Epiphany Second Sunday Morning Service (16 January 2022) Psalm 8
Updated: Jan 16
Last Monday, 8 Clergy, 1 layperson and a minister’s wife spent three 3 days in a Diocesan Conference at High Leigh Christian Conference Centre. This includes Jabson, Ambrose, and myself.
The Conference comprised five sessions, two Evening Prayer services and one Holy Communion using the BCP. Hymns, prayers and Bible readings accompanied each conference session.
The topics that we had been led to examine were on the theme The ‘finger of God’.
The finger of God seen upon my life.
The finger of God upon my church
The finger of God upon the Southern Diocese of FCE
The finger of God upon the FCE Denomination
The finger of God upon the wider community in which I serve.
Jabson has very kindly invited me to draw together the threads that bound together make us the stronger. Bring it all together in this morning’s address: 5 hours concentrated into 15 minutes!
Clergy were challenged as to why they had come to the Conference. Had the Spirit of God led them to come? Had they come answering the command of Jesus to go? What did we all hope to get out of the conference at which everyone was going to be leading a session or service?
For the introduction around the subject of the ‘Finger of God’, time was given to reflect in how we daily use our hands and fingers – for example, Jesus beckoned people to Him:
Jesus welcomed people who came to him
Jesus touched those who came to be healed from sorts of needs and hurt that they were experiencing.
Jesus directed and instructed the disciples and his followers to go out into the world and witness and serve.
Jesus wrote on the ground at the well of Samaria and would not condemn or be critical of the widow who had had many husbands.
We use our fingers to direct – to point the way.
To say with outstretch hand to go. A direct command.
With a curved palm held upward and an extend arm to worship, to show surrender to God and acknowledge his sovereignty.
With a curved handheld upwards, a blessing from God.
A clenched fist can also be holding on to something not wanting to surrender it up. How often that happens today refusing to give all we have into Gods hands. Let us not forget that God is saying to us release what it is we are clenching and turn to Him.
Hands can be used show anger by clenching and thumping.
To cross hands indicates defiance, or saying, not listening or interested.
How Jesus would have used his fingers and hands as he walked this earth and in his ministry?
THE ‘FINGER OF GOD’ SEEN UPON MY LIFE
The first afternoon session on the ‘finger of God’ was to discuss how and in what way the finger of God had been seen upon our own lives and several personal testimonies were shared in and through our own personal experiences.
Daniel 5 contains the story of King Belsahzzar making a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of them. It’s my party Balshazzar stated and I’ll do what I want and party as I want.
It is then written in verse 5 – “Immediately the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lamp stand, and the king saw the hand as it wrote. The king’s colour changed and his thoughts alarmed him and his limbs gave way. The king sent for people to interpret the meaning of the words and none could. The Queen then told Balshazzer of a man that might help, so Daniel was called and he was able to give Balshazzer the interpretation which was not pleasant for him to hear. The words written on the wall were
MENE, MENE – God has numbered the days of your of your kingdom and brought it to an end.
TEKEL – you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
PERES – your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians..
That very night Balshazzer, the Chaldean king was slain and Daniel was given power.
THE ‘FINGER OF GOD’ UPON MY CHURCH
The scripture reference was to Psalm 8 v 3 which we have heard read earlier “When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?”
V 4–5 “yet thou has made him little less than God and does crown him with glory and honour”.
V6 “thou hast given him dominion over the work of thy hands”.
Years later, Jesus was to become one of us. Then followed much discussion about creation. Christianity is unique amongst other faith. God is meeting us through Christ.
Jeremiah 18 v 1 reads “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah Arise, and go down to the potters house and there I will hear your word. So I went down………Behold like clay in the Potters hand so you are in my hand”.
A potter needs deft fingers as he tries to create from a lump of clay an article of great beauty. The potter needs both hands to control the right pressure and balance on what they are turning.
God’s mercy is great. A perfect creator so listen to the voice of God.
Proverbs 8 is all about Wisdom and how to live as the creator wants.
In verse 35 it reads, “For he who finds me finds life and obtains favour from the Lord, but he who misses me injures himself. All who hate me love death”.
Hebrews 11 v 1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the creation of things not seen.”
God will give us opportunities and hope.
Doing nothing is not acceptable.
THE ‘FINGERPRINT OF GOD’ UPON THE DIOCESE
Chapter 8 of Exodus talks about the various plagues that were sent upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. There were frogs everywhere, thousands of them, heaps of them. The land stank of them. The Lord told Aaron to stretch out his rod and he struck the dust of the earth and there came a plague of gnats everywhere. The magicians could not stop them no matter how hard they tried and they said to Pharaoh in v 19 of chapter 8 of Exodus “This is the finger of God”. But still Pharaoh would not listen and many more plagues were to follow and the people’s hearts hardened.
A great powerful nation is brought to nothing. Does this ring true today?
Romans 9 v 17 For scripture says to Pharaoh “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”
The Minister, leading this session then went to illustrate how in the diocese of Chichester God’s finger had been upon his life and in his church. It was like this.
Reordering, Pews uncomfortable – remove them? Insert chairs?
One minister related how he had addressed this thought. The pews 18ft long were uncomfortable and it was time to replace them with chairs. An interested buyer was found and a date agreed for their collection provided they had been reduced to half the size to ease transportation. Come the day of collection the buyer failed to turn up. Eventually another buyer was found and a deal struck for the pew’s removal.
God has the FCE SD in His sights – what is our response?
Gods hand at work?
God wrote through Jeremiah “I know the plans for the future.” How are our churches and diocese outreaching today?
In several ways Coffee and Chat is on going in many churches and this has been a blessing by bring people together for fellowship to say you are not alone, others are like you – lonely.
THE ‘FINGERPRINT OF GOD’ UPON THE DENOMINATION
The denomination and our Bishops have been under attack for many months. Rumours have been spreading. Their characters being affected by false rumour.
Our Bishops have been under attack for not being transparent.
Our Bishop Paul Hunt then opened up to enlighten Clergy present of the present situation and how all the rumours circulating were false accusations. His presentation concluded with endorsement of Diocesan love by all for with what he had shared. Dispelling rumours. Prayer is still needed for guidance for both Bishops in tasks ahead on these matters.
THE FINGERPRINT OF GOD UPON THE WIDER COMMUNITY IN WHICH I SERVE
Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus? It is in Luke’s gospel v24 reads “So the rich man called to Him, Father Abraham have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire”.
The fingerprint of God is all around us. God is teaching and healing and His finger is on our lives today.
Fingers through arms connect into the Body – the home of the holy Spirit. We can all trace God’s finger in our lives. The finger is proof of bodily love.
God touches us and heals those we pray for and us. Prayers are answered. But even more wonderful is God’s DNA within us. Every person’s fingerprint contains its own God-created DNA. Every one’s DNA is different.
Ascribe to God what is His – his print of bodily love for each one.
How we reach out to each other. God is the mighty conqueror.
Remember we are redeemed, set free from condemnation of our sin. God’s love is so great. Never, never, forget it.
This discussion was supported by many scripture references on a separate paper.
It was a privilege to have been present at the clergy Conference.
Bishop summed it up as a wonderful time of fellowship. We were well fed spiritually and physically.
There was a wonderful spirit about the meetings., the outpouring was upon the meeting. The Holy Spirit had moved, giving moments to treasure for ever, not to be forgotten!
May the fingerprint of God be evident in all that you and I do in His name. Amen.