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CHRIST CHURCH

28th FEBRUARY 2021

 

Greetings

  • Good morning everybody.
  • I hope this morning finds you well and that all your families and friends are well too.
  • We continue to meet at home, or together on Zoom. Wherever we are, we celebrate, as always, being God’s people, and part of his family. We come together, in our different places, to worship our amazing God – who never changes yesterday, today and tomorrow.
  • So, as we journey through Lent, we bring ourselves into the presence of God, once again knowing that we are surrounded by a host of witnesses across time and space.

 

Call to worship

Through the psalmist, God says,
‘Be still, and know that I am God!’
Let us come into God’s presence and still our hearts.
Let us come together, in our different homes,

to listen to God.
Let us be still, and know that God is indeed God.

 

Hymn 86: Christ is made the sure foundation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bC0tgG_blE

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A Gathering Prayer

Come all who are hungry,
because God longs to feed you.
Come all who are searching,
because God longs to find you.
Come all who are weary,
because God longs to give you rest.
Come to the God of salvation,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Approach

God of Abraham,
we come before you as children of your inheritance;
through the generations, we have numbered more than
the sand of the shore and the stars of the sky.
We bring you our worship,
as we stand in the grace of God
found in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Adoration

All-powerful God of past, present and future,
keeper of promises:
How we love you.


Son of Man, the way, the truth and the life,
loving despite rejection:
How we love you.


Holy Spirit, living Power within,
helping, guiding, testing and transforming:
How we love you.


Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
your unique relationship – open to us:
How we love you. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession

We bring ourselves quietly into the presence of God as we come before him to say sorry.

Words of greeting on the lips;

words of love on the lips –
the example you gave us:
forgive us when we fail to act as you do, Lord.
Words of retaliation, insincerity and malice on our lips:
forgive us when we act towards others in this way, Lord.
Overwhelmed by complex relationships and rocky paths:
forgive us for not setting our minds on you

and your ways.
Fear of rejection and wary of being our true selves:
forgive us and help us to give of ourselves as you give.
Forgive us, Lord, for our failure to trust you; 
for not allowing you to be in the driving seat. 
Lord of covenant relationship,

lead us and help us to live your way. 
In your name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Absolution

Almighty God,

by the prayer and discipline of Lent,

may we enter in to the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,

and by following in his Way

come to share in his glory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Praise

Praise the Lord, all the earth.
A time is surely coming
when the poor will be fed,
the powerful will bow down,
and all creation will know
that God is Lord of all.
Praise the Lord, all the earth.
 

A time is surely coming
when the wise will see him,
the peoples will praise him,
and the children will serve
our Lord God, Lord of all.
Praise the Lord, all the earth. Amen.

 

A Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father,

your Son battled with the powers of darkness,

and grew closer to you in the desert;

help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer that we may witness to your saving love

in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Old Testament Reading:        Genesis 17: 1-7 and 15-16

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’ Abram fell face down, and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 

God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’

 

Hymn 637:  The Lord’s my shepherd

  • We sing the song that we are singing through this period of lockdown, as a reminder of God who is with us, and in whom we put our trust week by week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0  

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Gospel Reading:      Mark 8: 31-38

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’

 

Reflection

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

I wonder if you can remember doing activities where people are arranged in a particular group order. In fact, I think, we may have done it once or twice as a church, perhaps on an Away Day. One arrangement could be standing in different places based on when one’s birthday is – so one end of a line might represent January, the other December. Of course, all sorts of things could be chosen on this basis – it could be our height, the colour of our hair, whether we were from a family with one child or ten children or more, or where we were born based on the distance from Peterborough. I have also been part of such an activity based on what we think, or feel, about different things. What we learn from such an exercise is how diverse we all are. Of course, an important part of our recognition of that diversity is knowing how to work well together, whilst holding all these differences together.

 

It is so often in our differences that we find places of disagreement. So, I wonder, how do you/we cope with disagreement? As we have acknowledged there are lots of reasons that could lead to differences of opinion, and each of us will react differently when people disagree. An analogy I found stated that some can become quite feisty like hedgehogs, apparently, and enjoy the argument; others can become silent like tortoises and hide in their shells. I am sure that we can all be like both depending on the issue or situation. So, what is the way that we as God’s people could respond? Is the best way to be peaceful and calm, never to disagree? Maybe when the things we’re disagreeing about aren’t very important. Or have a good, and fun, discussion. But what if the thing we’re disagreeing about is important or about truth and justice?

 

Jesus and Peter are an example of how open disagreement can lead to a place of understanding one another, and God’s way better. Jesus is trying to teach the disciples that the kind of Messiah that they have in mind isn’t quite right. They still seem to think that Jesus is going to be powerful and conquer the world. Jesus wants to show them that he’s going to appear to do the opposite: he will be rejected, suffer and die. That is quite a lot for Jesus’ friends to take on board.

 

So, let’s think about the scene. Jesus seems to have created an atmosphere among his friends where they weren’t afraid. Peter is quite confident in his contradiction of Jesus. And Jesus is comfortable to disagree with Peter – very strongly. But is Peter kicked out of the group? Is Peter rejected? Far from it – in fact, just a few verses further, in chapter 9, as we heard a couple of weeks ago, Jesus chooses Peter with James and John to accompany him up the mountain for what we have come to know as the Transfiguration.

 

Peter is wonderful because we can, so easily, relate to him. He was always making mistakes and jumping in with both feet before thinking. But this didn’t mean he gave up following Jesus, or that Jesus rejected him. In one sense, it seems extraordinary that Peter can believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah, and yet he takes Jesus aside to put him right! But by being open with Jesus, finding their relationship survives this rockiness of mutual rebuking, Peter will learn that God fulfils the promise inherent in Jesus’ naming him as ‘rock’. Indeed he goes on to be the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Jesus understood that if people are able to grow as people of faith, they need to be in an environment where they feel safe enough to have these discussions, and take risks.

 

There is a wonderful account of J K Rowling as someone who stepped out to take risks. Apparently, twelve publishers rejected the first Harry Potter novel before Bloomsbury published it in 1997. Seeking an honest assessment of her first adult novel, she then submitted The Cuckoo’s Calling under the name Robert Galbraith. She received more rejections, and advice to attend a writers’ class, before Sphere published it in 2013. Not fearing rejection, she persevered with Harry Potter – which so many children have found such delight in reading. And again, not fearing rejection, as Robert Galbraith she has encouraged aspiring writers to have confidence in their work. She took risks.

 

I also came across a poem in Roots about risk,

 

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.


To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd

is to risk their love.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.


But the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The one who risks nothing does nothing and has nothing – and finally, is nothing.

S/He may avoid sufferings and sorrow,

but s/he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.

Chained by certitude, s/he is a slave;

s/he has forfeited freedom.

Only one who risks is free!

 

Jesus is speaking to his disciples about what he had come to do – all of it about taking risks, managing difference and finding spaces for discussion and diversity as God’s people together and God’s people in our world. Jesus tells his disciples about what he faces – his suffering, death and resurrection. Not only does he tell them, he invites them to become part of it, and share it with him. Jesus did not just talk about suffering and death but also about resurrection and new life.

 

During this week we have a lot about a roadmap that is leading us forward with hope, through the next few months with regard to the vaccination programme, coming out of lockdown and a possible way ahead; and we are all called to play our part. Likewise, in order to share in his dying and rising, Jesus invites his disciples to play their part by taking up their cross. Taking up the cross means entering into a life of service to God. Our reading from Genesis speaks of Abraham and Sarah, who through their lives learned to follow, and to serve God. Today Jesus says to us that to serve God, we are called to follow him and to serve, and love, one another. But we do not do this alone, we do so with the help of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

 

I finish with a prayer from Revd Martin Luther King Jnr

Ever present God,

you call us to be in relationship with one another

and promise to be wherever two or three are gathered.

In our community, we are many different people;

we come from different places,

we have different cultures,

different experiences and expectations.

Open our hearts, that among us

we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion

and the treasures of diversity.

We pray in faith. Amen.

 

Hymn 408:  Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA_g98O42Q4

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We Proclaim our Faith

We proclaim, and affirm, our faith in our amazing God.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?

We believe and trust in him.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?

We believe and trust in him.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?

We believe and trust in him.

 

This is the faith of the Church.

This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

The Peace

There is nothing that can separate you

from the love and the peace of God.

The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you.

 

We would, at this point, share the peace with one another. Of course, now, we are not able to do that. Instead, let us take a moment to think of one another across the Ortons. Peterborough, our country and the world. So,

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

 

Hymn 60:  Be still, for the presence of the Lord

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZugvUQ4m90U

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Prayers of Intercession

  • This week, Jenny brings us our prayers.

 

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ let us pray to the Father.

 

Lord, as we continue to meet in different places make us faithful people ready to believe your promises and follow you wherever you will lead us. During this period of Lent, give us a new awareness of your presence in our Church here in Orton Goldhay and teach us the humility to accept that all our gifts come from you to be used in the service of your people and in the spreading of the Gospel. We pray for Bishops Stephen and Dagmar, our Moderator, our District Chair and for all those who lead worship, especially for Sarah and Lynessa and ask for your blessing on all of them as they continue to serve you.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

Loving God, you revealed yourself to Abraham so we pray for the land of Abraham, for those who live in the Middle East, for those of differing faiths descended from Abraham that they may live together in peace and unity. We pray for all who are persecuted for their faith remembering especially our friends from Iran and we pray for the families they have left behind.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the preparations for the virtual ‘Celebration for Commonwealth Day’ on 7th March. We pray for the Royal Family who will be taking part in this important event in the Royal calendar. Give grace and guidance to Elizabeth our Queen and let her devotion to duty be an inspiration to all.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

Lord, we pray for governments around the world and especially our own as we navigate our way forward through the Covid pandemic and the planned move towards the end of lockdown. We thank you for the success of the vaccine roll out and ask that you touch the hearts of those reluctant to take up the offer. Help us all to be responsible in the things that we do in our lives to prevent the spread of the virus by adhering to the recommended precautions.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

Father God, we give you pray for our local community, for our neighbours, for our friends and for the people around us with whom we work and share our daily lives. We thank you for all the joys and blessings of family life. Help us when we quarrel or fall out to quickly put things right and forgive one another. We pray for those in our schools who are preparing to welcome back children. We pray for those who are lonely, those feeling isolated, and those who find it difficult to be accepted. Show us all what we can do to help those around us and teach us to be good neighbours and true friends.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

We remember before you those who at this time are suffering in body, mind or spirit. We pray that you will be with them and all those who care for them. We pray too for all who administer to the sick and infirm; for those working in our local health centres and hospitals; for those working in care homes and those who provide home help.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

Almighty God be near to all those who are grieving today over the loss of a loved one. We bring before you those who have died in the faith of Christ and for those whose belief is known only to you. Lord, we remember those who have travelled before us on the way of the cross and are now at peace in your eternal presence.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

 

As we go into the week ahead give us the strength to reject temptation through our Lenten journey and beyond it throughout the rest of our lives.

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Notices

  • I know we say it each week, and we will continue to say it... Do continue to remember each other, pray for one another, telephone and talk to one another.
  • Do join us for coffee as we Commune over Coffee after the service from about 11.00am. We are using a different link for this. So, joining instructions are in the latest edition of Nuggets.
  • This evening there is a service of Healing Prayers on Zoom at 6.00pm. Do join us then. Joining instructions are in Nuggets.
  • This weekend is also our Monthly Harvest for our Iranian friends. Please be in touch with Valerie if you would like to contribute in any way. Thank you.
  • Our Lent pauses with other churches in the Orton continue, this week, is our third, on Tuesday. There will be short reflection at 12.30pm on Zoom and the joining instructions for this is in the latest edition of Nuggets. This week Tuesday, next week Wednesday.
  • On Friday, we would normally have had the World Day of Prayer. This year, we are not holding a service as such. There will be a chance for prayers on Friday, however, from 11.00am on Zoom. Joining instructions for this are in Nuggets. If anyone thinks they would like to join in, please let me know because I do have some booklets which I can make sure that you receive in time.
  • Also on Friday, we meet for Compline on Zoom at 8.00pm. Do join us for this short service. Again joining instructions are in Nuggets.
  • Next Sunday, we will have a service, like this one, at 10.00am on Zoom. This will be followed with Communing over Coffee, as usual, from just after 11.00am.
  • Have a good week, everyone, and may you know the joy, the love, the hope and the peace, of our Lord through this week. And keep well.

 

Hymn 692:  We are marching in the light of God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn16ABWn20c

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A Sending Out Prayer

Everything I am Lord, and everything I do.
Help me to be more like you.

Teach me to be yours, Lord.
Help me to be more like you.

You accepted all, Lord; help everyone to find your way.
Help me to be more like you. Amen.

 

The Blessing

God the giver of life, give you hope.

Christ the Redeemer, give you peace.

The Holy Spirit who inspires all, give you joy;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

 

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,

In the name of Christ. Amen. 

 

Closing Music

You’ll Never Walk Alone

  • Let us go out into our world with peace, courage, and hope, listening to the voice of our God, ready to be transformed by his love, and to know his wisdom, as we look to him, through this season of Lent, and in all that we do.
  • This week, we reprise Captain Sir Tom Moore and his song of last year that inspired so many.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcouA_oWsnU

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