On the 29th June I led worship at Kearby chapel at 3 0’clock. It is a lovely little chapel set back from the road, so I have been known to get lost looking for it as I have driven past it a few times before recognising it. It has a faithful congregation of about 6 who sing God’s praises lustily. Worship began as we sang, ‘Father of heaven, whose love profound’ before the opening prayers.
We then had the reading from Romans 6v12-23 and I gave a short talk in which Paul reminded the Romans that they need no longer be bound by the law but accept God’s gift of grace. That did not mean they could behave as they liked now they were under God’s grace. Paul concludes with ‘Your sin pays its wage – death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Paul used 2 military terms; ‘opsonia’ was the soldier’s pay he had earned with the risk of his life, whereas ‘charisma’ was a totally unearned gift which the army sometimes received from the emperor. Paul wants us to realise that if we got the pay we had earned that would be death; but out of his grace God has given us life.
We then sang ‘O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free,’ before the readings from Jeremiah 28 v5-11 and Matthew 10 v40-42. Then we sang ‘God of all redeeming grace,’ before the sermon.
Jeremiah suffered as he preached the unpopular message God gave him to the Israelites. They preferred to believe Hananiah’s more favourable prophecy that in 2 years time the Babylonian yoke would be broken. Jeremiah knew the people would be disappointed when Hananiah’s prophecy did not come true. However Jeremiah could only preach God’s word, no matter how unpopular it was. The disciples had been sent out on mission and told to take nothing for their journey and to accept all hospitality offered them. The Nomadic people like Abraham and Sarah always welcomed strangers who came and provided them with food and water. They were a hospitable people. Incidentally recently two young men, one a son of a former member of my old chapel and his friend had cycled to raise money for the charities supporting Railway Children and St Michael’s Hospice. The place which was most hospitable to them as they cycled was Iran; the Iranian people accepted them as part of their family. We are discouraged from welcoming people we don’t know; at home we have a notice discouraging cold callers from trying to sell us things. How can we today be Jesus to those who need our acceptance, love and support? We can go out to serve those who need us. Even offering someone a drink, such as the Big Issue seller makes such a difference. Smiling at someone who feels no one cares can make a difference. Listening and holding someone’s hand can make a stranger a friend in need.
Malcolm was travelling home to his parents on a bus, when he felt really ill and the bus was stopped and he was checked in hospital and could not continue his journey. He did not know what to do, but as he was sitting there a man touched his shoulder and befriended him taking him back home with him and giving him something to eat. Once they got to know him they asked him if he minded babysitting whilst he and his wife went out, which he willingly did. In the meantime Malcolm had been trying to contact his parents so that they did not worry about why he had not yet returned, but later found the phone lines had all been down! After the couple returned the man offered to take him home, ostensibly as he was going to speak somewhere near there soon, and needed to locate the place, so Malcolm got a lift home and an invitation to the meeting the man was speaking at later; not only an invitation but the means to get there. That care of that Christian man for the stranger Malcolm, led him slowly on the path back to faith in Jesus and even to studying theology at Hull University as a mature student. Let us too be ready to be Jesus to those we meet.
We then sang, ‘Father mindful of the love that bought us,’ before I led the prayers of intercessions. We concluded our worship by singing ‘Christ from whom all blessings flow.’