Home Service 34

Home Service: Sunday 1 November 2020 ~ ‘Drawing the Line’ ~ Compiled by Peter Ratcliffe

Welcome to this Home Service.
I’m writing this during the first week since the clocks went back an hour, heralding the arrival of darker evenings, cold nights and frosty mornings.
A line has been drawn under the months of Summer 2020 which in many ways could be described as the Summer of discontent! No one could have known back in March when the Covid pandemic began, that in November we would still be governed by strict, difficult arrangements and having to learn to live with the uncertainties that go with them. Like many, I long for the day we can draw a line under Covid 19 and see life return to some kind of normality. With so much uncertainty surrounding us, let us pray boldly, not timidly, to our God whose love for us is immeasurable, unrestricted, and showers us daily with grace and strength.

Prayer
Dear God, Even in the quietness of our own space, our hearts cry out to you.
We ask you to fill us with the reassurance of your love for us. Help us to draw a line under doubt, worry and fear of the future. Help us to trust in your Son, the Lord Jesus who took all our sin to the cross, died, and rose again so that we too may live. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen!

Let us reflect upon an old hymn, my favourite in fact, that puts into words the solid foundation that is our God of eternity. Who was! Who is!! and Who is to come!!!
Song

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, holy, holy merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy; all the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the
glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy; though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity!,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and
sea;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Many worship songs are written appropriately to help us through times of uncertainty. Let us prayerfully think of these words which have been a source of comfort to many people and are good for the times that we’re going through.

Song

Faithful One, so unchanging,
Ageless One, you’re my rock of peace,
Lord of all, I depend on You,
I call out to you,
Again and again,
I call out to you,
Again and again
You are my rock in times of trouble,
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm, Your love is
The anchor, my hope is in you alone.

Let us pause and think of the words of these two songs . . . . Do you long for the days when we can sing hymns and songs like these again? Music and songs like these really can help us to feel reassured and can help us to draw a line under worries and anxieties and help us to move on in life. It’s very easy to sing songs like these when we’re feeling good and we’re all together, but during our own personal storms of life, alone, we may not feel like singing. Yet scripture implores us to ‘sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord’. In the Psalms we frequently hear David ‘crying out to God’, sometimes in a fearful sense, other times maybe due to personal failure.

Prayer
Let’s pray together . . .
What is on your heart?
Be bold and say it out loud!
Be still and know that God loves and protects you!
Breathe deeply. Feel His love driving out fear.
Hold on to that feeling of God’s love for you, and consider these
words:
Song

Such love, pure as the whitest snow
Such love, weeps for the shame I know
Such love, paying the debt I owe
O Jesus, such love
Such love, stilling my restlessness
Such love, filling my emptiness
Such love, showing me holiness
O Jesus, such love
Such love, springs from eternity
Such love, streaming through history
Such love, fountain of life to me
O Jesus, such love

Reading: The Bible reading today is from John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verses 1 – 14
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Reflection
For me, this has always been a favourite chapter. Not because it’s particularly great or dramatic, but because it shows that the disciples’ were subject to anxiety and vulnerability just as much as we are today. Can you feel how edgy they are? “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going,” “How can we know the way,” “Lord, show us the Father,” and I imagine they had many other questions rushing through their troubled minds, ‘Why is all this happening now?’, What does he mean by going away and then coming back again?’, ‘What’s going to happen next?’. Back in March, because of the increasing Covid 19 pandemic, the Prime Minister announced the national lockdown. The following morning the manager of the printing company I work for called us all together and said, ‘as of last night, things are now going to be different’. It was as though a thick black line had been drawn across the whole of life. Yesterday you could do whatever you wanted!
Tomorrow, normal life will be on pause for as long as it takes! In our scripture passage and indeed the chapters either side, Jesus is drawing the line for his disciples, but it isn’t a very discernable line. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer”, “Where I am going now you cannot follow now, but you will follow later”, “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room in my Father’s house”. Not surprisingly, the disciples didn’t really understand what Jesus meant by any of these comments. Only after Jesus’ death and
resurrection would the truth become clear. By tradition on the first Sunday of the month, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper will be held in many churches. This is not easily done in paper format, or by post and even online the sentiment of being together is not easily achieved. So please take this moment to quieten your heart and remember what Jesus did for all of us. In the quietness, you may like to ask Jesus for anything: To feel forgiven.
To feel blessed by his presence. To be reassured that he has his hand on the future. You also may like to bring before Jesus, the names of people you
would like him to bless in a special way.

Prayer
Lord Jesus we bring before you . . . . Lord Jesus, may all of us be ever more aware of your living presence surrounding us every hour. May the assurance of your love for us be the comfort we cling to and give us the strength to offer that comfort to others. Amen!

Song

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song…
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
This is my story, this is my song…

To end today’s service, I was reminded of a poem called ‘Crossing the Bar’, by Alfred Lord Tennyson in which he describes life’s final journey.
Tennyson is believed to have written the poem while on the sea, crossing the Solent to the Isle of Wight. “The words”, he said, “came in a moment”.
Shortly before he died, Tennyson told his son Hallam to “put ‘Crossing the Bar’ at the end of all editions of my poems”. I’ve always found the words of this poem reassuring. We may draw many lines underneath our actions
throughout our lives, decisions, regrets, hopes and dreams never fully realised. But have we the faith to cross those lines and follow our Lord’s commands. In John 14 v 12, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. (v13) And I will do whatever you
ask in my name.”

Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

May God bless you and be gracious to you. Amen!
Peter Ratcliffe