Sunday 6th June 2021
Welcome to Elmwood Congregation Sunday Worship. Thank you for joining us. This morning, we are worshipping on Whatsapp and in church. Our Worship Leader is Rev Stuart Scott who is our Interim Moderator, whilst we are without a Minister. Rev Stuart is the Training and Development Officer for our Synod.
Call to worship Psalm 138 vv.1-2
Hymn: Great is thy faithfulness (Rejoice and Sing 96) https://youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o
Opening prayer (Paraphrase of Psalm 138 from Psalms Now: Leslie Brandt)
Lord’s Prayer – Rev Stuart Scott
Hymn: Christ is the King! (R&S 571)
Offertory, Good News, Inspiration, Birthdays, Anniversaries and how God has blessed us.
Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 8.4-20 - Heather
2 Corinthians 4.13-5.1 - Jenny
Address: We fix our eyes on what is unseen; what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal- Rev Stuart Scott
2 Corinthians 4.18
We fix our eyes on what is unseen; what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
What are you wishing for this morning? A new (electric) car, a remodelled house, a new and better job? Or do you wish for less materialistic things? World peace, safer (or just cleaner) streets, an end to hunger and poverty, a more just and fair society? Or just an end to this pandemic and all it has brought upon us, a return to normal?
Those in authority influence whether and when those wishes might be fulfilled. Decisions made and policies set by others can make or break our dreams and aspirations. Decisions on taxes and benefits, borders and boundaries, crisis and conflict affect the lives of millions in their own country and across the world. We have seen that impact throughout the pandemic and we continue to witness the use of power in this nation and across the world.
The Psalmist puts confidence not in human rulers and authorities but in God. Today’s Psalm is the prayer of the community of God’s people which encompasses the whole world. It expresses gratitude to God for answered prayer and acknowledges God’s universal reign over the whole earth and the whole of time, and concludes with an expression of confidence in God.
We fix our eyes on what is unseen. How far this morning does trust in God and in his faithfulness underpin our hopes and aspirations, our dreams and wishes, for ourselves, for our families, for our church, for our community, for our nation and for our world?
Today’s reading from 1 Samuel reminds us that the struggle to make the connection between faith and political realities is not new. The people ask for a king. Their request to the prophet Samuel is in the light of their experience but it is a sign of rebellion against God. So Samuel takes the request to God and then goes back to the people, reminding them of the realities of kingship; their possessions and their people will be exploited for the selfish ends of the one given power. But the people are not persuaded by the prophet’s words. They continue in the choice they have made, the wish they have expressed.
They seek justice, fairness, community but more than anything else they have seen a pattern of political and military life in the nations around them and they want to be like them. Their wish is to be like the others. Sometimes of course it is easier to go with the flow. In our lives, and in our churches, perhaps particularly when times are difficult, change is constant and questions have no simple answers, it is easier to look at what others are doing and do the same.
But there are also times when we must be prepared to stand out from the crowd, to dare to be different. Science and technology are bringing great progress at great speed. We welcome the miracles, but need to be aware of the complexity. In the world of technology, the internet, email, zoom, Whatsapp and the rest have opened up so many opportunities but we are aware of limitations and risks. In the world of health, we are grateful for the potential of new heart valves and hips and this week for a young life transformed by the power of science, but there are dilemmas too. How are expertise and resources to be shared fairly? What are the dangers and the limits in developing, altering, manipulating the forces of nature?
The people wanted to be like the others and they wished for a king. In due course, they were given what they wished for: Saul was anointed and crowned, but it did not work out well. When we look at our lives, our church, our community, our nation, our world, what do we wish for? Do we go with the flow? Do we hold our ground? Sometimes in history churches blend in, sometimes they stand out. Now, at this point in the pandemic, do we blend in or do we stand out? How do we listen and respond to what God is saying to us, as individuals, as a church, as a community, as a nation, as a world?
At this point in the pandemic, we are called to continue to demonstrate our faith and our confidence in God. Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth reminds them, and us, that our ultimate commitment and our ultimate motivation is on the foundation of our faith. Our faith equips us to bring encouragement and hope to others in this time of need, and to go on working and praying for God’s kingdom, present among us in Jesus, his Son, our Saviour and our Lord, but also still coming. At this time we pray for wisdom and discernment to use the gifts and resources we have in responding to God-given opportunities for mission and service, and we go on learning and walking the way, living the life of Jesus today. The way may not always be easy, but we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. What is seen is temporary; what is unseen is eternal.
Hymn: King of glory, king of peace (R&S 97)
Prayers for the church and the world – Rev Stuart Scott
Hymn: How firm a foundation (R&S 589)