APC Service Order 30th August 2020 “Love is not rude”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Sunday morning worship. Today we continue our studies on what it really means to love using Paul’s description we find in 1 Corinthians 13. So far we have discovered that true love ‘is not selfish’ that ‘it keeps no records of wrongs’ that ‘it is not jealous’, ‘it is not proud’, ‘it does not take delight in the misfortunes of others,’ it is patient, and it is kind. Today we will be reflecting on the truth that ‘love is not rude’ and seeing what that means for us. But as always, let’s begin by talking to God. Let’s pray…
Loving Father, we thank you for your guidance during these difficult days, for leading us safely through times when the future seemed dark and the present uncertain.
Whenever we have needed you, you have been there.
We thank you for the support you have given when we have felt disheartened, the courage to keep on believing when we have been tempted to doubt, the strength to persevere despite adversity.
Whenever we have needed you, you have been there.
Loving Father, may all we have experienced, force us to lean hard into you and to trust in your continuing purpose for us. May you give us food for our faith that will sustain us in times of difficulty yet to come. May you inspire us to serve you just as you have served us.
Whenever we have needed you, you have been there.
Lead us forward we pray and help us to continue in the path you set before us, secure in the assurance that whatever we face your grace will be sufficient for us and your strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Whenever we have needed you, you have been there.
Thanks be to God, Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (All say 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.
Bible Reading 1 Ephesians 4 v 17-32
Instructions for Christian Living
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Bible Reading 2 1 Corinth 13 v 4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Reflection “Love is not rude”
If you’ve ever thought that people are becoming more and more rude then let me assure you that you aren’t becoming senile nor are you just becoming boring in your old age. In fact, rudeness is becoming so much of an issue in our modern world that Universities and Businesses are funding large research projects on the subject and popular writers are embracing the topic with enthusiasm. In his very funny book “I can’t believe you just said that,” Danny Wallace investigates this new wave of rudeness that threatens to overwhelm us.
But what does rudeness look like in our modern world? Well, when I googled “What is rudeness?” this week, I was surprised at the endless number of possibilities. The exercise, definitely made me reflect on my own way of living, even though I probably consider myself to be someone who tries to be kind and polite.
At home rudeness can express itself as leaving cups and wrappers for someone else to clear, reaching across someone at the dinner table, entering a room before knocking, being noisy when someone else is trying to sleep, hogging the remote, not recharging the laptop, being late for dinner, leaving razors in the shower tray – and those are just the things that I need to work on!
At work rudeness can look like turning up late and clocking off early, constantly interrupting others with idle chit chat or irrelevant messages, taking the credit for other people’s work, whispering in the corridor or gossiping about the boss, belittling an employee or ignoring them when a superior enters the room, not answering an email or throwing work onto someone else at the last minute or making decisions with just a few people before the wider meeting even starts.
In church rudeness raises its ugly head when people talk or answer their phones regularly during the service. When we refuse to sing a particular song, when we interrupt someone’s conversation to get home more quickly, when we embrace someone inappropriately or without asking their permission, when we constantly arrive late or ramble on too long in our preaching and praying, when we gossip about someone or ignore them entirely, when we always take the best seats or the first cakes and sandwiches at a function, when we go ahead and organize something without running it through the proper channels.
In the wider context of our day to day lives here are some of the most common examples of behaviors society considers ‘rude’-
Arriving late, checking your phone during a conversation, playing your music on speaker in a public place, rsvp-ing at the last minute, arriving at a party empty handed, talking exclusively about yourself, interrupting a conversation, not introducing someone, asking ‘prying’ questions, telling white lies, gossiping, bringing up touchy or controversial subjects, posting obnoxious comments on social media, texting or emailing rather than talking, littering, excluding someone from information or ‘forgetting’ to invite them, taking credit for the work of others, spreading rumors, being unkind to shop or restaurant staff, blocking aisles, not picking up your dog litter, not caring about your kid’s behavior, being noisy, skipping the queue, allowing your dog to bark incessantly, not returning your trolley, treating the elderly with disrespect, putting the nose of your car out at a junction or tailgating someone, using the last of something and not replacing it, taking a disabled spot or parking on double yellow lines, putting someone down, dressing inappropriately, pretending not to see someone you know, not greeting someone you pass or not thanking someone who lets you out in the car with a wave, not saying please or thank you, sharing information with a third party or ignoring the opinion of someone else, constantly questioning a referee’s decision.
When you really look into it, one thing is for certain, on occasions and in particular circumstances, all of us can be, and at times are, rude.
Given that fact, does it really matter? I mean, if everyone’s rude at some point what harm can it be? Isn’t it just something we should learn to shrug off with a bit of humor?
Well, no. That’s why Paul says to the Corinthian Christians “love is not rude.” If you read Paul’s entire letter to the Corinthians you will discover that they were being rude in a number of different ways. They looked down upon others, they didn’t value the gifts or the opinions of others and they acted selfishly and disruptively in their worship services. This manifested itself by people interrupting one another to speak during the service and by others shouting out difficult questions during the service rather than asking them more discreetly or at a more appropriate time. We know that this created huge tension and division in the church and that ultimately history records that the church in Corinth had no lasting impact on its community.
The reason that businesses and universities are currently researching and publishing so many materials on this subject is because people are very concerned about the growth of rudeness in society. It seems that rudeness is equated with strength and power and that politeness and humility are regarded as weak. As such, rudeness is sadly often rewarded by promotion and the media spotlight. Politicians rant and name call and get elected. Journalists who shout the loudest get the most air time. TV and radio hosts interrupt and belittle their guests. Movie and book reviews that use the harshest language receive the highest google rankings. Another worrying trend is the deeply negative impact all this is having on individuals’ lives and the effectiveness of businesses.
Scientists have discovered that just one rude comment in a life and death situation can decrease a surgeon’s performance by as much as 50%.
In a survey of 800 managers and employees who had been treated rudely, 47% decreased their time at work, 38% deliberately reduced their quality of work, and 78% were less committed to the organization.
One study called the ‘Looking Glass Effect’ examined the consequences of ignoring the common courtesy of maintaining eye contact with those with whom we work. One group were positioned around work stations where eye contact was essential, the other were placed in cubicles and only communicated via computer terminals. The group that interacted visually were less aggressive, more cooperative and more creative. The study proves that when we see humanity, we receive a running commentary on how someone else is perceiving us.
Other studies have proven categorically that rudeness damages creativity and collaboration because people waste extra mental energy trying to avoid interacting or worrying about will happen if they do. They have shown that witnessing just one unpleasant interaction leads customers to generalize about other employees, the organization and even to avoid the brand.
Where rudeness is not challenged, performance, team spirit and productivity soon deteriorate.
You know, it’s the same for us in the Christian church. If we do not ‘love’, if we are ‘rude’ to one another and don’t take that seriously, it won’t be long before our relationships are affected and our witness to a watching world will be damaged irrevocably. That’s why love is the most important thing and why we must learn by God’s grace to be polite and courteous instead of being rude.
So how can we do that? Well one thing I would advise is to educate ourselves about the different ways that it is possible to be rude. You know we all have blind spots. It’s only when we read books like Danny Wallace’s “I can’t believe you just said that,” or when we research a topic online that we really begin to see areas of our lives where we might need to change. God uses these things and we should not despise them. But of course the other thing we must do in tandem with this, is to pray. We need to regularly ask the Lord to search our hearts and lives by His Holy Spirit to see if there are areas of our lives either in our attitudes or our behaviors where we are being rude and actually causing hurt or offence to other people. Even when we have discovered things about ourselves that we did not know, nor may not actually like to admit to, we then need to pray and ask God for the help and the power to change. Unfortunately this is not something that is a one off experience that will do us for life. This is something that we must do on a constant basis from now until we reach heaven. Trust me, I wish there was some other way, I wish it was easier and more immediate than this but this is what it means to embrace the process of ‘sanctification’. As the song says, “little by little every day, little by little in every way, Jesus is changing me, sometimes it’s slow going but there’s a knowing that one day perfect I will be”. So read, reflect in quiet, and pray, pray, pray.
The last thing I want to mention is “How should we react to rudeness in others?”
Again there are so many things that I could say. It’s really a whole topic on its own. So I would encourage you to google it and to look for both scriptural advice and wise advice from people who have experience in this field. Here are a few quick-fire tips to help stop the spiral of rudeness.
When someone is rude, try not to take it personally or to react immediately and in your anger. Bite your lip, take a deep breath and pray. Ask the Lord to help you to love, even if someone is treating you as an enemy. Try to respond with a quiet word and with kindness. If you can, use humor to diffuse a situation. Try not to escalate the situation. Try to empathize if you can. It may be that behind someone’s rudeness there is constant pain, some stress at home or a deep hurt that is the root cause. Take time to weigh up whether to let it go, or to have a face to face chat about your concerns or about how you are feeling. Choose the right time and place to have this discussion. Always be a good role model and remember there are times when we are rude too. If all else fails despite all your efforts it might best to involve a superior or third party or to avoid the person as much as possible.
Paul says, Love is not rude. Sadly rudeness is on the rise and it is part of all of our lives. It’s something that is potentially very destructive for all our relationships and our witness as a church. Therefore it’s something to educate ourselves about and to pray regularly for God to help us with. If we do that God will guide us how to live in ways that are courteous and considerate and how to learn to live with difficult people.
Prayer for others
Father today we pray for all those we know who have been recently bereaved, especially those who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances. Bring your comfort, strength, patience and hope for all who are passing through difficult days of grief. Thank you that our loved ones who have died are safe in your presence and that one day in the future we will be reunited with them.
We pray for all those who are in residential care. We remember especially Hilda and Johe. May they know that they are deeply loved by you, by their families, by the staff who care for them and by us, their church family. Give them the grace they need and help them to find little things to delight in each day.
We pray for all who are struggling with their emotional health in these strange and difficult times. Give them the courage to talk about their feelings and enable them to receive every encouragement and every help that they need to feel better in time.
We pray for all those in positions of leadership in government, in health care, in businesses, in sports cubs, in schools and colleges and in churches. Give each person great wisdom, courage and perseverance to make good decisions and to enable life to continue to move forward as safely as possible.
Be with our children as they start back to school. Calm their fears, keep them safe and enable them to have good fun and to make good friends. Help them to be happy in themselves, to discover the gifts and abilities you have given them and to continue to develop emotionally, physically and intellectually.
Father we pray for all the people of Lebanon as they attempt to rebuild their lives following recent explosions. Comfort those who have lost family members and bring courage, hope and the necessary resources to enable people to start afresh.
We pray too for many Christians throughout our world who face hardship and severe persecution because of their faith. We think especially of the situation in Nigeria. Lord God, hear the cries of your people. May what is happening in Nigeria to Christian people be brought to the attention of influential leaders in many other countries. May diplomatic efforts come to pass that will bring an end to the suffering of your people and may there be peace once again between neighbouring Christians and Muslims.
Take a few moments now to bring your own prayers to God…
All these we offer in Jesus’ name and for His sake, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope that you have felt part of our congregation as they are meeting at the same time as this online broadcast. We are sorry that you aren’t able to join us because of your current circumstances but we hope that in the near future you will be able to be with us.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s reflection on the nature of Christian love. Please do spend some time in quiet over the next few days asking the Lord to show you any blind spots in your own life and what it means for us to live in ways that are courteous and polite.
Last week and this week in church we announced an appeal from our Moderator to help alleviate the suffering of people in the Lebanon. If you would like to find out more about this appeal and how you can contribute to it please visit our website where you will find out the details or alternatively you can write a cheque to Arklow Presbyterian Church and post it in an envelope marked ‘Lebanon Appeal’ or make an online debit to our church bank account and marking it ‘Lebanon Appeal’. The details of the church bank account are on the website.
Also, we are hoping to restart our midweek bible study. This year we are holding it on a Monday night from 7 - 8pm in the church starting on the 7th of September. We will observe all recommendations for hand hygiene and social distancing and all participants are advised to wear face coverings. For the first semester we will be running a short course on Prayer called ‘The Prayer Course’ designed by Pete Greig. Each week we will watch a short video focussed on one line of the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards there will be opportunity to discuss the video among ourselves and then to spend some time together in prayer. There is a book which accompanies the course which you can read at your leisure. If you would like to come to the bible study please let Philip or myself know in advance. If you would like to pre-order a book, then again please speak to Philip or myself. Even if you can’t come to the bible study for the whole year, it would be fantastic to see as many of us make time to come to this amazing course. It will inspire all of us to go deeper in our prayer as individuals and as a community of God’s people. There is a link on our website to the course if you would like to find out more…
We are currently looking tentatively at what it might look like for our Sunday School and Youth activities to restart. Our denomination has advised that if these do recommence, they should not start until nearer October. This will allow children time to readjust to returning to school and give us time to assess how that is progressing. There will be further details on this soon.
There will be no midweek recording this Wednesday. Remember if you are planning to come to church next Sunday- do bring your signed Covid 19 policy if you haven’t already emailed that to us.
Remember, we will aim to start at 10.00am as usual but if you can be there earlier than normal that will enable us to get everyone safely seated before we start. Don’t forget to let us know you are coming by emailing Aleida before next Friday evening. That will give us time to arrange the seating for Sunday. In the meantime, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
Go into your week knowing you are loved perfectly, saved eternally, and empowered as a disciple of Jesus to share God’s love with everyone you meet.
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.”
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