APC 11th October 2020 “Our Father in heaven.”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Sunday morning worship. Today we’re beginning our new series as we spend a few weeks looking together at The Lord’s Prayer. This morning we will be reflecting on the opening line, “Our Father in heaven.” And discovering what we can learn from this about our personal relationship with God. But first let’s take a moment to pause and to talk to our heavenly Father, let’s pray…
Eternal God, we come once more to this familiar place at this familiar time, even if we can’t see all the familiar faces! We come as we have come so many times, to listen, to join together in well-loved prayers, to listen again to well-loved words of scripture and to encourage one another with our well-loved benediction.
Eternal God, we thank you for all that is familiar; all that has become so much part of our lives. But save us we pray, from ever becoming over-familiar – over-familiar with you, so that we lose the sense of awe we should feel in your presence; over-familiar with one another, so that we lose sight of the worth in each one of us; over-familiar with our faith, so that we come to see only what we expect rather than everything you would show us; over-familiar with the world about us, so that we fail to glimpse your hand at work in the wonder of creation.
Speak to us through all we know and love so well.
Eternal God, open our eyes again to your greatness, our hearts to one another, our lives to all your people in every place, and our souls to the work of your Kingdom across the world. Deepen our insight, increase our love, enlarge our vision, widen our horizons.
Speak to us through all we know and love so well.
And so, inspired by all that you have done, all you are doing, and all you have yet to do, may we worship you more truly, and serve you more faithfully, to the glory of your name, Amen.
Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer thoughtfully and sincerely together…
Our Father, which 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.
Introduction to Kids Video
It’s been lovely over the last few months to see so many of our children in church and to see them really listening and watching the videos we’ve shown them with great interest and producing some amazing colouring in pictures. Well, we don’t want you to be left out now that we’re back online, so starting today each Sunday we will be having a slot just for you and afterward you can print off a colouring sheet from our church website to help you remember what we’ve learned and to have some fun! So if your kids aren’t beside you right now, why not pause the recording and call them in to watch a Puppet called Douglas explain what we are saying when we pray the Lord’s Prayer together in church…And at the end of this video I’ve a few words to say to the children so don’t let them rush away.
(BEGINNING PART 2)
Kid’s Talk Summary
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is like a perfect mam or dad. We know that He loves us and wants to be our friend. It doesn’t matter how young you are you can talk to God. That’s called praying. Over the next few weeks we’re going to learn much more about how we can talk to God. I hope you talk to him. Maybe you could make a little video telling us how you’re getting on with that and what God means to you or even what you find difficult about talking to Him. Just remember He loves you and you can talk to Him any time anywhere about anything. Hope you enjoyed tuning in today and don’t forget there’s a colouring in sheet on our church website that mam or dad can print off for you. That way you can have fun while mum or dad or your brothers or sisters are watching the rest of this service!
Colouring Sheet Link
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/christianity-bible/lords-prayer (Sheet Number 7 - Doodle)
Introduction to Bible Reading
Bible Reading Matthew 6 v 1-13
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
Reflection The Lord’s Prayer- “Our father in heaven”
The older I get, the more I realise that during our lives we never get our ‘L Plates’ down. There are always new things for us to learn.
Jesus was always teaching his friends new things about God. That’s why his friends were called ‘disciples’. The word disciple means, ‘a learner’.
One of the best ways to learn something is to watch someone else do it. For example, if you want to learn how to knit, the best way is to watch a friend doing it and then have them watch you to see what you are doing well and to show you where you are going wrong.
As Jesus’ friends watched him, they saw him do one thing a lot. They saw Jesus do this by Himself, they watched him do it with friends, they observed him doing this in the Synagogue and before any big decision. And like all faithful Jews, the disciples saw Jesus do this in the morning, at dinner time and at night.
Of course we are talking about prayer. The amazing thing is that even though He was the Son of God, Jesus still prayed often. Since the disciples spent so much time with him over a 3 year period, just from watching Jesus, they would have learned that prayer must be something that is important.
As well as watching someone do something, another good way of learning is to ask questions. As Jews, Jesus’ friends knew that talking to God is important, but to be honest, it seems that they still didn’t really know how to do it. Or perhaps looking at Jesus’ life and the things he did, they probably felt that His prayers were more effective than their own!
So, one day one of Jesus’ friends was very brave. He stuck up his hand and he asked Jesus, “Lord, can you teach us how to pray?”
What do you think Jesus said? Do you think he was cross that one of his friends asked that question? Do you think he said, “Haven’t you been paying attention!?”
No! Jesus was really pleased that his friends had asked this question. Because now Jesus knew that prayer was something the disciples were struggling with. Now He could help them to learn how to pray.
You know we are just like Jesus’ friends. If we are honest, most of us find it hard to pray. It’s hard talking to someone you can’t see. Sometimes we don’t know what to say!
So it’s good for us to be honest and say to God, “Lord Jesus, please teach me how to pray!”
In order to teach his friends how to pray, Jesus actually said a prayer. The good news for us is that 2 of Jesus’ friends, Matthew and Luke, listened to Jesus’ prayer and wrote it down. You can find it in Matthew and Luke’s gospel. The shorter version which is in Luke is probably the most ancient and most accurate, but both versions are used in the worldwide Christian church. This prayer is called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
Since lockdown I think we have all become more conscious of our own frailty and our need of God’s help. Therefore I thought it would be good for us to take a few weeks thinking about our relationship with God. Hopefully as we look at the Lord’s Prayer together all of us will feel encouraged to talk to God and to learn a little bit more about what that might look and feel like. And if you’ve been to the Prayer Course over the last few weeks, don’t worry, this is all completely new material and will enable us to go even deeper in our understanding of Jesus’ famous prayer.
This morning I want to draw our attention to the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer and see what lessons we can learn. Jesus says to his disciples, “When you pray begin with these words… ‘Our Father who is in Heaven’.”
This is a very short and very simple phrase, but if we take a few moments to stop and think about it, we will soon discover that it teaches us some really profound and very encouraging things about God and about the relationship we can have with Him.
The first lesson we can learn is that
1 God is a Father to us:
Here Jesus says that when we talk to God we can call Him ‘Father’. The word he uses is the word Aramaic word ‘Abba’ which literally means ‘Dad.’
I wonder what you think God is like? Some people think that God is like Santy. He’s just there to give us whatever we want. He can never say ‘No’ to our wishes. But of course that is not true. God knows better than we do about our lives. Often He may say ‘No’ to us about things we thought would be best for us. It may be ‘No’ to a particular job, or dream or ‘No’ to a particular relationship or a certain course of action.
Then of course some people think God is like an angry Gard or an angry teacher. They feel that He is always watching out for us to make a mistake so that He can bash us or punish us in some way. This too is a completely wrong picture of what God is like.
By telling us that we can call God “Daddy,” Jesus reminds us that God is like the best parent in the world. He made us. We are special to him. He loves us very much. He wants to listen to us. He wants to help us. He is thrilled when we take time out to sit down and talk with Him and also when we shoot off silent prayers in the middle of a busy day.
So the first lesson we can learn from Our Lord’s Prayer is simply this- we don’t need to be afraid of God. We can go to Him and talk to him just as we might go to our best friend or a good parent. When we go to God we can be certain that He will give us a sympathetic and a listening ear.
“Do you have a right image of God, do you understand how much He loves you?”
2 God is ‘Our’ Father:
The second lesson the Lord’s Prayer teaches us is that God is ‘Our’ Father. Jesus doesn’t teach us to say “My Father”. In fact the words, “I, Me, Mine” aren’t found anywhere in the Lord’s Prayer. You know, sometimes people think God belongs to them- to their particular church or to their particular country.
The truth is God doesn’t belong to anyone. God is the Father of all humanity. Because of that, He loves everyone He has made. He longs for everyone He has made to get to know Him and to love Him. And because God is the Father of all humanity we need to remember that means to some extent that we are all brothers and sisters. It doesn’t matter if we are black or white, rich or poor, what country we come from or what language we speak. We are all part of the family of the world that God has made and loves. That means we need to respect and appreciate each other and the differences between us. It means we need to try our best to love and forgive each other and to live in peace with each other rather than fighting and squabbling.
“Do you ever think that you have a closer access to God than someone else?” “Is there someone who for whatever reason you are thinking badly about? Is there someone you are refusing to accept is made in the image of God just as much as you?” “Is there someone that you need to pray for and start loving again, because that is the way God feels about them?”
Because of the fact that He is the Father of all humanity I believe God listens to the prayers of anyone who honestly seeks to talk to Him. The story of Cornelius in the book of Acts is a great example of this truth. Even before he became a full blown Christian who had the Holy Spirit living inside him, Cornelius prayed and God heard and answered him in quite miraculous ways. So let’s not be too quick or arrogant to write people off.
But at the same time, we also know that when someone turns to Jesus and invites them into their lives they become an adopted child of God in a whole new way. I know this is true because that was my experience. Growing up I attended church willingly every week for nearly twenty years. I was baptised and confirmed but if I’m honest, I never really talked to God like I talk to my friends. But all that changed instantaneously when one evening I knelt at my bedside and invited Jesus Christ to enter my life in a real and living way. When I got up from that prayer I didn’t feel any different but boy did I realise in the weeks and months to follow that God had answered my prayer. From that day until this, my relationship with God has been totally different. I go to church because I want to. I talk to God like I’m talking to you now. I’m more conscious of living right and I think I’ve become a much less selfish individual. While God has always been my Father, before I became a Christian he was like a distant father who I never saw. But since the day Christ entered my life, God has been like a father who is always by my side ready to listen and wanting to share every aspect of my life.
What about you? Is God like a distant parent or is your relationship with him close and living and real?
3 God is our Father ‘in Heaven’:
The last lesson I want to share with you from the start of the Lord’s Prayer is this, even though God is a Father to us, who loves us and wants us to be best friends, He is still ‘in heaven’. That probably means a number of things. It of course reminds us that as well as being present everywhere at once by His Spirit, God also lives in His Special Kingdom. There He sits on the throne and rules the world.
It also reminds us that even though we are made in God’s image and we can reflect His good character, at the same time God is different to us. He is so much better than us. He is so much wiser than we are. He is much stronger and more powerful than anything we can make. That means as well as being able to talk to God as if He is our best friend, we also need to really respect Him. That’s why Jesus tells us in the second line of his prayer to say, “Hallowed be your name.”
When something is really special to us we say that it is “Hallowed”. For example, if a sports stadium was a really famous and special one, we would say that the grass on the pitch was ‘hallowed’ turf. When Jesus teaches us to say to God, “Hallowed be your name,” he is reminding us of taking time to pray, “God your name is very special”.
Very often when a new baby is born the mam and dad will give the baby a name because the name has a special meaning. Do any of you know what your name means? Erin fro example means “a girl from Ireland”.
When we talk about God’s name, we mean everything about God- His character. What He is like. So when we say to God, “Hallowed be your name” what we are really saying is, “God everything about you is really special and we want everyone to respect You.”
You know that’s a really important lesson for us about how we should pray. It’s great to know that we can come boldly and confidently to God like a young child will burst into its father’s study or a young pup will jump onto its owner’s lap. But it’s also really important for us to remember just who we are approaching when we pray and to do so with appropriate reverence and respect.
We need to come to God humbly, confessing our sins, and with a genuine desire to listen to His advice and a sincere commitment to doing what He says. If we don’t, the reality is we will make God sad and even cross. If we are disobedient or disrespectful or ignore him for long periods, we may in fact be forcing Him like any loving parent to have to discipline us.
How that discipline will show itself in our lives I’m not quite sure but if we stop long enough to think about it, we may just realise that the hand of our God is heavy upon us because He is trying to get our attention or teach us a lesson that we really need to learn.
So when we pray our Father “in heaven” it’s a reminder that we should respect God. We need to be willing to do what He says. He deserves our weekly worship and all the praise that we can give. If we find that we are losing interest in Him, then we need to stop and be really honest with Him and try to get our relationship with Him back on track. The story of the Prodigal Son reminds us that God stands with open arms just longing for us to pray to Him again.
In life, we are always learning. One of the most important lessons is how to pray.
Jesus shows us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. It begins, “Our Father who is in Heaven”.
Here Jesus reminds us not to be afraid to come to God. He is a perfect Father who loves us and longs to share conversation with us.
Here Jesus teaches us a lesson we are quick to forget. God is not ‘my’ God. He is ‘Our’ God. No one has a monopoly on Him. He loves everyone He has made and hears the prayers of all who seek Him sincerely. But when we place our trust in Jesus our relationship with God becomes much more intimate than we had ever thought possible.
Here Jesus shows us that while we should approach God confidently because He loves us, that we should do so with the greatest respect. We should not be too familiar with God. We must remember that He is different to us, so much greater and wiser. We must approach Him with respect, with a willingness to obey and with the praise and worship He deserves.
Prayer for others
Lord we pray for our government and for the members of NPhet. Help them to work well together and give them great wisdom in knowing how we can best keep people safe and at the same enable as many people as possible to maintain their livelihoods. Help us as individuals and as a nation to be as supportive and understanding of them as possible in these days of very difficult decisions.
Lord we thank you for all our ministers and church members who are doing their best to continue to provide online services. Thank you that we have had many weeks when we have been able to meet in church. Help us to accept these recent changes and to stay close to you and to each other through these online interactions.
We thank you for the many people working on a vaccine to provide immunity against Covid-19. We pray that they would continue to make quick progress to find a safe and cost-effective result.
We pray that in your mercy just as viruses in the past have burned themselves out, that you would cause this Corona virus to do the same.
We think especially for the people that increased restrictions will hit the hardest both financially and emotionally. We pray too for those people who are elderly or have underlying health issues who are most likely to feel afraid.
Lord give us great wisdom to know how to help and support those who are most vulnerable in these days.
We pray especially for hospital workers and ask that you might give them courage and strength for every day.
We thank you that our schools and colleges have been able to stay open both physically and online. Continue to give wisdom, courage and patience to all teaching and support staff and grant that these services will continue to be a blessing to all the students who benefit from them.
Lord thank you for the continued blessings that we enjoy despite the difficulties that we face. Thank you for food and clothing, for good homes, for the beautiful part of the world that we live in, with so many places to walk and so much beautiful scenery to enjoy. Thank you for our pets, for Xbox and Internet and for how we can keep in touch with family and friends through modern technology. Thank you for each other and the relationships we can enjoy.
We remember again all those who are sick and those who are coming to terms with the loss of someone they have loved. Lord as we draw near to you, please draw near to us and give us all the help and grace that we need.
Take a few moments to bring your own prayers for people on your mind to God…
Lord, we offer you all these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s reflection on the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer. Please do spend some time in quiet over the next couple of days and ask yourself, what do the words, “Our father in heaven” mean to me?
Unfortunately with the new restrictions we are unable to meet for church services or for bible studies or face to face meetings for the next few weeks.
But we still have the internet and we still have Zoom. So don’t despair.
For the next while I’m planning to have online reflections on Sundays and on Wednesdays to keep us encouraged and in spiritually good shape. We’ll be looking at the Lord’s Prayer and in between having the odd special service.
At the end of November we will be entering the wonderfully reflective season of Advent. Each week I will include a video clip for the children and we’ll post a printable colouring page for you to download to help them learn the lesson for the day.
Next Sunday we’re going ahead with our online Harvest Celebration. I know that some of the Sunday school children will be taking part, we’ll have some wonderful choir pieces from all ages in our church, and we’ll be hearing personally from representatives of the two charities that we will be supporting this year. One from Purple House Cancer Support in Bray and one from the Arklow Lifeboats. Let me encourage you to be generous in your financial support of these charities. You can contribute using the church Bank details that you will find on the church website or you can ring Aleida our treasurer and organise an alternative method of payment that would be more suitable for you. Oh, and I might just squeeze in a little scriptural reflection about Harvest as well!
So there’s lots to look forward to. So let’s keep positive and don’t forget to tune in again on Wednesday morning when we’ll be reflecting on what it means to pray, “Hallowed be your name”.
Do stay online at the end of this recording to listen to a beautiful song reminding us of the amazing truth that God is a perfect parent to us and loves us so much.
In the meantime, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
Do not worry about anything in life-
what you’ll eat, or what you’ll wear.
Look at the birds of the air,
or the flowers in the field.
If God takes such good care of such transient things,
how much more can you depend on God to care for you?
For you have a Father who loves you,
a Father who knows all your needs.
So don’t be afraid.
Instead, live lives of love and generosity,
storing up your treasure in heaven
instead of here on earth.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
Link to colouring in sheets
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.