Urge, encourage and comfort
Julie our Pastor will lead worship on 1st November and this will be a special occasion as we welcome Jackie into church membership. Those attending will take communion for the first time since February. Communion will not be served due to social distancing - instead the wine has been prepared in advance in disposable cups and will be collected on arrival and each person will supply their own bread.
For those unable to attend the service it can be followed on this page.
We also found out last night it will be the last service to be held in our Church for 4 weeks due to the national lockdown.
During these are very difficult times it is so easy to feel discouraged but as Christians we know that God is with us at all times and we must put our trust in Him.
A few wise words by Catherine Pulsifer: "Focus not on who to blame but focus on the solution."
Opening words: Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Hymn Lord of all hopefulness
O God, you have called us to power. But not a power that shouts, rather, a power that invites – because this is your power: a power to call all to be with all. In this power, we find room, we make room, and we are made whole.
We are gathered here today around Word and word. God, your Word lives: it breathes, it encourages, it pleads. It urges us towards love and greater love. As we listen to your Word today, may we hear the words in our hearts that call us towards love of other, self and stranger. Your Word is an invitation towards an ever greater hospitality. And so, we stand, supported in the living Word that always welcomes.
We know that in coming towards you, you came towards us first. You called us by name, bringing us deeper into you, into community, into love. We thank you for the gift of this, and hold our hands humbly, offering you what we have, knowing that you receive what we give – even when it is very little. Amen.
Hymn In Christ alone - Athem
Micah 3.5-12 Psalm 43 1 Thessalonians 2.9-13 Matthew 23.1-12
Hymn Merciful saviour by saleh
Comments on Bible Readings
In this week’s reading from 1 Thessalonians, Paul adopts this imagery of parenthood to describe the relationship he and his companions had with the new Christian community in Thessalonica. It is a caring, nurturing, encouraging model of parenthood, which implicitly derives from, and tries – however imperfectly – to emulate God’s parenting of the human race.
In doing so, Paul extends the idea of parenthood from a role undertaken by an individual, to one undertaken by a group of people.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that whoever does not have a good father should procure one. Of course, that is not everyone’s experience! Some have no experience of a father, let alone a good one! Nevertheless, Paul compares the way he has nurtured the Thessalonians to being a father. And he has used a variety of means to look after them. I am sure Paul would have recounted and known the story of the Prodigal Son, a story in which the father waits longingly and patiently for his son to return. And when the son does return instead of shouting at him, boxing him round the ears or whatever, he runs to him with arms wide open, he welcomes him back into the arms of his family. This is the image of God our Father which Jesus wants us to have, this is the image that Paul is trying to explain here.
In the Bible there are many examples of not only good fathers but also good mothers and so Paul is talking here about the way in which the whole Church is caring for those who are part of it. He sees the church as a family in which we care for and look after each other.
What are the ways in which we have been cared for within the church? Who has been like a good parent to us, and in what ways? How has the church nurtured you ?
In presenting the ways in which Paul and his colleagues have treated the Thessalonians, they are also presenting a model for others to follow – a model that worked then and may work now.
There is value in reflecting on how believers can be encouraging, comforting and urging. So we will focus now on these three words
What are the adverts doing, they are persuading us to buy the product or service?
If we buy Coca Cola we will automatically become happy.
If we download this curio app then we will know everything there is to know and we will automatically become the most interesting person in the room.
The final link is a video where Ed Sheeran goes into a very expensive restaurant and a plate of delicate food is given to him out comes the Heinz ketchup which is splattered all over this very fine dining food. He is of course persuading us that Heinz tomato sauce is the best thing ever.
All three of these adverts are designed to persuade us to buy something because it will make us feel better, they persuade us. Paul in Thessalonians is doing exactly the same with the church there, he is trying to persuade them that the best thing ever is for them to follow Jesus.
Urging certainly suggests urgency, and bringing people to faith is of vital importance and needs to be done with immediacy.
Jesus said in John’s gospel ‘Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’ There are people in the world, in our area who are longing to be told about Jesus. Paul in the letter is urging us to tell others about Him. This pandemic has made people more aware of God and people are turning to Him, as evidenced by the number watching online services at this time. The pandemic has made us think about the way we tell others about God. What would our advert look like if we were to persuade people to come to God? Would it make them happy? Would it make them the most interesting person in the room? Would it make your life taste better? How would we sell God/Jesus to the people in Blaby?
Paul tells us to urge people to come to God.
Our urging is only the start of the journey with God, for when people come to God then they need to be encouraged– gently encouraging people to take the next step of faith.
Think of the story of the sower when the farmer sows the seed, we the people are soil and the soil is different. One of the soils is where the seed takes root but then the root is not fed and it dies or other things might get in the way and stop the root from growing. This is why we need to encourage because people new to the faith can be very excited and then sometimes when they come to church there's nothing which feeds that faith, which encourages it which challenges it which enables it to grow. Hence urging is not enough, we need to then encourage.