I can’t believe we are coming to the end of May!
I hope you are all as well as possible as we continue to ‘stay alert’, keep calm and trust God.
This week Deidre Greenshields from St Michael’s Monkon Combe is sharing with us some helpful insight into waiting, hoping and waiting in hope. Donald Gorrie also from St Michael’s has written some prayers for us. Thank you to both.
I want to tell you about the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, a global prayer movement which the Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting people around the world to join. The wave of prayer starts on 21 May and runs for 10 days between Ascension and Pentecost to 31 May. It’s not complicated – it simply encourages people to pray in whatever way they want and with whoever they want for others to come to know Jesus Christ.
During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, it is hoped that everyone who takes part will deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus and pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness. Please let me know if you would like to receive some of the resources available (or you can access them on line if possible for you).
Many thanks for joining in with this service and please get in touch if you have prayers request or good news to share with others.
Polly Andrews, Seniors Minister at Holy Trinity (07914 871417) firstname.lastname@example.org
James Bradby from St Michael’s Monkton Combe (01225 722700
A Service for Sunday May 24th
We prepare to worship God
The world belongs to the Lord, the earth and its people are his.
How good and lovely it is to live together in unity.
O Lord, open our lips and our mouths shall proclaim your praise.
My soul’s desire is to see the face of God, and to rest in his house. (St Columba)
Lord our God, this is the place where we may worship you; you have set your name here.
Here in your presence our families shall rejoice, because you have blessed us; here we present to you the offering of our lives; here we pledge our obedience to you; here we pray for our children, that we and they may do your will.
Lord our God; this is the place where we may worship you.
Hymn – All things bright and beautiful
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colours, he made their tiny wings. [Refrain]
The purple-headed mountain, the river running by,
the sunset, and the morning that brightens up the sky. [Refrain]
The cold wind in the winter, the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden, he made them, every one. [Refrain]
The tall trees in the greenwood, the meadows where we play,
the flowers by the water we gather every day. [Refrain]
He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well. [Refrain]
Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter
Risen, ascended Lord, as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
We confess our sins to God
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Most merciful God and Father, give us true repentance for our sins.
Open our eyes to recognise the truth about ourselves; so that, acknowledging our faults, our weaknesses, and our failures, we may receive your forgiveness, and find in your love the encouragement to make a new beginning; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are assured of God’s forgiveness
1 To you, O Lord I lift up my soul; in you I put my trust, O my God.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn – Come Down O Love Divine
Come down, O Love divine,
Seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
And so the yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace,
Till Love create a place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling
I have a prayer which contains the phrase, “We give you thanks for the waiting time ".
Is that our honest reaction to waiting - thankfulness? The waiting we are going through at the moment, are we really thankful for it?
This same prayer also says, “Lord, you keep us waiting, you, the God of all time, want us to wait”.
That is certainly what Jesus said to his disciples as he left them
(Acts 1 v4), "Do not leave Jerusalem, but WAIT for the gift the Father promised which you have heard me speak about."
Wait, we are told this so often, just wait. It's not yet time, just wait. The bus will come, yes even the 94 as it trundles its way through Westwood and Freshford, through Limpley Stoke, across the A 36 and then at long last to Monkton Combe, just wait.
A baby is due but not yet, just wait, it will come.
The foot-tapping, the watch checking, the days crossed off. Are we there yet? No, the journey has scarcely started. Can I have my present now? No, just wait, it's not your birthday or Christmas or even Easter, just wait.
And of course we are all waiting for the end of complete lockdown. Some tiny chinks of light have emerged but it's not yet time, we just have to wait. Further waiting for the gradual resumption of normality. We are waiting for that hair cut or colouring session, the needed dentistry or chiropody, for a cappuccino and Danish pastry, for that first hug, that so-long anticipated human touch denied to the self-isolating for so long. That is our life at the moment, waiting.
As I said at the start we are not the first to have to wait for some long-awaited gift or pleasure or for a special day or for a promise that has been given but not yet fulfilled. We started with remembering Jesus' disciples who were told to wait in Jerusalem. Just wait. But even they were not the first in the Biblical narrative to be told to wait for God to act.
OLD TESTAMENT WAITING
Just to open the Bible we almost at once meet people who had to wait. There was Adam who had to wait for a helper, for a helpmeet. Until then he was alone. That can speak to us of how unnatural it is for us to be without human company. God understands that. Then there is Noah and his family in the ark waiting first for the rain to start, then for it to stop. Further waiting for the floodwaters to subside and then waiting again for it to dry up, waiting till the rainbow appeared in the sky.
We come to Sarah and Abraham waiting for the promised son to be born, the start of a family who would be as numerous as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. They had to wait; and it was a long wait. And so, through the ups and downs of Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, through Moses and Joshua, through Samuel and David - all having to wait for promises to be fulfilled, for a happy ending to the trials and tribulations, to the separation and isolation.The story of God's chosen people through captivity and exile is also all about waiting. Yes, waiting for the return home but also waiting for the One who would transform their lives and be their Messiah, their Holy One, their Rescuer, the end of all their waiting. The tragedy lay in their not recognising him in the form of the Suffering Servant and so they are still waiting.
NEW TESTAMENT WAITING
"When the time fully came (the end of all that waiting) God sent his Son." Galatians 4 v 4.
Among the stories of Jesus coming, of his Nativity, is the one when two elderly people, a man and a woman, real seniors in their community, recognised in this helpless 8 day old baby the One for whom they had waited all their long lives. The man, Simeon, moved by God's Spirit, took the baby in his arms and said , "My eyes have seen your salvation " and the woman, Anna, spoke of the redemption that would come through this child. They had waited all their lives. Now right at the end their wait was over, they had seen what was promised. "Lord now let your servants depart in peace."
Simeon and Anna's wait was over but for Jesus' disciples when they saw Jesus and were called to follow him the wait was only just beginning . For three years they walked the length and breadth of Judea and Galilee. They listened, they watched, they waited for their Master to reveal himself as Messiah and for his kingdom to come. Then their troubles would be over, their wait ended. But it didn't happen. Ahead was the Cross, ahead was that dreadful Black Saturday. Everything was at an end. They had waited in vain.
There was only emptiness.
In our calendar that day is the end of Lent which commemorates the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent in self-isolation, facing his enemy, the Devil. Yes, even Jesus knows self-isolation and the temptation to despair and doubt. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us. What did Jesus do to combat his enemy and all his wiles? What did he do to fight off the loneliness? He turned to the Scriptures and through them defeated those enemies of doubt, despair and self-pity. Are we making use of our waiting time to know God's word better? Then Black Saturday was turned into glorious Easter Day, Jesus was alive, risen. He appeared to men and women, to ones and twos, to groups, to crowds, to even 500 at one time. He was alive.
All waiting was over. Or was it? No, he left them as we read in Acts 1 verse 4, but not in despair this time but in hope, "Wait" he said for what he had promised to give.
They had another 10 days to wait for that gift which would transform their lives and the life of every follower since.
"God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ' Abba, Father,' " Galatians 4 v 6
That is the message of next Sunday, Pentecost.
WAIT AND HOPE
This is an incomplete summary of the waiting time in the Old and New Testaments. As I thought about those who waited and many more besides, and how they used the waiting time, the in- between time I read some familiar verses in Job, in the Psalms and in Isaiah and I discovered a linking together of wait and hope which helped me in the use of this unique time of waiting and my attitude to it.
I had prepared all these thoughts before I read Susanna's searching affirming word to us last Sunday. As I read what she gave us, a pouring out from 1 Peter of the reasons and grounds for our hope in God I was thrilled. Then I wondered if I should delete everything I had prepared, (typing takes me so long too) and start again!
However I didn't because I think our combined thoughts just underline how vital and real is our hope. I have used some of the same Biblical texts as Susanna did, for they are God's word to us and his word is always our final authority. So back to my original text, no deleting after all, I must admit that was a relief!
Job was a man of God who experienced trouble after trouble. Three of his troubles were his so-called comforters who were anything but. Perhaps we have heard in our waiting time many words of wisdom, many platitudes, many words without depth, just as Job did. They were spoken to him out of genuine friendship. These friends had come to him in his misery, they had wept with him, they had sat in silence with him. Perhaps that had helped but their words did not. It is Job himself who has the words.
He bursts out, "Though God slays me yet I will HOPE in him" 13 v 15
"All my days of hard service I will WAIT for my release to come. You will call and I will answer You” 14 v14.
Job had hope in his wait. He was waiting for an answer as to why he was suffering. He knew God well enough to wait in hope for the answer to come.
There are two verses in the Bible where I found that the Authorised Version (AV) uses WAIT and the New International Version ( NIV) uses HOPE .
These two verses are in Psalm 25 and Isaiah 40. We have already read them in this service and I will come back to them later.
As we have seen Job rather neatly used both words within one of his answers to his friends.
What is this hope? How does it link up with wait? Does it make a difference to waiting if we are waiting in hope?
WAITING can often be passive. We just wait with folded hands.
HOPING is active on tip toe, gazing ahead, alert and ready.
Hope in the Bible is not a vague, woolly optimism. It is an expectant looking forward. It is inseparable from our faith in God.
Because God has acted in the past and what He has promised has happened so we have a certain, a sure hope that he will do what he has promised to do, that he will give what he has promised to give. Hope is a certainty. It is not the same as being hopeful as that amazing Captain Tom Moore said he was, that is a great attribute but it is not the same as the Christian's hope.
We can make waiting a nothing time, closing our eyes to both our surroundings and our friends or we can make the waiting time a time of hope, of looking forward in expectation, being ready.
In our passage, Acts 1, the disciples are told to stay and wait. That is what they did. Was it a lock-down? Did they lock their doors as they did on the first Easter Day? I don't think so.
There must have been much coming and going for not only were the 11 disciples there but also Jesus' mother, Mary, and his brothers, all the women who had followed so faithfully and others too, about 120 in total. In Luke's Gospel we are told they were in the temple continually praising God and here in Acts they were in the upper room constantly praying.
So unlike us they were together, able to come and go. It was a healthy combination, continuous praise in the temple, constant prayer at home. They supported one another, encouraged one another, just as our wonderful friends have supported us in many ways. And they prayed together, united in their desire for God to act.
That makes me wonder if we are using this unusual time for increased prayer, prayer within our own household or on our own, prayer in our phone calls with friends. I have at least two friends with whom this happens frequently, praying during the phone call.
I should do it more often. When we are on our own are we praying more honestly, being open in our praying, letting God into the complexities of this time, personal, national and international. He is our Father and with him we can share everything. I wonder too if we share with others by phone, text, email, on zoom or FaceTime, not only in prayer but also sharing the promises of God which are transforming the waiting into hoping, an earnest, expectant looking forward.
This is a unique time not to be wasted. In my shut-away time, in this amazing weather, I have realised how good it is to feast my eyes on all the beauty around and to have a thankful heart. Never before have I had the time to notice so much in my garden. Not being able to work in it has been a blessing for instead of having my head down grubbing among the weeds I have really seen and appreciated so much.
The pattern and form, light and shadow, bees and butterflies, the song of the birds, the variety of green and purple foliage, able to think of "All things bright and beautiful" not as a ditty but as a paean of praise and to say each line quietly and slowly. I can truly thank him for the waiting time which in all my frantic planning I never expected to have. I thank Him too for those who willingly have dealt with the weeds!
WAIT IN HOPE
In verse 5 of Psalm 25 the AV reads, "Lead me in thy truth and teach me for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I WAIT all the day”.
In the NIV it reads, “Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Saviour, and my HOPE is in you all day long”.
Taken together I think we are justified in saying that as we wait our hope can be in God.
Surely this is what the disciples and all who were with them were doing after Jesus left them. Their prayer was united and persevering. They were united in hope as they waited and in waiting they prayed. It's his promise that made them pray in confidence that he would hear and answer. He had promised to send them a gift and he would keep his word. That was their hope, their expectancy.
In Isaiah 40 verse 31, in the AV They that WAIT on the Lord ....
In the NIV They that HOPE on the Lord ....and together they both say, will renew their strength.
It is in waiting in hope (in certainty) that we come through times of difficulty and loneliness, through tiredness and weakness and pain. We will be given the strength; our strength will be renewed as we wait in hope on our Father God. "No good thing will he withhold from those who love him." (Rom 8 v 28).
The disciples having witnessed the Resurrection waited in hope
(In expectancy) for the Holy Spirit, Peter says, " In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" ( 1 Peter 1 v 3) and the writer to the Hebrews wrote "We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. "( Heb 6 vv 16,19)
Beyond this waiting for the Holy Spirit there is of course the further waiting, waiting for the second coming of Jesus and the judgement which lie at the end of Christian discipleship. That is the Christian hope (certainty) that he will come again and that we will be with him forever. Waiting is part and parcel of the Christian pilgrimage.
We are waiting for normal life to be resumed. Meanwhile we can use it positively. This time is his gift to us.
The disciples waited for the gift of the Holy Spirit, obedient and prayerful and expectant.
All believers are waiting for when we see Jesus in all His glory, either when he comes again or when he takes us from this life into his presence. " And so we shall be with the Lord for ever" (1Thess 4)
Paul says of Jesus , "He is our hope" (1 Tim 1 v 1).
Let us pray.
God our Father our refuge and our strength in time of need, we come before you in your presence, carrying all of the baggage of the pandemic.
We have all been affected in one way or another. Families have lost loved ones. Livelihoods have been jeopardised, education has been interrupted and many, many people are left in financial difficulty.
It is at this crucial time for our communities, our nation and indeed our world that we need more than ever your refuge and your strength to support us in our time of need.
Lord In your mercy, Hear our prayer
We ask for your blessing on our Churches in the benefice and for all of those in our wider community. Keep them safe we ask and give them the resilience to cope with the many difficulties which ‘Lockdown’ poses. The support which has been shown by members of our community in numberless acts of kindness to one another, whether shopping for food or simply offering a kind word at the right moment are testament to the sense of solidarity which is alive in our midst.
Loving Lord we pray that with the blessing of your love we will continue to support one another in all sorts of ways.
Our spiritual needs are always in need of replenishment and the ministry of your word has been led and supported at all stages by the vicar and his team. They have helped in creating opportunities to provide the means to continue our worship in creative and rewarding ways in these troubled times. We are extremely grateful for their efforts. Being unable to worship in our Churches is a cause for regret and we pray that this will soon come to an end.
Lord in your Mercy, Hear our prayer
Father, as you so oversee your children, we pray that those in authority may be guided by your example to look upon those for whom they have responsibility with good sense and sound judgement, realising how crucial their actions may be in these critical times. Give them, we ask, the clarity of vision to make decisions which are sound and for the good of all. Fill them with your compassion for the needs of the communities which they represent.
Bless our Queen we beseech you, in her efforts to bring encouragement and strength to her nation in our time of need.
We honour in your name the countless numbers of the NHS medical and nursing professions who have given tirelessly of their time to fighting the COVID 19 virus. And we lift to you those who have given their own lives in the cause. Numberless others too, support staff, key workers military and police have all had their part to play. Father we bring them all before you now.
Lord in your Mercy, Hear our prayer
At a time when all of us need your unquestioning Love we Bring before you those who are sick in body, mind or Spirit and who need your ministration Lift them up and offer them your comfort and redemption.
To those who have suffered bereavement we ask that you be with them in their moments of grief. helping to their needs we ask but also make us more aware of the needs of others and of our duty as Christians toward them.
Help us to understand the part we too can play in helping their needs in sympathetic and practical ways.
To those who have gone before us, many of them as a result of Covid Virus in recent weeks, we commend them to your care. May they have the ultimate honour of being at your right hand with the heavenly host.
Lord we thank you for today and every day and for allowing us to be part of your wonderful world.
Let us pray for the coming of God’s kingdom in the words our Saviour taught us.
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.
Hymn - Ye Servants of God
Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,
and publish abroad his wonderful name;
the name all-victorious of Jesus extol, his kingdom is glorious and rules over all.
God ruleth on high, almighty to save,
and still he is nigh, his presence we have;
the great congregation his triumph shall sing, ascribing salvation to Jesus, our King.
"Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!"
Let all cry aloud and honour the Son;
the praises of Jesus the angels proclaim, fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb.
Then let us adore and give him his right,
all glory and power, all wisdom and might;
all honour and blessing with angels above, and thanks never ceasing and infinite love.
A final prayer and blessing
Father, help us to live this day to the full, being true to You in every way
Jesus, help us to give ourselves away to others, being kind to everyone we meet
Spirit, help us to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all we do and say
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us forever