Isaiah 51:1-3, Habakkuk 2:1-3
The LORD Comforts Zion
51 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone,
And blessed him and increased him.”
3 For the LORD will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
Let us pray
Father God, we thank you that you have called us to be your pilgrim people and given us a vision of your kingdom. From the time you called Abraham to step out in faith to this present day, you have guided your people into a promised land, where dreams and visions were realised through Christ Jesus our Lord, to the glory of your name. Hallelujah, we say, in Jesus name. Amen.
Look to the Rock from which you were hewn!
We are like Abraham and Sarah, we are a people called by God and there is a divine calling on our lives.
Look to the Rock from where you were hewn.
 Or, to put it another way, you could say, “I am a chip off the block!”
Say that with me, “I am a chip off the block!”
Turn to your neighbour and smile, and say, “I am a chip off the block!” And “God has a divine calling on my life!”
It was Mark Twain who said, the two most important days of your life are,
The day you were born, and the day that you find out why.”
The day you discover your purpose!
Most people go through life never knowing why, and most people will live and die and never come to terms with that Calling on their lives.
It is said that graveyards are filled with unfulfilled dreams and there they lie, because the people who were given them never took the chance to turn them into reality.
It was Maya Angelou who said that “If you are lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.”
The prophet Habakkuk wrote:
Habakkuk 2:1-3New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
2 I will stand at my watch
 and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
 and what answer I am to give to this complaint.[a]
The LORD’s answer
2 Then the LORD replied:
‘Write down the revelation 
and make it plain on tablets
 so that a herald[b] may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it;
it[c] will certainly come and will not delay.

And so, having a dream and a vision for our lives, and the life of the church; the Body of Christ, is important for us as a transformational pilgrim people, as we build the Kingdom of God.
One of the major problems that the people of God face, is that we do not understand the vision God has given us and therefore our purpose, because we have forgotten who we are, and the immense calling that God has placed on our lives.
Which is why we need to look to the Rock, from which we were hewn.
* We need to know where we come from and who we are.
* We need to know what our purpose is and why we are here.
* We need to know who is our neighbour, because loving our neighbour is 
part of that purpose, to which God in Christ Jesus has called us. 
Every one in this room today, has a divine assignment on our lives. And the challenge for us is to discover who we are and to realise that Call. 
Each one of us is uniquely gifted in some way, and there is something each one can do that nobody else can do in the same way in helping to build the Kingdom of God through our part in the Body of Christ. 
And one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is, “How attentive are we to the Good News of the Gospel, the presence of God and His message for each day of our lives?” Are we listening and watching, like the watchman on the ramparts? 
Blind Bartimaeus, had been blind since birth, but he believed that Jesus could give him the sight for which he had only ever dreamed. He had heard about this one who called Himself the Son of Man, and so he listened eagerly to hear for his coming. And when He came, called out to Him. Bartimaeus was determined to see, and so, he threw off his cloak, ran at great risk towards Jesus, calling out to him.
A blind man running, is an act of faith. And he addressed Jesus as Rabbi, or Rabboni, an act of faith itself.
And once Jesus had given him his sight, he followed Jesus on the path of Discipleship, wherever that might lead.
Those of us who are struggling in life and faith, are doing so, often because we are not attentive enough to God, or blind to the love of God in Christ Jesus. But, if we call out to him and accept his healing presence in our lives, we will see God, and his vison for our life in faith with Him, will make us more than we thought we could be.
He will be the wind beneath our wings and cause us to soar like eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint.
And that vision God can give us, is not only for our lives, but for His Church.
I’d like you to close your eyes and use your mind’s eye, the part of your brain where dreams are formed. Take a moment to give thanks for the congregation to which you belong, and to give thanks for the good things that God is doing among you and through you right now.
What is it about your church that makes you feel proud?
What things does your congregation do that you would like to see doing more?
And then imagine your congregation in ten years from now?
How will it be flourishing, and how will you be part of God’s success in that venture? Will it be a social, as well as spiritual hub in your community?
Do you imagine your church being full on Sundays, with families and children you have only ever dreamed?
Do you imagine a congregation where all people are welcome and enabled to serve in some way, thereby fulfilling the calling that God has placed upon them?
Do you even imagine that one day, your congregation will plant new churches in the next town, where once there were none, or where they had all previously been closed?
When we dream, our brains release Oxytocin, a neuro hormone that is beneficial to our social interactions and well-being. Dreaming, in other words, is good for you, it is healthy and leads us to greater fulfilment and success in what God is calling us to be.
And so, part of our calling as God’s pilgrim people is to continue to dream dreams and have visions of His Kingdom.
To see the dream, to believe it and then, with God’s help to make it reality!
Perhaps we feel that we are not like the Spiritual giants of yesteryear, or long ago. Instead, we might feel that we are like spiritual dwarves in comparison. Such humility is not a bad thing.
But ask yourself this question, who can see further, Giants or dwarves?
John of Salisbury. In 1159, John wrote in his Metalogicon: “Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
A few centuries later, Sir Isaac Newton said,
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
“I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
He did not live to see his dream fulfilled, but President Barrack Obama stood on those steps 45 years and 5 months later to deliver his inauguration speech and delivered that dream as new reality.
God has given each one of us a dream of His kingdom and a vision to fulfil. And His divine call upon our lives is waiting to be realised.
I’ll finish with some famous words from Mission Impossible.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
* See the vision,
* Believe in His promises
* And with God’s help, make it a reality for all God’s people. Amen.

David’s Sermon from 6 august

What is Church – Worship

You know I can’t help but think that as a church we are getting in to an exciting period of time. We have huge challenges in terms of our continuing to follow Christ in our communities and in bringing others to follow Him. In most people’s view we are an anachronistic and futile organisation. Who would really miss us if we stopped being church here? Really who would notice?
How do we express our faith in Jesus Christ to our communities? How many times has that question been asked? – and how difficult it is to answer.
What is it that we have that we want to share and which we want others to believe?
This is where we can get excited about the time ahead. We must have something to share – to promote – otherwise why are we here, every, or most Sundays? What draws us to this building to sing songs together and pray? To sit in uncomfortable rows to hope to catch a glimpse of God’s purposes. What is it that makes us want to be church in North Knapdale?
That is what makes me excited – how do we gather and distil this wonder which we share, this faith in knowing God, this assurance of life in Jesus Christ, this communication of love from our Creator? How do we gather this to share with others?
I think we need to talk to one another, to discuss our faith and our hopes, our doubts and our assurances. Wrestle together with our faith, and doubts – share our certainties and assurances, describe our experiences and sudden understanding. – and then we can with confidence demonstrate and talk to those around us – This is who we are – this is our faith – this is how we see life and this is how we live.
Is that not exciting? – to get together and work out our faith and beliefs – to grapple with what does following Christ mean for us? It will take effort, it will take thought, it will take time – is this not what Jesus is warning us about ?– life with me can be uncomfortable, if you are going to follow me you will have to prioritise my Kingdom – don’t look back on where you have been – look forward to where we are going.
And look at what Paul is saying to the church at Corinth – we are God’s fellow workers – we are all asked to plant and water so that God can give the increase – we are all asked to build on the foundations laid which is Christ – we can choose our building materials – gold, silver, wood or straw – high quality and substantial or cheap and useless – our choice to build to endure or to build for loss. And what are we building – people , not monuments; lives, not bricks and mortar.
We can have the excitement of building people of God, to be built by Christ into the church of God. That should be exciting.
Now what is Church? How would we define a church? And what does a church do? I think that just as we need to gather and distil our understanding of our faith, we equally have to re discover what church is, and what should we be doing as church?
There have been many attempts to define the essence of Church – and if we had a range of theologians, and denominations here we could spend the rest of the day disagreeing and possibly agreeing on some factors.
So give me some of your thoughts – What is Church?……….

I am going to propose four aspects without which a church would be incomplete.
Now my hope is that today I will be able to consider “Worship” – and if you give me the opportunity, I will cover the other aspects over three other Sundays – whenever there is space.
Worship – we talk of Worship services, worship leaders, places of worship, times of worship – but consider for a moment how does this word make you feel? What emotions does it convey?
I have been reading a book by an Australian minister – exploring new forms of church and he says:
“..We believe that worship is a core, indispensable, and non-negotiable function of the church. … worship is an irreplaceable function in the Christian experience We should worship because our God is worthy to be worshipped”
We think of the 24 elders in revelation – Rev 4 vs 10
“The 24 elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying –
​You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honour and power”

The church must worship – it is in our spiritual genes – we worship as our response to our God who is overall and above all, and yet is loving and caring, who is behind all creation, and yet is personified in Jesus – who hovered over the waters at the dawn of time and yet is in us and with us in the Holy Spirit – such a God we can only worship.
Worship is not necessary for God – but it is necessary for us. It rises up from us in awe and thanksgiving as we contemplate this complex and wondrous being.
God does not experience inadequacy if we do not worship – but we deny ourselves a vital part of our beings if we fail to worship Him.
We have the joy, the privilege, the honour of being able to know a little of God, to experience His love, to accept his grace – and so we must worship, we can’t help ourselves.
Worship is some way of our giving back to God, offering all he has given us – our lives, our resources, our time, our world back into being under His Lordship.
“all of life belongs to God, and true holiness and true worship means bringing all the spheres of our life under his supreme lordship.”
As we worship together or separately is offering ourselves, our beings, to God.
Jesus says to Pharisees in Mark – the first and greatest commandment is:–
Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mk 12 v 30.
We can use our hearts in emotional outbursts of thanksgiving and wonder, our souls in searching the depths of our faith and our grasp of eternity with God, our minds to lift our worship as we wrestle to try to comprehend our God, and our strength in physical representation of our worship – arms held up in openness to our Father, hands held out in supplication to receive blessing of the Holy Spirit, kneeling in submission and acceptance of His authority.
All demonstrating – “Thy will be done..”
Worship has an element of sacrifice – of self sacrifice to make room for God to direct our lives – of giving up ourselves to allow him to lead and guide us. Paul writes to the Roman church –
“ I beseech you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Rom ch 12 v 1
We worship together as we are His body and should look to be led together, to be built together, to serve together – but also worship all the time, not places, times, buildings.
When Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well she asks – should we worship God on this mountain here or in the temple at Jerusalem?
He says – forget that – the time is coming when you won’t worship either here or in Jerusalem – for worshipers will worship in Spirit and in truth” – not in a place but in our hearts –
Not in a building but in our Spirit, not due to custom – but out of our wonder at the truth of God’s kingdom.
There is no designated place for worship – there is no designated time for worship – there are two styles –
as individuals as we seek to submit ourselves to him,
and together, as a group of Jesus followers, as his church, as we seek as a body to present ourselves as a living sacrifice -looking forward in submission to His will.
Paul follows this immediately with
“Don’t be conformed to this world – but be transformed …..
that you may prove the good, and acceptable and perfect will of God”
Paul makes adirect connection between worship and discerning God’s will. Is that not exciting – as we worship together we can experience a greater understanding of God’s way forward for us.
Worship is woven into the fabric of being church – and from this grows out all the other vital parts of being church together –
Community, discipleship, mission –
And we can explore those at another time. –
But can you feel the excitement growing as our church worship’s together looking forward to what next God has for our lives together?
We worship because we need to worship such an amazing God,
We worship and we are drawn close one another as hids body
We worship and are brought to a closer understanding together of God’s plans for us as his body here.
Together, and separately,
Here or anywhere
Now or anytime
We worship to bring all the spheres of our life under his supreme lordship.

Coffee morning update

A few more donations have been handed in which raises our total to £1122.63. Libby has said she would retire from organising the coffee morning when she reached £1000. Well done Libby! You have reached your goal…..Now all we need is a volunteer to take over the reigns. Libby will always be on hand to help and support you. Please contact any of the elders if you would like to consider taking on this role.