Greetings to Everyone
I hope you are all as well as possible in the circumstances and have been able to sit in the sun, whether inside by the window or outside in the garden.
James and I have mixed things up a bit this week. I have written the ‘sermon’ and Jane Bradby has contributed the prayers. I’m sure when you get to the sermon it will be obvious that there has been a change as the theological level has dropped somewhat and I want to take the credit for that rather than you thinking that James is having an off week!
Thank you for your encouraging feedback and please feel free to contribute a hymn or prayer request.
May you know God’s peace, hope and comfort as we come together as God’s family although physically apart
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 26th April
Praise be to the God our Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1 v3
O Lord, open our lips and our mouths shall proclaim your praise
Let us worship with Lord. All praise to his name
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.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Hymn - Christ, whose glory fills the skies
Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day's return
'til thy mercy's beams I see;
'til they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
Visit, then, this soul of mine;
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, Radiancy divine;
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.
Third Sunday of Easter Collect
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name.
Hymn - Glorious things of thee are spoken
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove;
who can faint while such a river
ever flows their thirst t'assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.
Saviour, if of Zion's city
I, thro' grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name;
fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.
Please read Psalm 103
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits
Have you ever forgotten something and ended up frustrated with yourself? I know I have. I go upstairs and forget what I went up for. I leave by the front door something I need to take out with me and then go out without it!
Do you use something to help you remember; maybe you set an alarm, write a list or tie a knot in your hankie?
I once met Frank walking to the Co-op in the village. He was struggling to walk and told me that he had forgotten his stick. I offered to get his stick or his shopping but he said he was fine. I met him again 15 minutes later as he was walking back home with his shopping.
He told me he knew there was something he had forgotten to buy. When I asked him what it was he couldn’t remember. I asked him where his list was and he said it was in his head. So we decided that as long as he’d remembered the essentials like whiskey and chocolate he’d be okay. He assured me that he hadn’t forgotten those as they were at the top of his list!
I guess we’ve all forgotten things and dealt with the consequences; like Frank having to struggle to the Co-op and live off whiskey and chocolate.
Most of the time when we forget something it doesn’t really matter, it’s just annoying, but there are other times that forgetting things can have bigger consequences.
You see we are all in danger of forgetting something extremely important and when we do forget this we can find our level of stress increase and our level of joy decrease.
So I want us to look at the help David gives us in Psalm 103; to find out what it is that we should try not to forget, to find out how we can remember and what would happen if we did forget.
Look at what David says at the start of Psalm 103 (AMP)
Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits
The word ‘bless’ may be translated as ‘praise’ in your Bible but I want to show you the Amplified Bible translation as I love the helpful translation of ‘bless’. It says ‘affectionately, gratefully praise’ and what David is saying is part of our praise is to ‘forget not all His benefits’, or you could say “don’t forget all the wonderful things the Lord has done”.
There are a lot of things we have to remember each day, and the benefits and blessings of God should be on the top of our list of things to remember. The goodness of God is something we should choose to remember and try to remember.
The dictionary defines benefit as “a favour conferred; advantage; profit.” That’s what we have been given. And David doesn’t say we have only one benefit; he says we have benefits. We have been given many “favours” and “advantages” as children of God.
However, the benefits aren’t something we’ve earned by impressing God. They are things He freely gives us because we are His children and He loves to bless us. This is why Romans 8: 17 says, “And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him].” (AMP)
We’ve inherited the benefits, the blessings, and the goodness of God and that is something to be joyful about.
However, it takes a conscious effort to remember good things. I don’t know about you but I seem to be much better at remembering the not so good things that happen in my life. I went out for a bicycle ride this morning (using my daily exercise allowance) and I was immediately reminded of the time that as a child I got my flared trousers caught in my bicycle chain (it was the 1970’s!). I remembered being totally stuck as I couldn’t get my trousers out of the chain and I couldn’t move the bike without my leg going round and round!
What I didn’t remember as I rode my bike this morning was all the other times as I child I had ridden my bike with no such calamity, but every time I ride my bike this same memory comes to mind. Perhaps you experience something similar, when you remember what went wrong rather than what went right.
So the reason David gave this instruction to remember God’s goodness is because it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to forget because it’s natural, it’s easy to forget because we remember the not so good and it’s easy to forget because life gets in the way.
We certainly have other things on our minds at the moment as we worry about the spread of the virus, our health, being in isolation, how we get our food and financial difficulties. We can get so caught up what is happening that we simply forget all the good things God has given us.
It’s interesting to point out that David was actually talking to himself when he wrote this verse. He begins by saying, “Bless … the Lord, O my soul.” David knew how easy it was to forget what God had done, and he understood that not remembering was going to have a consequence on how he felt. That’s why he reminded himself to focus on God’s blessings.
Dr Martin Lloyd Jones once said ‘have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?’ When we listen to our negative mind-set we can become overwhelmed by our troubles but if we talk to ourselves and remind ourselves of all God’s blessings we will be stronger.
You may be finding it difficult to think about God’s goodness and blessings at such a time as this; when people are experiencing loneliness, illness and grief not to mention the fact that is happening all over the world. But not only does Psalm 103 encourage us to remember the benefits we have as children of God, but it also goes on to remind us what many of those benefits are.
I think David knew that everyone forgets (just as Israel kept forgetting) so he wrote us a list!
The next verses in Psalm 103 list some of the benefits that we should remember and like David we can use them to “affectionately, gratefully praise” God for His goodness in our lives.
Verse 3 “who forgives all your sins” Your sins are forgiven. “and heals all your diseases”
Verse 4 “who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”. God has redeemed your life! You have a new life in Him. The word translated as ‘pit’ can also be translated as ‘grave’. God has saved us from the grave. Our current bodies may go in a grave but our soul lives forever. God loves you unconditionally.
Verse 5 “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” You are cared for and provided for. You are strong, overcoming, and soaring! You may not feel it but you are!
Verse 6 “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed”. God is your defender!
Verse 8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”.
Verse 10 “he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities”. When you get things wrong, God will forgive you
Verse 14 “For He knows our frame” God knows you better than you know yourself. I’m SO grateful for this one!
Verse 17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children’s children”. No matter what happens, God will never stop loving you.
This is a list from just one chapter! In the Bible we can find more blessings and promises of God for our lives. In remembering these benefits we give praise to God. The affectionate, grateful praise he is worthy of. Remembering these things puts us in an attitude of continuous gratitude to God.
So we have looked how it is important to remember these things but we’ve also said how easy it is to forget them. So how can we remember them? What can we do to help us remember?
Maybe you still carry a hankie and could tie a knot in it. Maybe we could use a visual reminder; open the pages of your bible to this psalm and leave it in a place you visit regularly……(I was thinking of the kitchen!)
Ask God to remind us, I often ask God to remind me of things that are important. Take time to think about them; spend time reading, meditating and prayer over them. But the most helpful way to remember something is to make it routine. I don’t forget to get dressed in the morning, brush my teeth, eat lunch and check my emails because I do it every day! The more we do something the more it becomes routine. Something might seem a chore at first but don’t forget that the Holy Spirit can make our ‘have to’ into our ‘want to’.
David also wrote “Blessed is the one……………….whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, whatever they do prospers” Psalm 1
Finally, don’t panic if you forget them because they are still true even if we forget them. Don’t worry; the benefits are still ours. We don’t only get them if we remember them! We get them because we are children of God, not because of what we do or don’t do – that’s law – religion, but by believing. We are saved by believing and accepting what Jesus has done for us and then as children of God we can know peace, living in his blessing, benefit and goodness.
How will you remember not to forget?!
Let us pray,
A prayer from the Church of England:
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy, sustain and support the anxious; be with those who care for the sick and lift up all who are brought low; that they may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love. In Jesus Christ our Lord,
Almighty and all-loving God, in this time of extraordinary change in our lives we pray for those on the front-line:
NHS and care home workers, from consultants to cleaners, and everyone in between. We pray that they would show glimpses of God’s kingdom and his loving care to patients and their families as they face sickness, fear, and sometimes death, and that they might be hope in the dark, showing compassion regardless of circumstance. Keep them and their families’ safe, Lord. May they have the right equipment and take away stress and anxiety and help them to know that you are with them.
We pray for our government, for the prime minister and the cabinet and all other decision makers that they might have Godly wisdom and clear guidance. Keep them strong and well in the light of unrelenting pressure, and help them to do what is right and best for the good of the nation.
We pray for local councils, particularly our own local councillors here in Combe Down, South Stoke and Monkton Combe. We pray that they would have wisdom in the key decisions they have to make, and that they would work effectively with central government to maximise potential and best serve the community. We pray especially for all those workers who are delivering services to the community, particularly refuse and recycling collectors, those working on road building and construction, shop workers, and all those who are worried that their job brings them into contact with others.
Lord God, you are supreme and all powerful and we thank you for the glimpses of your love and generosity we see every day. We thank you for the beautiful weather, the birdsong and the flowers, the kindness of friends and neighbours and the ‘connectedness’ with others that many are experiencing.
But Lord, we know that many people are struggling; with illness, with loneliness, with financial worries, with relationship difficulties. We pause for a moment and lift to you any people we know who need the light of your love to break into their lives at this time…..
Father, we ask you to help us live this day and every 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 have contact with.
Spirit, help us to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all we do and say.
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
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, the glory are yours, now and for ever.
Hymn - Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee His praise should sing:
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King.
Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him still the same forever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Glorious in His faithfulness.
Fatherlike He tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Widely as His mercy flows.
Angels, help us to adore Him,
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Praise with us the God of grace.
A blessing from the Northumbria Community
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.