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.
We very rarely in churches talk about a person’s journey of faith. We never ask if they are struggling with their faith. But how do we help someone who feels they don’t have faith anymore? We would need to pray for that person and talk with them, read the bible with them, share music with them. We all need someone to share our doubts about our faith with. It is hard at the moment when we can't meet and sit next to someone, yesterday someone I spoke to who came to the bible study said that being there had made them feel close to God again, sharing with each other and listening to others had made them feel alive in God again. Sharing God’s word is so important for personal development.
I love music, especially more modern worship songs, and I listen to them every morning, as part of my time with Jesus. When I find one that has particularly touched me I send it to Eva, it is my way of keeping in one place the songs that have meant so much to me but also a way of sharing it with Eva and keeping in touch with her. On Thursday morning I sent on to the Whatsapp Prayer Group as it echoed the words of our bible study the night before. Carole Merrick also writes and puts prayers on the group for us all to share, they are well written and focus are minds. As we read them so we share and encourage.
And our final word is comforting, we need to make people feel safe, feel that God loves them, feel that Jesus is walking beside them, know that they are not alone, and even more so in this time of COVID when many are isolating. I began the service today with words from Isaiah 40, words we used in our bible study on Wednesday. They are so meaningful for today. They speak of trusting God even when we think He has deserted us. Even when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The people of Israel had been held in captivity in Babylon for almost 70 years and they were giving up on God , they felt that he had deserted them and so here in this chapter of Isaiah God is saying look up, look up and see the stars and the moon and the Sky and nature and realise that I am greater than any other god, I am greater than anything, I have not forgotten you I have not left you. Continue to hope in Me, trust in me, and I will restore you to your home country, I will bring you home.
‘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.’
You will find comfort in Jesus, like the father He is looking for you, when you turn to Him, He will run to you, He will carry you when you need help the most. There is such comfort in Jesus, like a fire in your heart that burns brightly. Sit in the presence of Jesus and be comforted. This is the final word for today, we need to show how God/Jesus can bring us comfort in our everyday life.
Urge, encourage and comfort words from our rereading today, we need to urge (plead) people to come to Jesus, once they have we need to encourage that faith and finally we need to show how trusting and hoping in Jesus will bring us all comfort as we assure each other of the presence of God. Amen.
Hymn From heaven you came
Today, we pray for all who feel isolated. In their uniqueness, they may also feel alone. This is most of us, some of the time, but it is some of us most of the time. God of encounter, may we all turn with love and interest
towards those who have been isolated. God of encounter
Jesus of strong words, you were not afraid: calling people you knew to deeper integrity, challenging our ways of seeing ourselves and others. Give me courage to live well in all the small choices of my day, to hear your voice calling me to the deepest integrity of myself, and the deepest practice of goodness with those I love. Amen.
Jesus we pray today for those people who are lost, those people who don't really understand where they are going. We pray for those who are seeking and searching and we pray Lord Jesus that we might be there for those people, we might be the ones who can guide them to you because at the very heart of all mankind there is a sense of trying to find something that will give them some hope.
Jesus guide us and show us how we can best promote your church to urge people to follow you, and then when they have followed, help us to be able to sit by their sides and to encourage them to deepen their faith, to bring them to a greater understanding of who you really are. And then Lord Jesus may we show them the comfort that you can bring as we hope and as we trust in you, we know indeed that you will help us to rise, to walk, to run, to not grow weary, to not faint. Jesus we thank you that you are always by our side, we thank you that when we need you the most it is then that you pick us up and you carry us, so Jesus may this sense of wonder and peace that we have with you, may this fire within our hearts continue to burn as we bring people into your present, so that they too might find that same sense of peace and hope and comfort,
Prayers for those on our prayer list.
Hymn: Be Still in the presence of the Lord
Music Just because ………………
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPpd-6X3tEo I will follow
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj4Yu9Utdw0 This is me