Thought for the Week: Celebrate!

Wow! Who would think that there is a reason to celebrate today when we are in lockdown and unable to gather together for worship? My friends, we celebrate because we are free. Our Lord said, “Where two or three are together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18. V.20) If any of us, as we read this, is called to celebrate, we can be sure that Jesus joins with us, in fact He will be in the midst of us. So, today, we celebrate the 193rd year of worship in this chapel and we give thanks for Mr. Herbert and Mr Sibree and a small group of people who risked their lives and their livelihoods to have a chapel in this village. Those people were determined before God to overcome the restraints which took from them their freedom to worship Jesus Christ. For 193 years, people of this Long Itchington Congregational Chapel have been able to worship freely with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit has been with them.
I don’t want us to forget in our time of memorial that it has not always been an easy journey, for there have been times from the beginning of the 193 years when ministers and lay people have come under attack; people who, because of their faith in Jesus Christ and their way of worship, have been made to suffer.
The restraints today are different and necessary. Today, we are praying a thanksgiving for those who have suffered through their faith to follow Jesus Christ, who gave His life for all people, and in our celebration we thank those who serve the Lord in many ways and we wait prayerfully for the days when we can be together in worship safely.
We also look to the future as we welcome more people to come into membership and to become part of our Christian family. We welcome all who would become friends of the Chapel and are interested to learn more about the work of the Chapel to speak to Marion or one of the Deacons.
Today we also have a great gift to celebrate, for two thousand years ago before our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified He was explaining what was to come. He promised that He would not leave us like orphans, but He would give us another counsellor, another helper. The promise was also that the Holy Spirit would be for all who believed in God His Father and just as He had promised the day came while the Apostles waited, the Day which is called Pentecost. On that day, there was a sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven followed by what seemed like flames of fire touching each of the Apostles, but that was not all that changed because suddenly they began to speak in different languages so that everyone could understand them. Then there was more. Peter who had denied Jesus once in the past began to preach in a way he had never done before and those watching wanted to know what they needed to do to change to become Christians. They found their lives being turned upside down so that they could serve God as never before.
We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit because to this day and into the future the Holy Spirit is alive for us, to help us to speak about our Lord Jesus so that others will want to know about the love of God and the love of Jesus who died for them.

PRAYERS FOR THE YEARS OF THE LIFE OF LONG ITCHINGTON CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL

Almighty and ever caring God
We come on this special day for our chapel to thank you for being with us always, even though we are not able to gather together in the chapel we love.
We thank you for the ongoing work in the chapel and for all who share in making it a welcoming place for worship.
We thank you Lord Jesus for giving us your Holy Spirit and for the Day of Pentecost which has given us a special time, two months earlier than usual, to celebrate in our hearts with remembrance how we would usually have a day of celebration. We thank and praise you Lord Jesus as, in faith, we look forward to the day when we are no longer in lockdown and when the terrible virus has been beaten and we are free once again.
We look back into the past and give thanks to all who have come before us and have served you here.
Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you again and again for giving your life on the cross and we pray that in the coming of the Holy Spirit many newcomers will come for us to welcome and share with them the love and joy which we have from you . Amen.

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