Sunday 6th June
Welcome to Lapford Community Church, this morning our service is led by Briony.
Song - Behold our God
An inspiration of song
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
When I started to think about the on-line service I began to consider peoples names.
In ancient writings like the Bible, a name was more than a label. Your name was your identity, your destiny, the truth hidden in the marrow of your bones. It was one word for the truest thing about you - your inner essence.
One Old Testament scholar wrote, “In the world of the Hebrew scriptures a personal name was often thought to indicate something essential about the bearer’s identity, origin, birth circumstances or the divine purpose the bearer was intended to fulfil.”
God changed Abram’s name, which meant “father“, to Abraham, which means “father of many nations.” Then there’s Jacob, his name means “heel grabber” a euphemism for a liar and a cheat, and his story was just that, until the one time when he wrestles with God and says “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then God renames him Israel, which means “he struggles with God.” And from then on he’s a changed man.
There other example of changes of names and the meanings of peoples names. In the New Testament, Peter’s name was changed, one of the disciples was known as Simon the Zealot, Thomas was “Doubting” Thomas. I’m sure you can come up with many more.
While I was mulling this over, I thought about my own name and for many years I really didn’t like it, I’m not sure I’m that keen now but it was always made fun of . I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had been one strange sounding name but to have two, first and surname, that was heavy going. “How do you spell your name?” “Is it Irish?” Then came the nick names, different versions of my surname. I’m sure everyone has experienced the same sort of thing. I’m sure, too, it was meant to be fun but sometimes the name calling went deep.
This took me down another path thinking about the names we call people of different coloured skin, or different religions, young people, old people, children, people with disabilities, men and women, the list can go on ……….
How do we speak to one another? Sometimes things are said meaning to be funny but the words are mis-construed, people’s feelings are hurt.
The children’s rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” It’s true that sticks and stones can do harm to my physical body but the damage that’s done mentally and emotionally far out weighs hurting the physical body, which can heal. It takes a Master Physician like Jesus to bring restoration, healing and renewal.
Song - He knows my name
So where was I going next, thinking about names. In Exodus 3 God appears to Moses in the burning bush and tells him that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” God told Moses He was sending him to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go, to tell him God had sent him. Moses asked, “who shall I say has sent me?”
“The Sovereign God” came the reply. “Just say I AM has sent me.” “Jehovah , the God of your ancestors.” “This is my eternal name to be used through out all generations.”
One of the ways to translate this phrase I AM WHO I AM is “whatever I am, I will be”. Meaning, whatever God is like, He’s this way consistently. He’s unshifting, stable 24/7.
If God is compassionate, then He’s compassionate all the time.
If God is gracious then He’s gracious all the time.
God has many names. They all describe certain attributes of His character.
In Exodus we read that God would talk to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. In Exodus 34:5,6,7 God announces to Moses the meaning of His name. “I, Jehovah, the merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in steadfast love and truth. I, Jehovah, show this steadfast love to many thousands by forgiving their sins; or else I refuse to clear the guilty, and require that a father’s sins be punished in the sons and grandsons. And even later generations.”
In this conversation Moses asks God to go with the Israelites every step of the way in their exodus from Egypt. Moses dares to ask to see God’s glory. God tells him He will cause His goodness to pass by but he cannot see God’s face for he will die.
This is one of the few places in the Bible where God describes himself, where he essentially says “This is what I am like”
When God describes Himself, he starts with His name, then he talks about His character. He is compassionate and gracious; He is slow to anger, He is abounding in love and faithfulness and so on. How many names can you remember?
Before taking the bread and wine, spend a little time thinking about the last 24 hours and what sort of thoughts you have had.
Father you have given me a powerful mind, I invite Your Holy Spirit to speak to me as I think back through the past 24 hours. When has my mind been filled with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?
Father, my mind can be a battle ground. I invite Your Holy Spirit to speak to me again.
When in the last 24 hours has my mind been preoccupied by what is false, dishonourable, wrong, impure, unlovely, shameful, or selfish?
I ask your forgiveness. I welcome your help and your peace.
Share the bread and wine together, thanking God for His grace, mercy and love, and the wonderful gift of life through Jesus and His death on the cross.
Please remember John , Gavin and Jessica Burrows in your prayers struggling with the death of Karen, last week.
Song - This fragile vessel
Heavenly Father, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, to follow and enjoy You, for Jesus sake.
Prayer of St Ambrose of Milan.
Song - Jesus, name above all names
John 13: 34,35
So I give you now a new commandment: love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know you are my true followers.
I pray with great faith for you all, because I am fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed and safe week.
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