Worship Together Sheet 26 06 2022

Welcome to our time of worship together.  Today we’re continuing our exploration of the letters written to the churches at the beginning of Revelation.  Let’s take a moment to pray as we start.

God of mystery, God of love, help us to draw close to you today.  Help us to hear you and learn from you, remind us of your love for us and help us to feel you near.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Call to Worship:
We’ve come to worship God,
who loved us before we were yet born,
who knows us even better than we know ourselves,
whose presence never leaves us,
and whose love for us never ceases.
This is our God.  Let’s worship together!

We’re going to worship and praise our eternal and immortal God as we sing together.  Let us sing “God eternal, God immortal”.  Click here for the song on YouTube.

God eternal, God immortal
Architect of time and space
You conceived creation’s story
From earth’s womb – the human race
Source and end of all our journeys
Well spring of our love and faith
In the wonder of your presence
We will gaze upon your face

Word Incarnate Christ our Saviour
Born of Mary – here to live
When the earth cried –as in labour
You reached out  –new life to give
On the cross you bore our sorrows
In your grave death lost its sting
Through your risen power and glory
Thanks and praise to God we sing

Breath of God life giving Spirit
Through your work the world began
When the earth was formless, empty
Life came forth at your command
Holy Spirit, guide and comforter
In the shadow of your wings
We will venture where you lead us
In your company we’ll sing

To the Father, Son and Spirit
Three in one and one in three
We will praise and give all glory
Singing through eternity
Praise and honour fill the heavens
Praise and honour fill the earth 
We will praise and give all glory
To the Holy Trinity.

Trinity hymn written at Regent’s Park College 2015
To the tune of “Come thou fount of every blessing” 
(87 87 D NETTLETON)

Thanksgiving: 
All powerful God, you have created all things: the vast reaches of space and the intricacies of life are the work of your hands and we give you praise.  Today we especially praise you and thank you for …

Loving God you have redeemed us: in Jesus Christ, you have shared our humanity and given us hope.  In his befriending, his teaching and healing, you have come close to those in need.  In his death on the cross you have dealt with our sin and shown us that nothing can separate us from your love.  In his resurrection you have demonstrated that death cannot have the last word and you have shown us the hope of glory.  We give you thanks.

We’re going to sing a song where we prepare ourselves to hear from God and ask him to speak to us.  We’re going to sing “Master speak, your servants listening”.  Click here to find the song on YouTube

Master, speak! Your servant’s listening,
waiting for your gracious word,
or your gladdening voice I’m longing;
Master, let it now be heard.
As I listen, Lord, I pray;
Speak your word to me today!

Speak to me by name, dear master,
Let me know it is to me;
Speak, that I may follow faster,
With a step more firm and free,
Where the shepherd leads the flock
In the shadow of the rock.

Master, speak! Though least and lowest,
Let me not unheard depart;
Master, speak! You know the deepest
fears and longings of my heart,
fully know my truest need;
speak and make me blessed indeed.

Master, speak! and make me ready,
when your voice is truly heard,
with obedience glad and steady
still to follow every word.
As I listen, Lord, I pray;
Master, speak to me today

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-79) altd.

Reading: Revelation 2:18-3:6
18 ‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:

19 ‘I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practise fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. 22 Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call “the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; 25 only hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,

I will give authority over the nations;
27 to rule them with an iron rod,
    as when clay pots are shattered—

28 even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. 29 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

3 ‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

‘I know your works; you have a name for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. [i]

Reflection:
This passage, originally written for the first century churches of Sardis and Thyatira, could be sub-titled wake up and smell the coffee!  These two Christian communities thought that they were doing ok but actually they needed to stop and look at what they were doing.  They were working hard in Thyatira and doing some great stuff but were being distracted by a teaching that actually led them away from God.  The letter writer John uses the language of sexual immorality to describe this teaching but that language is often used in scripture to describe worship of idols and other things that lead people away from the worship of God.  We don’t know exactly what this teaching was, but we do know it sounded easier, more fun and/or more comfortable than the straightforward message of love God and love your neighbour.  For Sardis the problem seems to be that they were just going through the motions.  At a casual glance, on the surface they looked ok but in reality they weren’t that bothered.  They talked the talk but they didn’t walk the walk, not really.

Like all biblical prophecy, this reading had something important to say to the people who first heard it, it has been a challenge and a warning to church communities throughout the centuries and it has something to say to us today, if we are willing to hear it.  Just like the first century churches we can be working hard as church, doing great stuff, but actually get distracted by unhelpful and wrong ideas.  One of the worst I’ve heard is that life on earth is essentially a waiting room, once you are “saved” it is just a question of hanging on until you get to go to heaven!  Or more recently, the idea that after a lifetime of serving God and others there comes a time to “retire” and only serve yourself.  Of course, our service changes as we age but we are all called to the life of faith and service, his Spirit is poured out on young and old alike.  What makes wrong ideas so powerful and so dangerous is that they seem to make life easier for us. But in fact, it is the way of Jesus that really gives us life in all its fullness. When we realise that today really matters; each act of kindness, each prayer, each thoughtful word, really matters, then we begin to live the lives of love and purpose that Jesus promises us. The promise of the morning star (v 28) is the promise that Jesus himself will be with us and will help us to shine for him in this dark and confusing world.

Maybe though the temptation to slide into apathy is even more of a temptation to 21st century Christians than it was to the church of Sardis.  Church attendance in the UK has decreased, the average age of the church goer has increased.  We can easily feel dispirited or inadequate and so we just go through the motions of faith.  Not trying too hard as we don’t want to fail or be disappointed.  We too need to wake up and smell the coffee and remember that the God we worship is the same yesterday today and forever.  He has poured out his Spirit on his people to give us the hope and the strength to live his way.  Things may seem difficult or even impossible but if we are willing to receive his strength and his Spirit, we can become more than conquers.  God has called us into his family to live and work together to bring his light and his kingdom values into our world.  As we come to our church meeting later, we have time to consider together how we are going live out the good news here in Wendover.  This “wake up” message is a challenge, but it is also a message of hope for us.  God hasn’t finished with our small part of his big family.  He is calling us to live the life of God and he is offering us his Spirit, his own self to be with us and to help us every step of the way.

Questions:

  1. How do you think the people in Thyatira and Sardis felt when they heard this letter?
  2. How could the warnings and challenges we’ve heard help us in our life as church together?

In response we are going to sing and ask God to breathe his spirit upon us afresh this morning.  We’re going sing “Breath on me breath of God” Click here to find the song on YouTube.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with thee I will one will,
To do or to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Till I am wholly thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with thee the perfect life,
Of thine eternity.

Edwin Hatch (1835-89)

Prayers

John writes in Revelation 21: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;  he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”  And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Loving and caring God, we come to you in prayer because in you we have hope.

We pray for those who are affected by war and greed and disasters.  Particularly the people of Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Ukraine.  We long for the time when you make your home among us and there will be no more death or mourning or pain.  We long for peace and justice for those affected, and we pray for wisdom and courage for those who are in charge and have influence.  Lord you said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ ‘Amen, make all things new!’

We pray for those who don’t have enough to eat or find it difficult to make ends meet.  Even in our own country people struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table.  We long for the time when the thirsty will be given water without cost from the spring of the water of life.  We pray for equality and care for all.  We pray for our government as they seek to lead and serve, please inspire them and give them the wisdom to do what is right.  Lord you said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’
‘Amen, make all things new!’

We pray for those who are crying, those who are ill or hurting, those who are sad or lonely, depressed or anxious.  We long for the time when you will wipe every tear from their eyes and bring them healing and wholeness.  We pray for those sitting exams, may they know your peace.  We pray for GP’s, for doctors and nurses and other staff working in hospitals and care places, may they know your compassion and care, and may they be used by you to heal all those who are struggling.

Let us take a moment to think of those we know who are in need of God’s healing touch at the moment.

Lord you said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’
‘Amen, make all things new!’

Lord, your words are trustworthy and true.  You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  We pray all this in the powerful and hopeful name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

We will conclude our prayer by sharing the Lord’s prayer together:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever.  Amen.

To finish our worship time together we are going to sing declaring that God, the King of Heaven is our vision and the Lord of our heart.  Let us sing together “Be thou my vision”  Click here to find the song on YouTube.

Be thou my vision
O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me
save that thou art;
thou my best thought
in the day and the night,
waking or sleeping,
thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom,
be thou my true word,
I ever with thee
and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great father,
and I thy true heir,
thou in me dwelling,
and I in thy care.

Be thou my breastplate,
my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour,
and be thou my might;
thou my soul’s shelter,
and thou my high tower:
raise thou me heavenward,
O power of my power.

Riches I heed not,
nor all the world’s praise,
thou my inheritance
through all my days;
thou, and thou only,
the first in my heart,
high King of heaven,
my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven,
when battle is done,
grant heaven’s joys to me,
O bright heav’n’s Sun;
Christ of my own heart,
whatever befall,
still be my vision,
O ruler of all.

IrIrish Folk Hymn; Elanor H. Hull

Blessing:
May the peace of God be in your heart, the grace of God be in your words, the love of God be in your hands, the joy of God be in your soul,
and in the song that your life sings. Amen

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


[i] Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

CCLI: 21497