Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings united service with Kingswood Methodist Church!
Click below on the red play button to start the video. You can also find the service on YouTube here if it isn’t working on the blog.
You may need to be patient as the video is a very large file and may take a little while to load.
Our virtual worship leader is Margaret Jackaman and the Message is from our Minister Christine Fox.
Thank you to all the different people that have shared their musical skills for our service today.
God Bless x
Message - Rev Christine Fox
Can I start by saying I’m sorry that I failed to get the Zoom discussion link for last Sunday out to Grangewood people. And I know – I can say I’m sorry but it has consequences; like seed sown on rocky round perhaps – good intentions but ultimately fruitless. FortunatelyJessica rescued me when I started getting emails about it, by sending out the link, but it was just too late for many. So I’m sorry – can you forgive me?
We heard a story of a farmer sowing seed. These past months one thing that we’ve done more of is tending to the garden – we inherited a lovely garden, as the previous minister Sandy had been a horticulturalist – but it’squite a big garden to keep in shape. But this year with less travelling to meetings and with Keith being less able to go off to coffee shops the garden has had more attention and we’ve been delighted at watching things growing – seeds sprouting – well not all of them ofcourse – but still getting quite a nice show in our veg plot.
But recently some of those plants haven’t looked so good – first the pigeons decided tofeast on my brassicas – there’s a net over them now, a bit late I know, and most of them are recovering. Next blackfly have covered some of the runner beans - but not all of them. And this last week I discovered where theraspberries were vanishing to, when we noticed magpies and crows flapping around them. But we do still manage to get a small bowlful for our tea. Actually, despite everything, God is still giving us a harvest!
What a wonder this is! Despite our rather erratic efforts at gardening God gives us a harvest.
What a wonder that God blesses our efforts, even if we or others might judge them inadequate, or even selfish.
Churches across the country, across the world,have made an effort to keep congregations in touch with online services and letters, phone calls and Zoom – and we haven’t always got it right – but God still is blessing us when we hear that someone has been touched by God through our efforts; all the more of a joy when its someone who has connected with God for the first time. God is giving us a harvest!
As time goes on though some of us are getting grumpy, the bursts of altruism that flourished at first are in danger of being worn down as people become weary or exhausted. But despite our times of self-pity, rocky times andshallow times in our lives, still we are given glimpses of God’s glory! And these are often when someone sees things positively that we had thought only bad.
The other day Keith said that when it comes to Christmas letters later this year they’ll all begin – ‘what strange times’ – ‘what a difficult year’ – and they will tell us of the holidays they didn’t take and the family celebrations that were cancelled, the tennis tournaments their kids couldn’t show off at or the pay rises they never had. Keith said we are going to subvert that – We can say ‘Christinedecided to relive her youth and grow her hair’– and ‘this year we finally spent more time in the garden – something we’ve been promising ourselves for years!’ ‘We’ve cut down on using the car, and got out more for walks.’‘we’ve both learnt new skills with Zoom andvideoing’ - and so we could continue – talking of the positive things of the year – while mentioning of course that all these good things have come about despite there being a pandemic and many restrictions and even sadnesses in our lives.
They used to sing ‘count your blessings’ but Ioften felt the command was used to stop people dwelling on the negative things – so I don’t want to minimise the pain of the hardness, the rockiness of the ground that we stand on at the moment. But alongside this Iwant to express my wonder that God still gives us eyes to see glimpses of his glory through the cracks!
When Jesus was going to tell that parable ofthe sower he got into a boat a little way off shore – the people were pressing in on him – so he ‘social distanced’ so that more people could hear his voice. I pray that in spite of our time ‘apart’ this will have enabled more people to hear Jesus. Maybe you too have become more aware of your desire to hear his voice.
In difficult situations and challenges we realise that we have to lean on someone – for this you have Jesus. – In loneliness we become acutely aware of our need of ‘someone’ - for this you have Jesus. In grief we survive when we find someone’s arms around us – for this you have Jesus. And in our joys and wonder at all God is doing – for this we have Jesus to thank!
So maybe a new way to see the parable of the sower is not about scolding ourselves because we have been rather rocky ground, or full of thistles, or distracted by things fluttering around – no I believe it is telling us that despite everything God will still give a harvest for all to benefit from – the Sower knows that the ground isn’t perfect but still gives everyone a chance to know that they’re valued and loved – God does not condemn us; we know this because Jesus came to tell and show us that God’s way is the rule of love and abundant life, not the law that says sin leads to death. Even our gardens show us that God is a creater who will bring forth a harvest despite everything. What a wonder this is!