Sunday Worship 7th November 2021

Welcome to this morning's Sunday Worship service, led by Rev Alistair Jones (in church and via Zoom).


We normally worship in church each week and also via Zoom, with a recording of the Zoom meeting published by Monday morning. If you are not currently on our mailing list for Zoom please contact Rev Christine: christineamfox@gmail.com


Click below on the red play button to start this morning's service video.


God Bless x


If you'd like to connect with Grangewood please contact us.

Rev Christine Fox: christineamfox@gmail.com


Thank you to all those who have been part of arranging this week's service.

Below you can find this weeks Message. Click here to find the whole worship sheet.


Message


Reflection: Feeling perfect yet?

Do you think you are perfect?

I have asked that question in many different churches over the last 25 years,

and three people have answered ‘yes’. Once was a joke, once was a lady

who genuinely believed she had never done anything wrong in 85 years, and

one was a man who had ‘returned to life’ after a heart attack, convinced that

he could do no wrong. I knew him well, and he was very wrong!

Yet if we feel complete failures because we get things wrong, and we don’t

always do as we should, then I think we are actually missing the point of what

we have heard read.

 

I think what is important in this passage is that we actually hear all of what

Jesus is saying. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

God, the heavenly Father, loves us all, absolutely. There is nothing we can do

to make God stop loving us, even if we feel unloved. God loves us even if we

stop loving God, if we shout and scream in our prayers, and turn away in our

hearts. God loves us, even if we don’t want that love. It is just the way it is.

 

So, love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, because in that way

we behave like God.

If you only love those who like you, or those who are like you, you aren’t

behaving like God.

I know Jenny, my dearly beloved wife, spoke to you about similar matters

recently, and while I don’t mean to harp on the same theme, it is truly

important for our Christian life, and implicit to our Christian understanding.

 

I am a flawed human being, all too well aware of my imperfections, raised by

parents who were flawed human beings. My father was Welsh – hence

‘Jones’, my mother Scots – hence Alistair, and I was subconsciously educated

to loathe the English. I was around 35 when I realised the reality, about 45

when I started getting over it, and at 61 Jenny will tell you I still have more

work to do! She, of course, is English.

If I didn’t try to get over it, if I simply accepted I was racist, hating people for no

reason other than their birth-place, what sort of Christian would I be?

 

“If you only greet your brothers and sisters” Jesus asked, “what more are you

doing than others?”

Christ calls on us to do more than others, to be more than others, to show in

our Christian love for everyone we meet that God is in our hearts and that

nothing would please us more than for God to be in theirs. So we risk being

thought strange, as we greet everyone with a smile.

 

Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.


Reflection: Making holiness perfect

Making holiness perfect. Oooh, if feeling perfect was a problem, how about

this? Well, it all depends on what you mean by ‘holiness’, and therefore what

you understand as being ‘holy’.

What, when all is said and done, does ‘holy’ mean? Do you know? For all

that we build the word’s importance up, it is quite simple in its root. To be

‘other’. To be ‘different’.

 

Does that make things a little simpler? You see, the Temple in Jerusalem was

holy, because it was the centre of the worship of God – it was different. The

altar in the Temple was holy, because sacrifices were offered to God – it was

different. The priests who offered those sacrifices were holy, because they

had been set apart for the task – they were other – other than the rest of the

community.

 

So when we hear that we are to ‘come out from them and be separate from

them’ it simply means that the community of the people of God is to be distinct

from every other community. Why is it distinct?

We are the people who worship God, the people who want to ‘make holiness

perfect’

 

In his sermon on ‘Christian Perfection’ John Wesley defined that perfection as

holiness. We are to be ‘perfectly different’. So our focus is redoubled. If we

are to be ‘different’ – what does that mean in practice?


When I was ordained it was as a minister of the United Reformed Church,

long before I ‘jumped ship’ into Methodism. As we trained, the students were

asked to consider how they would approach the vows they were to make upon

ordination. One of those vows was, “Do you promise to lead a holy life’. This

was a subject of much soul-searching for many of the students, but my reply

was “well, I can guarantee that it will be different!” For better or worse, for

better and worse, it has been – very different on quite a few occasions.

 

We are all to lead our lives differently from those who aren’t Christians. We

are to worship God, to pray and listen to God, to read the scriptures – not

uncritically, because God gave us brains and the Holy Spirit to inspire them –

and use those scriptures for guidance in our lives.

We are to love our enemies, to bless those who persecute us, to greet those

who aren’t our friends, to behave as if we truly believed that all of humanity

are children of the Most High God.

I have to accept that being English isn’t a character flaw.

 

So, when we face the question “What would Jesus do” in any given

circumstance, remember that his answer was to whip cattle out of the Temple,

disrupt business and upset priests and worshippers. His answer was to call

out the religious and secular authorities in Judea and Galilee for their failings,

and to be quite abusive towards them at times. His answer was to transform

the understanding of centuries old religious observance and to call on the

wealthy to give all they had to the poor. His answer was to demand that only

those who were without sin could stand in judgement over another’s sin.

 

That is being ‘other’, that is being ‘different’, that is being ‘holy’, that is

Christian Perfection.

 

Cheer up, perfection is just around the corner! All it takes is being willing to

walk around that corner in the faith that sustains us.

38 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All