Hello everyone! Quite a few students came to the Acorn for help with the computer despite the torrential rain; I walked in wellingtons through the lakes on the stray! On Saturday I was busy preparing ideas for next week’s service, but as it was rather hot in between showers I did not get into the garden to tackle the rampant growth! I also did some baking in the morning in preparation for next week’s farewell to the senior partner of our practice who is retiring. I have made two apple cakes, one gluten free for anyone who cannot eat gluten and some caramel shortbread as there will be a number of patients coming to pay their respects to her. I am only posting this a week after the events, as I have been busy preparing for a service today and another coming next week!
Sunday July 8th service was led by our superintendant minister Mark Godfrey and we started with the uplifting hymn ‘At the name of Jesus’. He had photos of famous people which he asked the children to identify. They recognised Andy Murray and other sports people, David Cameron and others; they could name most of them. Mark then asked them about famous local people and at least 3 actors including Hugo Speer were mentioned by the children. Mark had been a minister in Yeadon at one time and an old boy returned to great welcome, when he was president of the Methodist Conference, Neil Richardson! Mark then told the children that when Jesus returned to his home town, he was initially welcomed but they did not like his message, as it was not what they wanted to hear and rejected it. He reminded the children that sometimes we do not want to hear what God says to us.
We sang ‘Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it’ before the children were blessed as they left for Sunday school. Then Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet was read followed by Mark’s description of Jesus’ return to his home town. Jeremiah’s call was decisive and though he argued that he was too young and inexperienced He could not ignore the call. A man of 32 was made a managing director of a company and as he lacked experience he asked the elderly chairman for advice on how to make the right decision. Experience he replied. How would he get experience in making right decision he wondered and the chairman replied that experience was gained by making wrong decisions!
Today we are face by freedom of choice, but Jeremiah had no choice but to speak out, which he knew would be difficult, as he had a message of warning and judgement for the people if they did not turn back to God. It was not easy for them to receive such a message and Jeremiah suffered greatly for speaking the truth the people did not want to hear. The Titanic on its fateful maiden voyage had plenty of warnings given but they did not act on the messages, just telling the people to go away. People don’t want warnings and prefer to ignore them.
Jesus got an initial positive response from his home town as they were surprised that at his knowledge, but their admiration very quickly turned to anger and in Luke’s version they even tried to kill him. Why were the crowd so angry with Jesus? Perhaps they were jealous of this local lad having such a high profile and telling them what to? Did they have local rivalry? Why was Jesus not performing the same miracles in his home town as he had reputedly done elsewhere? Partly they did not like what Jesus said as he spoke highly of the Gentiles. It is not easy for us to speak up for God, as it is always taking a risk when we don’t know how people will respond. We may find we are ignored, rejected, or laughed at. Often we try to make our excuses and avoid speaking out, as we say we don’t have enough experience and don’t know what to say. However we will only get experience if we do speak up for God. We have the assurance that God is with us and He will give us the words we need to speak, at the time we need them.
We then sang John Bell’s wonderful hymn, ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?’ It is full of challenge and assurance for example: verse 2:
‘Will you leave yourself behind
If I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
And never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
Should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer
In you and you in me?
And in verse5:
‘Lord, your summons echoes true
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
In you and you in me.’
The service concluded with the ‘Go forth and tell!’ and I will conclude this with the final verse of that hymn:
‘Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide:
Share God’s good gifts with people long denied.
Live out your life as Christ, your Lord, shall choose,
Your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.’ Amen.