Service – Sunday 17th May

Fugue in C major BWV 553 by JS Bach
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Call to worship
Sisters and brothers, we know what God desires of us:
That we do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
We gather in worship to remind each other of that desire within us:
To remember that now is always the right time to do these things.
So with thanks in our hearts, let us worship God

StF 94 – Hymn – To God be the Glory
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life in atonement for sin,
and opened the life-gate that all may go in:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son;
and give him the glory — great things he has done!

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God!
And every offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son;
and give him the glory — great things he has done!

Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son;
and give him the glory — great things he has done!

Frances Jane van Alstyne, (Fanny Crosby)  (1820-1915)

 Let us pray together
Almighty God, I am here to worship you. I join with Christians all around the world, and with all the company of heaven, to offer you my praise.

Loving God, we come, each of us just as we are, with hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and lay them all before you

Help me to know that you are with me now. Grant me the assurance that, in your love, you receive me, accept me and forgive me.

Give me a thankful heart for all that you have done for me through your Son, Jesus Christ, and let your Holy Spirit guide me as I worship you. Amen.

Forgive us,
for the wasted moment
spent selfishly or just filling time;
for the hurtful moments
caused by our words or actions;
for the thoughtless moments
lacking in love;
for the destructive moments
when we let our anger rip;
for the missed moments
frozen by hesitation and doubt.
Help us now and every moment
to try to live as Jesus lived,
fully present, fully human, full of love. Amen

We are free.
The grace of God through Jesus makes us free.
Accept the grace of God.
Our sins are forgiven.
We are free.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
and lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Acts 17:22-31

StF 341 – Hymn – All for Jesus
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

All for Jesus–all for Jesus,
this our song shall ever be;
for we have no hope, nor Saviour,
if we have not hope in thee.

All for Jesus–thou wilt give us
strength to serve thee, hour by hour,
none can move us from thy presence,
while we trust thy love and power.

All for Jesus–at thine altar
thou wilt give us sweet content;
there, dear Lord, we shall receive thee
in the solemn sacrament.

All for Jesus–thou hast loved us;
all for Jesus–thou hast died;
all for Jesus–thou art with us;
all for Jesus crucified.

All for Jesus–all for Jesus–
this the Church’s song must be;
till, at last, her sons are gathered
one in love and one in thee.

Words: W. J. Sparrow Simpson, 1887

click here to listen to the Address presented by Rev Mark Barrett

When Paul stands up at the meeting of the Areopagus he may well have been expected to look at what was around him, to look at the statues and tributes to gods and to condemn them and their worshippers. Paul does not. Paul engages with the people around him, with the culture around him and through explanation and exploration he plants the Living God in the midst of it all. Paul gives us a timely lesson.

For too long the church has been known for what it does not approve of, and not for the love it shares. For too long the face of the church that the world has seen or thought it has seen has been one of an angry person sucking a lemon, often accompanied by a wagging finger.

For too long the church has shouted out against the things of the world, only to find later it was wrong and then embrace them. Not the evil or injurious things but……let me show you.

Take the much-respected church organ. The church has had its anti-orgelists (people not in favour of church organs)

After the Scottish Reformation, organs were frequently destroyed in acts of iconoclasm.

In 1687, for example, James VII’s organ installed in the Royal Chapel at Holyrood was destroyed by an anti-Catholic mob, who “pull’d it all to pieces”.

19th century churchgoers were scandalised at the prospect of introducing organ music into Scottish Presbyterian services. Dismissed as “a kist o’ whistles with the devil in every pipe”. In fact, it wasn’t until 1864 that the General Assembly agreed to allow them in Church of Scotland worship if presbyteries agreed.

John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli vehemently opposed the use of the Pipe Organ in the worship service.

Calvin said ‘The Papacy was guilty of foolish and ridiculous imitation when it decorated churches and thought to offer God a more worthy service by employing organs and other follies of that sort. By these the Word and worship of God are profaned, for the people interest themselves in these things more than in the Divine Word.’

Gisbertu Voetius called the playing of organs during the worship services “an iniquity.” and that if an organ were played in worship it would increase the work of the minister as they would have to be ‘vigilant to ward off other possible abuses and tricks of Satan.’

The National Synod of Dordrecht in 1578 decreed ‘that the organs…must be all means be removed”

Johann Capito, a pastor in Bremen, called the organs pipes ‘the devil’s pipes’. Calckman said ‘what is the difference between the organ and the (other) idols through which the devils spoke?’

Let’s jump to rock and roll music. Despite the fact that the god-mother of rock and roll was Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who at six was touring with her mother in an evangelism group and that she later played gospel to mixed secular audiences in the 30’s and 40’s, rock and roll was reviled. Little Richard was an ordained minister, Jerry Lee Lewis nearly became a gospel preacher, he enrolled at Bible college. Elvis, Carl Perkins and many others were schooled at gospel churches. During the famous Million Dollar Quartet jam involving Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, they performed several gospel songs. Lewis’s biographer explains that part of the reason the recording only features Lewis and Elvis singing is because “only Elvis and Jerry Lee [were] raised in the Assembly of God”, and “‘Johnny and Carl didn’t really know the words… they was Baptists’, [Lewis] said, and therefore deprived.”

The church in America and then also in the UK preached against rock and roll, called it the devil’s music, the ‘devil’s beat’. It was called ‘jungle music’ due to its roots in blues and gospel and Afro-American music. It was said to encourage violence, sexual promiscuity and a disdain for authority.

That was until 1980’s when it was seen as a tool for evangelism and then guitar, upbeat and rock music became part of contemporary worship.

Finally, the use of data projectors and technology in church. First hand I can tell you of people who said that such things were not to be used in worship, they were not ‘holy’, they were ‘mechanical’. Well what was the organ? What was the printing press that gave us our Bibles? What was the microphone and the loop system? There are and were churches that decry it as secular technology, as replacing the personal touch. Until… person averse to it in a church sprained her wrist. She found holding the hymn book and the worship book at Communion painful. She had to put them down and look at the screen. In an email apologising for her previous opposition she said that lifting her head to look at the screen helped her to sing clearer and enabled her to see those around her better, as well as helping her in her situation by not having to hold a book.

Paul did none of that. Here he was not known for what he was against, but for what he was for. Here he was not known for condemnation but for offering salvation. Here he was not known for threatening people with hell and driving them from God, but for telling them about heaven and bringing them to God.

In this present situation we may have discovered new ways of being church, new ways of including people in worship. We may have discovered that some things need to change and some things need to go. We may have discovered that there are some things we have missed greatly and we now treasure them more.

Let us be brave like Paul and respond to what is around us at this time and claim this ‘Areopagus’ moment for the kingdom and for the Lord.

StF 418 – Hymn – We have a gospel to proclaim
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

We have a gospel to proclaim,
good news for all throughout the earth;
the gospel of a Saviour’s name:
we sing his glory, tell his worth.

Tell of his birth at Bethlehem —
not in a royal house or hall,
but in a stable dark and dim,
the Word made flesh, a light for all.

Tell of his death at Calvary:
hated by those he came to save,
in lonely suffering on the cross,
for all he loved his life he gave.

Tell of that glorious Easter morn:
empty the tomb, for he was free.
He broke the power of death and hell
that we might share his victory.

Tell of his reign at God’s right hand,
by all creation glorified.
He sends his Spirit on his Church
to live for him, the Lamb who died.

Now we rejoice to name him King:
Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
This gospel-message we proclaim:
we sing his glory, tell his worth.

Edward Joseph Burns (b. 1938)

Our Intercessions:
Remember before God your local church and all its people. Give thanks that its mission continues even if it cannot meet for worship at present. Pray that the Holy Spirit may direct its work and strengthen all its members in the tasks to which they are called. Pray for the wider church that by word and action it may proclaim to the world God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Remember before God our world and its leaders. Pray for peace, for a just and sustainable use of its resources and for greater recognition of our responsibility to care for all creation. Give thanks for those who work to combat disease; for scientists, doctors, nurses and all who care for the sick, the aged and the vulnerable. Ask God to bless and strengthen them.

Remember before God people you know who particularly need your prayers at this time: family members, friends, neighbours, fellow church members, people you would normally meet regularly but from whom you are now separated. Think of those who are ill, or anxious, or grieving. Pray that the presence and power of the Holy Spirit may surround and sustain them.

Let us pray for Christian Aid Week that has just ended, and the work of Christian Aid among the poor of the world is as important as ever at this time.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen

StF 350 – Hymn – I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship,
should set his love upon the sons of men,
or why, as Shepherd, he should seek the wanderers,
to bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that he was born of Mary
when Bethlem’s manger was his only home,
and that he lived at Nazareth and laboured,
and so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how silently he suffered,
as with his peace he graced this place of tears,
or how his heart upon the cross was broken,
the crown of pain to three-and-thirty years.
But this I know, he heals the broken-hearted,
and stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
and lifts the burden from the heavy-laden,
for yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how he will win the nations,
how he will claim his earthly heritage,
how satisfy the needs and aspirations
of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory,
and he shall reap the harvest he has sown,
and some glad day his sun will shine in splendour,
when he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
when at his bidding every storm is stilled,
or who can say how great the jubilation
when all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
and myriad, myriad human voices sing,
and earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
‘at last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!’

William Young Fullerton (1857-1932)

May God the Father bless us;
May Christ take care of us
May the Holy Spirit enlighten us all the days of our life.
The Lord be our Defender and Keeper of body and soul,
both now and for ever,
to the ages of ages. Amen.

(The Book of Cerne, 9th century)

Toccata from Symphony No 5 by Charles-Marie Widor
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