On Sunday August 16th I led worship at Scotton Chapel. I used part of Psalm 34 as a call to worship. Our opening hymn was ‘Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour’, before I led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. I did a short talk on death of Jesus on the cross, majoring on the terrible death as the theme of worship was ‘Flesh and Blood.’ We sang ‘Break thou the bread of life,’ before we heard the readings from Proverbs 9v1-6, Ephesians 5v15-20 and John 6v51-58. We then sang ‘Just as I am, without one plea’ before I preached.
Jesus said he was the Living Bread which had come down from heaven; he was giving his flesh for the life of the world. That meant that Jesus’ self-giving would only be complete at his death. The original Greek for flesh meant more the phrase ‘raw flesh’ or dead meat; flesh linked to death. Talking of eating flesh made some wonder if he was talking about cannibalism. Jesus however was talking about them receiving his flesh and blood, so that those who believed in him could live in him and he in them. Through his complete sacrifice of himself on the cross people were able to have the same relationship with Jesus as He had with the Father; it opened the way for those who fed on him to be in relationship with his Father too. Jesus’ death on the cross was seen as a terrible death by Jews and Gentiles alike and was regarded by some as a taboo subject. However it was through that very death that we could take the life of Jesus into our hearts; we are to abide in him and allow him to abide in us. Receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion can help us to receive Jesus into our lives and renew our faith, being filled afresh and strengthened for the following week.
It is important to have Jesus in our lives through the Holy Spirit to help us follow God’s way, as Psalm 34v14 reminds us; Proverbs presents us with the choice of following the way of wisdom rather than the foolish one. We have the freedom to choose which way to go, but with Jesus’ help we can make right choices. St Paul reminded the Ephesians that they had been freed from darkness to the light of Christ and needed to stay true to Jesus and continue to walk in the light. However Paul told them they need not worry about struggling in their own strength, as he encouraged them to be filled with the Holy Spirit each day, so they would be empowered to live as God wished them to. We too need the power of the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us each day so we can be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. I concluded by reading the words of the hymn ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us’.
We then sang a hymn I had not sung for years, but brought back a lot of memories for me: ‘All over the world the Spirit is moving.’ I then led the prayers of intercessions. Our closing hymn was ‘Behold the servant of the Lord’.