Sunday 20th September 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 32:11)
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

HYMN 286: Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

Prayer of adoration and confession

Almighty and eternal God,
we gladly come to worship you, to praise you, to learn about you from the Bible, to pray for one another and the worldwide church family, and to be in fellowship.

We know through your Word and Spirit, that you created all things in the universe and through your son Jesus Christ you offered us all love, joy and peace, in this life, and in the life to come.

Through Your Spirit, you gave us your helper to help us meet the challenges of every day, whether that is at home or the workplace or at school or when out and about.

Keep us firm in the Christian faith and all we learn from the Bible, fill us with your energy that we may serve you all our days.

But gracious Lord, we know we often fail to do and say what you have taught us to do and say, so forgive us for getting things wrong – sometimes we know we are selfish or unfriendly or fail to do what you have taught us to do, so hear us now as we pray to you in silence with penitent hearts as we seek your forgiveness, and a fresh start……

We pray again gracious Lord the prayer that your son and our saviour taught us to say by saying together:

Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Amen
Amen

Scriptures

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 32: 8-11

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

New Testament Reading: John 16: 16-24. The disciples’ grief will turn to joy

Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’ At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

HYMN 449 Rejoice the Lord is King

Reflection

The joy that the world or secular communities offer is a poor imitation of the true joy that God give to us.

The joy that secular people experience is usually a temporary joy that comes and goes depending on the situation that person is in at the time. If things are going well, there is joy. Such temporary joy is sometimes aided by alcohol or spending large sums of money on oneself.

But such joy is often short-lived because when things become difficult, there is no joy. Such people build their lives on sand; not on the foundation of God’s Word.

Joy is a prominent feature of the true worship of God in the Old Testament.

Wherever people know, love, and worship God, his love instils a joy, that only he can give, into the hearts of his worshippers
Believers today can experience this same joy when he or she knows Jesus.

In today’s Old Testament reading Psalm 32 says:

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Be glad we are told by the psalmist! Be joyful! Joy is a gift from God. It is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, who resides in the heart of the Christians who keep their faith. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22 & 23)

When one becomes a Christian and is united to God through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit imparts these qualities to the believer.

Joy exists wherever believers are present. It is why weekly worship is so important and why it was so important for the church services to take place on-line during the lock down.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, we read in Romans 14: 17.

As many Christians here today or reading on-line can confirm, being involved in the spread of the Gospel brings joy to the believer’s heart.

When we see someone come to faith in Jesus and discover the truth from God’s Word, we feel a sense of joy and encouragement.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth says John the Beloved disciple, who most scholars think wrote the third letter of John 1: 4

No one can take away your joy of knowing God and Jesus and sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This means that even when we are in the midst of a situation that brings us sorrow, a serious illness or a bereavement for example, no one can take away our inner joy. No matter what the circumstances, God is always with us and there is a life to come. We have the joy of knowing that.

Godly joy is a wonderful feeling; it is a supernatural gift from God to every believer. However, we need to be aware that sin can prevent our sense of joy.

It is difficult to experience the joy of our relationship with God when we have done something wrong that damages that relationship, which is why repentance and seeking forgiveness is so important in our daily prayers.

If we have lost the joy in knowing God through Jesus, we may need to re-energise our relationship with Jesus through prayer and worship and Bible reading. ……and sharing in fellowship with other believers, which is why our weekly services are so important.


There are several passages in the New Testament where Paul instructs us to ‘rejoice’.

A Bible verse that many of you will recall is:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5 16&17)

Joy, prayer, and thanksgiving should characterise our lives as Christians.

“Rejoicing always” does not mean that we are to pretend we are happy and content no matter what is going on in our lives or in the lives of those we love – neither should we be blind to events happening in our country or world.

It means that we are to remain steadfast in our knowledge that God is our strength and comforter, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves during this worldwide coronavirus pandemic or whatever anxieties you have.

If our relationship with Jesus is right, and we confess and repent our sins, we will experience this supernatural joy at all times…whether those times be good when things go well or we suffer ill health, bereavement or misfortune.

Enjoy your Christian faith, by uplifted in spirit and experience the joy of knowing the Lord God and his Son and our saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Prayer

Gracious Lord and Father God, we bring our thanks to you.
in our darkness and questioning,
in our sadness and joy.
In the assurance that you hold us in love,
may we be able to serve others,
holding out hope for a world in fear.

May we be conscious of your divine presence
as we travel through these uncertain days,
but experiencing moments of joy and peace.

We pray for our fellowship here.
We give thanks for our minister Alex for his ministry and leadership in helping us through this difficult year. We continue to give thanks for the work of the Kirk Session, and the leaders who run the groups in our church community.

We give thanks for all those people who look after our finances, property and administration.
We also give thanks to all who help prepare our services of worship, lead our music, and do much pastoral work for our church family.

We give thanks for the offerings today and those given through the banking system. We ask your blessings on these offerings and that they will help to build up the church here and in the wider world. Help us always to experience the joy of giving of our time, talent and resources.

Give healing to those who are suffering in body, mind and spirit, and those who are grieving because of bereavement. We pause now in silence as we remember those by name who are known to us that need your comforting presence. SILENCE

Give love to those who feel unloved; resurrection to those who need new life and to begin life again by reading and reflecting on your Holy Word.

Help people to understand that your Word is part of the solution for addressing all the challenges that people face in everyday situations.

We pray that the Church of Scotland will continue to preach the gospel faithfully to all who live in Scotland, as well as helping people to look afresh at scripture. We ask your blessings on the initiative called the radical action plan – that it will help your church to grow and be relevant to all people throughout our nation and beyond.

We pray for our troubled world……… so many countries suffering from war, famine, terrorism and natural disasters, and now the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic………

Gracious Lord, accept these prayers and all the unspoken prayers of our hearts through you son and our saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

HYMN 180 Give thanks with a grateful heart

Benediction
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

And may the blessings of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, be with you this day and evermore
Amen

Acknowledgements
Holy Bible
, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV®
Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission.
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