Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for 3 January 2021

by Derek Turton 3 January 2021

Call to Worship.
We believe in the one God,
The Father, the almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
Of all that it is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
The only Son of God
Eternally begotten of the Father 
God of God, Light from Light
True God from true God,
Begotten not made,
of one being with the Father; 
Through him all things being made.
For us and for salvation he came down from heaven
Was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
In accordance with the Scriptures:
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Song - ‘Because he Lives (I believe)’

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Let us join together in a prayer of dedication and confession;

Heavenly Father, creator of all things, we come before you this morning to confirm our faith in you and in our salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We find it difficult to comprehend that you pour out your love and grace upon each one of us even though we don’t deserve it.

We know that we constantly fail to follow your teaching, we fall short of that which you require of us, and we stray from the path that you have guided us on to. We pray for your forgiveness and in these troubled times we pray that our faith in you will never falter and will be strengthened in the knowledge that you are with us always.

May we constantly remember that Jesus Christ came into our world as a child, born into poverty, grew through childhood, was obedient to your wishes even to death on the cross and was raised from the grave so that we can live.

This is the greatest act of love for your creation.

Father we pray that you will be with us in our time of worship and will continue to give us strength and commitment in the year to come. Amen

Our Scripture reading this morning is from John 1:1 - 18.

Hymn - Love came down at Christmas

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I have titled my word this morning as ‘ God’s Eternal Plan’                                                

This is the first Sunday in 2021, the start of a new year, a new beginning , a line drawn in the sand putting 2020 behind us and looking forward to a promising future in 2021. 

For many people the New Year is a time to make new plans for the coming year, looking for a change or a renewing of old tired commitments. We are all familiar with New Year resolutions. How many times have we heard, I’m going to the gym more often, or I’m going to eat less chocolate and eat more healthy foods, or I’m not going to blame the referee when Derby County loose? Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out as we plan or resolve and the failure rate is high. 

I have to admit I gave up making New Year resolutions as I rarely lasted until the end of January.

Robert Burns, the eminent Scottish poet wrote; - ‘The best laid schemes o mice and men gang aft agley,’ He was writing a poem about a mouse at the time but his sentiment is as true as it can get. No matter how best we plan, our schemes are often thrown into chaos by the unexpected.

My wife Jean and I planned our move from Bradford to Derby in 1973 with meticulous precision, or so we thought. I had successfully negotiated the interview for the new job, Jean and I had visited Derby to look around the town and the surrounding area, we had even attracted a buyer for our house in Bradford and everything was going to plan.

The arrangement with my new employer was that temporary accommodation in the form of a local authority house would be available for six months when I commenced my duties. One week prior to my commencement we received a telephone call to say that the accommodation was not available. 

We quickly made the journey to Derby and fortunately managed to secure a bed and breakfast accommodation in a house on Duffield Road, just outside the City Centre. For the next six weeks Jean lived at home in Bradford and I enjoyed bed and breakfast accommodation in Derby. Eventually all was well and we bought our own house where I still live today.

From the start we naively thought that it would be a simple process moving about 100 miles south from Bradford to the Midlands but we quickly realised that life is not that easy. The spoken word changes in that short distance and somethings have a different meaning which makes every day routines challenging. A visit to the Bakers for example, I requested a selection of buns and was presented with rolls of bread. What I should have asked for was ‘little cakes’.  Spuds became potatoes and an alley between houses changed from a snicket into a ginnel.

Suddenly I grew feathers and became a ‘duck’ and on a visit to the next town of Ilkeston I became a ‘youth’. In Bradford everyone was ‘luv’, a habit I had to get out of when working for a politically correct Local Authority.

I’m not sure what the local builders made of my Yorkshire accent, as words like ‘so’ and ‘door’ usually raised a laugh at my expense.

The views on gastronomic preferences also raised many eye brows. Someone described me as being ‘strange ’as we ate cheese with our Christmas cake and mince pies, and the fact that we ate our Yorkshire Puddings before the main course of our meal bordered on insanity. 

Just when we thought that we were back on our plan, Jean and I discovered that we were having our second child. What did Robert Burns say about the best laid schemes of mice and men?

I bet Mary and Joseph and their respective families had everything planned for the marriage of their son and daughter. In those days marriage had two stages, betrothal and the wedding, each stage having its own ceremony and celebration. The Bible tells us that Mary and Joseph were betrothed so had gone through the first celebration and excitement was building towards the wedding.

It was at this stage when the plans started to go wrong. Mary was expecting a child and it took God’s intervention to persuade Joseph to continue with the marriage. Then just when the new plan was in place, who could foretell that Herod would declare a census. Well actually the prophets of the Old Testament foretold it.

The journey to Bethlehem was not part of the plan, and not being able to find accommodation had not been thought out. Certainly giving birth to Jesus in a stable was never envisaged a few months earlier.

The chaos did not stop there, the shepherds visit was not on the agenda and neither was the subsequent evacuation to Egypt to keep the young child safe.

Mary and Joseph must have thought, ‘What next?

No doubt Robert Burns was correct about the best laid schemes of mice and men, but perhaps we should look to the plans that God lays out for us all, those plans that never go array.

God’s plan for Mary, Joseph and Jesus were written centuries before and we know that his plan led to our salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.

In the book and stage musical, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ the main character, a dairyman named Tevyn, asks God if it would ruin God’s vast eternal plan, if Tevyn could be a rich man. Perhaps Tevyn was being a little selfish in his request, but did he have the right idea when he referred to God’s eternal plan.

The coming of the Messiah was planned and prophesised centuries before the birth of Jesus and his life and ministry were determined from the moment the angel visited Mary. Even the birth and ministry of John the Baptist was part of God’s plan.

Ultimately the suffering and death on the cross would be the unavoidable keystone to God’s plan for salvation, and in the centre of this great eternal plan, stands you and me.

We are the reason why Jesus came into our world, fulfilling the prophesies and carrying out God’s plan. It is our salvation that was the ultimate gift from our Redeemer, it was for us that he suffered, died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave. We have life because of Jesus Christ.    

I wonder if when our plans go wrong, it could be that God is making corrections on our behalf. Perhaps the direction of our planned journey would take us to the wrong place and God redirects us to where he wants us to be rather than where we think we would like to be. 

Let us venture into 2021 in the love of God and the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ and the strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Hymn; O let the love of God enfold you 

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We can now offer our prayers of intercession.
Father in heaven we bring before you our prayers for our brothers and sisters across the world who are in need of your touch this morning.   

We continue to pray for all those people who are affected in any way by the Pandemic, whether they are suffering from the illness, mourning the loss of a loved one, or working in the fight against the virus. We offer their lives and their work into your hands and ask that you give them strength and determination to continue their work in your name. 

We pray for the scientists, the medical teams, the relief organisations and the charities who are working to bring aid, comfort compassion and hope to those who are in need.

We pray for the politicians across the world and ask that the decisions they make will be guided by your word.

Finally we pray for ourselves , as Jesus brought the light into our world, then may we take that light and brighten someone else’s darkness. 

Now we will share the prayer that Jesus taught us ; - The Lord’s Prayer; -
Our Father who art in Heaven
Hallowed is thy name;
Thy Kingdom come 
Thy will be done;
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today 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 Kingdome 
The power and the glory
For ever and ever  Amen.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all now and for ever more  Amen

Hymn - What a beautiful Name (the name of Jesus)

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Please note: There will be no evening sermon today