Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings United service with Kingswood Methodist Church.
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Our message today is by Rev Mel Stoodley and virtual worship leader is Martin Sykes.
God Bless x
Message - Rev Mel Stoodley
Facing our fears. Hope for today & tomorrow.
Both readings deal with the cost of following Jesus, including taking up the cross, but there is hope for life with Christ now, & in eternity. In our daily lives at the moment, we may all have had moments of fear, uncertainty, & disappointment, so Jesus’ words to his disciples are equally relevant for us. They should not be afraid of those who hate them, but should continue to share the gospel message, in spite of opposition. I have to confess that I don’t like appearing in front the camera, ever since I had Bell’s palsy, many years ago. So, preparing for acts of worship online doesn’t come naturally to me! Also, writing things down on paper is different from speaking to people face to face. So, Jesus’ advice not to be afraid has applied to me. I’ve been singing some words recommended by Merlin Corrothers, in his book: ’From Fear to Faith. To the tune’ ‘London Bridge is Falling down’ – ‘God is working for my good, for my good, for my good (repeat) yes, he really is!’
Jesus goes on to reassure & encourage his disciples that they are worth much more than sparrows, the cheapest things to buy at that time. And yet, God knows when a sparrow falls & how many hairs there are on the disciples’ heads. So they can be sure that God will watch over their lives. As Modern disciples, we are to be like Jesus in his teaching & in his work, & to share the same challenges, sufferings & reward.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul encourages the believers to count themselves as dead to sin, but alive to God. To do that, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in our hopes & our fears.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who wrote many books & became famous for helping Jews who were persecuted for their faith during the second world war. When she, & her Father & sister ended up in a concentration camp, she continued to support & encourage other prisoners by leading worship, using a Bible which they’d managed to sneak into the camp. After the war, she carried on speaking & leading worship. In her book; ‘The Hiding Place’, she tells the story of one occasion, after a service, when she encountered a former S.S. officer, whom she recognised from her own time in a concentration camp. He thanked her for her message & marvelled that his sins had been washed away. He held out his hand to shake hers, & she described how she kept her hand by her side, & experienced angry, vengeful thoughts, but at the same time, she saw the sin of them. She recognised that Jesus had died for this man, & she prayed the words, ‘Jesus forgive me & help me to forgive him.’ She tried to smile, & raise her hand, but she still couldn’t do it & didn’t feel any warmth towards the man. So she prayed again ‘I can’t forgive him, please give me your forgiveness.’ Then she described the incredible experience as she took his hand. A current seemed to pass from her to him, from her shoulder along her arm & though her hand. At the same time, she experienced a heartfelt love for this stranger which almost overwhelmed her. For her, this was a realisation that the world’s healing doesn’t rest on our forgiveness, or our goodness, but on God’s. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives the love itself to do it. Each one of us has a mission in life. We were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. He will use us, as the people we are, to share his love & hope with others. On Father’s Day, we remember the love of our human fathers, & of our Heavenly Parent.