Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 9 January 2022

by Andy Cokayne 9 January 2022

‘What Christians Believe’ and ‘why it matters’ - An Exploration of the Apostles Creed.  2nd in the series 
Last week Peter started our 7-part series exploring the fundamental questions – this morning we continue with the 2nd in the series.

Hymn – From heaven you came

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Opening Prayers (from Prayers for the People 26.14 adapted)
With joy we sing aloud our praise today, our God and heavenly Father: for the coming of your Son the Saviour of the world. He is your love and grace in bodily form; in him we see life and hope for the world: fill us today with your Holy Spirit, that we may bow before you and be made alive by your presence. Receive our praise in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

We share together in the following prayer, as we remember God the Son becoming vulnerable, coming to earth and being born as a baby, to show his immeasurable love for us.

(from Prayers for the People 26.17 adapted)
We confess that amongst the joys and festivities as we remember the coming of your Son at Christmas, we forget the true reason for the season and have left the Lord Jesus out of our thinking and living: Father, forgive us.   

Help us to remember that you loved the world so much that you gave your only Son, who was born to be our Saviour:  Lord, help us.     

We confess that we have allowed the most important event in history to become dulled by familiarity: Father, forgive us.

Help us in this act of worship to recapture a sense of wonder, and to discover again the amazing fact that the Creator of the universe has come to us as a new-born baby: Lord, help us.

We confess to a selfish enjoyment of your Sons birth, while we do little to help the homeless families of your world: Father, forgive us.

Fill our hearts with the love that cares, 
that understands and gives;
show us how we can best serve those in need;
for the sake of him who was born in a stable,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen   

The Apostles Creed 
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen

Prayers of Intercession – 
We pray for those we know; and those that are on our hearts; who need our prayers at this time. 

For those who continue to suffer through the Pandemic, for those who seek to bring them   encouragement, and for those who seek to aid their healing and recovery.

For those who have decisions to make, whether in national or local government, that affect us all, that they may work for the good of all.

For wisdom and self-control for us all, that we may use wisely the earths resources that are placed at our disposal.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayers, in Jesus name we pray.  

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.

Hymn – We believe in God the Father

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Reading – Matthew 1 v 18-25 (NIV)  

The Birth of Jesus Christ
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be  married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to  public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.  

Hymn – Let earth and heaven combine

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Message - What do we believe?
I wonder have you ever been asked, “Well you’re a Christian, what do you believe?”

Or perhaps you have been button holed by someone, perhaps a Jehovah’s’ Witness, at your front door, listened to them speaking for a short time before excusing yourself. And walked away thinking “I wish I knew my bible, and what I believe, as well as them.”

I don’t believe for a minute that it was Jacky’s intention that by this series, we would resolve all of these things. But perhaps through the series we may learn some more of what we believe and why it is so important, be encouraged to dig more into God’s word ourselves, and perhaps ask questions. 

   Peter commenced the series last Sunday with the statement – ‘I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.’ Considering how often we claim to have made something, yet in truth all we have really done is assembled the parts provided to us, following the detailed instructions of the manufacturer. Which is really inconsequential compared to how God almighty, created heaven and earth from nothing, how He was pleased with what he had done, and so with love and pride, presented the earth to us to look after and pass on from generation to generation. So we were reminded that God created.

Carrying on from where Peter left off, we read – ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,’

Christmas is fresh in our minds. I trust that by the 6th night you took down your decorations. During the Pandemic we have all been encouraged to put up our lights earlier, to brighten up what has been hard times. I did see on the television news recently where a lady had decided to go the extra mile and keep her decorations up all year. I thought what a good idea it was. What dust could be hidden and not fretted about, what cobwebs could be spun and go unnoticed. 

But the part of Christmas I want to draw to your attention is not the decorations, but the readings. In Matthews gospel 1 v23, he quotes the prophet Isaiah 7 v14 where we read ‘The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, - which means God with us.’ Isaiah who had lived 700 hundreds years before, prophesied that this baby would be born. Of course that may be all well and good, but can you imagine how Mary and Joseph felt, who were to bring this child up as their own. Matthew says earlier in the same passage that the baby within Mary, who Joseph is engaged to, had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and so Joseph was not to worry about taking Mary as his wife. She has not been unfaithful to him. It was God that had brought about the baby within her.    

God the Son was being born into this world just like you and me. He would eat the same food, feel the same pain, experience the same joys and sorrows, just like you and I. Yet unlike you and I, he would not make the same mistakes. “But I don’t make mistakes.” I hear you say. There is only one who throughout his life, never got, or did, anything wrong, only one who remained sinless. And that is Jesus. We read in Romans 3 v23 ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ John wrote in his first letter ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’ (1 John 1v8). To go through life without doing wrong, in other words committing no sin, required someone special, for a normal person it is impossible. Only Jesus God’s One and Only Son could achieve it. As the hymn puts it ‘There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin; he only could unlock the gate of heaven, and let us in.’ Ray will look at the sacrifice Jesus made, next week.  

But we need answer the question ‘Was Jesus really God?’ Wasn’t he just a good man,   after all he set us a good example. He was selfless in how he led his life. He talked about living in peace with others. He lived a good life. Surely that’s all there is to it!

We only have to look at the Gospels, Jesus didn’t just speak well, and live a good life, we can read of his miracles, turning water into wine, calming the storm; his healings, healing lepers, driving out demons, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf; raising Lazarus from the dead. All show he was more than a good man, and that is before we consider his death and resurrection, which Ray will look at next week.

Jesus often referred to God as his Father “I and the Father are one.” (John 10v30). “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14v9) “Believe me when I say I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” (John 14v11). This was one of the reasons the Pharisees wanted to kill him, because he was claiming to be God. In John 5v18 we read ‘For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.’ We cannot claim that Jesus was just a good man, after all a good man would not claim to be God. In claiming to be God, Jesus was either mad, or a liar and so a bad man, or he really was who he claimed to be. God’s one and only Son.

So Jesus was God, but was he really human? 

The bible is quite clear, that Jesus was human just like you and me. We read he felt hunger, after he had gone 40 days and nights without food (Matt 4v2). That he fell asleep in the back of a boat, he was so tired, before he was awakened by the disciples to calm the storm (Luke 8v23). We read that on the cross he bled (John 19v34). He had emotions, we read that he was angry with the Pharisees for questioning him healing on the sabbath (Mark 3v5), he showed sorrow as he spent the night before his arrest in Gethsemane (Matt 26v37).

Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. And we have considered why it is so important that Jesus is more than just a good man, and is God’s Son.

Hymn – Hark! The herald angels sing 

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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 evermore. Amen

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

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