We were warmly welcomed as was our guest minister, Robyn, and the notices given out, after which The Call to Worship reminded us that the magnificence of God's creation needs no words, for it speaks for itself and that just as we harmonise our daily life with the sun's journey across the sky, so we should harmonise our lives in accordance with God's laws which revive the soul and give wisdom and joy.
In preparation for the service ahead we prayed that our words and meditations would be acceptable in God's sight.
Hymn 114 "Thank you for giving me the morning" is a simple hymn but awakened us to the need to be grateful for all the good things that come to us each day, not to take them for granted and to say "thank you" for them.
In The Children's Talk, Robyn talked about the various functions of the tongue, finally emphasising the power of speech and it's capacity for good or damage, reminding us to be careful how we used this gift.
Hymn 70 " All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small," extended our opportunity to appreciate all the gifts of God we have to share - none of them will afford us any status in the world - they belong to us all, but they can enrich our lives in a way no bought item can, especially when we focus on how wonderful each gift is.
Terry delivered The Reading, James 3: 1-12 warning us about the difficulty of controlling our speech and introduced the idea that our speech controls our actions and that if we can control our speech, we can control our lives. From this followed the idea that from some small thing said a huge problem can explode (a moment on the lips...) and that as our words can be for good or evil, we should be careful with our words.
A Prayer of Adoration and Confession followed, led by Robyn, which praised God for the gift of words and our ability to manipulate them, confessed that we didn't always use them to draw people together and prayed that God and His Word would come to us and mould us in a way that when we speak it will be God's word that is heard.
We were then given the Assurance that we are forgiven and can be at peace.
Hymn 430 "Yours words to me are life and health"
light and truth
full of joy
perfected in one yourself the living word.
Not too hard to work out where we should be looking for guidance.
The Message was given by Robyn who reiterated the theme of the reading that speech could be used for good or evil, pointing out that the power of speech is one of the greatest powers that God has given us and yet we take it for granted. She pointed out that James was warning people against becoming teachers and suggested they were impressed with the authority and prestige of the office and had forgotten about the tremendous responsibility and accountability involved: that those who teach the word face stricter judgement.
She added that every Christian must admit that while we stumble in many ways, the sins of the tongue seem to head the list. This means speech, as both the bit and the rudder, must be kept under control, because of the effect it can have on others but that under the control of God, we have safety.
Robyn referred to James' suggestion that all life is connected like a wheel and therefore we cannot keep things from spreading (Facebook and Twitter) not to mention ordinary gossip and legitimate media). Apologies can be made but the damage takes a long time to heal.
Yes the smallest but largest troublemaker in the world is the tongue but it doesn't have to be - God can use our tongues to direct others into the way of life.
In my experience, it is so easy to say the wrong thing if we are not watchful. Some think it's their duty to correct the behaviour of others - that's God's job not ours.
On other occasions, and this is where I have slipped up - intending to make a joke, then using the wrong tone or hitting a sensitive point - it's all so easy. And that's just two for starters. May the words of our mouths...
Hymn 520. "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee." a surrender of all we are and all we have to the Lord. Such relief!
As a token of this commitment we gave our Freewill Offering with the intention of extending God's kingdom and lightening the load of those around us.
Prayers of the People and the Lord's Prayer, followed where we gave thanks for our ability to gather - to catch up - to share - to inspire - to comfort. We prayed for friends in other places and those with special needs, especially those whose loved ones had passed on recently leaving them feeling of great loss and grief. We prayed for travellers and for strength and wisdom for Helen and the other leaders of Marsden Road Church and that we all will have the courage to try new things and follow them through to completion.
The Benediction was a prayer that the wisdom of God be upon us, filling our lives and we
then turned to each other wishing each other to
Go now in peace, go now in Peace
May the love of God surround you
Everywhere, everywhere you may go.
If only we could have the level of goodwill to others, always. What a world it would be!