We were welcomed and called to worship by Jonathan: Welcome to this holy place as we meet to worship God, to sing His praises and to pray and share fellowship with each other.
Hymn TIS 142 "Glory be to God the Father" To The Lord to whom we owe all! The Eternal King: The one who heals us and makes us whole: Glory, blessing, praise eternal.
Psalm 82 An appeal for justice for those who lack the ability to defend themselves against the greedy: an appeal for help for those lacking the knowledge and understanding to find their own way.
Talk about George Matheson writer of the next two hymn. Jonathan told us about this man who became blind at the age of eighteen but still completed his university studies and theological degree and was ordained in 1866. He was awarded an honorary DD by Edinburgh University, in the locality of which, he had a reputation for very effective preaching and evocative prayers. His fiancé ended their engagement citing his blindness as her reason, which gave the inspiration for Hymn TIS 602. He said it was though the words were being dictated to him and flowed off his pen.
Hymn TIS 602 "O Love that wilt not let me go" Each verse with the same theme: surrendering ourselves to He who is Love, Light and Joy.
Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and Confession Led by Jonathan we prayed to our most wonderful God: A prayer acknowledging God as the source of all that is good about human behaviour, asking that, during worship we should be kept free from wanderings of mind and coldness of heart and that we be given a deep longing for truth..."may know you, embrace you, and worship you in the incarnate life of our Saviour, Jesus Christ."
Jonathan then led us in thanksgiving to God who has loved us forever and whose love will continue forever. We gave thanks for God's mercy, which endures forever, evidenced by Jesus' sacrifice for us and the work of comfort and enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. Following Jonathan, we confessed our blindness, our pride, our selfishness, our self righteousness, our callousness, our defiance, our evasion and our coldness that prevent the steps towards repentance. God be merciful to us.
Jonathan then proclaimed the Good News that God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our sins are forgiven.
Hymn TIS 604 "Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free". An appeal for God to take control of our lives to free us from our many weaknesses.
Readings: Colossians 1: 1 - 14. A letter thanking (Him) who has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son. Giving praise for God's work amongst the Colossians (us?) and the fruit their (our) lives were (are) bearing in the world.
Luke 10: 25 - 37. An account of an unlikely saviour. The very person we would expect to pass the injured man by, was the very one to give aid. And those who professed to follow the rule God, did nothing and pretended not to notice. Hmmm. Could this be something we professing Christians should be listening to?
SERMON: The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jonathan began by explaining the geography of the road. A drop of 3600 feet in the 20 miles from Jerusalem down to Jericho. Imagine the twists and turns. A happy hunting grounds for robbers. Jonathan then told the story of the God Samaritan, explaining first the hierarchy of the Temple, starting with the High Priest then the Chief Priests (200) and then the Ordinary Priests (7000). These were exclusive, hereditary positions - these were elite people. The Ordinary Priests mostly lived outside Jerusalem, which explained their presence on this road. So after the man was attacked, robbed and left by the robbers a priest and a Levi (a priestly tribe) both walked past without helping, afraid to get involved but then the Samaritan came and stopped and helped. The Samaritans were regarded as unclean by the Jews and were outcasts. A Samaritan could not expect help from a Jew, but knowing this, this Samaritan stopped and gave aid. This story was told in answer to a question that was meant to challenge Jesus. Who is my neighbour? The man of the law that asked this question was then asked who the neighbour in this story was and he correctly identified the Samaritan.
This leaves us no excuses. Everyone is our neighbour, regardless of nationality, class or religion. And our help should not just be good wishes, we should act.
Hymn TIS 629 "When I needed a neighbour, were you there" The message may have not been so clear up until now but now it's as clear as crystal. We were challenged to be a good neighbour to all, earlier but now the message has become one we can't turn from. It seems that by giving help to a neighbour we are helping The Lord. And by neglecting our neighbour, we are neglecting The Lord. No further comment needed.
Offerings were given as a token of our commitment and our loyalty to God's cause.
Prayers of the People Jonathan led us in prayers for those in need, for humility to accept the ups and downs of life, and the fortitude to endure those things that come our way. He prayed for the broken and divided world; for peace and for obedience to God's law. Jonathan prayed that the Spirit of love will rule our lives and that God will guide us. We then joined together in The Lord's Prayer.
Hymn TIS 233 "I will sing the wondrous story" I was lost; faint; in darkness; distressed.
But He has "raised me up and gently led me back into the narrow way"
"May the Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, give us grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and to proclaim the word and works of God.
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be on us and remain with us always.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
I will be away for one week, perhaps two, but look forward to writing again after that.