Reflection – 17 January 2021


Here’s Martin’s reflection for Sunday 17 January.

The online worship session will start at 11.00. Martin will be leading worship this week.

If you want to join in just email me – newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com – for details. We’d love to see you.

Mark Taylor

London Road Congregational Church Reflection 17/01

The Question of the Age: McDonald or KFC

Call to Worship:

God, you call each of us to serve you, and we answer,
“Here I am!”
Jesus, you call each of us to follow you, and we answer,
“Here I am!”
Holy Spirit, you call each of us to worship you this day,
and we answer,
“Here I am!”   1 Samuel 3

Let’s pray:

Open our ears, O God,
that we might hear your Word
speaking to us in this moment.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might listen for your voice
calling to us through scripture.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might understand your promises
to followers both old and young, ancient and modern.
Open our hearts, O God,
that we might enter into the love
you offer us. Amen.

Amen.

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.
Amen.

Notices

Hymn: Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You
Jesus,…

Ministry of the Word:

1 Samuel 3:1-11

The Lord Appears to Samuel

In those days, when the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under the direction of Eli, there were very few messages from the Lord, and visions from him were quite rare. One night Eli, who was now almost blind, was sleeping in his own room; Samuel was sleeping in the sanctuary, where the sacred Covenant Box was. Before dawn, while the lamp was still burning, the Lord called Samuel. He answered, “Yes, sir!” and ran to Eli and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

But Eli answered, “I didn’t call you; go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed.

The Lord called Samuel again. The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before. So he got up, went to Eli, and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

But Eli answered, “My son, I didn’t call you; go back to bed.”

The Lord called Samuel a third time; he got up, went to Eli, and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, so he said to him, “Go back to bed; and if he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.

The Lord came and stood there, and called as he had before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak; your servant is listening.”

The Lord said to him, “Some day I am going to do something to the people of Israel that is so terrible that everyone who hears about it will be stunned.

Mark 9:38-39

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.”

 “Do not try to stop him,” Jesus told them, “because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say evil things about me.

1Corinthians 1:10-17

Divisions in the Church

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose. For some people from Chloe’s family have told me quite plainly, my friends, that there are quarrels among you. Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.” Christ has been divided[a] into groups! Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptized as Paul’s disciples?

I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. No one can say, then, that you were baptized as my disciples. (Oh yes, I also baptized Stephanas and his family; but I can’t remember whether I baptized anyone else.) Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power.

Reflection:

My reflection this week isn’t such much to address something in the church but something that I want to put down as a foundational idea before we grow. If we don’t have certain foundational ideas in place before we grow the danger is that what we build is either not quite structurally sound or not in line with what we believe as a fellowship.

When Mark was speaking last week about the Parable of the workers in the vineyard and his point about the people entering into the Kingdom of God by the different versions of the covenant, I began to think about something. When he then said we would approach the passage in different ways I felt that perhaps God wanted me to share it with you. And understanding the danger of becoming a one-hit-wonder, I will try to add something new to what I have said before.

I honestly believe that Church growth has a small amount to do with what we put on. Churches can become very busy doing things that keep them occupied but there is little growth. What I have felt for ages is the importance of the passage in Acts that says because the church was built in a certain way God added to their number daily.

The passage from 1 Corinthians, possibly one of the earliest of the New Testament documents, they weren’t written in the order we have them, highlights an issue that can arise very quickly if the foundations aren’t true. The Parable highlights that God can choose to add to his number who and when he wants. Our duty is to serve to the best of our ability because we all get the same reward whenever we come to the family. 1 Corinthians warns us about losing track of who we serve for how we came to the party or who individually invited us. Jesus also warns against forming groups and to stay united. The passage from 1 Samuel reminds us that there will be people who come after us who are called to serve and may do a better job than us because of the giftings. Our role is to work with God, walk with this people, and together to serve God to our best ability.

So, what has that to do with us? God has plans for LRCC and those who walk with and alongside us. Even that distinction is false really as we are all brothers and sisters. Some people have been part of the fellowship much longer than others, Mark has been part of the fellowship much longer than me and some much longer than him.  Time served is not a rank of importance, but it can be a cause for respect. Some people have joined because of the ministry of Mark and some may join because of my or other people’s sphere of influence. Who invites them does not make a difference. Social status, money, gender, sexuality or any other badge society may put on us does not enable us to serve better.

What I want to set as a foundation stone, as we grow and build, is the simple belief that we do not belong to people, badges, events or activities. We all belong to God and, as part of that, all have a role and importance. What we need to look out for is how God is working within someone and try to nurture that. I am blessed every time someone else does the intercessions, because they are usually much better than me at it. I thank God that there is someone who can bless us in that way, not feel robbed because they can do something better than me. I believe that as we grow with that stone directing our growth it will be something that allows God to add to our number because we are trustworthy as a family for him to entrust with his new children.

Amen

Intercession Suggestions

  • Stan’s family after the funeral
  • Mark and Martin
  • Schools in Newark as they continue to balance safety with education
  • Law enforcers who are trying to implement ever changing regulations.

Hymn: He Lives  – Alan Jackson

I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He’s always near

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

In all the world around me I see His loving care
And though my heart grows weary I never will despair
I know that He is leading, thro’ all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing will come at last

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian! Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

Blessing.

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