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Service at Home for Sunday 13th February. we thank the person who has kindly prepared this service for us.

Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Hymn StF 25: God is here! As we His people

Prayer of Adoration
Creator God, wherever we are and whatever we are doing; whoever we are and whatever we have been; whatever our journey and no matter our destination; we praise You that always and forever we are in Your presence. Your will is our daily guide and Your purposes bring us hope. As we walk this life with You we experience the fullness of joy that we find nowhere else.
There are many who offer their advice and we are surrounded by those whose words would lead us away from You. There are many different roads to ‘truth’ all but one of which are dead ends. Only Your way, the way marked out for us by Jesus will lead us to the Heavenly Kingdom.
We praise You, for You are the Lord Almighty and our experience of Your sovereignty is the crown of life itself. You are the King of all Creation and only in knowing You can true wholeness be found.
        
Prayer of Confession
Father, we find that the words of faith come to our lips so easily and we can sing of Your goodness and faithfulness. We can celebrate the lives of those who have trusted You and again and again we make our promises to You.
It is in the hurly-burly of our daily lives that walking in faith becomes really hard. Too often what we say we believe is not matched by the way we face our problems each day.
We confess that so often our lives do not speak of a person of faith and we try to cope with our fears often leaving You out of our thoughts. When we feel overwhelmed by life and its twists and turns, we fail to allow You to touch us, hold us and comfort us.
So come and in the midst of the storms of life be the stillness we long for. May our lives revolve not around our problems but be filled with Your grace giving presence.
We pray that we may cast off the old and put be clothed with Christ that we may be living witnesses to Your love. May we be truly Your children, the people You created us to be.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Generous God, when we look over our lives, our families and our friends, the continuing beauty of Creation, we hardly know where to begin to say thank You.
You have given all that we need and more for our lives here on earth. It is so easy to take all for granted and ignore Your goodness to each of us. Let us then say thank you for the blessings You have bestowed on us……………

…………For all these and those which escape our minds at the present we thank You Father. As Your Church here in this place we thank You that we are called to be Your witnesses, Your hands and Your voice speaking to all Your people of Your great Love.
We thank You for the gift of Jesus, Your Son and our Saviour. He Who went to the cross and died there in our place so that we may be forgiven, have fellowship with You and come at last to be with You in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Loving God, accept these our prayers, our work and our worship in the Name of Jesus, our Lord, our Rock, our Saviour. AMEN

Reading: Jeremiah 17: 5 – 10
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
9 The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 20
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep

Reading: Luke 6: 17 – 26
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Sermon
Text: “……Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15: 20
When I was new to the faith I found Paul’s letters a bit too much to understand. Then, I thought, ‘doesn’t he go on’! Then I, as I grew in the faith, I began to study Paul’s letters and had to chide myself for thinking that he was a bit of a windbag!
What brought me from being an infant in the faith to a maturity in the faith were people who were founded in the faith. Ones who had studied God’s Word and were able to encourage others to study and explain the deeper things contained in the Word of God, the Holy Bible.
Paul reminds us that infants are fed on milk and soft foods but as we mature we need other foods (1 Corinthians 3 v2). Foods that are hard need to be chewed and digested and savoured. So, too, the Word of God.
Many will have attended Sunday School in their early years. There we will have been cared for and taught by people, mainly ladies, who gave us the simple ideas of our faith. We sang easy hymns and, perhaps, a few Sankey choruses. Some Sunday Schools had nativity plays and the birth of Jesus would be played out with no mention of the harshness of the journey, the poverty of the accommodation, the coarseness of the shepherds. The wisemen always arrived immediately after the shepherds.
There was little mention of Herod’s devious plans. No mention of the flight to Egypt or the Slaughter of the Innocents.
Another part of the story of God’s plan to redeem His people also received little mention. Easter was a time of rejoicing with alleluias and chocolate eggs.
It was only as we grew older that we began to understand and to be taught of the Crucifixion of Jesus and the events of the first Easter Day.
The question is: Do we believe?
Jeremiah spoke the words that were given him by God. Sometimes that word is not palatable, it offends the non-believer. It may even be surprising to those on the edge of faith.
If we apply the words of Jeremiah in our reading to society today, how would they fit?
Those words may fit very aptly. We live in an age, in a nation, that has largely turned away from God. Very few of our young people know much of Jesus apart than His name. Christmas and Easter have become times of celebration with little or no connection to the true reason for the season.
God gives the word to Jeremiah: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man.” That does appear to be what is happening. We are trusting in our abilities, our own efforts. We appoint leaders who have their own personal agendas and are more concerned with their own position than the needs of the people.
We do see the efforts of humanity fail, they come to nothing. Following our own way and ignoring God’s way leads us to the spiritual desert, a barren wasteland. It is truly a dead end.
If we trust in God, if we follow as God leads and guides us, we will be blessed. We may find that the road we have been travelling is dusty, dry and featureless – yet we can turn and see the road, the Highway to Heaven, that God invites us to travel. We have but to open our hearts and minds to God’s calling.
We have but to search for the truth. The truth that is in Jesus, the Son of God and our Saviour. We have to have faith.
Paul raises the question of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Bishop David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984 – 1994) referred to The Resurrection as ‘a conjuring trick with bones’. This from one of the foremost theologians of the age. The Resurrection of Jesus is a pillar of our faith.
If we deny The Resurrection, the demonstration of the power of God over death, then our faith will crumble. Other parts of our belief will be questioned and our faith will be weakened.
During my years in the Church, I have met many ministers of different denominations many of whom believe in Jesus, in God, in Forgiveness, in Confession, in Love. They believe in the fundamentals of our faith and they preach Christ Crucified for all.
There are ministers who do not believe in what cannot be explained by man. They do not believe in the Virgin Birth, they do not believe that Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary, they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. They do not believe in the miracles of Jesus.
What they believe I know not!
It is as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, if we do not believe that Christ was raised from the dead then our faith is useless. We are but a happy club blowing hot air with no real meaning.
But enough of the negative! Let’s be positive.
Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Corinthians 15: 20).
This what we believe. It is in the resurrection of Jesus that we see life that we have yet to attain. A life, not struggling with day to day issues, but a life spent wholly in praising God, a life everlasting, a life of joy and peace and love.
Luke records for us many of the details of Jesus’ ministry. Luke, of course, was not one of the Twelve and records the truth as he discovered it from those who experienced it. We can but imagine how wonderful it must have been to be there to see Jesus heal the sick, to teach those who believed, to show the power and love of God to God’s chosen people.
This is Jesus. This is the Risen Christ we know. This is the One through Whom we come to the Throne of Grace. This is He through Whom we are forgiven and can have a right relationship with God and with one another.
Friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, we do believe. Our faith is not shaken because we stand on firm foundations. We do not doubt the power of God for He Who created the heavens and the earth can do much more than we can even dream of.
We do not put our trust, our faith, in the words of humanity. We trust in the One Who made us to be His people, Who gave His Son to die so that we may be forgiven. The One who raised Jesus of that first Easter day and will raise us to that new life. A life with Christ, in Christ, and for Christ.
Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.
In the name of Christ. AMEN

Hymn StF 500 Happy are they who find the grace

Prayers of Intercession
Lord, we bring our prayers for those who are poor in the lands of the wealthy and for those who suffer most through the decisions of governments; for those who are ashamed of the distress they have caused to those close to them; for those who are so aware of the poverty of their lives; for those whose lives display their worldly wealth. Your people of all ages, in all places.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
Father, we bring to You those who are hungry, those who have no food for their children, those who rely on foodbanks and charity each day; those who are starved of love and genuine compassion and those who long for nourishment of their souls; those whose lives are empty with no real sense of meaning; those whose deepest longing is to know You more and more.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
Loving God, we bring to You those who weep for Your world; those who care deeply about the sufferings of their brothers and sisters in Christ; those who shed tears for the ones they have lost; those whose pain is so deep that they can no longer cry; those who cry for broken promises and broken relationships; the ones who weep for those that once walked with You.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
Merciful God, we bring to You those who trust in their wealth; and those who find no need to give thanks and praise to You; those who seek their security in their possessions and the things that they can control; those who find great pride in their achievements; those whose eyes have been opened to Heavenly values yet to come.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
Lord, we pray for those who are a blessing to others; those whose lives of generosity bring hope to many; those whose compassion touches their neighbours; those who walk with You and whose lives are filled with joy and peace; those whose lives are focussed on speaking of the blessings of grace; those whose words and actions show Your presence in all they do.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
We bring, Loving God, those for whom we have particular concerns; for the poor in spirit; those hungry to know You; those who feel excluded from Your family; for those longing for a friend to come and share their sorrows; for ourselves that all we do in the Name of Jesus may be a rich blessing for our neighbour.
To all You promise a place in Your Kingdom, come now and lead us home.
Loving God, we bring our prayers in the Name of the One Who opens eyes and hearts and minds in His love; the One Who taught us when we pray to say:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
    on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one
For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are Yours
now and forever. Amen

Hymn StF 548 Blessèd assurance! Jesus is mine

Let us pray:
O God,
You spoke your word 
and revealed Your good news in Jesus, the Christ.
Fill all creation with that word again,
so that by proclaiming Your joyful promises to all nations
and singing of Your glorious hope to all peoples,
we may become one living body,
Your incarnate presence on the earth. Amen.

Blessing:
May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us, with those we love and pray for and those we should love and pray for, this day and forever.
Amen

Let us go in peace to love and serve our Lord.
In the Name of Christ Amen