Well it was POURING with rain when we began our Valley Worship service on Sunday morning. However there were a lot of undaunted spirits who struggled through to reach the service anyway. The bells were pealed beautifully and the Band played with its customary gusto and we ate croissants and drank coffee in this one of our two informal services a month.
The theme this week was ‘faith’ – really meaning ‘trust in God’ more than just belief in a set of facts and how this has worked out in the lives of two of our parishioners. Theo Mezger was interviewed about Judes Ice-cream and how the business is ‘offered up to Christ’ and how the directors and staff try hard to ask themselves ‘What would Jesus do?’ in all their decisions. Gerry Stacey then preached on homelessness taking as his text James 2:1-17 (see below). He particularly spoke about his work in the Winchester Churches Night Shelter.
A wonderful moment was when the Ark (loads of children this time) came in to tell us what they had been doing – looking at their most favourite things and seeing God as their most important – and when the very cool UTXers came in to tell us about the session on Youth Alpha that they had just seen. Great work by the Ark and UTX leaders!
At the end we offered intercessory prayer for anyone who wanted to come up to receive it.
A great start to the year for Valley Worship.
James 2:1-17 2 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.