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19th July 2020 - Slaves to Sin

Good morning and welcome to worship. I hope you enjoyed listening to Paul Robeson but caught the pathos and hope within the song. You will soon realise that the songs we listen to are all spirituals or songs written by John Newton.

Our first song is “Glorious things of thee are spoken”

Let us pray

Lord we thank you for giving us Jesus to be our Saviour and friend. As we come before you we plead for our world at this dreadful time, for the communities in which we live and near our Church, our families and our Church family. We ask for protection and gives us wisdom in all we do. Fill us with your love and may we reach out to others so that they see your love in us.

We pray that you will guide us in opening up the work of our corps and lead us in the way we should go. Give wisdom to our leaders.

Accept our love and where it is imperfect help us to be more as you would have us be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

| EXODUS 2:1-9 |

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.

Now let’s listen to “Go down Moses”

Now we will Sing “Amazing Grace”.

Some musings of mine:

A few weeks ago, the Rugby Football Union proposed banning the singing of “Swing low, sweet chariot” at international matches in which the England team were playing because of the songs association association with the slave trade.

Since then there has been some debate concerning the singing of this song, but the irony is that it was Martin Offiah, nicknamed “Chariots”, who was largely responsible for it being sung in modern day rugby matches who is of Afro origin. Martin, a committed Christian argues that it should continue to be sung because it reminds people of its scriptural beginnings.

Unfortunately, the song has been abused because people who unaware of the significance of the song have put their own meanings on the lyrics which are far from the original. I wonder what they would do if the fiery chariots came down whilst they were singing!

If this spiritual is banned, how many Christian songs and spirituals will the PC establishment want to ban because their associations with slavery and the slave trade? Does it mean that we will not be allowed to sing John Newton’s songs? Maybe I am stretching things too far but are we as Christians and Salvationists in danger of not wanting to offend society? Are we prepared to stand up for Christian principles and not dilute our standards? How far do we let society affect our Christianity?

Let's listen to this recording of 'How Sweet the Name'.

Having spent some time on musing over the political correctness of some of the songs which are part of Christian heritage, I think it only right to see how they came to be written and what they say to us today. ‘Swing Low’ was inspired by the story of Elijah being taken to Heaven and how the mantel of his ministry was passed on to Elisha. Over the years people have been raised up to take on different roles within our corps. Some have received the mantel of responsibility eagerly, but others more reluctantly. Most, however, have worked hard at their new role in order for the corps to run well. In these days I hope that there are those willing to accept new roles for the benefit of our corps, but more importantly for the extension of God’s kingdom.

The other spiritual I have focused on speaks of the time when the Hebrew people (God’s chosen people) were in bondage in Egypt. Moses had reluctantly accepted God’s will for him and had returned to Egypt, at great personal risk to himself, to fulfil God’s commission to obtain the release of his countrymen. Moses had been warned that the task would not be easy, but God had assured him of help and given him the necessary powers to accomplish the task. In addition he would receive help from his brother Aaron.

When Aaron and Moses first approached Pharaoh, Moses said, ”This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says “Let my people go.” This request was rejected not once but several times. The words, “Let my people go,” were spoken by God to Moses repeatedly, both as encouragement and as challenge until the people were finally released. God’s work for Moses did not stop there but he had the task of leading the people to the promised land and establishing the laws for worship and living as a nation.

In my musings, I also referred to John Newton. He first went to sea under the captaincy of his father but soon after was pressed into service for the Royal Navy. Although a promising sailor, his behaviour was far from exemplary and, as a result, he suffered lashings and demotion. He, himself, was taken into slavery. Having escaped slavery, he eventually became captain of a slave trading ship, in spite of knowing at first hand what it meant to be a slave. It was as a consequence of a severe storm at sea that he was converted to Christianity and subsequently entered the ministry. He wrote a number of hymns – many of which are still sung today. He also influenced William Wilberforce, who, as an MP, promoted the act banning slavery in the British Empire.

We are aware that the problem of slavery still exists in Britain and members of our corps are actively involved in the fight against modern slavery. Many people in our world, even in our local communities are slaves to sin. BUT they can be released from its grip. It is our purpose to lead them to Christ who has paid the price of sin and who can change their lives.

Returning to the spirituals born out of slavery, we see that despair is replaced by hope, which is a hope that Jesus gives. Let us show in our living something of that hope to those around us. It maybe that we have to accept new roles, so let us be aware of what God wants of us and rise to the challenges he sets us.

Our final song is Though troubles assail. Click here to play (opens in new tab)

Though troubles assail,

And dangers affright;

Though friends should all fail,

And foes all unite,

Yet one thing secures us,

Whatever betide:

The Scripture assures us,

"The Lord will provide."

The birds, without barn

Or storehouse, are fed;

From them let us learn

To trust for our bread;

His saints what is fitting

Shall ne'er be denied,

So long as 'tis written,

"The Lord will provide."

His call we obey,

Like Abram of old,

Not knowing our way,

But faith makes us bold;

For though we are strangers,

We have a good Guide;

And trust in all dangers:

"The Lord will provide."

When Satan appears

To stop up our path,

And fills us with fears,

We triumph by faith;

He cannot take from us,

Though oft he has tried,

The heart-cheering promise,

"The Lord will provide."

He tells us we're weak,

Our hope is in vain;

The good that we seek

We ne'er shall obtain;

But when such suggestions

Our faith thus have tried,

This answers all questions,

"The Lord will provide."

No strength of our own,

Nor goodness we claim;

Our trust is all thrown

On Jesus' dear name.

In this our strong tower

For safety we hide;

The Lord is our power,

"The Lord will provide."

When life sinks apace,

And death is in view,

The word of His grace

Shall comfort us through;

Not fearing or doubting,

With Christ on our side,

We hope to die shouting,

"The Lord will provide."

Now a Benediction given to us by Moses

Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you

and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.


Thank you for reading

Written by Major Peter K

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