Home Service 2

Home Service for Sunday 10 January 2021

Call to worship

Come, let us bow down and worship Him; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)

As we share in this act of worship, please ‘take time to be holy’, as the old hymn says. Let us not be hurried as we spend these moments as children of God in the company of our Heavenly Father. The writer of many worship songs, Graham Kendrick, has said, “Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a
feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let us now deliberately and reverently turn our thoughts to Jesus. As we give Him time and attention, may we be alive to His presence and know His love for us. This first song is all about Him and is an offering of praise we might share with or without music accompaniment.

Song

Jesus is the name we honour;
Jesus is the name we praise.
Majestic Name above all other names,
The highest heaven and earth proclaim
That Jesus is our God.
We will glorify, we will lift Him high,
We will give Him honour and praise.
We will glorify, we will lift Him high,
We will give Him honour and praise.
Jesus is the name we worship;
Jesus is the name we trust.
He is the King above all other kings,
Let all creation stand and sing
That Jesus is our God. We will glorify…
Jesus is the Father’s splendour;
Jesus is the Father’s joy.
He will return to reign in majesty,
And every eye at last shall see
That Jesus is our God. We will glorify…

Let us give thanks in prayer using these words and/or your own.

Prayer

Our heavenly Father may You be glorified in all the earth, for You alone are worthy of our praise.
You are the Creator and giver of life. You looked down on our pitiful world and chose to give Your
beloved Son to be the perfect sacrifice and pay the price for the sins of us all. Our words are never sufficient to praise You for what You have offered to all and given to those who love and trust You. Thank you loving Father, for giving us Jesus. Amen.

One of the songs we may have heard during the Christmas season begins with the question, ‘What child is this?’ Down the ages many have pondered that question about Jesus. Another song that has the same theme and refers to events beyond the wonderful birth of Jesus, was written by Benjamin Hanby. In his short life he was a composer, educator, and pastor. Born in Ohio in 1833, he died at the age of 34. The question ‘Who is He?’ begins each verse and a clear answer is repeated each time. Let us use these words to worship our Lord Jesus and marvel at His ‘wondrous story’.

Song


Who is He in yonder stall at whose feet the shepherds fall?
‘Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! crown Him, Lord of all!
Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?
‘Tis the Lord…
Who is He that stands and weeps at the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
‘Tis the Lord…
Who is He on yonder tree dies in grief and agony? ‘Tis the Lord…
Who is He that from the grave comes to rescue, help and save?
‘Tis the Lord…
Who is He who from His throne sends the Spirit to His own?
‘Tis the Lord…
Who is He who comes again judge of angels and of men.?
‘Tis the Lord…

The writer of the book in the Bible we know as the ‘Letter to the Hebrews’, encouraged his readers not to have the wrong idea about God. Perhaps we too can mistakenly think that God and Jesus are two quite different beings who see us in different lights. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same and Jesus shows us
that God knows us from the inside out. Amazingly, God loves us and wants us to share His life. Because of
Jesus, we may approach God to share the worries, fears and hopes that we carry with us day by day. The following verses are true not just for those Hebrew readers but also for us.

Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God— Jesus, the Son of God. Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. Let us now share with our gracious and merciful God the cares and concerns we may have.

Please use or adapt the following prayer to say what you want to say to God. May we ‘receive mercy and find grace’.

Prayer

Loving Father, We pray for those who are unwell. In your compassion, Father, grant them strength and healing. We pray for all who care for the sick and those who cannot look after themselves, that they may renew their strength in you and be channels of restoration for those who suffer. We pray for all who are anxious about loved ones, friends and neighbours: enable them to trust in you and be steadfast in hope.
We pray for those who weep and mourn, that they may find comfort and hope in you. We pray for all those who feel isolated or alone, that they may experience your loving presence. We pray for all those facing financial hardship that you would support and sustain them. We pray for all in authority who face difficult decisions that affect the lives of many; grant them wisdom and courage. Lord of life, in these trying times for our families, communities, nation and our world, we turn to you. We know that nothing in all creation can separate us from your love made known to us in your Son, Jesus our Lord. We offer our prayers in the name of Him who took our infirmities and bore our diseases, who suffered the cross and rose again triumphant, for he lives and reigns with you, world without end. Amen

This next song also expresses the prayers of many, finding the words that may escape us

Song

Hear our prayer, God above
As we come to you and seek your patient love
Hear our hearts, hear our minds
Hear the echoes of the words we cannot find
Be our hope, be our guide
In our wanderings of weakness break our pride
Not for ease shall we pray
But for strength that we may walk with you this day
So we pray in faith, your will be done
As we long to see your kingdom come
We ask with one voice
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Hear our prayer, faithful one
Shape our yearnings to the gospel of your Son
Free our hearts, free our minds
From the war that sin will wage till you arrive
So we pray in faith…
Be our joy, be our stay
Give us eyes to see you answer prayer this day
Hear us praise all you’ve done
We rejoice as we receive the victory won
So we pray in faith…

Based on the hymn ‘Father, hear the prayer we offer’ (Words: Love M. Willis 1859) Written by © 2014 Greg Cooper (Rhinoceros Music Publishing) & Andrew Judd / CCLI song number: 7033935

Long before Jesus came to live on earth, prophets had been given glimpses of what God planned to do. This reading describes a vision that Isaiah saw concerning God’s people. He could see a time when the world
would recognise God and turn to Him.

Reading: Isaiah 2:1-4 (The Living Translation)
In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

That last image is a tremendous prospect, yet to be realised, but God is working His purposes out and so it is just a matter of time.
‘Plough Sunday’
In that reading, Isaiah mentioned ploughshares. Turning destructive weapons into useful tools is a lovely image of what can happen when we all let God have His way. Ploughs are essential pieces of equipment that most of us have never used or think about but depend upon. Such implements and those who use them, help feed us and so sustain our lives. Today (10 January) is ‘Plough Sunday’. It is not an occasion we Baptists celebrate but the Church of England publishes prayers to mark the occasion. Its observance on the first Sunday of Epiphany goes back to the Victorian age. Behind that is a much longer history. In medieval times some ploughs were kept in parish churches. In some, a ‘plough-light’ was kept burning by, or on behalf of the farmers of the parish. While work was scarce in winter, Plough Sunday looked forward to the season for sowing grain and the promise of a harvest to come. The first Monday after Twelfth Night was the day agricultural workers returned to the land, so on Plough Sunday prayers were said for their year ahead, with blessings on the plough and the seed to be sown. Some not so spiritual customs were also observed on
Plough Monday it seems! More recently, some Christian communities have used the occasion for asking a blessing on human labour at the start of the calendar year and at a time when new academic terms begin.
How relevant is this for us? Work patterns are very different. ‘Labour’ is much more varied, but some kinds are crucial to our welfare. We rely on, should appreciate and uphold those we call ‘key-workers’, but it’s not all about them. A revised version of a well-known harvest hymn begins – We plough the fields with tractors, with drills we sow the land; But growth is still the wondrous gift of God’s almighty hand. We add our fertilizers to help the growing grain; But for its full fruition, it needs God’s sun and rain. All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love. God has promised
‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ (Genesis 8:22) and ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ (Hebrews 14:5) With such wonderful promises to rely on, let us keep thankful and trust in our Lord as we start ploughing!

We conclude with a great old hymn of thankfulness that has been given a modern musical accompaniment in this video.

Song

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills of this world in the next.
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest, who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God, whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

A blessing
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live each day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.