Sunday, July 23, 2017

Living a life of grace

Welcome and Call to Worship
Song: Be still
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus – the teacher

Matthew 4:12-17

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went away to Galilee. 13He did not stay in Nazareth, but went to live in Capernaum, a town by Lake Galilee, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14This was done to make what the prophet Isaiah had said come true:

15“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

on the road to the sea, on the other side of the Jordan,

Galilee, land of the Gentiles!

16The people who live in darkness

will see a great light.

On those who live in the dark land of death

the light will shine.”

17From that time Jesus began to preach his message: “Have a whole new way of thinking, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!”

The Fool remembers … the teaching of Jesus

I remember it well – they were dark times and Jesus was the light we needed – the people who live in darkness will see a great light.

The light will shine.

And it really did. It shone in every word he said.

Love God, love each other – make a difference – treat other people the way you would like them to treat you.

Be kind to one another.


But somehow it’s easier said than done!

I always felt he was getting at me …

I felt I was the fool …

I heard what he said … love God, love each other … but somehow or other I never did it.

I always said the wrong thing … I always did the wrong thing … and it really bugged me.

I never forgot that story he told – it was one day when he was telling everyone just what to do.

So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.25The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.

26“But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.27The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”

But something made me keep at it … he was such a powerful teacher – it all made sense – but I couldn’t do it.

I felt I let him down.

And when it came to the end I couldn’t stand up for him, I almost couldn’t stick it at the end – but something made me stay there.

He was on the cross … and then it was I heard it.

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are dong.

He had taught so much about forgiveness … but this was real.

I kept at it ... yet sometimes I still felt as if I was a fool.

And then he said it, and it made such a difference.

He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ's death on the cross is not robbed of its power.

22Jews want miracles for proof, and Greeks look for wisdom. 2

3As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For what seems to be God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Wow that’s really amazing.

Song: Lord, let Your light shine through me

Activities for all over 3

The people who live in darkness
will see a great light.
On those who live in the dark land of death
the light will shine

Jesus, the light of the world
Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.
So much wiser than human wisdom.

Lord Jesus, your blessings do not follow the logic of the world.
The world believes that the rich are blessed,
You say to us

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

the poor in spirit
and the materially poor as well.

We pray for a more just world
in which all have enough and none are left behind.

Though we fear death and avoid its inevitable arrival,
Jesus tells us

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Help us to experience the truth of this mystery;

bring healing and wholeness to those who are sick;
and comfort those of us who have lost loved ones.

While people covet power,
Jesus blesses the meek;

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

instruct us, O God, in the ways of humility;

help us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized;
show us your presence in the faces of those the world forgets.

Give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness; a heart of mercy, a vision of glory,

For Jesus said,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

And so we pray

fill our hearts with love, overflowing with mercy;
make our hearts pure, and give us a vision of your glory.

In a society divided by race, gender, class, ideology, sexual orientation,
and so many other labels we alone have created,
remind us that we are created in your image,
each of us a beautiful reflection of you,
each of us your beloved child.
Help us to treasure the world of your creation …

For Jesus said,

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Help us then to end our conflicts and wars,
help us to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation.

Help us to stand alongside those who face the brutality of persecution in a world torn apart by hate

For Jesus said,

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Gracious God,
you have so richly blessed us with life,
with love and joy,
with hope in the midst of despair.

Help us to be the salt of the earth.
Help us to be the light of the world,
sharing with others that which we have received,
boldly proclaiming the good news of your love,
finding the seeds of your kingdom within us
and letting your way grow in our lives and throughout the world.

Hymn: In Christ alone

Living a life of grace!

It’s a word we use so often and like so many words we use so often it’s easy to forget what exactly it means. It’s easy to forgot just how much it tells us and how much it expects of us.

In our house it’s said every day … twice a day … though not at breakfast!

It’s usually said just after I’ve taken my first bite to eat …

“Aren’t you going to say *****?”

And here in church we say it in just about every service we share … and we say it together, all of us.

It comes at the very end of the service. It’s as if it sums up everything we’ve been doing and sums up everything we called to do as we leave.

Let’s say, the ***** together …

And this is what we say …

The ***** of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One word that means so much, is so easy to say, and we so easily take for granted.

It’s a word to celebrate today.

And it’s a word to take with us into each day that comes.


Think for a moment of the first line of that little prayer we say at the end of our service.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you mean when you say the first line of that prayer we say at the end of our service?

What is ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?’

A time to share

I began by thinking that being a Christian was all about what you do to help other people to make the love of God real in people’s lives. The Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Sermon on the Mount. That’s what caught my imagination. That’s what being a Christian is all about.
My problem is that it’s not so easy. And when it comes to being consistent, it’s very hard indeed. Almost impossible.

That’s when I discovered the little word ‘grace’.

And it made a big impact.

You can’t get away from it in the New Testament.

Every single one of Paul’s letters begins …
Grace and Peace to you …

But by the free gift of God's grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free  - Romans 3:24

It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that points me to the love of God, the love of the God who is love.

This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. 1 John 4:10

God is the God of sheer, unconditional love, the God of grace.

And that means that God is approachable. Even when we are all too conscious of our failings we can approach the God of grace – and it is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that draws us into the presence of the God of love … and as we come into that presence we discover that God has a grace for us to help us in times of need.

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

It’s as we approach the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

That’s interesting – grace is coupled with mercy.

Maybe to understand grace we need to understand mercy … and discover they are like the opposite sides of the same coin.

We’ve got a new hymn book in memory of Dick and Di Adams – and  the family are going to be with us in our evening service to dedicate those hymn books – do join us if you can.

Searching on the word ‘grace’ in an electronic version of the Hymn book I discovered a hymn I didn’t know.  It’s so simple and yet so powerful. It gets to the heart of what grace means and what mercy means and leave you in no doubt – they are the two sides of the same coin!

Hymn 163

1          Grace is when God gives us
            the things we don't deserve.
            Grace is when God gives us
            the things we don't deserve.
            He does it because he loves us,
            he does it because he loves us.
            Grace is when God gives us
            the things we don't deserve.

2          Mercy is when God does not
            give us what we deserve.
            Mercy is when God does not
            give us what we deserve.
            He does it because he loves us,
            he does it because he loves us.
            Mercy is when God does not
            give us what we deserve.

Paul Crouch (born 1963) and David Mudie (born 1961)
© 1989 Daybreak Music Ltd/Administered by CopyCare, PO Box 77, Hailsham, BN27 3EF, UK.

There’s something more!

I looked up the New Testament word for Grace in a dictionary I have – it’s an interesting dictionary by Johannes Louw and Eugene Nida who were linguists drawn to a philosophy of translation that tries to translate meaning for meaning rather than word for word. In their dictionary of semantic domains they link the word ‘grace’ in the NT with the word ‘kindness’.

A word, itself linked in the Scriptures to mercy. Indeed, the word ‘mercy’ is translated in the AV with a single word ‘lovingkindess’.

It’s as if grace, like mercy, is about loving kindness.

But Louw and Nida go a little further and suggest this …

It is important to note that kindness in English indicates an activity in which an individual is kind to someone; it is essentially an event involving a particular quality. The same is true of [the NT word for grace charis] for this is not a mere gracious disposition, but an expectation of the Lord's showing kindness.

That made me think: I have always valued ‘love’ and not given enough weight to kindness. Born as Hilary and Tensing conquered Everest I have a copy of James Morris’s supplement in Times – I have enjoyed Jan Morris, as she became, writing on Wales and so watched Michael Palin’s account of her life and retirement in Llanystymdwy, near Criccieth where I spent all my childhood holidays. Towards the end she said something that made me think:

"People think love is more important than kindness. Love implies all sorts of demands, and kindness isn't demanding at all.” Jan Morris.

We know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is so real because of the deeds of kindness Jesus did in bringing healing to hurting people … and because of the ultimate deed of kindness in the loving kindness that streams in forgiveness from the cross of Christ.
And that brings us to the invitation in that final prayer we pray.

It’s not just a summing up of all that has happened in our service.

As we say those words,

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God …

We are summing up what we take with us into the week that lies ahead.

Last week we were joined by Roderick Hewitt from Jamaica in our celebration of 40 years of CWM. This week our readings from Fresh from the Word are by Lesly G Anderson, a minister of the Methodist Chruch and a past President of the United Theological College of the West Indies, Jamaica, and therefore a colleague of Roderick’s.

As we turn once again to more readings from Matthew’s gospel, he invites us today to “live a life of grace which comes from God”.

Each day he invites us to experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing it brings as a ‘daily gift of God’.

Be on the look out for acts of kindness that are the doing of God in the grace of our Lord Jesus Chrsit.

We are to show in the living of our lives that kind of love we see in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To say those words is to pledge ourselves to doing acts of kindness that will make the world of difference

Maybe the last word can go to a pioneer of aviation – they thought they had solved the mystery of her death only to find they hadn’t recently – What she said of kindness speaks of the kindness of God in the grace ofour Lord Jesus Christ and of the kindness we are called up on to share as followers of Jesus …

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

-          Amelia Earhart

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all each day and every day and forevermore, Amen.

555 Amazing grace

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Praise and Worship with Hy-Spirit

Words of Blessing

Retiring Collection

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