19th July 2020
The Times They Are A Changing
Our God and Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning to praise you and adore you.You always keep your promises. Your love for us is strong and constant and there is no other like you.
This morning we come to worship you. We praise you for who you are and we give you thanks for what you have done. How awesome is your power, that You can allow the waters to rise and the mountains to crumble, yet keep the most helpless amongst us safe and alive. How great is your wisdom, that You can lead us and guide us, close one door and open another, give us trials as well as blessings, and shepherd us all our lives until we are safe and finally home. How deep is your love and how boundless your mercy, that no matter how grave our problems, how terrible our mistakes, how shameful our secrets, and how often we stumble and fall, we can pray to You for forgiveness and we can find our salvation in you.
We confess that sometimes we are lazy: we lie back and let things slide and we neglect what we should care for and we confess that sometimes we forget You Lord: we wander around in the darkness and we do not seek or move towards you. Forgive us dear Father, for our sins and our shortcomings. We know that there is hope for us because of your great love.
May your peace and loving presence occupy our hearts right now, throughout this day that you have made, and always.
Good morning and welcome to our service this morning, most of you who know me will know that music is a passion of mine and one of my favourite artists if someone called Bob Dylan One of his records goes by the name of the times they are a changing and now more than ever these words are so relevant.
When you get a chance, I urge you to listen to it especially the lyrics.
When I retired from work almost Seven months ago I knew things would change but not in the way they have I was expecting to play golf at least twice a week and also have the odd meal out but no we were all affected by the Corona virus in terms of the lockdown for me it meant that my wife would no longer been living and working in Bristol she would now be working from home also both my sons would be at home all day long so that peace and solitude I was looking forward to had all gone, but in a very strange way this lockdown has actually brought us together as a family unit being on top of each other every day all day is not easy but to get through this we went back to basics we laid a few ground rules down.
When you have used the kitchen make sure it is tidy for the next person to use it and so on. My wife would get up very early and do a workout have a shower and have breakfast and then start working, I would get up a bit later get showered and breakfast and straight out in my garden, the boys would surface eventually. At one o'clock Diana would break for an hour and I would join her for lunch and every evening we would have a cooked dinner and every Sunday we would sit down as a family and have dinner and also our weekly family meeting just to catch up on how the week has gone for us all. So, for me on a personal level lockdown has not been as bad as I thought I may have been. But for many people this lockdown has been a nightmare just think about those who have been shielding, the elderly, the vulnerable, those with underlying health issues, the lonely, those who are separated from their families, those with mental health issues, those who suffer with anxiety, those who are on the verge of losing their jobs.
Those who have lost love ones during the pandemic and have not been able to give them the send-off they deserved. These are just a few examples of people for who the lockdown has been truly horrific. One thing this pandemic and the lockdown has shown me is that we as humans can be very kind and considerate to each other it seems that the worst brings out the best in people and I have to ask the question why do we have to have a disaster such as this pandemic to be nice to our fellow men and women we should be living as Jesus taught us to love our brothers and sisters to lift and hold each other up and not break each other down because LOVE and only LOVE will conquer.
We as a group of Elders are currently doing our best to reopen Elmwood in a safe manner following guidelines set out by Synod and to that end when we do manage to reopen on whatever basis, like me we will have to go back to basics we will have to be the Church on the hill with the blue cross, we will have to be the welcoming Church disregarding peoples social standing, disregarding your level of intellect, disregarding our wealth or lack of wealth, disregarding our race or creed, big voices and small voices should be heard and listened to and no one should be afraid to give their opinion we need to be the all-inclusive Church and that is what we are best at because after all we are all of the same blood and that is the blood of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
Prayers of Intercession:
We open our hearts and minds to You, come fill us with Your presence as we place our petitions at the foot of the cross. We thank You for another week of blessings bestowed upon us and we give You all the glory and all the praise. Heavenly Father, The world feels like it is turning upside down, there are so many different situations happening and COVID 19 seems to have taken over but with You in control we feel safe and secure. This is the world that You created and Your hand is upon this pandemic and every other situation. Teach us to wait upon You to bring these situations under control regardless of how long it takes, let us lean on Your understanding. Teach us to be humble and patient and not expect everything to be sorted out in an instant. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 3:1 - to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Heavenly Father, we need You more than ever, help us to surrender to Your will, it is a pleasure, a privilege and a honour to be called a child of God in these times. Encourage us to be strong and glorify Your name in everything we do. Be with us all as we come out of shielding, or as we remain at home either working or waiting to hear if we have a job to return, or as we are travelling to and from work. Protect our lives, our families, our homes, our finances, our mental and emotional health and our sense of humanity towards each other. Instil Your word in the congregation of Elmwood, so we can remain spiritually strong and energetic as we move into a new era without a minister at to lead us.
Heavenly Father, be the one at work within us both to do Your will and of Your Godly pleasure, let Your power move around and amongst us to bring forth blessings filled with your grace and mercy, fill our church with the fruit of Your vine. Let us live by Your word and spread it amongst our families, friends and the community. Help Elmwood to grow and not diminish, remove any uncertainty and confusion and provide us with a light that shines and reflects the one true word- Your Word.
We thank you in advance for the week ahead that You may keep us safe, protected and will remain our strength and our shield in troubled times.
Bless those that are on our prayer list and those that are not on the list but are in need of your help, comfort and loving kindness.
All these things we ask in Jesus name.