19th April - Order of Service for Online Streaming

Welcome

Our call to worship today is based on our text for today from 1 Peter 1

 

Praise God!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

we have been given a brand-new life,

and a glorious future!

Come into his presence with praise and thanksgiving,

with laughter and song.

Give thanks to him, and praise his name!

 

HYMN  How deep the Father’s love for us

 

Briefing

  • Christian Aid - Online Quiz on Facebook  Tues 12th May

  • Bradai Brief from the Hotchkins

  • Prayer Meeting on Tuesdays

 

Talk

How are we all doing?  Not a lot changes from day to day normally.  I’ve found that I used to be glued to the Coronavirus update at 5pm each day, but now I hardly bother.  I’ve found I am getting more proficient at video streaming, but it still takes far more days to prepare one streamed service than it did to deliver two Sunday Services in Church.

 

At the start of my isolation, I was told to isolate for two weeks as I had a persistent cough.  Then I was told I was vulnerable and at high risk, so I had to isolate for twelve weeks. Then the government changed the criteria, and I was downgraded from “high risk” to “at risk”, which meant I could go out.  Then yesterday, I got the letter to say I'm back at “high risk” and to isolate for 12 weeks again.  

 

This is probably the same situation that many of our congregation have gone through.  It adds to the uncertainty. Funnily enough, Brexit has helped us. We started stockpiling medicines in case of a hard Brexit, and that has helped prevent shortages of essential medicine - except Paracetamol, of course!

 

Hopefully, you will have been able to tune in to all our streamed services.  If not, they are all on YouTube and you can watch them at any time. Viewing figures have fluctuated, with 90 people watching the first service, and 42 watching our Easter Worship.  I must admit, I thought those numbers should be the other way round!

 

We are very fortunate to have the manse right next door to the church.  Many churches, including the Anglican Churches in Ilkley, have not been able to stream their services from their sanctuaries.  Being next door, and even having a door to the church that opens onto my back garden, at least we can continue to worship in our homes and in our church.

 

And serving God is something that is still happening all over this world.  In a time of crisis, let us join with BMS as they tell us about their work during the crisis, and to say together their prayer, that will now appear on your screens

 

HYMN  Purify my heart

 

Reading

  • 1 Peter 1 : 3-9

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

Sermon

Welcome to Rome.  It’s probably not the place you expected me to be. Here’s the history lesson.  I’m here because scholars think this is the place and the people that Peter was writing to in  1 Peter 1. 

Now, if you have read the start of his letter, you will know that Peter addressed it to the people of Asia Minor - modern day Turkey.  So why am I in Rome? 

 

Well, scholars now believe that Peter was actually writing to the Roman Christians.  Because of Roman Persecution, he pretended it was to Asia Minor, to prevent him being arrested for treason against the Roman Empire.  It didn’t work! I’m standing in front of the Mamertinum, the prison in Rome where Peter was held prior to being crucified less than a year after he wrote the letter that we read today.

 

Thanks to Peter, our lectionary reading for today is really inspiring.  Before we go on to our text for today, let us go back to Easter in Jerusalem. 

 

SLIDE (Bus to Jerusalem)

 

The Christians here in Jerusalem have had a really up and down fortnight.  Jesus arrives and we celebrate, Jesus dies and we mourn, Jesus rises and we doubt, and then Jesus appears and we believe.

 

The two songs that we have sung this far recognise that point.  “That he should give his only son, to make a wretch his treasure.”   Our first song recognises the sacrifice made on the cross for us. Our second song dealt with what our response should be to that sacrifice.  “I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will.”

 

SLIDE (Ready to do your will)

 

The word “ready” is a problem for us all at the moment.  In a secular context, were we “ready” for Coronavirus? Was the NHS “ready” for a major incident?  Were Christians prepared for the absence of a church building? The answer to all those questions is probably no, but then again we probably couldn’t have reasonably foreseen the impact of the virus spreading so fast.  

 

Things were not ready here in Ilkley.  The supermarkets were slow to restrict mass purchasing, which led to shortages, and many of our members are now in self-isolation and struggling to get food deliveries.  We give thanks for those that are helping to deliver to the vulnerable.

 

Were the disciples ready?  Clearly not - Jesus had been warning them that He would be leaving them, but they paid no heed to that.  They continued to focus on worldly things, and not living their lives towards “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

 

Even if you were a millionaire, Tesco in Ilkley couldn’t get you a toilet roll a few weeks ago. There were none in store.  However, in verse four of our passage, we are told that our inheritance is kept in heaven for us. Not in the banks, nor in tesco’s, nowhere on earth - we have to go to heaven for our reward.

 

To do that you need to be a Christian.  You may experience problems in this world, but no-one was ever told that membership of God’s Church gave you an exemption from pain and trouble.  There is good news though. I am using three Billy Graham quotes in my sermon today to clarify some points - time for the first one.

 

SLIDE

 

Billy believed in God - wholeheartedly.  He believed that everything we do should be doing God’s work, for God’s Glory.  

 

As Christians on earth we suffer too.  We might have a little chuckle at verse five of our passage - the bit about being shielded.  Really, when coronavirus is hitting us hard. Well, the answer is yes - if we are chuckling we are alive, and coronavirus or any other disaster has not claimed us.  

 

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that when we reach heaven - our inheritance - things will be complete.  Until then we have faith, hope and love. Faith is something that everyone that has met the risen Lord has.  Faith and hope.

 

Last week we sang the hymn, the old rugged cross. That hymn reminds us that before Jesus was crucified, the cross was a symbol of suffering and shame. After Jesus’ resurrection, the Disciples and the whole world came to see and understand the cross in a whole new way. It became a symbol of hope, new life, and victory.

 

Those that experienced Jesus after he rose from the dead must have had faith in abundance.  Love is tangible, you can see it, but, for many, it is actually Hope that can be the stumbling block.

 

“Human beings can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope.”

 

We have the hope that Coronavirus will be over soon - certainly within the next six months.  We can survive on a diet of whatever is in the freezer. We can survive without a church building, but we cannot survive without the big three of our Church -  faith, hope and love.  

 

The problems of life on earth were bad for people in Jesus’ day, with persecution, slavery, famine and disease, and strangely these things still exist today.  Let us hear what Billy thinks about life in the 21st century.

 

SLIDE

 

Billy thought that hope was crucial in the world today.  Our hope is a “living hope” because we have an inheritance that cannot be touched by human hostility, calamity, or circumstances because it is stored … or being kept … in a place where humans cannot reach it. Our hope is eternal because our inheritance is eternal. Our inheritance can never perish. Our inheritance can never spoil. Our inheritance can never fade.

 

Coronavirus, business failures, depression, anxiety.  Why are these things happening to us? Well, Christians are asked that at every disaster or every crisis.  We were told in verse six of our scripture that “for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”  

 

This is a  trial, and a trial is normally followed with a judgement.  Some judgements after a disaster may be appropriate and just; for example those that spread the virus by deliberately breaking the isolation, or profiteering on soap and toilet rolls, or by removing the funding to charities like the World Health Organisation because somebody can’t take criticism.

 

Ultimately though,we may have the kind of judgement that verse seven talks about, that “may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  Jesus Christ is revealed in the work of key workers.  It would be wrong to highlight one particular subgroup of key workers, but let us look briefly at hospitals.  

 

NHS staff are putting others before themselves.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a doctor, nurse, cook or cleaner in the NHS - hospitals would not work without all of these key workers.  A compatriot of mine, Robert Burns, famously said “rank is but the guinea stamp, a man’s a man for a’ that.” From the lowest paid to the highly skilled, the key workers can be said to be fulfilling the greatest commandment that we find in Matthew 22 - to “love one's neighbour as yourself.”

 

All this selfless love has a word for it, and that is agape.  This is love and service that is not defined by money. Faith is not like money - for our passage tells us it has a “greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.”  We should return to our second song so many times, and keep on  saying “purify my heart!”

 

The key part of our scripture reading is the last two verses. “Though you have not seen him, we love him.”  It made me think of the footsteps poem that we probably all know.

 

FILM

 

Our scripture went on to say “even though you do not see him now, you believe in him.”  That is where we are today. When myself or the Deacons phone anyone, they all say that they are coping with the crisis.  God is journeying with them, whether they can see him or not.  

 

This is a time of worry. This is a time of trouble. This is the time to show your Christian values of faith, hope and love.  The penultimate verse of our scripture passage tells us that if we believe in him we can be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.  It may not feel like that at this difficult time.

 

Thankfully, there is a concept that we all have probably heard about, called deferred gratification.  We do not get our rewards now for our faith, hope and love, but in heaven.

 

I leave the last words on this subject to Billy Graham.

 

SLIDE

 

Let us Pray

 

Lord, it is a week since Easter Sunday, but the events of thousands of years ago still resonate with us.  We thank you for that sacrifice, - the body of Christ, given for us.

 

The sadness felt by many on Good Friday was turned to Joy at the resurrection.  We ask that this apply to our current situation as well. Make our country stronger, make our hospitals the source of pride, and when our church buildings re-open, may there be standing room only.

 

Lord, we are not worthy of your love and grace, but these are among the gifts that you have given us.  You also taught us how to pray, so hear us now as we say together the words that you taught us. OUR FATHER….

 

To take us into our prayers of intercession, let us sing our next song.  Let us sing and recognise

 

HYMN  The power of your love

 

Prayers of Intercession

Let us therefore approach the throne of God in confidence as we pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

 

O Lord our Father, enter our hearts and move us to faith in Jesus as the Risen One.  Convince us of the reality and significance of the resurrection, and free us from all manner of fears.  Give us courage in the face of death, knowing that this is the gateway to new resurrected life for those who trust in Christ.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

 

Be with your church, during this pandemic, throughout the whole world so that its preaching and works of love may continue to testify to our Lord’s resurrection.  Wherever your church is faithless and lacking in courage to do the work that Jesus has given, visit it and build it up with your Spirit. Be with all our pastors so that they may listen well and then speak with Christ’s authority.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

 

Bring peace to all parts of the earth.  Wherever nations are at war and people are divided, visit and bring true reconciliation.  Especially protect all Christian people in these nations, and help them to influence their country for the good of all.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

 

Wherever homes are disrupted by anger and bitterness, and wherever relationships are distorted and dulled, visit and bring peace and harmony.  Wherever young people are gathered in your name, visit and guide them with your holy word and wisdom.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

 

Visit and comfort the sick and suffering too, dear Lord.  Heal and strengthen weak bodies, and calm and correct confused minds.  Support them all with your great love and mercy, and be with those others known to us and whom we now name in our hearts…

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, we present these prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is risen from the dead, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


 

HYMN  Amazing Grace

 

Blessing

Keep the Lord always before you.

If he is beside you, you cannot be shaken.

He will show you the path to life,

and in his presence you will discover unending joy.

So  go now on your journey, and with His blessing.  Amen

 


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