On Sunday March 10th Mothering Sunday our service was led by our deacon David Hunt with Trevor Dixon, our minister doing the introductory Lent theme.
The introductory words were; ‘Even before the world was created, God knew that Jesus would be the Way, the Truth and the Life for all who believed in him. But God didn’t just ignore his people then, waiting until the time came for Jesus. No he gave them a way to be forgiven. If they offered sacrifices from a heart of worship, they could renew their friendship with God as they proved their reliance on him.
BUT people did not rely on God. Some did not follow his way of sacrifice and worship. And there was a deeper problem. Many may have followed the outward ritual, but they didn’t trust God in their hearts. They didn’t love him. They didn’t live lives that reflected his glory. There were then selections read from Leviticus 1v1-4; Psalm 51v16-17; Micah 6v6-8; and concluding with Jeremiah 7v21-28 after David extinguished a candle. For me the key phrases were, ‘The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise;’ and ‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’
We then sang ‘Now Thank we all, our God’. David led the opening prayers and used some words of Julian of Norwich describing the motherhood of God as part of the prayers. Our second hymn was one I had not sung before was ‘Lord of the home, your only Son, received a mother’s love.’ It encouraged us to make our homes like that of Jesus growing up through the Holy Spirit. David led us in the meditation on Psalm 27 with the congregation being divided into two, with one side reading the verses in lighter type and the other side responding with the verses in dark print, which really brought its message to life. The gospel reading was from Luke 13v31 onwards where Jesus lamented over Jerusalem. Our next hymn was ‘All for Jesus.’
When David had talked to the children he had asked them what they had done for their mums and one family had brought their mum breakfast in bed! The young people had also distributed bunches of daffodils for us mothers in church.
David enlarged in his sermon on an article he had written in the Focus magazine to explore that throughout Lent we are on a journey on which we need to keep focussed. In his late teens and early 20s he was an officer in the Boy’s Brigade and enjoyed coaching them in football best of all. He taught the group of 8 year olds the importance of keeping focussed on the goal; in the end they won games and even one year all three tournaments! Jesus is on a journey towards Jerusalem as the ultimate goal with all its demands and difficulties. The first part of the gospel focussed on Jesus and what he did and said, but this section focussed on Jesus setting his face towards Jerusalem. As he gets nearer to Jerusalem the hostility towards him increases. The distance from Galilee to Jerusalem was 70 miles, which would normally take 3 or 4 days to get there on foot, but Jesus’ journey took 5 months. As he progressed on his journey Jesus informed the people about God and himself. The journey narrative was divided by the compilers of the gospel for the Bible into 10 chapters. It was not just a journey but en route there were several accounts of saving the lost, God’s outgoing compassionate love to those in need and the encouragement to give up security, and as things would not be easy they would need to keep focussed on the journey. The whole account is what God is saying to us about the journey of discipleship and could be read as a whole to get its full impact.
Some Pharisees approach Jesus in today’s reading and warn him about Herod; were they trying to protect Jesus or did they want to hurry the troublemaker out of their territory or even tempt him off his route to Jerusalem? Jesus refused to take any notice of their warnings as he knew he still had work to do and nothing would stop him from teaching, preaching and healing, heading ever closer to the cross. Nobody could prevent him from doing what God had called him to do, no matter what the cost. Of course Jesus later rebuked Peter by calling him a stumbling block when he did not want Jesus to suffer. Jesus described himself like a hen who wished he could put his arms around the people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing in motherly protection. A hen turns everything over as it looks for something to eat. Jesus was prepared to go in obedience to death on the cross to save those who were given to him. What about you, he challenged us? We can lose the focus on important things such as having a quiet time with our Lord and giving time to those we love and nurture the relationships. Do we forget why we are here as a church? It is not just a social club but we are God’s strategy to reach out to a needy world; remembering that it is God whose mission it is. We need to keep our focus on what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. We can trust in God completely to lead us in that mission if we keep our focus on our Lord Jesus. After the sermon we sang ‘Be thou our vision’ which gave us an opportunity to pledge ourselves to keep our focus on Jesus. After the intercessions the service was concluded as we sang ‘Guide me O thou great Jehovah’.