This act of Worship for you to use at home has been produced by Revd John Rowe.
We are here to worship the living God – To offer our heartfelt thanks and praise, not because we are holy and good but because we are loved, forgiven and free – Let us worship God.
StF293 All Heaven Declares
Lord God, we bless you for the Gospel of Christ for the Good News he gave to the world of your love and compassion. We thank you for the hope we have in your kingdom, and for the privilege that is ours in being part of Christ's Body, the Church. For all the friendship and encouragement that we have found within the church's fellowship; for the presence of the Holy Spirit acting in our lives, for the joys of home and family, we give praise and thanks to you, who has planned and given us all things. In the name of Christ, Amen.
Father, we come in praise to you but conscious of the things within ourselves we hate to remember yet cannot forget: our self-indulgence, our prejudices, our resentments, our hypocrisies, our selfishness, our pride and our pain. Save us from self-contempt as we acknowledge these things. And as we remember your love for us in spite of all that we are and do, give us the assurance of your pardon - The release and relief of those who know that the past is forgiven and the zest and joy of those who know that the future is still to make. So may we live in that fullness and freedom of life, which you have promised that we can share through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Hear the good news – Our sins are forgiven – Thanks be to God. Amen
StF495 Dear Lord And Father of Mankind
StF362 Meekness and Majesty
Sermon - ‘There Is Only One Road I’m WaIking’
I have previously mentioned that immediately before entering the ordained ministry I spent three years working in a local authority care-home for difficult and disturbed young people. During that time there was one young person, a teenager named Lauren (Not her real name), who at the time shared with me a liking for the music of Celine Dion; I know, I have been told many times by my own children, especially my sons, how sad my taste in music is.
Anyway, I remember loaning Lauren some of my CD's and she returned the favour. Although, I was always concerned as to whether or not her’s had been legally acquired, given she was banned from most shops in the surrounding area.
Now one of the things I needed to be careful of during my time as a residential social worker was the manner by which I shared my faith with the young people. So clear were the guidelines on this that I only very rarely mentioned the name of Jesus to the young people during those three years. Nevertheless, the young people from the start were aware of my intention to candidate for the ordained ministry. This always confused one young teenager with a Roman Catholic background, who being familiar with the vow of celibacy taken by Roman Catholic priests, was intrigued to know, that once ordained, what I intended do with Liz!
But back to Celine Dion - There was a particular song she sang, which was a favourite of mine and that of Lauren also. In the song the singer looks back to a time when, in her life she had found the love of her life and yet had walked away from that love and person. Having later realised what she had lost - she determines to let nothing deflect her from the path or road that will lead her back to that love. Hence the title of the song, ‘There is only one road I'm walking’.
As a Christian this track was particularly useful to me in my interactions with Lauren in that the title and sentiment helped me present to her the idea that in faith Christian believers were also walking a particular path or road. And that furthermore she herself had also chosen a particular road to follow.
Now on various occasions during the time I knew Lauren, she would come to me and say, "Little John, (I have no idea why she called me that!) Little John, do you think I have been good?" Invariably the times she chose to ask this question, there usually had been an improvement in her behaviour and I and other members of staff were able to praise her for that improvement. Having said that, within a short time Lauren would usually revert to the kind of behaviour which had influenced the decision to place her in the care of the local authority in the first place – That is to say, her behaviour once again became destructive, abusive and dishonest. Interestingly, she would defend her actions to me by saying she could only be good for a certain length of time, usually for Lauren this meant a maximum of two weeks. Lauren, in this claim, was in a sense saying, "John, I've tried walking the road you mention and I've struggled so much that I've had to turn back."
Though it was an unhelpful response it was one we Christians can empathise with, for it is a familiar one to us. Even though we are some weeks in to the post Easter period we can readily recall, can’t we, the struggle the main characters in the Easter story had; We can readily recall the great difficulty they faced in not straying from the path, the road, Jesus had established them on.
We remember well Jesus telling his disciples that they all would fail in their efforts to follow him, that their commitment would not be sustained. We recall that Jesus himself was not exempted from the struggle to follow his chosen path, "Father, If there is any other way let this cup pass from me." You see it’s not just the rich, like in our Gospel reading today, who have trouble with the Christian journey.
In today’ Epistle reading we encounter the struggle the Colossian Christians had in trying to hold on to the Gospel the Apostle Paul had introduced to them. It is a passage of scripture which reminds us and leaves us in no doubt, how difficult the road of discipleship was even for the earliest Christians.
By taking a closer look at the first 3 verses of this reading the problem which prompted Paul to write this letter becomes clearer as does his advice to the followers at Colossae and indirectly to all subsequent generations of Christians. These three verses In essence are meant to get the Colossians, and I hope us here this morning, to thinking about the past; the present and thinking also, about how they and we are to proceed in the days and years ahead..
Firstly then, in verse 21, Paul reminds them of the kind of people they once were; "At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought." Paul's talk of distance and separation from God, to the Colossians, suggests that they were formerly Gentiles. But hostility to God did not, for Paul, merely reside in the Gentile heart. No, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Paul says elsewhere. And who, in this present generation, could disagree with him for there is evidence of this fallen condition on our TV screens every day. War and suffering in Ukraine, starvation in Afghanistan and the Yemen – school children dying in their classrooms in the USA, young girls stabbed and losing their lives here in the United Kingdom. All reminders of the sin and evil that persists in all human cultures and in all generations.
Paul here then, reminds the Colossian Christians of the kind of people they were. It is a reminder that should strike a cord with all Christians but often doesn’t as to the life we have been redeemed from.
In the second of these three verses, verse 22, Paul picks up his great theme of Justification by faith. He reminds the Colossian Christians that Christ's death has brought them from the darkness of sin and evil into the light of God's presence. Because of the cross of Christ they now stand, Paul says, “holy, pure and faultless in God's sight.” This then is where they currently stand. What a remarkable contrast, this is. The Colossians, have been transformed, made new, in and through Jesus Christ. And so have we, for we stand in exactly the same place as them.
In verse 23 however, Paul sounds like the breath has been taken out of him. He is stunned by what is happening and what is being proposed by the Colossians. Remembering the transformation that has occurred, a modem Bible translation records Pauls words of verse 23 to the Colossians in the following way - "Look, you don't walk away from a gift like this! You must remain firm and steady in the bond of trust, constantly tuned into the gospel message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Gospel message - just this one. I, Paul, am a messenger of this one message."
What lies behind this statement is the reason for Paul writing his letter to the Colossians in the first place. It would appear there were teachers other than Paul out to influence the Christians at Colossae, not by denying the gospel message but by trying to add to it. These teachers were suggesting, among other things, that there was a greater spiritual fullness and freedom to be had over that found in the message of Jesus Christ as given to them by Paul. The apostle however, maintains that the Colossian Christians are in danger of being diverted from their Christian path and calling by this teaching - Referred to by many commentators as, 'The Spirit of the Age'.
That is an interesting phrase as each generation of Christians must contend with the 'Spirit of the age'. The problem is that it is often very difficult for each generation to identify this 'Spirit'. Perhaps not many years ago we would have said individual materialism was the spirit of our age. Certainly, there came a time when we described it as 'New ageist' or the spirit of Post Modernism. A term which ultimately proposes, there is no overarching truth in which men and women can invest their lives. But instead proposes the idea that if it feels good do it.
But, whatever the 'spirit of this age' is, and this is in line with what Paul is conveying to the Colossians, I would want to say this morning that the way forward for you and I is not determined by such thinking but rather the message of Jesus Christ is what still lights our way in these deeply worrying and uncertain times..
I have no doubt whatsoever that on our pathways there will at times be struggles. It may be that right at this very moment you are facing a time of struggle which you would wish to go away, which you would wish to be removed. "Father if there is any other way let this cup pass from me." Perhaps those are words you would wish to speak today. And maybe that's because you, like the disciple Peter, feel that in some way your words and actions have denied Jesus. Or perhaps your struggle has been made more difficult because, like Jesus, you have lost the support of friends in your time of need. Maybe your struggle is concerned with whose will, direction and guidance will take precedence in your life - God's, your own or someone else's.
Perhaps today some of us are thinking about another path or road because we have discovered a different teaching or have been influenced by the spirit of this age? Whatever your difficulty, whatever struggle you are facing at this time, I would today want to encourage you, to remind you, that "There is only one road we’re walking. Yes, It may well be littered with struggle, a road where our cross is hard to bare, but it is the road of hope for all those who would follow Jesus Christ. So be encouraged, be comforted, be strengthened, by what the writer of Proverbs 3 says – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your path.”
I pray the reminder of this good news helps you in your journey. I pray this good news, the news that there is only one road, one way, helps us and all the Lauren’ of this world say, "Lord, I will walk this road, I will face the struggles ahead if you will be my shepherd, my guide". For you are the way - the truth and the life.
May God bless us all as we travel the road that Jesus has set us upon. Amen.
StF465 Guide Me O That Great Jehovah
Let us pray to the God of all time and space, in whose love we exist and by whose love we are saved. And let us pray for the grace and honesty to see what needs transforming in our lives as individuals and as members of the Church of God.
We pray that all church leaders, ministers and teachers be directed and inspired by the Gospel of Christ that there may be a deepening of love and commitment to this gospel in all Christians the world over.
May the leaders of this nation and of all nations be drawn increasingly to understand God’s ways of justice and righteousness, and be filled with the longing to do what is right and honest and good.
May all the families on earth be blessed with mutual love and caring consideration for one another; may arguments and misunderstandings be properly resolved and difficult relationships refreshed and healed.
May those for whom the days and nights creep past in pain or sorrow be given comfort and hope; may the frightened find reassurance and the anxious find peace of mind. We remember in our prayers and in the silence of our own hearts all those known to us who are in anyway in need.
We pray that those nearing the end of their journey on earth may be given an unshakable awareness of your closeness and may those who have died know the eternal peace and joy of heaven. We pray that all who participate in this act of worship, here or at home, may be given a new enthusiasm for the gospel and for walking and living in its light. Father we offer these prayers in the name and power of Christ, Our Lord and our Saviour.
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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
StF67 This, this is the God we adore
May your love and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ be strengthened this day, so that your heart may not fear but have hope to share. And may the blessing of Almighty God, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always. Amen.
These are the Worship at Home versions of the In Person Services, led by our Minister :-
Each Service has the videos of the songs and the Sermon or reflection.
The Song references (StF) are from the Singing the Faith song book.
The videos of the songs are linked to YouTube or vimeo which may have advertising which Kingswood Methodist Church does not endorse.