A Home Service for 9th August ’20

Kirkham

Welcome. Good morning! Last week we considered the sea and this week we turn to the towns and villages in our partnership. Our gospel is about stepping out from the boat and braving the storm on the waters. But I want to use these ideas within the context of built up areas – or in fact – wherever we are. We can all struggle with faith, with not trusting God in everything, especially when storms like Covid-19 hit us.

Call. Jesus says:

‘Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid.’
Our God is a powerful God, who does things way beyond our understanding.
But we have no need to fear, for we know we are safe in God’s presence. Let us come to our God now.
Let us bow down and worship.

Adapted from Prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Used by permission

Gathering. Let us come together in prayer with the words of this song, knowing that we are all here together, wherever we are, and however we come, we are here in God’s presence.

In my life Lord,
be glorified, be glorified;
In my life, Lord,
be glorified today.

In your church, Lord,
be glorified, be glorified;
In your church, Lord,
be glorified today.

In your world, Lord,
be glorified, be glorified;
In your world, Lord,
be glorified today.

© 1978 Bob Kilpatrick Ministries. Assigned to The Lorenz Corporation 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission

Introduction. Today we are focussing on our urban places. We have a range of towns and villages over the Fylde from the picturesque seaside, to inland market, from small rural to large coastal. We have the luxury accommodation and the doing ok, the shared residential homes and the below basic, the family homes and the sleeping bag in the doorway.

It has been great to see people at services on Zoom from across Lancashire and all these different kinds of communities. God has called us to serve others wherever we are – but sometimes I wonder if we stay where we feel comfortable, doing what we’ve always done, rather than daring to step outside our comfort zone.

We have definitely been outside our comfort zones over the last few months. Before we were used to bustling places – people filling our streets, beaches, shops, and traffic our roads. Church life kept us busy. In lockdown all went quiet and once again we noticed the birds more, the trees as they blew in the wind, the emptiness of streets. Many of us were and some still are restricted to our homes – phone calls, chats over fences, letters and the internet became the places we could meet others.

As things changed some of us could go out. We can make plans, but this can be hard, it’s safer at home, we’ve got used to this new norm. Daring to take that first step out into the new can be incredibly daunting especially if we are alone, or if we fear for our own and others’ safety. Our gospel today reminds us how hard it can be to step out of safety, our normal, how hard it can be to step out of the boat.

Song. This song is Voice of Truth from Casting Crowns – have a listen. It reminds us that God is with us as we step out.

Reading. Matthew 14.22-33

Reflection. I’m not very good in boats. My family can tell you of a memorable trip on a boat round Puffin Island off Anglesey. There wasn’t a storm, just a swell, but I was terrified, nevertheless. I have always loved this gospel story. Hearing Jesus say, ‘Do not be afraid’, speaks to us in so many circumstances and certainly in the midst of the Covid-19 storm.

It echoes two of the readings set for today. 1 Kings 19, another favourite of mine, where God speaks not in the wind, or earthquake or fire but in the silence. In Psalm 85, we read that God ‘will speak peace to his people’. Our God reassures us in all situations if we give time to listen to him.

I have a soft spot for Peter – so often we see him get things wrong. Here again he falters and begins to fall into the waves. We could condemn him, ‘Fancy not believing enough’. But at least he gets out of the boat! I’m not sure I would have been so brave, especially after my Puffin Island experience.

But this is exactly what God wants us to do – to get out of our boats. Our experiences this year have helped us to understand what it feels like to be isolated, powerless, and afraid. We have had a glimpse of what many people experience constantly, being excluded, vulnerable and threatened.

Perhaps these experiences can help us to make those tentative steps out of our boats, our comfort zones, knowing that we need not be afraid because Jesus’ hand is there for us. Many beginnings have been made. We must look to our new norm, reflect on how as church across the Fylde we can meet needs in our community. Where is God asking us to go? Who can we, in Jesus’ place, offer a hand to? To whom can we say, ‘Do not be afraid’? For if we take that step, ‘Righteousness will go before us, and will make a path for our steps.’ (Psalm 85). I guess we will still be afraid, new is always a challenge. But with Jesus holding our hand, we shall be doing the work that we are called to and step out of our boats.

Peace Pole – Fairhaven
By Val Atkinson

Prayers. For our prayers, I would like you to imagine a walk round the streets, lanes and paths of our towns and villages. Think about all your senses as you imagine the scene around you.

Let us be still and remember God is with us,
God of all our journeys, be with me as I walk.
Open my eyes to your presence.
Open my ears to your call.
Open my mind to your wisdom.
Open my heart to your Spirit.

As we set out, let us consider what holds us back. What stops us taking the step out of the boat?

What stops us daring to go somewhere new with God?

Thank you that you go before us. We are sorry for our lack of faith, our fear of failure, our forgetting your hand holds ours. Be with all who fear and are anxious. Help us to hold out our hands to others.

As we walk, our eyes are open to the beauty in your world. Even in the sad forgotten places, there is the delight of a flower growing in the gaps, birdsong, sky overhead.

Thank you for the unexpected delights. Forgive us for not seeing the beauty around us, the possibilities of change and for forgetting the hope you have given us. Be with all who feel hopeless. Help us to see ways to share your hope.

Our feet touch the ground, feeling the solidity of earth and concrete.

Thank you that you touch each one of us. Forgive us when we fear to reach out to others, exclude or do not offer welcome. Be with all who feel marginalized, alone. Be with all who need your healing touch. Help us to be a healing touch for others.

(Adapted from Prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.)

As we return home, we pray the familiar words of The Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn. I heard the voice of Jesus say.

Sending on prayer.
Peter only knew life as a fisherman.
But he got out of the boat
and followed you, Lord.
Help us to hear your voice,
get out of our boats and follow you.
In the week ahead,
may the world and its problems decrease
as you increase in our lives.
Keep us focused on your way,
looking ahead and trusting you.
Amen.

(Prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Used by permission)

Fairhaven by Anne Flegg

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