On Sunday November 6th our minister Rev Trevor Dixon led worship at Wesley Chapel. Worship opened when we sang ‘I sing the almighty power of God’ before Trevor led the prayers, including the collect for ‘All Saints season’. We sang, ‘Thou God of truth and love,’ before Job 19.23 onwards was read when Job said, ‘I know that my redeemer lives’ and 2 Thessalonians, which was looking forward to when the day of the Lord would come. We sang, ‘I know that my redeemer lives’ before we heard Luke 20.27-38, where the Sadducees showed their scepticism of life after death.
Trevor when he began his sermon admitted that the lectionary readings did not always seem to relate much to each other, but that the readings set for the day did relate to each other in a developmental way, as they all spoke of the future. Some Sadducees confronted Jesus as they were fundamentalists who believed only what was in the scriptures. They did not believe in resurrection, but the Pharisees did. The Sadducees scorned belief in the story of the widow who married seven brothers and had no offspring, as they wondered whose wife she would be at the resurrection. They were not open to deeper truth.
The Thessalonians church expected Jesus to return immediately. Some even thought he had already returned. Paul explained that much evil and destruction will come first. He told them to stand firm and to hold to truth. Their faith would be tested so they had to hold on. Trevor said he hoped that we had read or would read the book of Job as it was full of strong feelings about suffering and justice. God the creator is all loving yet there is evil and suffering. It is a paradox and Job suggests ways of living with paradox in a religious creative way. Job opens with God speaking to Satan. We know that Job is absolutely innocent. The suffering of Job was undeserved. We need to understand Satan was needling God at his weak spot. God has made human beings free and independent to choose whether to have a relationship with God or not; people are not robots.
Do we love God only because of what God can do for us or do we love him as He loves us. When Job suffered his family and friends turned from him as they saw him as having been cursed by God. His family and friends thought that the point of worshipping God was for protection from pain, suffering and disease. They were sure that Job must have done something wrong as God is not caring for him. Is God really there if he is not giving us good things? Job was at the end of his tether, abandoned by loved ones yet he did not follow his family and friends and did not turn against God. Job felt angry with God but he wanted to present his case to God; he had not given up on God. He did not stop believing in God but he did want justice. He wanted to stand in the presence of God and hear from God that he is loved and vindicated and that he still had a relationship with Him. However he still believed that his redeemer lived despite his undeserved suffering. Satan had lost the bet in Job’s case with God. Job’s belief in God did not depend on his prosperity. In despair Job looked to God; he only valued God’s judgment on himself. Was God on his side and could he be his witness? God chose crucifixion. Do we still believe that prosperity is a result of God’s favour? We who have faith find a vital message from the readings. God could fulfil his promises in us. We need to seek the truth behind it and stand on that truth and trust in God. The future is in God’s hands which gives us hope of a future with God.
Trevor led the prayers of intercession and we shared the peace before we sang, ‘God, whose love is all around’. Trevor then celebrated Holy Communion. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Captain of Israel’s host and guide.