This week’s service is led by Mrs. Margaret Beasley
(Note : * For copyright reasons, the words of the hymns are printed rather than a link to a YouTube site. I’ve tried to pick hymns that people will know so that you can still sing if you wish. If you would like the tune, please can you look it up on YouTube yourself. Thanks.)
We come together in God’s presence
When all around seems chaotic and threatening, the presence of Jesus
encourages and strengthens us. Today we think about how we respond
with risk-taking faith to the authority of Jesus and his kingdom.
Do not be afraid for Jesus is here.
Listen to his living word and respond to his call.
Look to him, and step out in confidence and faith.
Reach out for his outstretched hand, and be held in his love.
Hymn : Be still for the presence of the Lord
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, Be still, for the glory of the Lord
the Holy One is here. is shining all around;
Come bow before him now he burns with holy fire
with reverence and fear; with splendour he is crowned;
in him no sin is found how awesome is the sight
we stand on holy ground our radiant King of light
Be still, for the presence of the Lord Be still, for the glory of the Lord
the Holy One is here. is shining all around.
Be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place;
he comes to cleanse and heal
to minister his grace;
no work too hard for him –
in faith receive from him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.
David J. Evans
CCL No 214565
we come to you from the chaos and confusion of our everyday lives.
Sometimes we feel all at sea with our ‘to do’ lists, the pressures and anxieties that weigh us down, and the demands upon us. We ask that you will meet each of us in our homes today, calming our fears, speaking to us with words of hope and reassurance and giving us confidence to walk your way in faith.
We bring to you today our thoughts and confession :-
When we are overwhelmed by confusion and do not know where to turn –
Forgive us God, our lack of faith.
When we focus on our difficulties and problems and cannot discern your presence –
Forgive us God, our lack of faith.
When we lose confidence in your call and cannot hear your voice
Forgive us God, our lack of faith.
When we are afraid to step out and cling to a false security
Forgive us God our lack of faith.
renew and strengthen us with the faith that is willing to risk all
for the sake of your call to action as we pray together in the words you taught us …
OUR FATHER, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever AMEN.
Reading : Matthew 14 : 22-33
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was up there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him ‘Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
Try to imagine for a moment what it feels like to be caught in a sudden storm on that lake – wind howling, waves crashing all around ………. and then seeing out of the gloom, a rather ghostly figure approaching who appears to be walking on the water. Are you reassured or are you even more scared? Maybe we’ve not had an experience quite like that but we’ve lived through the last few months while Covid19 has ravaged almost every country on earth. Can we truthfully say we’ve never had an anxious moment or two during this time?
It was at the end of a long and exhausting day of teaching the crowds on the hillside and feeding them too. Jesus made the disciples take the boat back across Lake Galilee while he left them to have time alone with God. – he had not long heard the distressing news of the brutal death of his cousin, John the Baptist. As darkness fell, one of the sudden storms for which the lake is well known, whipped around them and even though at least some of the disciples were experienced fishermen, they struggled for some hours to control the boat against the winds and waves. Then through the early morning mists they saw a figure coming towards them on the water – but could they believe what they were seeing? Only when they heard the reassuring words – ‘Take heart, it is I – do not be afraid’ did they realise it was Jesus coming to calm their fears. It was tempting to stay in the boat, clinging to what little security it provided – but Peter – always impetuous – stepped out of the boat and started towards Jesus. But then he took his eye off Jesus and became aware of the size and roughness of the waves and panicked and floundered in the water. He did what we would most likely have done – yelled for help – and there was the outstretched hand of Jesus ready to support him. Only once Jesus and Peter were safely back on board did the storm ease. Only then did the disciples realise the power and authority of Jesus. ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ I remember some time ago teaching the children in church a little song – ‘With Jesus in the boat we can smile at the storm” and they sat in their makeshift ‘boat’ as they sang. Such a simple little song with a big message – if I would only listen!
There are times when we may feel overwhelmed by our personal circumstances – perhaps job security, family illness, bereavement, or as we are now in times of uncertainty – when will we be clear of this virus, or are we in the North West already in another spike? We might feel all at sea, adrift in our little vulnerable boat with no-one there to calm our fears. Then Jesus comes to us, as he came to the disciples, saying don’t be afraid – come and take my hand. But do we always notice? Sometimes we can be so afraid that we don’t recognise Jesus in the person who offers a hand of support. I think back all these years ago to when I went out to Cairo as a volunteer. It wasn’t all plain sailing for there were times when I was really out of my depth. But within that little community I truly felt wrapped in their arms to see me through. I possibly didn’t realise it at the time that it was God’s arms that held me.
Having faith is not about being unafraid; it’s not about having all the answers. Right now some of us may feel our weaknesses and fears are heightened; that we might not have enough faith. We are only human after all. But if we could face our fears and take that risk; put our hand in God’s outstretched hand as we test the waters, we will be guided through the storm. Whether we are in the boat, out of the boat or on the shore, God’s hand is always there for us and his love and care for us is constant. Even when we falter, God does not.
This is a window in St Faith’s Church near Rotorua in New Zealand, where the figure of Christ is etched on the plain glass overlooking the lake outside. I saw this window about 25 years ago when I visited New Zealand. It was awesome!
Faithful God, we bring you our prayers for all who are fearful –
We pray for those who face physical danger as part of their work –
for those who risk their lives to help others,
for police and ambulance services, fire fighters and armed forces
for all working in the NHS during this pandemic– from the top consultants
to the porters and cleaners;
for those who travel to war-torn counties bringing relief to those in need;
We pray especially for the people in Beirut after the devastating explosion
there on Tuesday.
We ask that in the daily dangers they all face, you will give them care and protection.
We pray for those who are fearful for the future;
those anxious about their work and possible redundancy or unemployment;
for young people looking for further qualifications or jobs,
for those grieving the loss of loved ones.
We pray that you will give them strength to face their fears and to trust you for
the way ahead.
We pray for those who live with the fear of violence day by day;
those struggling to survive in places of conflict;
those who fear attacks or muggings on the streets;
those who live with violence and abuse in the home;
and those who face hostility because of discrimination and prejudice.
God of freedom, we pray that you will give them confidence and courage and
help them and others to work for places and communities of safety,
And we pray for ourselves, when we are fearful and uncertain,
conscious of the forces that threaten us and aware of our own vulnerability.
God of encouragement, we ask that we will find confidence and strength in you.
Hymn Will you come and follow me
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?
Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around?
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
John Bell and Graeme Maule
CCL No. 214565
You have met us in our homes and calmed our fears.
May we step out of our boats and follow you in the week ahead,
strong with the hope and courage and peace you give us.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of
the Holy Spirit be with us all now and always. Amen