Home Service 5

Home Service: Sunday 31 January 2021

This is the last day of the first month of the year. Time is passing and it won’t be long before we will see snowdrops appearing. For some Christians Tuesday (2 Feb) is the last day of the Christmas season and for some it is ‘Candlemas’. We may give significance to some days and dates, but God deserves our worship every day. Let us come to Him, thankful that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.”

Prayer
Father, thank you for all that you have given us in Jesus. We turn to you in these moments. We give this time to you. We open our hearts and minds to you. As we reach out for you, may we know your presence and find your peace. Amen

A call to praise
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, there is an account of an occasion when God’s people came together to worship. In chapter 9 we read, ‘The … Levites gave a call to worship… They said: “Stand up and praise the LORD your God; praise him forever and ever! Let everyone praise his glorious name, although
no human praise is great enough.”

And then the people of Israel prayed this prayer: “You, LORD, you alone are LORD; you made the heavens and the stars of the sky. You made land and sea and everything in them; you gave life to all. The heavenly powers bow down and worship you.”

Let us offer our praise as we sing along to this recording or ‘make music in our hearts’.

Song

God of glory, we exalt Your name
You who reign in majesty
We lift our hearts to You
And we will worship, praise and magnify Your
holy name.
In power resplendent You reign in glory
Eternal King, You reign forever
Your word is mighty releasing captives
Your love is gracious, You are my God

Prayer
Forgive us Father if we forget, that you are God of glory, the Almighty, the Lord of all. You set the stars in space. You made all things and pronounced them ‘good’. You reign in glory unimaginable, yet you desire to live in our hearts. You alone are worthy to be worshipped – honoured – adored. May Your Spirit inspire and renew us. Praise you Lord. Amen

Charles Wesley wrote the words in this next expression of praise. It is said that the original version of the hymn had 18 verses and what we know as the first verse was actually verse number seven. Wesley so wanted to praise God he the verses kept coming! Let’s join in the great chorus of praise Wesley imagined. If you sing along to the video, you may be relieved to know this version has just five verses!

Song

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
Jesus! the Name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.
He speaks, and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.
Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy. My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the world abroad
The honours of Thy name.

Wonderful things can happen when we accept Jesus as our ‘dear Redeemer’ and it is the gift of our Saviour, the ‘Light of the World’, that is recognised in the celebration of ‘Candlemas’. The occasion also marks the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son. This is how Luke recorded the events.

Luke 2:22-35

The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.” They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord. At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:
“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light to reveal your will to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things
Simeon said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

Simeon recognised what a wonderful event they were witnessing and saw that the child before them was God in human form. As we give thanks, let us pray that we too may see and marvel at His gift to us.

Song

Light of the world You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see beauty
that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me
King of all days, Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor
Here I am to worship… Well, I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.

Take some moments to be thankful and perhaps express thanks aloud.

Prayer
Thank you, Father for all You have given us, especially for the gift of Jesus. For the beauty and wonders of creation. For joys and health. For friends and family. For daily provision. For your mercy and care. Thank you, Father for… …receive our thanks. Amen

We may trust in God’s unchanging love for us. He is the same at all times of every day. This song refers to His abiding presence in all areas of life.

Song

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day. 
Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.
Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, Your arms to embrace.
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Now let us pause to bring our prayers for the needs and concerns we have.

Prayer
Father, we know of many needs and troubles. We have concerns for ourselves, those close to us and many in the world around us. Jesus has taught us to share our cares and fears with you. So we bring to you now ….

Lord’s Prayer
Hear the familiar words in a sung version, or in the stillness, recite the words yourself.

Reflection: Fear, or … fear?
(Thank you to Fay for sharing these thoughts with us)
Can I share some thoughts with you? Do you remember the Wimbledon ladies’ tennis singles final when
Sabine Lisicki, the favourite to win, ‘choked’? She just could not raise her game to win the victory that was hers for the taking. Nerves, fear? Probably. What do you think of when you see/hear the word ‘fear’?
Perhaps one of the most famous comments about fear is this: Franklin D. Roosevelt at his first Inaugural Address in 1933 [in the middle of the Great Depression]:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Soldiers in battle sometimes experience this fear, performers with stage fright, and indeed sports men and women! But fear doesn’t just mean fright – look at these – they are two early examples of the use of ‘fear’ in the NIV:

Genesis 32:7
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well.

Genesis 20:11
Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ The meaning intended in the first is clear: it’s linked with distress, that gives us a clue. Jacob was scared.

In the second, the meaning can most easily be understood as ‘awe’: it describes an attitude towards God, His power and other attributes. But does it inevitably engender worship? Could the answer to this depend partly on our own choices? Do we see a threat, or security? Do we want to run, or worship?
From my journal scribblings:
What does fear do? Depends …
FEAR
Awe
Not afraid
Wonder
I am loved
Trust
Come boldly into God’s presence
Open up to God

FEAR
Awe
Afraid
Terror – threat
Hide
Distrust
Can’t face – avoid, hide, run
Close down

Both, I believe, acknowledge the supremacy of God, but only one is the experience of a person who places him/herself into God’s hands: grace and redemption. The other leads to judgement. There is good news, though – literally – God forgives and restores; He always has done … look at the history of Israel.
From Isaiah 43 – God is speaking to Israel in the first instance, but I believe this applies to all who love Him:
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;     I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour; …. Look at our own lives, our priorities, our experiences of the Living God … Do I fear God?
Yes.
Am I afraid?
Bottom line? No.

<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>

Out last song proclaims the goodness and power of our God. It calls us to continue our songs of praise and have complete trust in Him.

Song


My lips shall praise You, my great Redeemer;
My heart will worship Almighty Saviour.
You take all my guilt away,
Turn the darkest night to brightest day,
You are the restorer of my soul.
My lips shall praise You, my great Redeemer;
My heart will worship Almighty Saviour.
Love that conquers every fear,
In the midst of trouble You draw near,
You are the restorer of my soul.
My lips shall praise You, my great Redeemer;
My heart will worship Almighty Saviour.
You’re the source of happiness,
Bringing peace when I am in distress,
You are the restorer of my soul.
My lips shall praise You, my great Redeemer;
My heart will worship Almighty Saviour.

A blessing
Eternal God, our beginning and our end, accompany us in our life’s journey this day. Open our eyes to see the wonders of your love, the way you want us to go and the people you want us to be. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.