Orders of Service for Online Streaming - 14th June, 2020

Welcome

Each day is a gift from God,

each moment is that opportunity to reach out

in service to all creation.

Each day is a reminder of the new covenant:

not written on stone tablets easily broken,

but inscribed on our hearts filled with joy and hope.

Each day we draw closer to God:

who has forgotten more than we ever learn; 

who has forgiven us more than we ever acknowledge.


 

HYMN  What a friend we have in Jesus

 

Briefing

  • Church Open for Prayer - Every day 1pm-4pm

  • No book sale this year

  • Prayer Meeting on Zoom - Wednesday 7pm

  • All-age talk element next Sunday

  • Baptist Union resources - Visiting preacher Ben Francis

 

Film (how BMS is helping during Coronavirus)

 

Last week’s service was quite long, so we weren’t able to fit Mission Prayers in.  Here is Janet to address that now!

 

Mission Prayers

 

HYMN  Faithful One, so unchanging

 

Reading

  • Romans 5:1-11

 

Sermon

How are we coping with the lockdown?  Hopefully you will still have enough books from last year's book sale to tide you over until we resume next year.  If not, be prepared, buy more next year!

 

Many of you will be turning to your Bible for inspiration.  Brenda keeps diving back into her hymn book of 20th century American hymns that she sang in church in Zimbabwe.  I know many of you have hymn books at home.  I just wanted to show a clip from someone you know that used to attend Ilkley Baptist Church, showing how you can find spiritual help in books of all kinds.

 

PAUSE

 

Just for your information, Alistair is coming over from America next year to be the week one speaker at the Keswick Convention.

 

Quite often I'm given books to read - mostly religious books. They vary enormously.  Their style may not be to my liking, or their message seems a bit confused for my simple tastes. But just occasionally someone tells you about, or gives you, a book which almost blows your mind.

 

What if someone came up to you and said "I'd be interested to know what you make of this." Reviews aren’t necessarily the best place to start.  At the Keswick Convention they have bookshops with thousands of religious books.  The blurb on virtually every one of them describes it as a life-changing best-seller, which isn't necessarily the best recommendation a book can have.  

 

Anyway, here are three books that were very impactive for me, not all theological, but they lead us into the main part of my sermon.

 

PAUSE

 

The first is Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks.  It is a claustrophobic novel about the horror of the trenches during World War 1.  It highlights the futility of war, and the effect it had on many.  Yes, there are glimpses of faith, hope and love, but the overall theme is of desperation and suffering.

 

The second is ‘then they came for me’, by Martin Niemoller.  Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoffer were the two main leaders of the confessing church in Germany, and opposed the Nazi regime.  Bonhoffer is the more famous, and paid for his opposition with his life, but Martin Niemoller in his book offers perhaps the most poignant confession of World War 2.

 

 

The third book is called "Conversations with God", by Neale Donald Walsch, which I read at Northern Baptist College, and is exactly what the title describes. An ordinary man wrote quite an angry letter to God, asking God all sorts of difficult questions, and to his amazement, God replied. The book is a record of the conversations Neal Walsch had with God, and it makes riveting reading. It contains all sorts of ideas which we instantly recognise at some deep level as truth, and it thrusts us forward, sometimes to places where we don't want to go.

 

PAUSE

 

In Anne’s Scripture reading this morning from chapter five of the letter to the Romans, Paul says, "... but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." 

 

In a way, I can see what he means in all three of the books I highlighted. In a wartime scenario, suffering can be obvious.  Maybe it is not quite so clear cut in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown.  

 

It certainly seems to be true that we can grow as human beings through the suffering we personally encounter throughout life. When looking back, times of suffering also seem to be times which initiate spurts of inner growth. But the way Paul puts it makes it sound rather pompous, so can it possibly be true?

 

Is it really possible to rejoice in our sufferings? That makes it sound as though we should be grateful for pain, but personally, I hate pain and would much rather do without it. Pain may be necessary in order to strengthen my character, and I suppose that could be construed as a good thing, but does it also imply that pain is sent by God so that we humans can grow good? 

That doesn't sound right at all, although I do believe he can use our pain to our advantage. But how would rejoicing in that pain help?

 

In the book, "Conversations with God", God says, "I am not pleased by suffering, and whoever says I am does not know me. 

 

In the book, God goes on to say that those who are growing in spirituality recognise that suffering is not the way of God, but also understand that suffering is a sign that there is still something to learn about the way of God. So perhaps those who are truly spiritual are able to rejoice that they're learning more of God's way, and thus able to rejoice in their sufferings.

 

But there are difficulties in placing too much emphasis on rejoicing in suffering. One problem is that if people actually learn to enjoy suffering they can enjoy inflicting pain, physical or mental, on others. 

 

Historically, there was also the danger that organised religion will demand suffering from its followers, and then claim that suffering as good. The torture inflicted by the Spanish Inquisition in the Middle Ages, was used to "cleanse the soul" so that those who were tortured into denying their beliefs would attain the Kingdom of Heaven. 

 

Perhaps in these words about suffering, Paul is reassuring his readers that suffering is not a punishment from God, as had so often been thought in the old Jewish religion. Through Christ, says Paul, things have changed. God's action through Jesus has brought us all into the right relationship with God, so that action - the resurrection of Christ after his sufferings - was a declaration of peace with human beings. Through Jesus, we're OK with God. That's the basis of our Christian hope.

 

But "hope" is another of those words which has subtly changed its meaning since the days of the New Testament. When Paul writes of hope, he doesn't mean that there can be any uncertainty. We have hope - eternal life - but it's not just a vague "hope" as we understand the word today, but our inheritance. We will be fully in God's kingdom, living and loving with God, after death, but we can experience a huge amount of that kingdom right now. We can live and love and talk with and listen to God in our life now. And we can do all this because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 

God doesn't just drip a vague goodwill in our direction, but pours out his love into us. All we have to do is to receive that love, but we'll get more out of it if we learn to spot it, that is, if we learn how to hear God's responses to our prayers and communications with him. 

 

God responds in any number of ways. Through coincidence, through the Bible, as Alistair Begg said - through his hymn book, through other people, through novels and newspapers and television, through songs and music, through our thoughts and imagination and feelings. Be confident that what you're seeing and hearing and feeling and thinking comes from God, and you'll soon learn to hear his voice. And that will quickly lead you into the rich pastures of his kingdom, for that is his promise and our hope, and he never lets us down. Never.  AMEN

 

We come now to our time of Communion.  In the digital music era of lockdown there is a severe shortage of communion hymns.  We have a new one today to take us into the Lord’s Supper.  Let us sing….

 

HYMN  This is our communion

 

Communion

God our source and guide and goal: you have made us in your image and set us in a world full of beauty; you dwell in light unapproachable, yet you have come to be among us, full of grace and truth; you are the power from on high, coming in wind and flame to work your wonders in our midst. Gracious God, awaken us from sleep that we may worship you in spirit and in truth: through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 

Jesus says: I have come to call not the righteous but sinners. Let us confess our sins together and seek God’s forgiveness. 

 

Almighty God, we confess before you our own sin, the sin of the Church and the sin of the world, in which we share. We have not loved you with our whole being; we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive us when we turn from you; release us from the burden of our past, and remake us in your image and likeness through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

We have been invited to share at this stable and have had our sins washed away by the Lord.  It is right that we also give thanks to the Lord.

 

God of the ages, here at this table we remember all the ways You have spoken to Your children through the ages, and we give thanks to you now.

 

Through prophets and priests you call us to a new way of living together.  You sacrificed yourself for us, and your perfect life is an inspiration to mankind in an imperfect world.

 

Through voices expected and unexpected you challenge us to see the world with new eyes.

Knowing that we stand in the midst of a cloud of witnesses, we share the cry of ages:

    Hosanna! Hosanna!

    Blessed is the one who comes in God's Name!

 

Holy things for a holy people. 

Only one is holy, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We are made holy in him. 

 

We remember how, on the night he was to be betrayed, Jesus ate a special meal with his closest friends.

He gathered with them in an Upper Room to share the feast of his people's liberation.

As a part of that gathering he took some bread. He gave thanks, he blessed it, he broke it and and he passed it to them saying:

    Take and eat. This is my body, broken by and for the world. Whenever you eat it, remember me.

 

Then he took the cup. He gave thanks, blessed it, and passed it to them saying:

    This is the Cup of the New Covenant, sealed in my blood. Whenever you drink from it remember me, remember what I have told you.

 

Gracious God, pour out your Spirit upon this gathering, this table, this meal. As we eat and drink in fellowship with each other may we be filled with hope for the future. May the Spirit moving amongst us in this place allow this meal to rejuvenate and empower us as we go out to live Your love in the world.

 

Take, eat; this is the body of Christ, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of him. Please pass the bread amongst you and feast on the bread of life

 

After the bread we come to the wine.  This cup is the new covenant in the blood of Christ, shed for you and for all, for the forgiveness of sin. Drink of it, all of you, in remembrance of him.

 

SERVE (Jesus Christ is Lord.  AMEN)

 

LET US PRAY 

God of a love stronger than death, you have given us new birth into a living hope through the gift of your Son. 

 

God with us, like a mother you have fed us with yourself and strengthened us for journeying ahead. 

 

God of truth and power, you take our weakness and our sin and refashion us by grace. 

 

Gracious God, may the love which bids us welcome at this table gather all your children into one, in your eternal presence, whole and free at last. Amen.

 

HYMN  Just as I am, without one plea

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we gather today, on a screen, with those who follow You,

that we might sing Your praises and share Your love with one another - near and far.

You have shown Your faithfulness to us everyday

in ways that we do not always recognise,

so we gather today in order to thank You for Your constant care over us.

Help us to entrust ours lives to You and Your purposes

as we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ,

who taught us to pray in the power of Your Spirit,

Which we mow do together, as we say

“Our Father. . .”


 

HYMN  Love divine, all loves excelling

 

Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back. 

May the sun shine warm upon your face; 

the rains fall soft upon your fields 

and until we meet again, 

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 


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