Mid-Week Worship - From Hardship to Hope
Words by David Hollows
From Hardship to Hope
I will extol you, my God, O King: and I will bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you: yes, I will praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised: and His greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145 verses 1 – 3).
Praise time: please continue in worship as you sing to God your hymns/songs of praise, you may wish to use CDs or YouTube. You may wish to include the following hymn;
'Tell out my soul' (Mission Praise 631)
A time for prayer: please now speak with God and thank Him for all the many blessings you have recently received. You may wish to include the following prayer:
God, you are full of surprises and I thank you for the ways in which you bless my life. When I think that you are not present in my life, suddenly you reveal yourself in the love of friends and family and bless you, that you nurture me in your never-ending affection.
Thank you for all that you share with me, for bringing me hope out of despair and growth out of difficulty. Thank you that you encourage me to share gladly and generously and, that when my hope dims and patience runs out, you come to me to renew me. God of surprises, thank you that you are ever with me.
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella via Unsplash
The Bible reading: Romans chapter 15 verses 7 to 13.
Key idea: May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope. (Romans chapter 15 verse 13)
These four words appear on the front of this year’s Christmas Appeal card from the YMCA and aptly reflect 2020 as a whole as we have staggered from one lockdown to another with some hope in between.
If you were not directly affected by isolation, loneliness, unemployment or financial issues, it is possible that you know of others who have been and the anxiety and worry of this, for some of us, has been acute.
Advent is a period of time given by God to the church as a gift which we can use in various ways: to prepare ourselves to remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in order to fulfil the promises of God as foretold in the Old Testament by the prophets, to have a quiet time in the midst of a busy commercial season in order to recoup our energies, to focus on the key players in the God story of His coming to the planet He created to redeem a lost relationship with those He created and others which you may choose to bring to mind.
The Church of England approaches this Advent season similar to that of Lent: there will be no fresh flowers in many Anglican churches and the focus will be on preparation and prayer. The Advent candles lit weekly provide a glimmer of hope in the austerity of a season of darkness and deprivation of natural light. Out of the darkness there comes a flicker of light reminding us that there is hope in hardship.
For some of us there is hardship in our lives on a daily basis: we struggle with age and declining health, there is the concern and anxiety caused by the physical or mental health of those we know and love as well the stress caused by unemployment or fractured relationships in our family and friendship circles. This year there has been a great deal of hardship.
The Nativity narrative also reflects this theme as many of the characters endure hardship: Zechariah whose lack of faith produced a lack of speech and frustration, Elizabeth and Mary who carried the stigma and shame of pregnancy which usually is a wonderful experience. Joseph struggles with uncertainty and doubt. There is the hardship of the journey for Mary to Bethlehem as well as for the Magi and there may have been some hardship for Jesus to leave the glory of heaven to come to earth.
However, there is hope for all the Nativity characters, whether it is the birth of a child whose destiny was to be significant, the two wonderful experiences for the shepherds or the hope and ultimate joy for the Magi as they present their gifts. Yet it is Mary who points us to the centrality of hope in all of this as she ponders everything in her heart, the present and the future. (Luke chapter 2 verse 19).
During Advent this year we may have to search hard for hope as we reflect on 2020 but we have the assurance that the God of all hope remains with us and loves us.
A prayer: God, the source of all hope, enable us to rely with confident expectation on all your promises, knowing that the hardships we face are nothing in comparison to the grace, mercy and love we receive from you in Jesus.
Photo by Artem Kovalev via Unsplash
Prayers for others: please now pray for those you know who live outside of God’s grace and love, for those whose lives would be so much more enriched if they accepted the free gift of God’s grace. You may wish to include the following prayer:
God of eternal life, bless all those who struggle with life, with relationships, with addictions, with self-esteem. We ask that you will grant them peace from internal fears and doubts, from the pain and suffering in their souls.
God of eternal life, bless those whose lives are a battle as they struggle to rebuild their lives following natural disasters, damage caused by others and their opinions or as they escape to a better life. We ask that you grant these your protection and provision and to place people in their lives who can support them.
God of eternal life, bless your children who are persecuted because they have a relationship with you. We ask that you will grant them strength and determination to hold fast to their faith and that you will flood with your love and grace the lives of those who persecute.
God of eternal life, we pray that you bless us all with faith, hope and love that we might become the people you have planned us to be. In the name of Jesus, we pray.
The Lord’s Prayer
Praise time: come now with confidence to God to sing to Him your favourite hymns and songs knowing that He listens and accepts your praise with a smile on His face. You may wish to include the following hymn:
'All my hope on God is founded' (Mission Praise 16)
Photo by Rose Erkul via Unsplash
A Blessing: God be your comfort and your strength. God be your hope and support. God be your light and your way. God be your path and your eternity. The Blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life remain with you always.
Extra; if you have access to YouTube either on-line or TV, please try this new worship song;
'Broken Hallelujah' – Bright City
Thank you for sharing your worship with us. God bless you