Circuit Worship – via Zoom

Circuit Evening Worship   –   25 October 2020

Welcome:  Good evening and welcome… 

Call to Worship:   Come, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.

Let us pray:           Let us thank God for each other as we share in worship, as we come to pray and praise.  Let us thank God for the witness of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit to inspire and move us.  Amen. 

Now let us continue our worship and sing our first hymn

Hymn:                    ‘Sing praise to God, who reigns above’ (StF:117)

1.             Sing praise to God who reigns above the God of all creation,
                the God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation;
                with healing balm my soul he fills, and every faithless murmur stills:
                to God all praise and glory!

2.             What God’s almighty power has made that will he ever cherish,
                and will, unfailing, soon and late, with loving-kindness nourish;
                and where he rules in kingly might there all is just and all is right:
                to God all praise and glory!

3.             The Lord is never far away, but, through all grief distressing,
                an ever-present help and stay, our peace, and joy, and blessing;
                as with a mother’s tender hand, he leads his own, his chosen band:
                to God, all praise and glory!

4.             O you who name Christ’s holy name, give God all praise and glory:
                O you who own his power, proclaim aloud the wondrous story.
                Cast each false idol from its throne; the Lord is God, and he alone:
                to God, all praise and glory!             

Johann Jakob Schutz (1640-1690) Frances Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897) and Honor Mary Thwaites (1914-1993)     

Prayers of worship, confession and the Lord’s prayer:

Let us pray:  God of awe and wonder, worthy of honour and praise, you know us through and through, from our beginning to our end and in every day of our lives.  We come into your presence, amazed by your love for us and your delight in knowing us.  We come to worship you; open to be led by your Spirit.  Amen. 

A prayer of confession based on Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  Lord, we cannot avoid your presence, and we know that we have sinned against you.  Have mercy on us as we confess our sin.  You search out my path and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue you know it.  Lord, have mercy.   You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  Christ, have mercy; Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  See if there is any wicked way in me.  Lord, have mercy.

Even darkness is not dark to God; for darkness is as light to the Almighty.  May God forgive us and restore us in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Now let us now join together in the prayer our Lord taught us to say: Our Father…

Reading:                Matthew 22:34-46

The commands to ‘love the Lord your God’ (Deut.6:5) and to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Lev.19:18) are central to Judaism and of course the Pharisees would know that when they asked Jesus the question concerning the greatest law, as usual, they were trying to trick him!  

The Greatest Commandment

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37 He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

The Question about David’s Son

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42 ‘What do you think of the Messiah?  Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ 43 He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,  44 “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’”? 

45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ 46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.         

So, today, we come to the last chapter of Ruth in our study of this book throughout the last month.  Don’t you just love a story with a happy ending! 

Reading:                Ruth 4

The Marriage of Boaz and Ruth

No sooner had Boaz gone up to the gate and sat down there than the next-of-kin of whom Boaz had spoken, came passing by. So Boaz said, ‘Come over, friend; sit down here.’ And he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘Sit down here’; so they sat down. He then said to the next-of-kin, ‘Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it, and say: Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not, tell me, so that I may know; for there is no one prior to you to redeem it, and I come after you.’ So he said, ‘I will redeem it.’ Then Boaz said, ‘The day you acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also acquiring Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead man, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance.’ At this, the next-of-kin said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself without damaging my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.’ Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, one party took off a sandal and gave it to the other; this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the next-of-kin said to Boaz, ‘Acquire it for yourself’, he took off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, ‘Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the name of the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.’ 11 Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you produce children in Ephrathah and bestow a name in Bethlehem; 12 and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.’       

The Genealogy of David

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17 The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 Now these are the descendants of Perez: Perez became the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, 21 Salmon of Boaz, Boaz of Obed, 22 Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David.

Hymn:                    ‘Let love be real’ (StF:615)

1.             Let love be real, in giving and receiving, without the need to manage and to own;
a haven free from posing and pretending, where every weakness may be safely known.
Give me your hand, along the desert pathway, give me your love wherever we may go.
   As God loves us, so let us love each other;
  with no demands, just open hands and space to grow.

2.             Let love be real, not grasping or confining, that strange embrace that holds yet sets us free;
that helps us face the risk of truly living, and makes us brave to be what we might be.
Give me your strength when all my words are weakness; give me your love in spite of all you know.

3.             Let love be real, with no manipulation, no secret wish to harness or control;
let us accept each other’s incompleteness, and share the joy of learning to be whole.
Give me your hope through dreams and disappointments; give me your trust when all my failings show.

Michael Forster (b.1946)                                                   

REFLECTION:                         ‘God works in Mysterious Ways’

As mentioned in my introduction, everyone likes a story with a happy ending, and the Book of Ruth is that kind of story. The book begins with 3 funerals and 3 weeping widows; it ends with a wedding and, ultimately, the joyful birth of a baby boy. At the beginning of the book, everything is falling apart; at the end, everything has been put back together again.

If this story were a work of fiction, some might say, “But life isn’t like that. People don’t always live happily ever after.” Now this is true; but the book of Ruth IS true, and these events happened to real people and everything did end “happily ever after” because God was working behind the scenes in mysterious ways.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been examining Ruth’s love story. So, let’s just review the basic details. Due to a famine in Israel, a man named Elimelech left Bethlehem and moved his family to Moab. Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, had two sons both of whom married Moabite women. At some point Elimelech and his sons died, leaving all three women widows. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and Ruth decided to go with her.

Once in Bethlehem, Ruth set out to find a landowner who would, allow her to glean barley in his field. Ruth found grace in a wealthy man named Boaz. Boaz immediately took an interest in Ruth and did all he could to provide more than enough food to sustain both Ruth and Naomi. Later, when Ruth told Naomi she’d worked for Boaz, Naomi immediately realized that he was a close relative of her late husband. This meant that Boaz was qualified to act as their “kinsman redeemer,” a term in the Law of Moses that stipulated a close relative could redeem someone’s lost land and also marry the widow and raise up their firstborn son in the name of the deceased husband. So, Ruth approached Boaz one night and asked him to do just that. Boaz was more than willing to take on the responsibility of the kinsman-redeemer but there was a problem; there was another man who was a closer relative. With this background in mind, let’s consider three wonderful truths from our text:

Firstly, let’s consider Ruth’s redemption (vs.1-10)

Boaz met with the prospective family redeemer at the town gate. This was the place where business transactions took place. Many of the town’s elders and people were there as witnesses of this transaction. Boaz informed this man that he had the first right to redeem Elimelech’s land, and at first, he was interested. But, when Boaz mentioned that the one who redeemed the land needed also to marry Ruth, this man declined stating it would endanger his own estate. He then offered Boaz the estate and legalized the transaction by giving him his sandal.

Now this is a long way from Judge Judy, but that’s the way things were done. Once done, all barriers had been removed and Boaz could fulfil his duty as kinsman-redeemer.

And the same thing is true of those who are redeemed by Jesus Christ: At the moment of our redemption, our standing is elevated and our life forever changed! We are transformed and are no longer strangers and outcasts; now we are God’s children.

And finally, in vs.13-17 we see God’s plan is accomplished. How their lives had changed! Remember how bitter Naomi was when she first returned home? Remember how she blamed her bad circumstances on God? Remember how when she and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem they were without a protector and provider, without enough food to survive, destitute and powerless? Now look at them!  God’s plan was accomplished in their lives.

But, what about God’s plan in our lives? You might not see it at first, but check out vs 17-22

It turns out that because Ruth chose to go with and take care of a bitter, defeated woman, she met Boaz. And because Boaz was able and willing and qualified to be their kinsman-redeemer, he rescued them from their troubles and married Ruth. And because they married, they had a son. And the genealogy in verses 18-22 culminates in a very famous man by the name of David.

Yes, King David, the singer-shepherd boy, the brave youth who slew Goliath, the one who built the Kingdom of Israel and made it one of the greatest kingdoms of that era; the one who God described as: ‘a man after my own heart’; the author of some of the world’s greatest poetry and the majority of the book of Psalms which has been loved and cherished by God’s people for millennia. David was the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth. God had a plan, and that plan was fulfilled of Naomi and Ruth’s sorrow and tragedy.  If Ruth had not come home with Naomi, there would have been no King David, and David would not have been in the line of the Messiah.

God’s plan of redemption for our salvation goes back thousands of years and Naomi, Ruth and Boaz all played important parts in that plan and God has a plan for you personally, just as He did for Naomi and Ruth. Life will not be devoid of difficulties and struggles, sorrows and heartaches but, remember that in the midst of all those things, you can be certain that God is working in the background, arranging things behind the scenes, bringing people into your life who will play a pivotal role coordinating exact circumstance, all to lovingly accomplish God’s will in your life. Amen.

For further reflection:

1.             Is there anything that immediately jumps out from the readings/reflection?

2.             Have there been instances in your life where God has worked in a mysterious way to bring about good?

3.             Jesus meets the third qualification of Kinsman Redeemer by the fact that He was able to redeem us.

Jesus was the only one able to redeem us because He was the only One who could fulfil the requirements of the Law and that’s why we can boldly proclaim: ‘I am redeemed in Christ Jesus.’ From vs.11-13, notice how Ruth and Naomi experience a radical transformation in their lives.  The people gathered at the town’s gate who witnessed this transaction, rejoiced over what Boaz had done for Ruth so that Ruth is no longer called “a stranger,” “a foreigner,” or “that Moabite woman.” Now she’s mentioned alongside Leah and Rachel, who together, the

elders said: ‘built the house of Israel!’ Leah and Rachel were the wives of Jacob, who gave birth to his twelve sons. At the moment of her redemption Ruth’s standing was elevated!

And the same thing is true of those who are redeemed by Jesus Christ: At the moment of our redemption, our standing is elevated and our life forever changed! We are transformed and are no longer strangers and outcasts; now we are God’s children.

And finally, in vs.13-17 we see God’s plan is accomplished. How their lives had changed! Remember how bitter Naomi was when she first returned home? Remember how she blamed her bad circumstances on God? Remember how when she and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem they were without a protector and provider, without enough food to survive, destitute and powerless? Now look at them!  God’s plan was accomplished in their lives.

But, what about God’s plan in our lives? You might not see it at first, but check out vs 17-22

It turns out that because Ruth chose to go with and take care of a bitter, defeated woman, she met Boaz. And because Boaz was able and willing and qualified to be their kinsman-redeemer, he rescued them from their troubles and married Ruth. And because they married, they had a son. And the genealogy in verses 18-22 culminates in a very famous man by the name of David.

Yes, King David, the singer-shepherd boy, the brave youth who slew Goliath, the one who built the Kingdom of Israel and made it one of the greatest kingdoms of that era; the one who God described as: ‘a man after my own heart’; the author of some of the world’s greatest poetry and the majority of the book of Psalms which has been loved and cherished by God’s people for millennia. David was the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth. God had a plan, and that plan was fulfilled of Naomi and Ruth’s sorrow and tragedy.  If Ruth had not come home with Naomi, there would have been no King David, and David would not have been in the line of the Messiah.

God’s plan of redemption for our salvation goes back thousands of years and Naomi, Ruth and Boaz all played important parts in that plan and God has a plan for you personally, just as He did for Naomi and Ruth. Life will not be devoid of difficulties and struggles, sorrows and heartaches but, remember that in the midst of all those things, you can be certain that God is working in the background, arranging things behind the scenes, bringing people into your life who will play a pivotal role coordinating exact circumstance, all to lovingly accomplish God’s will in your life. Amen.

For further reflection:

1.             Is there anything that immediately jumps out from the readings/reflection?

2.             Have there been instances in your life where God has worked in a mysterious way to bring about good?

Prayers of intercession:

There is a response to our prayers this evening.  When I say ‘Your Kingdom come’ please respond with ‘Your will be done’.

In faith let us pray to our creator God, in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ and in the power of our sustainer, the Holy Spirit.

God of love, we pray for the life of your Church throughout the world.  May every congregation be a community of love and every Christian be a witness to your grace and compassion.  Renew all who worship in this place that we may be a living fellowship in your Spirit and serve the neighbourhood of which are a part.

Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done

God of mercy, we pray for the life of the world and for those who exercise power and who have responsibility for others.  Show all people how to live as members of the human family; to reject the ways of war; to bear each other’s burdens and to work together for justice and peace. 

Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done

God of compassion, we pray for those who are poorly or anxious at home, or in hospital.  We pray for those whose lives are filled with fear and despair.  We pray for those who mourn and for those who struggle from day to day to move on from a place of sadness.  Draw near with your saving love and bring healing, wholeness and hope we pray.

Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done

Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding; pour into our hearts such love towards you that we, loving you above all things, may obtain your promises which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hymn:                    ‘One more step….’ (StF:476)

1.             One more step along the world I go, one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new keep me travelling along with you:
                and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you.

2.             Round the corners of the world I turn, more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see you’ll be looking at along with me:
     and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you.

3.             As I travel through the bad and good, keep me travelling the way I should;
where I see no way to go you’ll be telling me the way, I know:
                and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you.

4.             Give me courage when the world is rough, keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do, keep me travelling along with you:
                and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you.

5.             You are older than the world can be, you are younger than the life in me;
every old and ever new, keep me travelling along with you:
                and it’s from the old I travel to the new; keep me travelling along with you.

BLESSING:             The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord look on you with kindness and give you peace.  Amen.

Please be assured that Rev’d Kim and I are available should you need us. 

We can be contacted by calling 01933 312778 for Rev’d Lesley and 01933 622137 for Rev’d Kim

Nene Valley Methodist Circuit

Words for the hymns are re-produced from Singing the Faith Music Edition. CCLI reproduced under licence No. 1905000

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