Reflection – 08 August 2021

Her’s Julie’s reflection from last Sunday

Apologies for the delay but I haven’t been at home much!

Mark

Good morning everyone and welcome

Call to worship

Here we are Lord.  We come into your presence seeking your peace, seeking your hope, seeking your comfort.  We come asking for a blessing.  Equip us in this hour to be your people, saved and sent, a blessing for all the world.

We’ll now sing our first hymn Bind us together, Lord

Refrain
BIND US TOGETHER, Lord, Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.

There is only one God,
There is only one King;
There is only one Body,
That is why we sing:

Refrain
Made for the glory of God,
Purchased by His precious Son;
Born with the right to be clean,
For Jesus the victory has won.

Refrain
You are the family of God,
You are the promise divine;
You are God’s chosen desire,
You are the glorious new wine.

Let us pray

Dear Lord, grant that the journeys on which we find ourselves may offer us all the wonders of home.  Bless us with true friends, neighbours and companions, with relationships founded in faith, love and justice.  By the power of your Holy Spirit, that it may serve your will on earth as in heaven.  Lord have mercy upon us and send us your peace.  Amen

And now let us say together the Lords Prayer.  Our father ……

A few years ago I went to see Gary Barlow in concert with some friends.  Now I don’t know about you but whenever I go to a music concert I like to know the words to the songs so I can sing along.  Prior to seeing Gary I got his newest CD – ‘Since I saw you last’ put it in the car and whenever I drove anywhere I would listen to it.  By the time of the concert I was more or less word perfect.  One of the tracks on the CD is called ‘Jump’.  It’s about taking a chance and believing in yourself and it struck a chord with me.  Listen to the lyrics and see what you think

Do you sometimes feel your life is leaving you behind?
With one eye closed, half a world unknown
You want to wave for help but both your hands are tied
You want to start again but you???re just too scared

So if you wanna find out, just go ahead and try now
If the thought is terrifying
The risk is really frightening
And your only fear is falling
You should leave without a warning and???

Jump, fly
Let your feet leave the ground, step into the sky and???
Jump, high
If you want a better view, then another life is calling you to

Go ahead and try now
Or how you gonna find out
If life has got predictable
Go on do something wonderful
The first step is the hardest
You???ll be safe without a harness so jump
Jump???

You never stand to win if you???re not in the race
When voices cheer, you???ll be far from here
And maybe once or twice you???ll fall flat on your face
But when you move on you???ll be twice as strong

Go out on a limb now
Throw caution to the wind now
If the thought is terrifying
The risk is really frightening
And your only fear is falling
You should leave without a warning and???

Jump, fly
Let your feet leave the ground, step into the sky and???
Jump, high
If you want a better view, then another life is calling you to

Go ahead and try now
Or how you gonna find out
If life has got predictable
Go on do something wonderful
The first step is the hardest
You???ll be safe without a harness so jump
Jump???

Make up your mind
You???ll be just in time
Jump, Jump
If the thought is terrifying
The risk is really frightening
There???s no need to play it safe
Just take a leap of faith and jump
You should leave without a warning and???

Jump, fly
Let your feet leave the ground, step into the sky and???
Jump, high
If you want a better view, then another life is calling you to

Go ahead and try now
Or how you gonna find out
If life has got predictable
Go on do something wonderful
The first step is the hardest
You???ll be safe without a harness so jump
Jump???

Jump???

I wrote out those words and gave them to a friend who had reached a crossroads in her life, she wanted to start a new chapter in her life but felt on the edge of a precipice.  She did take that leap of faith and has not once regretted it, a lesson for us all I think.

By the way Gary Barlow is fantastic in concert, if you get a chance to see him go.  I’ve seen him twice and would definitely go to see him again.

We will now sing I vow to thee my country

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know
We may not count her armies, we may not see her king
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering
And soul by soul, and silently her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace

Readings

Genesis 15:1-6

God’s Covenant with Abram

15 After this, Abram had a vision and heard the Lord say to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I will shield you from danger and give you a great reward.”

But Abram answered, “Sovereign Lord, what good will your reward do me, since I have no children? My only heir is Eliezer of Damascus.[a] You have given me no children, and one of my slaves will inherit my property.”

Then he heard the Lord speaking to him again: “This slave Eliezer will not inherit your property; your own son will be your heir.” The Lord took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and try to count the stars; you will have as many descendants as that.”

Abram put his trust in the Lord, and because of this the Lord was pleased with him and accepted him.

Romans 4:16-25

16 And so the promise was based on faith, in order that the promise should be guaranteed as God’s free gift to all of Abraham’s descendants—not just to those who obey the Law, but also to those who believe as Abraham did. For Abraham is the spiritual father of us all; 17 as the scripture says, “I have made you father of many nations.” So the promise is good in the sight of God, in whom Abraham believed—the God who brings the dead to life and whose command brings into being what did not exist. 18 Abraham believed and hoped, even when there was no reason for hoping, and so became “the father of many nations.” Just as the scripture says, “Your descendants will be as many as the stars.” 19 He was then almost one hundred years old; but his faith did not weaken when he thought of his body, which was already practically dead, or of the fact that Sarah could not have children. 20 His faith did not leave him, and he did not doubt God’s promise; his faith filled him with power, and he gave praise to God. 21 He was absolutely sure that God would be able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why Abraham, through faith, “was accepted as righteous by God.” 23 The words “he was accepted as righteous” were not written for him alone. 24 They were written also for us who are to be accepted as righteous, who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from death. 25 Because of our sins he was given over to die, and he was raised to life in order to put us right with God.

Prayers of Intercession

My inspiration for today’s service came from the song lyrics by Gary Barlow which we listened to earlier.  As I said before it struck a chord with me.  There are times in all our lives when we have to take a leap of faith.  There have been such times in my life.  I talked a few weeks ago about when Neil and I first moved to Newark – we were young, with a new baby and knew no one.  Neil’s job had determined where we lived.  It was scary making that decision to move somewhere new.  There was a  fear of the unknown or making the wrong choice but after living in Newark for over 30 years we know we did make the right decision.  The rewards have been well worth it and life took a turn we never expected.

A leap of faith in its most commonly used meaning is th act of believing or accepting something intangible or unprovable or without evidence. 

We are now going to watch a clip from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.  The film culminates in Indie having to pass 3 tests in order to get to the Holy Grail.  The first test is about the Breath of God and the penitent man.  Indie has to kneel before God.  The second test is to proceed in the footsteps of the Word of God and the third test is the Path of God – only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth. 

Throughout our lives it may be necessary for us to take a leap of faith, trusting in someone or something knowing that when we make that leap it is for the right reasons and the correct outcome will be our reward, but its not just about the leap but faith itself.

When preparing for today, I looked up the definition of the word faith.  In the Oxford English Dictionary it is defined as –

  1. A complete trust or confidence in someone or something
  2. A strong belief in the teachings of a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof

For me these definitions are 2 sides of the same coin.  Both show a faith in something or someone that cannot be explained or proved why we feel as we do.

People sometimes express surprise when they find out I go to Church and have a strong belief in God. Perhaps I don’t fit into the box of what people expect a  Christian to act or look like.  They ask me why I come to Church and what I get out of it.  When you are trying to explain to someone who does not have the same level of conviction as you it is difficult to put this across.  It’s a very personal thing and people believe in God and go to Church for all sorts of different reasons.  For me its about inner peace, faith, trying to see the best in people and doing the right thing.  As the definition of faith says it is a complete trust in someone or something.  I have that faith in God.

There was a period in my life when work was extremely stressful.  I was full of self doubt and my self confidence was at a low point.  I wondered why I had chosen to put myself through it and I prayed to God to show me.  It was during this time that I started to come to Church.  Was it divine intervention that just at the point I needed something, Mark and Deborah asked me to come along to this Church? I don’t know but I am a strong believer that things happen for a reason.  By renewing my faith it became stronger and my belief in myself grew.  I realised that if I put my mind to do something I could do it.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  I believe that as a result of my new found faith at that point in my life, it made me do things I would have tried before and I have grown as a person. 

Faith is a sacred, deep, emotionally involved kind of trust.  Faith is the kind of trust that you enter into with your whole being.  Faith is the kind of trust that, when it has been broken, it hurts deep inside ….. but faith is the kind of trust that finds a way to trust again despite the hurt.  We are all people of faith.  Faith is a basic aspect of human nature. 

In the bible the continuing theme is faith.  People’s faith being tested and faith being rewarded.

In Genesis Chapter 12 we see Abraham putting his complete faith in God when he is asked to leave his country, his family and his father’s home ad head off to an unknown destination and again when God instructs Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac.  All the time God was testing Abraham and as a result of this by the end of his lifetime Abraham had learned to trust in God no matter what.  This must have been his reward for his leap of faith.

And again in the book of Ruth when Ruth refuses to leave Naomi and go back home.  Ruth says, wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live, I will live.  Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.  Ruth committed her life to God no matter where it took her showing loyalty, resilience and complete faith in knowing she was doing the right thing.

In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks greater understanding of God.  Faith is not a simple obedience to a set of rules or statements.  Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith.  Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the church, the scriptures and on the personal experiences of the believer.  In English transactions of the New Testament, the word ‘faith’ generally corresponds to the Greek noun pistis or to the Greek verb pisteuo, meaning ‘to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure’.  I have tried to live my life using these qualities and have instilled in my children these principles.  My experience of people is that if you put your faith in them, they themselves will grow in confidence and self belief and their faith will grow stronger – whether that is in a religious sense or not.  It’s the same with your own faith in God, the more you work at it, the stronger it will become.

This church and fellowship is not just a collection of people who share beliefs but a community of people who have made a commitment to trust one another, to care for each other and who join together for a faith filled purpose and by doing this we all gain strength from it. 

We will now sing There’s a Quiet Understanding

There’s a quiet understanding

when we’re gathered in the Spirit,

It’s a promise that he gives us,

When we gather in his name.

There’s a love we feel in Jesus,

There’s a manna that he feeds us,

It’s a promise that he gives us

When we gather in his name.

And we know when we’re together,

sharing love and understanding,

That our brothers and our sisters

feel the oneness that he brings.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus,

for the way you love and feed us,

For the many ways you lead us,

Thank you, thank you, Lord.

I would like to finish with a poem.  It sums up for me how important it is to work at our faith even when it seems difficult.

Faith Like Muscle – by Raymond A Foss

Like living growing muscle

So is our faith

Growing by us, by testing,

By struggle and strain

In the doing, in the living,

In the joy of the race

Not on the sideline

Believing is seeing

Doing is believing

We will end by saying the grace to each other ….

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