Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings service.
Worship today is a CTS service, led by Martin Sykes and our message is from the Rev Christine Fox
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.
God Bless x
And a video from the Bible Society shared by Rev Christine
Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this weeks service.
Message - Rev Christine Fox
Last week we heard Paul telling the Thessalonians how his care of them had been like that of a mother. Today he likens his team’s visit to them as being like a father. – For us today this is rather stereotyping the roles but for whichever parent it is who aims to help their children to live well, Paul offers his example of encouraging, urging and pleading with God’s children to live lives worthy of his calling of them into his Kingdom and glory.
Now it’s all very well pleading with people to live worthy lives, but everyone knows it’s not that easy, no matter how much someone keeps on at you! Certainly those in government who want us to adopt certain behaviours to reduce the rate of infection with Covid-19 would agree. And like the many who give the excuse that they are confused about the rules, which may well be true, the guidelines for living a life worthy of God may not be all that clear to many either.
There are of course many who do follow the rules to the letter – but I’m afraid some of those same people look down on those who don’t… I suppose this may have been like what Jesus saw happening in some of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law whose example he warned against; Jesus surprised his hearers by pointing out that doing what appears to be the right thing for the wrong reason could be just as bad as not doing it at all!
What does this say to the people who ‘do church’? Today some of you will be joining in this act of worship at home at your usual time of 10am on a Sunday morning, and you will join in all the hymns and engage with the prayers in the unity of the Spirit with the others who are doing so too, that, though you can’t see them, you feel a connection with. Others of you may have changed your habit of ‘church on a Sunday morning’ and instead had started meeting family or friends and instead catch up with the service online at some other time – maybe even during the week.
Some people will have stopped engaging with Grangewood services altogether, some finding other online or even in-church services elsewhere, and some ‘taking a break’ from church for a while. You may if course be someone who has returned, or started engaging with church for the first time and if so ‘welcome!’ – it’s great to have you - do email or ring us if you’d like to get in touch.
So nearly all of us have changed our habits regarding ‘church’ at this time - but this could actually be a good thing – if it makes us re-examine our motives for doing what we were doing before – is what we had thought of as ‘normal’ really both worthy of someone called by God and not ‘just for show’?
Jesus’ words of warning challenged me – do I do anything either just to impress or live up to expectations, rather than from the pure motives of love for God and others? You’ll know that I had to admit it’s sometimes true. And so though Paul is an example for us to follow, it’s hard to encourage or urge others to follow a way of life that we are not ourselves taking seriously. I and you are urged to lead lives worthy of God’s calling of us, which of course leads to the question ‘but how?’
This week I’ve been on a bit of a ‘zero-waste’ mission to challenge the companies who send stuff to me through the post – unsolicited free pens and notepads, or things in packaging that can’t be recycled – every day it seems - and the latest was a pack with 2 copies of the Methodist evangelicals’ magazine, that I’d stopped subscribing to because I never got around to reading. I was going to send them straight back but just decided to have a quick skim through and happily found a great piece by Nathan Veall, that helps answer our question about ‘how’ to go about living lives worthy of God.
Nathan writes of how he struggled to find depth in his faith until he discovered the Bible. He told how he found himself having a superficial love for God, raising his hands in worship, ‘giving off passionate vibes’, singing about how he loved God and owed so much to Jesus, but behind closed doors he would rarely pray for more than 5 minutes a day and continued with addictions with no repentance or change. And all the time his Bible lay gathering dust on his desk.
He tells how he eventually turned to study the Bible and what he calls ‘the method that Methodism forgot’ to discover answers to his questions and a new depth to his faith from first getting to know his Father and his Teacher through the Word; out of that relationship came the strength for him to change things in his life that weren’t worthy of a child of God.
Today we are being challenged – I, like Paul encourage, urge, plead with you, and myself, to rediscover if you haven’t already done so – that the ‘how’ of living a life worthy of God is through getting to know the word of God – that lives in you – but is explained in the written word, the Bible.
I as your Minister am not your Mother or Father; we have one Father in heaven. Do not call me your instructor or teacher – we have Jesus as Instructor and Teacher; but what I can do is to encourage, urge and plead with you to dust off those Bibles, start somewhere, maybe with a gospel or with a weekly reading plan – you could try Methodist.org.uk/bible - and let the word nourish and challenge, feed and enlighten you. Even better read it with someone else – ask a friend – or if you don’t know who to ask, let me know and I’ll help you find someone.
We may have dull dark days before Christmas ahead but you need not let that get you down when you have the light of God’s Word to feast on and share. God be with you. Amen.