Hymn TiS 135 (Inspired by Psalm 103) “Praise my soul, the King of Heaven” by Henry F. Lyte
Angels, help us to adore him, you behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him, dwellers all in time and space:
praise him, praise him, hallelujah, praise with us the God of grace!
Announcements: An invitation to a “Pancake Day” morning tea after church today was a fitting time for Stephen to invite us all, to once again participate in the “Lent Event” with reflection, sacrifice and prayer.
Prayers of Adoration & Confession: A silent time for our personal confessions was followed by a shared prayer for forgiveness of our sins of greed selfishness and indifference and a plea for us to learn how to reflect God’s image in our lives. Once again we were assured of His forgiveness.
Offering & Dedication: Shirley, Elaine and two of our beautiful children took the offering and Hugh blessed, the givers, the gifts and the children.
Men’s Quartet: What a joy to have Hugh join with Stephen, Grahame and Malcolm to sing “Rock of Ages” in perfect harmony with the help of Mavis on the piano.
Children’s Address: Hugh told the “Parable of the Pencil” with a short video. This simple story likened us to pencils with God as the pencil maker. Yes, the best part of us is inside; we do make a mark as we touch the lives of others and we do make mistakes but they can be erased. We do need to be sharpened from time to time and no matter what - we must keep on writing!
Hymn: I’ve got peace like a river - (Negro Spiritual) With time beginning to defeat us, we did not sing this lovely song, however the message is short enough to convey to our blog readers.
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul. I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul. Don’t these word pictures make us feel God’s mercies flowing through us?
Bible readings Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 9 - 18 Acts 20: 7 – 12
Our Bible passages this morning were read for us by Joan. The first reading plainly set out God’s expectations that we should be holy because He is holy and then the passage presents “the rules”.
The second reading told a short story which I discovered later was little known by a number of us in church this morning. However, Hugh’s reflection will keep the story in our minds in the future.
Reflection: “Eutychus Project”
Through a “parable” about a man praying for many years for God to give him the power to change the world, we were reminded by Hugh that salvation does not in itself bring about dramatic changes in our lives. It was not until, as an old man he realized that he should have prayed; “God, I tried to change the world; I tried to change my neighbourhood; I tried to change my own family. But I failed all. God, I humbly pray to you now. Please……. change me. Change me first.”
For many people, change is a life-long process that is not easily recognizable. “Rather, I believe disciples are made, not born. I believe real believers are made, not born,” Hugh said as he mentioned some people whose changed lives brought about great changes to the lives of people across the world. Notably William Wilberforce in England; Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King Junior in USA.
“Above all, not just we, but all humanity sees it in the life of Jesus Christ 21 centuries ago.”
Hugh was right when he told us we live in an age of "word processing" where we end up not trusting words or putting the correct weight on what is said. Do we raise a skeptical eyebrow when a politician gives a speech? Are we living in a human culture of mistrust?
“I believe this is what had happened in the garden of Eden in the book of Genesis.
In the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 1l, virtually everyone did not trust the words of each other. Everyone lied except God. And this is a serious problem we have in this world as a church. Bankers have capital; doctors have medicines; farmers have seed and soil; soldiers have guns; and we, Christians, have words. Words. Prayer words, sermon words, words of hope, words of pardon, words of praise.”
In the story in Acts chapter 20 we learned about Paul’s sense of urgency when he and his team were ready to leave the city of Troas after one week. He spoke for many hours on the last evening which was Saturday, continuing to speak those words until midnight. He spoke for so long that some of the people may have become very tired and even dropped off to sleep.
I must admit that I do not remember ever having heard before, that a young man called ‘Eutychus’ fell off the window upstairs while Paul was preaching, and he was found dead on the ground. Paul hurried down and he held him in his arms and said to the people. “He is not dead. He is alive.”
We were amused by Hugh’s comment that he had heard this story used by preachers as some kind of ‘divine threat’ to those who are sleepy during the worship, especially in the sermon. Maybe I had slept through this story before!
The Greek name Eutychus literally means ‘a freed man’. It means, people with that name basically came from slave backgrounds and were not high on the social scale. Did Eutychus attend the “believer’s meeting” out of curiosity, or did he perhaps get wind that a meal would be served? Perhaps he was tired because he had been working hard all day. Whatever happened, Hugh stressed that his dramatic fall from the window changed the whole atmosphere of the church.
Hugh calls this passage the “Eutychus Project” and believes that if we look carefully at the way the church at Troas responded to this lowly person we can find ways to change the way we do things in our church today. Going back to the words which are important – we were told that when Paul was teaching the people before Eutychus fell, the Greek word “dielevgeto”, meaning ‘teach or preach’ was used, but after the fall the word ‘omileo’, which means ‘a very friendly talk’ was used.
The reading says, “Paul stopped his teaching and ran down and held him in his arms, and he went back upstairs, broke bread, and ate. After talking with them for a long time, even until sunrise, Paul left” and the congregation took the young man home and looked after him and we learn that something beautiful and miraculous took place in their congregational life and we too can learn to follow Jesus and love others as He loved us. We can teach and preach and we can talk as friends.
“Only then, will we survive and flourish. The question Hugh asked us … “Who is a Eutychus today in your life, in your work, and in your church?” We must open our doors and open our arms to all.
Hymn TiS 411 “Filled with the Spirit’s power”
This is a relatively “modern” hymn written in 1967 by John Raphael Peacey after he retired from working as a missionary in India. No doubt this work often showed how genuine love and Christian service is able to "embrace the people of all lands and every race." Is a motivating hymn to encourage us to see and enable the Holy Spirit to; “Like wind and fire with life among us move till we are known as Christ’s and Christians prove.”
Prayers of Intercession: Marcia asked that we approach God with worship and reverence and prayed for those parts of the world in turmoil, for people everywhere who need comfort in despair and for people who grieve. We prayed for the needs of people we know and joined together in the Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TiS 217 “Love Divine all loves excelling”
There is nothing like a Charles Wesley Hymn to finish our worship - with Grahame playing the organ, Malcolm adding to the joy with the piano and everyone singing with enthusiasm!
Finish then thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be, let us see thy great salvation,
perfectly restored in thee: Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.
The Benediction & Blessing We were blessed and told, “Go into the world as God’s People”. Amen.