Reflection for Sunday 7th February 2021

Service for 7th February 2021 with contributions by Mrs. Margaret Dexter-Brown and John Collins who are both URC Lay Preachers.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

Lord Jesus Christ, you know us better than we know ourselves, seeing us as we really are, with all our faults and limitations, our quirks and weaknesses, yet giving your all for us in love. Help us simply to know you better – glimpsing a little more clearly who you are in all your glory, greatness, love and compassion – so that, in love, we might give back to you in love, offering our worship now, our time today and our discipleship always, in grateful response. Amen.

HYMN: All I once held dear

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Chorus

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die

Chorus

PRAYERS:

Living God, we worship and adore you, for your love brings a smile to our faces as we share the joy of being alive. Your love for us brings wonder into our hearts as we see the beauty of your creation. Your love for us also brings tears into our eyes as we remember the pain you carry for humanity. But your love for us also makes us shout out loud as we cannot keep quiet about you. Your love for us makes us silent as no words can express our feelings for you.

Lord, we gather as your disciples in the world today. Open our hearts to hear your word afresh. Take away our preconceptions, that we may be surprised by you, humbled by you and faithful to you. We give thanks that you see each one of us as special and call us to be your disciples, despite all our strengths and weaknesses.

Loving, forgiving God, we come before you now, confessing all that we know in our hearts that hurts you. For the times this week when we have looked at someone from the older generation and have seen a difficult person, rather than a child of yours; forgive us.

For the times this week when we have looked at someone from the younger generation and have seen a trouble maker to be avoided, rather than a child of yours, forgive us.

For the times this week when we have looked at neighbourhoods and seen them as places from which nothing good can come, rather than seeing the potential of new beginnings, forgive us.

Loving God, give to each one of us the grace to see your world and its people through your eyes. In our brokenness and in our humanness, the Christ is one with us. In Christ we are set free. In Christ we are enough to be the Church. Let us now join in  the prayer he taught us….

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be 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

 BIBLE READING: Isaiah 42: 1 – 7

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

REFLECTION

This is the first of four passages in Isaiah which are known as The Servant Songs.  We exist only because God created us.  We breath because we have been given air by God.  As we have read of tens of thousands dying unable to breath because of Covid-19 we must appreciate our breath even more. More than just air to breath we are told by Isaiah that we have the Spirit as well.  

Matthew quotes the first few verses and makes it clear that the servant is Jesus.  It is Jesus who came as a light to the nations.  Writing this during the lockdown when many people feel like prisoners in their own homes it is interesting that many churches have noticed a marked increase in the number attending online during this time.  Are these people looking to be rescued from the dungeon of despair that they are in?  How should we react as Christians as things return to some sort of normality?  We should make sure that Jesus is seen as the light who can brighten the darkness of those who ask for help.  

This light is not just for those who are new to the Church, but it is also for those who have been members for many years.  We all need the same spirit to open our eyes and free us from whatever prison we feel we are in. 

Times will still be different when you read this and the new normal may not be fully clear but what is clear is that the spirit Isaiah wrote about is timeless and unchanging.  No matter what the situation is we should continue to live inhaling God’s grace and exhaling God’s love. 

PRAYERS:

Lord Jesus Christ, you know us inside out down to the last detail. You see us not as we would like to be, nor as we pretend to be, but as we are – the good and the bad, the faithful and the unfaithful, the lovely and the unlovely. With you there can be no deception, no hiding behind a public face. And yet still you love us, despite all our faults. Lord Jesus Christ, help us always to remember that, and to rejoice in the wonder of your grace.

With confidence in Jesus, who calls us to walk alongside him, we bring our heartfelt needs before God. We pray for all in this community of faith, that we may always remain open and receptive to the call to trust in God’s will for us.

We pray that the knowledge of God’s love will grow strong in our hearts, leading us to use our lives, body and soul, for the glory of God. We pray for those who struggle to see God’s presence in the world and their own lives. May our faith and generosity help them to recognise his loving touch.

God of all compassion, we pray in Jesus; name for the victims of war, waiting for peace to shelter them, for all who are in need, remembering in particular the unemployed, the sick, the elderly, the homeless, the refugee, the lonely, and those who are known to us individually and may have asked for our prayers. May we reach out to them in gentle solidarity as Jesus reached out to us. Lord of compassion, hear our prayer.

Amen.

HYMN: I, the Lord of sea and sky

I, The Lord of Sea and Sky,
I Have Heard My People Cry.
All Who Dwell in Dark and Sin,
My Hand Will Save.
I Who Made the Stars of Night,
I Will Make Their Darkness Bright.
Who Will Bear My Light to Them?
Whom Shall I Send?

Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?
I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.
I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.
I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.

I, The Lord of Snow and Rain,
I Have Borne My People’s Pain.
I Have Wept for Love of Them, They Turn Away.
I Will Break Their Hearts of Stone,
Give Them Hearts for Love Alone.
I Will Speak My Word to Them
Whom Shall I Send?

Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?
I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.
I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.
I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.

I, The Lord of Wind and Flame

I Will Tend the Poor and Lame.
I Will Set A Feast for Them,
My Hand Will Save
Finest Bread I Will Provide,
Till Their Hearts Be Satisfied.
I Will Give My Life to Them,
Whom Shall I Send?

Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?
I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.
I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.
I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.

BLESSING:

May the Living God surprise you on the way, Christ Jesus take you by the hand and the Spirit lift up your life.

Amen.