9th August 2020 worship for Arlesey, Baldock, High Street and Stotfold

Good morning everybody: Graham is on holiday for the next two weeks and he asked me whether I could produce and lead worship for you this week.

9th August 2020 worship (click here do download)

Our Ministers Message

 

Call to worship: Psalm 85:8-13

I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.   Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.   Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.   Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.   The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.   Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

Our first hymn engages us with God’s mission and reminds us that we need the light of God in our lives. This is a lovely South African traditional song.
Hymn StF 483 We are marching in the light of God

We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of,
The light of God,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of,
The light of God,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of God
South African traditional

Today we are going to look at a familiar story from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus calms a storm on Lake Galilee and comes to the disciples walking on the water. Peter believes he has sufficient faith to walk on the water as well, but he soon comes a cropper and begins to sink.

Our first prayer echoes Peter’s situation, let us pray:

As we approach you today, Lord,
we probably feel pretty much like Peter –
full of bravado to begin with,
but then just not quite so certain of ourselves.

We come to you, Jesus,
trusting that even if we feel ourselves
beginning to sink under the pressures that we face,
we know you are still there holding us up.
Please reassure us that you won’t let go,
no matter how we feel.
Thank you, Lord.
Amen.

And now a prayer of confession:
Lord God,
I’m sorry for the times I take my eyes off you,
and seek to do things in my own strength.
I’m sorry for the times I doubt that
you can keep me on the straight and narrow.
I’m sorry for the times I ask you for signs.
Lord, I pray that you will forgive
my doubts and hesitations,
show me your loving presence,
especially when I most need it,
and teach me to trust you at all times.
Amen.
And so we turn to God’s word, in Matthew’s gospel chapter 14 and reading from verse 22 to 33.
22  Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the
other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a
mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24  and the boat was
already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was
against it. 25  Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26  When the
disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried
out in fear. 27  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29  “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30  But
when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why
did you doubt?” 32  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33  Then those
who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Our second hymn brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus and reaffirms what we sang
in our first hymn, that we need the light of God in our lives and we have that through Jesus.

Hymn StF 248 I heard the voice of Jesus say

 

1. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place,
And He has made me glad.
2. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
3. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk,
Till trav’ling days are done.
4. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“My Father’s house above
Has many mansions; I’ve a place
Prepared for you in love.”
I trust in Jesus—in that house,
According to His word,
Redeemed by grace, my soul shall live
Forever with the Lord.
Horatius N Bonar (1808 – 1889)

Reflection:

It was a warm sunny morning in early December last year that I had the privilege of sharing Holy Communion with 15 other pilgrims on a boat on a very calm Sea of Galilee. We were told that storms can pick up very quickly, the disciples would have known that having spent many years fishing around Tiberias, Capernaum and Tagba.

So the story we read could be a typical day in the lives of the disciples, out in a boat on a water that many of them had fished numerous times in the past; however, the previous events had been far from typical: Jesus had heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded
– he separated from the crowds – but they followed him – he preached, he healed and then followed the miracle of feeding 5,000 with a few loaves and a couple of fish. Jesus sent his disciples away from the picnic area to the other side of the lake and he went to a quiet place on the mountain side to pray, which is what he wanted to do before the crowd found him.
In the middle of the night Jesus is aware of the disciples’ predicament, not able to steer the boat to shore due to the strong winds and waves. After reassuring them that he is not a ghost but their friend Jesus, he speaks words of comfort to them. Peter, being the disciple who opens his mouth before engaging his brain, gives Jesus a challenge – can I walk on the water as well. Jesus says ’Come’, Peter gets out of the boat, manages a few steps and then
begins to sink. He puts himself in a difficult situation.
I have been poorly this week with virtually no energy levels, my normal target of 7,000 steps has dwindled to about 300, but I am spurred on by the one word that Jesus says to Peter – Come. When we are faced with difficulties of any kind, especially through this pandemic we can hear Jesus say ‘Come’ – we can look to him and he gives us a reason to be.
When the storm had died down on the lake the disciples affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God. It was a little while after this episode when Jesus took the disciples to Caesarea Philippi, a town of great learning and he asks them what people had been saying about who he was. He then asks the same question to the disciples and here Peter has engaged his brain before opening his mouth – You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Let us take those wise and truthful words of Peter into the coming week and find ways of engaging with our risen Lord, the Son of the living God.

Prayers of intercession
Lord God, we come before you to pray for all those people for whom taking risks is a way of life.
Lord, reveal yourself to them and keep them safe.
We pray for our emergency services – paramedics, the police, the fire service – all who daily face difficult situations
as they seek to help to protect us and make our world a safer and more peaceful place.
Lord, reveal yourself to them and keep them safe.
We pray for people who work in troubled areas

– the armed forces in war zones,

those who bring humanitarian aid
into areas of natural disaster, and many more.
Lord, reveal yourself to them and keep them safe.

We pray for people who take risks in your name, Lord Jesus
– those who take your word where it is most needed
– and for people who grapple with faith and doubt.
Lord, reveal yourself to them and keep them safe.
Amen.
We join in the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be
done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our
trespasses, As we forgive them that 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.

Our final hymn I heard sung by the composer, Marilyn Baker at a concert she gave about 40 years ago in Hoddesdon; the words are as poignant now as they were then and they draw us even closer to Jesus.
Hymn: Jesus, you are changing me

Jesus, You Are Changing Me
By Your Spirit, You’re Making Me Like You
Jesus, You’re Transforming Me
That Your Loveliness May Be Seen In All I Do
You Are The Potter And I Am The Clay
Help Me To Be Willing To Let You Have Your Way
Jesus, You Are Changing Me
As I Let You Reign Supreme Within My Heart
Marilyn Baker (1950-)

Blessing
Peter only knew life as a fisherman.
But he got out of the boat and followed you, Lord.
Help us to hear your voice,
get out of our boats and follow you.
In the week ahead,
may the world and its problems decrease
as you increase in our lives.
Keep us focused on your way,
looking ahead and trusting you.
Amen.

OFFERING
While we are all unable to meet in our various churches during the current crisis please consider the following ways of keeping up your offering for the work of the church.
Pay directly into your church’s bank account.
For High Street Stevenage, the relevant information is:
Account name: Stevenage High Street Methodist Church
Sort code: 20-41-12
Account number 60853259
Description: Your name (especially if gift aided) or “offering”
When we know the information for the other churches, we will add it.
Alternatively, you can fill and save your envelopes or accumulate your regular offering until the churches can meet again.