On October 1st I led worship at Park Grove Chapel Knaresborough. We sang ‘At the name of Jesus’, before I led the opening prayers. We heard the reading from Exodus 17.1-7 where the Israelites were complaining about the lack of water in the wilderness and blamed God. I gave the children 4 scenarios when the children were dissatisfied with their lives; why did one have to take the dog for a walk; why could she not have her own flat like a little girl who wished she could walk. We often complain that the grass is greener on the other side, but we need to learn to be content and enjoy what we have, remembering that some children do not have homes, enough to eat or money for a pet or for treats or good health. We need to say thank you for all we have and not wish we had more. We sang ‘When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word,’ before the children left for their groups. We had the reading from Philippians 2.1-13 and a dramatised reading based on Matthew 21.23-32 before we sang ‘Meekness and Majesty’.
I preached on the readings. Jews liked to debate in the time of Jesus so it was not surprising that the authorities challenged him after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his cleansing of the temple. They questioned his authority and in the way of rabbinic debate Jesus replied with a question about John the Baptist’s authority. If they said John’s authority was from God they would have to say that Jesus was the Messiah under God’s authority. If they said John’s authority was not from God they would have incensed the crowds who believed he had God’s authority. The authorities had to admit they did not know, so Jesus would not say where his authority came from. The authorities were meant to be the spiritual leaders of the community but were obviously failing, nor could the Sanhedrin seem to be able to distinguish between true and false prophets. They did know the truth but were afraid to admit it. The Israelites also questioned the authority of Moses and by implication God when they needed water.
Jesus told a parable which showed two kinds of people; the people who initially said no and then repented and those who had initially repented but their lives did not reflect true repentance. They resisted John and Jesus because they lacked trust. John and Jesus had tried to show that they could trust in being accepted by God if they did acknowledge their need of repentance and made a fresh start through Jesus. I am encouraged by a notice I heard about outside a church, which read, ‘Sinners welcome here’, as I am always aware of where I fall short.
Paul in Philippians reminded the church not to seek their own interests, but to concentrate on walking the way with Jesus, humbly serving others as he did. There was no place for personal ambition. Jesus himself took on the form of a servant to show us how much God loved us. He became obedient even unto death on the cross. He won people’s hearts by loving and accepting them; he served them to glorify his Father in heaven. God raised him to life and through what Jesus has done we can all be raised to life, provided we follow the way of humility and obedience in service.
We sang ‘For the healing of the nations’ before the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘May the mind of Christ my Saviour.’