Sunday Service - Our Future In God's Hands - From David Hollows
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Words by David Hollows
Our Future in God’s Hands
Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever.
(Revelation chapter 7 verse 12)
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants do give you most humble and hearty thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and all peoples.
We bless you for our creation and preservation and all the blessings of this life. But above all, for your inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ and for the means of grace and for the hope of glory.
We request you to give us that due sense of all your mercies that our hearts may be truly thankful and that we would give you our praise, not only with our lips but in our lives; by giving ourselves to your service and by walking with you in holiness and righteousness all our days.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honour and glory, world without end.
(The Book of Common Prayer)
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin via Unsplash
Praise-time; now please spend as much time as you wish singing your favourite hymns/songs of praise to our God. Perhaps start with:
Praise my soul the King of heaven (Mission Praise 560) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCRCZMmnwZQ
Prayers of praise and thanksgiving; perhaps you may like to have one object of beauty or value near to you as you pray and please use this prayer as a way into your prayer time. Please spend as much time as you wish in the presence of God.
O God, you have bought us to this hour as we seek to praise you, merciful God, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs so that we may share in your eternal kingdom. For your name is worthy of all honour and majesty and you are to be glorified in our praises of blessing, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever, to the ages of ages. Amen.
(The Eastern Orthodox church)
Bible story; from the book of Nehemiah chapter 2 verses 12 to 20
Key idea; Nehemiah answered them; The God of heaven will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build (Nehemiah chapter 2 verse 20a)
During Easter Week this year 3 astronauts returned from the European Space Station following their allotted time in space. They were advised prior to their return that the world had changed. The female American astronaut expressed her concern that she would be unable to have hugs after so many months in space. The reality is that the world has not changed; the skies are blue, the grass is green and the birds still sing. However, there has been an improvement in air quality and there is now much less pollution and emissions to damage our world. Praise God for this.
What has changed is our lifestyles; the lock-down, social-distancing and no hugs have made huge differences to who we are and what we do. Discussions are frequently held in the world of social media about what our lives will look like post Covid19 and in the world of Church there are similar questions.
Photo by Matthew Smith via Unsplash
For Nehemiah his world was pretty well defined for him; Jerusalem as the cultural and religious capital for the people of God was a mess and needed to be rebuilt. There were few people in the city area following the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon (now Iran) a generation previously but for Nehemiah there was a calling to rebuild.
Restore; the first part of the process was the return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem and his plan of action ( as outlined in our Bible reading above) The return to an object or place of value is always an important element in the restoration process and Nehemiah has to impress upon those around him the importance of restoring not just a city but the dwelling place for Jehovah God. The restoration would be more about preparing for the return of God to His Holy place as it would be about the return of God’s people.
In our future discussions about our Church post Covid19 will we consider the restoration of God to our church communities and those who have been damaged by this event?
Repair; the first part of the book of Nehemiah explains the rebuilding of the city; the determination of the people, their trials from the opposition of others and Nehemiah’s leadership. The walls are rebuilt first then the gates in order to secure the city. The internal building, especially of a new temple, comes after. However, the building is not just of stone but of identity and faith. As the walls go up, so the people bond together and their ethic confidence is secured in the face of all opposition. For members of the persecuted church worldwide, opposition to the Christian Faith is an element of their determination to hold on to a God who loves them. For Nehemiah and those with him, the repair of the city and the temple is an expression of their communal faith as they repair their relationship with God.
As we look to the future post Covid19 how will we determine to repair our community relationships and the faith of those around us?
Rebuild; those opposed to the rebuilding of Jerusalem are amazed at how quickly Nehemiah and the people achieve their goal of securing the city. The remainder of the book concerns the rebuilding of the economy of the city, the livelihoods of the people but more importantly the rebuilding of the Faith. Nehemiah walks so closely with God that he recognises the need to rebuild the Faith of the people and for this Ezra is returned. When Ezra reads from the Torah this Word of God has an incredible effect on the people and the people are restored to a disciple-based way of living before their faithful God who then blesses His people even more.
As a Church we need to ask God to show us how He wants us to be His disciples post Covid19, how He wants us to rebuild His Church and how He is going to restore people to Him.
Reflection; what has God been saying to you through the Nehemiah story? Are you willing to be the next Nehemiah or part of the team?
A Promise; The Lord says; I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them. I will reward them with a long life and give them salvation. (Psalm 91 verses 9 to 16)
Photo by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash
Prayers for others; please use the following prayer as a way in to your prayer time if you wish and please take as much time to pray as you need;
Heavenly Father, I bring to you in prayer people who are suffering in body, mind or spirit, those I know and the many I do not. I remember especially those facing long and incurable illness, those cast down by the cares and sorrows of daily life; those who have lost their faith and for whom the future is dark. In your mercy maintain their courage, lift their burdens and renew their faith, that they may find in you their strength, their comfort and their peace. I pray this for our Saviour’s sake.
Amen (Frank Colquhoun)
The Lord’s Prayer
Creation Praise; May none of God’s wonderful works keep silence, night or morning. Bright stars, high mountains, the depths of the seas, sources of rushing rivers. May all these break into song as we sing to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May all the angels in the heavens reply; Amen, Amen, Amen. Power, praise, honour, eternal glory to God, the only giver of grace. Amen, Amen and Amen. (Egyptian Doxology)
Praise-time; now please spend as much time as you wish praising God with hymns and songs of your choosing. You may wish to start with;
O Lord my God (Mission Praise 506)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLz3Xv2Hr_4 (4 verses)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSESrZi0LQ4 (Songs of Praise version – 3 verses)
A Celtic Blessing; May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall softly upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Thank you for sharing your worship with us. If you would like to provide a worship resource for us to use, please contact Rev. David Burrow. Or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you