Good morning family.
Welcome to our time of worship and being together. Light your candle if you have one and sit quietly for a few minutes – watching the flickering of the flame; take a few deep breathes and relax.
Let us pray:
Lord God, you are the almighty and omnipotent God; you created all that we see around us and created us in your image. We gather in our separate homes and at different times; we gather as one family and in community with each other. Open our minds and our spirits to receive from you this morning the message that you have for us. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 111
Read this Psalm from your own Bible and then from The Message –
(printed below for those who don’t have a copy)
I give thanks to GOD with everything I’ve got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
GOD’s works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendour and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love.
He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.
He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last—
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.
He’s so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of GOD—
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of GOD.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!
This morning we reflect on three communities
1. Firstly – the wider community of South Africa. We live in a very self-centred world. One in which “I” am number 1 and the expectation that all things must revolve around “me”. I can have whatever I want and be whatever I want to be. I know that is a broad generalisation. But we do know we have a high rate of violent crime corruption and dishonesty. We have spoken of these things on many occasions. There seems to be no place for God in most people’s lives – and yet many of those perpetrators of crime will claim allegiance to a Christian Church. There is very little caring for one’s neighbour or even caring for one’s own biological family. Young people, and sometimes the not so young, believe that they can be wise through life experiences and academic qualifications alone, without God. But is this the best foundation for making wise decisions and the best way to live?
2. Secondly – the community where we live. I share with you a very recent experience of being part of a new community. We have been at Azalea Gardens for 5 months – approx. 80 people living in 59 units. On Friday afternoon electricity went off at about 4pm (this was not load shedding) and was restored at 6am this morning. 2 nights and 1 day. Something we have all experienced and know what that means. My concern was mainly for Barry – he is on oxygen 24 hrs a day (from an oxygen concentrator) plus needs the use of nebuliser when his chest is tight. Both are dependent on electricity. I put in place a plan to cope and I made regular inquiries on the Azalea Chat List for news of when there will be power restored. The Trustees were very good at keeping us up to date. I also shared my concern for Barry. That sharing brought several people – some whom I had not yet met – asking how they can help or calling at the door to offer help – including the offer of boiling water from a gas stove to make a cup of tea! A community rallying around in support of each other during a shared experience. But in general most of the residents go about their own lives or with a small group of friends. And it takes time to get to know people. My prayer is to re-start a service or Bible study as we had in the past – and it will happen in God’s time.
3. Thirdly – God’s community. For this we look at what Psalm 111 has to tell us.
This Psalm is given a number of different titles in the different translations – e.g. Great are the Lord’s Work, The Beginning of Wisdom, All that God does is Good, Hallelujah. It is a Psalm of praise – Praise the Lord is the opening phrase in many translations. It was used at festivals but not written for any specific festival.
In contrast to other communities Psalm 111 places God in the centre of everything. And he has been so throughout history – from creation, to today in the 21st Century and will be in for ever more. The writer expresses his thanks to and his praise for God and all his miracles. and he calls on everyone else to do likewise and to study all the great things God has done. To think of them as his memorials.
He is the God of Grace; God of love; the God of mercy. He feeds those who fear him – as he did for the Israelites in the desert. Fear in the sense of being in awe of and having reverence for a higher authority. And God made an everlasting covenant through Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and through Christ – the covenant with his chosen people and those who have accepted Christ as the saviour of the world though his death and resurrection. Jesus has formed a personal relationship with each of us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
God is central to our faith. He is awesome – and we are in awe of who he is, what he has done for all those who truly obey his laws and we know him because we know Jesus, his son – who said – “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Verse 10 – culminates the Psalm – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” (NIV) – “The good life begins in the fear of God – do that and you will know the blessing of God. His Hallelujah lasts forever!” (The Message)
The only way to become truly wise is to reverence God. He is the beginning and the end of all things and our way to live while on this earth.
Proverbs 1:7-9 expresses a similar sentiment: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake you mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn you neck.”
As members of Metro and of the wider Christian Community God is central to the way we live, share and support others.
In closing remember we are members of all these communities. South Africa in general – in our places of work, when we shop or go anywhere we are part of the general community. We all live in a complex, or a suburb or some other mixed community. And we belong to God’s community.
We carry God’s community with us into these other communities. May we never forget that. Live as Christ taught us; share God’s love where ever you are – in deeds done and in words spoken where necessary. People in the other communities are watching us and we can offer them the blessings that we know as we invite others into God’s community and bring people together in unity in God.