We are today the scattered Church because of circumstance, but we join as one through the almighty power of the Holy Spirit recognising that although we are physically separated from each other, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
On Thursday of this week many thousands of fellow Salvationists would have in some way celebrated Founders day and so it seems fitting to sing that amazing song written by General William booth, O Boundless Salvation. I’ve chosen this particular version because it demonstrates how, with the wonders of technology we can join together in worship through music as a group of Gods people, despite not being able to gather in the same room to do so.
Take a listen to a modern take on General William Booths famous I’ll fight speech, adapted for the days that we find ourselves in, but still with the full impetus of what this Church is about.
If you want to listen to the words of the tune playing in the background of the I’ll fight video here’s the link. Soldiers Hymn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQaqfpCuDYc
Father God, we bring ourselves before you today as we gather as individuals and as families but not as the gathered Church. We would ask that your Holy Spirit will speak to each one of us and draw us together as we worship you in our homes. May we seek your presence and be open to what you have to say to each of one of us. As we read from your Holy Scriptures and as we listen to words of challenge and to music that has been written for your glory, may we feel your love surrounding us during this time of praise to your wonderful name.
Scripture reading: Matthew 16:13-20 - view here
This next song reminds us of the very reason on why God’s church exists, and why we are continually called by the leading of His Holy Spirit, to build and be Church wherever we find ourselves.
When Jesus says I will build my church in Matthews Gospel have you thought about what that means, and more to the point what does it means for you and for me?
(Try not to scroll down till you have given that question some thought)
So when Jesus says “I will build my Church” to his disciples and on this particular occasion to Peter, he means that He will build His Church through his apostles, but then the question is doing what?......preaching the gospel. It was directed at and, was the challenge to those stood in front of Jesus then, and it is therefore as God’s people today, directed at us and is our challenge, to be the workers in the 21st Century as he continues to build his Church.
So how much building has been going on over these last years? It is clear to everyone that the Church in the western world has been in decline for a considerable period of time. Millennials would question whether there is any need for the Church in todays world, when information and wisdom is literally in their hands, in the form of the many mobile devices that are part of everyday life now. For many people the speed of life has left little or no time to consider why we are here or what is our purpose, and as a result there is no room for Church!
His Church as we know it may be in decline, but it is not defeated, and it never will be. Verse eighteen reminds us “and the gates of hell will not overcome it” in other words no power on this earth shall overcome His Church.
We are over a hundred days into what we know as lockdown, when we have not met as the gather Church. We have in many ways been like the scattered Church that we read about in Acts 2, that time immediately after Pentecost when they weren’t wholly reliant on Church buildings but saw their numbers added to daily. The amount of people accessing Church through the many different platforms available, whether it be through website and the written word, YouTube, live stream, Facebook or zoom has gone through the roof and is amazing!
There is no doubt that there is frustration with not being able to be the gathered Church, and we recognise that we are made to gather together to worship God, however rather than thinking that we are going backwards in the times we find ourselves in we are going forward! In times like this the verse in Romans 8:28 comes to the forefront of our experience…. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We are in difficult times and it has impacted everyone, but through it all God has undoubtedly built his Church through this pandemic. Not only has there been many new people accessing Church and finding there way to or back to God but there has been many more people meeting through the week for Bible studies, prayer meeting and times for people to come and just share life with friends who in normal times wouldn’t have had the time to do so.
Peter was a man with failings, William Booth was a man with failings, he wrote about them in O boundless Salvation, and yet God took these men and built His Church. I have my failings and would imagine you have too, and yet through the work of His Holy Spirit God will guide and direct our lives and He will build His Church.
More than ever people need the Lord and need His Church to be a light in this dark and difficult world. Take sometime just now to listen to this wonderful piece of music arranged by Major Howard Davies. There is real challenge for each one of us in verse two, that we are called to take His light to this world. May we never shy away from that calling and that we will continue to build His Church.
Verse 1 Ev'ry day they pass me by, I can see it in their eyes; Empty people filled with care, headed who knows where. On they go through private pain, living fear to fear; Laughter hides the silent cries only Jesus hears. Chorus People need the Lord, people need the Lord; At the end of broken dreams he's the open door. People need the Lord, people need the lord; When will we realise people need the lord. Verse 2 We are called to take his light to a world where wrong seems right; What could be too great a cost for sharing life with one Who's lost? Through his love our hearts can feel all the grief they bear; They must hear the words of life only we can share. Final Chorus People need the lord, people need the Lord; At the end of broken dreams he's the open door. People need the lord, people need the Lord; When we realise, that we must give our lives, For people need the lord. People need the lord.
A Celtic blessing from the Northumbria community
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
Blessing May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Thank you for reading
Written by Captain Wayne Pryce
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