The Lord requires of you only to act justly, to love loyalty, to walk humbly with your God.

Sunday June 24th morning’s worship was led by our Deacon David Hunt and it was a very worshipful service.  Our first hymn was ‘Jesus the name high over all’ which set us off to a good start.  David asked us what we came to church for and for a few moments no one offered anything, then I suggested ‘we come to worship God’ and others then suggested singing hymns, praising, being in God’s presence and learning more about God were others said.  He then asked why a number of people started to congregate last Tuesday and it was of course to see the Olympic torch passing by.  I had walked down on Tuesday with Cathy and just caught a glimpse of the young man carrying the torch, but Cathy did manage to get a photo!  David asked us how many holes were in the torch; no one guessed that there were 8000, representing the 8000 people carrying the torch across 8000 miles passing it on in the relay.  Everyone has an important part of the relay as they carry the torch for the small allocated distance, so it can cover the miles and be in London for the Olympics.  This year our chapel celebrates the fact that for 150 years the Christian witness, which began here in Harrogate so long ago has been passed on over the years to us now to carry on.  We all have a part to play in the relay of passing on our faith to those we share our lives with; however small we all have a role, which only we can do to continue the witness too Jesus in this place. 

The hymn from ‘Singing the Faith’ number 513 by John L Bell summed up what David had been telling us:

 

Take this moment, sign, and space;

Take my friends around;

Here among us make the place

Where your love is found.

 

Take the time to call my name,

Take the time to mend

Who I am and what I’ve been,

All I’ve failed to tend.

 

Take the tiredness of my days,

Take my past regret,

Letting your forgiveness touch

All I can’t forget.

 

Take the child in me,

Scared of growing old;

Help me find my worth

Made in Christ’s own mould.

 

Take my talents, take my skills,

Take what’s yet to be;

Let my life be yours,

And yet, let it still be me.

 

David based his sermon on Micah; ‘What does the Lord require of us?’  Micah lived at a time of political and social upheaval.  He could see people in his society being exploited by the powerful and he was critical of those who did that.  He warned them that offering the ritualistic form of sacrificial worship would not receive God’s blessing and favour, no matter how extravagant that sacrifice might appear!  God wanted more; he wanted a change of lifestyle.  David asked us if it was so different for us 3000 years later.  What is important for us?  Is going to church, singing hymns and worshipping all he requires?  Of course worship is important as it is the moment we make contact with the living God, but there is so much more than that.  Does meeting together for worship transform our lives after we have had a glimpse of God’s glory?  Do we act justly, fairly and with honesty and integrity on the other days of the week?   Micah had a passion for justice; he could see injustice was rife, false weights and measures being used to exploit the vulnerable.  Are we right and fair in all our dealings and relationships?  Tax avoidance is not wrong as it is not against the law or is it just?  Do we pay tax according to the letter or spirit of the law?  What can we do to change injustices?  We can abide by the spirit and not just the letter of the law.  We can seek mercy, compassion and kindness, treating others as Jesus did with steadfast love.  We are good at looking after ourselves, but what about doing random acts of kindness, which are unexpected?  Perhaps someone just needs to be listened to?  Perhaps someone is feeling lonely and needs a phone call and a chat or perhaps receiving a card, saying how you are thinking of them or thanking them for something would be that act of kindness?  Just be open to such opportunities to make someone’s day better, is what David is suggesting.  We could not just show mercy but love mercy; look beyond our needs and take any opportunity which presents itself; smile as you walk and greet someone cheerfully.  How can we do this?  We cannot do this in our own strength, but only as we are transformed daily, by walking with our Lord, building our relationship with God through Jesus, humbly learning from His example, so  that we grow in love and learn to love, serve and encourage others.  I found this a challenging and I pray that I can take a step each day to share Jesus’ love and acceptance with a needy world. 

 

The words of this hymn no 713 in ‘Singing the Faith’ by Martin Leckebusch say all David wanted to say:

 

Show me how to stand for justice:

How to work for what is right,

How to challenge false assumptions,

How to walk within the light.

May I learn to share more freely

In a world so full of greed,

Showing your immense compassion

By the life I choose to lead.

 

Teach my heart to treasure mercy,

Whether given or received –

For my need is not diminished

Since the day I first believed:

Let me seek no satisfaction

Boasting of what I have done,

But rejoice that I am pardoned

And accepted in your Son.

 

Gladly I embrace a lifestyle

Modelled on your living word,

In humility submitting

To the truth which I have heard.

Make me conscious of your presence

Every day in all I do:

By your Spirit’s gracious prompting

May I learn to walk with you.

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