OUR CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED
CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CLOSED

Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Gift Day, Sunday 22 November 2020

by Rev Donald Cross and Peter Blount 22 November 2020

Greetings in the name of Jesus – Joy and peace to you all.

Following the February Church Council it was my pleasure to invite Rev Don Cross to preach at our Gift Day service in November, Don of course, readily excepted.

Who could foresee, at that time, the momentous events that were about to happen that would completely change daily life as we knew it, as well as our freedom to worship together.

Since the invitation Don’s eyesight has deteriorated such that he has been unable to write or type his message for us today. So, what follows is my interpretation of the thoughts and references that Don shared with me in a phone call a few days ago.

Needless to say this comes with Don’s love and blessing for each one of us as we share together in virtual worship this morning. Peter

Our first hymn this morning, dates back to the late sixteen hundreds but is absolutely relevant to today. It’s based on the words of Psalm 34 and our call to worship this morning is verse 8 of Psalm 34 which asks us to

‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that who takes refuge in Him’.

Sing along with ‘Through All The Changing Scenes of Life’.

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Prayer

Gracious God, as always we come to you with excitement and expectation wanting to taste and see your goodness to us.

We give you thanks, that despite all the changing scenes of life you continue to shower us with all that we need to live joyful and peaceful lives. We are so grateful that through all our misguided efforts you still bless us with gifts beyond measure and price. So Father, on this Gifts Sunday remind us, through your word, of the debt we owe, help us to acknowledge that although we can never repay that debt, we can at least, offer our time, effort and resources to build your church in whatever format that may take.

Help us today, out of the plenty that we have, to make with joy, an offering fitting to the Grace we constantly receive. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

We sing again ‘At The Name of Jesus’

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Reading - Romans Ch 8 v 26 – 39

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reflection

In these unprecedented times the opening words of today’s reading seem to be particularly appropriate 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Paul appears, as he usually does, to be able to address any and every circumstance and make his words positive and encouraging.

Whilst we are in the depths of a social crisis brought about by the pandemic effecting global safety and economics, and within that, some of us may also face our personal crisis in terms of wealth, health, worship and fellowship even heading towards a lake of hope.

Just as Paul did in our reading and through all of this, however, we must focus on the continuing and even greater mission of the church in both word and deed to show God’s love, grace and assurance.

Deprived of corporate worship, fellowship, rituals and sacrament – rather than feel defeated and hopeless, we have sought, and found alternative methods to share God’s Grace by greater emphasis on modern technologies and communications placing God’s word into individual homes and circumstances. For some this may be ‘old hat’ but for Newmount it is great breakthrough, and whatever the future may hold for us, this is now a crucial area of our ministry and must not be lost to the former standards and routines.

An Irish preacher once said in the late 80’s and during ‘the troubles’ ‘Nobody told me the road would be easy, but I don’t believe God brought us this far only to leave us’! Very apt to our current situation.

With this in mind let us ponder three scriptural illustrations which may help us to continue moving forward in ministry – all of which have a cost!

1) God gives us time – the amount of time we spend with God is crucial to our personal & corporate ability to serve Him. We must use that time to speak and perhaps more importantly to listen to what God is saying and how He says it because it’s not always straightforward –

Read the story of how Naaman was healed of leprosy in 2 Kings Ch 5.

He had to listen, wait, do things below his station, even Elisha didn’t meet him personally, yet because he listened and obeyed he was healed and then able to share his story.

2) God allows us to interact with others – that is noticed much more at this present time when such meetings, fellowship and sharing together is not allowed due to Covid 19 and Government Enforced Restrictions.

However, under normal circumstances the requirement to interact with others is vital to our sanity and the smooth running of every day life. Therefore, as our church emerges from lockdown we must retain our new communication methods as already stated, but restore, perhaps in a new way, the opportunities to meet and chat and share at all costs.

Read the story of Jeremiah buying a field at Anathoth – Jeremiah Ch 32

Here, in the midst of many problems a relatively small deed is done to preserve life, communication and hope.

3) God gives a gift of Unity – a gift which we so often neglect or ignore to further our own agenda. Sometimes we just need a gentle nudge in the right direction to get us back on track. In many cases the lack of unity is caused by persuing the wrong agenda, often with the best intentions.

Read the story of Thomas John Ch 20 v 24 – 31

A man of great wisdom and integrity, wrongly labeled by history, some would say as a doubter, he simple needed the facts to ‘nudge’ him in the right direction and having met with the risen Jesus he was a new man, changed agenda, blessed and believing. The most telling verse for us is towards the end of the story when Jesus proclaims Thomas blessed because he had seen Jesus, BUT ‘blessed are those who have not seen, but believe’.

In conclusion then, our whole lives are a Gift from God, all that we have and are comes from Him almost as a loan. It therefore follows that we do need TIME to listen and respond to God, we need to interact with others and share our story and we need to ensure we have the correct agenda to be in unison with God as well as our brothers and sisters.

To achieve these goals we need the teaching, leadership and fellowship of our church at Newmount to be maintained and developed and this weekend your generous gifts will help that to be achieved. Thank you. Amen

As a lead into our prayers of Intercession I use a song we shared recently but it describes how generous God is with His gift of Grace and may help us to be grateful and generous in return.

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Prayers of Intercession

We pray today for our world, with all its troubles, wars, unrest, illnesses and hardships, and for a realisation that all lives matter.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We pray for the church worldwide, its mission, its relevance and its witness.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We pray for our church at Newmount, for each member of the congregation, for our work in the local area, for the process of ministerial selection, for our current minister and stewards.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We pray for our work among the children and young people, for the added complications of isolation and for Sue as she maintains communication.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We pray for Don, Margaret and Rachel that you will support them in their time of need and give blessing and peace

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We give you thanks for all the gifts made to Newmount over this weekend, we pray for wisdom in their use, so that your mission of truth can be maintained and multiplied to your honour and glory.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

Please take time to add a personal prayer at this point Amen

As our service concludes we sing a prayer that, all the world, in every corner, may sing of God’s love

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The Blessing

We pray a blessing on our giving today, and may God’s grace, love and peace be with each us today and until we see Jesus face to face.

AMEN