Call to worship
When Jesus asked, Simon Peter answered:
‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Let us make the same bold answer,
and let us come together to worship
Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Activity: Who am I?
Think of words that describe people (parent, friend, European, teacher, postman, shy, loud, giggler, frail, etc)
How would you describe yourself? Someone in your house? Someone on your zoom screen?
Are there words that other people use to describe you that are different than the ones you describe yourself? Do you live up to those words? Do we reflect our true identity or mask it?
How would God describe you?
Whatever your answers – first and foremost YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD AND LOVED BY GOD.
Lets claim that promise for ourselves and each other and encourage one another with this amazing affirmation.
Lord God, we come before you in humble adoration. How blessed are we that the one who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven is the one who has the key to our hearts. Thank you, God, for the privilege of being part of the amazing story of faith that sustained our ancestors. Thank you, God, that we know our future is safe with you. Amen.
Lord, thank you that you are always ready to forgive me
when I trust you enough to confess my sins to you,
even when I feel I don’t deserve it.
Be merciful to me, O God.
Forgive me for the times when
just because someone else’s story is different from mine
I don’t always want to believe it.
Forgive me for the times I only live my story,
not seeing the bigger picture.
Be merciful to me, O God.
Forgive me for the times
I see you as less than the Son of God,
and my whole outlook on life
needs a good dose of your love and understanding.
Be merciful to me, O God.
Reading Matthew 16:13-20
Stories have always been very important – it’s the passing on of stories that we learn about so much. When we went into lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic – we heard stories – people’s stories of those who had contracted coronavirus; people’s stories of the keyworkers who found themselves in places they never thought they would need to be; stories of nature being restored (air becoming cleaner, nature being evident, birds and animals being seen and heard in unusual places like the deer wandering along high streets and how can we forget the mountain goats in Llandudno). As we lived in fear and uncertainty and felt discombobulated (to use a Al Lowe word), we began to share stories and learn to do things we had never heard of – social distancing, hand sanitising, zoom services etc. Our church buildings closed, shops closed apart from those classed as essential, offices closed, markets closed, food industry apart from takeaways closed, entertainment industry closed, traffic stopped and we stayed home and self-isolated. In years to come, our stories will be shared in class rooms across the world when the world stopped. History in the making.
In May 2016, I sat on a rock. Not just any rock. This rock was along the seashore. The seashores of Galilee. The seashores where Jesus would have taught, healed and crowds would have gathered. On that hot morning, watching herons fly by and the sun glistening on Lake Galilee, I was extremely nervous as I was due to preach and celebrate communion in a matter of hours. My thoughts whizzing around my head ‘just who do you think you are?’ ‘what right do you have to read scripture, share reflections and break bread’. I was sat outside the chapel of St Peter, Premacy. The place where it is said that Jesus reinstated Peter – the reading we find at the end of John’s gospel. It was while I sat on this rock and pondered that our gospel reading today and the reinstatement of Peter came to mind. Jesus says, ‘and I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.’ As I sat on my rock, pondering the faith that was being held by mere fingertips at the time and thinking of Peter: I asked myself who do I say Jesus is? As tears flowed, the answers came….and as the answers came, the affirmation that I was a daughter of God followed.
Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the son of the living God.’ Who do you say Jesus is? What is your story? Who do you put your trust in?
This week I have been listening to the new album from Philippa Hanna that has just been released. Her song took me straight back to sitting on the rock at Lake Galilee. She sings,
‘Every power in Earth and Heaven knows Your name
You have searched my heart and love me just the same
So when troubled waters rise
On this rock, I’ll build my life
And I will put my trust in You always’
When I wake and enjoy that first cup of espresso, when I am pondering and praying for the day ahead, when I am struggling to put pen to paper, when I have more questions and less answers, when I get mad that I want this pandemic over, when I get frustrated with the things I can’t do: I remind myself ‘on this rock, I’ll build my life and I will put my trust in You always.’
Christ is my rock. Christ is the one who holds my hand, breathes his peace into me, surrounds me with his love and pours His Spirit to equip and comfort me. This is my story. This is my song. This is who I stand and raise my arms to. This is who I kneel to pray to. This is the rock I stand and sit on.
What is your story? Who do you say Jesus is? Who are you putting your trust in? Whose promises do you hold on to?
Jesus asked his disciples, ‘who do people say the son of man is?……..but what about you? Who do you say I am?’
Questions to ponder
How might the image above be representative of things we can put our trust in?
What overshadows some of the stories you live by?
What overshadows some of what you can put your trust in?
Song to listen as you ponder
Philippa Hanna ‘Trust”
On this rock, I will build my life
And I will put my trust always
The idea of being someone’s rock is very familiar today. Give everybody a rock-shaped piece of card with the word Jesus on one side. Invite people to write on the reverse side the name of the person they most consider to be their rock, and perhaps the reason why, and then to spend a few moments quietly praying
for that person.
We trust you, Lord, to answer our prayers.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Your will be done, O Lord.
We pray for people who struggle with their faith:
through difficult circumstances,
through bad things happening,
through being led astray,
by wanting fame and fortune.
We pray for people who feel in the dark,
locked in a situation where they can find no answer,
that they might come to understand
that you are the key to everything they need.
We pray for ourselves:
when we are in difficult situations,
when we try to unlock doors that aren’t ours to unlock,
when we don’t focus on the kingdom,
when we don’t share our story.
The Lord’s Prayer
Sending out prayer
Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone he was the Messiah. We go out now, hearts so full of amazement and joy, that we can’t help but share the good news. Go with us, good Lord, and help us to tell everyone who will listen. Amen.
Prayers, ideas and images © ROOTS for Churches Ltd www.rootsontheweb.c