Sunday 27th September 2020

Call to Worship (from Joshua 1:9b)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

HYMN 181: For the beauty of the earth

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Loving God, thank you for bringing us together for worship today. Thank you for the beauty of this church and for all the people who have worshipped here over the years that makes this sanctuary unique.

We recognise you as the God of creation and of life.
We praise you that through your Son and Spirit you give us hope in a troubled world.
And yet we know,
When we open our eyes Lord, we can see your presence more clearly.
When we open our ears Lord, we can hear your scripture afresh.
When we respond to your Spirit, we can journey through life by serving you faithfully within this church family and beyond.

God, on the journey of your people through the wilderness
we see and hear how you help people through difficult times.
God, as your Son Jesus journeyed through life on earth, both human and divine, we see and hear many things, which challenge our prejudices and comfort zones.
God, in the passage of your Spirit, we see and hear many things,
which show us that we can change and follow your ways.
God, we open ourselves to all that you would show us now, through worship, Word and prayer.

In Jesus Christ, you revealed your salvation in all the world, which gives us confidence of the heavenly world to come.
Through your Holy Spirit, you give us love, joy and peace.
Keep us firm in faith, that we may serve and praise you all our days.
But gracious Lord, so often we 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 unhelpful to others, so hear us now as we pray to you in silence with penitent hearts as we seek your forgiveness

… SILENCE

As we worship you again this day gracious Lord God, we gladly say together the prayer that your Son and our saviour taught us to say, by saying:

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

Scriptures

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 1: 1- 9

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the River Jordan into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country– to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’

New Testament Reading: John 14:15-27

‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever –the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’
Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Amen

HYMN 528: Make me a channel of your peace

Reflection

John 14: 27: Theme – Inner Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


Jesus offers us a peace that the world cannot give.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid, he says, no matter what your situation………
and yet most of us are afraid of some things: illness, ageing, bereavement, misfortune, anxieties about loved ones and the threat of the coronavirus……. but Jesus says, in spite of all that can happen to us, we can be at peace when we let Jesus and the Holy Spirit into our hearts.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you (verse 27a). Jesus had no money or property or a book to leave to his followers, but he could leave them with his peace. And Jesus also left his disciples with love (15:9-10) and joy (15:11).

I do not give to you as the world gives. (verse 27b). Christ offers real peace. We see it in the lives of those who have truly entrusted their lives to Christ. We admire their calm strength and sense of inner peace, like the saints over the centuries.
St Cuthbert for example spent much time in peace with God as a hermit on a remote island of Inner Farne, close to Lindisfarne, before becoming a bishop for a period of his life when he promoted evangelism because he was concerned to save ordinary souls.
Saint Columba also had a strong sense of inner peace that enabled him to have the drive to set up a monastery in Ireland and then later one on Iona. His followers sometimes watched him at prayer and witnessed a blinding light on him…. he was at peace with God, which enabled him to become a Christian leader.

Christ offers real peace to all who truly turn to him. We see it in the lives of those who have entrusted their lives to Christ. We envy their calm strength but God does not offer anyone a trouble-free life.

Jesus was preparing himself for his death on the cross when he was speaking these words to his disciples in order to prepare them for persecution because they too would be pursued by powerful enemies.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (v. 27c). Faith drives away fear. The person who knows that in life and in death he or she is in God’s hands has peace that transcends anxiety and fear.

Charles Spurgeon, the renowned Victorian preacher, in 1878 preached on peace.
He took his text from Philippians 4: verse 7 which says: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (KJV)
And this is what Charles Spurgeon wrote:
Peace, in the form of perfect calm and serenity, is a very delicate and sensitive feeling, and needs more careful handling than the most expensive crystal glass.
It is hard for the sea of our heart to remain long in a smooth state, it may be rippled and ruffled by a word of anger or frustration.
Perhaps, too, some of us here have not been walking near to God; and if so, our sense of inner peace will not be perfect.
It may be that your faith has become lukewarm and if so, your peace has fled.
Your heart may be troubled, and though you are believing in Christ for salvation, and therefore have eternal life to look forward to.
Yet for all that, your inward peace may be troubled; therefore, we seek God’s peace — which passeth all understanding
May you all know the serene inner peace by experience preached Charles Spurgeon, as we too search for an inner peace to cope with all the anxieties we encounter today, not least the impact of the coronavirus.
But what about Joshua in our Old Testament reading…. did he know such peace?
The length of Joshua’s rule is not specified in the Bible; however, the number of years have been estimated on the basis of Joshua’s age and in consequence some scholars suggest Joshua ruled for 52 years.

(Note: Joshua started ruling when he was 59 and continued to rule until his death at the age of 110 (Josh. 24: 29).)

During that time, he was a warrior leader, a spiritual leader and a political leader of the Israelites in Canaan as they established their kingdom after years in the wilderness. To have ruled effectively for so long, Joshua must have known the peace of God at different times as he coped with the pressures of leadership.

Our Old Testament reading records how Joshua sought inner peace from God: Verse 7 & 8 says:
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night.

In the New Testament, Paul the great evangelist of the emerging Christian communities in the First Century sometimes experienced such inner peace even in the darkness of a prison or after beatings and at the prospect of a sudden death.
Paul loved peace, preached peace, lived in peace, died in peace, and dwells in peace before the throne of God.
We acquire inner peace by praying for everything. We give thanks for the good things and we pray for deliverance from the bad things that happen to us in life.
We pray for our families and loved ones and we pray for the world. We pray for everything and in every situation.

Life is full of things to worry about, but to worry about the things we cannot change does not help our spiritual, mental and emotional health. So, pray about everything and accept God’s gift of inner peace.

PeaceI leave with you; my peace I give you. (said Jesus) I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Amen

Acknowledgements:
1. Charles Spurgeon Sermon – January 1878 on Philippians 4:7 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 24 speaking about Peace
2. Reference: The length of the rule of Joshua and periods of Subjugation in the Book of Judges by Elihu A Schatz

Prayer

Almighty God, we pray for your soothing love and wisdom as we struggle at times with the anxieties we have for loved ones and all the challenges we face each day.

Sometimes we allow our emotions to overwhelm us. We know that only your presence in our hearts, minds and souls can bring us calm and inner peace.
We ask you to help us through difficult times, not least with the coronavirus pandemic on-going, to give us hope and strength. Encourage us to use the talents and skills you have given us to help our neighbours, and to fulfil your purposes.

Give us a peaceful perspective on everything that happens each day. Lead us on the right path as we encounter choices we need to make. Enlighten us on how to cope in our daily lives and give us inner peace.

We pause now Heavenly Father in silence as we seek your peace in our hearts, minds, and souls, and ask you to take away our anxieties and worries this very moment…

We continue to pray for our church family. For all who serve you faithfully here.
We pray for our minister Alex and for Louise as they take a holiday that they will indeed find peace during this time of refreshment. We pray for our elders and all the leaders of this church that they will continue to manage our finances, property and administration in these changing times.

We ask you to bless our offerings today and those given through the banking system to build up the church here and in the wider world. May you encourage us all to be joyful givers of our time, talent and resources.

We give thanks for all our church family whether they read this service on-line or are here today. We pray for all those known to us in silence who need your comforting presence and healing power…Silence

We pray for people everywhere throughout your world. So many suffering the great loss of life from war, famine, strife and now from the coronavirus pandemic. Bring the nations together to overcome all these problems and give all people peace in their souls.

May our eyes be open to what you remake from the aftermath of the pandemic.

May our hearts and arms be opened to you and to one another.

May our imagination be filled with Spirit inspired creativity
To become the church, you mean us to be tomorrow
To become the church, you call us to be today.
To become the church, you have been planning to build since yesterday.

For these prayers and all the unspoken prayers of our hearts, we pray though your son and our saviour Jesus Christ,
Amen.

HYMN 561: Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine.

Benediction

If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be peace in the home.
If there is peace in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

And now may the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

And the blessing 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. All rights reserved worldwide.