On Sunday June 5th I led worship at Kirk Hammerton Chapel. We read Psalm 146 responsively to open worship and sang ‘Alleluia! Sing to Jesus’. I led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer before we sang ‘God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name’. A member of the church read Galatians 1.11-24 before I gave a short talk.
Paul insisted that his commitment to the gospel was not brought about by the success of anyone’s influence on him. That claim of the direct revelation from Jesus was forced out of him by the circumstances he faced with the Galatian churches; he had to show them that his gospel was genuine. His encounter with Jesus completely had stopped him in his tracks, when he persecuted the church, and given him a commission to be a witness to the Gentiles. He knew he did not deserve that commission; it was only by the Grace of God that he was commissioned. He was very disappointed that the Galatians did not understand that they did not need to follow cultural practices to be more acceptable to Jesus. He wanted the Gentiles to realise that they were welcomed into God’s kingdom through trust in Jesus Christ alone through God’s free gift of grace.
We sang ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart.’ I read the passage from 1 Kings 17.17-24 before members of the congregation took part in a dramatised reading based on Luke 7.11-17. We sang ‘Now the green blade rises’, before I preached.
Jesus was on the way to Nain followed by a large crowd, when they encountered a funeral procession; a young man was being carried on a bier for burial. There was a crowd of mourners to support the bereaved widow, who had lost her only son. Jesus’ heart went out to her because of her vulnerability. He did what no traditional Jew would do; he touched the bier carrying the body and told the young man to rise and he sat up and began to talk. Jesus showed in that way that God cared about his suffering people. The crowds were full of awe and praise to God for the restoration of the widow’s only son to life.
God had sent ravens to provide food for Elijah at the brook Kerith, when the drought came in Israel. When the brook dried up, a widow and her son were provided with flour and oil by God to help sustain them and Elijah. Then the widow’s son died and she felt that having a holy man there drew God’s attention to her sins, so her punishment was her son’s death. Elijah also saw her plight as God’s action and cried out to God and lay on the child and breathed into him and he was restored to life. Elijah showed the widow that he was a man of God and that God cared for the vulnerable widow.
Psalm 146 reflected God’s care for his people, executing justice for the oppressed and supporting the orphan and the widow. Do we have a heart for those who have fallen on hard times? Are we prepared to serve the needy through our finances or practically? Are we willing to welcome those refugees from war and persecution or are we afraid of the impact they will have on our society? We need the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit and recognise his constant presence with us. May we be open to God’s leading and recognise that without his grace we can do nothing.
We sang ‘We cannot measure how you heal’ before I led the intercessions. Worship concluded when we sang ‘The church of Christ in every age.’