Jesus died and rose again and will take you to Himself

As you are aware we are unable to hold services for the next four weeks in light of the current government guidance, but the church will be open for private prayer from 9.45 to 11am on Sunday mornings when people can come and go as they wish.

It is very sad that we are unable to commemorate Remembrance Sunday in the usual manner but Julie our Pastor has prepared the service below on the theme of sacrifice and life after death for you to follow at home and you can also follow the Churches Together in Blaby Remembrance Service on YouTube

Remembrance Display at Blaby Congregational Church

Opening words: I Thessalonians 4: 14 and 18

‘We believe that Jesus died and rose again and will take you to Himself, therefore encourage each other with these words.’

Hymn 509 O Lord the clouds are gathering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfv9OI59_7o

Prayers

Come, let us turn to God, who is with us in all our sorrows, who weeps with us as we weep, who binds our wounds, and who lifts our eyes towards the eternal horizon. God is with us: let us turn to God and be people of praise in the story of our lives. Amen.

God of consolation, in all the stories of our lives, you are with us. As we turn to each other, and turn to you, may we give and find all the comfort that we need, knowing that it is in such shelter that we hear the echoes of your great kindness. Amen.

We pray for peace. We pray for peace. We remember times when we have fought and argued, with our families and friends, at home and in the playground. We pray for peace. We pray for peace.

We remember the wars fought in the past and the sacrifice of those who gave up their lives to give us peace. We pray for peace. We pray for peace.

We remember all places where there is still fighting and trouble and the people who suffer because of it. We pray for peace. We pray for peace.

We pray that we will be patient and tolerant of all people and commit ourselves to work for peace in our lives, our homes, our schools, our communities and our world. We pray for peace. We pray for peace.

Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn 456 Make me a channel of your peace

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2svZhZT6Pro

Bible Readings:

Amos 5.18-24

Psalm 70

1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

Matthew 25.1-13

Hymn 111 Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqOnjmr9Ah0

Comments on Bible Readings – Remembrance Sunday

Death and grief are an unavoidable part of being human, just as much today as when Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians. Today as we remember those who gave their lives for us in the two world wars and conflicts since, we are reminded that bloodshed and death have been and continue to be a part of our lives. Paul in his letter is encouraging those who grieve that death is not the end, for Jesus has faced it, fought it, and conquered it. He has prepared a place for us in His kingdom (heaven) and He will come and take us to His Home. This is our encouragement today as we remember.

We do not need to look far to find cause to grieve and mourn in recent days:

  • In Vienna, four people were shot dead in what seems to have been a terrorist attack. It comes barely a week after the knife attacks at a church in Nice that left three people dead.

  • A powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea killed at least 27 people in Turkey.

  • Sunday 8 November is Remembrance Sunday, when we remember those who have died in the service of Britain and the Commonwealth.

  • The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to climb daily.

  • As well as those facing recent bereavements from coronavirus or other causes, others may be mourning the loss of jobs, freedoms, social contact, and the sense of a ‘normal’ life as England enters a second lockdown.

In the midst of such depths of pain and suffering, how should we, in Christ, respond?

How can we help people have hope in times of grief or loss? Sometimes it can help to approach things from a different angle. Take the Mexican tradition of the ‘Day of the Dead’ – or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish. One famous portrayal of this day is the huge street procession at the beginning of the James Bond film Spectre. Except that it is not real – there was no procession like that in Mexico before the Bond film. Now there is, and it is a huge tourist attraction!

What Dia de los Muertos really was – and still is – is a way for families to replace grief with hope, by remembering loved ones while sharing memories and favourite foods. A table (altar; ofrenda in Spanish) is decorated with flowers, photos, favourite foods and other objects associated with family members who have died . It might be called ‘Day of the Dead’ but really it is about life – remembering life (of loved ones) to help and inspire and comfort us in our ongoing lives.

In this passage in Thessalonians, Paul deals with perhaps the biggest question of all – what happens when we die? In the time of the Thessalonians, 50 per cent of children died before they reached the age of 10. Girls had babies from around the age of 12, and many died in childbirth. People lived with death as a constant presence. It was into this context that Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the good news that Jesus rose again, that message is just as true for us today.

Paul urges the Thessalonians not to grieve like their contemporaries, but to be encouraged that life doesn’t end with death. How do we hold onto this hope in the middle of grief? From a child losing a favourite toy, to the death of a loved one, we know that loss and grief is a very challenging journey. And there are no quick fixes. Various organisations can help us to understand and deal with our grief better. And the promise that we will all be together with God can be a big comfort to hold onto. As I visit people who have lost loved ones, I do wonder how they would cope without faith.

To encourage the Thessalonians, Paul draws on Jewish apocalyptic imagery and the belief that the dead will already be with Christ. The