Sunday 07 July 2024

7th Sunday after Pentecost

Welcome!

We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning however, we thought 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, 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.



Scripture

Psalm 48

2 Corinthians 12: 1 – 10


Praise – Lord of all hopefulness


Prayers

God of the past and of the future, when we look back may we look forward too.

When we dream of the past, may those dreams still shape our future.

May our faith be rich enough to see through, past golden eras, knowing that You haven’t finished with us yet:

We shall still be a community, we shall still find a new song to sing, we shall still believe You make all things new.

May we have the faith of David who could write a Psalm of praise and see you at work in the past, in the present and in the future. May we have the eyes of David to see You in every future. May we have the heart of David to recognise the future unfolding in the present.

God of the past and of the future, when we look forward may we look back too,

and know that what is still to happen, begins now.

Forgive us for when we get things wrong, relying on our own strength and forgetting to be guided and inspired by Your story. Help us to look forward, learning from the past inspired by Jesus in the present and guided by Your spirit into the future. We are part of something quite extraordinary – We are part of Your story, our God’s story: past, present and future.

Lord and God, it seems inconceivable that you offer to us your past, present and future.  The entire eternity of God is offered to us through Christ your son and now we bravely offer you our past, present and future.  All that we have been, all that we are, all that we hope to be, we lay at your feet in humble sacrifice.  May we then, through our offering of self find a new unity and oneness with our God and Creator.

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.


Address

If I were to mention the “Hardest Geezer” might you know what or who I am talking about?

Hardest Geezer is a young man, Russ Cook, who aged 27 years undertook to raise funds for charity by running the length of Africa.  He completed his challenge on 7th April this year having set out in February of 2023.  It took him 352 days, running pretty much the equivalent of a marathon each day, to complete his challenge, and in the process raised £700,000.  Of course, he faced obstacles – anything from ill-health and severe back pain, to visa problems and armed robbery.  None of which deterred him from completing his challenge.  It is an incredible achievement of human perseverance, endurance, strength and determination.  We may well stand amazed at what the human body can do when pushed to the limits.  Indeed, we may question where the limits are.

Now looking around, and I will include myself in this, I don’t see anyone who looks like they might be OK to run the length of Africa.  Each morning my right ankle reminds me that I went and broke it 14 years ago.  It will always give me discomfort and I expect it will get worse as I get older.  Lynn says she OK to push my wheelchair!  The three screws that hold my ankle together will not allow me to run, or kick a ball, or jump down from a wall – things that I did easily in my youth.  And you may reflect on your situation in a similar way.  We are not as young as we used to be, age is not for the feint hearted, every morning as we try to get ourselves moving for the day, we are conscious of our aches and pains, the tablets we need to take and the struggle to get a doctor’s appointment.  We no longer celebrate our youthful strength rather we are conscious of our human weakness.

Weakness does not mean that we should be dismissed, overlooked or underestimated.  The Apostle Paul finds himself in a challenging situation.  His authority in teaching the Christian faith has been undermined by some who reckoned they were better preachers than Paul.  Truthfully, Paul was not a great preacher.  For all his amazing grasp of the Christian faith he tended to be long-winded as a preacher and it seems he had a stammer or stutter in his speech that made him difficult to follow.  Paul states clearly that he had a painful physical ailment (we don’t know what it was) but it certainly reminded him every day that he was just human and he had his weaknesses.  As Paul went on his missionary journeys, bringing people to faith in Christ and establishing small faith communities it was not because he was a great preacher or an exceptional human being, it was not a celebration of Paul’s abilities.  In his weakness strength came from somewhere else, it came from faith in a living God, faith in Christ.  Paul’s weaknesses made Christ’s presence within him all the more evident.

I suppose, if we look at our church in those terms, and many many churches could do this, we can see that we are not a congregation in the first flush of youth.  We don’t have a vast Sunday School, not now.  We don’t have a Guild, not now.  Our Men’s Fellowship is small in number and so is our Girls’ Brigade Company.  Boy’s Brigade finished up years back.  When membership once stood at 1200 were are now more like 200.  All the things that once spoke of strength now remind us of our weakness.  But weakness does not mean that God is done with us.  In our weakness Christ’s work in and through us is amplified.  Things can happen that clearly, we have not achieved in our own strength.

So, we shall not be dismayed in our individual lives nor in our collective lives as a congregation.  We shall boast, not of our strength, but of our weakness, in order that God’s work within us might be glorified.  For, when we are weak, then we are strong.


Praise – How deep the Father’s love


Prayers for Others

A New Government Elected

Six short weeks of campaigning come to a close.  Headline grabbing statements and door to door canvassing have come to an end, for now.  Controversy over Postal Votes will rumble on – perhaps.  But voters have cast their votes and for better or worse a decision is made over who shall lead our country forward.  We pray then for our new government, not assuming they have all the answers, but that they should govern with wisdom, honesty and truthfulness.  We pray for integrity in all our elected representatives of every party and persuasion and a seeking of common ground that benefits all people.  Lord hear our prayers…

Union Island – Hurricane Beryl

Father God, we bemoan a dreadful summer – wind and rain dash our hopes of better days, warmth, freedom, relaxation in the sun.  Yet, what we experience is nothing compared to the onslaught of Hurricane Beryl as it reached landfall on Union Island.  Hurricane force winds and rain have come early in the season and have left at least 90% of the population homeless, without water, food, communications or power.  It is questionable if this island community can ever recover.

And so, we pray for them that help may come, that their immediate needs for food and water and shelter may be met from the international community.  And where they need to be evacuated to neighbouring islands that their passage may be safe.  And we give thanks for lives that have been spared for where there is life there is hope.  Lord hear us in our prayers for the people of Union Island and all whose lives have been torn apart by Hurricane Beryl…

Time for our own prayers

Lord Jesus, we thank you for quiet moments in your presence.  Time for stillness in our thoughts and in our souls.  Time in which to offer prayers for ourselves, for others, for the world; just as you might direct our thoughts.  Lord, receive the prayers we offer…


Praise – Great is thy faithfulness


The Grace

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 for evermore. AMEN.

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