Service Notes 6th September


Good evening everyone and welcome to our worship: welcome also to all those who will be receiving these notes from the service tonight. We pray that you’re all keeping safe and look forward to welcoming you here whenever circumstances allow.

So, let us begin by saying The Lord’s Prayer and then a prayer offering our worship up to God.


OPENING PRAYER: “Heavenly Father, as we come to worship You, we pray that You will bless us and that our prayers will be acceptable to you. Our lips are unclean and our thoughts are not Your thoughts: our hearts are so often unprepared to follow You in the ways of righteousness and yet we pray, O Lord, that You will find in our hearts that one spark of light that will lead us to You and that our worship will be found acceptable in Your sight: through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

I think that one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the language of any nation, is the word Love. It’s so often identified either with sexuality or with a sloppy, sentimental, emotion. The love of God is neither of these things, but rather a strong, enduring, sacrificial and all-embracing power that can transform our lives. Let us remember this now as we listen to that lovely chorus, “O LORD, YOUR TENDERNESS.”


Most of us, who are old enough, (and this probably includes all of us with perhaps a few exceptions) will remember a song of many years ago by a group called BONEY M, called “BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON.” It was based on Psalm 137 and this is our reading for tonight.

READING PSALM 137 (with some music playing quietly in the background)

This Psalm is one of sadness and lament. The Israelites, in 587 BC, were taken into exile by The Babylonians and Jerusalem, including the beautiful Temple, was completely demolished. The people were marched off to this foreign land called Babylon and they sat by the river there and were filled with sadness when remembering their old way of life.

This rang a lot of bells with me as I thought about how life has changed over the last 6 months. We can no longer live and worship as we did, and it feels like we have been taken off into exile. And the question that the Israelites asked is perhaps like the question that we are now asking, “how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Well, of course, we are not able to sing at all! The Israelites hung up their harps on the trees and our organ here is silent.

So, how do you sing The Lord’s Song in lockdown and restrictions? How do we remain hopeful when hope appears to have vanished? The first thing is to remind ourselves that this exile will not last forever and that one day we shall return to normal. We shall sing again, just as The Israelites did when they were finally released from captivity. Hard times and sad times do not last forever, for above each cloud the sun is still shining and one day it will break through.

The second thing is that although we cannot sing with our lips and from our mouths, yet we can still sing in our hearts! I don’t know about you, but so often I find myself sitting here and mouthing the words of the songs. They say, do not they, that hope springs eternal in the human breast. The Israelites are warned never to forget the worship of God and the love and purpose that God has for them. And that is exactly what we are doing now by joining in with worship either here at The Mission or, as we read this, in our own homes. God’s love for us continues and we are still worshipping and singing from our hearts.

And, finally, we need to be honest before God, about how we are truly feeling. There can be no room for pretence in prayer: in fact, it is useless, because God already knows how you are feeling. The Israelites were so angry that they wanted to kill the children of their enemies! The final verse of this Psalm is so horrible that many Bible translators have left it out altogether! But, however abhorrent to us, it needs to be left in there because it is a reflection of true, genuine, thoughts and emotions. God can deal with anything you are feeling but He cannot deal with pretence. Always be honest to God and He will always be true to you in His goodness and all embracing and forgiving love. Dare to be yourself and God will reveal His true self to you. 

We are indeed singing The Lord’s Song in a strange land but one day we shall return to normal and what a sound we shall make as we sing and praise God, together! Amen.

We’ll now listen to that wonderful; hymn of John Wesley “O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING MY GREAT REDEEMERS PRAISE.” Thinking about it, I’d settle for just one tongue to sing His praise, right now!




THE GRACE: And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of The Holy Spirit, be with you now and for evermore: Amen


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