Sunday Half Hour

Service for Sunday 2nd August

“I will listen to the voice of the Lord, for it speaks of peace.

His help is near for those who fear him.

May the Lord with his help, be always with us.” ( Psalm 85)

Each week you are asked to set aside 30mins to reflect on the readings. What follows is meant to help us identify with the different thoughts and prayers and make both our own. If there are times in the service when you say to yourself “I can really identify with what is being said and asked of us” and you turn those moments into the simplest and shortest of prayers then you’ll know you’re on the right track. With some pieces of music you can also switch on the subtitles (CC) to read the lyrics while you reflect.

It shouldn’t be difficult for anyone of us to identify with the key figures in the Scriptures today. Like ourselves, Elijah the fiery prophet knew what it was to have good days and bad days. 

It was on a bad day that God reached out to him.   Elijah was feeling discouraged and down because he was living in the realisation that all his efforts to do God’s work were not leading to lasting results. We know what that feels like in whatever way of life we’re called to! Our dying (being frightened, sinking, crying out for help) and our rising (being saved, acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, bowing down in worship) place us alongside Peter out there on the raging sea of life challenged by Jesus to come to him. 

For both of those characters – Elijah and Peter – what God asked of them – faith and trust – was initially not easy to give, as it can be for us. Once given, it changes everything for the better.

Let’s gather together our thoughts and prayers as we say:

All powerful Father, God of tenderness and mercy, look kindly on those suffering in different parts of the world for their faith in you. Ease their burdens and continue to make their faith strong that they may always have confidence and trust in your fatherly care. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the holy Spirit one god for ever and ever. Amen

The Word of God

During the reign of King Ahab in Israel, the prophet Elijah took upon himself the task of combatting the worship of false gods by the queen Jezabel having defeated 450 of her followers. The prophet is discouraged when all his efforts produced no lasting results. Now on the run for his life he is directed to Mount Horeb where he takes refuge in a cave. There God comes to him not in fire and storm but as a gentle breeze and gives him fresh courage.

(Please click the button below to hear this weeks reading)

At the end of the reading, allow yourself time to take in the message of the Scriptures. 

Reflection:

Is our God to be found in the chaos of our doubts, our confusion, our hesitant faith? Is he still present to his people in the midst of the corona-virus? The writer of the Book of Kings had no hesitation in declaring that God is there in the storms and difficulties of our everyday lives and in our troubled world but it’s hard to recognise him in those settings. Elijah knew God’s presence in the “sound of a gentle breeze.” 

How does this story relate to your own experiences of God?”

What or who helps you to believe in God’s power and care?

God is with us and his power is available to us. This is what Peter came to realise in the light of his experience after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew wanted to recall the time Peter denied knowing Jesus. That happening and the reaching out in friendship on the part of Jesus to Peter after the Resurrection is symbolically recalled in the Gospel story. Matthew also refers to the persecution being experienced by the early Christians in the early Church represented by the wind and the waves. Matthew tells this story to demonstrate the kind of faith that followers of Jesus are to develop if they are to weather the storms that are an inevitable part of Christian life.

Please to click the link to hear the Gospel)

At the end of the reading, allow yourself time to take in the message of the Scriptures. 

Reflection:  

Peter in that story stands for the Church and also each one of us. He is the typical disciple caught between faith and doubt. Jesus’ rebuke, “Man of little faith! Why did you doubt?” is directed at us also who often start out courageously only to lose heart when faced with a crisis. Like Peter walking on the water we become frightened and begin to sink.

How is living with a pandemic + environmental crisis + racial problem similar to the raging sea on which Peter was trying to walk towards Jesus? What do you think would have helped Peter to keep walking? Ignore the wind/ Keep his eye on Jesus? What might help us? 

When the people following Jesus were hungry, the heart of Jesus was filled with compassion. Let us bring before him all the cares and hungers of our brothers and sisters in need:

We pray for the church throughout the world that we may acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God by the faithfulness of our daily living.

Lord in your mercy

We pray for our political and civic leaders that they may seek God’s guidance in time of doubt and difficulty and take the necessary steps to bring the human family to calm and cooperation.

Lord in your mercy

We pray for the Lebanese people, alive or dead, caught up in the tragic happenings in Beirut, that they may keep their eyes firmly fixed on the person of Jesus who will never desert them in their hour of need.

Lord in your mercy

We pray for all who have to face persecution for their faith in Jesus particularly Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, that God will keep them safe  and give them the courage to faithfully witness to the Gospel.

Lord in your mercy

We pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the Word of God; that they may grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to the covenant.

Lord in your mercy

As sons and daughters of a loving Father we pray as one family in the words that Jesus himself taught us: Our Father………………………………………………..

We have listened to the Word of God, prayed for the needs of the church and the world, prayed in the words Jesus taught us so let’s now gather together our thoughts and prayers as we say: 

You wish to assure us, Lord our God how much you are with us through him who is

our food and drink, your Son Jesus Christ. May he give us the courage to walk with

him the stormy road of faith and to take the risk of love. May we set our fears aside

in these troubled days and make his reassuring word the foundation of our life and

work until we reach the haven of peace, in you our God for ever and ever.   

May this hope and trust always grow in us, with the blessing of almighty God, the

Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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