This is the service, prepared by Bruno, for this day.
You can listen to it by clicking the play button below, and/or follow the service in the text (also below).
Sunday 3rd May 2020
Call to worship
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, God has called you by name. He proclaims His love for you today. So, come with your fears and hopes, come with your sadness and your regrets, come with your pain and your doubt, come with whatever faith you have. Whether the storm is around you or within, the Lord Jesus Christ holds you, you are not alone.
Let us pray:
O God, we are gathered together in spirit. Although distance keeps us apart, we are close to you and to each other as we unite to worship you.
We bring with us everything we are, all our gifts and talents, our weakness and our sorrow. We come in the hope that we shall find you here with us today. Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God for ever. Amen
God of love and mercy, we come before you knowing that we are in need of forgiveness. We have sinned against you: in our speaking and in our silence; in our thinking and in our thoughtlessness; in our actions and in our inactions.
We have sinned against you in not loving you with our whole heart and soul and strength; in not loving our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Grant us, o Lord, your forgiveness, restore us in the image of your Son, and lead us along the way to your kingdom, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
O God, your heart is full of mercy. May we hear and trust your words to each of us: “Your sins are forgiven”. May we forgive each other and forgive ourselves. Thanks be to God. Amen
The Lord’s prayer
At the Saviour’s command and formed by His divine teaching we pray together:
Our Father who 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
Hymn: The Lord's my shepherd
Old Testament Reading:
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
New Testament Reading:
Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Hymn: Amazing Grace
“…was blind but now I see” writes John Newton in his well-known hymn “Amazing Grace”. The author of Psalm 23 and the apostles and all the disciples of Jesus can make that claim as they are suddenly able to see a glimpse of heaven in this world.
What a beautiful image of Christian family living that we have from the verses of Acts today. We see how the disciples, strong in their belief in the gospel, devote themselves to the Christian teaching of the apostles and prayer. But also, to the breaking of bread together. This breaking of bread means that they belong to one another in a bond as strong as being family members. Their way of life was such that they lived as a community of faith. These four points are the characteristics of a community of faith: Devoted to learn the word of God;
Prayers (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession);
Breaking bread together;
Sharing all belongings for the benefit of those who need it.
When we look at what is happening here in the book of Acts, we realise that there seems to be some form of monastic community coming out of this. Certainly, monastic communities were not intended initially to be isolated from the world, but to live as an example and light for the world to see so that others may know the grace and love of God.
But what brought these disciples to renounce the ways of the world and join within the Christian community in a type of life which has no room for personal ambition?
Faith, is the answer. Faith in a loving God who they experienced in the person of Jesus Christ. They met Him, listened to Him, watched Him dying, saw Him alive again and then ascended to heaven alive.
But David, when he writes Psalm 23, he has no personal physical contact with the Lord Jesus Christ. Still, David has reason to believe in God and to trust in Him so much that even death itself is nothing else but just another path, because David trusts in God being with him in this life and the next.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ the Shepherd of your life today? Would you surrender your heart, your judgement, your pride, your will to the One who died for you for love?
That is the first step to take if we wish to devote ourselves to a life of discipleship. It is the first step to take if we want for our churches to work and live and survive. We must keep the Shepherd as our leader. Any church that tries to walk away from the Shepherd, is destined to get lost like a wandering sheep. It is our duty as Christians, clergy and laity, to ensure that we follow the Shepherd in all our decisions, personal and collective.
But how do we apply, the way of the disciples in our lives today?
This is where we can really make a difference in our families, in our communities and wherever we go.
Devotion to learning the word of God is something that must be our personal fervent desire. You might say that you are too busy, but the Lord says “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Therefore, do spend time with the Lord. He wants to hear from you.
This brings us to the next element of our Christian life. Prayer. Do we pray enough? God rejoices when you pray because it shows Him that you are relying on Him and not on yourself. Pray without ceasing. Pray in everything and for everything. Before I mentioned the types of prayers that we do in worship: Adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession. Practice these prayers every day. It does not matter how long or short they are. It is only important that they come from your heart.
If we apply ourselves to these two elements above, the other two will come easy in our church life. In our collective life we will be breaking bread together and give what we have to those in need of it.
This is how we build a living, active church. Most importantly is to remember that we cannot do it with our own strength, we just need to follow the Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Prayers of Intercession
Let us bring before God those who are on our hearts and minds, all those for whom prayer has been requested and any who have asked us to remember them.
Let us pray:
Loving God, long ago people brought their friends to Jesus or approached Him on behalf of others. So now we bring to you those who need your help.
God of compassion and love, we offer you all our suffering and pain. Give us strength to bear our weakness, bringing healing even when there is no cure, giving peace in the midst of turmoil, and giving love to fill the spaces in our lives.
Hymn: How great is our God
The blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you always. Ame
Rev. Bruno Boldrini