Sunday Worship 22nd November - 'Hands'
The church is still only open for private prayer and Dr Paul Baxter who was to preach on Sunday has worked in collaboration with Julie our Pastor to prepare the attached service for home worship.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Hymn 673 There is a redeemer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUqfdaCLm0Y
We come to you, people who are hungry, people who are thirsty, strangers, imprisoned, exposed, knowing that you have come to us, too, in these same guises. In our brokenness, welcome us. And open up our defences as we come to you, O Lord of manyguises. We have been called into the pastures of God, where there is nurture,a place to rest, safety, and kindness among all. Let us draw near, in the goodness of God, to be with each other, and to praise the shepherd who has gathered us here. God, we have been a scattered people, roaming, looking for places to call home. You have called us home, gathered us in, given us a land of belonging where all are welcome. You have sought us out, brought us in, and held us in this great story. Amen.
Yours is the earth and all in it. The valleys, mountains, seas and spray; the land, the pastures,the trees and fauna. All around us, we see stories of your bounty, your exuberant goodness, your flourishing provision. You have made us to live here, nurtured by this earth, and by work. We find joy in this vocation,to be your people, living, working, resting, supporting. We thank you for the gifts of living,
and for these gifts of bounty all around us.
Hymn 672 There is a name I love to hear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAyJJ77T04E
Romans 15:7-13 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-10
Hymn 302 I want to walk with Jesus Christ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB9tJGdIMwQ
The words I'm going to share with you this morning are words which were given to me during a telephone conversation with Paul Baxter on Monday. Paul is struggling to see and therefore couldn't type this out so basically he's explained it to me in a very short way so that I can actually express it in a longer way to give to you as his talk today. I really do hope that I reflect what Paul would have said had he been with us in person.
His theme took the concept of the ‘hand’ and there is some work by a particular person which he was basing this on (unfortunately I can't read my writing and I cannot find on the Internet this particular that person anywhere - so apologies for that ) however he did state just enough about what he wanted to say,for me to be able to relate it to you, hopefully .
Today of course our hands have become the centre of attention , we are constantly being told to wash them for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday, we are also told that we need to sanitise them on a regular basis and so our hands have had very much become the focus of attention. What is true is that all of this hand washing and sanitising is not actually doing our hands much good so if you are in the industry of hand cream then I guess you're doing really well because lots and lots of people are now buying hand cream to put on their hands . I would like you to just look at your hands, your hands might be old, they might have lines on them they might be a bit old, they might have arthritis and you might struggle to hold something properly, but now think how important your hands actually are. Think of all the things that you do in a day that you use your hands for.
I'm currently watching ‘I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of here' and there is a celebrity in there who is a Paralympian but she only has one full arm and therefore hand. her other arm is cut off before the elbow, I am amazed at how she actually gets her clothes on or how she eats her dinner or how she cooks things, if I put my hand behind my back I would struggle to do any of those things with just one hand. But hands are such a very important extension of ourselves, hands can be used for good or hands can be used for bad, how do you use your hands?
Paul has left us with two Bible Readings the first one from the book of Romans, Paul indicated that what we read in that passage in Romans is indeed very good news for the gentiles.It begins by saying‘accept one another’ for Paul this was very important that The Christian faith is about us being accepted for who we are and the reason that we're all accepted is so that we can praise God, we can worship Him as one person and as one body. In the final line in the passage that Paul wanted us to look at Romans uses these beautiful words ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ . This passage is telling us that we
are accepted, we are loved and as a result of that together we need to praise, we need to worship, we need to accept Jesus as the Lord of our lives,who has come to bring us a sense of peace and wholeness . At the time that Paul wrote this letter to the Romans there was knowledge that the message of Jesus had come just for the Jews and obviously the Romans were not Jews and so what Paul was trying to get over in this passage was that everyone was accepted, that Jesus Christ had to become a servant not only of the Jews but also of the gentiles, he was pointing out that they would both see Gods mighty and gracious acts for his people and hear the praises of God's people as they celebrated what God had done for them, they would come to know the true God and they would come to glorify him. This message for Paul was very, very important the message was not just for the Jews and remember Paul was actually sent out on his missionary journeys not to the Jews but to the gentiles and he firmly believed that they needed to understand that God and Jesus,the Christian religion was not just for Jews. God’s promises area open to all people everywhere in his letter to the Romans Paul is saying that God sent Jesus for all of us so that the whole world could praise and worship him.
The second Bible passage that Paul has selected for us is from one Corinthians chapter 10 verses 1 to 10, it's actually entitled warnings from Israel’s history. At first glance this really seems rather a strange passage for him to pick, but when he was talking to me he said that really this is warnings about following idols, following the wrong sorts of people.We all know that in today's society we worship stars of TV or other media, we worship sports people, we might worship wealthy people influencers as we call them today. What this letter to Paul is saying is, don't be like them, don't turn away from God however tempting it might seem,, don't do it, look back at history and see that God has always been there, God is our Rock and that's really the word which I think when Paul was speaking to me he wanted to emphasise God is the Rock. He is the One who is always there,a firm foundation to build our lives upon, we don't need to look any further than God and Jesus and through him the Spirit which he sends to us. It is that Spirit living in us which means that we don't have to worship anything or anybody else, because within our very souls we have Jesus Christ living in us, guiding us, leading us, inspiring us.
Paul reminds the readers in Corinthians of what happened when the Israelites worshipped idols they struggled, they lost their way, many of them died in the desert and the wilderness and never ever saw the promised land. Don't focus on things which you believe will give you instant pleasure and instant gratification instead focus on Jesus, focus on your future, focus on the long term, focus on heaven. ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace’, such beautiful words of that hymn, once again we are here with the same message, don't follow idols, money, other people, jobs, whatever, instead focus on God and Jesus as the source of our salvation and turn your eyes on Him and let Him lead you and guide you.
So we are back to the hand and what Paul would have probably said to you were he doing the service was that your hand can be used for good or it can be used for bad, your hand can be used to feed people,it can be used to hold people, it can be used to guide people, it can be used to write to type words of encouragement, words of hope. The hand can be used to make, to create it can make clothes, it can make pieces of furniture, it could produce a painting something which inspires people, it can be used to take photographs. But the hand can also be used to destroy, the hand can be used to smack, to hold a knife, a hand can be used to hold a mallet to destroy what has been created, that same hand that can paint beauty can be used too defile something which is beautiful. The hand is a very powerful weapon, how will you use your hands? will you use them for good,will you use them for bad, will you use them to inspire and uphold people or will you use them to demoralise people and to bring people down.
Christian people filled with the Spirit of God will only ever use their hands to show good, part of Mother Teresa's prayer was in fact about hands.
The words are so good that I have reproduced them all here but focus on