5 April 2020
Updated: Apr 5
Hello everyone, it’s Claire doing the writing this week. I know I’m not one of the regular worship leaders, but at least this way you don’t have to hear me sing!
As we set aside time for God, let’s start this ‘service’ with a time of praise for the one who is worthy of all praise. I have chosen one of our favourites to start us off, followed by a song that expresses so much delight in our Saviour.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
As you may have guessed from my photo, I love to ski. I’m not very good at it and I’m pretty sure I never will be, but I love the experience of it. I love the fresh air and exercise (although my body doesn’t always agree), I love the adrenaline and the relaxation. And I love being surrounded by some of the most truly majestic views imaginable. Whenever I’m in the mountains these verses from Psalm 121 always come to mind, and as I was preparing for this week they came to mind again.
I don’t know about you, but right now I need to know that Our Father is watching over us. How awesome it is that the God who created the heavens and the earth, loves us and never stops looking out for us.
A couple of years ago I was skiing with a group of friends and we were fed up one morning as we looked out of the window to see grey clouds and no view of the mountain. With visibility poor it wouldn’t be pleasant to ski in. At first we were resigned to staying in, but then somebody checked the web cam that was at the top of the mountain, and remarkably it looked sunny! As we got half way up the mountain we suddenly broke through the clouds and into brilliant sunshine and blue skies. I’ll never forget that view, with the clouds laid out in front of us like an ocean.
I imagine a lot of us are feeling like we’re sitting looking up at that cloud right now, and can’t imagine what those blue skies look like. There’s so much uncertainty about the future, worry about friends and family and fear about what is to come. But the good news for us is that we have a relationship with a God who is big enough to take on all of our worry and fears, a God who invites us to come to Him and He will give us rest! A God who will carry us through the clouds…
This week we continue our sermon series with Anne preaching from John 19, verse 30.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
In many ways, our own trials feel like they are only just beginning and, while we long to be able to declare, "It is finished!", the reality is that we have a number of battles raging around and ahead of us. We need to arm ourselves with the Lord's protection, instruction, and power, which are ours through prayer and the Holy Spirit, whom he causes to dwell in each willing believer's heart. Millie will lead us today, but please feel free to add your own prayers, words of encouragement and scriptures into the comments at the very bottom of this page.
Father, in the name of Jesus as we come before you this morning not knowing exactly how we ought to pray. We are still overwhelmed by the events around us, yet we are thankful to you for who you are.
Lord we thank you for your word and your promise made to your people in Deuteronomy 31:6 that “…...he will never leave you nor forsake you” we hold onto that promise at this time. Even though our world is quite confusing and challenging right now, we are assured of your presence. We pray that we may hear your voice in these moments of quietness when we are free from the usual business of our everyday life.
We thank you for the families who are able to spend more time together and also for those who are finding this to be a welcome time of rest and catching up on household tasks, or with friends on social media. Lord even as we get updated daily with daunting statistics, we thank you for the many people in our country and around the globe who have survived the COVID-19 virus. We thank you for our church family and the different ways we continue to care for one another. We thank you for our local community and the many volunteers who have risen to the challenge and offered to support their neighbours during this challenging time. We also thank you for everyone taking responsible actions in trying to assist in the alleviation of this situation.
Lord, we lift those who are currently suffering from the COVID-19 virus, and think particularly of Barbara, who is in hospital and has underlying respiratory problems. We ask you to bring deep and lasting healing to them. Would you go where families cannot and surround them with an awareness of your presence and your invitation to receive your gift of life? Would you do what physicians cannot and bring lasting peace to them? Please Lord...
We pray for the families and friends of those who have succumbed to the disease. Many of us do not understand what exactly they are going through, but Lord, you know, and we pray that you will bring comfort to those who mourn. We pray particularly for the families of the health care workers who have died in the service of helping others, and we pray for those healthcare workers who face the difficult task of informing families that their loved ones have died.
We pray for our government and all those in authority around the world as they try to come up with effective strategies to respond to the challenges caused by the Covid-19 crisis. As this crisis highlights every weak spot in infrastructure, we pray that you would grant wisdom and compassion to all who are making decisions that affect countless others; we also pray that you would give each country, no matter how big or small, the resources they need.
We thank you for, and pray that you would continue to strengthen and protect, the health, social, and care workers who are at the forefront in looking after the most vulnerable people in our communities. Lord we also lift their families up, some of whom will be anxious about their loved ones serving our nation. We pray particularly for Claire, Greg, Lizzy, Jo, Jan and others among our church family who work in these sectors.
We also pray for the shop workers, delivery drivers, refuse collectors, teachers, pharmaceutical company workers and all who must work to provide essential services during the lockdown. We thank you for their work and we continue to pray for protection for them.
We pray for people who are lonely and those suffering mental and economic difficulties due to the current situation. At a time when we are all painfully aware of the fragility of our resources, would you help us to turn to you for all we need, and may many, many more people find the relief they seek in you.
We lift up people like Vicky, whose hospital appointments and operations have been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
We pray as a church and a community that you will give us increasing wisdom and knowledge on how best to reach out to our neighbours in need. We think particularly of Sarah, Sam, Carlton and David as they co-ordinate the deliveries of the Hayling Holiday groceries tomorrow. Please be with every person assisting with the deliveries: keep them physically safe, and help them to be evidence of your care to every household they deliver to.
Finally, we pray as in Philippians 4: 7 that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus." Amen
It’s strange to know that we won’t be meeting next week to celebrate Easter together. Our Good Friday reflective services and Sunday celebrations have always meant so much to me, as I’m sure they have to you all. We will still be providing a Good Friday reflection, and a special Easter service, so make sure to keep an eye on our website and Facebook page. As we go into the week ahead I pray that God will be with each of us, and that the truth of Easter will be even more powerful to us this year than it ever has been before.
It’s taken me a while to choose my last song, but I thought I’d end with something to get people dancing!
Grace and peace to you all.
Please stay at home.
P.S. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to share your comments and prayer needs.