On Sunday November 24th Rev. Nicholas Witham led our worship at Wesley Chapel. Worship began as we sang ‘Ye servants of God your master proclaim.’ Nick asked the congregation if they had ever been naughty. Nick and his brother threw stones onto the roof and one broke the window. They closed the curtains so the broken window would not be seen. Of course it only took 24 hours for the misdemeanour to be discovered! They decided to play rugby on their beds until a leg broke, so they propped the bed up with books in the hope they would not be found out; it took a couple of days for their parents to discover what had happened!! They were deliberately doing wrong things which they had been told not to do; namely throw stones at the house or play on their beds! We are only human and definitely not perfect. The Bible talks of our deliberate wrong doing and the God of mercy and forgiveness doesn’t want us to hide the things we do wrong, but to be honest about what we have done wrong and ask for forgiveness. God accepts us as we are even though we are not perfect.
After the children’s address we sang ‘Jesus put this song into our heart.’ The first reading was Psalm 46 which describes God as our refuge and strength. The gospel reading was Luke 23v33-43 which described the crucifixion of Jesus when Jesus called on his Father to forgive them; verse 34 ‘Jesus said, ‘Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.’ He even gave forgiveness to the one of the criminals crucified with him, as he recognised that he deserved his punishment, whereas Jesus had done nothing to deserve such a death. Colossians 1v11-20 was also read. We sang ‘Crown him with many crowns’ before the sermon.
In his sermon Nick asked us if we have ever had the experience of being in complete control. He explained that his car had cruise control and he found it unnerving as he could not control the speed himself. Another time when he lost control was just after passing his driving test the car skidded on ice. I understand that situation only too well. When my younger daughter Cathy was four, I was driving to deliver Christmas cards for my mother in law, I was driving slowly looking for the address when I gently applied the breaks and the car spun out of control into a telegraph pole; the telegraph pole came off better than my car as it was written off! Stephen had spent 10 days doing the car up in the summer so I was not popular! Nick reminded us of how we like to be in control as not being in control is frightening. We can’t control the ones we love or who lives and who dies. We are often caught up in the power of Mother Nature in floods or strong winds, we cannot control. In fact we deceive ourselves if we think we are in control.
Psalm 46 reflects this chaos and confusion and reminds us that when we feel out of control there is someone we can ask for help. When we recognise that there is nothing we can do we can pray to God. Sometimes we make bargains with God, saying if we do such and such will you protect us. Often we can question God as we ask him why this is happening to us. Why does God feel so distant? We want God to answer our prayers in the way we want. Paul in Colossians assures us of God’s love. Sometimes we don’t know how we ought to pray but the Spirit helps us to pray. We are strengthened by God and given patience and endurance. Often we want God to work in our time, but God is in control, but he does not always answer in the way we want or when we want. We are to wait for and rely on his timing.
When we buy anything from the shops we are offered a guarantee of 12 or 24 months, but Paul reminded us that God’s guarantee will last for ever. We have been rescued from darkness and brought into his Kingdom and need to depend on God. In the world there are many self help books offered to help us improve our lives, but we are totally dependant on God. Imagine the worst thing we have done and receive the utter mercy and grace of God who has taken who we are and is enabling us to become who he wants us to be in his Kingdom. Our source of salvation changes who we are; we have a God who cares and is active in our world today.
When Nick worked as a policeman in Clapham Police station the chief officer was not allowed to park in its car park, despite his protests of ‘Do you know who I am?’; the space was needed for operational vehicles. We recognise the supremacy of Christ who is the image of the invisible God over everything. Let us accept that supremacy of Christ who is in control and cry out to him in the times we feel the lack of control. Psalm 46v10 calls us to ‘be still and know that I am God’. When Job suggests to God what he is to do, he is silenced when God comes and asks him if he had been there at creation, as he recognises the supremacy of God. We are under the supremacy of Christ the King, who is in control now and in the future. Let us be open to his will and his way.
We sang ‘Blessed assurance Jesus is mine’ before the intercessions when Nick encouraged us to feel encircled in the love of God. Our service concluded when we sang ‘I will sing the wondrous story.’