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Church Without Walls – The Message for our Homebased Congregations in Leigh – February

The message for our
Homebased Congregations in Leigh

Greetings to everyone reading this at home. I hope that you are keeping warm and feeling encouraged as the evenings slowly lengthen, and the snow drops can be seen in the garden. I also like to buy my first bunch of daffodils on the 1st February, to mark St Bridget’s Day. Their vibrant colour cheers me on to remember that new life will come again.

From a church liturgical point of view, this month will end with Transfiguration Sunday on the 26th February. It is a sure sign that God’s grace is at work, providing us with a foretaste of God’s power and glory, that might sustain us through the more challenging weeks of Lent.

Psalm 96 is often chosen as the psalm for the day, calling everyone to joyful praise.

1 O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 Let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

The Psalmist here, doesn’t hold back, but seems to be providing a singing lesson. God is enthroned on high and not just the people but all the earth needs to respond in joyful singing. To recognise God’s glory makes the earth sing with praise. It all reminds me of my Methodist Tutor at college, who when we were getting bogged down and side tracked by debate, would quote his short hand version of the Westminster Catechism, “What is the chief end of human life?” “To glorify God and enjoy God forever.”

To do that, we don’t have be running round completing the umpteenth task, infact that might get in the way. We can do it sitting in a chair, looking out into our world; through the people who visit; the radio we listen to or the TV we watch. The Psalmist also doesn’t imagine you glorifying God alone. No, he pictures us joining with, “the sea,” “the fields,” “and all the trees,” praising God (verses 11-12).

The implications here are huge. As we go about our day, meditating and praising God, we are partners with all the people of the earth (verse 7) and with oceans, soil, trees and air, glorifying God together. It seems very clear that we are all in this together. Which reminds me of a reading we will find at the end of our Lenten journey, when Jesus is told by the religious leaders to keep his disciples quiet. He responds by saying that even if they do, the stones of the temple will shout out praises to God. For Jesus, even the stones sing the glorious praises of God!

So as you sit there, talking to people; looking into the garden, noticing the new signs of life beginning to emerge; catch the changing pattern of the sky and birds visiting the garden, remember that you are well placed to be singing this “new song.”

And this “new song” recognises our partnership with all people and creation, and our responsibility and enjoyment to live in harmony with these partners in praise. As you learn the notes of that song, you could teach it to others as they call to see you!

May God bless you this month and remember, aside from Songs of Praise on the BBC, The Sunday Service is broadcast every Sunday on Radio 4 at 8.10am and there you will hear a complete service, including a sermon!

Rev Julia Feb 2017