Canvey Methodist Church Worship Services 23rd January 2022

Sunday 23rd January 2021- Week of prayer for Christian Unity 

Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 13:12-31; Luke 4:14-21; 

1)Call to worship:  

Psalm 19:1-4;1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

2).H&P 28: O Worship the King all glorious above. 

https://youtu.be/MWe1j0G_-aM 

3)Prayer of Praise, adoration, thanksgiving, confession - We offer God our prayers of praise using the words of the following hymns: 

We are here to praise you, lift our hearts and sing. 

We are here to give you, the best that we can bring. 

And it is our love, rising from our hearts, 

Everything within us cries, "Abba! Father!" 

Help us now to give you, pleasure and delight, 

Heart and mind and will that say, "I love You, Lord." 

We are here to praise you, lift our hearts and sing 

We are here to give you the best that we can bring. 

And it is our love rising from our hearts 

Everything within us cries I love you Lord. 

With gladness we worship, rejoice as we sing, 

Free hearts and free voices, how blessèd to bring! 

The old thankful story shall seek Thine abode, 

Thou King of all glory, most bountiful God! 

Renewed by Thy Spirit, redeemed by Thy Son, 

Thy children would bless Thee for all Thou hast done: 

O Father, returning to love and to light, 

Our spirits are yearning to praise Thee aright. 

Thy right would we give Thee, true homage Thy due, And honor eternal, the universe through: With all Thy creation, earth, heaven and sea, In one acclamation we glorify Thee. 

We join with the angels, and so there is giv’n, From earth, Alleluia, in answer to Heav’n. Amen! Be Thou glorious below and above, Redeeming, victorious, and infinite Love! 

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name, I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name; And in Jesus’ name I come to you, To share His love as He told me to. 

He said: ‘Freely, freely, you have received, Freely, freely give; 

Go in My name, and because you believe, Others will know that I live.’ 

All power is given in Jesus’ name, In earth and heaven in Jesus’ name; And in Jesus’ name I come to you, To share His power as He told me to.  

He said: ‘Freely, freely, you have received, Freely, freely give; 

Go in My name, and because you believe, Others will know that I live.’ 

Lord's Prayer 

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 trespasses,  

as we forgive those who trespass against us,  

and lead us not into temptation,  

but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory,  

forever and ever.  Amen. 


4)OT Reading.  Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6, 8-10. 

1. all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. 

2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. 

5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 

8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear[a] and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. 

9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 

10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

5) H&P 780:Revive your work, O God. 

https://youtu.be/UdFh5vKRRTA

6).Epistle:1 Corinthians 12:1-11. N.I.V        

Unity and Diversity in the Body. 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[b]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. 

Love Is Indispensable 

And yet I will show you the most excellent way. 

Footnotes

a.1 Corinthians 12:13 Or with; or in 

b.1 Corinthians 12:30 Or other languages 

7) Prayers For Others.            

8) Reflection: What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer   

https://youtu.be/hwc2d1Xt8gM 

9) Gospel Reading-Luke 4:14-21.           Reader Please. 

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 

    because he has anointed me 

    to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 

    and recovery of sight for the blind, 

to set the oppressed free, 

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a] 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

Footnotes 

a. Luke 4:19 Isaiah 61:1,2 (see Septuagint); Isaiah 58:6 

10) SofF 311: Jesus you are changing me  

https://youtu.be/vEmlM3Gqvjg 

 

11)Sermon:  A Sunday school teacher was once discussing the Ten Commandments with the five and six year old children in her group. After explaining the commandment to "honour" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" 

Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill." 

Well we know what he meant. Those of us who grew up with brothers and sisters and maybe who have brought up children ourselves, know that getting along with those closest to us is not always easy. 

Looking back over church history we note with sadness that disunity and division has occurred with regrettable and persistent frequency over the years. 

Our sadness though must be nothing to that felt by Almighty God. And also by Christ, who died to unite humanity with its creator, praying in the garden of gethsemane just before his death, “Father may those you give me be as one just as you and I are one”. Christian people getting on with one another really is and always has been God's strong desire.  

 And yet in the church, of whatever label, it is not always easy to do this. Misunderstandings and differences of opinion can arise and cause upset and division. We are all different; we come from varying backgrounds, cultures, upbringings and each of us comes into the church replete with our various faults, failings and foibles. And so the question arises, is it really possible to know consistent Unity in the church. The answer thankfully is that, yes it is. With God, a lot of love, and a lot of patience, all things are possible. But how can this happen? Are there any pointers to help us? In his book The Pursuit of God, author A.W. Tozer wrote the following:  “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” 

Always looking to Jesus is the answer. When we are in step with Him, then we can be in step with each other, even when differences and rankles occur. 

And so today on this Sunday of the week of prayer for Christian Unity we hear the words of St Paul in 1st Corinthians 12 reminding us that together you and I are the Body of Christ, with Jesus as our head. All different, but joined together as one body, led by the Holy Spirit to move as one. It is by looking to Jesus and putting his love and words into practice that is the key to our unity. To always ask, “What would Jesus do”? When we don’t do this, when instead we do what seems right in our own eyes or if we turn a deaf ear to God’s call to love one another as ourselves, if we go on our own sweet way irrespective of his call, then things are likely to go wrong and this particular body will not work so well. In fact it is understandable that when each member of the body does not pull together then the body ends up going nowhere fast.  In holy scripture we find examples of both of these situations. When the people of Israel had returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah, the Governor, Ezra the priest called them altogether to dedicate themselves once more to the law of God. They had a big task ahead of them, to rebuild the city, the temple as well as their community. They needed to pull together. Ezra the priest wisely led them to focus their eyes once again on God and His law. To do this, Ezra could have used the temple area for them to gather together, but instead he chose the Watergate, a large open space. Here there was space for all to meet. There were no reserved spaces for Priests, For Women and for Gentiles as in the Temple.. We read that there was room for all, Men, Women and Children. All could and did all stand next to each other in this community and personal recommitment to God's law and to rebuilding the Temple and the City. Similarly when Jesus returned from being baptised by John the Baptist he taught in many synagogues across the countryside and everyone praised him. When he spoke at his own synagogue in Nazareth, as was his custom, we read that every eye was upon him. Word of his exploits had spread across the whole countryside.  You could have heard a pin drop as Jesus read the words of Isaiah the great prophet. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Stunned amazement but then everyone spoke well of him. “Didn’t he do well? But this was not to last. When we read on in Luke's gospel we see that opinion turned and Jesus was soon seen as the “prophet who was not accepted in his hometown” rejected by his neighbours. Unity in the church is not a goal to be reached but is rather a natural outcome and the result of keeping our eyes on Jesus and of being open to and filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus in his ministry was described as “returning in the power of the Spirit” and St Paul in 1Corinthians 12 reminds us that “we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body”.  Knowing the Holy Spirit's working in our midst as we all look to Jesus enhances our unity and purpose as a local church. This does raise the question though, of how we, both as individuals, and as a church can know that the Holy Spirit is working in our lives and midst? 

As I ponder that question, here are the answers that occur to me.

1).We know because Jesus promised that he would give the Holy Spirit as a gift to those who follow him. 

In John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  

2). We know because Jesus promised the Holy Spirit when we love and obey him. In John 14:15-17; “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.

3).We know because God promises the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are baptised, 

In Ephesians1:13; the apostle Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

And in Acts2:38.  Peter again is speaking,, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

4). We know because the Holy Spirit gives us gifts to equip us. 1Corinthians12; The apostle Paul in speaking to the Corinthian church said, “I do not want you to be uninformed about the gifts of the Spirit” 

And he went on to outline how the Holy Spirit gives gifts for the work of service. He spoke of nine spiritual gifts that are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. message of wisdom, message of knowledgefaithgifts of healing, miraculous powersprophecydistinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tonguesinterpretation of tongues. These are not personal possessions to “crow about” but rather are gifts to the church and for use in the service of the gospel. 

5).Fifthly and lastly we know that the Holy Spirit is working in our lives and midst because not only does the Holy Spirit provide gifts as tools for the task in hand but he grows fruits in the lives of believers over time.   

Galatians 5 tells us,  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.   Nine fruits, matching nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

God the Holy Spirit is generous, He blows where he wills. He equips according to his will and purposes. Our part is to be willing to receive and to be open to God’s way of doing things.

Someone once described that when God the Holy Spirit enters a life, He stands in the hallway only. He only goes into the other rooms of the house when the doors are opened to him and the invitation to enter is given. I wonder, as each of us ponders our response to God's love this morning, are there doors to one or more of the rooms in my life and yours that we have yet to open to Him for transformation. St Paul in 1 Cor 6:19; puts it like this: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own''; 

This does sound, I think, a bit like the words of our annual covenant promise that we shared in just a couple of weeks back. 

Let us pray. Holy Spirit, our lives are not our own but yours. As we walk into this new year together we ask that as your church, please fill each of us anew. We throw open the doors of our lives and of each room in our lives. Equip us with gifts to serve and grow fruits of grace we pray that others may see and hear your gospel and of your transforming life. Amen.

12) Offering and H&P 705 : STF566: Take my life and let me be (Tune.Nottingham). 

https://youtu.be/Gf11rReeWIs 

13) Prayer of Dedication and Benediction.  

Two little eyes to look to God, two little ears to hear his word, two little feet to walk in his ways, two little lips to sing his praise, two little hands to do his Will, and one little heart to love him still.

Words that are as true in our todays as they were in our yesterdays.

And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forevermore, Amen.