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Minister Prayers Sermon

20 June 2021: Praying Like Hannah

16 June 2021

Dear Friends

We had a gathering in our garden last Saturday! As Ministers, we were finally able to welcome Debbie Brown and her husband Clive, to Coventry. It’s been 15 months since Debbie came to be minister of the North Coventry Group, but we hadn’t had the chance to meet in person. So, we kept our distance – for the most part, had some lovely food prepared by Chris and generally just enjoyed getting the ministers together and spending some time away from zoom. I know that for many of us it has been the social isolation that has been hard and so it has also been good that some have felt able to meet at church on Thursdays and Sundays. When you feel ready to join us, please do. But we will also do all we can to support those who need or prefer to stay at home. 

This Sunday is a bit of an experiment. I am leading the worship for West Orchard and Warwick Road, but we were unable to find anyone to lead worship at Ansty Road other than asking the Elders. But they may need to do that quite frequently once I have left, so we are going to stream the service from West Orchard to zoom and show it on the big screen at Ansty Road. I appreciate there may be a temptation to simply stay at home and watch on zoom, but if you can make it to Ansty Road please do. This is a method that may be used more often in the future, so we would like to know how it feels for you and whether being together for fellowship, even if the worship leader is elsewhere, could be a way of working. 

I’ve also managed to confirm when we shall move. Our last Sunday with you will be on 15 August and I shall lead that. We will then go on holiday for two weeks and I will start in Leicestershire on 1st September. The manse in Loughborough will not be ready for us until January, so we plan to move to the house we are in the process of buying in Burbage and work from there for the rest of the year. 

Meanwhile we are making lists of what goes where and when!

This Sunday our Service will be led by Craig via a Live-stream from West Orchard at 10:30am in church. 

Worship for 20 June 2021

Hymn Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice

Tender to me the promise of His word

In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice

 

Tell out my soul the glories of His word

Firm is His promise and His mercy sure

Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

To children’s children and for evermore

Timothy Dudley-Smith

© 1961 Dudley-Smith, Timothy (Admin. by Oxford University Press)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayer

Thank you,

Creator of goodness

Ever-running love

Releaser of grace

Thank you,

The set-free speak out 

Exposed love broadcasts

Goodness gathers

Have mercy

on foolishness

on erring ways

at self-inflicted pain

Have mercy

on loathing

on despair

at misery

Healing word

Salvager of life

Destroyer of death

Gleaner from the brink

Healing song

Praiser of goodness

Miracle of mercy

Thanks-giver of joy

We sing 

We praise

We dance

We offer ourselves,…

Craig Muir, based on Psalm 107 

Bible 1 Samuel 1:1-28

Mark 4:35-41

Song: Waymaker www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4XWfwLHeLM

Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu

  • © 2016 Integrity Music Europe (Admin. by Integrity Music)

CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Praying like Hannah,  Hannah’s prayer was soaked in pain, bitterness, anguish and grief. It was a prayer of one who did not feel fulfilled in the role she expected of herself – to be a mother. Elkanah, couldn’t see the problem, he had children from his other marriage and Hannah had him – what more could she want? I see a million or so palms hitting heads – “Typical man!” Whatever we might feel about the rights and wrongs of a woman being fulfilled by being a mother – it was important for Hannah, so important that she was pouring our her anguish and prayer and offering her child back to God. Earlier this week there was a piece on the radio about the lack of medical support for woman who have a number of miscarriages, apparently you have to have three miscarriages before any medical support is offered. The women who were speaking were distraught about their situation and I found myself amazed that despite the fear and pain they were going to put themselves through they kept wanting to try again. The instinct to give birth is so strong, and they will know the pain of this ancient story, for we may have more ways in which medicine can intervene, but the grief remains the same. I know that some of you will know that pain for yourselves and that some of us will never quite understand it. 

Others will have other pains, sources of bitterness, anguish and grief that you live with on a daily basis. You respond in your own ways to manage that hurt, sometimes with prayer but so often in ways that take courage to manage each day. Your resilience amazes me. In Hannah that resilience produced praise, power, potential, prophecy, proclamation. Just as it does in so many people who campaign for justice and in doing so change the world  we know – yet still we can turn to a 3000 year old story and learn something of what it means for the human spirit to carry pain. Hannah, like so many women, had to carry that pain alone. And sadly, when she did share it with the priest he misunderstood. But this ancient story tells us that God heard, God understood and eventually God acted and Hannah gave birth to a son who would be leader within their nation. 

As church communities, prayer has to be central to who we are and how we open ourselves up to God. It is the place where healing begins, where we can give voice to all that burdens us, where we can share with God, and sometimes with each other the things that are on our heart and begin the process of finding some resolution. It is the place where we can be reminded of our role in a community, where we can offer something intangible, yet deeply spiritual. Occasionally we may also be pleasantly surprised with the results and be able to come back to God offering thanksgiving instead of pain. May we learn to pray like Hannah. 

The disciples on the other hand found themselves sharing a storm. Terrified, despite having skilled, experienced sailors in their company, they turn to Jesus. Jesus calms the storm – but more than that Jesus calms the fears of all who share this particular boat, and perhaps others out on the same sea, but unseen. Jesus has been teaching the crowd about the Kingdom of God, there have been lots of pastoral parables and they are now taking a break from the crowd, but it seems that chaos is following them. This new kingdom is not going to come easily, because the old ways will not give up without a fight and the old ways enjoy the chaos of a storm. We live in stormy times, we know it, but we can’t always make sense of what is happening or be certain of the way forward. The invitation of the gospel is to turn to Jesus to guide us through the storm, yet the new way that Jesus offers can feel like it invites the storm upon us. Again, in such moments we need to learn to pray like Hannah and discover the calm amidst the storm. 

Hymn Beautiful Lord wonderful Saviour

I know for sure all of my days are

Held in Your hand crafted into

Your perfect plan

You gently call me into Your presence

Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit

Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life

Darlene Zschech

  • © 1997 Wondrous Worship (Admin. by Song Solutions www.songsolutions.org)
  • CCLI Licence No. 1280770

Prayers

We come before you 

calm-bringer, peacemaker, painkiller;

may hearts leap,

may strength be praised,

may love overcome all things.

 

We seek your holy presence

storm-shaper, stone corner piece, anger-grinder;

may boasts cease,

may arrogance fall silent,

may actions be wisely weighed.

 

We turn to your strength

might-breaker, reinforcer, grief-holder;

may all who labour know plenty,

may all who hunger be satisfied,

may each who yearns be fulfilled,

may life be restored,

may what seems poor be raised up,

may what seems high, gently stoop.

 

We rejoice in your challenge 

life-changer, dust-shaker, ash-kindler;

may all in need be fanned to life,

may wild flames give gentle heat,

may landless families inherit seats of honour,

may strangers be welcomed as kin,

may anxious souls be wrapped in care,

may silenced voices sing out with pride.

 

We walk in your byways 

earth pillar, world setter, faithful-guider;

may we tread gently upon your earth,

may we faithfully steward all that is given,

may light prevail over all kept hidden,

may wickedness be exposed and swept away,

may deceit be shattered by truth,

may God’s whisper thunder with promise.

 

We come home to you

wind-rebuker, fear-stiller, faith-giver;

may we minister in rightways,

may we dwell in your care,

may we pray like Hannah, praise-proclaimer.

Craig Muir, Based on 1 Samuel 2: 1-10

 

Hymn 

How good is the God we adore,

Our faithful unchangeable friend,

His love is as great as his power,

And knows neither measure nor end.

For Christ is the first and the last,

His Spirit will guide us safe home,

We’ll praise him for all that is past,

And trust him for all that’s to come.

Joseph Hart (1712-68)