The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Worship@Home Sunday, 10 May 2020
Major Steven Turner
Sing: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
(Tune: Lobe den Herren on hymnary.org )
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation;
All ye who hear, Brothers and sisters draw near,
Praise him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
He who with love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth his light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with his mercy surrounding.
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the amen sound from his people again;
Gladly for aye we adore him.
Joachim Neander (1650-80),
trs Catherine Winkworth (1827-78) and others
Chorus: Meet my need Lord
Meet my need, Lord, meet my need, Lord,
Meet my need just now.
I am waiting and thou art coming
To meet my need just now.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
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.
Bible Reading John 21:1-14
12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
Prayer of approach
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples, ‘I am with you always’.
Be with me today, as I offer myself to you.
Hear my prayers for others and for myself, and keep me in your care.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
It may be that you have some unexpected free time, or an appointment you had was cancelled. Your day was planned, and suddenly you have to fill an empty space. In that situation, your mind may become temporarily blank until you call up some possibilities. If you were due to meet for coffee (pre-lockdown, of course), you might just decide to go ahead alone, or do some shopping for yourself. Normally, you’ll find something to do fairly easily.
Perhaps you have a complex situation to solve, or just have too many things clamouring for attention. Where do you even begin? Often, the best plan is to do something, anything that moves forward one of your projects.
Dramatic changes in our circumstances can also leave us clueless as to what to do next. People who retire or who are bereaved initially have lots of things to sort out. But a few days or weeks later, the emptiness hits and despair can set in. It’s much harder to deal with than a friend who doesn’t show; all sense of purpose and identity has disappeared. How do you start again?
It’s sometimes said, “when you don’t know what to do, do what you know.” This is how Peter reacted to the loss of Jesus; he went fishing with his mates. The last person they expected to meet was Jesus. We might ask a couple of questions about this story. Why did Jesus meet the disciples on the beach? Why did John record a story so similar to an earlier episode? The simple answer to both questions is, “to strengthen the faith of the disciples and those who would come after them.” Let’s look more closely at the story.
In our house, we have many items that remind us of places we have been and people we have met. These souvenirs are often small and inexpensive, but they bring back memories of travels far and wide. (Souvenir means to come up from below, to bring something to the surface of our minds). Today’s Bible reading is in effect a souvenir, a reminder of an incident at the beginning of Jesus ministry.
When Jesus discovers that the men have caught nothing all night, he suggests that they throw the nets on the other side of the boat, resulting in a huge catch of fish, 153 in all. A disciple (we assume John) calls out, “it is the Lord,” and immediately Peter leaps out of the boat and heads for the shore. Unlike last time (see Matthew 14:30), Peter doesn’t sink as they are only 100 yards offshore (v8).
I wonder if Peter thought back to the previous miraculous catch (Luke 5:1-11), when Jesus first called them: “I will make you fishers of men” (Luke 5:10).
- Where were you when you first met Jesus?
- Who introduced you to him?
- What did he say that encouraged you to follow him?
Being a Salvation Army Officer, or any leader for that matter, is not easy. Whilst there have been many happy occasions in our 23 years, other times have been very difficult. We’ve laughed and sung and danced in children’s holiday clubs, after school clubs and toddler groups, and wept with people through crises or as relatives have died. At times, inspiration for preaching comes easily, at others it seems painfully difficult. In some places we have had good people working alongside us, but sometimes we’ve struggled alone.
When we have felt like giving up, God has often shown us something that recalls a time of blessing, or prompted someone to give us encouragement in some way, or provided us with someone to stand beside us in the difficulty. Thanks to all of these things, we are still here, because God has reinforced us in our calling.
Peter and his friends are in a similar situation. They know by now that Jesus is alive, but are unsure of what that means. The repetition of the catch of fish demonstrates that Jesus still has the power to perform miracles. And his continued reappearance also reinforces that he is genuinely alive and with them.
- When has your call to follow Jesus needed reinforcing?
- Who has God sent to strengthen your faith in hard times?
- Have you been able to do the same for others?
When someone is unexpectedly bereaved, there are no words that put things right. Even the most well-meant use of Bible quotes does not help in the moment, even if they will be proved true in the long run. Paul calls us to “weep with those who weep,” so that in time we may “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). Perhaps this is what is behind the British habit of making tea in a crisis; very ordinary actions help us to cope with overwhelming situations.
When the disciples arrive on the beach, they discover that Jesus has already got some bread and fish on the fire. (The modern equivalent would be bacon butties with a mug of tea!) There will be a time for deep discussions later; for now, it is important to deal with the simple everyday needs of these hungry men.
Perhaps this event recalled many other times when they had shared meals around a campfire, or even the Last Supper. Jesus was their Lord and master, but he was also their friend. And friendship is built through intimate moments like this that create bonds to help each other survive the storms.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “give us today our daily bread.” Perhaps in future years, they would remember this moment as a demonstration that God’s comes to us in the most ordinary aspects of our lives; it would give them confidence that, when troubles came, God would provide for them as he did for the sparrow (See Matthew 6:26).
This act also acts as a reminder that in serving others in simple ways we serve Christ himself (Matthew 25).
- What simple acts have people offered you in hard times?
- What have you done for others that seemed insignificant at the time?
- What does God want you to do for someone today?
Jesus’ resurrection appearances were intended to confirm to the disciples that he was still alive, to strengthen them for the days ahead, and to provide evidence for you and I that he is still alive today. Just as he did when he met the disciples on the beach, Jesus want to Remind us of our first encounter with him, to Reinforce our calling to follow him and do his will, and to Reassure us of his presence with us and his interest in our lives, large and small, so that we, like the first disciples, may be effective “fishers of men.”
Song Thou didst leave thy throne
Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus;
There is room in my heart for thee.
Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth cam’st thou, Lord, on earth
And in great humility.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore thee to Calvary.
When Heaven’s arches ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At thy coming to victory,
Let thy voice call me home, saying: Yet there is room,
There is room at my side for thee!
And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When thou comest and callest for me.
Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1836-97)
Father God, we thank you that you have provided us proof in your word that Jesus is alive. Help us to hold to this truth in these difficult times.
Lord Jesus, we thank you that you took the time to meet with you disciples where they were. Help us to look out for you in ordinary places throughout our day.
Holy Spirit, you came to give strength to the disciples for the task they were called to. May we also turn to you for wisdom and guidance as we seek to live the life of Christ on earth.
We pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Song Christ is Alive
Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
His cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death shall never die.
Christ is alive! No longer bound
To distant years in Palestine,
He comes to claim the here and now
And conquer ev’ry place and time.
Not throned above, remotely high,
Untouched, unmoved by human pains,
But daily, in the midst of life,
Our Saviour with the Father reigns.
In ev’ry insult, rift and war,
Where color, scorn or wealth divide,
He suffers still, yet loves the more,
And lives, though ever crucified.
Christ is alive! His Spirit burns
Through this and ev’ry future age,
Till all creation lives and learns
His joy, his justice, love and praise.
May God’s blessing surround you each day
May God’s blessing surround you each day,
as you trust Him and walk in His way.
May His presence within guard and keep you from sin,
go in peace, go in joy, go in love.