Good morning folks, I hope this finds you well and coping with the current restrictions as well as you can. Here is today’s Sunday Service, it is something a wee bit different so I hope you find some comfort as well as food for thought. You will need a cuppa and a comfy seat. Take care, keep safe and God bless. Iain
Online Sunday Service
“Come, just as you are…”
Good morning all, How are you today? Are you managing to keep safe and warm? The only good thing is that the nights are certainly getting lighter! Roll on the sunny days of Spring and Summer.
Today we will be doing something a wee but different – we will be hearing about a man who was invited to a meal – and he got much more than he bargained for!
You will need a seat for this one – so why not close your eyes and imagine the scene….
But before we get on to that, l let us pray ~
Loving, Listening Lord, we may be separated by distance and circumstance, but are united in our love for you – our creator and our sustainer.
You are a God who cares for each one of us and we thank you that we can know that we are truly and deeply loved.
Today we bring you our concerns for those who are ill or facing the end of their journey. Draw especially close to that who are suffering with the effects of the Covid pandemic which is causing so much pain and grief in our communities.
Give your strength to those who are struggling – and your resilience to all those who are working, whether on the front line or behind the scenes, to combat this awful virus.
Father we know that we have no right to ask favours of you – our lives are far from how you would them to be – but we know that you love us and hear our prayers.
Forgive us father. And hear us now as we take a few moments for our personal and silent prayers for those we know and love…………………hear now, our silent prayers……………..
Lord, hear our prayers – and hear us now as we pray together in faith – 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.
Our Reading for this morning is Ephesians 2 : 4 – 10.
Let us hear the Word of God –
A I read from Paul’s letter the early Church in Ephasus
And if you have a Bible handy – why not read along with me –
Ephesians 2 : 4 – 10
“God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. 5 we were spiritually dead because of the things we did wrong against God. but God gave us new life with Christ.
You have been saved by God’s grace. 6 and He raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with Him in the heavens. He did this for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. 7 He did this so that for all future time He could show the very great riches of His grace. He shows that grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus. 8 I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believe. You did not save yourselves. it was a gift from God. 9 You cannot boast that you are saved by the work you have done. 10 God has made us what we are.
God made us new people so that we would do good works.
This is what God has planned for each one of us”
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God.
Many of the hymns we sing – our prayers – indeed our very faith – talks of– being ‘acceptable to God’ – being accepted by God and welcomed into His glorious kingdom…..
But this whole business of being accepted into Heaven can be a difficult concept for us.
With our weak faith and with all our faults and failings – why would God want us ?
Here is a lovely narrative that I’d like to share with you – perhaps you might like to close your eyes and imagine that the person in the story is you –
Perhaps it is !!….
Let’s hear his story ~
“There I was, standing in the rain – looking in the window of a beautiful restaurant…
“This can’t be the right place. I thought.
I shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t possibly be welcome here.
I had been given an invitation several times, by several different people, and I had finally decided to see what this place was all about.
Quickly, I glanced down at the invitation that I clutched in my hand.
I scanned over the words,
“Come as you are. No jacket required”
Yes, I was at the right place.
I peered through the window again and saw a room of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy.
all were neatly dressed, dressed in fine garments and appeared strangely clean
as they dined at this exquisite restaurant.
Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered and torn clothing, covered in stains.
I looked unclean – and I felt unclean.
A foul smell seemed to consume me and i couldn’t shake off the grime that clung to my body.
I turned around to leave, but the words from the invitation seemed to leap out at me…
“Come as you are. No jacket required.”
I decided to give it a go.
Mustering up every bit of courage I could find, I opened the door to the restaurant and walked up to a man standing behind a podium.
“Your name, sir?” he asked me with a smile.
I mumbled my name without looking up.
I thrust my hands deep into my pockets,
hoping to conceal their stains.
He didn’t seem to notice the filth that I was covered in and he continued,
“Very good, sir.
A table is reserved in your name.
Would you like to be seated?”
I couldn’t believe what I heard! A grin broke out on my face and i said, “yes, yes of course!”
He led me to a table, and sure enough, there was a place-card with my name written on it in a deep, dark red.
“The colour of blood” I thought!
As I browsed over the menu, I saw many delightful items listed.
There were things like,
“peace,” “joy,” “blessings,” “confidence,” “assurance,” “hope,” “love,” “faith,” and “mercy.” and much more….
I realized that this was no ordinary restaurant!
I turned to the front of the menu so i could see what the name of this place was.
In beautiful script was the name
The man returned and said, ” I can recommend the ‘special of the day’ sir.
With it you are entitled to heaped portions of everything else on the menu”.
You’ve got to be kidding! I thought to myself. You mean… I can have all of this?!
what is the ‘special of the day’?”
I asked with excitement ringing in my voice.
” everlasting life of peace and tranquility – pain free, worry free” was his reply.
“Yes please!!” I practically cried out.
Then, as quickly as I made that statement, the joy left my body and tears filled my eyes.
Between my sobs I said…
“but, look at me. I’m dirty and nasty.
I am unclean and unworthy of such things.
I’d love to have all of this, of course – but, I just can’t afford it.”
Undaunted, the man smiled again.
“Don’t worry sir, your bill has already been taken care of by that gentleman over there,”
he said as he pointed to the front of the room.
“His name is Jesus.”
Turning, I saw a man whose very presence seemed to light up the room.
He was almost too much to look at.
I found myself walking towards Him
and in a shaking voice I whispered,
“Sir, I’ll wash the dishes or sweep the floors or take out the rubbish .
I’ll do anything I can do to repay you for all this.”
He opened his arms and said with a deep smile,
“Child, all of this is yours if you just come to me.
Ask me to clean you up and I will.
Ask me to allow you to feast at my table
and you will eat.
remember, the table is reserved in your name.
all you must do is accept this gift that i offer you.”
Astonished, I fell at his feet and said,
“Please, Jesus. Please clean up my life.
Please change me and sit me at your table and give me this new life.”
Immediately, I heard the words,
“It is finished.”
I looked down and pure white robes adorned my body.
Something strange and wonderful had happened.
I felt new, like a weight had been lifted
and I found myself seated at his table.
“The ‘special of the day’ has been served,”
the Lord said to me.
“Eternal salvation is yours.”
we sat and talked for quite a while
and I so enjoyed the time that I spent with Him.
He told me – me of all people,
that he would like for me to come back as often as i liked for another helping from God’s grace.
“If your reserve of love, compassion, patience or faith should run dry – then call on me and I will replenish them”
He made it clear that He wanted me to spend as much time with him as possible.
As it drew near time for me to go back outside into the “real world,”
He whispered to me softly,
“And don’t forget, I am with you always.”
and then, He said something to me that I will never forget.
“my child, do you see these empty tables?”
“Yes, lord. I see them. What do they mean?” I replied.
“These are reserved tables…
But the individuals whose names are on each ‘place-card’ have not accepted their invitation yet.
Would you be so kind as to hand out these invitations to those who have not joined us as yet?” Jesus asked.
“Of course,” I said with excitement as I picked up the Invitations.
“Go then, and tell all people the good news.” He said as I turned to leave.
I had walked into God’s Grace dirty and hungry. Stained in sin.
And Jesus cleaned me up.
I walked out a brand new man… robed in white, His righteousness.
And Paul’s words to the Ephesians echoed in my ears ~
“for it is by grace that are you saved – through faith:
And this not because of anything you have done : it is the gift of God:”
and so, I’ll keep my promise to my Lord.
I’ll go. I’ll spread the word.
I’ll share the Gospel… I’ll hand out the invitations.
And I’ll start with you.
Have you been to “God’s Grace”?I can recommend it –
there’s a table reserved in your name,
and here’s your invitation…
“Come as you are. No jacket required.”
Will you accept his invitation to life everlasting? Worry free – pain free ?
And then share that most wonderful news with someone else ? – I pray that you will – it’s just too wonderful to keep to ourselves !
Shall we sit for just a few moments – as we take all this in.
Let us pray –
Loving, listening Lord – we thank you for your invitation to join you in Paradise when this life has runs it’s course.
Help us to follow your path, guide in your way so that on that final day – we can know and be absolutely sure that you are waiting for us – to bless us with life everlasting in that heavenly place, free from worry, free from pain – there to live in eternal peace.
How blessed I am!
May you know 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 know and love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.
Have good week – and Please – keep safe
Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.
“Be still and know that I am God”
Psalm 46 : 10