At 6.30 pm I led worship at Hampsthwaite Chapel joint evening service with Killinghall chapel; also with Bilton Area Chapel, whilst their refurbishment is being done. Our opening hymn was ‘Come, let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true’, before I led the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession and the Lord’s Prayer. I read Psalm 53 before I gave a short talk about the importance of sharing hugs to encourage one another. We sang ‘O love of God, how strong and true’ before Romans 13v1-10 was read. Then we had Luke 9v51-62 as a dramatised reading before we sang, ‘When we walk with the Lord’.
I preached about the struggles of life which the psalmist described in Psalm 53 where God seems to be far from the corruption and oppression around him, but the psalmist does not give up the hope that God would intervene and renew their prosperity. We too can see that corruption and oppression persists today and yet we know Jesus is with us in our struggles and pain. Jesus knew the danger and suffering which would face him on his arrival in Jerusalem and now set his face to journey to Jerusalem. Most people avoided travelling through the dangerous Samaritan area on the way to Jerusalem but Jesus gave the hated Samaritans the chance to prepare for him, but they refused. The disciples wanted Jesus to act like Elijah and call fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans, but Jesus told them off for their violent reaction. He was not going to be the kind of Messiah they expected.
Jesus knew he was probably heading to his death in Jerusalem and recognised the cost of obedience to his father; so when the would-be disciples presented themselves he knew the reality and cost of discipleship. The man who wanted to follow him needed to realise the challenge discipleship presented. The second man who would definitely follow Jesus when he had buried his father had felt the call to follow Jesus but he was not ready to make that leap of commitment. His father was not about to die. If he did not go then he would probably never get round to following him. A third man was prepared to follow Jesus but first he wanted to say goodbye to his folks. However Jesus knew that if the man turned back he would never free himself of his family and was not ready to make a firm commitment.
Paul counselled the Christians to obey the laws set by the authorities as he was a Roman citizen and he had been protected by the Roman authorities. However that was insofar as they were administering and maintaining order. He does not consider the potential abuse of power or illegitimate authority. It is important that we as Christians are responsible citizens pay the taxes we owe work for justice by encouraging what is good and repressing evil. We need to challenge ourselves as to whether we are responsible citizens and pay our taxes and follow the rules of a civilised society. Are we prepared to speak up for the vulnerable and marginalised in our wealthy country? Are we good stewards of our resources and do we aim not to waste the dwindling resources of our world? Let us grow closer to Jesus each day, learning to serve and love those around us in all we do, as Jesus did.
We sang ‘For the healing of the nations’ before I led the prayers of intercessions. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Behold the servant of the Lord.’