Service for 21/02/2021

Posted by Barbara Nadin on 19 February 2021

Dear Friends,

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the early signs of spring that are starting to appear? The bulbs that I planted are certainly beginning to show – it is so exciting!

A strange thing happened here at Fairmount this week – I decided that I would like to make a cake!

This came as a huge shock to my husband, but bless him, he was encouraging. You see I had been watching a cookery programme, which we often do in this house, but usually I watch rather than attempt to participate, but for some reason, this time I felt strangely inspired to try baking for myself.

The last time I made a cake, I think, was when I was at school? I moved from living at home, where my mum cooked, to being married to Barry, who in my opinion, could have become a professional chef if he had wanted to, so I have hardly ever had to cook, and certainly never had to bake.

I found a simple recipe for a sponge cake that was recommended for beginners, but before starting the recipe there was a whole section giving the details of how to weigh the ingredients, sieve the flour, line the cake tins, prepare the oven, and choose the right mixing bowl. I was confused before I began! I had not realised there was so much to consider. All the time Barry sat watching me, pretending he was reading, chuckling to himself. When he looked over to see me struggling with the electric hand mixer, he decided it was time to step in and help before I caused any real damage – thank goodness! I did make a cake, but I could not have done it without some help and guidance.

We are now in Lent, and we start to look forward to celebrating the gift of love and hope shown to us at Easter. This is the season where we could, if possible, put aside some time to spend with God. The recipe for life is different for each of us, and, in my experience, help and guidance is needed. Jesus is always there for us, lovingly, waiting to hear our voice, and it could be a time to listen to His words by reading one of the gospels, or just by taking the time to be silent and still, and rest in His love.

It is also so good to know that we have our church family there to support us, even if it continues to be at a distance. We have our faith to hold us together, until we can gather again. And when we do I might even bake a cake to celebrate! (under Barry’s supervision, of course!)

With love & prayers,

Julie Ann

 

Melbourne URC – Sunday 21st February 2021                     (The first Sunday of Lent.)

Morning Prayer.

An opening prayer you may wish to use:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind.

(Let us take a moment to be silent and rest in God’s love.)

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn:  There’s a wideness in God’s mercy. (Frederick William Faber 1814-63)

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;

there’s a kindness in His justice which is more than liberty.

 

There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed;

there is joy for all the members in the in the sorrows of the Head.

 

There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this;

there is room for fresh creations in that upper home of bliss.

 

For the love of God is broader than the measures of man’s mind;

and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.

 

But we make His love too narrow by false limits of our own;

and we magnify His strictness with a zeal He will not own.

 

If our love were but more simple we should take Him at His word;

and our lives would be illumined by the presence of our Lord.

 

Bible Reading:  1 Peter 3: 18-end.

For Christ also suffered for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you – not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

 

A time of reflection and confession.

Let us take a moment to look into our hearts and remember those occasions when we wished we had responded differently. Let us share them with the Lord. The Lord knows the truth of our hearts.

You may wish to use this prayer of confession for Lent:

Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin;

Lord, have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me;

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me;

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Bible Reading:  Mark 1: 9-15 The Baptism of Jesus.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited upon him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

 

Hymn:  O Jesus, I have promised (John Ernest Bode 1816-74)

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou for ever near me, my Master and my friend.

I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt by my guide.

 

O let me feel Thee near me; the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle the tempting sounds I hear; my foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

 

O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still, above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will; O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control; O speak, and make me listen, Thou guardian of my soul.

 

O Jesus, Thou has promised, to all who follow Thee, that where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be; and, Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; O give me grace to follow my Master and my friend.

 

O let me see Thy footmarks, and in them plant mine own; my hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone; O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end; and then in heaven receive me, my Saviour and my friend!

 

A Reflection:

‘My Saviour, my master, my guide, my shield, my guardian, and my friend!’

 Goodness me – that’s so much to ask of Jesus! But the writer of this hymn, John Bode, has got it right in my opinion. I certainly need the help of Jesus Christ to navigate my life. As you know I tried doing it on my own and it was alright but it wasn’t fulfilling? What about you? How would you describe Jesus? What do you need Jesus to help you with?

Nick Fawcett has written a prayer called, ‘Examining ourselves.’ He thanks God for the season of Lent. He asks for help in being honest with ourselves. He asks for help in facing those things that we usually prefer to push to aside. And finally, my favourite part, he writes this:

‘All-seeing God, we can fool ourselves but we cannot fool you. We can pretend all is well but cannot conceal our inner pain. We can deny our need of you but cannot disguise our emptiness without you. We can seek fulfilment in this world but will never find real peace outside your love.’

How many times have we felt foolish? It is one of the emotions, in my experience, that we try and avoid. Don’t most of us we want to look in control, to look like we know what we are doing. Is it because we want people to like us, to respect us, maybe even, admire us? And some of those people we – well, we just want them to love us, and that can feel very foolish.

If you have walked past church in the last couple of days you will have noticed that two banners have been put up outside. They are bright and rainbow coloured, and designed as a stained glass window depicting a cross and at the feet of the cross, in bold print, is the word – HOPE

The rainbow of life is not all bright colours – there are two shades of blue in the rhyme I know, and a shade of purple. There will always be times of darkness, or at least gloomy days, in our life. Those days when we don’t get what we want. When we are told of our imperfections. When we feel lost and alone. When we are surrounded by a sea of problems, a bit like Noah, and there is no sign of the shore, but God is no fool He knows that. Jesus knows it too!

The season of Lent – Every day, for me, is about accepting that unconditional love given to us by the Beloved Son of God, our Saviour, our friend and our ally, and letting it transform us. If we believe and trust in the miracle of the cross, I believe, along with Charles Wesley, that we can confidently hope that something amazing will happen. So, as Wesley says, ‘let your chains fall off, and your heart go free’.

‘No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!

 

Prayers of Intercession.

Let us take time now to offer our prayers to the Lord. Praying for peace, for the hungry, the thirsty, the frightened and persecuted. For the Church, and our church family, our community, our family and friends, for those that are suffering, for those we have lost, for those that are grieving, and for ourselves.

The Lord’s Prayer.

 

A Lenten Acclamation you may wish to use:

This is love, not that we loved God,

but that he loved us and sent his Son.

He is the sacrifice for our sins,

that we might live through him.

If God loves us so much

we ought to love one another.

If we love one another

God lives in us.                                                                                 1 John 4: 10-12

 

Hymn:  And can it be. (Charles Wesley 1707-88)

 

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God shouldst die for me!

‘Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies; who can explore His strange design?

In vain the first-born seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine.

‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore, let angel minds inquire no more.

 

He left His Father’s throne above – so free, so infinite His grace –

Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race.

‘Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me!

 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

 

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!

Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown,

Through Christ, my own.

 

The Grace.

 

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” Thomas Aquinas

 

©Nick Fawcett, Prayers for all Seasons 1998

©Mission Praise 2014

©Times and Seasons, Common Worship 2006

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