Nov 222020
 

Download the Mary Tavy  “At Home” Methodist Newsletter for 22/11/20 as a PDF file here>

(Service contributed by Rev Paul Smith and Graham Shillabeer)

Call to worship – The sound of silence.

Reading – I Kings ch 19 – 11-13

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 

Silence has always been a part of spiritual practice, but many have never tried it. Solitude and silence can help us hear from God, because we can easily lose sensitivity to that still, small voice in all the noise and activities of our lives, even in lockdown. In silence you realise how little you hear that voice at other times.

Silence can be hard and finding space for it can be difficult. You have a thousand thoughts. But the beauty of silence is that it is not God speaking through someone else, such as a sermon of Christian book, but God speaking directly to you.

As for Elijah, let us contemplate what ‘we are doing’ now in the presence of Almighty God.

Contemporary song (1999) read the poetry of it and be thankful.

Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth

Crucified laid behind a stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me above all.
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me above all.
(Lenny LeBlanc & Paul Baloche)

Prayer
Let nothing disturb or dismay us, O God, for all things are passing and you alone are unchanging. All things
are wrought in patience O God, and those who possess you lack nothing. Our sufficiency, O God, is in you
alone, now and always. Amen.
(by Teresa of Avila 1515-1582 – but holds good for everyone)

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn (MHB 52) (Horatius Bonar)

O love of God, how strong and true,
eternal and yet ever new,
uncomprehended and unbought,
beyond all knowledge and all thought!

O heav’nly love, how precious still,
in days of weariness and ill,
in nights of pain and helplessness,
to heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide-embracing, wondrous love!
We read you in the sky above,
we read you in the earth below,
in seas that swell and streams that flow.

We read you best in him who came
bearing for us the cross of shame;
sent by the Father from on high,
our life to live, our death to die.

We read your pow’r to bless and save,
e’en in the darkness of the grave;
still more in resurrection light
we read the fullness of your might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in you we rest,
forever safe, forever blest.

Reading – Isaiah 26 – vs 1 -12
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
God makes salvation
its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates
that the righteous nation may enter,
the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
5 He humbles those who dwell on high,
he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
and casts it down to the dust.
6 Feet trample it down—
the feet of the oppressed,
the footsteps of the poor.
7 The path of the righteous is level;
you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,[a]
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
10 But when grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.
11 Lord, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.
12 Lord, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

 

Paul’s reflection
I well remember the look on the face of the Prime Minister when, in a daily briefing, he announced that a lockdown would be imposed on the whole nation. We all wondered what that would mean for businesses and livelihoods; and then the Chancellor made his announcement about top up grants, the furlough scheme and various other financial provisions. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But we all took a deep breath and conformed as best we could.

All that seems a long time ago now. I remember saying to someone, ‘Never mind, it will all be over by Christmas and then we can come together to sing our carols again.’ Little did I know! Since then we have had holidays cancelled, more deaths than we dreaded in our worst moments and another lockdown. But at least now there is the promise of a vaccine. A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The end is in sight! Of course, the circumstances were different, but when Isaiah wrote chapter 26 of his prophecy he looks forward to a time when the troubles which they had been going through would be over and the People of God would rejoice again. In a situation not dissimilar to ours, Isaiah makes a wonderful promise to the people, even though he addresses it to God.

‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.’ Is 26:3

Or as the older versions used to have it – ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.’ So it is possible – perfect peace – even in the midst of troubles, when things are not as we want them to be. How does it come about? Well, it concerns the mind; what we nowadays would call a mindset. The dominant focus of the Christian’s mind is one of trust that God is, after all, in charge. We are sure that God is sovereign. We have that quiet confidence that, sometimes because of our circumstances but more often despite them, the Lord still holds us and His grip is strong enough to trust. So all will be well, not because we are strong enough to hold on to God, but because He is strong enough to hold on to us.

It was Francis Ridley Havergal, who knew her own share if life’s troubles, who wrote

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious in its bright increase,
Perfect yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect yet it groweth deeper all the way

Stayed upon Jehovah hearts are fully blest,
Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand,
Not a a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the Spirit there.

I wonder if you know that story of a young boy who took a train journey on his own. The other passengers in the railway carriage noticed that he was travelling alone and felt a bit concerned for his welfare, so one of them engaged him in conversation. ‘Are you going far’ he asked and received the assurance that the boy knew exactly where he had got on the train and where he would get off. ‘But that’s a long way to travel alone.’ the passenger remarked, ‘ Are you not afraid to be travelling all that way on your own?’ ‘Not at all,’
replied the boy, ‘because my dad is driving this train.’

As Christians we know who is driving our train, so we are safe. The journey may not always be as we would like it, but the destination is not in doubt. See you there, but hopefully before as well!

Prayers for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Dear God, the virus does not respect borders. It spreads from place to place and person to person. It has brought grief, fear, hardship, suffering and isolation. Pause and reflect. 

Dear God, your love does not respect borders. It flows from place to place and person to person. It brings comfort, hope, justice, wholeness and community. Pause and reflect. 

Dear God, we pray for those around the world whose lives have been and are being impacted by coronavirus through Illness, bereavement, isolation, mental stress, deferred assessments and treatment. Bring to mind those who you know round and about you. 

We pray for our churches as we rediscover community and learns new ways of being and doing church. By your Spirit may we play our part.

In the name of Christ, our peace and our Saviour. Amen.

Closing hymn

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
(Martin Rinkhart)

Blessingusing the lyrics from Graham Kendrick’s song –
Peace To You
We Bless You Now In The Name Of The Lord
Peace To You
We Bless You Now In The Name Of The Prince Of Peace
Peace To You

Amen

Download the Mary Tavy  “At Home” Methodist Newsletter for 22/11/20 as a PDF file here>