Orders of Service for Online Streaming - 28th June, 2020

 

Welcome

Let us rejoice to be in God's house!

For God's House is anywhere God’s people dwell

Let us be glad to approach God's throne!

For everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God

Let us give praise to the nf Kings

For He is worthy to praised

 

HYMN  Crown Him with many crowns

 

Briefing

  • Arrangements for re-opening

  • Online Prayer Meetings

 

TALK

Janet has sent out an update from the Mission Committee with this month’s Baptissimo, and hopefully it should be with you in the next few days.

Next week’s streamed service will include our regular ‘Mission Prayers’ slot.  We shall be focusing on BMS - the Baptist Missionary Society - in the coming month.

It is important to remember, however, that our Missional activities exist in every month of the year. Way back in November last year we were packing Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

It has taken a while, but we now have the summer update on the effect that our shoeboxes have on the children.

FILM

 

Prayer

Let us Pray

Lord, we continue to praise You from outside the church building.  Lord, that is the way it should be - not just for an hour on a Sunday, but from our own homes in our own communities.

We give thanks for our Mission Workers, wherever they may be, and hope that our Missional Spirit will come to the fore in a time of adversity.

Lord, we pray for all affected by Coronavirus, and trust that you will comfort them.

Lord, hear us now as we all join together to say the words that you taught us.  OUR FATHER….

 

READING

 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

“Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

 

SERMON

I was sitting in Church on Friday afternoon. We were open for prayer, but it was quiet and nobody was in the church.  Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from near the Pulpit.  I went over to check, only to see the sight of a ginger cat running away from the Pulpit and straight out the front door of the church.  

 

Those kind of distractions provide us an opportunity to sit back, smile and cover up the stresses for a few moments. There are even those few occasions when we actually seek them out with the hope that we can laugh long enough to forget about our worries.

 

There is something about being disturbed that is almost pleasurable. Alton Towers or Blackpool Pleasure Gardens have brought the possibilities of thrills and scares to a new level. Each park seems to be trying to outdo the other with rides that twist, turn upside down, and race along at high speeds. In the name of being entertained, we seek out an escape from our conventional and predictable ways of living.

 

Many of you know that I love to go camping.  I’m meant to do a retreat each year, and I take my tent and go away for a few days.  I hope to be able to do that in July -  a retreat is perfect  for social distancing!.  

 

I like camping because I was brought up in the Scouting movement.  One of the highlights of my experiences at Scout camps was always the evening we built the huge campfire, totally cremated the sausages, and told scary stories. The flickering embers casting shadows into the trees which surrounded us provided the perfect setting for being "scared senseless," as we used to put it. There was nothing quite like being frightened, only to later turn and laugh about how we had acted. Of course, these days the cinema, courtesy of special effects and those scary storylines, has turned our simple ghost stories into extremely terrifying experiences.

 

We welcome such disturbances -- up to a point. We even will tolerate and, for some deep unknown reason, like to be scared, -- but only for a fleeting, controlled moment. But when those intrusions begin to upset us, and force us to reevaluate our lives, we cease to be amused and entertained. 

 

However, one of the least frightening, and perhaps most predictable, things in our lives is our concept of Jesus. For the most part our images of Jesus are memories from our Sunday school days. They tend to be quiet, pastoral images: holding a child, picking up lambs, walking peacefully through a grain field ripe for harvesting, sitting beside the road under the shade of a tree. About the only non-pastoral scene recorded for us involved throwing over some tables, but we quickly explain that one away and dismiss it as righteous indignation.

 

Certainly there are a few of his statements and teachings that bother us. There are times when we are not really all that comfortable praying for, and loving our enemies, nor with turning the other cheek. Such lessons cause us to jump a bit and to catch our breath for a moment. But we balance those words with talk of loving our family, and tending to the needs of our neighbour, and we can, therefore, remain rather comfortable. Life can go on as usual, having enjoyed our momentary distraction.

 

Then all of a sudden it happens. From out of nowhere we are hit with a major interruption and knocked out of our seats. It is an encounter with a word from which we will not easily recover. 

There are many passages in the Bible I am not the happiest to preach on. I have a hunch if you thought for a few moments, you would come up with a few of your own. The text for this morning is one of those major disturbing, frightening passages. If you have not read it lately, then you may be in for quite a shock. 

 

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household. Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves their  son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it "

 

On the surface, that would not be a good text to read if you were on a recruiting visit for the church and trying to attract new persons to the Christian faith. The church is, we think, in the business of good news, and this passage sounds like anything but good. Why would anyone want to join a group that will destroy some of the most important relationships one can have? 

 

In contrast to such a passage, we have tried to make church membership seem attractive: why, it's easy to be a member; it's lots of fun down at this place; let's attract younger people, entertain them, keep them happy, and this place makes you feel good!

 

Here is a text that makes Jesus sound like a troublemaker and those who choose to follow him appear to be losers. Now that bothers me; it disturbs me to the point of wanting to rid myself of a passage such as this. But here it is, it is in the lectionary,  and it won’t go away. So what is it that Jesus is trying to tell us? I believe I hear him saying at least two things.

 

The first is this: loyalty to Christ will upset the normal routine. We cannot go on with business as usual, we cannot be content with the status quo as we have known and experienced it once we have responded to the invitation of Christ Jesus. If we are to remain loyal to Christ, even our family relationships may be altered, and conflict may result among those who are special to us.

 

This text reminds us that our faith in Christ is not just one among many other things we do in this life. Too many people think to themselves: "Let's see, as I grow up there are a few things I must do: get an education, find a job, discover the right partner for life, have children, join the golf club, join a church, and save for retirement." 

 

The mistaken belief that such thoughts generate is that joining the church and claiming faith is simply part of the maturing process. "Just add Jesus" seems to be the slogan many modern churchgoers live by. We can go on pretty much as we have been, doing what we want to do, and "just add Jesus."

 

But if I hear Jesus correctly, for the person who chooses to believe in and then be loyal to Christ, their relationships with others will take on a different character, a new quality which may, in turn, bring them into conflict with the accepted ways the world suggests we relate. 

 

I read this book in College.  It is called ‘Radical Believers - the Baptist way of being church’ by Paul Beasley-Murray.  It tells us that the call to follow Christ is a radical call, that challenges us to take stock of our priorities, and of what we consider important in our living. 

 

Inevitably this will create tensions and struggles as we strive to be faithful and, at the same time, survive in the world. Perhaps we have lost this radical notion of living in another world, with another world view that brings us into conflict with the norms and standards of this world. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans -  "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind."

 

That word of Paul brings us to the other disturbing notion which Jesus emphasises in this text -- that of being a loser. The world celebrates winners; the crown goes to the victor; to quote the Abba song - the winner takes it all. 

 

Yet here is the word about losing ourselves and no one wants to be lost, to be a loser, to come in second! I definitely do not, for I’m very competitive at sports, and quizzes, and  losing goes against my grain. 

Here is, without a doubt, one of the great paradoxes of the Bible. In order to be found, we first must be lost; to be first, we must be last; to be great, we must be servant. It is a call, Christians believe, to lose our "selves" in the divine "self" of God.

 

We have become a very "addictive" society, to use a word that is so generally overused that we have lost sight of its meaning. To believe that our lives are worthless without a certain possession and go all out, sparing no expenses until we have it; to mistakenly conclude that life is not worth living unless we look like, or resemble the newest hot sensational personality; to live only from one fix to the next whether it is food or drugs, exercise or luxury car, is to miss life itself. Such addictions are visible signs of the me-me-me nature that so dominates our living, deciding and value-making.

 

Here Jesus calls us to throw that self to the wind and wrap ourselves, instead, in the grace of God's divine self. Our true life is found in the love of God. 

 

Two centuries ago, Charles Wesley captured the heart of this in what has become one of the great hymns of the church. The final stanza of "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" calls us to get lost:

 

Finish, then, thy new creation

Pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in thee:

 

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place;

Till we cast our crowns before thee,

Lost in wonder, love and praise.

 

Like this text from Matthew, Wesley challenges us to lose ourselves in God, to lose ourselves in the wonder of a new relationship that brings with it a new creation of life, by the grace of God.

 

In our kind of world, these are rather harsh words from the one who advocated love and lived by grace. That we must lose some things we have come to count on are not our idea of what life is all about. Such disturbing comments shake us. Perhaps they will shake us out of our easygoing complacent expressions of the faith to the point where we begin to take seriously the call to be a ‘Radical Believer.’ 

 

It may mean a drastic change in our patterns of living, and that may bother us. But such conversion will also bring the assurance that we are living as faithful followers of the One who called us to walk with him to Calvary and beyond.  AMEN.

 

Now, we only sang this hymn in a streamed service a few weeks ago, but it would seem rather inappropriate not to to sing it again after that message,  Let’s be radical, and sing ‘Love divine, all love’s excelling.’

 

HYMN  Love divine, all love’s excelling

 

Prayers of Intercession

When you hear the bidding of “Lord, in your mercy”!

Could you respond with “Hear our prayer”

 

Accepting and welcoming God, sometimes different messages are confusing. On the one hand, we tell our children that the sensible thing to do is to say "no" to strangers. Yet, on the other hand, you teach us to welcome everyone, no matter what they're like, and to accept them unconditionally. 

 

Accepting and welcoming God, show me my inbuilt prejudices so that I cease to reject other people for all the wrong reasons and begin to see them as valuable human beings. But at the same time, give me true discernment so that I can be sensible for your sake. Enable me to begin to recognise and face my fears, both those which are obvious and those which I hide even from myself, and so with your inner strength help me to grow towards you, my Lord and my God.

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

 

Accepting and welcoming God, remind your Church that the gospel is based upon crucifixion and that our wonderful new life has only become apparent and possible because Jesus died on the cross. In e difficult times, may your courage and strength so fill us that we are able to face any fears.

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

With all Christians across the world we pray especially today for the situation in Glasgow.  Let us hope that prejudice and hatred against asylum seekers is not strengthened by the actions of one man suffering from mental health issues.

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

Accepting and welcoming God, you have repeatedly told us that sin leads to death, and we see this so clearly in the trouble spots of the world. Those who are devoid of love constantly cause the death of their enemies, and by refusing to seek for peace, also contribute to their own death. Soften the hearts of militants. Enable them to experience your love and help them to respond to that love by facing the fears which hold them back.

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

Accepting and welcoming God, our fears not only prevent us from reaching our own true potential, but also influence our children and those with whom we come into contact. Help us to accept that feelings of fear are a normal part of life, but show us that we can rise above those feelings. Override us when our fears prevent us from offering hospitality to strangers, so that through us and our community all may begin to experience your unconditional love.

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

Accepting and welcoming God, we know that your heart reaches out to those who are in need, especially those who are sick or suffering. We bring before you now those of our number who especially need you today, and ask you to heal them, giving them the strength and courage they need to accept your healing power. We name them before you in a moment of silence ....

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

Accepting and welcoming God, may those who are facing the bleakness and ache of bereavement remember that you too lost your son. But remind them that you are always there to help them through their suffering, and that suffering squarely faced leads to resurrection. May they be confident that those they love but have lost for a time, are safely with you, living and loving with you. We name them before you .... and remember too those who always find themselves sad at this time of year because of previous griefs ....

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer

 

We ask these prayers through him who gave his life for other people, Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

 

 

HYMN  Dear Lord and Father of mankind

 

Blessing

Hear the Good News! Remember that in baptism we were baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that we may no longer be the slaves of sin, but alive to God. 

 

Believe the Good News! In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!

 

Go now, into God’s world, wherever you may be, with the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, traveling with you on your journey.  AMEN.


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