Sunday 18th October - Peace of Mind
Our Pastor Julie prepared this weeks Sunday worship before going away for the half term break, worship will be led by Kevin assisted by members of the Church Council.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Hymn 555 Peace perfect peace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeTB5-jCvcs
Lord God, faithful and loving, we do not always feel like rejoicing. Even as we gather to worship you, our minds are sometimes distracted and elsewhere, weighed down by the burdens of our lives. Help us, in this moment, to find it within our hearts to REJOICE in your constancy and loving care for us. People of God, let us rejoice. Amen.
Lord God, we never know what the future holds or where life will take us next. We never know what is just around the corner and what the outcomes of things will be. But we know that whatever follows on from this moment, you are here with us, by our side, above and beneath us, entwining your life with ours, surpassing all human understanding. In this moment, bless us and awaken us to your abiding presence.
Isaiah 25.1-9 Psalm 23 Philippians 4.1-9 Matthew 22.1-14
Hymn 275 I heard the voice of Jesus say https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mXMQqiLW9c
Comments on Bible Readings
Paul’s instructions to the Philippians to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ and not to worry about anything (4.4,6) may well seem impossible, perhaps obscene, in our current challenging circumstances.
We are daily bombarded with bad news. Unemployment is rising; our future is threatened by climate change; medical staff are dreading the coming winter. Some families are split apart, unable to visit each other, or offer comforting hugs. Other families are being forced to spend too much time together, leading to tensions in relationships. And some families are grieving. No wonder Britain is facing a mental health crisis.
What is their to rejoice about?
We are all walking a tightrope – trying to stay informed, but without becoming overwhelmed; protecting ourselves from Covid-19 without jeopardising our mental health; looking for the strength and equilibrium to take action where we can, and live with uncertainty where we can’t.
The advice for finding this equilibrium is deceptively simple: stay in the present moment, taking one thing at a time; look after your body and exercise regularly; allow feelings to come and go; enjoy the natural world, listen to music, or read poetry. None of these requires religious belief; but Christianity, in common with other faith traditions, also has wisdom to offer to help us.
We need to be still and find peace in the presence of Jesus.
Imagine - A storm swirling around you and in the midst of that storm stands Jesus, He's holding his hands out to you and in the centre of the storm there is peace and the peace comes through being with Jesus.
This is where we should be at this time as the storm swirls about us, as everything out of our control is happening, we can find peace in the presence of Jesus.
Psalm 23 sets out this sense or peace for us, He guides, He leads, He prepare for us, He makes us lie, He anoints us, surely goodness and love will follow me.
Beautiful words of God being with us always and forever.
Paul writing to the Philippians acknowledges that life is sometimes hard, and the very last thing we feel like doing when we're struggling, when we're afraid when we're lonely is to praise God, to rejoice in God.
Yet here in this letter when Paul is imprisoned, when he is waiting for his execution day, he tells us to rejoice, ‘rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.’
When we are in a tough place, we really don’t feel like praising God. But praising when we don’t feel like it can be immensely rewarding.
Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice even as they face uncertainty. And this week’s Isaiah reading is one long poem of praise from a time when it would not have been easy for God’s people.
Paul speaks of a ‘sacrifice of praise’ in Hebrews 13.15. To praise God in difficult or uncertain times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of will to lay our ‘all’ before a God we don’t understand. When we bring to God a ‘sacrifice of praise’, we choose to believe that even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and that he can be trusted.
What effect might doing this have on our relationship with God?
And our faith in general?
When Paul was writing this letter to the Philippians he knew he would not see them again. Therefore in his letter he has to give them advice about everything that might be happening to them ,and so a bit like a parent really, he's giving advice to his children, the church, who he knew he would not see again. Paul knew this would upset them, he knew they would face difficulties, he knew they would be persecuted, he knew they would be imprisoned, but through all of this , through all of this, rejoice give thanks to God, trust him because God is always there .
In a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: ‘Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw the mud, the other saw stars.’ What do you see, mud or stars? A half full glass or a half empty glass?
Julie is a half full glass person, "I always look on the bright side, difficulties are challenges to be overcome, God knows the answer and we need to trust Him, to turn to Him in prayer and them let Him work through us to fulfil that prayer."
Paul wants the Philippian church – and all who follow Jesus – to look for the good in everyone and everything, and to fill our minds with all that is right, and beautiful, and just (4.8).
IF you do this, says Paul, then you will receive the peace of God which passes all understanding. This peace Is not just a quiet place or a still place, this peace is a sense of joy, a sense of quietness and stillness in your very soul.
This peace is hard to explain, it is just a huge contentment, it is a knowledge that everything will be okay, it is the ability to be able just to rest in God.
‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’ (Philippians 4:8-9)