OUR CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED
CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CLOSED

Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 17th May 2020

by Peter Goddard and Peter Blount 17 May 2020
Today’s worship is a little different. During the week we received an email from Peter Goddard who was planned to preach at Newmount today. He has kindly sent a reading, some thought and a hymn for us to share. I have, therefore, incorporated it into the presentation. Pete’s mini sermon is a bit longer than we are used to, so I have reduced the first part.

Greetings in the name of Jesus! Joy and peace to you all from Peter G and Peter B!

Jesus said – ‘ Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ - Matthew 11 : 28

Spend a moment in prayer offering to God your concerns for this day so that you can focus on His message for you today.

First Hymn ‘Come We that love the Lord’ (Do read the part about the singers).

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Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you again for all the rich blessings you pour out upon us day by day. Thank you for the blessing of worshipping together although we are physically separated. We come firstly, confessing our sins but also with an expectation to receive from this day.

We pray for our world with all its troubles, for everyone affected in any way by the current virus problem and particularly for those working for a solution.

We pray for our church, for all who are finding lockdown problematic and stressful. We pray for Greg and his family, for his future ministry and for the effect his move will have on our congregation.

Finally, Father, grant to us all the qualities and skills we need to be your true disciples in a troubled world.

Amen


Listen to John 21 : 1 – 14

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Message written by Peter Goddard

This is the 6th Sunday of Easter and the Gospel Lectionary Reading for the second service today deals with the third encounter that a larger group of Disciples had with Jesus after His resurrection. This is perhaps a somewhat neglected portion of Scripture, as witnessed by the fact that it is relegated to consideration in the second service of the day! This is probably because it is sandwiched between two much better known passages.

Preceding it is the account of how Jesus suddenly appeared to the Disciples whilst they were hiding behind locked doors; the second time, solely for the benefit of ‘Doubting Thomas’! This passage concludes with John’s stirring declaration that: “In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.” (John 20:30-31) Why did John not finish his Gospel at this point, especially as he doesn’t include a version of ‘The Great Commission’ Jesus gave His Disciples, as found at the end of the Gospels of Matthew; Mark and Luke?

Instead, in Chapter 21, John tells of this ‘third’ encounter with Jesus, an event not recorded in any of the other Gospels. In this chapter, instead of telling us of ‘The Great Commission’, John reveals how Jesus gave the Disciples (and us) three reminders about the responsibilities that all the followers of Jesus have.


The passage after the story we’re looking at today, relates how Jesus gave Peter the responsibility of feeding and taking care of His ‘sheep’; (His followers in other words). This reminds us that all of us, as Disciples of Jesus, have a duty to look after one another, both spiritually and physically. Jesus then speaks about the death of Peter and (presumably) John, and says to them that whatever happens to them, they should simply: “Follow Me!” (V19) This reminds us that whatever our circumstances, as Disciples of Christ we have a responsibility to follow the teachings and example of Jesus, even unto death.

The first part of John 21 however, which we are to consider today, is actually the largest part of the Chapter. In this section John relates how seven of the Disciples fished all night without catching anything. Then Jesus appears on the lake shore and tells them to try on the other side of the boat and suddenly their nets are full. This is obviously a reprise of what happened when Jesus first called the Disciples to Him three years previously (Luke 5:5-10), when Jesus said to them: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be ‘fishers’ of men!” (V10)

Clearly Jesus thought this illustration to be so important that He taught the Disciples in this dramatic way, both at the beginning and near the end of His time with them. Telling people about Jesus and His teachings was to be perhaps the most important thing the Disciples had to do after Jesus left them.

We’re not of course all called to be evangelists, but this passage reminds us that as Disciples of Christ we are all called to ‘gossip the Gospel’, as the old saying goes. We’re simply called to share our faith and what it means to us, with all who will listen. Many of us I suspect though, are happy to tell our non-Christian friends about everything else in our lives, but are reluctant to share with them what we do on Sunday and why it is so important to us!

However, whilst we’re not all called to be evangelists, some people very definitely are, as this is one of the foundational ‘church’ ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.

Indeed this chapter of John’s Gospel seems to imply that equal importance should be given by the church to evangelists and to pastors, which has certainly not often been the case in the past. Most of the church has put a great deal of effort into training Pastor/Preachers and much less effort into training Evangelists.

It is my personal opinion therefore, that if the Christian Church wishes to grow and thrive during this century, it needs to prioritise identifying and training Evangelists and to establishing them as a part of the ministry of every local church, just as they do Pastor/Preachers.

So Jesus appeared in this way to remind the Disciples that if they cast their net where He tells them to, they will catch fish; in other words, if we evangelise where and how Jesus tells us to, we will attract people to the Church. And as I mentioned earlier, this is a message that Jesus considers to be so important that he taught it both at the beginning and near the end of His time with the Disciples.

There is however, one more thing we should note about this event. Throughout the story, the Disciples appear to be both uncertain and yet certain as to the identity of Jesus. This at first seems odd as they had mostly seen Him at least twice since His resurrection. “Jesus stood at the water’s edge, but the Disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” (V4) When their nets were full however, “The disciple whom Jesus loved (presumably John) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Later as they ate fish together “None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.” Despite this uncertainty however, impulsive as ever, “when Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken his clothes off) and jumped into the water.”

Why then did Jesus allow this uncertainty? The resurrected Jesus had a ‘spiritual body of great strength and beauty’ (1 Cor. 15:43-44), very different from His previous ‘earthly’ appearance. Obviously though, as co-creator of the universe, Jesus could have revealed Himself clearly to the Disciples had He wanted to, but already He was beginning to teach them that they must ‘live by faith in Him, not by sight of Him’!

Peter responded to this with great enthusiasm (and somewhat damp clothes)! May Jesus give us the faith to do likewise and respond with equal passion whenever we sense the presence and guidance of our Lord!

Prayer

Help us Lord Jesus to be willing and able at all times, to explain our faith in You, to all who will listen to us. We pray also that You will heal your people throughout the world today, and that You will confirm and strengthen our faith in You, so that whatever happens to us during this life, we will know that You are indeed “The Resurrection and the Life” and that we who believe in You, even though one day we will die, then shall we live again and dwell forever in Your eternal love and glory!

Amen

Our final Hymn – Go Forth and Tell

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May God’s peace and blessing be with you all, now and for evermore.

Amen