Welcome to this morning's service.
Worship today is led by Rev Melanie Stoodley (this service is not on Zoom)
Our Zoom services are every other week and if you are not currently on our mailing list please contact Rev Christine: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
If you'd like to connect with Grangewood please contact us.
Rev Christine Fox: email@example.com
Children's and Family worker - Jessica Bullett: Jessicagrangewood@outlook.com
Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this weeks service.
Below you can find this weeks Message. Click here to find the whole worship sheet.
Message - Rev Melanie Stoodley
In the gospel passage about Jesus’ Baptism & temptation, Jesus heard a voice from heaven saying: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ A resounding affirmation before he was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit.
In the first verses from Psalm 25 we had a glimpse of David’s state of mind, troubled by enemies, likely to be put to shame, but remembering that God is his Saviour & trusting in his goodness. David’s heartfelt prayer was for guidance & he had hope in God’s goodness, in spite of his human failings. Both David & Jesus knew that they were loved & valued, as they faced testing situations. As we go through Lent, each of us may attempt to deal with temptation in different ways, possibly through denying ourselves, or giving to others. I wasn’t feeling in the mood to give up chocolate for Lent this year, when it felt as if we’d already had to give up so much. I was rebellious - but then, I realised that it was a small price to pay, in terms of what Jesus gave up for us.
Jesus had to face up to a time of testing from Satan, & also wrestle with his identity. The presence of the Holy Spirit didn’t make Jesus immune from temptation, but it did help him to deal creatively with it. Angels ministered to him, & knowing that he was loved gave him strength to survive. A modern wilderness example is mentioned in ‘The Road to Canterbury’, biography of Archbishop Justin Welby. In the 1990s, a successful Swiss Roman Catholic lawyer abandoned his work at the Vatican to spend 5 years as a hermit at Saint Maurice in Switzerland. During that time, like the Psalmist, he trusted in God & prayed for guidance as he discovered his identity & calling. Afterwards, he founded a religious Community in a local farmhouse, following Christ’s example of loving, sacrificial commitment to others. They welcomed people pushed to the edges of society by mental illness, or through drug, or alcohol addictions.
Today, we face all sorts of challenges. Although we may not look forward to experiencing struggles, there can be a strengthening process in overcoming them. We can learn just as much in the failures as in the successes of our lives.
30 years ago, at a low point in my life, I spent a weekend at ‘Longmead’, in Dorset, which belonged to a Sacred dance group. When we arrived, each person was welcomed with a card, individually prepared, containing a personal passage of Scripture. There were opportunities to move, rest, pray & to watch other people performing. In one session, my spirits were lifted when I was partnered by a member of the Longmead team, in what I can only describe as a prophetic dance. It was exhilarating & joyful & I felt carried away by the Spirit. It took a while for the prophecy to be fulfilled, but it was an encouragement during some bleak months ahead.
In all the challenges & difficulties, I was aware of being part of the body, supported by other Christians & held by the love of God. I had more confidence, in spite of suffering rejection & family upheaval, because, like Jesus in the wilderness, there were times when angels (very often human) ministered to me. God’s words – ‘you are my beloved son’, resonated with me. If Jesus asked himself the question: ‘Who am I?’ his answer would be based on what God said about him, & what he had learnt about God. He saw a Heavenly sign, as he came up out of the water & he was marked out by the Spirit for his ministry.
Jesus’ mission as the Son of God was to identify with us completely. He was tempted, as we are, & he learnt what human weakness was really like. He used the power of suffering, transforming love to overcome evil. If we ask ourselves the question: ‘Who am I? Can we answer without hesitation? Jesus knew the answer to that question & he used the authority of Scripture & the power of argument. He was obedient to God & would not worship anyone else. All sorts of things have shaped us as people & we’re all different personalities. We don’t always see God’s hand in the painful experiences at the time, maybe only later when we look back. 5 years after the prophetic dance, I came to a much happier period in my life. Each one of us is a much loved son, or daughter of God. What does he want to say to us about who we are? We can learn from Jesus’ strong sense of who he was. May we grow in faith & confidence in testing times & know that angels will minister to us.