It is possible for nostalgia and sentiment to masquerade as living faith, but they are no substitute for trust in the promises of God.
What a timely message to remember as we once more draw near to Christmas.
Preparing for worship will begin with a rendition of new song Did You Know?. We’ll be singing this next week and on Christmas Day as well. Sing We The King and How Great Is Our God both express praise to the one whose first advent we celebrate and whose second advent we look forward to with hope and expectation.
Our prayer of confession will acknowledge just how easily our hearts slip from grace to works, from faith to ritual, and from sonship to servitude. In acknowledgement of God’s forgiving adoption we’ll sing Blessed Be Your Name, then state the Apostles’ Creed and sing a new doxology which begins To God The Father…
The lectio continua reading from Jeremiah 8 will ask the question: Is there no balm in Gilead? Psalm 84, To The LORD O Sing A New Song will be our response from God’s Word.
In reading 1 Samuel 28 we’re actually stepping ahead of events in 1 Samuel 29, but, as we prepare for David’s ascension (which we’ll take up later in 2013) this piece of narrative is included at this point so that we can know that it is possible for the King of Israel to not be one of the people of God.
Confronted with a situation of danger and uncertainty Saul tries to inquire of God through his own means, and then failing that by forbidden means. He gets a messenger from God, but instead of hearing what he wants to hear receives a message confirming his oncoming judgement. Even this is not enough to bring Saul to repentance, instead he consoles himself at a medium’s table. Everything he needed to hear he was told, but instead of seeking instruction all Saul was seeking was a reassuring feeling. It is possible to seek assurance in familiar locations, rituals and people. But all these will fail, only the continuing presence of the living Lord Jesus abides. He is the one who always and eternally represents us faithfully before God and Who presents God to us.
Our prayers of thanksgiving and for others will include the recent tragedy in the US and for all other places where young innocents are victimised. After giving tithes and offerings we’re going to conclude our worship with a song that expresses faith in God’s sovereign plan of redemption for all creation, I Cannot Tell Why He Whom Angels Worship, sung to the stirring melody of Danny Boy.

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