Service for 7th March 2021

Based on a service by Mrs Margaret Dexter-Brown, Lay Preacher with the Missional Partnership, for the Third Sunday in Lent

CALL TO WORSHIP:
Lord Jesus Christ, as you wrestled in the wilderness with temptation, with the nature of your calling and your ability to meet what it would cost you, so help us today and throughout this time of Lent to hear your voice, to understand what you ask of us and to consider our response. Fasten our thoughts on you, and direct all that we do, so that we might grow in grace and stand firm in faith, able to resist whatever might cause us to fall. In your name we pray.
Amen.

HYMN: All over the world the Spirit is moving

All Over the World, The Spirit Is Moving
All Over the World as The Prophet Said It Would Be
All Over The World There’s A Mighty Revelation
Of The Glory Of The Lord, As The Waters Cover The
Sea

All Over His Church God’s Spirit Is Moving
All Over His Church as The Prophet Said It Would
Be
All Over His Church, There’s A Mighty Revelation
Of the Glory of The Lord, As the Waters Cover The
Sea

Right Here in This Place, The Spirit Is Moving
Right Here in This Place as The Prophet Said It
Would-Be
Right Here In This Place, There’s A Mighty
Revelation
Of The Glory Of The Lord, As The Waters Cover The
Sea


PRAYERS: Adoration and Confession

Father God, you are almighty and all knowing. You plan the course of our
lives for each of us. Thank you for your care of us and for the gifts you have
given us as individuals. Help us to use them well as we seek to live to please
you.
Lord Jesus, when you were on earth you showed love towards those who
followed you, but you also made demands on their lives. You do not expect
us to sit back as your disciples and wait for everything to come to us. Help us
to live life to the full as you did, and to know that you understand when we go
through the difficult times.
Holy Spirit, you have been present at every important event in history. Thank
you that you have shown us Jesus and that he has given us the gift of the
Spirit to be with us always. Just as you led Jesus in the desert, help us to
see you at work as we allow you to lead us and show us the way to go
forward in these challenging times. Holy God, three in one, we pray that we
may worship you with our lives in the week ahead.
Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you for walking the way of the cross; for
standing firm to the end, refusing to compromise your calling, not succumbing
to the temptation to put yourself first. Forgive our weakness that stands in
such contrast to your strength – the ease with which we are led astray, the
excuses with which we shut out your voice, preferring instead, our own. Help
us to follow you more faithfully, not in any attempt to earn your love but simply
to respond to it, despite all that keeps us apart. Forgive us and challenge us.
Send us out to forgive others and to be the change you want to see in our
communities and our world. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

READING: Psalm 25:1-10

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. 3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

HYMN: As the deer pants for the waters

As the deer pants for the water,
So my soul longs after You,
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength my shield,
To You alone may my spirit yield,
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver,
Only you can satisfy,
You alone are the real joy-giver,
And the apple of my eye.

You’re my friend and You are my Brother,
Even though You are a King,
I love You more than any other,
So much more than anything.

REFLECTION:

It is possible that new Christians – and some not so new, can be discouraged
by discovering that belief in God does not free our lives from difficulties,
disasters and Coronovirus. What matters is how we face these challenges.
We can allow them to overwhelm us and drive us far from God, in the
mistaken belief that faith provides a golden ticket to a trouble-free existence,
or we can seek God in our troubles, confident that this is where he will be
found.
Unlike the children of Israel in the desert, Jesus does not spend forty years in
the wilderness but forty days. However, that is still a significant amount of
time. Psychologists tell us that it takes six weeks to change our habits – six
weeks to become used to a different way of living or thinking. When we are
struggling with a new discipline forty days can seem for ever, never mind a
whole year of constrained living, but change takes time and we have seen
much change, some of it positive, since we last journeyed through the season
of Lent. We should not be despondent if our attempts at right living are
frustrating and fraught with failure, but find the courage to continue in Christ’s
own example.
The emphasis in recent years has been on making Lent a positive
experience, being encouraged to take something up rather than deprive
ourselves, to seek new experiences. A good idea, but we should not neglect
the original purpose of Lent as a time for reflection and self-examination.
Our wilderness is not necessarily dramatic. As we have come to appreciate
over the past year. It can be a daily, ongoing wearing down, despair,
monotony, even boredom; perhaps the loss of someone to a long illness, or a
relationship gradually breaking down. We rarely get the opportunity to
prepare for our wilderness experiences, or know how long we must live in
them. They can be thrust upon us and we too have to take things a day, or a
minute at a time. Penelope Wilcock, in her book ‘The Wilderness Within You’
imagines conversations with Jesus in the present day, bringing the wilderness
experiences into our lives and suffusing them with hope. We do not know for
sure whether the angels were with Jesus all the time he was in the
wilderness, or if he was conscious of them. We are not always aware of them
in our lives either, or who they are.
Jesus is a different person after his wilderness experience. He starts to
proclaim God’s kingdom in power. We are different people when we let the
good news of Jesus into the nooks and crannies of our lives. We need the
Spirit’s power, otherwise we will crumble when the times are hard. As we
follow Jesus’ journey towards the cross and resurrection we need to repent
and believe and be affirmed in what we do by those around us, and most
importantly, by the Spirit. The angels who wait upon us might not be
supernatural beings but friends or companions who share our journey,
providing help and support when we need it. Let us continue our journey
together. Amen.

PRAYERS: Intercessions and Lord’s Prayer

This week there have been several requests for prayer from our friends,
acquaintances and neighbours and before we offer our prayers; let us be still
before the Living God.
Bring us now into the deep silence of your presence. We give you our bodies
and ask the they may become your dwelling place: at this moment may every
part of our being be at peace. Let our heartbeat be in harmony with your
heartbeat. Let every part of our body be filled with your Spirit. Fill us now
with your stillness, with the reality of your living presence.
We open the papers and don’t know how to pray; we turn on the radio and
don’t know how to pray; we flick through the TV channels and don’t know how
to pray; we listen to our neighbour’s story and don’t know how to pray. And
so we hold our hurting world before you and ask you to intercede for us.
Silence
We bring before you those who are in need at this time:
We pray for those of our church family at Didsbury who are unable to share
with us this evening and have requested our prayers. Also we remember
those who are known to us but not part of our church family: please let them
feel the nearness of your presence as they struggle to come to terms with a
difficult situations.
And now in the silence, let us bring before you the concerns of our hearts….

Silence
And as we wait on you in the quiet of our hearts, we begin to feel the pain of
devastation where people have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods
because of the pandemic, not just in our own country but across the world.
We begin to feel the pain of injustice, where people do not have good health,
or clean water to drink, or enough food to eat, or fail to flourish due to poverty
or oppression.
And so we hold our hurting world, and our hurting selves, before you – and
ask you to begin to change our hearts and answer prayer through our actions.
We love because he first loved us. Amen.
And now we join in the Lord’s Prayer…

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


GRACE: (spoken together)

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore, Amen