Sunday Worship

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20Open Link in New Window

Bubble Church Online

The Damascus Road

If the links don’t work for you, here is John’s video presentation The King’s Road and Stormzy – Blinded by Your Grace

Upstairs—All Age Morning Worship

Leaders: Revd Gaby Doherty & Revd Ian Tomkins
Speakers: John & Gillian Robinson—Crosslinks Missionaries in Bangkok.

The sermone was too visual to be useful as a podcast. The version on the recorded service is available below.

Online—Sunday Worship

Leader: Revd Ian Tomkins
Speakers: John & Gillian Robinson & John Stilwell

Available from 6am Sunday.

John’s notes for the reflection.

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On a Mission

This weeks Everyone @ St Matthew’s presentation from Chris.

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Available from 6am Sunday.

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The Holy Spirit in the Church

Today’s reading is Ephesians 2:17-22Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Richard.

In our sermon series we continue looking at the person and role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Over the last two weeks Ian and Gaby have spoken about the Holy Spirit being one with God the Father and Jesus. Both have stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit in our Christian walk. Today we are looking at the Holy Spirit in the Church.

As I child I had both a clockwork train set and an electric train set, probably like many boys of my generation. My clockwork train set was a lovely tin plate Hornby one and I was thrilled to get it when I was six, now highly collectable—wish I had kept it!! The problem with a clockwork train set is that once the spring inside has fully unwound it stops, its source of power has gone unless you wind it up again. Now the electric train set I got one Christmas was a different kettle of fish—it was hooked up to a permanent supply of electricity and the train would go round forever. The only thing that stopped it were my parents, particularly if I left it running for ages in the front room!

A church which limits or ignores the Holy Spirit is like that clockwork train—it will run out of energy and power because it is operating out of its own strength. It will be ineffective. The church which is open to the Holy Spirit, is as God intended it to be and will be a powerhouse for the Gospel.

Why do I say this?

  • Because when you read the New Testament it is clear that the Holy Spirit was both the architect and power behind the early church.
  • In addition Jesus promised his disciples that when He was gone, he would send His Spirit to be with them.

John 14:15-17Open Link in New Window says

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

Jesus words were fulfilled as we know at Pentecost in that upper room.

For those disciples who received the Holy Spirit marked by tongues of fire, it was not some kind of nice personal spiritual experience—it was utterly transformational. The disciples immediately went out and preached to the people assembled for the Passover festival. They spoke with boldness in different languages with power as a result many were saved. Acts 2Open Link in New Window talks of over 3000 people being baptised. Last week Gaby talked powerfully about being baptised and how it transformed her. What did these 3000 people do after they received the Spirit through baptism:

Acts 2:42Open Link in New WindowThey devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, prayer and breaking of bread and the results were:

  • Everyone was filled with awe
  • There were many wonders and signs done by the Apostles. Peter, we read in the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ healed a crippled man.
  • All the believers were together and had everything in common
  • They sold their possessions and gave to the poor
  • They kept praising God

And… Many people were added to their number.

This is a group of people utterly transformed by the power of the Spirit, it is like a wildfire.

This early church was completely Spirit filled, Spirit orientated and Spirit led, and this meant for practical matters as well.

In Acts 6Open Link in New Window we learn the church had grown to such an extent it was limiting the work of the Apostles. They were spending a good deal of time in the distribution of food to the poor rather than going out preaching the Gospel. So, they asked the wider group of disciples to appoint seven people to carry out the administration of alms.

What qualifications would you expect for this role?

Able administrators, proven managers, experts in logistics… perhaps? No, they were to choose seven people who were full of the Spirit and Wisdom. (One of those chosen was Stephen who was to die for his faith—it was said that he had the face of an Angel, he was so filled with the love of God.)

The results of this Spirit filled decision—the number of disciples increased rapidly and a large number of Jewish temple priests became believers. The fire keeps spreading and starts to reach other places.

We read later in Acts of the conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus and in Acts 13Open Link in New Window, he is with a group of elders of the church in Antioch. Whilst they are worshipping and fasting the Holy Spirit said ‘Set Apart Saul (Paul) and Barnabas for the work to which I have called them. When they finished praying and fasting they placed their hands on them and sent them off. What does this say about the church—they put prayer and worship at the heart of everything they did. This allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them.

What a great model of church. It wasn’t a case of here are our plans, now let’s pray for God’s blessing. It was let’s pray and worship and see what God wants of us.

Again the result is the same—there is action and the Gospel spreads. If it were not for the likes of Paul, Barnabas and all the others we may never have heard about the life changing salvation that Jesus brings.

As I read though parts of Acts the more and more excited I got about the role of Holy Spirit in the church.

The Spirit is not just about spreading the Gospel, his work underpins the very fabric of a church community. Given free reign the Holy Spirit builds the body of the church by using the gifts of Gods people. In Corinthians 12Open Link in New Window St Paul outlines the gifts of the Spirit given to individuals for the building up of the body of Christ:

  • a message of wisdom
  • a message of knowledge
  • gifts of healing
  • miraculous powers
  • prophecy
  • distinguishing between spirits
  • speaking in different kinds of tongues
  • the interpretation of tongues

And in Corinthians 13Open Link in New Window we learn that the greatest gift is love and this is given to all of us by the power of the Spirit. Love enables the body of Christ, us, to work together, to live together and most of all to serve each other and those around us.

I have spoken this morning about the Holy Spirit in the early church and I have only just scratched the surface. We have seen its rapid growth and its decision making through the power of the Spirit. Of course, we know it wasn’t perfect because Paul and the other letter writers were often correcting errors and poor behaviour of early church communities. But in terms of the pattern for church it certainly serves as an excellent example. Their priorities were:

  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Openness to God’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s prompting
  • Action and service

What does this mean for St Matthew’s today? Are we open to the power of the Holy Spirit not just as individuals but as part of the body of Christ?

As Ian reminded us in the first sermon of this series in the St Matthew’s church profile it said this: our church seeks to honour God through Word, Spirit and Sacrament.

  1. This is a good start—at least we recognise that the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in our church along with the Scriptures and the Sacraments. I do believe the Spirit does and has worked within our church over the years and many of us are open to the work of the Spirit within our lives as individuals. I see many of the fruits of the Spirit exhibited in our St Matthew’s community and in particular the love we have for each other. This has enabled us to support each other through the biggest crisis since the 2nd World War and I do not say that lightly.
  2. We have had prophecies in services and people touched by the Holy Spirit in services. Indeed, Minty and I were both overcome by the Holy Spirit some years back on the same day when we were prayed for after a service. We both ended up on the floor and both of us subsequently were ordained. The re-ordering of the church to create the upper and lower spaces was before my time but I know it was a prayerful and Spirit filled decision to go ahead.
  3. I do believe we need to engage corporately and intentionally with the Holy Spirit again in St Matthew’s. I know that all of us would love to see our church grow and reach out to all those people who are seeking something to fill that God shaped hole in their lives. There is a needy world out there, people have had the opportunity of the last year to think about their lives and what it all means. With the power of the Spirit they can be reached.

I would encourage everyone to re-read the book of Acts—it is breath-taking and that same Spirit is with us today.

I am going to say a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to come afresh in each one of our lives and the life of St Matthew’s.

Dear Lord
We pray for your Holy Spirit to come in power in St Matthew’s today.
Lord, inspire and lead us by the power of your Spirit, refresh each one of us and prepare us for the work you want us to do in pursuit of your Gospel.

In Jesus name amen.

There will be a video version of the service.

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Sunday Worship

Holy Spirit 2: The Holy Spirit in Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17Open Link in New Window

Bubble Church Online

The Emmaus Road 25.04.21
The Emmaus Road

If the links don’t work for you, here is John’s video presentation What Get’s You Excited? and Walk With You.

Upstairs

Leader: Lucy Bush (a Trinity Placement student)
Preacher: Revd Gaby Doherty

Listen Again

 

…or download for later (right click and save). | Open Player in New Window

Online—Sunday Worship

Leader: Revd Ian Tomkins
Preacher: Revd Gaby Doherty

Available from 6am Sunday.

Gaby’s notes for the sermon.

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