SUNDAY MAY 24
GOD IN THE DARKNESS
A WARM WELCOME
We look forward to the time we can be back together in church. But today as you join in with our online resources may these verses encourage you and motivate you in giving yourself to God.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Have you heard the story of Job?
Not 'Steve Job’s' the Apple man! But Job the man in the bible. He was a great man in the part of the world he lived in. In many ways a unique man. His story in short is extreme suffering fell suddenly on him. On one terrible day Job loses everything. Ripped away from him by both human violence and natural disaster. His wealth, his servants, even all his children. You would think he would curse God but he doesn’t. Instead he worships and praises God with these now famous words.
Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
May the name of the LORD be praised. (Job 1:21)
When even more misery comes upon Job – he is inflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. His response is equally amazing.
Shall we accept good from God and not accept from him trouble. (Job 2:10)
Our first song is based on Job’s responses. It is not an easy song to make your own because it assumes we feel the same and would respond in the same way Job did should dark times fall upon us. This song is a good song to do a bit of ‘soul searching.’
BIBLE READING 1
A prayer for hearing God’s word read and taught
Thank you, Father,
for making yourself known to us
and showing us the way of salvation
through trust in your Son.
Teach us through your word,
and equip us for every good work
for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
For the director of music.
According to mahalath leannoth.
A maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
1 Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
3 For I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
4 I am counted among those
who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
5 I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me
with all your waves.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief
I call to you, Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known
in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds
in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
in the morning my prayer
comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have suffered
and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors
and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbour
– darkness is my closest friend.
Like the writer of Psalm 88 let’s cry out for God to hear our prayers!
Let’s affirm what we believe about God and his love for us.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
from there he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
BIBLE READING 2
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
1. How is it helpful to you to know that God has included these ‘sad prayer’ Psalms in the bible?
2. In Isaiah 45:6-7 God says ‘I am the LORD and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster. I, the LORD do all these things. Clearly Heman the writer of Psalm 88 also believed this about God. How is there comfort in this being true?
3. How much lamenting to God do we do at church – in our prayers, in our songs? Can you think of what lament songs we sing? How often do we pray ‘sad’ prayers? Why might this aspect of our life with God be under represented?
God our Father,
In those dark and terrible times when you feel absent from our lives,
or worse still when we feel you are against us and we don’t know why.
Keep us trusting in you and crying out to you.
Thank you that Jesus took our darkness upon himself on the cross
so that dark times need not be the end story of our existence.
Thank you that he rose from the darkness of death for us.
We pray for those we know whose lives have been or are now
deeply impacted by overwhelming sufferings of various kinds.
Be their strength and comfort. Turn not your face from their cries.
And teach us in our lives together how to weep with those who weep.
Bring us all safely to that day when we will see you face to face
when all the darkness of this world will be forever extinguished
by your glorious light.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
A CLOSING ENCOURAGEMENT
OUR RESURRECTION HOPE
1 Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.