An online version of the planned Parade Service with Rainbows
Today is Mothering Sunday, a day when we celebrate the all-powerful, unconditional love that a good mother gives to her children; a love which reflects God’s love to us.
This is what God says to us today:
“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
Even when you pass through deep waters, I shall be with you, to keep you from harm.
You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you.”
Pray with me now:
Holy God, we praise you for the gifts of life and love.
We thank you for everything we can still enjoy.
We thank you for the people in our lives whom we love and who love us.
As we celebrate the richness of a mother’s love, we ask you to restore our trust in your love and our faith in human love.
Be especially close to those for whom this day brings pain rather than celebration and make us aware of your love holding us now.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, who taught us this 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Rainbow group (little girls) had already started thinking about a special service for Mothers’ Day and we called it “Super Mum.”
The Rainbows thought about how their mothers protect them from bad or frightening or difficult things going on in their lives. Here are some of the suggestions they came up with:
- Your Mum stands up for You
- She protects you from people who are rude
- Your Mum takes away spiders (my Mum used to do that for me)
- She talks with you about your worries
- Your Mum helps you with handwriting
- And maths
- And English language
- She reminds you when you need to do things.
- Your Mum turns on the light to frighten away monsters
- And stays with you until you fall asleep
- Your Mum switches the News off if you are upset
- And she gives you special cuddles when you are scared
One of our Rainbows even had a book called “My Superhero Mum.”
I hope that lots of you have had mothers who are super-heroes: taking care of you; helping you through difficult times; standing up for you when you are in trouble and always ready with a cuddle when you need one.
The BIBLE teaches us that God loves us just like the best possible mother. God wants to be there for us when we need him; he wants to see us grow into happy, good and loving people; he wants to protect us from things that will do us serious harm.
And you might think that God is not doing a very good job of loving us right now, with this terrible illness threatening us. There are a lot of things we do not understand about life and about God and sometimes we just want to shout at God and say ‘You are Not Fair! You don’t really care about me at all,” just as we sometimes shout at our Mums like that and feel very cross with them because we have ended up in a bad place and they have not been able to stop us.
There are a lot of things I do not understand about life and about God, but I would like to share just two things that I think I might understand, and which might help you today.
First: Living is not just about what is going on, on the outside of us but about what is going on inside. There are some terrible things that threaten our lives: like serious illness, having no food, losing your home in a forest fire. But there are also terrible things that threaten us on the inside: things like anger and hatred and fear and stress and greed and guilt and despair. When things like this get a hold on us, our lives can easily be ruined no matter how fit and healthy or rich and popular we are. We do not just need protection from dangers on the outside but, perhaps even more, from dangers on the inside.
All over this country we are hearing amazing stories of people who are dealing with this crisis with great bravery and kindness because they are somehow protected from letting fear and anger and despair get the better of them
And second, the very best protection a good mother can give her child is surely to make that child strong enough eventually to protect herself. Our mothers cannot look after us for ever. We have to grow up and if our mothers have done a good enough job, we shall find ourselves strong and loving and brave enough to cope with difficult times ourselves. (Sorry, Mum, I have not yet learned how to pick up a spider myself, but I am not as scared as I used to be)
So maybe, what we need to do today, rather than scream and sulk at God because we are in such a difficult place right now, is to ask him to keep on making us strong; strong enough to deal with this frightening situation; to be brave and kinder to each other; and that we ask God to protect us from becoming so angry, scared and hopeless that we end up making our lives and ourselves and our nation a whole lot worse.
St Paul, one of the very first leaders of the Christian church, wrote about how God gives us a set of body armour (only it is for the soul) to protect us from being hurt and destroyed by bad things happening in our lives.
Over the last few weeks, Charlie, our Youth Pastor, has been talking about each piece of that armour in turn and he is going to talk to you now.
So week 1 we had… well this is harder without participation!
Let me read for us to catch up,
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this ooh this is this week’s bit!
Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
Really cool one this week when you hear how Paul who wrote this part of the Bible,
tells us about the ultimate part of defence, a shield, and he tells us to use it against fiery arrows!
So who is firing these arrows? Well the evil one, the Devil, whatever name you choose to use, he who enjoys when we sin, or move away from God,
This shield is waaaaaay more important than protection from arrows,
were not looking to shield from human things, we’re talking about walking into battle with the devil.
What do these arrows look like? Because you might be sat there thinking, Hey Charlie, I’m with you so far, we’ve got the belt, the shoes and the breastplate, we get that bit, but now youre talking about protecting myself from someone shooting arrows at me?
We don’t know what these arrows will look like, because there are way too many ways to even think about,
it could be through another person, doing something or saying something that causes you to doubt,
it might be something you might think is bad luck,
or a world-wide virus that scares us. And what should we do?
Well week 1, 2, 3 and 4 have been about defence, defend yourself against everything that isn’t good. Anything that isn’t from God.
For next week we get our final piece of defensive armour and then we will get to see what God wants you to do when you’re all armoured up!
So this week, we’re advising you not to go into all the world, because most of you will be staying in, but when this is over, when you can go out, when you utter the words “I’m glad things are back to normal” this is the time to go out into the world. But for now, be prepared, practice putting that armour on, because the devil doesn’t stop, he isn’t self-isolating, and my goodness staying at home for a long time with people is going to be tough, shield yourself St Johns, follow what is good, and what is from God.
Just before we go, Churches Together in England have had a great idea for us all to get involved in.
“This Mothering Sunday, 22nd March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action.
At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that He holds.
At 7pm this evening, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life,Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.”
SO this evening- why not LIGHT A CANDLE
Place it carefully on your window sill where it will not set fire to the curtains.
Look at the light shining- a light of hope that God will bring us through this time. And say a prayer.
- for all those in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the COVID-19 virus,
- for all cleaners
- for those working in health and social care
- especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
- for those providing, delivering and selling all we need
- for those helping others in their neighbourhoods
- for those trying to cheer us up and encourage us
This is the prayer we are invited to say together:
Father God, we long for You to help us in the midst of all this uncertainty.
Please help people who are facing financial concerns, worries about their family, having plans ripped away and people concerned for their mental health.
Please help us as a planet to deal with this effectively.
Please help doctors and scientists find a cure,
Please help our experts as they face criticism and enormous stress.
We are sorry that we put so much dependence on this world to bring us happiness and deliver us peace when You are the only answer to that. Thank You that we have You and know You and You love us.
We pray, in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit,
Well thank you for joining with us in this really difficult time, we’d love to hear from you in any way you can feedback to us, Facebook, email or the website are the easiest we imagine.
Please do keep checking the website for more details of services we are able to offer as we get more direction from the URC and the government.
Please stay home if directed, keep in touch with those around you, and use this time as a blessing,
Learn something new,
Have a lie in,
Read or “dust off and then read your Bible”, why not open the book of Ephesians and read the whole letter rather than the snippets we’ve spoken about for the past few weeks.
We pray as we finish. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all, forevermore amen