Update - 27 March 2020
Sundays at 10am
Although we are unable to meet for regular worship at the moment, we invite everyone to pray together, each in their own homes, at 10am each Sunday.
[Please pray at another time if that suits better]
Reflections for Sunday 29th March 2020
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6,7)
Today’s reading comes from the New Testament – a short passage at the end of a letter from Peter, one of the prominent leaders in the early church. The whole section (1 Peter 5:7-11) reads:
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Earlier this week Newsnight interviewed Italian physicist and bestselling author, Carlo Rovelli – lauded by Stephen Hawking and numerous others, and as much a philosopher and poet as he is a scientist. Speaking amidst the crisis in Italy he said, “This will be a very humbling experience for humanity as a whole. We are not the master of everything. We have to deal with nature; we have to listen to people who say there is a threat coming... Humbly and accepting our weakness we will come out of it”.
Peter also writes amidst threats and suffering. Although, in his context, it’s mainly persecution he has in mind. Quoting from Psalm 55:22, he encourages his readers to cast their burdens and concerns upon God. These are strong sentiments. The word used for anxiety, concerns or worries literally means: those things which fracture or divide a person’s being into fragments, as the various pieces are pulled in differing directions. It’s a graphic picture of the turmoil trials may bring us.
The word used for ‘casting’ these things upon God is equally so. It means to hurl or fling – a complete disposal, vigorously thrown – of everything in all their fragmented totality upon him. And why? Because God cares. Because (Psalm 55) ‘he will sustain you’. And because (v6) he wishes to ‘lift you up in due time’.
To do this requires humility – a complete letting go of things, where everything is put entirely into his hands. Not just because God opposes all human pride but because it is key to experiencing his favour and deliverance. When Peter speaks of a surrender to his ‘mighty hand’, he uses a turn of phrase used consistently in the Bible in the context of salvation. It was with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm that he rescued his people from their enemies (e.g. Exodus 13:9, Deuteronomy 3:24 & 9:26). It speaks of his mighty and enthusiastic intervention in human affairs ‘with his sleeves rolled up’.
It takes humility to submit to his salvation. This is because it is his work and not ours. Later in our passage (v10) Peter tells of how “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ... will himself restore you and make you strong...” The word ‘himself’ is stressed and emphatic. It is something he does, not us. “To him be the power for ever and ever.” (v11)
Humility belongs to truth and it emerges in us as an attitude of the heart and with an internal, trusting disposition – yet it’s something expressed practically and in the way we conduct ourselves. In making our own personal surrender, we simply speak honestly and from our hearts, recognising we are dependent creatures, reliant upon his mercy and that he is our loving and eternal Father. Sometimes people choose to express that physically in their posture, sitting head bowed or standing, eyes lifted to the heavens, or with hands stretched out before him. Some choose to kneel. Others may lie prostrate. We find all these expressions in the Bible and amongst the saints of old. But, whatever we do, we do it in gratitude for his rich and undeserved kindness in Jesus.
And so as Christians we pray, speaking directly through Christ with the Lord of all – the source of all life and practical wisdom – confident in his loving concern. We seek mercy and deliverance for ourselves and our nation. We call upon him in humility, recognising it is his grace, and his grace alone, which sustains us. Called into his glory in Christ, we yield beneath his mighty hand and cast all cares upon him. And in so doing we find he lifts us up. Thank you, Lord!
The peace of Christ be with you all
All-age Message for Sunday 29th March 2020
When tears turned to joy
“Jesus wept” John 11:35
I wonder what makes you cry? We all do, although some of us find it harder than others to let the tears roll down.
We can cry when we have an accident and it’s sore. We can cry when our feelings are hurt. Perhaps someone has been mean and unkind to us. Maybe we’ve felt alone or afraid. Or we’ve felt embarrassed after doing something silly. Sometimes it’s because we’re disappointed or feeling let down. Things haven’t happened the way we’d hoped.
We can cry too when sad things happen. If things go wrong for someone we love, or we see them upset and hurting, we can feel sad too. They cry and we feel like crying as well.
Some of us can cry watching films. Somehow it touches our hearts and we feel all emotional. But that’s not always because it’s sad. Sometimes it’s over something good – tears of joy or relief. Maybe something wonderful has happened and it moves us.
The Bible tells us that Jesus cried. In fact, the shortest verse in the whole Bible says, “Jesus wept”.
We’re told he cried sometimes when he prayed. It says, “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings with loud cries and tears”. (Hebrews 5:7)
We’re told he cried when he saw others missing out on what God wanted for them. When he came into Jerusalem on a donkey, he saw the city and cried for its people. Despite all God’s love for them, they were determined to do their own thing. And, as a result, big troubles were coming. It says he wept loudly for them saying, “I wish even today you would find the way of peace but you just can’t see it”. (Luke 19:41,42)
Just a little while before that story, the Bible tells of another time when his friends were sad and hurting. (John 11:1-44) There were three in the family. Two sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Unfortunately, Lazarus became very sick. His sisters sent someone to get Jesus, who was a long way away. But by the time Jesus got there, Lazarus had already died a few days before. Everyone was crying and when he saw how sad they were, Jesus wept too.
But that isn't all that happened. Jesus went with Mary and Martha to visit the tomb where they’d put Lazarus’ body. It was a cave with a large stone across the entrance. When they got there, Jesus told some of the men to take away the stone. Then Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" And to everyone’s surprise, Lazarus walked out of the tomb. Their tears of sadness had turned to joy.
In the book of Psalms, David asked God to collect his tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8) He understood that God sees our tears. He hears us when we cry and he cares when we’re sad and upset.
We all cry, and we can be glad we have a Saviour who cries too. In his love he hurts when we are hurting. He feels our pain and shares our tears. But that’s not all. The Bible tells us there will come a day when everything is changed and all things are made new. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more and neither will there be any sadness, crying or pain”. (Revelation 21:4) It’s a day we look forward to.
Some activity sheets for younger children are available here. (Activity Sheets Copyright © 2001 - 2020. Sermon4Kids Used with permission)
Prayers for the nation
Churches across the country called Sunday 22nd March as a National Day of Prayer. Premier Christian Radio recorded a number of prayers from church leaders and put them together in one podcast. Although the date has now passed, the prayers are still pertinent. To listen in and pray along with them, click here.
COVID-19 Update – 20 March 2020
Normal Sunday services will be suspended with immediate effect and the church will not be open on Sunday 22nd March.
Church leaders have called Sunday 22nd to be a Day of National Prayer. More information is available here.
By later next week we hope to have some further news about longer term plans for ways forward over the next weeks/months.
Coronavirus Announcement – 15 March 2020
As people will be aware, we are in an evolving situation nationally. As a church we are trying to listen to advice and take what precautionary measures we can. In line with current Government and NHS guidance, the most important thing to protect yourself and other people is to maintain good standards of hygiene.
In particular this means:
a) washing hands with soap and water, or using a 60% alcohol hand sanitiser, regularly throughout the day
b) catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, binning it and washing your hands – or, if need be, coughing or sneezing into the crook of the arm
If you have been in an infected area in the last 14 days OR had contact with somebody with coronavirus AND have a cough, fever or shortness of breath, please take yourself home and ring your GP or NHS 24 (tel:111) for advice.
For those who are elderly or have an underlying health condition, extra care is required. This means thinking carefully about levels of social interaction and, if appropriate, adopting measures of (what is being called) self-isolation.
As things currently stand
- Until otherwise advised, we are continuing with church services but we should avoid shaking hands.
- Care also needs to be exercised over our proximity to other people.
- Orders of service will be on the table and available for uplift when you arrive, rather than personally handed to you. Please take it away with you when you go or place it in the bin beside the kitchen door.
- The offering plate will not be passed round during the service but will be at the door when you come in, and then again on leaving in case it is overlooked when you enter.
- Coffee and tea will continue to be served after services meantime but we will not be serving biscuits. We also strongly discourage any self-service.
- We are trusting those on duty to act responsibly, with full consideration for others.
- If you feel your circumstances require you to discontinue regular worship for a while, please do so with our blessing. We should be grateful, however, if you would let us know. We would like to maintain communication with each other as a church family.
- If you become unwell or are aware of anyone on their own requiring help managing any self-isolation, please let us know. We would like to uphold each other in prayer and, if possible, do what we can practically to assist in any situation of difficulty or hardship.
- Please look out for others. We would like to encourage everyone to support and remain in touch with each other as much as possible.
- A reading you may find helpful is Psalm 91.
Be wise – Be considerate – Be careful
And above all, pray
Ormiston Parish Church has been approved to qualify for the Co-op Local Community Fund to help raise money to improve the appearance of the Church Car Park
Members can support this cause by joining the scheme and selecting Ormiston Parish Church as their preferred local charity.
More information is available at the Co-op website below: