Virtual Services

2nd Sunday before Lent – February 7th 2021

Children’s activity sheet download here

Welcome

Intro

Good morning – wherever you are, welcome to our online service today.  Whatever sort of week we may have had I hope that in today’s service we will all find something to encourage us, to challenge us, to support us and to enable us all to worship our God together as His people even though we may still be physically apart.  So let’s start with an opening prayer.

Opening Prayer

Almighty God,
you entered our world in Jesus,
and know the secrets of all hearts.
Enter our lives by your Spirit,
cleanse us by the flame of your love,
and turn us to respond to you,
that we may worship as you deserve,
both with our lips and with our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Worship

Praise

Sing or listen to one or both of these…

Confession

Based on Psalm 32

O Lord our God,
we rejoice that you forgive our transgressions
and cover our sins.
Give us clean hearts and transparent spirits.
When we try to hide away and keep our sins secret
we find them a burden and they weigh us down with guilt.
But when we admit our sins,
bring them into the open and confess them,
then you forgive them and you take away our guilt.

Pause for silent confession

We rejoice in you, O Lord our God,
for through your Son you forgive us our sins,
deliver us from the torments of the wicked,
and surround us with your steadfast love
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[ and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1
1-14 (NRSV)

This morning’s passage from the very beginning of John’s gospel is one of the most well known and well loved passages. For me is one of the most poetic – “It starts with ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God” – beautiful isn’t it? And first of all I thought that was what I was going to be preaching on. But I’m not……

On Monday this week we had a major power cut at home. It turned out to be the main fuse from the external electrical supply and we had to call out the engineers. But until they came our house had no power and therefore no light. That wouldn’t be too bad in summer but because it was winter we were plunged into darkness and it was virtually pitch black at the back of the house with no ambient light from the road.

And being in the pitch dark can be at best disconcerting and disorientating but at worst extremely frightening. Lighting a simple candle in the middle of that darkness dispersed the gloom and enabled us to search the house for other sources of light. As an aside, the power cut also meant we had no access to electronic devices so we had to actually talk to each other!!

But in the context of this passage it made we wonder what we think of when we talk about light. Light comes in many forms, in a candle, through a bulb, lighting a match, luminescence from organic creatures such as glowworms or fireflies and the spectacular aurora borealis – I’m sure there are many more you can think of.

But for all of us here on earth the most important source of natural light is that from the sun and it is true that without the heat and light from the sun, earth would be a lifeless ball of frozen rock. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and gives energy to the growing green plants that provide the food and oxygen for life on Earth.
But whilst this amazing burning star that God created gives us heat and light for the world, it is not the Light of the World. This is Jesus – the Word of God made flesh. As our passage said “In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”.

Throughout the Old Testament various forms of light were synonymous with the presence of God. In Psalm 104 we hear that God “wraps himself in light as with a garment”. In Exodus 33 Moses is privileged to see God’s glory but is hidden in a rock to protect him from seeing his fully glory. In Psalm 27 David declares God to be his light and salvation. God is not a light – God is light itself and is the complete opposite of darkness. This does not mean absence of light as we would commonly consider darkness to be, but darkness as evil.

The light of God is His holiness, righteousness and goodness, which is in contrast to the darkness of evil and sin. Light is part of the essence of God. He is completely, absolutely holy with no sin, no iniquity. This is our God. This is Jesus. Later in John, in one of the ‘I Am’ sayings, Jesus himself declares himself to be the Light of the World.

But how does Jesus being the Light really affect us? I would like to suggest three ways:

Firstly, as we have already mentioned, light dispels darkness. The light of Jesus shows us for who we are – and that is not a pretty sight. There are those long to change that, who, on hearing who Jesus is and what He offers, will turn to the light and accept the life and light that Jesus brings and will be forever changed. But there are those for whom that exposure to light is extremely disturbing and who shrink away from it.

In John 3 we read “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” In the same way that wood lice scurry away when a rock is overturned because they hate the light, some people will turn away from Jesus and reject him.

The light reveals truth about Christ and his salvation. It also reveals the truth about ourselves – our sins, our imperfections and our need for a Saviour. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). This means life in all its fullness, in relationship with Jesus and living in the power of the Spirit.

Secondly, in the same way as the light from the sun enables plants to grow, as believers living in the light of God enables us to grow in our Christian lives. Not to stay as seeds but to flourish, to develop, to blossom. All plants have a tendency to grown toward the light and some flowers even follow the light throughout the passage of a day. In the same way, as we turn to follow the light of Christ we too we grow and become the people that God intended us to be.

And finally, light can give great comfort. Sitting in our darkened home last week the light from the candles we lit gave us security and comfort. The Light of Christ shows us the way ahead so that even when darkness closes in, when the world seems bleak and the future uncertain Jesus will drawn close, put his arms around

Now having covered my three points you might have thought that was the end of the talk today – and maybe taken a sigh of relief. But that cannot be the end because not only does Jesus say that “I am the Light of the world,” but to his followers he says, “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”(Mt. 5:14-15). It is not enough to receive the light and life that Jesus brings but each and every one of us is commanded to share that light with others. Too many Christians accept the forgiveness and new light and life in Christ and yet stifle attempts to grow and develop. Too many can be members of a Christian fellowship or church and receive the nurturing, support, teaching and fellowship that is offered and yet keep them to themselves. That is not what Christ calls us to do.
No, we are called to bring truth to the blind and ignorant, to bring hope to those in despair, to share the salvation of Christ to those weighed down by sin, to bring love and acceptance to the forgotten, the unloved and the lonely. In a world that is suffering and in darkness we are called to be His light.
The Diocese of Sheffield has a whole website devoted to being Lights for Christ and I would encourage you all to take a look because there are some wonderful resources to be used individually, in groups and as a church.
John told us that “In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”. (John 1: 4-5) Jesus tells us that “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). We do not only receive Christ’s light as believers and walk in Christ’s light as His followers we need also to reflect Christ’s light to the world around us.

So my question today is – do we reflect Christ’s light? And how do we do that?

What do you think of when you think of Christ as the Light of the World?

In the middle of this pandemic, how have you shared the light of Christ in the community around us?

Think about the last time you were able to share your faith with somebody. How did that make you feel? Pray for that person and for opportunities to share what you believe with others.

https://www.lightsforchrist.uk/

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Gracious and generous God,
you enter your creation in your Son, Jesus Christ.
Open our eyes to his presence in this time and this place,
and teach us to discern and welcome him in all your children.

Strengthen your Church as it strives to follow his light and to spread it throughout the world.

Illuminate the darkness of our own lives, and cast out the doubt, the fear and the confusion that separate us from you.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Bountiful God,
you created the world in all its variety, beauty and mystery.
Teach us to be good stewards of your creation.
Guide all those involved in the work of conservation,
and give wisdom to those entrusted with decisions about the uses of the earth’s wealth.
Sustain and protect those who are denied a fair share of the world’s resources as a result of the exploitation of land and human labour.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Merciful God, in the incarnation of your Son,
every human condition and circumstance has become your dwelling place.
We bring before you those parts of the world where people live in the shadow of fear, oppression or conflict.
Give hope to those who have lost families, homes and livelihood as a result of war.
Enlighten with your wisdom all those who strive to bring order out of confusion,
peace out of discord, and justice out of tyranny.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Compassionate God,
in your Son you share the whole of our humanity.
We pray for all who suffer.
Uphold those in the darkness of doubt, desolation or despair.
Enlighten those who can see no meaning or purpose in life,
or who are anxious about the future and fearful of the way ahead.
Comfort and heal those who are ill, and guide and support all

those who care for them

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

 Eternal God,
Christ your Son is the beginning and the end.
In him, the whole of human experience is contained and redeemed.
We pray for those we have lost recently and for those who grieve.

Grant that we may come, with them, to live in the light of your heavenly kingdom.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Faithful God,
We praise you for your unfailing care for us and your creation.

We bring before you our own needs and concerns

and we commend ourselves and all whom we love and serve

to your unfailing love.

Amen

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Close

Closing Prayer

Based on the prayer of St Patrick (sometimes known as St Patrick’s Breastplate)

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me and before me.
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in hearts of all who know me.
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger,
Christ in quiet and in roar.

Love, blessed Trinity of three,
Bound in unity
Who guides my journey.
I will arise with strength of heaven
Trusting in Your light
To guide my journey
Shine before me
Lead me home.

Power to guide me, might to hold me,
Wisdom teach me, watching o’er me.
Ear to hear me, hand to guard me,
Love to conquer every fear.

 

Blessing

May Christ take us back to the beginning with God,
remaking us in his life and light,
and fitting us to testify concerning that light;
and may the blessing of Almighty God, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always. 

Amen.

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church