Reflection – 18 April 2021

Here’s Martin’s reflection for Sunday 18 April.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

Mark

Call to Worship:

As the rains pour from heaven, soaking the earth that it may produce good things….
So God pours God’s love upon us, that we, too, may produce goodness and peace.
We have been blessed with many gifts and talents.
God desires that we use these gifts and talents for healing, peace, and hope.
Come, let us worship and celebrate the mighty love and power of God.
Praise be to God who has blessed us in so many ways. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Lord, everywhere we look we see the imprint of your creative love. The wondrous works of nature show your majesty. As we gather today to celebrate your love and creation, keep us mindful that we are part of that created order, meant to be stewards and not destroyers. Prepare us to work for you in ministries of peace and justice. 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.

Hymn: Counting Every Blessing

I was blind, now I’m seeing in colour
I was dead, now I’m living forever
I had failed, but you were my redeemer
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

I was lost, now I’m found by the father
I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure
I’ve been given a hope and a future
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me

Oh, you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me

You were there in the valley of shadows
You were there in the depth of my sorrows
You’re my strength, my hope for tomorrow
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me

Oh, you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me

Surely your goodness pursues me
Surely your heart is still for me
I will remember your mercies all my days
Through every storm and gale

Ministry of the Word:

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)

Then out of the storm the Lord spoke to Job.

The Lord

Who are you to question my wisdom

    with your ignorant, empty words?

Now stand up straight

    and answer the questions I ask you.

Were you there when I made the world?

    If you know so much, tell me about it.

Who decided how large it would be?

    Who stretched the measuring line over it?

    Do you know all the answers?

What holds up the pillars that support the earth?

    Who laid the cornerstone of the world?

In the dawn of that day the stars sang together,

    and the heavenly beings[a] shouted for joy.

Can you shout orders to the clouds
    and make them drench you with rain?
And if you command the lightning to flash,
    will it come to you and say, “At your service”?
Who tells the ibis[
c] when the Nile will flood,
    or who tells the rooster that rain will fall?[
d]
Who is wise enough to count the clouds
    and tilt them over to pour out the rain,
    rain that hardens the dust into lumps?

Do you find food for lions to eat,
    and satisfy hungry young lions
    when they hide in their caves,
    or lie in wait in their dens?
Who is it that feeds the ravens
    when they wander about hungry,
    when their young cry to me for food?

Psalm 104:1-9

In Praise of the Creator

Praise the Lord, my soul!
    O Lord, my God, how great you are!
You are clothed with majesty and glory;
    you cover yourself with light.
You have spread out the heavens like a tent
    and built your home on the waters above.[
a]
You use the clouds as your chariot
    and ride on the wings of the wind.
You use the winds as your messengers
    and flashes of lightning as your servants.

 You have set the earth firmly on its foundations,
    and it will never be moved.
You placed the ocean over it like a robe,
    and the water covered the mountains.
When you rebuked the waters, they fled;
    they rushed away when they heard your shout of command.
They flowed over the mountains and into the valleys,
    to the place you had made for them.

 You set a boundary they can never pass,
    to keep them from covering the earth again.

Mark 10:35-45

The Request of James and John

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “there is something we want you to do for us.”

“What is it?” Jesus asked them.

They answered, “When you sit on your throne in your glorious Kingdom, we want you to let us sit with you, one at your right and one at your left.”

Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup of suffering that I must drink? Can you be baptized in the way I must be baptized?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup I must drink and be baptized in the way I must be baptized.But I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. It is God who will give these places to those for whom he has prepared them.”

When the other ten disciples heard about it, they became angry with James and John. So Jesus called them all together to him and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.”

Reflection:

I have friends, who are Muslim, who have started their fasting during the month of Ramadan. During daylight hours they will not eat or drink- take anything that may give them nourishment.

For every Muslim there are five things they are expected to do according to their religion. The word Islam itself means submission, so there are five aspects of their religion that train or guide them in the way of submission to Allah. The first is the statement of belief and so is about having your head focused in the right direction. The second is prayer and maintaining a focus on God in everything you do and seeing God as the most important feature of your life. The third is to do with giving and a healthy attitude to finance – I didn’t do a service on that this week but it may be on its way – the fourth is to do with fasting – and I will explain that in a moment. The last is pilgrimage

Another friend asked me why they fasted during the month of Ramadan – the name of the month – and I explained that amongst other things there are two reasons.

The first is about realising that all things come from God. God has and continues to supply all of our needs. As we consider the theme of stewardship, we must remember that the resources we have, the things we are taking care of, come from God and they are a gift to us. Our attitude to creation should reflect this in how we use it and how we treat it. It is also important to remember that we are part of creation and what happens to the environment happens to the only place we have to live. If the planet suffers we suffer.

The second thing about Fasting is that it reminds Muslims that they choose to fast, there is many in the world who do not have a choice to not eat – that is all they have.  Within Islam is the idea that the one God created all people and created them equally. As Mark was saying last week, climate change is a matter of justice. The ones who are most affected by the changes to our climate and poor stewardship are those who are poorest in the world. What we choose to do affects many other people.

The parable of the Sheep and Goats reminds us that to gain our place in heaven we must feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty and clothe the naked. It is equally our moral responsibility to ensure we are not taking away from the hungry their food, water and basic needs.  There is a moral imperative to act, there isn’t a choice. Jesus does not give us an option but an imperative to act. It may be a small act but we cannot sit passively and look to governments or others to make a change.

What is going to ensure that we are mindful of where everything we have comes from, what is going to remind us that we have a moral duty to act for those who are silenced? We might not fast during this time but now is the time to do something.

Intercession

Hymn: Have it All

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

There is no greater call
Than giving You my all
I lay it all down
I lay it all down

There is no greater love
No higher name above
I lay it all down
I lay it all down

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Blessing.

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