Pause and Reflect

An hour to think about the last 18 months, to mourn for all we have lost and to give thanks for the good things we have received.

There is no video of this reflective gathering. If you want to follow it for yourself, here are the short messages and the things we prayed about.

God loves you so much

John 3:16
Sing The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want
Reading Psalm 46
Comment – God is our refuge and strength
Time to reflect
You may like to take the opportunity to note the names of people you want to remember, and people you want to pray for.
Hillclimbing for beginners
Sing Father I place into your hands
Reading Ephesians 3:14-21
Talk – God loves us all so much
Amazing grace

Psalm 46:1-11
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The last 18 months have been difficult and painful for everybody, and especially difficult and incredibly painful for some people. As we begin to emerge from the crisis which the coronavirus pandemic has brought on the whole world, it is good to make time to pause and reflect. To be grateful for the blessings we have received and at the same time to mourn and grieve for all that we have lost.
To begin with let’s take a few minutes to be grateful. Grateful for the doctors and nurses and all the staff of the NHS who cared for those who were struck down with Covid19. Grateful for all those who delivered personal care to those who were in care homes or were housebound. Grateful for all the shopworkers and truck drivers and delivery drivers who kept food in the shops and on our plates and delivered everything we bought by online shopping. Grateful for the furlough scheme which provided an income for people who could not do their jobs. Grateful for the armies of local volunteers who watched out for their neighbours and did their shopping. Grateful for those who invented the vaccines and the medical treatments which are allowing life to get back to some new form of normality and for those who administered them. Grateful for Zoom and Skype and WhatsApp and Facebook which kept families and friends in touch when we couldn’t leave our homes.
And we should take time to express our great gratitude to God who has strengthened and sustained us all though these challenging times.
Psalm 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Very many people, and not just churchgoers, have discovered God’s help over the last 18 months. And of course God can help us, because
God is Creator of all things
46 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Even if the whole earth should come to an end, God is in control!
God is always right there in the midst of us all, only a prayer away.
Psalm 46 repeated in verses 7 and 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is Creator of all things and also ruling over all he has created. God is always working out his cosmic masterplan of salvation through. We are never alone. God will never fail us or forsake us or abandon us. So God is Creator and Sustainer. God is Sovereign King over all the nations. God is always in our midst, so we do not need to be afraid because God will protect us.
NLT God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
Message: God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea-storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.
That doesn’t mean Christians won’t have problems. It doesn’t mean we are immune to Covid and won’t become sick with it, or with any other illnesses or accidents. What this does mean is that, whatever happens to us in life, God is with us and God will help us.
This is the message which is so important it is repeated again at the end of the Psalm.
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is with us! But what do we need to do to experience these blessings from God? Psalm 46:10 is probably one of the best known verses from the Psalms, if not from the whole of the Old Testament.
Psalm 46:10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’

What a wonderful reassurance. Whatever is happening right now, God will ultimately be exalted and honoured throughout. If God’s people want to come to experience the blessings of this exalted God in their midst, we only need to do one simple thing. Be still.
Be still and know that I am God. Calm down. Stop striving. Be quiet. Just stop.
The Message translation puts it this way.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, … above everything.”
Be still and know that I am God. Stop your fighting and just trust me! In the long months of lockdown, very many people have found strength by putting their trust in God and relying on God. God has been our refuge and strength and our ever-present help in times of trouble. Today gives us an opportunity to praise and thank God for all his mercies we have received. To draw close to God and to know his presence.
Be still and know that I am God!

We paused to reflect. In particular we thought about


We reflected as we listened to the song, “Hillclimbing for Beginners” by The Water Into Wine Band. You can listen to that song online at


Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

As we pause to reflect on the last 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, there is one thing I believe that God wants us to know. It is this. God loves us. God loves us all very much indeed. This is the simple message at the heart of the good news about Jesus. God loves you. God cares about you. And however tough life may be, whatever may be dragging you down or dragging you away from God, God is always there for you! That is God’s message for every one of us today, and every day. God loves us!
“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.” Ephesians 3:19a NLT
God wants us to do more than just know ABOUT his love. God wants us to KNOW his love, to experience his love, to know that he loves in our everyday lives every day. God wants us know his love in a personal relationship with him.
As that reading from Ephesians tells us, God wants us all to know and to experience how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
God wants us to know how WIDE His love is. So wide it extends to every human being who has ever lived. God’s love is so wide that it embraces everybody – even ordinary people like you and me!
God wants us to know how LONG His love is. From eternity to eternity. We don’t need to worry about God’s love running out one day. God’s love just keeps on and on and on! Nothing in the present and nothing in the future can ever separate us from God’s love. God has promised “I will never, ever leave you or forsake you.”
God wants us to know that His love is so HIGH that it reaches up to the heavens. God has truly “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” We may live as strangers on the earth, but we are citizens of heaven.
And God wants us to know how DEEP His love is. Deep enough to reach into the deepest needs of our lives. Deep enough to reach down to us, however low we may have fallen. A Christian friend of ours had terrible experiences. She wrote a book and called it, “No pit too deep”. It is true that there is no pit too deep for God’s love. Whatever the depths we may be trapped in – God’s love will rescue us!
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Message)
There may be some people asking, How can I know that God loves me? How can I be sure that God really loves even me? Let me give you two ways you can be certain of God’s love,
We know God loves us because of THE BIBLE
There’s an old children’s song:
Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones, to Him they come. We are weak but He is strong.
Yes Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.
John Stott described the Bible as “God’s love letter to the church.” The Bible teaches us about God’s love. The Bible tells us in so many places that God loves us! God loves us so much that he makes us his children.
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
See what incredible love God has for us! Great. Incredible. Amazing. Fantastic. Wonderful love of God! God has lavished his love upon us. And nothing at all can separate us from God’s love.
Romans 8 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In particular the Bible shows us that
We know that God loves us because of Jesus
The Bible records Jesus’s words of love and it records God’s love shown in actions in Jesus’s ministry and in His death and His glorious resurrection!
John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God loves us enough that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ for us!
Romans 5 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We use a mark of a CROSS on letters, cards, emails, text messages, Valentine’s cards to say “I love you”. The cross of Christ is God’s “I love you” to the world.
Today we are giving thanks for the very many ways God has shown his love for us in the last 18 months. Every single blessing we ever receive from God is an expression of His love for us. God has answered our prayers. He has guided us. He has given us strength to cope. Some people have experienced God’s healing. Every single instance where God has blessed us is a demonstration of His infinite love for us. All the material blessings of food and shelter, family and friends, all things given to us so richly to enjoy. And all the spiritual blessings of our salvation through Jesus – our sins have been forgiven, we have been born again and we have received eternal life, life in all its fulness which not even death can take away. All these blessings are expressions of God’s love for us.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us more! There is nothing you can do to make God love us less! God’s love is unconditional, impartial, everlasting, infinite, perfect! Because God is love!

God loves us. The Bible tells us so. Jesus shows us the extent of God’s love for us. And every experience we have had of God in our lives is a demonstration of God’s love for us.
God wants us all to know just how much He loves us. To know the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, even though it is so big that even all eternity will not be long enough for us to know it completely. Our minds won’t be able to understand God’s amazing love. But our hearts can receive God’s love. May each and every one of us know that God loves us this morning.
Not waiting for you, climbing up the hill I fall and stumble, still Your hand upon my shoulders is so strong, And every boulder sings a song of love, And high above Your laughter pulls me on and on, And ever since the morning there has been no right or wrong, but love.


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