Hello everyone! I have been busy at work on Wednesday and Thursday and at home despite our long Jubilee weekend last weekend, as I was preparing two services, one for last Sunday and one for yesterday evening June 10th. Last Sunday morning I was preaching in Scotton near Knaresborough and took Beth with me, as it is difficult for her to get anywhere at the moment, since she broke her foot a couple of weeks ago. She was coming to lunch with us as well. I had wondered about taking her to her usual church, but that would involve me collecting her from Knaresborough and taking her to Harrogate and then going back to Knaresborough to take my service. Beth thought it would be more sensible to go with me, which was lovely as she had not heard me take a service for years. It was pouring with rain but that did not deter the small congregation who came. There is nowhere to park in Scotton, but I was able to park in the church steward’s drive. I had gone to find out which drive that was as I was told there would be a lot of bunting for the Jubilee, but I had to park as there seemed to be bunting outside most houses! A walk soon showed me the correct house. Beth managed to hobble through the rain to the church. I was glad she was there as she was by far the youngest there. She only knew the tune and words of one of the hymns, namely ‘Blessed Assurance’, although she knew ‘Thou who camest from above’ but she sang a different tune in Christ Church, where she usually attends. However she soon picked up the tunes of the other ones, she had not sung before, namely ‘Meet and right it is to sing’, ‘God of all power and truth and grace’ and ‘Behold the servant of the Lord’, which I chose as I love the words and tunes.
I described my experience of growing up in the high church of St Wilfred’s Church Harrogate, where I had learnt to be in awe of God, as the choir and priests were behind the screen and I was taught to genuflect as I left the pew. When I was confirmed at the age of 12, it was suggested we could make our confession, which as a serious minded child, I did before being confirmed. I had always seen God as a big angry judge who was ready to punish me for the many mistakes I made. Isaiah was in the temple at the time of a festival and as the worship was going on around him he had a vision of God surrounded on his throne by seraphim singing continually but not looking on His face. Suddenly Isaiah was overwhelmed by his uncleanness and the uncleanness of the people of Israel and was terrified that he would be killed; no one could look on God and live. However one of the seraphim took a burning coal from the altar and touched his lips so Isaiah was cleansed. Restored and unafraid, Isaiah was receptive to God’s voice, and when God asked who would go for us and take our word to the people, he responded in obedience to God’s call and replied ‘Here I am, send me.’
At university I gave my life to Jesus once I had understood that he had died not just for me but for everyone. Nicodemus came to see Jesus as he was impressed by his actions; he probably felt that Jesus had something about his ministry that he was lacking. However he was puzzled when Jesus said he had to be born again, especially as he knew following the law and its regulations could not change him. Jesus challenged his lack of understanding as he was a Pharisee. For us to be born again we need to give ourselves to Jesus, receiving his forgiveness and acceptance and His Holy Spirit which strengthens us daily and teaches us how to live.