Here’s Martin Frost’s reflection for Sunday 04 October.
The online worship session will start at 11.00. Martin will be leading worship this week .
As it’s the first Sunday in the month we will be celebrating Holy Communion. If you wish to join us you are most welcome. You will need to provide your own bread and wine.
If you want to join via Zoom in just email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – for log in details. We’d love to see you.
London Road Congregational Church Reflection 04/10/2020
Aiming for Fulfillment
Call to Worship:
Our call to worship is from Micah 6:8:
God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
It is good to be together, God,
in this place, with these people, at this time,
together listening for your voice.
In this hour of worship
tell us about your kingdom of kindness
so that we can seek it.
Show us your justice.
We want to walk with you,
humbly, closely, daily.
Let us say together the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Hymn: And Can it be that I should gain.
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
’Tis myst’ry all: th’ Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
In preparing this Sunday’s reflection what struck me was Jesus’ explanation of his own purpose, that the law and the prophets might be fulfilled. While ever heaven and earth existed distinct from one another, whilst the kingdom of heaven was not fully established on earth then the law had a place but needed fulfilling.
Reading – Matthew 5:17-20
The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
So then I started thinking about how Jesus aimed to fulfil the law. Obviously with the distinction between heaven and earth there is a gap in what God wants as our response and what we achieve. Everyone falls short and so Jesus’ actions are for all people. Jesus did not come for the righteous but for the sinners, to bridge this gap between them and God. Where the law had fallen short in helping us reach our potential in God, he came so that we might have life in its fullness. By dying on the cross Jesus overcame the shortcomings in the law to enable us to have the relationship with God we were created for.
Reading – Matthew 9:9-13
The Calling of Matthew
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The purpose of the law was to allow us to live in a relationship with God as he had intended in creation. To be fruitful and flourish as his representatives. So Jesus had come not to do away with that purpose but to allow it to be fulfilled. The law should have been a guide to how we could live with God, not a tool to keep us away. It was a covenant, that by trying to live according to the law God would be our God.
Reading – Mark 12:38-40
Warning Against the Teachers of the Law
38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
Finally, there is the issue of how the law should be kept and fulfilling the keeping of the law. Jesus showed mercy to sinners but condemned the Pharisees and law givers. In another passage Jesus speaks against the pharisees, they created a system that stopped people entering the kingdom of heaven, they pretended to be righteous but harboured hateful thoughts, they taught the law but misses some of the most important aspects which are mercy and justice. Jesus, on the other hand, showed mercy and justice and gave us an example that fulfilled the laws purpose and showed us a way of creating the kingdom of heaven on earth. By following the example of Jesus, in applying the law we understand how we should love God and love each other. The law that Jesus focused on in particular.
So Jesus came not to do away with the law and prophets, he came to complete it’s work, he came to give us a guide to how to live the law and prophets and he came to show us how it should be applied to allow us to live our lives, fruitfully, as God intended.
Hymn: In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.