Here’s Martin’s reflection for Sunday 20 June.
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Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.
London Road Congregational Church Reflection 20/6
Who do they say that I am?
Call to worship
Faith the size of a mustard seed brings us here, sown through the witness of saints and apostles and people of faith met along the way. Lord, make yourself known to us through our worship.
Hope the size of a mustard seed brings us here, made known through the voices of the prophets and those who refuse to accept despair. Lord, make yourself known to us through Scripture.
Love the size of a mustard seed brings us here, shown through those who cared for and nurtured us and constantly prayed for us. Make yourself known to us, Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
A prayer of confession
For those times when we have heard what we have wanted to hear and shut our ears to your voice: forgive us and help us. 3 | Page For those times when we have followed our own desires and not followed your way: forgive us and help us. For those times when we have turned to false prophets and turned away from the truth: forgive us and help us. Amen.
Hymn How firm a foundation
How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
for I will be with you in trouble to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake!
Ministry of the Word
The Lord says,
“Come, everyone who is thirsty—
here is water!
Come, you that have no money—
buy grain and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk—
it will cost you nothing!
Why spend money on what does not satisfy?
Why spend your wages and still be hungry?
Listen to me and do what I say,
and you will enjoy the best food of all.
“Listen now, my people, and come to me;
come to me, and you will have life!
I will make a lasting covenant with you
and give you the blessings I promised to David.
I made him a leader and commander of nations,
and through him I showed them my power.
Now you will summon foreign nations;
at one time they did not know you,
but now they will come running to join you!
I, the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel,
will make all this happen;
I will give you honor and glory.”
Turn to the Lord and pray to him,
now that he is near.
Let the wicked leave their way of life
and change their way of thinking.
Let them turn to the Lord, our God;
he is merciful and quick to forgive.
“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.
“My word is like the snow and the rain
that come down from the sky to water the earth.
They make the crops grow
and provide seed for planting and food to eat.
So also will be the word that I speak—
it will not fail to do what I plan for it;
it will do everything I send it to do.
2 Timothy 3.14-4.5
But as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe. You know who your teachers were, and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and because he is coming to rule as King, I solemnly urge you to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience. The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends. But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God.
But I have a witness on my behalf which is even greater than the witness that John gave: what I do, that is, the deeds my Father gave me to do, these speak on my behalf and show that the Father has sent me. And the Father, who sent me, also testifies on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his face, and you do not keep his message in your hearts, for you do not believe in the one whom he sent. You study the Scriptures, because you think that in them you will find eternal life. And these very Scriptures speak about me! Yet you are not willing to come to me in order to have life.
“I am not looking for human praise. But I know what kind of people you are, and I know that you have no love for God in your hearts. I have come with my Father’s authority, but you have not received me; when, however, someone comes with his own authority, you will receive him. You like to receive praise from one another, but you do not try to win praise from the one who alone is God; how, then, can you believe me? Do not think, however, that I am the one who will accuse you to my Father. Moses, in whom you have put your hope, is the very one who will accuse you. If you had really believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?”
Hymn – Word of God Speak
Word of God speak
Would you pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That you’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In your holiness
Word of God speak
I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
Last week Mark talked about the Gospels not being 4 copies of a biography for Jesus. Each has an order, a focus and a purpose. Matthew was very Jewish, and his focus is very much on Jesus’ Jewish and messianic roots, Luke – as a physician – focuses very much on Jesus’ humanity and his example to us all..
For centuries the Church also wrestled with understanding who Jesus was. Peter is the first in the Gospels to exclaim that Jesus was not only a special person, but also God. This tension of belief was also very much tied up with what Jesus was here for. Jesus came as a ransom, as a way/role model, a means by which we could repair our relationship with God and be atoned.
The Gospel writers were also living this tension in how they portrayed Jesus and what they wanted to include in their account of the good news.
So ways in which the Gospels reflect this tension.
1. The Beginnings
Matthew places a large amount of emphasis on Jesus’ genealogy. He wanted to show that Jesus was not only royal – from the line of David – but also in the line of prophets who were sent by God. Luke, with his emphasis on Jesus’ humanity. Luke’s intention is to write an ordered account and he starts with putting Jesus into his human context. Luke is very people focused. John, who is not one of the synoptic Gospels, starts by putting Jesus into his eternal context. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. The person Jesus who they came to know existed before his incarnation within the Godhead.
There are various miracles performed by Jesus during his life. If you see them listed according to the Gospels, it is useful to see how they are distributed and the type of miracles. Many of the miracles that are in Matthew are also in Mark. Many of these miracles show something of the nature of Jesus and his power and control over the natural and spiritual world. Luke mentions quite a few miracles that these other two Gospels don’t. What is interesting is that the ones he includes are one to do with healing people and his care for the individual. Whilst Matthew, Mark and Luke record 14, 12, 16 miracles respectively, John includes 4. These very much showed his power over the natural world and his supernatural abilities.
Only in Matthew – Mt 9:27-34 two healings
In Matthew and Mark – Healing of Jairus’ daughter
Only in Mark – Mk 7:31-37 healing of deaf and dumb man
Only in John – John 21:4-6 The draught of fish
We even see in the crucifixion narratives this tension of who Jesus was and his purpose.
Mt 27:46 – Why have you forsaken me
Mk 15:34 – Why have you forsaken me
Lk 23:46 – Father into your hands I commit my spirit
Jn 19:30 – It is finished.
It is interesting to see how the different authors wanted to record different things about the moment of death and his purpose on the cross. Matthew and Mark reflect the utter abandonment, the human plight of humanity being alienated from God and at that moment and at the same time meeting humanity there and drawing us to God. Luke sees Jesus as the example for us to follow and at that point repairs our disobedience shared by Adam in rebelling from God to submit all to God. John reflects Jesus as the eternal purpose of God, from the very beginning God has planned our return through the prophets and finally Jesus and at the moment of his death that purpose was complete and finalised. Nothing more was needed.
And how can this help us?
- Do not take a verse out of context or out of his purpose until you have seen it in context to understand what it is saying. Scripture is there to guide us, not to be used to say what we want.
- Be aware of how we view Jesus and whether that is the whole picture. It is interesting to see pictures of Jesus from other cultures and the fact the West has maintained the ‘white’ Jesus seems ridiculous.
- Just because there are differences doesn’t mean that they are not true, some people use these differences to undermine the truth or importance of what is being said.
Hymn Thy Word
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid,
And think I’ve lost my way.
Still, you’re there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear
As long as you are near;
Please be near me to the end.
As we read your Scriptures, inspire our reading that we may learn of you. As we hear your Word, inspire our hearing that we may be taught righteousness. As we listen to your voice, inspire our souls that we may live under your guidance. Amen.