On Sunday September 11th Deacon David Hunt led worship at Wesley Chapel. Worship began when we sang, ‘Great is thy faithfulness.’ David led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. He reminded us of how our former minister, now a supernumerary minister, Rev Gordon Lister noted the plight of the homeless in Harrogate and had started the homeless project; now we have a hostel and Springboard, our former caretaker’s house, which provides meals, showers and advice for homeless people during the daytime. David was glad that we do help to provide food and a roof over the heads of some of the homeless, but what about any spiritual needs they might have? There has been non Christian research in London, which has highlighted meeting– spiritual needs as well as physical needs aid recovery. Eight church groups around town have seen the need for a prayer breakfast to provide those seekers with some spiritual input on a Sunday morning downstairs at our chapel before the main service. Teams will be needed to form part of the welcoming team, providing tea and toast for those who need the opportunity to talk and be listened to and prayed for. The first reading was from Exodus 6.1-8, where God was faithful to his people and Israel’s deliverance was assured. Pharaoh will let his people go and God will give them land in Canaan; the Lord will remember his covenant and deliver and redeem them. It is God’s commitment to the people to give them the land as a possession. We sang, ‘Guide me o thy great Jehovah’ before the gospel reading from John 17.1-8,20-21, where Jesus prayed for his disciples and what they would be able to do. Then Galatians 5.13-16,22-25 about the fruit of the spirit was read before we sang, ‘O loving Lord, who art forever seeking.’
David began his sermon by discussing the use a lot of words such as faithfulness, a fruit of the spirit. A dog is seen as a faithful friend and our rescue dog Piper is our faithful loving friend! Faithfulness means being able to rely on someone, who is steady, loyal and trustworthy. There are many stories of faithful people in the Bible; Noah, Abraham, Ruth and David with his faithful friend Jonathan. Life was not easy for them nor is it easy being faithful when it is a struggle; we cannot do it in our own strength. The great heroes in the Bible were not perfect; Abraham lied about who Sarah was. David gave in to lust and murder, which grieved God. Peter denied he even knew Jesus; heroes of faith were unfaithful. We are not alone in our struggles of faith; we all fail, but God never changes despite the number of times we get it wrong, God is faithful to us. The Bible shows God’s faithfulness to us.
The Life of Christ was lived in full obedience to his heavenly Father, leading him to the cross. The hymn in Philippians 2 showed that Jesus made himself nothing. Jesus was faithful to his calling and mission; he was faithful to his disciples nurturing them, forgiving and serving them. Jesus prayed for his disciples then and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays for today and forgives us; he has a two way relationship with us. We are told to remain in him as he remains in us. He is the vine and we are the branches and need to bear much fruit. Our faith in God and God’s faith in Jesus will affect the way we live our lives, the way we serve others and care for the wellbeing of each other, as we are connected to one another. We have faith in those around us as we live our lives in community. Faith far deeper than words can say, not just commitment to church activities but it is a relationship with Jesus and how we express it with others. It is about caring for one another and not gossiping or spreading rumours. It is about worship, prayer and forgiveness and reconciling disagreement. When God’s word dwells in us the fruit of the Spirit will be seen in our lives.
We sang, ‘Have faith in God my heart’, before David led the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Called by Christ to be disciples.’