Taking up the cross

Service of the airwaves
BBC Radio Leeds
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
Sunday 28th February 2021

The east window at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, lower panel, depicting, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, "I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
The east window at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, lower panel.

A bright start to this morning, so bright that I had to wear sunglasses in our east facing kitchen in order to cook the bacon and eggs. This was the between service breakfast having heard the local radio service at 8 a.m. and the 10.45 YouTube service from Holy Ttrinity Huddersfield was was yet to start.

For the prayers in the radio service we were asked to get a pen and piece of paper. I say this now so that you can get one before the end of this blog… Still sitting there? Please go and get a pen and paper.

Something that was in both services was the Lord’s prayer and something I noticed again when saying, “Our Father” was how we never pray alone. Prayer is never just between me and God, but each of us praying join in with the prayers of the church. we never plead to God alone and never confess only our own sins but the sins of groups we were involved with. Odd this as both services were about mainly individual commitment.

I’ll start today with the Holy Trinity, led by Licensed Lay Minister Bev. No scaffolding could be seen on the church floor and the plastic sheeting was taken from the organ. Whenever we reopen the church again for regular worship it looks like we are ready.

Talking of ready, last Monday the government issued their road map for getting out of Covid. Bev said that Jesus gave us a road map out of the mess we had created.

The sermon series is Encounters with Jesus. A personal encounter story from Pat told of how she had looked for a church with online services last March. Her son had Covid around this time, can I trust God? she asked herself. Here she found a living live faith in the faces of the people. She told us that once she gave herself to God and trusted him it was like having cataracts taken away from her eyes. God is on our side now, she said and fills the Gap in her life.

Today’s service was about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. retired Vicar Howard, preaching on John 4:1-26 made points on the five things said by Jesus in that passage.

  1. “Give me a drink.” this is a normal encounter. It also says Jesus was tired. Jesus while incarnate had the same limitations that we have.
  2. “If you knew who is speaking.” People may know about Jesus and God but don’t know the facts. We know the Messiah
  3. “Do you want the water.” This confused the woman. Jesus was talking about the living water. People fill their lives with a lot of different things that do not satisfy. Do you want the living water?
  4. “Go call your husband.” This was mind-blowing. Jesus knew she had dad 5 husbands and the man she now lived with was not her husband. Jesus confronted her with her unbelief. Words of knowledge can open things up in people’s lives. This was a word of knowledge told to Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and that was the tipping point
  5. “I am He.” He reveals to her that he is the saviour.

Can we be the conduit through who God speaks to us to our friends? Come and be filled with the living water. Let Jesus confront with us with our sin and our fear.

The earlier service was something special. The one on the BBC local radio was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Many people give something up for Lent but the reading was about taking something up. Matthew 16:24-28.

Dr. Hanna Steele preached:

“let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Christianity is not about a list of dos and don’ts but a radical way of following Christ. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Evangelism is an invitation not to a list of beliefs but to a way of living. It is both harder and easier than we imagine:

Harder: It is an offer of switching stories, not just of adding Jesus on to the story we have now.

Easier: It is based on an invitation Christ has already made to everyone in the world.

We pray that we will know how to make this invitation.

What I cannot make clear from choosing a short version from Dr Steele’s word is that she was both offering the invitation gently to the people listening and encouraging us to extend Jesus’ invitation.

The prayers were simple. We were asked to get a piece op paper and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom, then another line across the middle dividing the sheet into four squares:

In the top left square, write something you are grateful for.

Thank you Lord

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
In the top right square write something you need, large or small.

Lord, you know all our needs.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
In the bottom left, write something that is on your heart, it could be the NHS, teachers or the government.

Lord, show your mercy.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
In the bottom right, write the names of people who need to know God’s love.

Lord, be with these people.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Now through the week keep praying from this and keep adding to the squares.

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