An opportunity missed?
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 15th March 2020
40 Blogs of Lent: Day 17
I finished last week’s blog about the church service with the quote from a worship song, “”I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” That has been a theme running through the week. Do not fear cropped up on social media midweek and on Friday an email from the YouVersion Bible app also said do not fear. There is a lot of apprehension about because of Covid-19, God is saying to Christians to trust in Him and not be afraid.
On top of that, I was reminded of my New Year posting here where I felt God was saying to me this year, “If you’ll take the limits off of me, I’ll amaze you with my goodness.”
All of which has nothing to do with church this last Sunday. We are on a theme during Lent of, “Looking through the cross.” This week it was “The cross and ambition.” Lay Reader Bev preached. But before that, we were given advice on the Covid-19 virus which is pandemic. Church bibles have been removed from the pews and for a second week we are not having biscuits with the after-service coffee and tea. We shall be updating what we do in line with the current advice.
But on with Bev and the sermon:
What does success mean to you? The word applauds success. Ambition is good but it can drive selfishness. The reading, from Philippians chapter 2, said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Christians often have a hard struggle with selfishness.
God calls us to be ambitious. In Genesis chapter 1 he says to mankind,‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Some people have what a bishop has called Numeritis, an obsession with numbers. “What do you earn,” is one version of this.
We should be ambitious to preach the good news.
A child was excited to be in a Nativity play as a shepherd and was dressed in the usual garb for the role of dressing gown and tea towel. Whilst waiting to go on he saw a different costume of purple and a crown. Throwing down his shepherd’s crook onto the stage he shouted, “I want to be a king.” There is another king who did this in reverse. He left his throne and fancy clothes behind, becoming nothing so that others could become great, even dying for them.
James and John asked Jesus to let them sit on thrones on his left and right in his kingdom. Jesus said:
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We are to be like Jesus and not use our privileges for ourselves after people of the world do but to use them to help others after the pattern of Jesus.
John Stott said that we long to see Jesus crowned with glory we are ambitious to see this happen. We serve others when we take on leadership roles. Our ambition becomes cross-shaped. Let us desire to be the best disciples we can possibly be.
I feel an opportunity was missed here. We were told that if we had to isolate ourselves to contact our life group leaders who will try to sort something out. but what about other people? Are those in our street able to get out to the shops to buy food? Surely it is only a small step from us asking for help if we need to isolate to being ready to be the help for others if we are well. It’s part of loving our neighbours as we love ourselves.
After the sermon words were put up from a Psalm. I think it was this one, but cannot be sure. The meaning about being safe in God is the same.
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:9–10 NIVUK
What I am left with after this service is not from this week’s service, but the same words from last week:
I’m no longer a slave to fear,
I am a child of God.