Week Commencing Sunday June 21st

Commencing Sunday 21st June 2020

Dear Friends

I trust you are keeping well. The Government have permitted churches to open for private prayer. The Baptist Union have agreed but add that no church is under obligation to reopen in this way at this time. Since we have a primarily elderly congregation we have to be especially careful.

We will trial having the church open on the Wednesdays of the 24th June and the 1st July and you are most welcome. The church will be open between 10.00am through to a 4.00pm finish on both these days. A wide time frame availability should mean less people coming in together at any one instance. You can enter in for as little or long as you wish. When you come into the foyer there will be a leaflet for you to take, reminding you of social distancing, washing your hands on entrance and exit, and the one way system that will be operating .

The Baptist Union have recommended you bring your own prayer/hymn materials and your own Bible to meditate on, I would suggest you include prayers from devotional updates. We are keeping the area limited to the church itself (not the hall or any of the other rooms) because it is by far the largest space. Indoor social gatherings are still not permitted. So please only use the church for private prayer at this time. By trialling the two days we will have a good idea of whether or not to continue this practice

Call to worship

Pass through the gates of God’s Temple with thanks, come into his courts with praise. Praise him and thank him, for the Lord is good, his devotion lasts for ever, and his faithfulness to one generation after another. Psalm 100: 4, 5.

Hymn

 

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name

 

The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

 

You’re rich in love
And You’re slow to anger

Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find

 

And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending

Ten thousand years
And then for ever more

 

Jonas Myrin & Matt Redman

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Prayer. God, redeemer, we praise you for Jesus Christ and the glory of your work in him; for his life in all its fullness of doing and being; for his following through of your way to the end; for your raising of him and all who follow him. Amen

Reading. Luke 10: 25-37:

 

 

1025 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

Sermon. ‘The Parable of the Good Samaritan.’

An expert in the law tests Jesus with his question about eternal life. Jesus commends the expert for summarising the Law in the words of the two great commandments, however the expert probably takes exception to the implication that he is not obeying these commands (‘Do this and you will live.’ 28), and wanting to justify himself asks ‘And who is my neighbour?’ (29). In his own mind the expert was content he was obeying the command

The Jewish people who were listening interpreted ‘love your neighbour’ in terms of members of the same people and religious community. Teachers at that time restricted the term to members of their own race and religion.

So ‘who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replies with the Parable:

A priest passes by the man beaten and left ‘half dead’ by robbers. You would think he would show compassion because of his calling. Whatever his motive, he failed to show love. As did the Levite. He was also a privileged person in Jewish society. Levites were responsible for liturgy in the Temple. But he also passed by on the other side. Their condemnation is that they did nothing for the beaten man.

The Samaritan, however, ‘took pity on him’ (33). The Samaritan was a most unlikely person to give help. Certainly as far as Jesus’ listeners were concerned. Samaritans were hated by the Jews, But the Samaritan truly kept the commandment ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

The Samaritan did not take into consideration what country the beaten man was from, he saw a man in need and pitied him. The priest and Levite hardened their hearts against one of their own people, but the Samaritan’s heart is open towards someone of another people.

We see the Samaritan’s compassion as he involves himself in the man’s plight.  The generosity in seeking to relieve the need and willingness to be personally inconvenienced. He loved his neighbour as himself. He did for that man what he would hope someone might do for him if he were found in the same circumstances. But even here his motive is of helping the other in his need, without expectation of recompense.

The expert in the law had to admit the neighbour to the beaten man was ‘the one who had mercy on him’. Jesus then says to the expert ‘Go and do likewise’ (37).

So what does this ‘Go and do likewise’ look like to us today?

The horrific murder of George Floyd in America has led to riots in that country and here. Racism, prejudice and discrimination are all rooted in sin. The Bible teaches that all human beings are precious, made equally in the image of God. Further, every human being who has ever lived is descended from Adam and Eve. This means that we are all part of one biological race: ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.’ Acts 17:26. (Genetically confirmed1)

We are all one race, although clearly there is diversity- most obviously in the varying levels of a brown pigment in our skin called melanin. This diversity in skin shade has nothing to do with race but is the result of the genetic diversity God built into humankind at the beginning

So what does ‘loving your neighbour as yourself’ look like in this context?

Martin Luther King is one of the best examples we have of what it is to ‘go and do likewise’. He pleaded with the whites not to oppress the Negro. Not to give way to prejudice. In speaking of this very parable he said ‘If a white man is concerned only about his race, he will casually pass by the Negro who has been robbed of his personhood, stripped of his sense of dignity, and left dying on some wayside road.’ Instead he pleaded they have mercy. And to his fellow blacks he charged them that if they were oppressed- to love in return. The collection of his sermons where he writes these things is called ‘Strength to Love’

Like the Good Samaritan, Martin Luther King got involved. He campaigned for De- Segregation through non-violent means. Initiating riots and pulling down statues was not the way. But rather peaceful protest, preaching and prayer. A liberal democracy values freedom of expression even when that means having to tolerate those who speak against what you believe in and the values you hold dear. Hence the tolerate part of tolerance. This value is certainly rooted in the Christian worldview:

‘17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…’ (Romans 12: 17-20a. see also Matthew 26:50-54)

 

Martin Luther King was not deterred by danger. He said ‘I’ve been to the mountain top. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the company of the Lord.’

He went and did likewise.

In 1953, at the inquest of a young girl who had committed suicide, Chad Varah, an Anglican clergyman, realised that the tragedy could have been avoided if she had been able to confide in someone. In the hope that a similar situation would not arise again, he put a notice in his church magazine to say that he would always be available to anyone who needed a confidential talk.

In the following week 27 people turned up at his church St Stephens, Walbrook. He enlisted church volunteers to help them. The group that began there we now know as The Samaritans. Chad Varah got involved. He showed mercy to those in need.

He went and did likewise.

So where does this compassion come from?

(Please see Appendix2 for discussion on the source of our knowledge of right and wrong- particularly the compassion of a Good Samaritan)

Compassion comes from God.

God is love (1 John 4:8).

God has shown us mercy even though we were opposed to him:

Our opposition toward God is deeper than any divide between men and women of different nationalities: ‘21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. .’ (Colossians 1:21).

But Jesus Christ our ‘Good Samaritan’ has shown us compassion:

 

We were like this distressed traveller. Satan our enemy had robbed and wounded us. We were by nature half dead in trespasses and sins, utterly unable to help ourselves. The Law of Moses, like the priest and Levite, the ministers of the law, saw us, but had no compassion on us (the teaching of the New Testament is that the law can only show us where we have gone wrong/our sin, the law itself cannot save us). These give us no relief and pass by on the other side- having neither pity nor power to save us. But then comes the blessed Lord Jesus, that Good Samaritan (they actually tried to insult him by saying ‘he is a Samaritan’). He has compassion upon us. He binds up our bleeding wounds (Ps 147:3, Isa.61:1). He pours in, not oil and wine, but that which is infinitely more precious, his own blood. He takes care of us and says that all the expenses of our cure are laid to his account. And all this, though he himself had not sinned, but as the Son of God had willingly come to us from heaven to make himself so for our sakes. This magnifies the riches of his love and makes us realise the greatness of the debt he has paid on our behalf, so we willingly give him thanks and follow him. (Paraphrase of Matthew Henry).

 

The Apostle Paul puts it this way ‘22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation’ (Colossians 1:22).

 

What is our response to God’s compassion in Christ?

 

We see clearly we cannot earn our way to heaven: ‘When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done’ (Titus 3:4, 5. See also Ephesians 2:8, 9, John 6:29). If our eternal salvation was on the basis of works and we could earn it successfully, then God would be our debtor (Romans 4:1-3). The Bible teaches that God owes no man anything, and our own righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). So entering into relationship with God is nothing we can earn. It is God who has done everything for us to make this possible. That He does this shows an amazing love for us. At the cross we see his love is gracious (because it is undeserved) and merciful (because we receive free pardon of our sins at his expense, instead of facing the just punishment for them we should otherwise receive.)

 

We are reconciled to, and transformed by him, as we receive his love and salvation as a gift: In 1975 the IRA inmates in Long Kesh jail in Northern Ireland burned it down. For a night they went on the rampage before the British Army regained control. Tom Kelly was one of the IRA internees in the camp that night. James Tate was imprisoned there too, but on the opposite side, as an Ulster Volunteer Force commander. Twenty years later they found themselves working together for peace and reconciliation in Ulster, transformed by the love of Christ.

James Tate helped to found the Ulster Volunteer Force in the staunchly loyalist Sandy Row area of Belfast. He was arrested in possession of guns and ammunition, and served six years in prison, during which time he became a commander over eighty men.

Tom Kelly was drawn into the IRA as a teenager. He became a volunteer and also was found guilty of possession of weapons and sentenced to seven years in the notorious H-blocks. He took part in the so called blanket protest, when prisoners refused to wear clothes, and the ‘dirty protest’, when inmates fouled their cells.

While they were in prison, both men separately saw that violence would not achieve anything. James left the UVF and found work doing odd jobs at a Belfast mission. He was impressed by the practical Christian love that he saw there. What finally brought him to faith was hearing Nicky Cruz, a former gang member in New York say at a meeting that God would not only forgive sins, but also forget them. That is what James desperately wanted.

On his release from prison, Tom Kelly ran a club for the IRA, but he too was disillusioned. In his case God intervened in a dramatic way. At a Christian meeting which his wife had taken him along to, he heard God say to him, ‘Tom, let me have your heart.’ He said ‘If it’s you, God, you can take it, because I don’t like it’ And he too became a Christian.

When the two men met some years later, they realised God had brought them together to show that he can bring forgiveness and healing even in the darkest places. They spoke together across the divide, asking for forgiveness, and promoting peace and reconciliation. God gave them a message of hope in place of despair.

Both men experienced Christ’s compassion for them. Though they were his enemies, God reconciled them to himself. At the same time we see that God reconciled them to one another, even though they had previously hated, and been each other’s enemies. He gave them love for one another, so much so that they came to recognise each other as neighbours.

The two commandments belong together. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ SO ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’

You have received mercy now show mercy

‘Go and do likewise.

…………………………………………….

1Confirmed by genetic studies 11/2018: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6424407/Every-person-spawned-single-pair-adults-living-200-000-years-ago-scientists-claim.html But without added evolutionary assumption of shared chimp/human ancestry, DNA mapping of human beings alone shows  ‘mitochondrial Eve’ existed 6,500 years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deV99oPnKlI&t=788s (‘Confirming evidence of a literal Adam and Eve.’ Dr Georgia Purdom. Relevant section of video from 28mins 17 secs).

 

2Appendix

Compassion does not come from Naturalism (The philosophy that Nature is all there is. Please also see last week’s update, 14th June). The operational principle of the natural world is that the strong eat the weak. So if we just got here through the natural, unguided process of evolution, why do we suddenly turn around when strong nations start to eat the weak nations and say, That is wrong? On what basis? The ‘Survival of the fittest’ moves in the opposite direction to that of the compassion of the Good Samaritan. A lot of racist activity has been driven, or at least excused, by Darwinism, which promoted the belief that some races were inferior or less evolved and closer to lower primates, or were from different evolutionary branches. Darwin’s famous 1859 Origin of Species itself promotes racism, since it is subtitled The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.  The Christian outlook is in stark contrast: all human beings are precious, made equally in the image of God and we are all part of one biological race.

‘Social contract’ the idea we benefit one another for the good of society does not generate the compassion of a Good Samaritan either. Such contracts, whether in the shape of laws and policies only have power to restrain the heartless. No code of conduct ever persuaded a father to love his children or a husband to show affection to his wife. You cannot legislate compassion. Roger Scruton remarked ‘Europe is rapidly jettisoning its Christian heritage and has found nothing to put in the place of it save the religion of human rights.’ The problem then becomes how do we judge which human rights take precedence when they appear to conflict with one another? This is currently most manifest in what is called ‘Identity politics’ which is now dominating the public arena. It fractures society into groups formed around characteristics such as gender, sexuality or ethnicity, and has been described as ‘pitting people against one another in an arms race of victimhood.’ (The Christian Institute). Disagreement makes you unfit for any public office or platform. See also dangers in denial of freedom of speech (p3).

The Christian claim is that God is the source of the moral world as well as the physical world. Made in God’s image all people are essentially moral beings. Of course, our sense of morality has been flawed by the Fall, (see also ‘God and Viruses’ Update 29/3 for teaching on the Fall) and now we only brokenly reflect the true good. Our ‘sinful nature’ (eg Romans 7:14-25) pulls against what we know is right so we are tempted to justify sin and disobey. It is also possible for a person to ‘seer’ their conscience and be ‘in slavery’ to sin. However the Bible’s teaching is that God’s moral law is universal, a law which is from beyond man, yet presses down upon him. It speaks into his conscience. John 1:1-6 describes the Word as the true light that gives light to every man.’ Romans 2:14, 15 describes how the requirements of God’s law are written on the hearts of Gentiles, ‘their consciences also bearing witness.’ So, the knowledge of what is morally right presses in on all men and women, whether they choose to obey their conscience or not. For further reading on this please see C S Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’ (chapter 1) and ‘The Abolition of Man.’ Also James W Sire’s book about worldviews entitled ‘the Universe Next Door.’

………………………………………………………..

Hymn

 

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

 

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

 

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

 

 I will weep when you are weeping;
 when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
 I will share your joy and sorrow
 till we’ve seen this journey through.

 

 When we sing to God in heaven
 we shall find such harmony,
 born of all we’ve known together
 of Christ’s love and agony.

 

 Brother, sister, let me serve you,
 let me be as Christ to you;
 pray that I may have the grace to
 let you be my servant too.

                                                  Richard Gillard

 

 

 

 

Prayers

 

Abba, Father, you are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You are my Creator and my Counsellor, guiding me daily to make wise decisions. You are my Comforter in sorrow, pain, or distress. I praise you for drawing near to me when I draw near to you. You are El Roi, the God who sees me, and you are Eternal, Lord. You are my heavenly Father, and the father of the fatherless. How great are you and your faithfulness, God, day in and day out.

 

You are holy, yet you made a way for me to approach you. I praise you for being my Helper, and for your Holy Spirit's conviction, correction, and protection in my life. You are invisible, but I see you with eyes of faith. You are Jehovah God, and Jehovah Jireh, the One who provides for all my needs. I praise you as my Jehovah Rapha, my God who heals, and for being Jehovah Rah, My faithful Shepherd. You are not just King, but you are King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. And yes, you are Jesus, the name above all names.

 

With my whole heart I praise you, God. You are Messiah, the soon and coming King. You are omniscient; you know all things. You are omnipresent; everywhere at all times. You are my Peace, my Protector, and the High Priest who became my Redeemer and Sacrifice forever. You died to set me free; you rose again and gave me victory over death. No longer am I enslaved in sin; you are my Salvation, my Rescuer and my Refuge. You give me hope within.

I praise you because you are trustworthy and true. You are my Teacher, and your understanding and wisdom is beyond finite minds; you promise wisdom to me when I ask. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Lord, I love that you delight in me and that you rejoice over me with singing. You know the number of hairs on my head, and you are always thinking of me.

You are preparing a place for me so that one day I will live with you forever. Maybe then—and only then—will I be able to praise you adequately in a way not possible here on earth—the way you truly deserve.                                                                                                                                       

 

All my love, all my praise to you. Lord, oh, Lord. How excellent is your name in which I pray!

Amen.                                                                                                                       Rebecca Barlow Jordan

 

 

Praying about our society and coronavirus

For those doctors, nurses and other health professionals as they come under pressure and strain – that they would be kept free from illness

That the threat of illness would help many in society recognise their own mortality and their need for hope in the face of death

For scientists to be successful in finding a vaccine and other effective ways to protect people from the virus

That people would be mindful of the effects of their actions on others: following medical advice carefully and being responsible when buying supplies

That time in isolation from others would provide an opportunity for non-Christians to reflect, repent and turn to Christ

For all those whose work or study is hit by the crisis – that we would be fair to all who are affected and look after those whose livelihoods are threatened

For children now being educated at home – that this period would helpfully supplement their school education and that a fair solution to exams and qualifications would be found and followed.

For all those facing abuse or violence at home – that they would be kept safe and find the help they need                                                                                                                                           Christian Concern

 

Hymn

 

 

  1. I will sing the wondrous story
    Of the Christ Who died for me;
    How He left His home in glory
    For the cross of Calvary.
    • Refrain:
      Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
      Of the Christ Who died for me,
      Sing it with the saints in glory,
      Gathered by the crystal sea.
  2. I was lost, but Jesus found me,
    Found the sheep that went astray,
    Threw His loving arms around me,
    Drew me back into His way.
  3. I was bruised, but Jesus healed me,
    Faint was I from many a fall,
    Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,
    But He freed me from them all.
  4. Days of darkness still come o’er me,
    Sorrow’s path I often tread,
    But His presence still is with me;
    By His guiding hand I’m led.
  5. He will keep me till the river
    Rolls its waters at my feet;
    Then He’ll bear me safely over,
    Where the loved ones I shall meet.

                                   Francis Harold Rowley

 

 

 

 

 

Blessing. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen                 

                                                                                                                                     David Barnes 18/6/20