Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 22 August 2021

by Rev Raymond Lunt 22 August 2021

Good morning and welcome to worship with us this morning.                                                                                                         
We come together for worship and praise.
God in his love invites us.
We come in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.
God in His love welcomes us.
We come in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
God in His love unites us.
We come to His table where bread a wine are prepared for us.
God in His grace receive us.

HYMN: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation” 

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An Opening Prayer of Praise to God is said

Prayer of Confession
God of grace, You see us as we really are; we confess our faults and failings, our careless concern for your creation, our harsh words and lack of love.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, we ask for Your forgiveness. Grant us the mind of Christ that we may think and act, guided by Your Holy Spirit.
God is just and merciful to all, who repent.  Restore to us again the joy of You salvation. Amen.    

Genesis 41 : 33 - 44
Philippians 1 : 12 – 20

Sermon Summary – “Chaos and Crisis : God and Us”                                    

Chaos, Crisis, Catastrophe – words which appear in media reports with concerning regularity. Temperatures rise, wildfires blaze, floods seem more frequent, storms have greater intensity – add to that the occasions of hurricanes and earthquakes. It’s as if the planet is groaning with pain. Scientists scream out red warnings about the things humanity is doing to the natural world. All that against a background of climate change and an ongoing pandemic, while human beings destroy and displace one another in so many parts of the world.

Where is God in the chaos?                                                                                              

Can hope emerge from crisis and catastrophe?                                                                      
On a moral level – can good come out of evil?

The Bible contains great stories of how God raised up someone at a crucial time to speak His word, to challenge people’s behaviour and become instruments of transformation. Our two passages illustrate that.

Joseph – a youngster sold to Ishmaelites by his jealous brothers and carted off into Egypt, with his father left to believe he is dead. After a time in prison and the discovery of his prophetic abilities and wisdom Joseph ends up as a leading figure in the country and is made a governor with special responsibilities at the age of 30. Later his family come seeking corn in Egypt and the meeting paves the way to a healing of the past. Good came out of evil.

Paul -  was probably in prison in Rome when he wrote to the Philippians. He tells them how good has come out of the apparent evil of his suffering. (Read Philippians 1 : 12 – 14)

Moses - God raised up Moses to challenge the evil of Hebrew slavery in Egypt and bring about the great Exodus from Pharaoh to freedom.

David – the shepherd boy who became a king. He messed up his life at one point with a sexual relationship and the setting up of the death of his lover’s husband. His wrong was exposed by a prophet Nathan and his confession and redemption is poured out in some of the Psalms. He becomes a transformed man and Israel’s greatest king.

Paul -  as Saul of Tarsus threw himself into destroying Christianity with the violent persecution of the followers of Jesus. Then he holds the coats of stone throwers who murder Stephen and God challenges him on a persecution journey to Damascus, and he becomes a great missionary. Good came out of evil.

Redemption, Transformation and Renewal can be a positive pathway leading out of the chaos and crisis.

The greatest piece of evidence we have is in Jesus Himself. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. When the time was right the Word became flesh. The evil of a cross on Calvary became the point where redemption and salvation became reality for us all because a garden tomb is emptied of the consequences of evil and flung open with new life, eternal life.

How do we face the chaos of our times? How can good emerge from chaos; from evil? When we are in Christ are we not challenged to become part of the redemptive work He began? Are we not challenged to change the world?

(1) The chaos and crisis of climate change
Do we not have a moral and spiritual responsibility to fulfil the trust that God places in humanity from the time of creation? Genesis emphasises the importance of proper stewardship of the planet and  our respect for creation. Is it not a Christian task to influence the powerful in politics, commerce, business and the population at large to live differently for the sake of the common good?

(2) Amidst the crisis and chaos of a world of conflict, are we not called to be peacemakers, loving our neighbour, caring for the helpless, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless; creating a climate of opportunity where the poor are not powerless and the weak not deprived? (Take a look at Matthew 25)

(3) Amidst the current catastrophe do we not have a responsibility to respond with a generous spirit; providing genuine aid and assistance; making sure the pandemic vaccines are not just for the wealthy nations, but also for the poorest?

We are called to participate in God; in His creative purposes, in His redeeming work; in His transforming mission.

Let us also pray that God will raise up for this time leaders who are not driven by power but called to serve the common good, whether in politics or business; education or religion.

There was hymn in the children’s section of the old MHB.
“God has given us a book full of stories
That was made for His people of old;
It begins with the tale of a garden
And ends with a city of gold.”

The Bible begins with creation – and “it was good”. It ends with a vison in Revelation of another garden and a river of life – life redeemed and transformed.

The journey through is full of chaos and crises and catastrophes, but the power of good is greater than evil, love is stronger than hate, grace is stronger than sin, life is stronger than death.                                                                                                                                

Today we can celebrate it because of the crisis of a cross and an Easter resurrection; in bread and wine – shared as the presence of Christ with us, in us, and our participation in the coming of His Kingdom.

HYMN: “Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your name” 

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Prayers of Intercession

Loving Father, we rejoice that you have not abandoned your tarnished and broken world, but are working to restore it and to make all things new. We praise you that you brought hope of renewal to the world out of the darkness of Jesus’ death and raised Him from the dead to intercede for us at Your right hand. You work to bring good things out of what is evil and wicked, and by your power shattered, empty lives are transformed. Lord, as Your people focus on the glory of Your love and grace in Christ, work though us to fulfil your purpose, and help us to spread the gospel of your love. Amen. ( from the Methodist Prayer Handbook)

We pray for the church in every place; for unity amidst diversity; and that Christians may be strengthened to remain true to their calling and honour Christ in the world.                                                                                                                                                          Challenge and change us, O Lord . Transform us by your wisdom and love.

For the needs of the World today; that fractured relationships may be healed; divided communities reconciled ; nations hostile to each other shown the pathway to peace.                                                                                        We pray for the future of Afghanistan; for the Middle East……..                                                

We remember the people of Haiti after the dreadful earthquake……                                                                                                                                                  Challenge and change us, O Lord. Transform us by Your wisdom and love.

We remember countries which have suffered the effects of climate change with floods and storms and fires……….                                                                            

We pray for the forthcoming conference on Climate Matters  that the peoples of the world will learn the importance of caring for the planet in  a sustainable way…….                                                                                                                                        Challenge and change us, O Lord.  Transform us by Your wisdom and love.                                                                                                                                                                                    

We pray for Pastoral needs; for those who are ill, isolated, lonely; bereaved; for all involved in the Covid vaccination programme and for a greater response in support of countries where vaccines are so desperately needed…                                                                                                                                          Challenge and change us, O, Lord. Transform us by Your wisdom and love.

Heavenly Father, as we share these prayers today, make us a blessing in our continuing walk with Christ. Amen.

Holy Communion follows (including the Lord’s Prayer, and will conclude with the affirmation:
Christ has died                                                                                                              

Christ is risen                                                                                                              
Christ will come again        

HYMN: “Christ is alive! Let Christians sing”

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The Lord bless and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. Amen.