Hello everyone! Our service was led today by our Deacon David Hunt. He began the service with a poem reflecting on where God was when September 11th 2001 happened but went on to say that God was where all suffering occurs such as the homeless person in Gaza or the prisoner in Afghanistan! David told us that the theme of the service was Holy Ground. We began the service with the hymn from our Songs for Worship; God who sets us on a journey.
Verse 1:God who sets us on a journey
To discover, dream and grow,
Lead us as you led your people
In the desert long ago;
Journey inward, journey outward
Stir the spirit, stretch the mind;
Love for God and self and neighbour
Marks the way that Christ defined.
Verse 3: End our longing for the old days,
Grant the vision that we lack-
Once we’ve started on this journey
There can be no turning back;
Let us travel light, discarding
Excess baggage from our past,
Cherish only what’s essential,
Choosing treasure that will last.
Verse 4: When we set up camp and settle
To avoid life’s risk and pain,
You disturb complacent comfort,
Pull the tent pegs up again;
Keep us travelling in the knowledge
You are always at our side,
Give us courage for the journey,
Christ our goal and Christ our guide.
This hymn was a perfect start to the service I thought as it shows us how to keep on our journey of faith, loving God, and our neighbours as ourselves, as Jesus revealed. We are not to allow our past baggage to slow our journey nearer to Jesus, but fix our eyes on him. We need to know that we are never alone as Jesus is our guide and our goal no matter what happens. David talked to the children who had started a new school year and in the case of two girls who had started secondary school with all the new facilities to get used to. The girls had found it helpful to go together to their new school; friends are important to help on the way. We too have our Christian friends and Jesus our friend and constant companion to help us on our journey of faith. The second hymn emphasised our journey of faith, especially in the chorus:
So every day,
We’re on our way,
For we’re a travelling, wandering race,
We’re the people of God.
We had a reading from Exodus and the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. We then sang a hymn of the importance of serving our neighbours:
Fill us with your love,
Show us how to serve
The neighbours we have from you.
Verse 2: Neighbours are rich folks and poor,
Neighbours are black folk and white,
Neighbours are nearby and far away.
Verse 3: These are the ones we should serve,
These are the ones we should love.
All these are neighbours to us and you.
David then preached on the Good Samaritan from the point of view of all the people involved to see where Holy Ground was. The lawyer wanted to know what he needed to do to attain eternal life. He wanted to make sure his future was secure; was he on holy ground? The man who set off on the journey was foolhardy as it was known to be a dangerous road; was it not his fault he was attacked and robbed, as he deliberately put himself in danger? Surely he was not on holy ground it served him right!! The priest and the Levite took turns being on duty in the temple, but if they were on duty they could not be contaminated by a possible dead body; that would mean they would be unclean for 7 days unable to fulfil their duties in the temple. Surely they had to ignore the injured man as they needed to keep themselves pure for the holy ground of the temple? The man who helped had nothing to stand in the way of meeting the needs of the injured traveller and stopped and washed his wounds and took him to an inn; he paid for the innkeeper to care for him until he returned and if it cost more he would reimburse the innkeeper. Surely he stood on holy ground as he met the man’s needs without asking anything about why he had put himself in such danger? What about the innkeeper? Does he not have a part to play? Yes he took the Samaritan at his word and looked after the man trusting that the Samaritan would return so he would not be out of pocket. Surely he was also on holy ground where God meets us as we meet the needs of others. David said, ‘Wherever God meets humanity; that is where Holy Ground is.’ David walked to different spots in the church as he talked of each character, which a number found distracting, even though he did it to emphasise the different people. I too found it distracting. We are the hands and feet of Jesus to serve all in need around us. Let us remember that Holy Ground is wherever we meet with God as we love others.
We then sang; Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One, is here;
Come bow before him now
With reverence and fear;
In him no sin is found –
We stand on holy ground.
Be still for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One, is here.
That hymn led into prayers of intercession concluding our service with the hymn, Lord, thy church on earth is seeking
Thy renewal from above; and in verse 2:
Freedom give to those in bondage,
Lift the burdens caused by sin.
Give new hope, new strength and courage,
Grant release from fears within:
Light for darkness, joy for sorrow;
Love for hatred; peace from strife.
These and countless blessings follow
As the Spirit gives new life.
And verse 3:
In the streets of every city
Where the bruised and lonely dwell,
Let us show the Saviour’s pity,
Let us of his mercy tell.
The hymns reinforced David’s message of being aware of Holy Ground. Let us remember we are on Holy Ground often when we least expect it. This is the day that the Lord has made and let us rejoice and be glad in it.