If God loves us all (and he does), how is it that terrible things happen to good people in the world? Why do these things happen and where was God? And how do you know that God loves you?
These were some of the questions Peter Green considered, when he led us in worship at the Triangle on a bright, Sunday morning.
The theme of the Service was centred on Faith and Faithfulness, and following the opening hymn, ‘O Lord my God’, and prayers, Brian Smith (Worship Leader) addressed the young people before they retired to their classes.
Brian talked about the good things that come through God, and when the children were asked they could give lots of examples, including friends, family, pet dog etc. But he reminded us all that good things come at a price, one of which was being faithful to God. Examples that Brian gave of ‘being faithful’ included praying (talking to God); praising God; not doing the wrong things; and studying God’s word through the Bible. Brian then reminded the children that in doing these things God will in return be faithful to them.
Following and in between the hymns, ‘Bless the Lord, O my Soul (10,000 voices) and ‘Light of the world’, we had readings from Isaiah 55: 1-9 (read by Steph Shipley); 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13 (read by Joyce and Bob Read); and Luke 13: 1-9 (read by Trevor Massey). The first two readings talked about faithfulness to God and bad things happen to people who are not faithful (love God or perish). The Luke 13 reading, however, reminded us that it is better to repent than to perish, and before you condemn others, look into your own heart first. The ‘parable of the fig tree’ was testimony to this view. Should the gardener cut down the fig tree that hadn’t produced fruit for three years, or should it be given a chance for one more year? In scripture the vineyard and fig trees stood for the people of Israel and the gardener the leader of Israel. Jesus did not ‘write off’ its people, rather he was relying on God’s mercy for a reprieve and so enabling recovery and prosperity thereafter, as did the fig tree when it provided fruit in its fourth year.
Peter’s sermon then followed, and it was compelling and thought provoking listening. In addressing the questions at the top of this review, Peter concluded that bad things just happen with no rhyme or reason, and if you tried to work out why bad things happen to people, it would be futile. So, rather than ask the question “why” did a particular thing happen it is better to ask, “so what now?”
Jesus says repent and turn to God, and this can make sense in times of tragedy. God understands, and when bad things happen, he will provide the extra care, love and time that we might need (just as with the fig tree giving it the extra time it needed to bear fruit). And Peter reminded us all that God’s love for us all is unconditional and we know this because Jesus, his only son, died on the cross for us.
In our prayers for others we remembered all those people to whom ‘bad things’ had happened and had affected them personally or their loved ones. The congregation’s response to the payer’s words, “Lord in the darkness” was “come as the light”.
Quite fittingly, the last two hymns of the Service were, ‘When circumstances makes my life” and the rousing “Lord the Light of your love (Shine Jesus Shine)”, accompanied by Susie Martin (vocals and base guitar), Tony Barton (guitar) and Ann Massey (keyboards).
There are times when we ask ourselves ‘if there is a God and he loves us, why do terrible thing happen?’ This morning’s Service helped to shine some light on that difficult question, and Peter’s sermon provided us with more insight into God’s love for us all at those troubling times.
Kindly written by Stephen Maslivec