Orders of Service for Online Streaming - 7th June, 2020

 

Call to Worship (based on 1st chapter of Genesis)

In the beginning,

God was.

In our new beginnings,

God is.

In all beginnings, forever, God is.

 

HYMN  Come people of the risen King

 

Briefing

  • Communion Service next Sunday

 

Talk

Today is Trinity Sunday, and our reading and sermon later will reflect that.  In light of the developments in America, and the worldwide protests, the Yorkshire Baptist Association has asked all their churches to include an element of lament in  their services today.  Here is their statement.

 

Genesis 4:10 ‘…your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’

 

Over these last few days the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, US and the eruption of protest in its wake has broken with urgency and magnitude into our minds. To hear the cry of those living through lifetimes, indeed generations, of injustice has broken our hearts. 

 

Concerned though we are to support you in our pathway through the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot be silent at these events, nor silent as we recognise with repentance that the sin of racism lodges within our own hearts, lives and institutions. What we see and hear are not new conditions of injustice yet God graciously calls us once again to work with all our energy to dismantle those strongholds of evil which are prejudice, systemic racism and inequality.

 

We want to recognise and share the grief of those dearly beloved friends, people of colour who serve and worship with us in Yorkshire Baptist churches, knowing that there is a deep sense of shock, anger and indeed weariness at seeing and feeling over again the burden of prejudice against them because of the colour of their skin. 

 

We who are so privileged by our whiteness, want to commit ourselves to sharing in these sufferings through listening, through learning about the facts and the experience of people of colour in the UK, through allowing ourselves to be examined, and through speaking and acting with intention against all forms of prejudice. 

 

Even this week we recognise the inequality of our own UK society as we learn of the disproportionate number of BAME deaths as a result of Covid-19. We believe that it is not okay to stand on the sidelines and watch but that Jesus is calling us from passivity into embarking on a joint journey to freedom.

 

We declare afresh that all are created equally beloved as children of our heavenly Father and that all people bear God’s image. As Baptists we began our history in protesting for freedom and liberty for all. We say again that it is our duty to examine ourselves, to be informed and to engage actively in dismantling racism in both the public and private spheres we each inhabit. This is not something we can achieve with a fleeting concern but rather with commitment to a lifetime journey.

 

As an act to begin this journey, we invite you to mark this Sunday (7th June) as a day for lament, repentance and prayer. We shall use silence, to remember the victims of racism, and then commit to not remaining silent as long as others do not have the space to breathe which we enjoy.

 

PAUSE

 

In our praise service just last week we had a song of lament. As it was in the evening service, not everyone heard it. It seems appropriate to use it today in our main service.

 

HYMN  O sisters and brothers

 

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you come to us in many different ways. Empower us by your Holy Spirit; forgive us by the cross of your son Jesus, the Christ; and make us faithful stewards of your marvelous creation. In the name of God our Holy Parent, Jesus our precious Saviour, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. 

 

And Father, hear us now as we say together the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  OUR FATHER…….     Amen.


 

HYMN  Immortal, invisible, God only wise

 

Reading

  • Matthew 28:16-20

 

Sermon

I remember being in a class at Northern Baptist College, and it was in the last minute or so before the end of the day.  People were demob-happy and chatting quietly during the lecture, when Glen Marshall, our tutor, interrupted them and said, “now listen carefully, as I’m saying this, so it must be important!”.

 

How do you end a conversation with someone, just before you depart? It’s quite easy in church.  It’s usually a blessing or we share the words of the grace together.  With individuals, perhaps you tell them you love them or speak soon. The words may differ but the principle is the same: you end with what is most important.

 

I remember a work related story from the railways. One night a train was backing up to hook up to some carriages and one railway worker was not watching. He was in the way and the train hit him. He did not die immediately, but he knew he had only a short time to live. He told other men there to tell his wife where she could find his life assurance papers, his will, some savings account books, and some other things. He realised that all of his plans for the future would not come true. All that mattered now was that his wife be taken care of. Then, just before he died, he told the men to tell his wife, "I love you." Those were the last words he ever spoke. It was the most important thing and he used his last words for it.

Authors also know the value of last impressions. They often use the last paragraph of a chapter or last chapter of a book to summarie their main points.

Jesus knew this same secret. That is why he used this special time, His last words, to speak the words found in Acts 1:8, that we talked about a couple of weeks ago - "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." 

So, this was not a new lesson from Jesus. It was not some new responsibility that Jesus was adding to those of the Christian. This had been the central teaching of His life. It was the reason for his coming, His life, His death. It was the theme of His life ...

Jesus came to be with us. It was important for Him to come, to live, to die, and to save. It was very important that the story of what He had done, the Gospel, should be made known to all persons. Jesus used His last days, indeed His last words to express this. He was now leaving the earth. How would the world find out what He had done for them? Jesus had a plan ... His disciples were to make the gospel known to all men. 

He made the plan as simple as He could. He knew that the plan would work. If one Christian would witness to one person, then there would be two Christians. If those two witnessed to one each, there would be four, then eight ... 16… 32 ... etc. Eventually, it would lead to a Christian world.

There was only one weakness to the plan: it relied on humans. It relied on man who had a free will and could choose not to bother to tell others. So, what will we do with His commission, the great commission, to spread the gospel to the entire world?

Let's take a look at that commission.

As we attempt to use our great commission, we will face interference and opposition. However, Jesus promised us in Acts 1:8 that we would get power, that it would come to us, we would receive it. That means that someone has the power and will give it to us, and Jesus is that one. He has the power. He has already defeated Satan, death and the grave. He has the power and gives it to us. He sent it by our messenger ... the Holy Spirit. 

The massage that we need can’t get any simpler ... GO!         

My dictionary defines go as: "To proceed without delay or to move out from the place where one is." This definition fits in well to Jesus' plan. We are not to sit and wait for someone to come to us and ask us to tell them about Jesus. We are to move out from where we are to where they are. Then, we are to take advantage of the opportunity to witness. Jonah had to leave his city and GO to Nineveh. Moses had to leave the wilderness and GO to Pharaoh. The disciples, like Godfrey, had to GO to the Mount of the Beatitudes as Jesus instructed.

"Go", however, is not the best translation of the Greek. In the Greek, the word we translate as "Go" actually means "as you go." Jesus is assuming we will go. We have no choice but to go into the world. Every day and in everything we do we are going into the world. When we go to the grocery store, barber shop, work, school, wherever, we are going. The choice is not in going or not going. It is in witnessing or not witnessing… in telling or not telling.

In Matthew, Jesus said we were to go into the entire world. The same commission in Acts is more specific. In Acts Jesus said we were to go to Jerusalem ... Judea… Samaria… and the uttermost parts of the world.  Where are these places now?

Well. Jerusalem was the city that the disciples were in. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.  Then; they were to begin witnessing ‘right where they were’.  Our place to begin witnessing is in our Jerusalem… right where we are. 

Maybe it is our close friends at home, work, or at school. It may be the people living under your roof. It is right where you are, right where you spend your time, the people close to you. However, the disciples weren't just to stay in Jerusalem and neither are we. We are to go to Judea. 

Judea was the district, not the city, where the disciples were. For us it is those people on our fringe, around us when we are in our little world. They are the people at work that we don't know, don't usually associate with. They are always around us, always close enough to see, we are aware of them though not close to them. Jesus wants us to get up, move out, and reach out to them. 

Then there are the Samaritans. Samaritans were Jews who were left behind in the deportation. They intermarried with gentiles. When the deported Jews returned they looked down on the Samaritans as mixed race, impure, and not true Jews. Self respecting Jews would not have anything to do with the Samaritans. Jesus said that His disciples were to go to the Samaritans too. 

Who are our Samaritans now? They are those who are not like us. Jerusalemites are like us, they are one of us. Judeans are not one of us but they are like us... they work in the same place, live in the same neighborhood. But the Samaritans are not like us, they are different. 

They are the ones society look down on, avoid, and ignore. Maybe we even dislike them. They might be of a lower income, lesser education, lower social status, homeless or refugee. Jesus is saying that those distinctions exist in our minds, not His. These are our prejudices, not His. We are to lay aside our prejudices and GO to them and tell them of a God who loves them and died for them. 

Jesus wants us to realise that no one is outside the boundaries of His love. Consequently, no one is outside our responsibility to witness to. In fact, says Jesus, we are to go to every single person… no matter where, or who, or how far. We have the responsibility to see to it that all people have an opportunity to hear and respond to our Lord's offer of salvation.

Now let's be reasonable. We can't all cut our ties here in Ilkley and hop on the first plane to Samaria. And we shouldn't. God has a job for us here. However, we still have an obligation to see to it that that man in Samaria, that woman in Syria, that child in Afghanistan all have the opportunity. We can't all go, but by supporting BMS or Christian Aid, for example, we can at least ensure that someone goes.

Jesus just said, "Go.” To whom was He speaking? Was it Billy Graham, or Charles Spurgeon, or even Graham Kendrick or Kate Bottley? NO! Jesus was speaking to all His disciples. He didn't distinguish certain ones because He was speaking to all. He still is. All who claim to be Christians, all who profess Jesus as Lord, all who claim to be his followers. Jesus is addressing every Christian!

So, we have a Great Commission - a great responsibility.  As a child it was my responsibility to bring in the coal from the coal bunker. If I forgot, my mother would say, "Go and get some coal." Instinctively, and invariably, I would ask, "Why?" At those times my mother had only one answer: "Because I said so." Well, that was all the reason or authority I needed. 

Jesus is saying that same thing here: "Go, because I say so." In verse eighteen He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Now He is saying that we are to go on that authority. We need no more and no other authority than that.

To finish, what Jesus is really saying at the end of our passage is "Hey, pay attention now, what I am going to say is good stuff; believe it or not I am with you!' He is with us when we go on our witness. Not "I will be with you" as if there were times He were not there. No! Jesus says "I AM with you... even to the end..." Even means without break or irregularity.

Jesus says that He IS always with us in every place at every time. There is never a time that He will leave you. So what? So you don't have to worry about whether or not Jesus will be there to help you, to give you the word. You don't have to ask Him to be ... HE IS! That is what gives us assurance and the courage to witness.  “I am with you.”   AMEN

 

HYMN  Jesus, be the centre

 

Prayers of Intercession

Three-in-one God, Jesus last spoke to his disciples on the mountain, but there's a problem with mountains - they have to be climbed. They don't just disappear, or conveniently move out of the way. And mountain climbing is dangerous, it's a risky business. It's painful and life-threatening if you fall. 

 

Three-in-one God, some aspects of Christianity are like mountains, huge problems, just as so many aspects of life seem to be huge, problems. 

Three-in-one God, help me to remember that I can meet you on mountains, and that the rewards of mountain climbing have to be experienced to be appreciated. Give me the courage and endurance to go forward in faith. Stop me crawling back into the comfort zone of the Christian couch potato, but equip me to be a Christian mountaineer.

 

Three-in-one God, sometimes Christian concepts are so difficult to understand that we in your Church ignore them. But when we refuse to tackle difficult issues, we risk only seeing part of the total picture. And those that see only a part of the whole tend to become prejudiced against all other views. 

Three-in-one God, give us the courage to explore all aspects of your Being, no matter what we may lose in our search for truth.

With Christians around the world we pray especially today for racial peace and justice in this world.

 

Three-in-one God, our view of the world is limited by our small horizons. Give us the imagination to gain a rounded view of the world so that we may truly care for all people whatever their station in life. Teach us a real concern for those who suffer, so that we become determined to do something to alleviate their condition. May we care for all who are disadvantaged, and remember that the solution is in the hands of us and all human beings.

 

Three-in-one God, we pray today for all who have multiple roles in life. For those who are parents and workers and carers. For those who are committee members and neighbours and homeworkers. For those who have to switch roles in quick succession, and for those like Legion who have so many roles that they are fragmented within themselves and unsure who they are. Enable us to follow your Trinitarian example so that we may be united within ourselves and at peace with each other.

 

Three-in-one God, we entrust those of our friends and families who are sick into your gentle care. Touch them with your compassionate love and pour your healing power into them, that they may soon be restored to full health and strength. We name them now in our hearts....

 

Three-in-one God, comfort those who are dying and gather them into your strong arms as they pass from this life to the next. Be especially close to those who mourn their loss and remind them that you hold the whole of this life and the next in your hands. May they know that you are always there, and that your love for them is undiminished. We pray for those who have recently been bereaved .... and those who continue to miss someone who died at this time in previous years ....

 

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers for the sake of the one we trust, your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

HYMN  In Christ Alone

 

Blessing

May the Holy Trinity, in whose name we were baptised, preserve us, bless us, and fill us with Your Spirit. 

Glory to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Now and forever.  Amen. 


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