Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 4 July 2021

by Andy Cokayne 4 July 2021

A Call to Worship Psalm 123 v 1-4 a Psalm of praise, and an encouragement to ‘look to the Lord Our God’, a forerunner of Hebrews 12 v2 where we are encouraged to ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus’.

Our first hymn is : 'In Christ alone'

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We turn to Our Lord in prayer - As we share in a prayer from 'Prayers for the People' (altered).
Father God, we come to you rejoicing in all your goodness and mercy: you created the world and you continue to preserve it. The dependability of nature and time enables us to live; your faithfulness is everlasting. We greet each new morning, we share with you each day, and we rest at night in the sure knowledge of your care. You patiently deal with us, restraining us from self-destruction. This morning we want to say sorry for all the things that we have said and done that are not in your will for us. Through your Son our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, you have broken down the barriers which separated us from yourself. Thank you that in Him we know forgiveness, and rediscover peace, and unity with you. Help us to know the breadth, length and height of your love, that being enriched by your grace we may love you with all our heart, mind, and will, and serve you for the good of others and for your glory for ever. In Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

Our second hymn is : Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face 

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Once more we turn to Our Lord in prayer 
We bring to Our Father this morning the thoughts and concerns that are on our hearts.

We pray for the world at large, the countries in far more difficult circumstances than ourselves, with the Pandemic in full flow, with huge death tolls, and the virus continuing to spread out of control. For countries where the pandemic has had a catastrophic affect on the health system, the economy, and the country as a whole. 

We bring our own prayers to you now. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for our own country, and the immense affect the pandemic has had upon us. For those suffering in hospital, both those with the virus and those seeking to care for them. For those who have lost loved ones and struggling to come to terms with the loss. For those who have lost jobs and incomes, and seeking a way out of the situation they find themselves in.

We bring our own prayers to you now. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those suffering or recovering from other ailments, for those seeking to care for them, and for those who remain isolated due to the pandemic, age, or infirmity. 

We bring our own prayers to you now. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

We pray for the many people and situations that are on our hearts and minds, that you will meet each at their point of need, that you will grant your peace and your strength to each.

We bring our own prayers to you now. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

We finally pray for ourselves, that you will grant us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to stay silent, that when you call us to speak, you give us the words to say. That you will continue to mould us into the disciples that you would have us be.
In Jesus name we pray, and for his praise and glory.

Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us,
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, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

On this Sunday, one of the passages of scripture set from the lectionary is from Mark's gospel chapter 6 verses 1-13, the verses cover two passages entitled ‘A Prophet Without Honour’ and ‘Jesus Sends Out the Twelve’.

In our Call to Worship this morning from Psalm 123 we are encouraged to look to God – ‘I lift my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.’ 

These words appear as a forerunner of the encouragement stated in the letter to the Hebrews where in chapter 12 v2 the writer encourages us again to look to Our God ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.’

All eyes are to look to, or be fixed on, the Lord Our God. 

In our reading this morning from Mark 6 v1-13, that is one set from the lectionary for today. We read of Jesus returning to his home town, and on the sabbath he taught in the synagogue, we read that the crowds were amazed. No doubt they all wanted to see him.

Imagine the headlines on the local gossip line, ‘Local man makes good’ or ‘Hero teaches in home synagogue’. But that’s not quite the reception he received. 

What sort of Jesus did they want to see? We read in v3 ‘They took offence at Him.’ and in v6 we read ‘He was amazed at their lack of faith.’

Jesus began to teach in his home town synagogue, “the sinners were agog”, “He even does miracles” they said. But instead of being proud of this home town boy, they were offended at him. He not only taught with authority, but as if to prove His authority, he performed miracles, he drove out demons and healed people. He made them feel uncomfortable. 

The Jesus they wanted was the one they knew, the one they could pigeon hole, they knew his trade – carpenter, they knew his mother – Mary, they knew his brothers and sisters – James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. They wanted the familiar, less challenging, easy to listen to Jesus, that they had grown up with and knew. How apt we are to undervalue, things with which we are familiar.

You can imagine the question on many of the crowds’ lips “Who does He think He is?”

His return home did not go down well. So as we read on, Jesus moved round from village-to-village teaching. At that time he sent out his disciples in twos to heal, drive out demons and preach. They had the chance to practice what would later be their commission, and what is more have the opportunity to receive advice on how to improve.  

Yet never the less the disciples would probably have found it a big ask. No doubt a question on many of their lips may have been “He wants us to do what?”

When you are going on a journey, you make sure you are prepared. Spare clothes, spare food, spare money, and above all a good travelling companion, who you know, can trust, and you will get on with. But Jesus says take only a staff. The roads were often rough, and a staff would help you walk along the uneven areas. What about money to pay for food and lodging? No! says Jesus. What about spare clothes, as often you would get dirty from the dusty roads? No! says Jesus. What about some supplies, perhaps a little bread? No! says Jesus. “And by the way, I will decide who you will be your travelling companion.”

“Some journey this is going to be! I’ll end up hungry and sleeping rough! He’s paired me up with the one bloke in the 12 I don’t get on with. Then He expects me to speak to the people and do healings! That is some ask! He must be joking! He doesn’t do things by half, does He!” You can hear the comments.

When He sent them out in pairs. I wonder who He paired up, and how He decided?  Who would he pair with James and John, the Sons of Thunder, or would he send them out together? Dare he pair Matthew the Tax Collector, the Collaborator with the Romans, with Simon the Zealot, who wanted death to all Romans, or does He keep them apart? Who would He pair with Judas Iscariot, who held the groups purse?    

The final question on many of their lips may have been “He wants us to say what?”

‘They went out and preached that people should repent.’ We read in verse 12. ‘They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.’ Verse 13.

It was one thing for Jesus to call people to repentance, that had unsettled the establishment, but then to ask his disciples to go out in pairs on their own and do the same, again, was some ask. What sort of reception would they get? Some had asked that He leave their area only a short while ago in 5 v17 when He had cast demons out of a man, and they had gone into a heard of pigs that had ran down the hill into the sea and drowned, we read ‘then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.’ Would they get the same response? And as early as chapter 3 v6 we read ‘Then the Pharasees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.’ and that was after He had healed a man with a shrivelled hand in a synagogue on a sabbath. Were they to avoid synagogues? Were they to avoid preaching or healing on a sabbath? But their master had just done that very thing. What were they to do? What was to be their fate?

No doubt many questions rose in their minds, as they set out. Yet we read on their return, their report, that they healed many people and cast out many demons and preached that people should repent.

They overcame their questions, and doubts, and their faith was rewarded.

A group of Greeks came to Philip and said “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (John 12 v21)

Is that your desire? That above all you want to see Jesus.

What sort of Jesus do you want to see? One that helps you through the hard times? One that makes you feel comfortable and secure? Or one that wants to be your Lord and Saviour? One that will stretch you, encourage you, and lead you on?  

“Who does He think He is?” God’s Son, Saviour and Lord.

“What does He want us to do?” To follow Him, be a learner of Him.

“What does He want us to say?” To tell others the Good News, that Jesus loves them.

You may say these answers are too flippant, too off hand, too easy. They may be. Yet it is often we that make things complicated, not Our Father God.

Your questions may be different. But Jesus response is always the same, as Jim reminded us in his message last week, we all start at the same place, in need of a Saviour. He wants us to repent and turn to Him, to ask forgiveness for all the wrong we have done. To turn to Him, and be His disciple, and become a learner of Him. 

Jesus is looking for Disciples not Converts.

Our final hymn is the same as Jim had at last Sunday’s service : 'And Can It Be That I Should Gain'

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the 'The UK Blessing'.

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