Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings CTS service
Worship today is led by Martin Sykes and Rev John Rowe
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
And here's another worship song linked to todays reading from Mark, that Michael and Jessica have recorded for use by Jessica's Dad's churches in Hereford.
Message - Rev John Rowe
The 18th of November this year marked the 29th anniversary of Terry Waite’s release from captivity. Terry Waite, many of you will recall, was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s former emissary, who in 1986 was taken and held hostage for five years in the Middle East. Tom Southerland, on the other hand, is probably not a name so readily recalled in Britain. Yet, Tom Southerland, was also released on the same day after he too had been held hostage for four years by Shiite Muslims in the Middle East.
During his four years of imprisonment, much of it in solitary confinement, Tom Southerland could hear a radio which his captors had tuned to the BBC and he would listen intently to that radio, hoping and praying that he might hear his name. Hoping and praying that the newscaster would talk about him on the air and tell the story of his imprisonment. But he never did hear his name mentioned so he assumed that nobody at home in the United States even knew that he was being held hostage. .
Finally, after 4 years of captivity, Tom Southerland was released. The US government flew his wife, Jean, to the area so they could be reunited. We can only imagine the excitement, relief and joy they both must have experienced at seeing each other again. A few days later, they flew home together to San Francisco. Upon landing back home in the United States Tom Southerland was amazed to see that there were lights and television cameras, reporters and a huge crowd at the airport. He said to his wife and said, "Jean, look at all these people. There must be a celebrity on the plane with us, see if you can spot who it is." Jean replied, "Tom, they are all here for you! This is all for you!"
Tom Southerland immediately began crying and he couldn't stop. In his later speech, Tom Sutherland said, "I thought everybody had forgotten about me. I didn't think anybody even knew I was imprisoned. I didn't think anybody cared. I felt completely abandoned…."
SENSE OF ABANDONMENT
To the best of my knowledge none of us have ever been held hostage in quite the same way as Tom Southerland and all it entailed. Yet, the current worldwide pandemic with its lockdown restrictions has given us a better understanding of his experience. Like him, we too, at times have felt imprisoned. Likewise, many people have experienced a threat to their personal safety and well-being; many have sampled similar feelings of despair and abandonment – because of separation from their friends and loved ones, through the loss of their work, their health and those they loved because of this virus.
At the time Mark’s gospel was written threats to their personal safety would have been a major concern for 1st Century Christians also. For, they were at the time experiencing great persecution. Jerusalem and the temple lay in ruins, as the threats made by Emperor Caligula in 40 AD where ruthlessly carried out in 70 AD. Allied to this concern many of those Christians would have faced the added pain of being ostracised, seperated from their families because of their faith in Jesus. Amidst this despair and sense of abandonment, continued hope in Jesus would not have been easy.
VOICE OF HOPE
Chapter 13 of Mark’s gospel, tries to set the suffering of these early Christians and their feelings of fear and abandonment, in to the context of Jesus’ second coming. In doing so the author of the gospel is seeking to strengthen the hope of those early Christians. Here, in apocalyptic language reminiscent of the book of Daniel and Revelation, Mark reminds them of Jesus’ warning of the great tribulation that will precede his second-coming and the need to remain watchful for that event.
33. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 37. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!”
Our 21st century world today is presently exercising such watchfulness and alertness. Watchful and alert for news which will strengthen peoples’ hope against a virus which in so many ways is robbing humankind of life; expectantly waiting for news of effective treatments or a cure against the corona virus. Indeed, the recent announcement of a number of imminent vaccines has raised our hopes that life may indeed return to some sense of normality in the not too distant future. And with this news I hope, like me, you too have again been struck by the remarkable human ingenuity through which humankind has been blessed by God. An ingenuity which is made all the more remarkable, I believe, when it benefits all!
As we enter the season of Advent we are, of course, reminded of another blessing from God to the people of the world in the gift of his son, Jesus Christ. A gift, which for over 2 thousand years, has repeatedly defeated the darkness and despair that has so often pervaded the soul of countless human lives and renewed their hope.
In Jesus, the Light of the world, we are indeed reminded that we are not forgotten or abandoned but rather, like in today’ gospel text, assured that he will come again.
Jean Sutherland assured her husband Tom as they arrived back home that - “All this is for you”. So let me close with these words of encouragement for you at this time of widespread anxiety throughout the world:
For you Jesus Christ came into the world;
For you he lived and showed God’s love;
For you he suffered death on the Cross;
For you he triumphed over death, rising to newness of life;
for you he prays at God’ right hand:
all this for you. (Methodist Worship Book p67-68).
Christ has died,
Christ is Risen,
Christ will come again.
Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus Amen.