On Sunday June 25th I led worship at Harlow Hill. We sang, ‘Praise my soul the King of heaven’ as the opening hymn and I led the opening prayers. For the children’s address I asked them what they were afraid of and shared my fears of heights and even being in Stump Cross Caverns. I reassured them that God had told his people they were precious and that they were not to be afraid as Isaiah told them, Isaiah 43. 1. Jesus told his disciples that God cared even for the sparrow, whose life was so short, so how much more does he care for each one of us. We sang, ‘In heavenly love abiding,’ before we had a dramatised reading based on Genesis 21.8-21 and Matthew 10.24-39 was also read. We sang, ‘Rejoice and be glad! The Redeemer hath come:’ before I preached.
The Psalmist in Psalm 86 called confidently on the Lord for help. He trusted God to come to his aid, as he was devoted to him. He looked forward to the time when all nations would worship and acknowledge God. When Abraham and Sarah celebrated the weaning of Isaac, Sarah saw her son playing with Ishmael and was afraid that Ishmael might share her son’s inheritance and told Abraham to expel Hagar with her son Ishmael. God confirmed to Abraham that it right to reject Ishmael and reassured him that he would make him into a great nation, as he was his son. Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away early the next morning with food and water. When the water ran out Hagar put her son under a bush to wait to die, as she felt totally abandoned, but God showed her a well and reassured her that Ishmael would become a great nation.
The disciples needed to listen to Christ talking to them and reassuring them that if God cared for the Sparrow, how much more he cared about their welfare. God cares for each one of us, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised.
God spoke to say that the Kingdom of God belonged to those who are persecuted; those who had the courage to speak up for Jesus and Jesus would then tell his Father, that his disciples belonged to him. He warned his disciples that they would suffer as he did, because they served him. Are we prepared to love Jesus more than our families, as Jesus challenged us to do? Are we prepared to give up our most treasured possessions or our own comfort to care for the vulnerable and marginalised people around us? Are we prepared to show our love by being ready to welcome the stranger, the refugee and asylum seekers into our homes or do we just want to make ourselves and our families more comfortable? When life is difficult we need to remember how Paul told us that nothing could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We then sang ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ before Brian, the worship leader, led the prayers of intercession and the offering. Worship closed when we sang ‘Ye servants of God, your master proclaim.’