SUNDAY 14 JUNE 2020

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Welcome and Introduction

Dear friends
No matter where you are and no matter what time it is – please be assured that you are most welcome to follow and use this service of worship, which from early on Sunday morning will be available on the Church website – with a link through from the Church Facebook page.

During the past number of weeks where almost every aspect of our usual patterns of living have been curtailed and in many cases stopped, there has been a continuing growth in the numbers of “virtual gatherings”, using the medium of electronic communication technology. That has been the reality across many aspects of society – for businesses, for the church, for groupings of family and friends and there will undoubtedly be many other examples.

Next Sunday (21 June 2020) our service will include the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Arrangements are currently being put in place to have the service recorded and broadcast electronically which means that if you are able to do so, you will both hear and see much of the service.

That is for next week – and so for now and as God’s people – let us share a time of worship together.

Call to Worship

We come together in the presence of God – remembering the encouragement of the Psalmist who said
“I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life
Trust in the Lord
Have faith – do not despair
Trust in the Lord”
(Psalm 27 : 13,14 – GNB)
Let us worship the living God

Praise
Our first hymn today is a joyful expression of God’s active goodness – in human experience
“Sing of the Lord’s goodness, Father of all wisdom”

Sing of the Lord’s goodness, Father of all wisdom,
come to him and bless his name.
mercy he has shown us, his love is for ever,
faithful to the end of days.

Chorus:

Come, then, all you nations,
sing of your Lord’s goodness,
melodies of praise and thanks to God.
ring out the Lord’s glory,
praise him with your music,
worship him and bless his name.

Power he has wielded, honour is his garment
risen from the snares of death
His word he has spoken, one bread he has broken
new life he now gives to all

Courage in our darkness, comfort in our sorrow
Spirit of our God most high
solace for the weary, pardon for the sinner
splendour of the living God

Praise him with your singing, praise him with the trumpet,
praise God with the lute and harp;
praise him with the cymbals, praise him with your dancing,
praise God till the end of days.

Prayers of Approach & Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray
Loving heavenly Father
Scripture tells us that in days of old – you asked Abraham
“is anything too wonderful for the Lord ?”
(Genesis 18 : 14a)

Lord – that remains a very pertinent question for us today
as we ask ourselves if anything is too wonderful for you – our great and mighty God

when we look to the heavens – we see your infinity
when we look to the hills and the valleys, the oceans and the rivers – we see your creativity
when we look around us and see the cycle of the seasons – each distinct from the other – we see your faithfulness and your power

Creating and sustaining God
we praise you that nothing is too wonderful for you

So often Lord
we just take all of this for granted and do not take time to pause
we do not marvel at the wonder of the work of your hand
we do not fully accept the responsibilities of stewardship of the natural world – forgetting that it both precedes and will far outlast the timescales of our being
sometimes we treat it carelessly – or in the face of exploitation – we do little to support its preservation

Forgiving and merciful God
as we confess these failings – we seek your forgiveness
and we praise you that nothing is too wonderful for you

Lord – you created us – you gave us breath and you give us life
you call us to live in you – through the power of your Spirit within us
you give us freedom to make our own decisions
and whatever ways we choose – you never turn us away or stop loving us
so great is your love for us – that you sent your Son Jesus
to live our life and to teach us your ways
to break down all that can separate us from your love
as he died and conquered death for us
and now lives and reigns with you in eternal glory
Forgiving and merciful God
when our faith in you and what you have done for us is weak
we seek your forgiveness
and we praise you that nothing is too wonderful for you

Heavenly Father
we read in Scripture of how you have led your people from the earliest of days
we learn from history and the news of today of how the most ordinary of folk have been your instruments of the most extra-ordinary outcomes
but still — our vision is limited of what you can and will do in us and through us
our willingness to respond is cautious, guarded and hesitant
Forgiving and merciful God
when our witness and service is faltering – we seek your forgiveness
and we praise you that nothing is too wonderful for you

Give us faith enough Lord – not only to ask the question
“is anything too wonderful for the Lord ?”

but to believe and to proclaim our belief in the truth that
“nothing is too wonderful for the Lord ?”

Praise be to you, our great and wonderful God

These prayers we bring in Jesus’ name and we continue to pray in the words of the family prayer which Jesus taught his followers:

Our Father, who art in Heaven: hallowed be Thy name, thy kingdom come : thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our debts : as we forgive our debtors
and lead us not into temptation : but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory : for ever.

AMEN

Scripture Reading

Today’s Scripture reading is from the Gospel according to Matthew 9 v 35 to Matthew 10 v 8
Please read it in whatever translation you have to hand

Thanks be to God for his Word to us today
AMEN

REFLECTION

The Bee Gees wrote a song which was initially made popular in 1985 by Diana Ross and has since been covered by others, including the group “STEPS”. That song was “Chain Reaction” and although it is essentially a popular “love song” – it does contain a recurring phrase which is relevant to our Scripture passage today – and indeed sums up the current situation in many aspects of the life of our world – of our church – and of our lives.

That phrase is “I’m in the middle of a chain reaction” and we can clearly see this concept of a “chain reaction” and its applicability to many aspects of life today – examples of which are :

  • the murder by a white police officer in Minneapolis of a “man of colour” has led to demonstrations across the world against racial prejudice
  • the necessary and sweeping restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of Covid-19 have had a profound effect on the economies of affected countries – and particularly on every aspect of the lives of people
  • the technical faults in the construction of the Grenfell Tower in London contributed significantly to its substantial destruction by fire – the loss of homes and possessions and most significantly – the loss of lives and the shattering of hope

The analogy of a “chain reaction” could be applied to our Scripture lesson today – a few verses from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman – chapter 5 and the first 8 verses

Paul begins by saying that “since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words which are used in “The Message” translation of the Bible – what that means is that “Christ suffered because of others’ sins. He went through it all –was put to death and then made alive – to bring us close to God” – and as a result – although we do not deserve it — we are held in God’s perfect, unconditional and unending love and peace.

We are all very well aware that believing in God – that living our lives as best we can in accordance with the teachings of the Christian faith – does not exempt us from encountering and facing the difficulties and challenges of this earthly life – in other words, as Christian people we cannot sidestep “suffering”. And suffering has so many forms – some of which we see in our own lives and some in the lives of other people – from the effects of ill health – to hunger and poverty – to rejection and loneliness – to persecution and hatred – and so many more examples

But Paul suggests that it is from our sufferings that a “chain reaction” follows – a chain reaction which progressively counters the suffering and takes us towards the place where God would have us be – the place which is the result of what Christ has done.

So Paul says that
suffering produces endurance
and we can see that in the courageous way in which some people deal with long term suffering – be that in terms of illness or other situations
endurance produces character
often evidenced through not only determination – but also through a strengthened resolve to ensure that despite the challenges of their own situation – meaningful and lasting benefit is derived for other people in their suffering — e.g. by charitable fundraising
character produces hope
it can be all too easy for us to think of hope in terms of wishful thinking — and I am sure that we are all guilty of it (I confess I can be !) – I hope we have a gloriously sunny summer ! –
I hope that I win the lottery !
but the hope which Paul speaks about is certainty regarding the future – because it is grounded in God’s faithfulness to keep his promises – hope is in what God will do, based on what he has done

In this chain reaction – suffering is what precipitates the chain reaction and the hope – which is the hope of sharing God’s glory – is the end point
And when we get there – we are not disappointed in that hope. As it says in verse 5 :
“…. because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” .

In these days, we may see “suffering” as a very real factor in many aspects of our lives – in society – in church – and maybe also personally.
But let us resolve – confident that with the Holy Spirit freely poured into us – we will be able to work through that chain reaction to bring us to the place which is the hope of sharing God’s glory.
So – let it be Lord

Prayers of Thanksgiving and for Others
Let us pray

God our Father
we have so much for which to thank you
because day after day and moment by moment – you continue to bless us
as you pour out your love – as you meet our needs and as in the gift of your Spirit
you accompany us on the journey of life – leading – encouraging and supporting

Lord God
thank you that you do have a plan for your world and for your people
and you provide markers along the way – to guide and direct us

however, we also need to thank you
that our journey of faith is not purely of sunshine, flat and wide pathways
but we do face some steep hills, rugged paths and times of cloud and darkness
thank you that as we are conscious of your presence in the times of ease
we can be confident that you continue to be with us in the times of challenge

thank you for your Word and message to us today
that although we meet and must not shy away from times of suffering
you lead us from there – through a chain of reaction which takes us to hope
a hope that cannot be shaken because it is firmly grounded in your promises
and you are a God of promise and fulfilment

God of love and mercy
it’s true that not everyone knows you, believes in you and calls you their Lord
but it’s also true that your love and care is for everyone
and it is the responsibility of your people to bring the needs of others to the Throne of Grace

and so we pray for other people – and commit into your loving care
those who are downtrodden and marginalised because of their ancestry and skin colour
those who are marginalised because of their social status – or perceived lack of it
those who are ridiculed and persecuted because of their beliefs
those who are indifferent to others because of their own comfort and sufficiency

we pray too for those who strive to bring about change
those in elected and appointed positions of power, influence and responsibility
that they may use it wisely – without favour and for the good of all
those who seek to highlight concern and bring about change through public protest and demonstration
that they may do so respectfully, graciously and with the dignity which they seek to be accorded to the lives of others
those who seek to effect change through works of service, kindness and generosity
that they might be encouraged and supported – and see the good of all that they do
those whose calling is to proclaim a better – a higher – a yearned for way of living – based on faith and truth – which will be for the good of all
that they might be true to their calling in all they say and do – and in every way which their example will be seen by others

Gracious God
having laid before you or prayers for others
we are bold to pray for ourselves and those dearest to us
be with us each and all
meet each person for who we have prayed at their point of need
and grant to all – your blessing – now and always
In the name of Jesus, we pray
AMEN

Praise
Our closing hymn is : “And can it be that I should gain, an interest in the Saviour’s blood?”

1 And can it be, that I should gain
an interest in the Saviour’s blood
Died he for me, who caused his pain
for me, who him to death pursued ?
Amazing love ! how can it be
that thou my God shouldst die for me ?
Amazing love ! how can it be
that thou my God shouldst die for me ?

2 He left his Father’s throne above –
So free, so infinite his grace –
Emptied himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
‘Tis mercy all ! immense and free
for, O my God, it found out me
‘Tis mercy all ! immense and free
for, O my God, it found out me

3 Long my imprisoned spirit lay
fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off my heart , my heart was free
I rose, went forth and followed thee
My chains fell off my heart , my heart was free
I rose, went forth and followed thee

4 No condemnation now I dread
Jesus, and all in him is mine !
alive in him, my living Head
and clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach the eternal throne
and claim the crown, through Christ, my own
Bold I approach the eternal throne
and claim the crown, through Christ, my own

Blessing

Lead us Lord
on the journey through life
to the place where you would have us be
and the blessing of God : Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with us – and rest upon us
today and always
AMEN