they come from someone who has the power to give them. Jesus certainly made sure the disciples knew that there was no greater power in the entire universe to give orders. This was enough of a reason to ensure the orders are followed to the letter. “Then he says, “Go therefore…”. Have you ever been given orders to do something just because you were told to? I suspect that we all, at some time, were told by parents or teachers to do something; and we asked, “Why?” and got the response, “Because I said so, that’s why.” We followed those orders because we had no choice in the matter – the one who gave them had the power to back them up. But we probably did not carry them out as we might have, had we understood why they were being given. As we grew older, others gave us orders…orders that were not to be questioned. At least Jesus gave his disciples a reason before he told them what they were to do. The first instruction he gave was to go… get up and go. It might only be down the street or it might be halfway round the world, but nothing is accomplished if we just sit tight in our own little bubble. Sad to say, the commitment to go has dropped greatly in recent years. There is far less desire for world mission than there once was. There is less desire for mission down the street than there once was. Evangelism is something that a few preachers do, but not all of us can. Why? Is it because our orders have been changed? Hardly!  We have sometimes found it just a bit harder to evangelise. It is a good thing that Christians have a merciful leader. The next thing Jesus said was to “make disciples of all nations.” In the King James version of this passage with which many of us grew up, is “Teach all nations.” The most important part of this instruction involves helping the world to learn… about Jesus and Christ believes this is an important part of being a Christian. Making learners takes more than one hour a week on Sunday morning. What about this phrase, “all nations?” For modern Christians, we have no problem understanding that; it means missionaries are to be sent around the world. It means something even more striking than that when we consider those men of Galilee who were the first to hear these words. To those men, all Jews, it meant that there were some people whom they would never have considered as likely recipients of the good news of Jesus Christ. Our gospel is not just for people who are just like you and me. The good news Jesus Christ is for all. What is good is that first century disciples followed the orders. They did take the message to all. The message to modern Christians is clear. Yes, send missionaries all around the world, but do not forget the ones right in our own area. Jesus died for them as well as for you and me. The next instruction…baptizing. Did that mean Jesus wanted his disciples to make sure to do all their teaching near some water so these new learners could understand baptism? Did he mean that learning would not be sufficient without this ritual? Not at all. If baptism is rightly understood, it is seen as being brought into Christ’s church. It is symbolic of the beginning of a new relationship that finds its fullest expression in the life of the fellowship.

Why would Jesus include this as a part of the orders for his disciples? Simply because all the learning in the world about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and what God continues to do through the Holy Spirit only really makes an impact on us within community. Without the support of other believers, without someone around to help fan the flame that is within us, we soon die down to nothing more than Christian “embers”. How often has it happened that someone has made a profession of faith, become active in the work of the church, lived a life of positive witness to the power of the gospel and then, for some reason, ceased to give any evidence of their faith at all. It happens…and it happens when people begin to think that they no longer need the church. If you take a coal from a furnace, it will remain hot and glowing for a while, but eventually it will die out. The same thing happens to Christian disciples who are removed from the fellowship of the church. No wonder Jesus gave this instruction to baptize. What about this final instruction, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you?” There are standards. Being a follower of Christ should make a difference in the way we live. After all, the same bible that says believe also says behave! There are standards that we are called to uphold…not to earn our salvation because that would be impossible. No, we live lives that are pleasing to our heavenly Father in gratitude for his rich grace. Notice something here: the instruction concerning teaching obedience comes after people have been made disciples, after they have made a commitment of faith, after they have become a part of Christ’s church. The way Jesus describes it, obedience is a response to something that has already taken place. Christians are expected to maintain certain standards, certain discipline. Christians do it out of love, but they need to be taught what that discipline involves to manage it effectively, and that is why the Lord included it as a part of his orders. Tradition tells us that of those eleven who gathered there on that Galilean hillside, only one ever died a natural death; all the rest were martyred in the course of their following orders. For us in 20th century the sacrifice is rarely that dramatic. It might involve some ridicule or some abuse; it might require the expenditure of time or effort or money…rarely much more than that. But if we realize that of the almost one billion people in the world who call themselves “Christian,” two-thirds of them live in nations where Christianity is a persecuted faith. We know that sacrifice is still the order of the day. Fortunately, we have one tremendous piece of assurance about our task. We have a promise from God, “…and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age,” The abiding presence of a commander-in-chief who has promised he will never leave us nor forsake us. Because of that, we can follow his marching orders with the full confidence of every bit of support we need and, all the while, realize that we are not alone as we carry those orders out. Amen!

MP 501 O Jesus , I have promised to serve thee to the end.

MP 954 We are marching in the light of God.

Benediction

God has made us, God has shaped us, God has chosen us, God has sent us. May we go now to be makers of God’s peace, shapers of God’s love, choosers of God’s way and senders on the journey. And may God be ever with us, ever creating us, ever moulding us, ever calling us and ever leading us.

Pentecost

The Church of Scotland Sunday 31st May 2020

Hosted by Martin Fair Moderator of the General Assembly

Right Rev Martin Fair

‘I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord!’ But where to when the house is shut? Into the world, for the whole earth belongs to the Lord.

This is Pentecost. Today we give thanks for the gift of the Spirit. So, let us worship God and let us go into all the world.

Rev Jonathon Fleming and family (Cumbrae l/w Largs: St. John’s)

Dad, I made the cake you asked for.

Oh brilliant. Great, come on, girls, come on in. Party time! All right, I think I've got everything. I've got birthday candle, for my lights I've got party poppers and I've got a balloon as well, right girls, we’re all sorted.

Whose birthday is it?

It's the church's birthday.

How can a building have a birthday?

The church is people, not a building.

Holly's right, it's not the building we're celebrating, it's the church, that's not just 100 years ago, we're celebrating the church's birthday and it’s a time called Pentecost. And at Pentecost we remember the day that the church really got started and that, and on this day, over 2,000 years ago, the disciples, and a whole bunch of people were in a room. And suddenly, there was this wind that came through the room and they realised that is was the Holy Spirit that was in the room with them, giving them the tools and the knowledge of how to do the things that Jesus had asked them to do. Do you remember a couple of weeks ago, when we were in church, we talked about Jesus saying that He would leave us something, the Holy Spirit, after He left, remember that one? So, Holly, can I have the balloon a minute? Think of that balloon, it's, just now it's not much of a balloon is it? It's lifeless, it's not getting anything in it, but when you blow in it, it suddenly has power and purpose and that's a bit like the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit gives us the power and the purpose to do the things that God wants us to do. Then, if you imagine a birthday candle, the disciples suddenly saw that there were tiny, little flames above each of their heads in that room, as well as the Holy Spirit being in that room. And they knew at that point that they had work to do. And that work's still going on 2,000 years later, yes, in buildings, but all over the world. Because people believe that the

Holy Spirit's giving us everything we need to be the church wherever we are. So let's get our party poppers, right, you ready?

So there's only one thing left to do then, let's sing "Happy Birthday".

Right, let's go for it. One, two three.  ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday dear Church ♪ ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ 

Hip, hip--  Hooray!  Hip, hip-- Hooray!  Hip hip-- Hooray! 

Praise - I am the Church, You are the Church - Rev Jonathon Fleming and family ♪ I am the church ♪ ♪ You are the church ♪ ♪ We are the church together ♪ ♪ All who follow Jesus all around the world ♪ ♪ Yes, we're the church together ♪ ♪ The church is not a building ♪ ♪ The church is not a steeple ♪ ♪ The church is not a resting place ♪ ♪ The church is a people ♪ ♪ I am the church ♪ ♪ You are the church ♪ ♪ We are the church together ♪ ♪ All who follow Jesus all around the world ♪ ♪ Yes, we're the church together ♪ ♪ We're many kinds of people ♪ ♪ With many kinds of faces ♪ ♪ All colours and all ages, too ♪ ♪ From all times and places ♪ ♪ I am the church ♪ ♪ You are the church ♪ ♪ We are the church together ♪ ♪ All who follow Jesus all around the world ♪ ♪ Yes, we're the church together ♪ ♪ At Pentecost some people ♪ ♪ Received the Holy Spirit ♪ ♪ And told the Good News through the world ♪ ♪ To all who would hear it ♪ ♪ I am the church ♪ ♪ You are the church ♪ ♪ We are the church together ♪ ♪ All who follow Jesus all around the world ♪ ♪ Yes, we're the church together ♪ ♪ I count if am 90 ♪ ♪ Or nine or just a baby ♪ ♪ There's one thing I am sure about ♪ ♪

And I don't mean maybe ♪ ♪ I am the church ♪ ♪ You are the church ♪ ♪ We are the church together ♪ ♪ All who follow Jesus all around the world ♪ ♪ Yes, we're the church together ♪

Prayer - Rev Ruth Morrison (Clydebank Waterfront)

Good morning, everyone. On this Pentecost Sunday we are going to pray together. And in this prayer there is a response. And so when you hear the words, Spirit of the living God, if we all say together, fall afresh on us.  Let us pray. God of Pentecost, Today we praise you for a promise kept, A people filled, A church empowered to share the good news of Jesus. For the Spirit came, emboldening, encouraging, energising and equipping, loosening tongues and setting hearts on fire with the truth of Your love.  Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.  God of Pentecost, in these strange days, unfamiliar and unchartered, we confess to you the ways we have limited and stifled Your Spirit, and offer ourselves once again to you this day, praying that you would renew and guide us into the future.  Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.  God of Pentecost, filled and fired up, may we, Your church, trust in Your unchanging love, be open to Your Spirit at work in all our dreaming, praying, planning and serving, and be emboldened, encouraged, energised and equipped, to use our gifts for the growing of Your Kingdom, as we shine brightly and follow Your lead, confident that you are not only within us and beside us, but always in front.  Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Amen.

Reading - Exodus 13:17-22 read by Rev William Boyle, New Parish Church, Port Glasgow "When Pharaoh let the people go, "God did not lead them on the road "through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. "For God said, if they face war, "they may change their minds and return to Egypt. "So God led the people around by the desert road "towards the Red Sea. "The Israelites went up out of Egypt, ready for battle. "Moses took the bones of Joseph with them, "because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. “He had said, God will surely come to your aid "and then you must carry my bones up with you "from this place. "After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham "on the edge of the desert. "By day the Lord went ahead of them "in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way "and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, "so that they could travel by day or night. "Neither the pillar of cloud by day "nor the pillar of fire by night left its place "in front of the people." Amen.

Reading - Acts 2:1-4 read by Miss Ann Lyall, DCS, Glasgow "When the day of Pentecost came, "all the believers were gathered together in one place. "Suddenly there was a noise from the sky "which sounded like a strong wind blowing, "and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. "Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire "which spread out and touched each person there. "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit "and began to talk in other languages, "as the Spirit enabled them to speak." Amen, and thanks be to God for these readings from His word. 

Praise - Breathe on us - recorded by worship team at Irvine: Fullerton ♪ There is a shaking ♪ ♪ Let hearts awaken ♪ ♪ Our God is moving ♪ ♪ Forever changing us ♪ ♪ There is a trembling ♪ ♪ There is revival ♪ ♪ The sound of worship ♪ ♪ So great and glorious ♪ ♪ Holy Spirit hear us now ♪ ♪ Breathe on us ♪ ♪ Holy fire fall ♪ ♪ Come and fill this place with Your presence ♪ ♪ Like a rushing wind ♪ ♪ Send Your fire here ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ There is a shaking ♪ ♪ Let hearts awaken ♪ ♪ Our God is moving ♪ ♪ Forever changing us ♪ ♪ There is a trembling ♪ ♪ There is revival ♪ ♪ The sound of worship ♪ ♪ So great and glorious ♪ ♪ Holy Spirit hear us now ♪ ♪ Breathe on us ♪ ♪ Holy fire fall ♪ ♪ Come and fill this place with Your presence ♪ ♪ Like a rushing wind ♪ ♪ Send Your fire here ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Lift up your hands and shout ♪ ♪ The Lord is with us now ♪ ♪ Lift up your voice and sing ♪ ♪ He is Holy ♪ ♪ Lift up your hands and shout ♪ ♪ The Lord is with us now ♪ ♪ Lift up your voice and sing ♪ ♪ He is Holy ♪ ♪ Lift up your hands and shout ♪ ♪ The Lord is with us now ♪ ♪ Lift up your voice and sing ♪ ♪ He is Holy ♪ ♪ Lift up your hands and shout ♪ ♪ The Lord is with us now ♪ ♪ Lift up Your voice and sing ♪ ♪ He is Holy ♪ ♪ Breathe on us ♪ ♪ Holy fire fall ♪ ♪ Come and fill this place with Your presence ♪ ♪ Like a rushing wind ♪ ♪ Send Your fire here ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Breathe on us ♪ ♪ Holy fire fall ♪ ♪ Come and fill this place with Your presence ♪ ♪ Like a rushing wind ♪ ♪ Send Your fire here ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪ ♪ Breath of Heaven breathe on us ♪

The Moderator’s Message - Right Rev Martin Fair

I love the hills and the mountains. And to be clear, I'm talking about the Scottish mountains. Why bother about the rest, when we've got the best! And some of those mountain areas of Scotland, I've become very familiar with through the years from repeated visits. not least the Angus Glens and the mountains around them. I know them inside out, particularly Glen Doll and one of the Munros at the top of Glen Doll.  It’s called Driesh, I've climbed it 19 times. I've been up it in the depths of winter and in the heights of summer. I've been up it in the middle of the night and in the day. I know its every turn and its every aspect. That mountain, I am so familiar with and I love it because of that. But just as much, I love exploring new territory. Going to parts of the country I've never been to before. Yes, exploring, discovering, finding new landscapes. Now, when I go to new places, I'm much more dependent on my map and my compass for navigating. It's a comfort to me to be able to guide myself on the map. Or maybe I'm out walking and I come across a path or maybe some muddy footprints, and that's a great comfort too, to know that others have been here before you.

But what about if we're called to completely new territory? Where there is no map and compass to help us, to go to undiscovered country? The reality is that there's hardly a place on earth now that hasn't been discovered, I guess that's why I love reading so much about the early explorers. One of my favourite books is about the first Europeans to go to Everest and to try to conquer it. I love reading too about Shackleton and those who went to the Poles and to the Antarctic - endeavouring, seeking out. There's not much opportunity for that nowadays, but even still, we can take ourselves out of our familiar places. This is one of the best books I've read of late, it's called "The Call Of The Wild.” It’s about a man who went to live for a year in the depths of the Alaskan tundra and forest. I wonder if perhaps that's what's being asked of us right now as the church? That we need to, yes, go beyond all that is familiar, to hear again something of the call of the wild, to go beyond what's known and dear?

For many of us this causes us all kinds of anxiety. We're far better when we know exactly what's happening. In terms of church, Sunday mornings, going down to our buildings, running our services according to patterns we've used for long enough, meeting together in our various groups and organisations and in the pastoral life of the church, visiting one another in our homes and so on. So with everything being so different, we find ourselves very disorientated, not quite sure of the landscape, not quite sure of ourselves. Our deepest longing is to get back to what we know. And all of this, we begin to get a glimpse into the experience of how it's always been for God's people. Think of those Israelites after crossing the Red Sea and after a period of time in the wilderness, it was so disorientating and so unfamiliar to them, the demands were so great they actually wanted to go back, even though it would've been back into captivity! Or long before that, Abram. Listen to the beginning of chapter 12 of Genesis, "The Lord said to Abram, "'Leave your country, your relatives, "'and your father's home, "'and go to a land that I am going to show you.'" Of course he had no idea where that was, what it was going to be like, let alone how to get there. And then those first disciples when Jesus came to them, met them on the beach at Galilee, He asked them to leave everything that was familiar and to come with Him to become fishers of people. And then the apostle Paul and so many others, risking all for the Gospel. Even up until much more recent times of church history, missionaries from Scotland, like David Livingstone, going into unknown territory. Or what about Mary Slessor? Born in Aberdeen and raised in Dundee, and then off under the call of God to Nigeria and what a work it was she was involved in there. 

Mission is still where it's at. The only difference is, we don't have to go anywhere. It starts right on our doorstep! Friends, we've got to rediscover that essential calling to mission. Here's the thing. It's going to take something of a makeover. Maybe much more than that, a reformation, for us to be in the kind of shape we need to be to be the church for mission and Scotland and beyond in the 21st Century.

For starters, we're going to have to learn to travel much more lightly. To lay down so much of the baggage that we're carrying. When I first started out in my hill walking journeys, I used to take everything with me. I had such big packs that I could hardly walk, never mind hike around and then of course I had to learn that you don't need the kitchen sink with you everywhere you go! Now I'm perfectly happy with just a small pack like this. When Jesus called and sent His disciples, this is what He said to them. He sent them out two by two and He ordered them, "Don't take anything with you on the trip, except a walking stick. No bread, no beggar's bag, no money in your pockets, wear sandals, but don't carry an extra shirt.” What are we going to have to learn to lay down? What baggage are we going to leave behind us? And how are we going to find our way?

Like never before, we're going to have to trust in and depend on God. He's always been there, and He will guide us. "Your word, Lord is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path." Can we trust that to be true? God will lead us by His word and by His Spirit. And today we rejoice in the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit that has gone before God's people in every time and place, the Israelites through the wilderness, though they knew not that territory, had a pillar of cloud before them in the day and a fire by night. And those first apostles, trusting in the Spirit, knowing that at times, doors would be closed to them and at other times opened for them. And what about those saints of old, who first came to these shores of ours, bearing the Gospel, trusting in the blowing of the wind to bring them where God would have them be. And now, will we be ready to go where God is leading us? Will we allow ourselves to be remade, remodelled into the kind of church God needs us to be now? Will we allow for that reformation, for that revival? And at this time of Pentecost for the refreshing? 

Will we pray, Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You will lead me? Will we believe His word? This God is our God forever and ever. He will lead us for all times to come. Church, this is our shot, this is our opportunity. Let's do it and let's do it in the name of the Father and the Son, and in the power of His Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Praise - There is a Redeemer - Aberfeldy Morning Youth Band ♪ There is a redeemer ♪ ♪ Jesus, God's own Son ♪ ♪ Precious Lamb of God, Messiah ♪ ♪ Holy One ♪ ♪ Thank You, oh my Father ♪ ♪ For giving us Your Son ♪ ♪ And leaving Your Spirit ♪ ♪ 'Til the work on Earth is done ♪ ♪ Jesus my redeemer ♪ ♪ Name above all names ♪ ♪ Precious Lamb of God, Messiah ♪ ♪ Oh, for sinners slain ♪ ♪ Thank you, oh my Father ♪ ♪ For giving us Your Son ♪ ♪ And leaving Your Spirit ♪ ♪ 'Til the work on Earth is done ♪ ♪ When I stand in Glory ♪ ♪ I will see Your face ♪ ♪ And there I'll serve my King forever ♪ ♪ In that Holy Place ♪ ♪ Thank you, oh my Father ♪ ♪ For giving us Your Son ♪ ♪ And leaving Your Spirit ♪ ♪ 'Til the work on Earth is done ♪ ♪ And leaving Your Spirit ♪ ♪ 'Til the work on Earth is done ♪

Right Rev Martin Fair

We've sung thank you oh my Father for giving us Your Son and leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on Earth is done. What is that work that we are called too, and that the Spirit of God will equip us and enable us for? How would you sum it up in seven words? 

Overcoming all divisions: uniting everything in God Revival of Church to rewire the culture Replicate God's DNA within our human society Giving People Confidence To Be Fully Themselves Encouraging Us To Rest - Rely On Him Renewing Our Passion For Joy In Jesus Conviction Of Hearts For Jesus The Redeemer Passing On Knowledge And Love Of Jesus Fling Wide The Gates, Let Jesus In Worship, Love, Sacrifice, Inspire, Share For Jesus

Bringing Jesus' Life Into Scotland's Everyday Using Jesus' Example To Inspire Social Justice Following Jesus' Example To Build Healthier Neighbourhoods Build Love And Compassion Into Our Neighbourhoods Carry The Message From Jesus The Redeemer To Embolden Us Wherever God Puts Us Church Of Scotland Has Left The Building God's Energy That Humanity Can Grow Love Revealing Jesus To People Of All Ages No More Fear, Pain, Hunger And Loneliness Show And Share God’s Love In Jesus Being God’s Gentle, Challenging, Affirming Love Today. On Earth As It Is In Heaven Virus-Like Contaminating The World With God’s Love Jesus’ Irresistible Grace, Surprising Service, Scotland Saved As Father Sent Me I Am Sending You Revealing God's Spirit, Through Living Jesus' Love. Uniting The People Of God As One To Open Arms In Love And Acceptance Sitting With Grieving While Holding God’s Light. Make New Wineskins For The New Wine Pray, Share, Serve God And Be Kind Inspire In Us Creative, Compassionate, Transforming Christianity Comfort And Sustain In Days Of Darkness. Enabling Caring For Others In Jesus’ Name To Empower And Love Us, Inside Out. Guiding, Comforting, Advocating For Jesus In Communities Renewing God’s Earth In Justice And Peace Gifting People To Share Responsibility For Creation Sweeping Away Injustice And Death With Life Help Everyone And All Creation To Thrive Breaking Boundaries Of Division Uniting Us In Love Awaken, Develop And Sustain Faith In Jesus Seeking Justice And Peace For All People Creatively Reveal Hope By Engaging Tomorrow, Today Actions To Show That God Is Love Revealing God's Presence To All Everywhere Always New Life! New Vision! New Power! Alleluia! Love One Another As I Love You In Quietness And Confidence Shall Be Your Strength

What would your seven words be? What is the work still to be done for which God has given us the Spirit?

Prayer - Rev Fran Henderson (Shetland)

Let us pray. Spirit of God… Who hovered over the waters of chaos and cradled all possible things, Who filled our forms of clay with the very breath of God, Who came down upon the uprising sun in white bird blessing,  Who swept through the Pentecost crowds with fire, with joy.

Spirit of God, breathe for us once again. Breathe for those who cannot breathe, whose shallow breaths betray damaged lungs. Breathe for those whose breath catches with grief breathe for those who are drowning in debt and driven with anxiety. Breathe for those who hold their breath in fear.

As old certainties give way to new confusions, breathe deep, fresh air into the lungs of Your church. Fill us with energy, with resolve, with clarity of vision to meet the challenges of our time. Spirit of God, in the name of Christ, breathe for us once again. Amen. 

Praise - O breath of life - recorded by worship team at Chryston Church ♪ O Breath of life ♪ ♪ Come sweeping through us ♪ ♪ Revive Your Church with life and power ♪ ♪ O Breath of life, come, cleanse, renew us ♪ ♪ And fit Your Church to meet this hour ♪ ♪ O Breath of love, come breathe within us ♪ ♪ Renewing thought and will and heart ♪ ♪ Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us ♪ ♪ Revive Your Church in every part ♪ ♪ O Wind of God, come bend us, break us ♪ ♪ 'Til humbly we confess our need ♪ ♪ Then in Your tenderness remake us ♪ ♪ Revive, restore, for this we plead ♪ ♪ Revive us, Lord, is zeal abating ♪ ♪ While harvest fields are vast and white ♪ ♪ Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting ♪ ♪ Equip Your Church to spread the light ♪

Blessing - Right Rev Martin Fair

And now, friends, let us go, trusting that God will guide us. And as we go, may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us now and forevermore, amen. 

A sung blessing for the Church. - The People of God - Sung by Elaine Fair ♪ The Lord bless you ♪ ♪ And keep you ♪ ♪ Make His face shine upon you ♪ ♪ And be gracious to you ♪ ♪ The Lord turn His ♪ ♪ Face toward you ♪ ♪ And give you peace ♪ ♪ The Lord bless you ♪ ♪ And keep you ♪ ♪ Make His face shine upon you ♪ ♪ And be gracious to you ♪ ♪ The Lord turn His face toward you ♪ ♪ And give you peace ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ May His favour be upon you ♪ ♪ And 1,000 generations ♪ ♪ And your family ♪ ♪ And your children ♪ ♪ And their children ♪ ♪ And their children ♪ ♪ May His favour be upon you ♪ ♪ And 1,000 generations ♪ ♪ And your family and your children ♪ ♪ And their children and their children ♪ ♪ May His presence go before you ♪ ♪ And behind you and beside you ♪ ♪ All around you and within you ♪ ♪ He is with you, He is with you ♪ ♪ In the morning, in the evening ♪ ♪ In your coming and your going ♪ ♪ In your weeping, and rejoicing ♪ ♪ He is for you, He is for you ♪ ♪ He is for you, He is for you ♪ ♪ He is for you, He is for you ♪ ♪ He is for you, He is for you ♪ ♪ He is for you ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪

Credits

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this service

Music Rev Jonathon Fleming and family Irvine: Fullerton worship team Aberfeldy Morning Youth Band Chryston Parish Church Arbroath: St. Andrew’s (with violins from Suzanne Butler) Marcus and Trudie Ford

Prayers Rev Ruth Morrison, Clydebank: Waterfront Rev Fran Henderson, Shetland

Readings Rev William Boyle, New Parish Church, Port Glasgow Miss Ann Lyall DCS, Glasgow

Thanks also to: Rosie Addis for BSL signing* Matthew and Rachel McKenzie for blessing picture sequence

And with special thanks to Sanctus Media, for filming and production

* You may be interested to know that some congregations offer BSL signing of their livestream services every Sunday. These include Motherwell: Dalziel St. Andrew’s and East Kilbride: Claremont

MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED THROUGH THE SERVICE OF HIS PEOPLE

[in place of Sunday Worship, 24th May 2020, Haddington West Church l/w Garvald and Morham may it please God to bless what is offered here, gather us in Christ and lead us into His truth]

True life is all about knowing God and knowing Jesus.

It is centred on our relationship with God, and that relationship comes through knowing Jesus. When Jesus prays for us, he is after something deep in us and in the heart of God.  Jesus did not pray that all believers would agree. The source of our unity is not in human structures or denominations. It is in Jesus Christ. Our unity gives us strength in difficult times, for there really is strength in numbers. It reminds me of some of the words in the song “United We Stand”. It was recorded in the late 1960s by a group called the Brotherhood of Man. The words I am thinking of are:

For united we stand. Divided we fall

And if our backs should ever be against the wall

We’ll be together. Together, you and I

In order for our unity to be successful, we have to learn to work together in the things we are to do.  When we pray together and work together, it increases our capacity to do God’s work in our world.

 

In our Gospel reading today John 17; 1-17 Jesus prays that he would glorify the Father (v. 1). Simply stated, Jesus lived to glorify his Father and that people would recognize the importance of his Father.  We often say of some people who think they are important that they are throwing their weight around. If anyone could have thrown their weight around it would have been Jesus. But instead he sought to show the importance of God. He wanted people to understand and recognize the weighty importance of God in their lives. He lived his life so that God would be glorified (v. 4).  If anyone could “bask in the glory” for what they had done it would be Jesus. But Jesus chooses not to bask in his glory but rather reflect that glory back to God.  Jesus prays that he might receive glory (v. 5). This is not a self-serving request; he’s simply asking to receive back what was his to begin with. Remember Jesus gave up his rights as God and became a human, in fact, a slave, and then died on a cross. Jesus laid aside his preincarnate glory with the Father when he came to earth to be born, to serve, to suffer, and to die. Since his work on earth is finished, he is asking that his preincarnate glory be given to him again. The reason is that the Son might glorify the Father in heaven.

Jesus is not asking here for a return to a heavenly status quo where he can forget that the experiment of the incarnation ever happened; he is praying for a new situation of increased knowledge and glory, where his disciples are included in the relationship between Father and Son, caught up in this mutual giving of glory, like so many mirrors reflecting the eternal light.

God’s glory is everywhere, but it is not always visible. Sometimes a moment of glory precedes a separation, as it did for the disciples on the mountain-top. Sometimes glory is hard to recognise, as it was for the disciples before the crucifixion. Sometimes glory is hidden, as it was for the suffering Christians. But the glory of God persists.  “I’m praying for you.”  When I hear those words I feel a peace in my heart. I know that the person who said this cares for me. What if Jesus said, “I’m praying for you”? How would that make you feel?  Well I can tell you in verse nine he did, and still prays for you and me continually. This prayer was prayed just before Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Knowing that his death was imminent, you and I were on his mind. How’s that for love? Especially when it was when the people were crying out that Jesus was incompetent and time for his death was coming ever closer, he pleads with God for the people. How’s that for compassion? His thoughts during the final moments on earth are not on himself, but on others.  This prayer is the greatest prayer every prayed and the greatest prayer every recorded. They reveal the heart of Jesus in a unique way. 

Why did Jesus pray this prayer? Clearly he was readying himself for what lay before him and the suffering to be endured for our sins. But he also had you and me on his mind. He was praying for us. He knew, we could face opposition and suffering in our lives. And certainly at this time when we are locked down outside our normal world as we see it. We need even more his words, his protection, his care, his joy, his glory, his love. As a people we need to be unified and sanctified for the world to know Jesus.  With Jesus’ prayer as a model, our prayers are to reflect the will of God, not our will. Jesus had a much higher purpose in mind than merely taking care of our needs and wants. Through his praying he shows that prayer’s highest aim is not to get our will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth. 

Christian tradition affirms that Jesus was fully God, but yet also fully human.  As fully human, he had limitations of time and energy just like we do.  Jesus did not heal, visit, or teach everyone.  In the midst of never-ending demands, his life was directed by his mission from God, not the urgent needs of the moment.  His divine calling was not to work twenty-four hours a day, but to do the will of his Father.  There was clearly an unending amount of work for him to do—always more people to heal, more people to save.  But yet at the end of his life he prayed that he had fulfilled the work his heavenly Father gave him to do.

That Jesus did not endlessly make himself available to meet the needs of others is important for us in developing a theology of boundaries, rest, and renewal.  This is a particularly crucial consideration for those of us who feel indispensable in the face of the never-ending needs we encounter in our lives, whether at home, work, or church.  If Jesus was fully God and fully human and yet needed to retreat from the overwhelming demands of life to rest and renew, how can we do any less?  Jesus understood what we too often forget. Bodies cannot be everywhere or do everything.  Bodies need rest, food, water, and companionship.  As a result, we will need to respect our God-given bodies / limits and those of others.

Like Jesus, God has not called us to meet the endless needs of the world, but to do the will of the one who has sent us into the world in our body, in our family, with our personality, and with our energy level.  In order to respect our internal, biological rhythm, we will need to accept our limitations and acknowledge when we have done what we can.  That Jesus did not heal or minister to everyone will help free us from much of the false guilt we may feel about being all things to all people at all times.  When we have done what we can, we can trust God and then let go of the rest. There will always be more work than can be finished in one day, whether at home, work, or the church.  For this reason, it’s important for us to come to a point at the end of each day where we can say to ourselves:   I’ve helped everyone I can.  I’ve loved with my whole heart.  Now I am going to leave the rest for tomorrow and to God.”  Like Jesus, we can lie down and rest at night, confident that God continues to save, heal, and work while our bodies and minds are refreshed by the gift of sleep.  United with God we stand together, You and I. Amen.

We are sent out into the world as Jesus’ disciples to love as he loved. Do not fear! You are not sent out alone. As you go remember you are one of God’s beloved children and let the love of God bring you joy. You are one of Jesus’ disciples and let the teachings of the teacher live in your life. You are filled with the Holy Spirit and let the Comforter be your companion on your way.

Go in peace!  May God Bless you all.

 

JOHN 14:15-21 YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND

You just call out my name

And you know wherever I am

I’ll come running, to see you again.

Winter – spring – summer - or fall  

All you have to do is call

And I’ll be there  

You’ve got a friend.

 

The song – of course – is “You’ve Got A Friend” – written – I think – by Carol King – and made famous by James Taylor. It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful message of commitment and love. Please wait to sing the rest of the song until after you have finished reading the Message.

We all need friends. Especially at this time when we cannot meet up with each other. It is so good we now have the technology to be able to skype each other or just a telephone call it makes these times much more tolerable. We are glad to have our friends – someone to help when the chips are down - someone to talk to when you were lonely -- someone to listen to your problems -- someone who cared -- someone who would love you even if you were in the wrong? Or you were glad you had a friend like that? Wouldn’t it have been nice at those times in your life to have a prayer? Wouldn't it have been nice to talk to God and know that He is listening?

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I’ll come running to see you again. Winter – spring – summer - or fall, All you have to do is call and I’ll be there – You’ve got a friend.

It is good to know that God is also your friend?  That God loves you and will help? Because, if God loves you, you are not hopeless! If God will help you, you have hope! If God loves and will help you, things will work out! If God is your friend – then you can make it through the hard times in life.

Philip Yancey is the author of the book Where Is God When It Hurts? He talks about interviewing the beautiful people -- famous football players -- movie stars -- authors -- TV personalities. He talks about how we idolize them -- how we want to be like them -- how we want to know every detail of their lives -- their clothes -- their romances -- even their toothpaste. Then he goes on to say:

"Yet I must tell you that, in my limited experience, these our 'idols' are as miserable a group of people as I have ever met. Most have troubled or broken marriages. Nearly all are hopelessly dependent on psychotherapy. In a heavy irony, these larger-than-life heroes seem tormented by incurable self-doubt.” (Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?)

"Tormented by incurable self-doubt!" Hard to imagine, isn't it! But we know that it's true. We know about their broken marriages -- their addiction to drugs and alcohol. We know that their talent has a dark side. If the beautiful people find themselves "tormented by incurable self-doubt," we need not feel odd if we, too, sometimes feel lonely -- isolated -- uncertain – like we need a friend. That is part of the human condition.

That is how Jesus' disciples felt -- lonely -- isolated -- uncertain. Like they needed a friend. You might even say that they felt betrayed. Jesus was talking about leaving them. He was talking about dying. The disciples had made great sacrifices to follow Jesus. They had staked everything on him. They had walked away from their fishing businesses. They had left home and hearth. They had allowed themselves to believe that Jesus was the one who would turn everything around -- would make everything right. They had believed that he was the Messiah -- the one who would save Israel. And now he was talking about leaving them. Can you imagine how they felt? The sense of betrayal! Why had Jesus asked them to follow him if he intended to leave them? Why had he brought them this far only to abandon them? Jesus knew that his disciples were afraid – that they felt that they needed a friend -- so he made them a promise. He said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever." A friend. In the original Greek, the word we translate as "Advocate" is "parakletos." So what? What does "parakletos" mean? Well it means "someone called in to help in your hour of need. A friend. Jesus, knowing that he would soon ascend back to the Father, promised his disciples a "parakletos"– someone on whom they could call when they needed help -- someone who would be there for them in their hour of need. A friend. Jesus promised that this friend would be with them forever. That is where we come in. The friend -- that Jesus promised to these first disciples is available to us as well. This friend -- is there to help us when we need help – to guide us when we need guidance – to steer us rightly – to protect us from harm. When Jesus talked about “the friend “-- He was talking about the Holy Spirit – God's Spirit dwelling within us – God's Spirit living in our hearts. The promise that Jesus made to those first disciples is a promise to us as well. Jesus has made it possible for us to have a friend-- a helper on whom we can call in time of need – a friend – God with us – God dwelling in our hearts. Jesus is saying – in effect –

You just call out my name, And you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again. Winter – spring – summer - or fall, All you have to do is call, And I’ll be there – You’ve got a friend.

I found this item about Colonel Thomas Schaefer, the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. Embassy in Teheran when that embassy was overrun and the Americans taken prisoner. Colonels are seasoned veterans and tend to be strong -- and Schaefer was no exception. However, being taken prisoner in a hostile nation -- not knowing if he would ever see his family again -- held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell with nothing to read and nothing to do -- Schaefer found himself at the edge of his limits. But he was a Christian, and so he got down on his knees and prayed, "God, I cannot handle this. I need your help." He says, "And I got it!" He received the help that he needed to survive those long, seemingly endless, days of captivity. The friend -- the Holy Spirit -- gave him the strength that he needed.

All I know is, “the Lord did provide as he promised and coming to trust in him is enormously encouraging to me as I face the future."

As you see from the example, those who live in the presence of the Holy Spirit cannot expect easy lives – Jesus never promised us a bed of roses – but the Spirit helps us to prevail no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Earlier in this sermon, I mentioned Philip Yancey, who interviewed football heroes -- movie stars -- television personalities -- only to find that these beautiful people had feet of clay -- that they were "tormented by incurable self - doubt!" He went on to write about the other side of the coin -- people whom he calls "servants" -- missionaries -- doctors and nurses working in Third World countries -- linguists living among primitive people in remote places, often for decades, to translate the Bible for those people. Yancey says, “I was prepared to honour and admire these servants, to hold them up as inspiring examples. I was not, however, prepared to envy them. But as I now reflect on the two groups side by side, stars and servants, the servants clearly emerge as the favoured ones, the graced ones. They work for low pay, long hours, and no applause, 'wasting' their talents and skills among the poor and uneducated. But somehow in the process of losing their lives they have found them." (Philip Yancey, Where is God When It Hurts?

Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, and has delivered on that promise. Those of us who believe in Christ can expect the Spirit to help us when we need help -- anytime -- day or night. The only question is whether we will follow faithfully. If we will, God will bless us with lives that become stronger day by day -- with faith to drive out fear -- with lives solid at the core.

You just call out my name, And you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again, Winter – spring – summer - or fall, All you have to do is call, And I’ll be there – You’ve got a friend.

 

"O Lord, help me to understand that you are not going to let anything come my way that You and I together can't handle. Amen.

Yes, you’ve got a friend! Amen.

 

The Spirit beside us

John 14.15-21

Jesus promises his disciples that God will send the Spirit of truth, who will be with them for ever. He reminds them that those who love him are those who keep his commandments. These are the ones to whom he will reveal himself

Spirit of truth, come close to us. Unite us into the body of Christ. Enable us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Help us to support and encourage each other. Help us to love as we are loved. Spirit of truth, come and abide in us. Amen.

Gracious God, we come before you, drawn by the power of your welcoming love. We come with our sorrows and joys. We come with our expectations and apprehensions. We come with what we have done. We come as who we are.  In your love we find peace and hope. God of love, we are sorry that at times our love for you falters; that we have wrong priorities; that we overlook your guidance. O God, forgive us. O God, renew us. Loving Saviour, we are sorry that we disobey your commandments; that we fail to love; that we walk by on the other side.
O God, forgive us. O God, renew us. Spirit of truth, we are sorry that we disregard your presence; that our thoughts and feelings are unrighteous; that we follow the world’s way.
O God, forgive us. O God, renew us. May your presence abiding in us lead us in the right way, in the name of Jesus. You make yourself known to us, and you are present in our lives even though we do not always recognise or acknowledge you.

For all that you are, we thank you, loving God. You do not leave us orphaned, but embrace us with parental love that encourages and comforts us. For all that you are, we thank you, loving God. You ensure that we are not alone by filling us with your Spirit of truth, that inspires and empowers us.
For all that you are, we thank you, loving God. Thank you, Father, for your presence,
your love and your encouragement.  Amen.

Prayers of intercession

Dear Lord, we bring into your love those who do not know you and your love; those who have turned away from you; those who struggle to accept you; those who refuse to listen.
May your love touch them, and transform their lives. Dear Lord, we bring into your love those who need parental love; those who are alone; those who are abused; those who are neglected. May your love touch them, and transform their lives. Dear Lord, we bring into your love those who seek the truth; those who work in the justice system; those who campaign and advocate on behalf of the voiceless. May your love touch them, and transform their lives. May we show the power and presence of your love in our church, our community and our world – for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.