Online Sunday service – 21st March 2021- 5th Sunday in Lent

Good morning all, it’s a fine morning here in Renfrew, I hope it is nice wherever you are and you are keeping well. If you have time why not make a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfy seat and settle down to listen to this weeks Sunday Service.

Take care, keep safe and God bless. Iain

 

Audio Version


 

Printed Version

Online Sunday Service

21st March 2021

5th Sunday in Lent

 

Good morning folks, How are you this morning?

I hope you are well.

 

Well I have some good news – our Church is opening up on Easter Sunday !

A very appropriate day – that day of celebration, the day of Resurrection !!

 

But the down side is that I’ll not be able to

provide an AUDIO version on Sunday mornings.

 

But you will be able to see the Sunday Service online once we have all the technology in place in the Church – which we hope to have ready for Easter Sunday. But I will post the Print version for you each Sunday.

 

It’s been a year since I started posting these Services for you – and many of you have told me that you have found then helpful.

But once we are all back to ‘normal’ (whatever that may look like)  and the Churches are all open again, there may be no need for my online worship as  you will be able to go to a Church there and not only see it live but participate in it yourself!

 

It’ll be the difference between listening to a CD or going to a live Show!

 

But I’ll let you know more, once I know myself

Let us pray ~

Loving, Heavenly Father – we unite from our different locations to bring you our worship and our praise.

We come from our different lives, our different homes  – knowing that this is a special day – the Lord’s day – the day we set aside to remember your goodness – your creation – and the day that you rested from your labours.

 

You really are an amazing God – who first spun the Heavens and the Earth – into life.

You are the God who created all the elements that we need – in just the right amount – so that life in all its variety – may grow and flourish.

 

You are God of the Universe – so big – so mighty – yet you are the God who walks and talks with us each day. Who holds us in the very palm of your hand – and you watch over us as we make out way through the complex and sometimes difficult maze of life.

 

You see us stumble and fall – and you lift us up again.

You hear our profane words and you forgive us.

You listen as we ignore, reject and overlook you – as we neglect your written Word – fail to pray – harbouring dark thoughts –

Yet you continue to love us and forgive us, time and time again.

 

What a merciful God you are!

Lord – we hardly deserve such kindness, such forgiveness – and we say thank you, thank you, thank you Lord – help us to show our gratitude and appreciation – not by the words we speak – but by the lives we lead – lives full of love for you – love for each other – and a deep love for our dear Saviour, your son, Jesus Christ.

 

Hear us now we pray – as we spend a few moments in silent contemplation – in open and honest reflection of all the things for which we need your forgiveness –

Hear now – our personal and silent prayers ~

 

…..take a few moments to think about the things you may have said or done – or thought – for which you seek God’s forgiveness…………bring them to God in prayer……..

He hears your words………..

 

We bring our thoughts, our need of forgiveness – and hand them to you – praying that you will forgive us – once more – and in Jesus’ name.

 

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we pray together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

 

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.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

Our Reading for today is taken from

John 12 : 1 – 8 (N.T.)

 

If you have a Bible with you, why not read along with me. Our reading is taken from –
John 12 : 1 – 8      International Standard Version

 

Mary Anoints Jesus

Let us listen to the Word of God

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived, the man whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him.

Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a litre of very expensive perfume made of pure Nard and anointed Jesus’ feet.

She wiped his feet with her hair, and the house became filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor?”

He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief.

He was in charge of the moneybag and would steal what was put into it.

Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone so she can observe the day of my burial, because you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

Amen.

 

This is the Word of the Lord thanks be to God

 

SERMON

 

It’s nice to be sociable isn’t it ?  To visit friends and have them come over – whether for a meal or meet up for a coffee and a chat.

It strengthens our friendships  – and it’s what friends do.

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In our N.T reading this morning we hear of Jesus visiting some friends on the outskirts of Jerusalem among them were Mary, Martha – and their brother Lazarus.

It seems to be a pretty normal kind of visit – we can imagine it – a group of people – chatting, laughing – sharing a drink and a meal – but then – out of the blue – Mary does something which seems strange – to say the least – she opens a jar of mega – expensive perfume – and pours it over the head and feet of Jesus!

 

The oil was called ‘Nard oil’ and was one of the 11 oils used for the incense of the holy temple at Jerusalem.

And it was also used to anoint the bodies of those who had passed away.

And so – it was a very special oil – and a very expensive one too!

 

As Judas reminded them – it was worth a years wages !! – what would that be worth today ??

 

£25 – 30, 000 – maybe more!!!  I wish !!!

 

But this didn’t seem to matter to Mary – nor to Jesus.

“The poor will always be with you” – Jesus said to Judas in v.7  He was saying – “you can look after them anytime – but I am only here for a short time – Mary knows that and is doing a good thing !”.

 

It’s a well enough known reading which has much to say to us ~

And its cleverly crafted narrative gives us a whole series of character sketches about the main people in the story – Martha – Mary – Judas and – of course, Jesus.

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It shows us that we can serve God in different ways – as different as we all are.

 

There is the practical Martha – busying herself – serving at the table – she loved Jesus and she showed that love by the work of her hands.

 

Many of us can – and do that too – serve God in practical ways, using our ‘God given’ gifts and skills.

 

It’s true to say that we can serve God just as faithfully in the kitchen – or cleaning God’s house as in the pulpit.

And Jesus recognises that.

 

Then there was Mary –

 

She knew what lay ahead for Jesus – He had told His disciples a week or two before that He must go to Jerusalem and die – and Mary wanted to show her great love for him while she could.

 

And Jesus knew this too – for in verse 7 Jesus says ~ “leave Mary alone! – it was intended that she save this perfume for my burial.”

 

But Mary couldn’t wait.

Another week or so – and it would all be too late – and so she acted on impulse – if she didn’t do it now – while she had the chance – she may have thought – then perhaps she wouldn’t be able to do it all.

 

Perhaps it ought to remind us – that we should not put off those things which are important – ‘strike while the iron is hot’ as the saying goes – for the opportunity to do good for someone – may not come your way again.

Perhaps St. Ignatius had this passage in mind when he wrote these words ~

 

“Teach us Lord to serve you as you deserve.

To give and not to count the cost.

To fight and not to heed the wounds.

To toil and not to seek for rest.

To labour and not to seek for any reward –

Save that, of knowing that we do your will”

 

Mary served Jesus – in her own way – she gave to Him and didn’t count the cost.

 

Was she extravagant ? – yes – but for Mary the cost didn’t enter in to it – it wasn’t about the money – it was about her love for Jesus.  That was the guide to her actions.

 

In both Martha and Mary – we see a humility and a willingness to serve Jesus – each in their own way.

 

Judas, on the other hand, was dark and difficult – a very different character altogether.

 

For Judas it was all about the money – he complained that the money would have been better spent on the poor – but of course, Judas cared little for the poor.

His great love was money – indeed verse 6 tells us that he was a thief.

And  very soon – he was to betray Jesus – for just 30 pieces of silver.

 

Love money or love God – you can’t serve both – the Bible tells us.

 

Judas loved money

Mary and Martha loved Jesus.

 

And then we see Jesus – laid back and unruffled. “stay calm” he was saying to Judas – “chill out” as we might say today – “there’s more important things in this world than money you know !”

 

But Judas remained unconvinced – just as many do today, sadly.

But Jesus could see through Mary’s wild extravagance – He could see that it wasn’t about the perfume – or the cost – it was about the action – the symbolism of being anointed – and the love that was behind it.

 

Mary wanted to do it – simply because she loved Jesus.

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Different people – acting in different ways – when in the company of Jesus.

 

But you know the line that I like most in this passage ?

 

It’s the last sentence in verse 3 – “and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”. 

 

The whole house was effected by Mary’s actions –

 

Perhaps like one of those calming scented candles which we might burn at home. You know – lavender and camomile or something similar – it’s gentle and soothing scent can be smelt and felt – throughout the whole house – bringing a feeling of calm and comfort  – touching our senses – as we inhale it’s beautiful fragrance.

 

And that too has a lesson for us – it tells us that the way we live and act – has an effect on those around us.

If we are loud and unpleasant – don’t be surprised of those around you act the same!

 

But if we are kind, friendly and calm – living a life if faith, then it will rub off on those who are close to you too – just like the beautiful scent as it ‘winds it’s way’ around the rooms of your house.

 

Mary’s actions have been called – “the extravagant act of love” – and – for me – it’s one of the most beautiful passages in the bible.

 

We think of the Bible as a Holy book – and so it is.

And we think of the people in it – as ‘Holy people’ – and so they are.

 

But when we take a closer look – we see that it also tells us that “Holy people” are just like you and I – flawed, with all our human imperfections – and yet able to serve God, in our own circumstances and in our own particular and individual ways – just as they did.

 

So you and I are ‘Holy people’ too – children of a loving God – our heavenly Father.

 

Each of us has a ministry – different ways of serving God in our everyday lives – and that can take many forms – as diverse as the people we are.

 

We say that Mary was ‘extravagant’ with her love. But in a couple of week–  wee will see that Jesus was to give all He had – His very life – for Maryfor you and for me – and for all who love and accept Him into their lives.

 

Purposefully giving up your lives for others – it really doesn’t get anymore “extravagant” than that !

 

And so – the question is – how do we – you and I – respond to God’s extravagant love for us ?

 

Do we take everything for granted ?

Or do we receive them with gratitude and thanksgiving?

 

How often do we say a simple “Thank you Lord” for all the many blessings that I have in my life?

 

Or are we too busy getting on with life?

 

He doesn’t want our money – some of us have little enough of that to give.

 

He doesn’t want things of this earth – things that we put a value on.

 

All He wants – is you – the most precious thing in all the world.

All He yearns for – is your love, your praise – your worship. Your trust and your faith in Him.

 

That’s the most valuableimportant and treasured thing you can give Him – yourself.

 

Is that really too much to ask – when we think of all that He gave for you – and for me??

 

He suffered  betrayal – humiliation – pain – and death on a cross – so that when – on that final day – when you arrive at the gates of heaven and you stand, holding your breath as your life is scrutinised – you will hear those words – “enter – your sins are forgiven – my Son has paid your price!”

 

That’s what He did for us – what are we doing – for Him??  Or are we too busy??

 

Maybe we haven’t given it too much thought –

Aye – maybe it’s time we did!!

 

And in Jesus’ precious name.

 

Amen

And may God bless this preaching of his holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be his.

 

 ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

 

I’d like you to take a few moment just now to think, roughly, how many minutes, hours you spend each day – each week – looking after your appearance – you physical well-being.

Brushing your hair, applying make up (the ladies can think on that one too !) – choosing what you are going to wear – what you are going to eat – and so on.

And it’s important  that we do these things –

 

And now – take a moment to think how much time you spend each day – each week looking after your spiritual well-being – reading the bible –  time spent in prayer, communicating with God and so on.

15mins ? – 10 mins ? – 5 mins ? – less ?? – none at all !??

 

We are all made up with both physical and spiritual sides to our being – and our spiritual good health is as important – if not more –than our physical health –

 

Our bodies are for this life – our spirits, our souls are for all eternity.

 

Which do you spend more time cultivating ??…

 

Isn’t it time we all prioritised our lives – and spent more  “quality time” with God ??

 

You know that’s all He wants from you – it’s all He’s ever wanted.

Is to spend  quality time with You.

 

So here’s a thought for us to take away and think about.

 

If someone were to write a 24 hour diary of your life – a “day in the life of you” – how often would prayer feature in it ?

Mmmmmmmm ~ it’s a thought isn’t it !?

Amen.

 

Blessing

 

And now – go out in love, joy and peace –

 

Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..

 

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.

Amen.

 

May God bless you –

         and may He Bless your loved ones too.

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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 “Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10