Text of the Week: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5
Happy New Year!
Welcome to our services on the very first day of the Year! And a special welcome to any worshipping with us for the first time. Do join us for coffee after the service and stay on for our bring and share lunch. We are then going to go on a gentle walk through Sandford Park and Cox’s Meadow. Do join us if you can! Not only is today the first day of the year, it is also the Sunday after Christmas. So we are still very much in festive mood and Christmas is still in full swing. After all the decorations don’t need to come down until Twelfth Night! Maybe the spirit of Christmas is not just for this season. Maybe it’s for all the year round. Let’s think again today of all the words we share over Christmas ... and let’s think what it would be like if we kept those words to the fore of our minds throughout the year. As the New Year begins let’s put Christ at the centre of our lives, at the centre of our church life together, and at the centre of all we do in the world at large. What a difference that would make! Today’s the day for making New Year’s resolutions. Let’s renew our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, of our church and of our world.
Welcome and Call to Worship
85 Good Christians all, rejoice
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Who is this Jesus?
Through Advent as we lit our candles we shared the I am sayings of Jesus in John’s Gospel. This morning we gave each person in the Congregation one of the I am Sayings – with an invitation to respond to the invitation in each one of the sayings to follow Christ.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35
“I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
4. Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11
5. Resurrection and Life
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25
6. Way, Truth, Life
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6
7. True vine
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
* The divinity of Jesus Christ is further illustrated in John 8:58. Jesus said, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”, which means that Jesus existed before His human life on earth.
Reading: Luke 2:36-38
MTS 15 Meekness and Majesty
Activities for All Over 3
Renewing our Commitment
Not only is today the first day of the year, it is also the Sunday after Christmas. So we are still very much in festive mood and Christmas is still in full swing. After all the decorations don’t need to come down until Twelfth Night! Maybe the spirit of Christmas is not just for this season. Maybe it’s for all the year round. Let’s think again today of all the words we share over Christmas ... and let’s think what it would be like if we kept those words to the fore of our minds throughout the year. As the New Year begins let’s put Christ at the centre of our lives, at the centre of our church life together, and at the centre of all we do in the world at large. What a difference that would make! Today’s the day for making New Year’s resolutions. Let’s renew our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, of our church and of our world.
Philippians 2:1-11 – the Congregation
90 See amid the winter’s snow
What does it take to put Christ at the Centre of our Church life together? That was a question we explored in the last of our GIFT course evenings before December’s church meeting: we then shared those thoughts at that Church Meeting and bring them into church as a marker today for the year ahead.
But it’s something not just to hand down – but for all us to take to heart, own and act on.
Let’s begin with a statement.
A Christ-centred church needs Christ-centred lives lived with Jesus’s priorities.
Something we can put our hands up to.
But that begs a question: what are Jesus’s priorities? You can answer that in general terms and you can answer it very specifically of yourself. Think about it a moment. What are Jesus’s priorities? And what are the priorities you sense Jesus has for you this coming year?
A time to share – but without feedback.
1. Focus on people – accepted as they are and cared for
At our church meeting that meant – we stressed the importance of Pastoral Care – caring for one another. We stressed the importance of being welcoming. But we posed another question – how do people know it is a ‘christ-centred’ welcome and not a ‘social club welcome’?
The ministry of ‘cake’ – Value of gatherings we have. Lunch. Café.
2. Focus on their relationship with God – something organic not organized
The importance of our own relationship with God. The need to be built around prayer and grounded in prayer. – Focus on reading the Bible. Reflecting on it together. Value of prayer. Prayer partner and prayer triplets. Focus for prayer.
Absorbing the teaching of Christ – and then acting on it. Taking risks. Rejecting things. Taking a stand. Putting Christ’s teaching into practice in the church and in the community.
Talking about Christ – sharing our experiences our joys our sadnesses in such a way as to rbing that presence of Christ into other people’s lives.
Being prepared to talk about our faith – maybe that starts here – if we do it with each other and find it is something we can do. Then we can do that with others.
What we have to share is a relationship with God that comes through Christ and is sustained by that presence of God in the Spirit. That’s something to be able to share.
Take the opportunity to share Christ – in messy church, film club, at lunch … maybe in connection with our café space in some way.
Not something we can organize.
Christ-centred relationships within the church – yes, we can differ, but let’s differ in love. Let’s seek understanding, acceptance, forgiveness of one another.
Christ-centred relationship with others outside the church. Let’s take action in the community and have Christ on our lips.
Christ-centred teaching. This should be a space where we can learn more of Christ so that we can sense his presence with us and sense his priorities for us.
Let’s return to share once again …
Now let’s share with each other – feedback. – What are the priorities Jesus has for us individually and together as a church as the New Year dawns?
Four thoughts were shared:
We should have a concern to respond to the refugee crisis and have a heart of welcome. That chimed in with much of the message that has come throughout Christmas this year – the call to be welcoming of the refugee as the Christ child found a welcome as a refugee. We have been very much part of Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees in giving practical help – but there is a need in our conversation, in our thinking and in what we share with others to have a heart of welcome.
We should reaffirm the power of prayer in binding up the wounds and divisions that have come in our society in the wake of the Brexit decision and the divisions that have arisen since. Our calling is to build bridges and be peace makers in our own divided society and to reaffirm the power of prayer in healing those divisions.
We should tell the gospel story as it is a story that for so many people is not known – how important not only to have Christ in our hearts but to have Christ on our lips as we make known that story as much as we can.
We should make sure we are aware of things that are happening in our town with regard to the response we can make to the refugee crisis not least the events that are happening in this current fortnight. https://www.facebook.com/Cheltenham-Welcomes-Refugees-442831152578210/
One last thing was said at our Church meeting in December – it takes us back to those seven I am sayings of Jesus.
A very interesting observation.
Jesus didn’t bother about what people thought of him.
He was ‘I am’: we should be ‘we are’ and have the confidence to be ourselves.
Let’s be ourselves individually – let’s not seek to play a part. Let’s be ourselves. Open about our faith, but also about our questions, honest about our doubts and honest about our convictions.
Let’s be ourselves collectively as a church. This is us. Let’s affirm the people we are – the strengths we have.
- the God we believe in as our Father,
- the Jesus we know together through our teaching and through his risen presence with us,
- let’s realise we cannot do it in our own strength, but depend entirely on the strength God gives in the Spirit that bears the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And the gifts God gives us whatever those gifts are.
Let’s say with confidence we are God’s people in this place, we are the church Jesus calls us to be, we are the body of Christ here in this place. And through all we do, all we say, all we think and all we are let’s make Christ’s presence known in such a way as to make a difference in our community and in the individual lives of the people we meet this year.
78 Christians awake
Prayers of Concern
197 Joy to the world
Words of Blessing