Sunday 12 June 2022
We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning however, we though it would be good to offer some excerpts from the Sunday morning service. Where we can, we offer parts of the service in text and audio file, whichever works best for you. If you want to plug in headphones to your computer, tablet or mobile phone now is a good time to do it ! If you want to offer some comment or feedback just use the comment box at the end of this post.
Beauty for Brokenness
John 16: 12 – 15
Romans 5: 1 – 5
Prayers of Approach
This day as we gather together we are glad to see familiar faces, and ready to welcome those not so familiar. We gather with things to say thank you for and with burdens we ask you to share. We gather at your table to remember how you shared in our sufferings and offered us new life.
Lord Jesus, we will never grasp the whole truth about you, not ever a fraction of it, but what we do see, when we take time to look, is enough, more than enough to fill us with awe and wonder.
You were with the Father from before time began, you and the Spirit took part in creation; You give life, You sustain life. Forgive us if we should ever take for granted the astonishing gifts of love and life You bestow upon us. Forgive us if that sense of awe should ever evaporate from our souls.
Yet Jesus asks us to call you Abba Father, our daddy, with all the familiarity and intimacy and easiness that suggests. We gather in respectful reverence and in joyful, loving celebration of who you are.
Joyfully we express our love for you just as you have expressed your love for us in humble service, in giving and not seeking in return, in opening our hearts to you and one another, in loving our neighbour and even our enemy. In offering our resources and our willing hearts may we come to know you more fully and rejoice in your goodness always.
Hear us as we join in the words of the Lord’s Prayer saying…
Our Father who art in Heaven Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.
If your world were to be turned upside down what kind of world would you have?
If everything you took for granted, every foundation for life, everything you trusted in and built upon was taken away and replaced with its opposite, what kind of life would you have?
Would it be like Armageddon, would it be like the battle fields of the First and Second Wars, would it be like Ukraine, where life means nothing and hatred is normal and destruction surrounds you in every side? Would you have a world where no one forgives and nothing is forgiven, where every grudge is allowed to fester and your neighbour can starve because I, me, am the only person that matters.
John 16 presents us with another difficult set of ideas. The passage we read is set in the context of Jesus saying that he is going to go away and its better if He does because then the Helper, [the Holy Spirit] is going to come. And this Helper will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about so many foundational aspects of life; wrong about sin, wrong about what is right [that sounds pretty broad and all-encompassing] and wrong about God’s judgement. And there is so much more that He could tell His disciples but it would be too much for them to bear. Why? Why would it be too much to bear? We tend to think on difficult and painful things, those things that cause us distress as being too much to bear. What kind of painful, distressing truths is the Helper going to reveal?
Now, not being an intellectual, [something which we clearly established last week], I’m not going to come back at you with a clever set of answers to the many questions raised. But I will try to share with you my thinking on this and you are welcome to mull it over and tell me I’m wrong or congratulate me on getting it right!
So, there is right and wrong, truth and lies, light and dark, love and hate and so many other opposites in this world. What if our best attempts at being loving, caring, forgiving, our best efforts at living in the light, grasping the truth and doing the right in fact still leave us scrabbling about in the dark. Everything we think is good is just a pale reflection of what it can be, should be. Paul speaks about seeing in a mirror dimly and then we shall see face to face. Maybe the thing that is too hard for us to bear is that all of our best efforts fall short. Everything we think is good could be so much better, every foundation we’ve built upon is like the house built upon the sand. We think we’re living in the light when in actual fact we are surrounded by more darkness than we care to acknowledge.
If our world were turned upside down we wouldn’t be tipped into darkness and chaos but into light and order; into the love and peace of God’s Kingdom. Is that a fantasy? Or a dream? Or a vision? Or a truth that tests the very foundations we build upon?
Prayers of Intercession
Lord we have received of you and you have given to us life in all its fullness, abundant life, life that celebrates and rejoices, life that finds healing for hurts and offers us beauty for our brokenness.
We come in these prayers to offer you a broken world that it may find healing, that people may find healing, and organisations and institutes and governments may find healing.
We pray for our own government at Westminster rocked once more by a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister. And though the Prime Minister carries the confidence of his MP’s the line is too close for comfort; too many mistakes, too little good judgement and the future of a Prime Minister still hangs in the balance. Lord we pray for stability, we pray for good judgement and above all we pray for good government that seeks to ease and resolve the struggles we face. Lord hear us in our prayers…
We pray for those who are insensitive to deeply held beliefs and for those who are intolerant of expressions that challenge their beliefs. The Christian community has done its share of protesting in the past, challenged by “Life of Brian” a film seen by some as blasphemous. Now the Muslim community are challenged by “The Lady of Heaven” a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Protests have caused the film to be cancelled in some cinemas. Yet we all have a right to believe or not believe, we all have freedom of speech and freedom of expression. In this contradictory world help us all to learn how to disagree better, where rage and protests and denying others their freedoms is a thing of the past. Lord hear us in our prayers for healing and tolerance in society…
Lord Jesus, you gave your life and rose again from the dead that all people might find their unity in you. In such a diverse world of faiths and philosophies, show us what it means to find that unity in you and give us the courage to work for it. AMEN.
How Deep the Father’s love for Us
And now, may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love now and forever more. AMEN.