Service Outline 26th July

MISSION SERVICE 26th JULY

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our service here at The Mission. As always, greetings to those of you who will be receiving this copy of the service. I pray that you are well and keeping safe and I look forward to seeing you here again whenever circumstances allow.

One of the things I miss most about our services is not being able to sing hymns and spiritual songs: especially at this service which usually begins with some rousing chorus singing. So, in order to compensate a little, after we’ve begun  by saying our opening prayers, we’ll listen to a version of “We Will Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving In Our Hearts.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV5SEMQildU

I will enter his gates

LORD’S PRAYER & OPENING PRAYER

LISTEN TO “WE SHALL ENTER HIS GATES”

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 13: 43-52

You may not agree, but I have always thought metal detecting or beach coming, rather a waste of time. You spend lots of money on specialised equipment and what do you find? A couple of coins and an old tin can! It seems like a poor investment to me especially when you consider the effort involved.

But, just imagine, if you unearthed something like The Sutton Hoo medieval burial ground in Suffolk, which is literally buried treasure. All the effort and cost involved would suddenly become irrelevant. I think that this is what Jesus is talking about when He describes searching for The Kingdom of Heaven because The Kingdom is like buried treasure: treasure which is waiting to be discovered, but, in order to discover it, you have to search. It is true that treasure hunters never give up on their quest whether it’s in the depths of the deepest ocean or the heights of the highest mountain. It is with this same determination that we pursue The Kingdom of Heaven. The Christian life is not a gentle stroll in the park but a hard slog until we reach our goal.

It has many ups and downs and many twists and turns but these are more than compensated for when the discovery is made. But why does God hide it? Surely, He wants us all to be millionaires in spiritual terms! Yes, He does but if the Kingdom of Heaven were freely available to everyone then it would become worthless. The Kingdom of Heaven is of more value than any worldly treasure but our commitment and, determination to find it must be tested. It, therefore, leaves us asking the awkward and difficult question, how committed are we as individuals? There is undoubtedly sacrifice involved. The man in the story was so determined that He sold everything he had in order to buy the field containing the buried treasure.

Throughout the world, thousands of Christians are putting their lives on the line in their witness for Jesus. It is a fact that every 6 minutes one Christian is martyred for their faith somewhere in the world. A frightening statistic but one which raises awkward questions for us in the western world.

There is another sense, however, in which The Kingdom of Heaven is not hidden at all because it is literally under our feet or before our eyes. The Christian faith will always have mystery at its core because it is all about perception: a way of looking at things: a way of seeing things. This is why Jesus said that “the truth” would be hidden from the wise and learned and revealed to young children: it is why it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter The Kingdom of Heaven. It requires unclouded, innocent and clear vision. How many of you can read the name “Jesus” on this plaque? (Here I hold up the word “Jesus” written in a different way) It took me ages to get it when I first looked but it comes to you unexpectedly: however, once you see it then it is never forgotten. It is, as Zen Buddhists would say, “the sound of one hand clapping!”

It is a mystery, this love affair with Jesus, but one for which we should keep our eyes, our minds and our hearts always open.

And, finally, having discovered such treasure, how do we cash in on it? Those who find buried treasure often become very wealthy. So, where is our cheque and when do we become millionaires? The truth is that we don’t: at least, not on this earth. We share the same joys and sorrows of earthly life like everyone else but with one huge difference because our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of The Lord. Our comfort is following the path that leads to glory. At the end of time, when the books are opened and the secrets of our hearts revealed, then we shall receive our beautiful reward when God says “enter in, you good and faithful servant and receive the reward that has been waiting for you since the beginning of time.”    Amen

We are now going to listen to The Beatles singing “The Long and Winding Road.” It may seem an odd choice but please listen to it with God in mind and “leading to your door” as the door of Heaven itself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIHEuYfDypg

Long and winding Road
 

I now LEAD US IN OUR PRAYERS (quiet music plays in the background)

We shall now listen to the sound of the hymn “Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God” as I read out the words of this lovely hymn that reminds us of what is important and encourages us to follow THE WAY OF JESUS to the very end. (The earliest Christians were not known as “Christians” but as “Followers of The Way”)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb1-MS8ssr4

Seek ye first

A time of quietness followed by THE GRACE which we all say together.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


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