Updated: Nov 20
We meet in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Hymn: Thy hand O God has guided 689
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
We come to say sorry to God:
My brothers and sisters,
as we prepare to celebrate the presence of Christ
in word and sacrament,
let us call to mind and confess our sins
Father, you come to meet us when we return to you:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
Song Gloria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep4TLwVM9mQ
Nehemiah- Rebuilding and Restoring https://youtu.be/HdDvqWtVkro
Julie’s Quiz- what do remember about Nehemiah?
Song: For I’m building a People of Power.
Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-7 read by Anthony
1 This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished.
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city. 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about the other Jews who had returned from exile in Babylonia. 3 They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned. 4 When I heard all this, I sat down and wept.
For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5 “Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6 Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7 We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant.
As we look at the story of Nehemiah this morning you might wonder what that’s got to do with St Catherine’s and celebrating our church.
We’re thinking about what happened to Nehemiah and thinking about what is happening to us here thousands of years later.
Nehemiah and God’s people were in trouble. Most had been taken to a foreign land as prisoners, those left in their city Jerusalem were struggling. Nehemiah sat down and cried.
Then Nehemiah prayed.
In his prayer, Nehemiah both said sorry for the things that people had done wrong and he reminded God of God’s promise to look after his people.
In our time, we also have people feeling fed up, sad, isolated or depressed because of what’s happening around us. We might well feel overwhelmed and want a good cry. It’s OK to be not OK. Share it, tell someone.
And if we’re doing OK- we can be kind and supportive of those who do feel sad.
Nehemiah saw that because his people had forgotten God, they had got into trouble. We might also wonder what we can learn from our situation- how we treat the natural world, how we need to work together with countries across the world, how we are to care for each other.
And we say sorry for the things that have gone wrong.
Nehemiah didn’t know what to do but he did know that God was there. When we’re stuck in a situation that we don’t think we can change, we can turn back to God.
Nothing divides us from God’s love. Not COVID, not lockdown, not the Oh No! We’ve got something else to put up with… Not anything.
We might cry, have a good think, but then ask God for help.
And on St Catherine’s day when we think about where we were this time last year- just into the new building, more people joining us, lots of children and young people, we might feel sad that it’s all so different now, and wonder what we can possibly do.
Start with prayer.
Bible reading: Nehemiah 2:2-6 read by Temi https://youtu.be/_yEmtmga0qE
2 so he asked, “Why are you looking so sad? You aren't sick, so it must be that you're unhappy.”
I was startled 3 and answered, “May Your Majesty live forever! How can I keep from looking sad when the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The emperor asked, “What is it that you want?”
I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5 and then I said to the emperor, “If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city.”
6 The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request. He asked me how long I would be gone and when I would return, and I told him.
Courage and Action:
Nehemiah actually worked in the foreign emperor’s court. The emperor saw how sad Nehemiah was. Nehemiah prayed again and then was incredibly brave. Nehemiah asked the emperor for help.
I’ve been thinking in assembly with Aldermoor Primary about courage. It’s not feeling brave and strong all the time but perhaps feeling all sorts inside but then doing the right thing anyway. Nehemiah was sad but he trusted God to help and did a very brave thing. He asked the emperor to let him go back to Jerusalem.
However we’re feeling, whatever situation we might be stuck in, we can have courage. Finding a way forward means asking for help, finding out what we can do.
For us at St Catherine’s, we’re looking at all sorts of ways we can still grow as a church. The afternoon tea group and bible study and flourishing; I’m so impressed with all of you who keep turning up to zoom even on days when the tech is a bit wobbly.
We’re being creative about Christmas- so we can still tell the story of God coming to this messed up and troubled world.
Bible reading Nehemiah 2:17-20 read by John C
17 But now I said to them, “See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let's rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace.” 18 And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me.
They responded, “Let's start rebuilding!” And they got ready to start the work.
19 When Sanballat, Tobiah, and an Arab named Geshem heard what we were planning to do, they laughed at us and said, “What do you think you're doing? Are you going to rebel against the emperor?”
20 I answered, “The God of Heaven will give us success. We are his servants, and we are going to start building. But you have no right to any property in Jerusalem, and you have no share in its traditions.
Resist and Persist:
So Nehemiah goes back to Jerusalem, supported by the emperor to rebuild the city walls. God is with him, God has heard his prayers, and when he talks to the people there, they’re enthusiastic and make a start. How great is that?
But almost immediately, there’s opposition. First their enemies start to mock and threatened them and as we heard in the video- the trouble goes on and on.
And we are in another lockdown. We got through the summer, thought things had improved and now we’re back inside again. There is hope up ahead with a vaccine, but it’s still tough right now.
For us as individuals and us as St Catherine’s church, knowing that God’s people have always faced tough times should give us some comfort. What’s happening may be very new to us, but Jesus warned his followers that
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
I asked someone this week how they were- they said- we just have to keep going. There will be opposition, difficulty, and trouble. But God is still with us. Jesus warns us that there will be trouble but Jesus is bigger than all of that. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Our challenge is to keep going.
Still to pray; still to worship and take comfort from God’s word. Still to connect and keep connecting with other people. Still to reach out to those who are on the edge of church, those we might just come across who are in need.
However long this pandemic goes on for, it is not forever. We will rebuild our church, God’s love will not run out, we will come to a new season where we will thrive.
Let us declare our faith in God.
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Alice: Children and Young People
Lord our God,
Thank you for guiding the children at St Catherine’s church, and inspiring them to be who they are and embrace what they love. Right now as children dwell in sorrow of the damage of corona virus and are unable to attend their schools or colleges, I pray you give them strength, remind them you will always walk beside them.
Even though we are unable to attend church, we still lift your name on high. Thank you for your love, protection and guidance even when life tries to tear us down, we know you are there. We are not alone.
Lin: Afternoon Tea Group
O Lord we are thankful to have such a wonderful and supportive community during these difficult and fearful times. Thank you for the fellowship that St Catherine’s provides to our wonderful and diverse community. You truly are an awesome God.
Keith: Mission Partners
Pauline: Bible study group
Moji and David: AV team
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
Song: My Jesus My Saviour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jABSW-UuT1o
The Lord be with you
and also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.
You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.
In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.
He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.
On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.
At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.
As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.
As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.
With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
We continue with the words of The Lord's Prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen
We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.
Every time we eat this bread
and drink this cup,
we proclaim the Lord’s death
until he comes.
God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.
Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Song during communion: Breathe
Prayer of Spiritual Communion
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Song Rescuer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u2DFGKeARY
To a troubled world peace from Christ. To a searching world love from Christ. To a waiting world hope from Christ.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.