Sunday Worship - Sunday 24th May
Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings Church service.
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Below the video you will find a message from our minister Rev Christine Fox.
God Bless x
Message - Rev Christine Fox
Peter’s letter to the scattered Christians closes with words of encouragement, but also realism. Life is difficult! Don’t be surprised when suffering comes along.
The suffering he was talking about was specifically related to being persecuted because of being followers of Christ, but whenever people suffer for no fault of their own, it is the way they respond that reveals their inner strength, or the lack of it! And when we are tested and do manage to overcome, and we acknowledge that this inner strength comes from Christ within, then his glory is revealed.
The book of Acts begins with the disciples gathered around the resurrected Christ, asking him if he was going to reveal his glory by political triumph. He turns it back to them. When they receive his Holy Spirit they will be the ones to reveal the glory of God in the world. He ascends to heaven, having handed over the mantle to them – to us!
…‘you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth’.
The hope is in the potential ‘acts’ of the Spirit within and through human beings.
If you’ve been inspired by now, with those words of Peter and Jesus, to start to think how you can stop being immobilised by this pandemic and get witnessing, then you’re in good company with John Wesley and the other Oxford ‘Methodists’ who wanted to do something worthwhile for God. He hoped to go and preach to the Native Americans but ended up being pastor to settlers in the new colony of Georgia who were largely unresponsive to him.
But during a fierce storm on the ship out, John had seen that some Moravian Christians on the ship were unafraid of death, and were still able to sing praises to God. He was intrigued at their inner strength, and not long after his return to England, on the 24th May 1738 John went to a meeting of Moravians in Aldersgate street London, and listening to Luther’s preface to the book of Romans he felt his heart ‘strangely warmed’ - he had experienced his heart being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the power and strength of God, the peace and comfort of God, the healer, and the wisdom and inner-joy giver. From that time on John Wesley had an amazing ministry to the ordinary people all across this country and across the world. It was not his own discipline of holiness that could set the world aflame, but the Spirit within who witnessed to the glory of Christ, and despite all kinds of difficulties and opposition.
And I know that many of you too will have recognised the Spirit within you. You won’t necessarily describe your experience as your heart being strangely warmed; some experience a deep peace, or an unexplainable courage to speak or act for others benefit. Some know the Spirit’s presence by the gifts of the Spirit, given just as they need them. I asked some of you to share your experience of the Spirit of Christ in your lives – we’ll hear them in a moment. And if you haven’t yet experienced the presence of God in a tangible way in your life, seek him with all your heart, ‘cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you’.
Jesus didn’t leave his followers alone when he returned to the Father. In these days many are suffering for no fault of their own. Christ is with them, with you, by his Spirit; he can turn your fears into positive action as you realise that yes, life is difficult – not just now but all the time actually. It’s no use spending time being surprised at this; rather receive the strength and courage you need to carry on being witnesses to the glory of Christ no matter what is going on around you!
Having witnessed Jesus ascending to heaven, the disciples - men and women - gathered in an upper room to pray. As we wait for Pentecost, once again we are joining in prayer together with ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ – across the world, holding this suffering world in our hearts, the heart of Christ.
Hear again Peter’s words of hope – ‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power, for ever and ever. Amen.