17th May 2020 Sunday Worship

St Luke's Church in Hedge End

There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do

Just one word
You calm the storm that surrounds me
Just one word
The darkness has to retreat

Just one touch
I feel the presence of heaven
Just one touch
My eyes were opened to see
My heart can’t help but believe

There’s nothing that our God can’t do
There’s not a mountain that He can’t move
Oh praise the name
That makes a way
There’s nothing that our God can’t do

Just one word
You heal what’s broken inside me
Just one word
And you revive every dream

Just one touch
I feel the power of heaven
Just one touch
My eyes were opened to see
My heart can’t help but believe

There’s nothing that our God can’t do
There’s not a prison wall He can’t break through
Oh praise the name
That makes a way
There’s nothing that our God can’t do

I will believe, for greater things
There’s no power like the power of Jesus
Let faith arise, let all agree
There’s no power like the power of Jesus

Welcome

We pray together

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

In your resurrection, O Christ,
Let heaven and earth rejoice. Alleluia.

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As once you ransomed your people from Egypt
and led them to freedom in the promised land,
so now you have delivered us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May we, the first fruits of your new creation,
rejoice in this new day you have made,
and praise you for your mighty acts.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Blessed be God for ever.

Beautiful Saviour (All My Days)

Confession

God be gracious to us and bless us,
and make your face shine upon us:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May your ways be known on the earth,
your saving power among the nations:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

You, Lord, have made known your salvation,
and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Absolution

May the Father forgive us
by the death of his Son
and strengthen us
to live in the power of the Spirit
all our days.
Amen.

Bible reading: John 14:15-21

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Written Reflection by Liz

Good morning (or whatever time you are reading this!).

I am writing this before the Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to the nation about any easing of lockdown.  Whatever he does say it is clear that things will not be going back to the way they used to be very quickly.   It is also not yet possible to say what the “new normal” people are talking about will look like.  What is clear is that our usual way of life will be disrupted for some time to come.

The current situation will be impacting us all.  There are those who are still working, and in exceedingly difficult and different circumstances, there are those who are working at home away from their usual place of work or are being shielded in their own homes.  For all of us going out as we used to do and meeting friends and loved ones is on hold.  As a Church fellowship we are not able to meet regularly.

The last talk / reflection I wrote was about how we can have doubts (like Thomas) in believing God is working in our lives, especially at this time.

I suggested this could be a time for us to come closer to God, and a time to look back at other times we felt he was not with us, so we could see how he had been working.

This week our reading challenges us to be faithful whatever the circumstance and assures us God has not left us on our own to do this.

Please refer back to the Bible reading above.

You will note that the beginning and the end of the passage both have the word love in it.

v15: If you love me keep my commands

v21: The one who loves me … I too will love them and show myself to them. 

This is a relationship, not just a set of commands to be obeyed.

This passage gives us a view that is the opposite of doubt – it is faith.  If we love him and keep his commands, he will love us and show himself to us.  

We can no longer see him but if we follow him and his ways, we will know we are not alone, and he is with us.  He promised to send us a helper, (the Holy Spirit in each of us who believe in him) we are no longer alone, and we can live life to the full no matter what circumstance or restriction we find ourselves in.

In a talk I heard recently Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin challenged me (and I hope you too) as what it means to follow Jesus and be his disciple and obey his commands in this current climate.

The journey she was referring to was on the road to Emmaus when Jesus joined his disciples (Luke, Chapter 24, verses 13–35).  They were living in an uncertain time, society as they knew it was about to change.  She took that journey and wondered how it would relate to our current one

She considered some of the questions Jesus might ask of us in our own uncertain times, and the questions are ones I would like us to ponder as the situation we are in is not going to change very much over the next weeks/months.

She thought that on the Emmaus road

Jesus wanted to understand if their faith would sustain them in those challenging times.

She asked that

In these challenging times what conversations we are we having with each other?

Are our conversations encouraging each other to pray more?

Has our inability to go to a place of worship encouraged us to use time simply, to dwell in the word of God, to read it more, to learn, mark and inwardly digest it?

Have our conversations been about the kind of generosity that will be needed to get us back to a place where we can begin to see thriving communities, that shares itself and what we have has been given by God and so we give back?

She continued

Jesus wanted to understand if their faith would sustain them in those challenging times.

She believes that

He wants to know whether those years of church worship have simply been a cultural exercise, a power game we play in the various offices we hold, or a deep desire to know Christ and his love for us which sent him to the cross.

She challenged by saying

Jesus joins us wherever we are on our Emmaus road journey and he really wants to know what difference our faith has made in our lives.

She concluded with

The current journey we are on gives us a unique opportunity to invite Jesus to stay with us, not just in the buildings we call church but, in our homes, our communities etc – God with us.

In the reading of the Emmaus road, she notes

They felt their hearts burning within them as he talked, and they opened the scriptures.

The final challenge from Bishop Rose is to ask

If our hearts burn within us in our encounter with Jesus?

I make no apology for repeating this challenge for us today. However, today’s reading makes it clear we cannot do this on our own, but only by drawing closer to God as Bishop Rose says.

We need to listen to what he has to say in our lives, through his spirit who was sent to help us.  God in us.

So – go back on the questions/thoughts/challenges –

What is occupying our thoughts, is our faith being sustained during this time apart from the church community, do we have a deep desire to know Christ and his love for us?  Do our hearts burn with the encounters we have with Christ?

As she says we have a unique opportunity to invite Jesus to stay with us in our current situation. 

He has come within us through the Holy Spirit, he loves us and wants us to get closer to him.  We need to spend time listening to what he has to say to us in these unique times.  

We will get through this and we will meet in fellowship again.  However, let us not regret this unique opportunity to take a step back and see where God has brought us up to this point.  To remember what he has done for us in the death and resurrection of his Son.   How he has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to help us in whatever situation we find ourselves now or the future.  

If you find your faith is wavering during these uncertain times, perhaps use some of the suggestions Bishop Rose gave for reading the Bible and getting close to Jesus, if your faith is strong make it stronger, allow the Holy Spirit to take control and guide you in the way He wants you to go now and for the future.

I will finish with a poem from Terry Anderson.  He was not a stranger to having his freedom restricted, as he was one of the hostages taken with Terry Waite and locked up for years in one room. His faith and experiences of God were able to sustain him during those times.

He used poetry to express his thoughts when his faith was sometimes stronger than others.  On many occasions when he felt alone, he found he was not, (as did many of the other hostages) – something, someone was with him.  This was the basis for his faith – he was not alone, he felt God with him and said that this was where he found faith.   We are also not alone on this journey; we need to be patient and listen to what God has to say to us.

Patience

Patience is not a virtue-

it’s a necessity, a survival trait

an ever-filling well from which

I sip, or gulp, exhausted

by the desert of this nonlife.

My faith surges and recedes;

hope sometimes abandons me,

leaving only patience.

I kick and scream and flail

inside my head; patience

offers only soft resistance,

washing gently at my rage.

I know if I dive deeply

I will find patience, hope, and faith

emerging from a single source,

eternal and unchanging.

Taken from: Den of Lions Terry Anderson Hoddart and Stoughton 1994

If you want to read more of Terry Anderson’s poems:

https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19920920&slug=1514029

Draw Me Close

Intercessions

Two open hands, palms facing upwards

We come now to you Lord as we are… like my hands this afternoon… hands that have helped those in need, that have blessed as well as have been shaken and banged tables in exasperation. That have cradled the ill and poorly as well as being able to give life to those in need. Hands that are temporarily scarred, dislocated, bruised and bloodied – it is with these hands and hands and hearts of our own that we offer ourselves a new, remembering prayers passed and promises made to you. Take them Lord, take them all… our good intentions, our great deeds the parts of us that may be clean, whole and functioning but also take those aspects where we no longer have the capacity to hold on, our grip and strength may be failing but may we rest in the knowledge that Your grip is enough, Your grace is sufficient for us and Your love never fails.

May the Father forgive us
by the death of his Son
and strengthen us
to live in the power of the Spirit
all our days.
Amen.

The Response

Through thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come;
your will be done;
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.  Amen.

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

Closing Prayer

As we draw to the close of this service – thank you. We have just declared about a God that is Holy, rich in love, slow to anger, a heart that is kind and full of goodness… and I am sure we can find another 9995 reasons to… It is the same God that is with us during the week ahead…whatever comes our way.  God remains with us whatever we are going through… he mourns when we mourn and rejoices as we rejoice too… through these times we are never alone,  we are part of a church family and known by and loved by God.

So let us have our closing prayer followed by a small indulgence of my favourite song at the moment that gives us a glimpse of who God is and what he does… feel free to listen to it with your post service tea, coffee and biscuit!

May you know God’s presence in your lives,
May you recognise God’s glory in our world,
And may you share God’s love with those around you. 
Amen.

Go in the light and peace of Christ, alleluia alleluia.
Thanks be to God, alleluia alleluia.

Leeland - Way Maker

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