Home Service Sunday 21st March 2021

Call to worship 

Be ready to rejoice. 
Be ready to be patient. 
Be ready to persevere. 
Rejoice, be patient, persevere in prayer. 
Praise God! 

Reflection “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”. 

I make it Sunday, 22nd March, 2020, when we last met together to chat, sing, pray, brew and share communion with one another. We knew a great wave of illness was about to strike our country and that we were living on borrowed time; there was nothing we could do to change it so we carried on carrying on.  

A matter of days later our churches began to close their doors, the shops started to empty of toilet rolls and the hospital sent home staff with underlying health issues to be replaced with volunteers deemed healthy enough to face the challenge of this new bug.  

But who could have conceived of the scale of what happened and how much has had to change? Who would have thought that the loss of life would be so great and the cost so terrible? Who could have imagined we’d not see each other again for at least a year?  

No doubt in the months and years to come researchers will be analysing what the pandemic has done to us as individuals, families and communities; there’ll be books, documentaries and films (hopefully not too soon, though). I wonder what it’s meant to you, your family and your community.  

When we do get together again it would be good to reflect and support and pray for one another but until then the nation is holding a day of reflection on Tuesday 23rd March.  

We feel remarkably fortunate in the Williams household. Despite our fears when two of us tested positive, only one of us actually fell ill and luckily that illness didn’t progress into something more sinister. 

Yes, family life, the three of us shut up in the Poulton manse together, and Hannah in a small house with no garden in Newcastle could be quite stressful at times, but we also had time with each other we’d never have had in normal circumstances. Walking, fresh air and nature’s beauty, and Zoom networks have never been more valued and appreciated. Connecting with loved ones has never been so important. The ‘little’ things in life have become the big things in life; meeting up for a coffee with friends, popping to the shops, having our hair cut, finding food in the supermarket and corner shop, have all gained in meaning and significance.  

On the 23rd take a moment to think about all we have been through and achieved over the last 12 months. Think of those people who have fallen to the virus. This year has been challenging, upsetting and rewarding all at the same time and in many cases this last year will have taken a toll on our mental, financial and physical wellbeing. 

I hope, as we unlock, that we won’t forget what we’ve learned or lose our sense of gratitude for what we are so lucky to have.  

And until normality is returned; let us live by Paul’s words in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” 

God bless and keep you and yours. 

Prayer 

Lord God, creator and redeemer, we often find it difficult to know how to pray to you when we see so much suffering throughout our world. Yet, we hold onto your promise that evil will not prevail against us, that you will deliver us from the wicked and the pandemic. 
 You call us, Lord, to turn to you, to be faithful and obedient, that your will may be done in our lives. So help us to be the answer to our own prayers, to make a difference where we are, with the people you give us to share life with us. Help us to rejoice in hope, to be patient in suffering, and to persevere in prayer. 
Lead us, Lord, into opportunities to extend hospitality to strangers and to live in harmony with one another. 
We pray for wisdom for our leaders and decision makers. Protect front line workers, may they find protection and courage to stand up to the menace that surrounds them. 
We think of people closer to home who are still suffering and for those who have recently lost a loved one.  
By the power of your Holy Spirit, help us, in our lives, not to be overcome by anxiety and depression. 
Through Jesus Christ, who conquers death and gives us life, we pray these prayers. 
Amen 

Dismissal 

Go now and follow Jesus in the way of the cross. 
Rejoice in hope, hold fast to what is good, and persevere in prayer. 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
As far as is possible, live peaceably with all. 
And may God hear your cries and deliver you 
May Christ Jesus repay you with fullness of life 
And may the Holy Spirit be with you always nourishing you in love and hope. 
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  

Amen 

Suggested music 

Be Still https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJMaOxdu6B4  

Love Divine, all loves excelling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8  

There is a Redeemer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldRcFz7rK7w  

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