Each time I reflect on a service I try to give emphasis to a different part because the restriction in the length means I can't pay proper attention to every part every time.
Call to Worship (B. J. Beu, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)
Rev. John began by drawing our attention to God’s support for us in everything we do or in which we are involved. Life throws up many obstacles, sometimes one after another, and it is only with God’s help that we can continue.
Hymn TIS 123 “Be still my soul: The Lord is on your side”. With this hymn the theme continued. However, it speaks of keeping our hope in dark times, as though they are a contradiction in a faithful life. But life happens, whether we walk with God or not. But if we keep our hand in God’s hand, the dark times will be easier to live through.
Gracious God, we come this day, to present our minds and bodies to you as a holy and
living sacrifice. This was the first sentence of the prayer. But is seems to me that when we
give our lives wholly to God, we get a much better deal than if we try to keep control of all or part of it ourselves.
A Prayer of Confession
merciful God, wash away the injuries we have inflicted upon one another.
When we have made lives bitter through word or deed, forgive us in your mercy.
When we have ignored the plight of others through ignorance or wilful neglect, reclaim us in your grace. Restore us to your path of love and compassion, that we may bathe in the waters of your compassion and love. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, the weight of the world would have crushed us by now. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, the weight of our lives would have drowned us by now. Thanks be to God who is on our side, and who rescues us from forces that seek our undoing. In Christ Jesus, we are set free and made whole again.
Thanks, be to God!
Having made our peace with God, we offered the sign of peace to each other.
It always interests me that we label this part of the service “the offering” when many people offer much more to the building of God’s kingdom in other ways than they do through the collection plate. Our all. That's all God is asking for.
Hymn TIS 467: “I am the church! You are the church!” It's good to remember this. It prevents that “They should” mentality.
The Service of the Word
Carolyn began this section of the service with readings from Exodus 1:8-2:10; Romans 12:1-8; and Matthew16: 13-20.
Exodus 1:8 The first reading is the well known story of how Moses survived a purge of Hebrew baby boys and came to be treated as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ mother trusted God to protect her and her son.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
This first sentence really covered all that followed. Let God steer. It's safer and more sensible.
Matthew 16: 13-20.
‘But who do you say that I am?’ Time to show where we stand.
Preaching of the Word
The Secret - Matthew 16: 13-20
I have selected a few sentences out of John’s sermon. Today he delivered a very complex theological message about why Jesus would want to keep his identity a secret, but I have chosen just one thought that stood out for me.
Peter is the first disciple to recognize that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the first to discover that this man he knows so well is the one anointed by God. In this moment Peter stands for the whole church again.
With the outcome that we too shine as the light of Christ and we will not keep the Messiah a secret. Why! Because the world where we spend our days, still waits for him and that world is dying to meet him – and they will meet him through us.
Remember the thoughts from the beginning of the service that Life is tough and we can only get through it with God by our side.
Hymn TIS 440: “Christ from whom all blessings flow” The blessings aren't just a way of making it through life. We become more like Christ; We become part of his body. We become what we were created to be.
Music to lead us to prayer while we thought our own thoughts.
Intercessory Prayers led by Wendy Wendy addressed Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, asking that our prayers be heard. She called for safety and security everywhere but particularly for those people living in the midst of war. She asked that God change leaders who seek to dominate that they will embrace love; that people everywhere will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and proclaim his gospel. She asked that the Spirit will lead us in love for God and each other. We joined in the Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TIS 446: “Glorious things of you are spoken” This hymn summed up all the thoughts we had had so far.
Blessed are you who resist the forces of death and destruction. Blessed are you who respond to the cries of the weak and the helpless. Blessed are you who build the kingdom of God with your love and compassion. Blessed are you who seek first what is right and honourable and true. And the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always Amen
Hymn 779: “May the feet of God walk with you,”