Today we have returned from our journey round the Fylde to consider ‘home’. Our readings today help us to question who we think Jesus is. What does Jesus mean to us? What does this change in our lives?
When Jesus asked, Simon Peter answered:
‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Let us make the same bold answer,
and let us come together to worship
Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.
Our prayer uses the words of this song by Naida Hearn reflecting some of the titles given to Jesus. We know that we are all here together, wherever we are, and however we come, in God’s presence. Let us come together to worship, building church wherever we are.
Jesus, Name above all names,
Beautiful Saviour, Glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer, living Word.
©1974/1978 Scripture in Song
Home has been where most of us have been isolating over the last months. For some this has meant complete isolation and little contact with others. Some have enjoyed the respite from pressures and commitments. Some overwhelmed by the demands of family. Some have been hurt in the very place they should be safest.
Home can be cosy and warm, the place we feel most ourselves. But for some, home can be the greatest place of danger. When all we’ve known is comfort and care – it is hard to imagine anything else. It is hard to imagine no home, being uprooted, our lives having no safe haven.
Home is the place we start out from and end up at. We will all have our own ways of making home, home. Those with little in the way of resources will still make their home, home.
Our gospel today asks us, ‘Who do we think Jesus is?’ This is where, as Christians our home begins – with Jesus. When we have nothing else, we know we have the solidity, the wholeness of Jesus behind us and under us and round us. Sometimes we lack faith in this – we don’t know who Jesus is, and we certainly don’t ‘feel’ his presence, our faith is falling to pieces. We certainly don’t feel like the rock that Jesus describes Peter as. But our belief is not based on us and our response, but on Jesus. The man who healed the sick, fed the hungry, died on a cross and lives again. This is where our home is, wherever we are, whoever we are, however we come.
Today’s song is a lively action filled song we have been getting to know at Messy Church and many will see as old hat now. But have a listen and watch the video – I love how this song involves everybody in the community at Keswick where it was filmed – Our God is a great big God
Reading. Matthew 16. 13-20
I’ve asked people who are coming to Zoom services to send me videos or illustrations of the answer to Jesus’ question – ‘Who do you say I am?’ It’s been great to see such a variety – and the children sending beautiful colourings and drawings.
Last week’s song showed the labels we give people, being converted to one word – ‘Beloved’. At college last year I was fascinated to read that this is where Jesus started. After 30 years of just living, the starting point for Jesus’ ministry was being ‘Beloved’ (Matthew 3.17). This was core for him – this was the rock on which his life and work was built – being ‘Beloved’.
At the beginning of lockdown many of us felt lost. So many of the ways in which we serve weren’t open to us. We felt powerless, control had been taken away from us. How could we be any use? As I discovered that for Jesus the most important role he had, was to be beloved by his Father, I began to be reassured that this was enough, this was my starting point. I am beloved by God – no matter what else I do or don’t do – I am beloved by God.
Many of us may feel the ‘new normal’ is asking too much of us, some still stuck at home, some struggling with new demands. Church services that may never be the same again and church traditions turned upside-down.
I would like to suggest that our home base, our place to start, is being ‘Beloved’. Because we are. Because Jesus died on the cross, God loves us so much. Jesus suffered and knows what it is like to suffer, as we do. He suffered so that all of us would know we are ‘Beloved’.
This is the home we can all return to with no fears. But just as our home needs time and effort – so does our relationship with Jesus. For some, this time of lockdown has given us space to pray and reflect, to develop spiritually with a new pattern to our lives. For others, the dryness of solitary prayer and worship has left us bereft.
And so, we come to the church, the church built on rock, solid ground. We do not mean our buildings. We mean our communities of faithful, committed, worship and service. Our communities that hold each other together, supporting one another and tentatively taking steps into this new normal, together. Worshipping in church buildings, online, on the phone, on paper. And because our church is built on rock, we have the stability, the strength to reach out wide and welcome all. This may not be in our Sunday services, but it will be in the daily offering of ourselves as ‘Beloved’ children of God. Through prayer, food, smiles, cleaning, gardening, chatting, listening and being alongside others.
Today’s prayers are based around a song I learned a long time ago at Scargill, a Christian Retreat centre. It is a signed prayer – you might like to watch the recorded service to see the signs.
Jesus, Jesus here I am
Lord, thank you that you have made
me in your image
Forgive me when I forget
and limit my potential.
Bless all those who struggle with who they are
Through others’ treatment
or their own understanding of themselves.
Jesus, Jesus take my hand
Lord, thank you that you are with me
Wherever I am, in all that I do
Forgive me when I forget.
Touch all those who need your healing hand
The grieving, the lost, the lonely,
The sad, the hopeless and the hungry.
You give to everyone
Thank you that you are for everyone
Forgive me when I try to narrow my welcome
Keeping you to myself and people like me
Help me to see your image in all who I meet
A love that won’t end
Thank you that your love is endless
Forgive me when I forget what you did
on the cross.
Help us all to share this love
Putting no restrictions on its
Height and depth and width.
Thank you, Jesus
You’re my friend.
Yes, Thank you Lord,
You are my Saviour
Let your work begin with me
And let it begin today. Amen
Please say The Lord’s Prayer in your familiar version
Be thou my vision
Sending on prayer.
Who do we say Jesus is?
How do our lives reflect this?
We go now to live out our faith
In word, in action and in love.
And we go
knowing the love of God the Father,
strengthened through the risen Son
and inspired by the Holy Spirit,
in this place
and at this time,
Prayer adapted from Church of Scotland Worship