Home Service 10

Home Service: Sunday 7th March 2021

Thank you for joining our time of worship and reflection this morning. I hope you are all well. Let’s begin with a song which is a call to worship.

Song: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord


Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see you,
I want to see you.
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see you,
I want to see you.
To see you high and lifted up
Shining in the light of your glory
Pour out your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy.
Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy,
Holy, holy, holy,
I want to see you.

We have been singing about our desire to see the Lord. As we are all individuals we surely all “see” Him in a different ways:
some will in their mind’s eye see Him as the loving Father, reaching out his hand; some as the Friend and Brother, with whom we can share our lives and experiences; some as the Spirit who inspires, comforts and advises. All of these ways of seeing God reflect His multifaceted nature, sometimes described as the Trinity. But just for the moment let’s see Him as “high and lifted up.” Not because He is remote or even threatening, but because He is our God.

He is the God who creates and sustains the whole universe: how great is that?
He is the God who loves and cares for each and every one: how amazing is that?
He is the God who has saved us for all time: how gracious is that?

Spend just a little time seeing and appreciating God in His true glory.

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And in His power He is able to act for us. As we continue in prayer let us bring to Him some of our present concerns, for others and for ourselves.

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Our reading this morning is one more commonly associated with the Easter, but perhaps we could look at it from another angle this morning.
Bible Reading: Luke 24:13-35 (NIV)
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with
each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and
our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Reflection:
Would you join me for a little while in thinking about learning? This is maybe not a surprising question from a teacher, who spends a lot of time thinking about learning methods, learning styles and learning opportunities. Learning could probably be described as acquiring knowledge, insight and skills which enable someone to carry out their work or profession, to have hobbies or pastimes, to live in a practical sense and finally to have an understanding of themselves, the world and other people. Jesus is often referred to in the Bible as “teacher” or rabbi. Certainly many of the things recorded in the gospels show him trying to impart
“knowledge, insight and skills” to those he encountered, whether through the more formal speech of, say, the sermon on the mount
(Matthew 5), telling stories (the many parables), passing observations (the fields are white unto harvest – John 4) or just in the many conversational interactions he had with people. When did you first start to learn about God? Perhaps you grew up in a household where God was as much a part of your lives as a member of the family. Maybe the only mention you heard of “God” was as an exclamation or even expletive. Between these two extremes I would guess that most people would at least have picked
up an idea either that God exists or doesn’t, that he is important or irrelevant – in short, you would have heard of Him fairly early in life. How that knowledge developed over time would have depended on your life experiences and how much you wanted to know. In our reading the two who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus knew a lot about both the events of the recent days but also about the scriptures which talked about “the one who would redeem Israel.” Jesus built on that knowledge about God and his purposes as he spoke to them. They had both studied and had real life experience of God. To think about for a moment:
As believers or serious seekers, what ways and means can we use to find out about God – what He is really like and how He really acts?

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You might like to stand up to sing the next hymn!
Hymn: And can it be?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’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?

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!

‘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 quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
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 the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own

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But of course God does not want us just to know about him. I was thinking about the idea of learning from God as well. This awareness that even the “first born seraphs” cannot understand who God really is and how he really acts makes it somehow even more necessary that we add another layer to our learning. God meets us so that we can learn directly from Him. The story we have
read from Luke’s gospel shows Jesus teaching, explaining and enlightening, both in words and in his actions (verse 30), giving
information and meaning which transforms their lives. Another question to consider for yourself: What are some of the ways in which you learn from God?

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The last point is learning with God. This seems an odd concept: God is omniscient (knows everything) – He isn’t still learning, is He? But in verses 17 and 19 of this reading, Jesus is asking questions of the two disciples – “what are you discussing?” “What things?” Surely Jesus knew the answers to these questions before he asked – why did he ask? It seems that Jesus frequently asked people questions. Some were rhetorical, but others you would have thought he would have known the answer before he asked:
“Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5.30) “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4.7) “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10.51) “Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9.20) “Do you love me?” (John 21, 15 – 17) While perhaps with these questions Jesus seemed to be looking for information or action, maybe he designed them to help those who were on the receiving end to think, consider, even learn something new about God, themselves or the world.

One last thing to think about: Has God ever asked you a question? What did you learn from that exchange? We will hopefully learn about God for the rest of our days (and beyond). Our final hymn talks about some of the things we know and some which
we don’t. But through it all we have that great assurance of God’s love for us and for the world.

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Hymn: I cannot tell


I cannot tell, how he whom angels worship,
Should set his love upon the sons of men,
Or why as shepherd he should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know that he was born of Mary,
When Bethlehem’s manger was his only home
And that he lived at Nazareth and laboured
And so the saviour, saviour of the world is come.
I cannot tell how silently he suffered,
As with his peace he graced this place of tears,
Or how his heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know he heals the broken-hearted
And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the saviour, saviour of the world is here.

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Blessing: (Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:17-19) And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.

To Him be the glory!