Our service this morning was led by a local preacher, Andrew Johnson, who has been and still is a part of our thoughts and prayers as we seek God’s will for our chapel; we hope to be able to replace our pews with chairs and, make our church floor level, so it can help us expand the use of our chapel for the benefit of the community.
We began worship with a hymn of hope, ‘All my hope on God is founded.’ Andrew asked; ‘If Christ is the answer, what is the question?’ Andrew led the opening prayers encouraging us to rely on God and not on ourselves. As the children’s address he asked where we would look up a phone number and someone mentioned 118, 118 or the phone book. Then he asked how we would find an address that we had been to before; the children responded on the internet; their parents would look up the details on the internet and print it off to follow or use the Sat Nav. Some people still follow a map; I find the Sat Nav the easiest to follow even though on couple of occasions it has let us down; firstly when I was travelling to see Kathleen with my beloved by a different route we arrived in the middle of Liverpool, when the Sat Nav announced we had arrived at our destination!! I knew it was wrong and managed to find our way from there to her house via town! The other occasion was on our first visit to one of our doctor’s homes and the Sat Nav insisted we had arrived but it just seemed to a road! As we decided to return home and were about to turn right at the roundabout we saw the name of the village we were heading for on the opposite exit from the roundabout, so we took that direction and finally arrived albeit a little late! Andrew then asked us where we normally looked to find out what was on the TV and the children mostly got the answers from the TV guide on the television. Others looked in the Radio Times or another TV guide to find out what was on. For finding out the time most of us looked at watches, the clock on the wall or listen to the clock on the phone. He was surprised that the children all seemed to have watches, as nowadays so many use mobile phones on the internet! Andrew reminded us that the old ways are changing. Going faster may be more efficient and more accurate but such a journey does not always give the full picture. Sometimes it is the actual journey can be good when there are things to see on the way. Not all the answers are on the internet; you can find answers such as what, when or where but not why! Old ways have their benefit so if Christ is the answer, what is the question? What does it all mean? How would I cope? What should I do in this difficult situation? The Internet does not provide the right answer to those questions. Perhaps Christ has the right answer? We then sang ‘Father God I wonder how I managed to exist’. Luke 8 has a series of miracles of which we heard the healing of the man possessed by demons. The reading from Galatians 3v23 onwards showed how the ways were changing. Our worship leader Christine Bunting then led the prayers of intercession and used really relevant and meaningful prayers. We then sang ‘Christ’s is the world in which we move, the touching place;’ it is a beautiful song and I particularly love the chorus:
‘To the lost of Christ shows his face;
To the unloved He gives His embrace;
To those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ makes, with his friends, a touching place.’
In his sermon Andrew began to tackle the question he had posed; ‘If Christ is the answer, what is the question.’ When the storm came up on the lake the disciples woke the sleeping Jesus and he solved their problem! After today’s reading about the healing of the demonic, the woman reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak she was healed and then Jairus’ daughter was healed as well. The evil spirits knew Christ as he was, but the disciples often forget what Jesus can achieve and feel panic and despair. The response of the people to the healing of the demonic man was fear; they asked Jesus to go; his power terrified them. They should have been relieved and happy to see the demoniac clothed and in his right mind. Do we sometimes share that response of fear to the power of Jesus? What do we say when we see he is leading us down a particular road? Do we tell Jesus to go away as we are terribly afraid of what would happen from our limited perspective? Christ offers more hope but people are still frightened of his challenge. Are we too afraid to ask the question? Paul in Galatians explained that the world had been under the guardianship of the law until Jesus came. The Greek scholar had a slave who kept the scholar on the straight and narrow with his school and homework until the scholar grew up and came of age. Paul compared the scholar who had rules and regulations to follow under the slave’s supervision with the Jewish law. Jewish society was good, looked after its poor and worshipped their God. The Jewish law kept the world away; it was protection and a code behind which they could hide. Now Paul was saying it was the time now to step out of the protection of the law in faith and think new, costly and dangerous thoughts led by Christ. As Christians we are called to step out in faith where we are led in maturity and faith; there are fewer certainties but we are called together with Christ in the centre. Are we in or out? Is Christ the answer to the question to our problems or not? What does it say to us in the issues we face here at Wesley Chapel? The answer can never lie only in worldly wisdom, email exchanges, in long exchanges in discussions and committee meetings. When trouble strikes we need to pray hard and row away from the rocks. Are we sharing in prayer together? We need to seek the power of Christ through prayer either praying together or wherever we are we could be praying at the same time for our chapel. We should never underestimate the power of prayer and prayer should be a major part of the church in the future. We just need to pray and ask Jesus to lead us in the right direction. We then read Psalm 22 and we all prayed silently together for the future of our chapel. The service concluded as we sang ‘Forth in thy name O Lord I go’. That service was both a challenge and encouragement to us at this time.