Call To Worship
We gather as the scattered church of Christ, into a new day of the New Year 2023.
We bring our praises and thanks to our God.
Blessed be God forever
Let us release our grudges, our anger, and our pains.
For there is a God of new possibilities.
Let us live each day in the most loving ways.
Blessed be God forever
God, you make all things new you bring hope alive in our hearts and cause our Spirits to be born again.
Praise the Lord for the New Year and all the potential it holds.
Come dear Lord and kindle in us a flame of your Holy Spirit.
That many in our time will experience your great wonders.
Blessed be God forever.
Blessed be God forever.
Collect of the day
For many churches in the Methodist Connexion today or a Sunday close to today is the day we hold the Covenant Service. At this service we recall the promises God has made to us. We are gathered today as his Church to renew our promises to him. This year the 1st of January also happens to be the 250th anniversary of the release of John Newton’s hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’, which is sung by people in their many cultures and different languages. Today we use this hymn to help shape our devotions and New Year perspective.
STF 440: Amazing grace how sweet the sound
Amazing grace — how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
God’s grace has taught my heart to fear,
his grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
God’s grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
And, when this heart and flesh shall fail
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
a life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.
1 Chronicles 17
God’s Promise to David
17 After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.”
2 Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.”
3 But that night the word of God came to Nathan, saying:
4 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. 5 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. 6 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders[a] whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
7 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth. 9 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies.
“‘I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’”
15 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
16 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
“Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 17 And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, Lord God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.
18 “What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, 19 Lord. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises.
20 “There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 21 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 22 You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
23 “And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, 24 so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.
25 “You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. 26 You, Lord, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. 27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Lord, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.”
Commencing a fresh start in life requires careful retrospection and energy. We do acknowledge that a lot has really happened in the previous year. To some, it has been a rough year, of mistakes, pain and loss, joy, generosity and kindness, forgiveness and peace, decline and growth, giving and receiving, rejection and exclusion, welcome, inclusion and hospitality and the list is long. Words from the prophet Isaiah 43:18-19 remind us that there is always a fresh start as found in the following words of the scripture.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
There have been many good things that have enhanced positive living and terrible things that have disrupted peace and the general normal life. The words in Isaiah offers a sense of hope. .’behold I am doing a new thing. The temptation is here is to try to concentrate thinking on the difficult part of life and whilst on the bigger picture, ignore what God might be trying to do. For in God, possibilities for a new beginning are many. For countries and continents that had never hosted a world cup before, 2022 was a special year to them and something to really be thankful for, to the almighty God.
To those not aware, the World Cup was held 20th November up to18th of December in Qatar. This in disguise turned into a huge blessing for the economy of Qatar and the Asian continent. It was the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab and Muslim world, the second to be held in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. Prior to qualifying as the FIFA hosting nation, Qatar had never qualified in the World Cup since the country’s independence in 1971. During the World Cup, many folks found an opportunity to plan for their holiday to watch live matches in Qatar, or in the comfort of their own home with friends. By God’s grace the world cup ended peacefully. We praise God for this.
Today, we are reminded of the experiences of John Newton (1725-1807), formerly a slave trade captain, employed by a slave-trader named Clow, who owned a plantation of lemon trees on an island west of Africa.Clow and his household maid ended mistreating Newton in a very inhumane manner, forcing Newton to beg for food to relieve his hunger. Throughout these bitter experiences and careless living, he came into faith when God saved him from a shipwreck. He had been reading Thomas Kempis’s article, ‘The Imitation of Christ’. He was struck by a line about the “uncertain continuance of life.” He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, “Because I have called and ye have refused, … I also will laugh at your calamity.” (Prov 1;24-28). He converted during the storm, though he admitted later, “I cannot consider myself to have been a believer, in the full sense of the word. John Newton later joined the CofE as an ordained Priest, where he worked behind the scenes campaigning and supporting the work of William Wilberforce (1759 –1833, a member of the House of Lords and a British and anti-slavery campaigner) that saw the anti-slavery bill passed through a standing ovation bringing an end to the slavery business within all British colonies in 1807. Inspired by his own salvation experiences, John Newton wrote the ‘Amazing Grace Hymn’ which is influenced entirely by King David’s life as recorded in I Chronicles Chapter 17.
And if you were to similarly reflect on your life with a song, what could it look like?
At this stage of the year, we come before God to make a covenant with God. We also ought to be careful about new year resolutions as most of those made by people in the new year, either never get off the ground or are aborted within days, weeks, or a few months. At the beginning of this New Year, we discover we might be like John Newton needing a strong nudge from God to change us.
Take a time to sit quietly in prayer
Let us call into mind the promises of God that he promised to be with us always in this life. Loving and eternal God, draw our hearts and thoughts towards you. We bring into our prayers, those whose dreams, investments, projects, relationships, and careers have been shattered and destroyed. We pray for those who feel persecuted, abused, lonely, and not loved, that they will find peace and joy during this period of a New Year. We pray for our loved ones struggling with things in their lives that they will find courage in discerning what is best for them to do. Merciful God, strengthen, hold your children with your loving arms, as you walk them through victoriously.
The Lord's Prayer
Please use the version that you prefer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
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.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Hymn StF 628 Faithful One
Faithful One, so unchanging,
Ageless One, you’re my rock of peace.
Lord of all I depend on you,
I call out to you again and again.
I call out to you again and again.
You are my rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm your love is the anchor, my hope is in you alone.
A prayer of blessing
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, remain always with us. Amen. Go in peace to love and serve God.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
Wishing everyone, a happy & blessed prosperous New Year 2023.