Sunday 28th February 2021
We welcome Mr Nigel Malka, who is a friend of Elmwood and leads our worship once a month.
We thank Nigel, Mya, Elders Celvon Binns (prayers, hymns, coordinating) and Roy Cummings (Bible reading).
Thank you for joining us in worship.
Invitation to Worship -Cel
Prayer of Approach -Cel
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
and all desires known.
From whom no secrets are hidden, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.
That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name.
We rest assured that the sunrise comes each morning.
Our friend, the sun renews the promise to help all thrive,
but it is the clouds that add beauty to the sunrise, their bitter tears
magnify the miracle of dawn; through Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Opening Prayer- Cel
Lord God most merciful, we confess that we have sinned,
Through our own fault, and in common with others, in words and deeds, and what we have left undone.
We ask for forgiveness, by your Spirit to turn us from evil to good.
Help us to forgive others and keep your ways of righteousness and love.
We know that for forty days Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Keep us strong in the face of temptation, gossip, and turning a blind eye to sharp words,
Teach us how to be patience and not to be selfish in judgement of others.
Help us be confident in the knowledge that whatever we face we face it with you, as we turn to you, may your mercy wash over us, and our lives be transformed by the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus name. Amen
Lord’s Prayer - Mya
Hymn: All my hope in God is founded
Good News: Inspiration, Birthdays, Anniversaries and how God has blessed us.
Hymn: The King of Love my Shepherd is
Bible Reading 1- Daniel 9:3-6 Roy
Bible Reading 2- Matthew 6:16-18 Roy/Vic
Bible Reading 3- Matthew 9:14-17 Roy/Vic
Hymn: Here I am to Worship
Message: Fasting, getting close to God
God love us,
And in that love he wants to be close to us
And in our love for Our Heavenly Father we should want to be close to him.
How do we get close to God? We do it by spending time with him.
We can use worship, prayer, songs, study, allowing his ways to be shown in our actions
We look for his reply to our prayers or how we can do those things he wants us to
This can be from a number of directions. All we have to do is discern what they are.
The Theme today is Fasting, something most Christians shy away from
Indeed it is not often preached about, yet we heard from Matthew
That Jesus did expect his disciples to fast once he had left them.
And so we have to answer the question, what is Fasting and how should we do it,
When and where is it to be done and of course the really big question Why.
Well as to the why we should fast, I’ve already given part of the answer.
Jesus expects as to
We want to do what Jesus wants
Fasting helps us Keep on the Way,
It brings us closer to the truth
Gives us direction in understanding our relationship with God.
And grows our confidence to shine Jesus’ light within our own light
Proper fasting is all about getting our mind in tune with God’s
And yet Jesus asked us that whenever we eat and drink we remember him
Not just when we get together on a special Sunday and take communion.
But I effect always in our daily lives, he said it because when we think of him
It keeps his life his teaching and God’s ways always in our mind
So why is it that within the modern Christian Church
Is it so unusual to teach that Fasting is part of our Christian’s duty?
Some might say that as Jesus is always with us we don’t need to fast
Others it is a Jewish tradition that is now outdated like circumcision
Only if we Fast, will know if it does bring us closer to Jesus and Our Heavenly Father
Fasting is first found in the bible in Judges 20:26-28
It is after the Israelites had lost a battle against their brothers the Benjamites
They wanted to know if God wanted them to continue the fight. So we read
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. And the Israelites inquired of the Lord “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?”
In this Fast the people wanted to know the mind of God
So they put the world aside and spent time asking what they should do.
Like the Jews fasting is found in most faiths so let’s look at a few examples.
The Jews Fast:-
To the Jews, a fast is a spiritual cleansing, for an individual and since they are the chosen people also at a communal level. Judaism applies the concept of fasting to the idea of spiritual and moral purity thus cleansing the soul and its people.
How is it done
There are six regular fast days in the Jewish year. During these times, adult Jews may neither eat nor drink -- even water. During these days, each person is meant to make a personal accounting of his or her behaviour and resolve to return to the positive path.
The Muslims Fast:-
Interestingly the Muslims fast to remind themselves to be pious and restrain from worldly pleasures, to learn virtues and obtain a blessing.
Fasting is mandatory as it is a witness for them in being within the Islamic faith
It is an act of worship in order to get closer to God,
The Hindu Fast
In the Hindu religion, fasting is not an obligation, but a moral and spiritual act where the aim is to purify the body and mind and acquire divine grace. Fasting may involve abstaining from one meal in the day. ...
The Buddhists Fast.
Buddhists are expected to abstain from food from noon until the dawn of the following day as a way to practice self-control to gain understanding and experience for their next life, so gain a true transcendence to go on to nirvana, they heaven so they will be released from their cycle of rebirth and suffering.
The Christian Fast:-
To guard against impure thoughts, deeds and words. Fasting to be accompanied by asking for God to work in our lives thus leading to a greater intimacy with God
Let hear again what Jesus tells us about fasting.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus says, “When you fast” — not “If you fast.”
This means he expects his followers will fast.
When they do fast will not be for the sake of impressing other people.
It is to be done in private in partnership with God
We are to be alone with God, A time when we can pour out our hearts
Ask for those things that are special to us, whatever they may be
And listen for a reply that can come in a feeling, or sometime later from an outside source
A Fast prayer could be, Lord God I love you and want to serve you, and know you better
So we then look for something we read or hear that will prompt our understanding
Or something might crop up that makes us think, I could do that.
Jesus tells us whatever we pray to use his name to give it greater influence
In doing that we need to ask for those things that Jesus himself would ask for.
Fasting is about being in tune with our Heavenly Father, coming to know him better
Having a Godward focus so we gain a spiritual sense of confirmation that God is with us
We heard Jesus also say
“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Jesus is explaining that new ways will be found in how people do things like fasting
And now we come back to the core of what fasting is all about
It is putting time aside with God and without distractions
Tell him what is on our mind – whatever that may be.
Endeavour to meld our mind to that with God, giving us peace, joy, faith, love and a purpose of what needs to be done.
And this can be done in many ways and it has nothing to do with giving up food
Yes we can be at one with God in a room, but also we can open up the relationship
When out walking and admiring his creation
When we are with people and take that opportunity to witness his love
When we feel his present in our worship our prayers or relating to others’ prayers
In the music we use when we sing his praise
In the teaching and thinking we do to bring us a closer understanding of God and his ways
We can also fast as a community, together for a project
Where we as one mind bring a major concern to God
As in this reading where we find the young church fasted
To deal with mission and the word came giving them guidance and confidence
Simply the put time aside to communicate with God
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
And in their mission Fasting was also used
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
The last words of Jesus I’m taking from the Gospel of Thomas
Thomas asked 4 direct questions consider how they are answered
Thomas (6) His disciples questioned him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?"
Jesus said, "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered."
Jesus does not answer the questions directly – if fact his answer diminishes the questions.
For what is important to Jesus is what we do with our lives
With the warning that God knows all.
Fasting is what we do on the outside to gain a oneness with God on the inside
When we want to get closer to God, think about him, his ways.
Read the Bible, try listening to what comes into your mind,
Read the bible and talk over things with friends, witness for God in what we do
And God, peace, joy, faith hope and love will be with you.
Hymn: Praise my soul the King of heaven
Prayers of Healing/Intercession: Cel
Dear Father, we praise and honour your glorious name.
You are immortal invisible and the only true God.
You reveal to us the mysteries of all sources of wisdom and knowledge.
You are the secret of the Universe, yet from the view of the sun we are but a blue dot.
You bring the darkness to light.
We thank you for hearing us when we pray, and giving us your words to read in the Bible, like you responded to Daniel with wisdom and understanding.
Lead us in the way of your righteousness and help us to obey, so we can live and follow and extend our days.
Father strengthen us and fix our eyes on Jesus, let your words equip us to follow his example in resisting temptation.
Deliver us from the schemes of the evil one, and help us to take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
We now come to our prayers for people and concerns on our prayer list.
Please heal and bless them, as we assure them that you are God, the redeemer.
We pray for the sick, homeless and those suffering from COVID-19
We pray for healing and hope.
We pray for our Government locally and nationally.
We pray for the unemployed, Communities divided and in conflict.
We pray for those who grieves, God in Christ comfort us with your hand, and give us courage and grace to do for others as you done for us, and not to count the cost.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer