This week's Order of Service
20 June 2021 Morning Service
10.45-11.15 led by Andy Bevan in church and on Zoom
Before opening the Zoom link, we will sing
Opening Hymn: Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? [www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1yndf881Cs]
If possible, you are invited to join the Zoom service. At 10.35am we join for a short social period; the service will start at 10.45am. Please click HERE to join the Zoom service, the Zoom Meeting ID is 880 6118 0122 and the Password is Heiswithus. Please stay 'muted' during the service.
Opening prayer, we say together
Give us, Our Father, a sense of your presence as we gather now for worship. Grant us gratitude as we remember your goodness, penitence as we remember our sins, and joy as we remember your love. Enable us to lift up our hearts in humble prayer and praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord God, we gaze in wonder at the beauty found in your world; at your love found in the most unexpected of places and the rich variety of the seasons as we travel through the year. We never cease to be amazed at your generosity towards us and we ask your forgiveness when we fail you, whether in thought or word or deed. May we be worthy to call upon you as our Father and Lord. Amen.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer together, followed by sharing the Grace.
Gospel reading: Mark 4:35-41
In our service last week Mike reminded us of how seeds can grow and yield a good harvest; we reflected on how the transformation of a seed is a miracle at which we can only wonder. It is God who makes it grow, irrespective of the love with which we may tend it.
As one who is most definitely not green-fingered, I have eventually managed not to destroy a small cactus I was given two Mothering Sundays ago by our daughter. Although I re-potted it, even that caused me pain as I took it out of its little pot and its prickles stuck into my fingers. But now it has produced lovely pink flowers to show a different side of its nature, not harsh and painful but colourful and pleasing to the eye. I did not give it such colour, that was part of God’s creation, His plan for that little cactus.
In our reading today, we heard the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm, how he allayed the fears of his disciples and those around him by telling the wind and the waves to be quiet, to be still. Again, we see two sides of God’s creation: one a lake, calm and silent which many have safely crossed, and which holds no fear for the disciples at the start of their journey; the other, that same lake, revealing winds bringing storm conditions to those quiet waters on which the disciples had embarked.
One of the other Bible readings set for today is the story of David and Goliath. We know the story well. A small shepherd boy sent to the battlefront by his father to take food to his brothers fighting with King Saul against the Philistines. Instead of simply giving his brothers their food and returning home, David asked around to find out why everyone was so fearful. His question, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Finally, David takes matters into his own hands. Rejecting the gifts of strong armour from Saul, he takes his sling and some rocks to meet, and defeat, the enemy Goliath, resulting in the Philistine army turning tail and running away.
Here in this church, like all United Reformed Churches, we have a strong history of congregational involvement in how our church is run and what it offers as a witness to our living God. That same God in whom David was prepared to offer his skills and faith and who sent His Son to help calm the storm when the going got tough.
God has sustained us through the challenges of the past 15 months. He has enabled the skills of some to be a medium for ensuring we continue to worship Him and to grow in our faith.
But – the only constant in life is that it needs change. As individuals we grow physically from birth, growing as developing toddlers, onwards towards an enquiring teenager, then come the responsibilities of adulthood, and finally our increasing need for others in our most senior years.
Since Romsey Congregational Church was founded in 1662, when Thomas Warren was ejected from his living as Vicar of nearby Houghton, this church has been the proud upholder of a tradition based on self-determination, discerned through prayer and partnership with our living God.
We are His stewards in taking that witness forward. Life has changed for each one of us in the past few years, Covid has made sure of that. And life has changed around us, not only in this church but in the whole world.
World leaders met in Cornwall last week to discuss how to meet some of those challenges to improve everyone’s lives, Elsewhere, world leaders have met to discuss improving the conditions in Syria so that its inhabitants do not want to leave home and jeopardise security in Turkey and other nations; the people of Algeria are once again raising their voices, this time silently as they decline to vote in elections where political rivals are imprisoned to ensure they cannot stand for election; talks continue with the Taliban in an attempt to improve life in Afghanistan. Around the world the list is endless, and we can only add our prayers for those trying to improve the lives of others, not themselves.
But here at home, we have a greater voice in helping to let the small seeds we sow grow into large oaks or mustard seed shrubs.
As Mike reminded us last week, we have our Annual General Meeting coming soon. Whether you are a formal member of this church, or a friend who feels at home in our midst, we need you to help this church determine its future. We still have some vacancies to fill, whether they are to help with providing flowers in our church or doing small D-I-Y tasks on working parties when they resume, whether serving as an Elder or simply serving the teas and coffees to welcome friends and strangers alike. Do you have a talent you can offer?
After our AGM, we have a Church Meeting in which we are inviting you to share your ideas for this church’s future. Yes, this church may meet your needs now, but will it be meeting the needs of those seeking our living God in 20 years’ time, whether we are here or peacefully in the presence of that living God?
To help us face the challenges we are facing NOW, you have a role to play. Whether it be seeking guidance from God through your prayers or adding your thoughts, inspired by those prayers, to our discussions.
God cannot allow this church to change for the future without you. If you do not help to plant the seeds, there will never be a harvest. The future may not be plain sailing, but, with God’s help and guidance we can each play a part in calming its storms.
I leave you with three questions from our opening hymn:
God asks: Will you let me answer prayer in you?
God asks: Will you use the faith you found to reshape the world around?
Is your reply: In your company I’ll go, where you’re love and footsteps show, thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me?
Prayer for 20 June from URC 2021 Handbook Intercessions (response in bold)
Living God, we come to you in prayer, bringing our prayers for the world and for ourselves, for the role you call us to play in that world.
We give you thanks Living God, that we can live in a relatively calm and stable country. We think of the many countries living under dictatorships, …. Living God through our prayers we ask that a way may be found for us to play our part in your world.
We pray for the countries where COVID is still rampant…. Living God through our prayers we ask that a way may be found for us to play our part in your world.
In this changing world we pray for ourselves and this your church… Living God through our prayers we ask that a way may be found for us to play our part in your world. Amen
Closing Prayer, we pray together:
Be with us, living God and guide us in the changes of this world, strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit until, through the death and resurrection of your Son, we may finally find rest in your eternal changelessness. Amen
We listen to our closing hymn (see below)
Please close the Zoom link, then we will sing our final hymn.
Closing Hymn: Take my life [www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN3OaZJaNEE]