Sermon: Friday 21st May

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Preached on 18th May 2020
(Ascension Day)
by Dr Alistair MacDonald

Acts 16:1-15

Timothy Goes with Paul and Silas

1Paul travelled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek. 2All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. 3Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothy's father was Greek. 4As they went through the towns, they delivered to the believers the rules decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and told them to obey those rules. 5So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.

In Troas: Paul's Vision

6They travelled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. 7When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8So they travelled right on through Mysia and went to Troas. 9That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10As soon as Paul had this vision, we got ready to leave for Macedonia, because we decided that God had called us to preach the Good News to the people there.

In Philippi: the Conversion of Lydia

11We left by ship from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis. 12From there we went inland to Philippi, a city of the first district of Macedonia; it is also a Roman colony. We spent several days there. 13On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. 14One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshipped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, “Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.” And she persuaded us to go.

Singing the Faith 660

1      Called by Christ to be disciples
        every day in every place,
        we are not to hide as hermits
        but to spread the way of grace;
        citizens of heaven's kingdom,
        though this world is where we live,
        as we serve a faithful Master,
        faithful service may we give.

   2      Richly varied are our pathways,
        many callings we pursue:
        may we use our gifts and talents
        always, Lord, to honour you;
        so in government or commerce,
        college, hospice, farm or home,
        whether volunteers or earning,
        may we see your kingdom come.

   3      Hard decisions may confront us,
        urging us to compromise;
        still obedience is our watchword —
        make us strong and make us wise!
        Secular is turned to sacred,
        made a precious offering,
        as our daily lives are fashioned
        in submission to our King.

Martin Leckebusch (b.1962)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 660
Words: © 1999, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, Buxhall, Stowmarket, Suffolk  IP14 3BW  Used by permission.

Psalm 44:1-8

A Prayer for Protection

1With our own ears we have heard it, O God —

our ancestors have told us about it,

about the great things you did in their time,

in the days of long ago:

2how you yourself drove out the heathen

and established your people in their land;

how you punished the other nations

and caused your own to prosper.

3Your people did not conquer the land with their swords;

they did not win it by their own power;

it was by your power and your strength,

by the assurance of your presence,

which showed that you loved them.

4You are my king and my God;

you give victory to your people,

5and by your power we defeat our enemies.

6I do not trust in my bow

or in my sword to save me;

7but you have saved us from our enemies

and defeated those who hate us.

8We will always praise you

and give thanks to you for ever.

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