Left breathless in awe and wonder

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
Sunday 21st February 2021

40 blogs of Lent — day 5

A Stained glass window showing a barefoot adult and child being beconed towards an open door. Above the door the old Huddersfield coat of arms is flying.
The east window at Holy Trinity Huddersfield depicting, “when I was a stranger you welcomed me.”

Not much has happened in the Pape household this week, the high point is that I was able to speak with my father at the home where he lives after four weeks of not being able to get through, either the staff have been busy to pick the phone up or Dad has been taking a duvet day. I have stayed indoors, I am letting the immunity from my Covid jab two weeks ago build up. I will be venturing out this week for permitted exercise, world be warned.

The BBC local radio service was led by a Catholic worship group, I have forgotten their name as this service is my Sunday alarm and I stayed in bed unmoving, but it was about how we can be more reliant on God as God is trustworthy.

Holy Trinity building was a mess, there were ladders and scaffolding on sheets covering the floor. Then a cut to the balcony to show finished decorated walls with no more peeling paint where the damp had been. Back on the ground, Youth Minister Wayne announced a new sermon series “Encounters with Jesus.” The series on Mark’s Gospel will continue after Lent. The first encounter is Nicodemus meeting Jesus in the dark. We recited John 3:16 filling in missing words as an aid to remembering the verse. The passage we were to hear was first shown in cartoon form, I liked the smiley Jesus and the gentle tone of voice used by the narrator as he said Jesus’ words.

A testimony was next. David a preachers son, spoke about how being a preacher’s led to him being taunted at school. In the end God was put on standby in order to fill the urge to be the one who was looked up to. David became drug dealer, the No 1 quick fix, because it made him feel needed. He said he I had to be in a place where he was restricted: that was prison. Learned to be free on the inside. There is a revolving door in prison because on the outside many prisoners cannot cope with all the freedom; it is safer inside, there is too much freedom outside. David says he now has a new life, having Jesus is a rude awakening, He met Jesus on an Alpha course led by missionaries from Holy Trinity Brompton.

There was a confession where each of the ways we have let God, ourselves and other people down was met with, “Christ have mercy.”

The prayers reminded us to come into Gods presence to ask for things. The things included vaccine for countries that need it and our mission partners.

Tina from the Green Steps team announced Fair Trade Fortnight, starting on Monday. Fair Trade brings a better deal for third world producers.

Before I talk about the sermon these were the songs used:
This is Amazing Grace talked about about how God leaves us breathless in awe and wonder.
My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. said the other one.

Vicar Mike gave the sermon. Before the reading he spoke about round the world yacht racer Tony Bullimore who capsized in the southern Ocean and was in an air pocket in the boat’s hull for 4 days. Hes first words on being rescues were “Thank God, its a miracle.” He later said that being rescued was, “Like being born all over again.” How can someone be born again?

The reading was John 3:1–21, please read this before continuing with this blog post.

The reading was about a night time encounter, Mike continued. Why Nicodemus went at night is not recorded but it is probably because Jesus was seen as a trouble maker by the Pharisees. Pharisee, hard core men adhering to a set of rules and looked up to by the people, Nicodemus was also on the Sanhedrin, the political, cultural and religious leaders of the Jews. He has seen something positive in Jesus, but Jesus goes deeper and talks of a relationship with God. The Kingdom of God, says Jesus is open to everyone. You must be born again spiritually. Religious things like keeping rigidly to rules are powerless to get you into the kingdom of God.

Mike said that he became a Christian at 18 and decided to follow Jesus. Shortly after that he was in Hull on a 3 week mission with Youth With a Mission, YWAM. He was lodged for those weeks with Anne, an older very nice woman who was not a Christian. At the she asked about what they were doing and was born again. Jesus bringing a transformation, the hub of which is faith, trust and belief.

Jesus’ unrelenting love shown in his mercy, holding back ftom giving people what they deserve, Jesus came not to condemn but save. Jesus became sin for us and took out punishment. In the Holy Spirit we become alive in him: You are a child of God in a literal not metaphorical sense. Born again is not a cultural thing in a political sense, it means that we are no longer dead, no longer condemned.

Nicodemus turns up twice again in John’s Gospel. In chapter 7 he stands up for Jesus and is mocked, at the burrial, Nicdemus provides the spices for Jesus’ embalming at great expense to himself.

It isn’t enough to hear about Jesus but you need to know Jesus for yourself. To some knowing Jesus is a distant memoty, something they did a while back, but knowing Jesus is not just a one off event, we are alive now. The Holy Spirit wants to keep on renewing us. Is our faith waning? Do we need the Holy Spirit to fan us into flame?

Mile then led those who were challenged by the sermon in prayer:

Those of us who know we don’t know the transforming power of Jesus, say Jesus thank you for dying for me and that you offer me new life.

Those who need more of God’s power in our lives say, “Jesus, reignite a passion for you. Holy Spirit come and anoint us with more of you. Thank you for your love and your power. Amen.”

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