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A Light Shines in the Darkness

A service on hope and renewal from Croydon Seventh Day Adventist Church with preacher Amanda Mukwashi of Christian Aid. The SDA Gospel Choir is directed by Ken Burton.

At the beginning of a new year, people often look to the hopes they have for themselves, their homes and their communities. In this service of hope and renewal from Croydon Seventh Day Adventist Church, Amanda Mukwashi, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, explores the idea of God doing a "new thing", as described by the prophet Isaiah. Amanda reflects on what this means for people living in conflict and abject poverty around the world. What does dignity, equality and justice look like in situations of internal displacement, violence, economic injustice and humanitarian disasters? What does it mean for the light of Christ to shine in the darkness? The service is led by David Billet and music comes from the SDA Gospel Choir directed by Ken Burton.

Producer: Katharine Longworth

38 minutes

Sunday 20th January 2019

A Light Shines in Darkness 
  
Opening reflection – Brian’s story
Amanda Mukwashi
 
I would like to tell you a story about an 8-year old boy whom I shall refer to as Brian
I met Brian when I travelled to Kenya last year to visit some of the partners and communities Christian Aid are supporting. Vulnerable communities living in extreme poverty and are affected by HIV.
Brian, his mother He and his siblings are living with HIV.
His older sister is severely disabled, was assaulted and has a child.
When I walked into his family home, my heart broke for them. We sat outside and his mother, who is the carer for all of them, talked about their challenges. She spoke of having little to no income, she shared the pain of having no food and she expressed a desire to see her son Brian get out of this suffering.
And then I asked Brian about his heart’s desires, his face lit up with a maturity uncommon to one so young and a smile of excitement and he told me:
He was currently top student in his maths class and second overall, but he wanted to be first overall
His hope was for textbooks so that he could read more
And a new bicycle to get to school
Meeting Brian showed me what hope looks like in the midst of suffering. He didn’t complain about going to school on a hungry stomach while on HIV drugs. Instead he was deeply hopeful for a better future where dreams come true and aspirations are achieved. 
Brian’s lived experience is a life of hope.
When life seems difficult and the plight of the marginalised and vulnerable looks overwhelming, I remind myself of Brian’s hope.

Hymn 1 
THE LORD IS MY LIGHT


The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?
By day and by night his presence is near.
He is my salvation from sorrow and sin;
This blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.
 
(Chorus)
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
 
The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I'll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow'r,
And, walking by faith, I am blest ev'ry hour.
 
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
 
The Lord is my light, my all and in all.
There is in his sight no darkness at all.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior, and King.
With Saints and with angels his praises I'll sing.
 
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
The Lord is my light, my joy and my song
By day and by night He leads me along
 

Welcome: David Billett

Good morning.
And welcome to Croydon Seventh Day Adventist Church – Croydon is the second most populated borough in London, and is home to over 300,000 people. This bustling suburb is also home to our  lively and active church community.
Within the Seventh Day Adventist Church, we observe the Sabbath, on Saturday as the Seventh Day of the Week and so we gather together  to celebrate Christ’s presence in our lives.
Now we pray,
Father we thank you for this opportunity to be in your presence on this Sabbath day
We ask that you will bless us with your Spirit of, peace joy duty and worship; a worship that is demonstrated in selfless love for each other , and made possible  through the living presence of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour in our lives.

Amen  

I am sure that many of our listeners will agree that good news seems to be a very precious and rare commodity in our society these days, Whether it be knife crime and the tragic loss of yet another young life, social injustice here and abroad, or hatred and violence between opposing political factions, there is a darkness that enshrouds our current outlook. But we as a nation,  made up of course,  of individuals  from all walks of life, need to see some light shining through this proverbial darkness, a light that does more than just illuminate and reveal the detail of pain, suffering and personal tragedy but instead soothes and dissipates the hatred and the hurt.
God started His creation of the heavens and the earth with words “Let there be light”  And we know today that that light was, is and will forever be Jesus Christ the light, hope and salvation of the World.
In our service today we want to celebrate that light and so we join together in our next hymn.
This hymn expresses the joy of stepping out of darkness and into the eternal light of hope.  Here I am to worship.

HERE I AM TO WORSHIP 

Light of the world, You step down into darkness
Opened my eyes let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you hope of a life spent with you
 
[Chorus]
And here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me
 
King of all days
Oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above
Humbly you came to the earth you created
All for love's sake became poor
 
[Chorus]
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me
 
I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross
I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross

[Chorus]
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me
Here I am to worship
Here I am to worship
 
David Billett  
Our scripture reading comes to us from the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 43:16-21 from the Kings James version
I will read in your hearing


Scripture Reading 
Isaiah 43:16-21 King James Version (KJV)

Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

David Billett  
Our next hymn was penned by Horatio Spafford with music by Philip Bliss. Living a privileged life Spafford discovered tragically that faith, no matter how great, does not spare us from adversity. After suffering the loss of his children, he wrote this beautiful hymn as a testament to the salvation he found in Jesus through the good and bad times in life.
“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”

Hymn 3
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL


When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul. It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.
 
My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;
ALL praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
 
It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.
 
O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.
it is well, it is well with my soul.
 

David Billett
Prayer  
Our Father and our God, we come before you today with open hearts as we acknowledge that you are all powerful and all knowing, but yet all loving. We come in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and justified by his pure sinless life, we boldly enter into your presence. We ask for your forgiveness of sin and claim the peace of redemption that passes all understanding.

We ask that you will have mercy upon us according to your loving kindness.  We pray that you will accept our worship and allow the “words of our mouth and the thoughts that we think to be acceptable to you.

Lord we know that you see all of the challenges that we face while waiting for your return. We ask that you will bless us with the divine power and strength that you promised to us so that we will be able to stand against the oppression of injustice and rebuke the advancement of evil. We pray that you will endow us with the spirit of healing so that the sickness of sin in all its forms will be abated and overcome physically morally and spiritually.
Shine your life giving light upon us so that the darkness of this world will be dispersed to reveal your goodness and grace.

We thank you for your deliverance, We thank you for your love we thank you for Salvation in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour
Amen

RESPONSE: Choir  

Let the Words of our Mouth

 
2nd Scripture Reading Pastor  Alex Mareniuc

John 1 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning was the Word, and  the Word was with God, and  the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

SERMON 
Amanda Mukwashi:  
A Light Shines in Darkness
 
At the beginning of this service, I spoke about Brian, and particularly the hope that he held onto in the most testing times. The kind of hope that Brian has is key for us at this time when the world sometimes seems to be a painful and desolate place.

At the start of this new year, the United Kingdom is facing difficult political decisions of the kind that have. not been seen in generations.

Globally, violence and displacement has caused unimaginable suffering across the world in places like Colombia, Bangladesh and the DRC, where children have witnessed their parents and siblings being murdered. Others have faced sexual and gender-based violence leading to large-scale trauma and suffering.

Meanwhile the three years of conflict in Yemen have seen large scale hunger, displacement and death.

On a much bigger scale – our planet, which is home to all of us, is on the verge of environmental catastrophe, with extreme weather having killed thousands of people in humanitarian emergencies around the world.

Last year alone, there were several emergencies that wreaked more than a billion dollars’ worth of damage each, alongside high death tolls. We need only to look to the book of Genesis to see our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation and to Christ’s teachings to understand our responsibility to our neighbours, both globally and locally.

And closer to home, in our own communities, families are being devastated due to knife crime on our streets, people’s dignity is being eroded due to lack of affordable housing causing individuals to be homeless, some sleeping in cars.
Because we now know more about such stories of injustice, sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, millions of people displaced, homeless and hungry, we could be forgiven for being overwhelmed and despairing.

But that is not the story I have signed up to. The story I want to leave with you today is the Christian story. A story of hope and faith. The Bible tells us of God’s son, Jesus Christ, who suffers with us and promises a brighter future for each and every one of us, no matter the context in which we find ourselves.  The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 29 verse 11 tells us of God’s reassurance ‘For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope’
I’m so thankful to God that He does not leave us or forsake us. Time and time again, I have seen God’s grace at work in my life – in those difficult times when I too struggled to feed my family on a care worker’s wage many years ago. I found strength, comfort and determination in the word of God and particularly motivated by Jeremiah.29.11

And in our reading today we heard that that God provides water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

I continue to see fountains of hope springing up in individuals, communities, groups of people, churches and others. The collaborative effort to challenge the odds by just doing what needs to be done for the good of all fills me with a hope that sometimes overflows. We are all created in the image of God. And when we dig deep inside us and ask for God’s divine intervention, we too can begin to reflect the righteousness and true love of God. And by so doing, we become springs of hope.

In times of difficulty in the history of our world, hope has always emerged like a light on a hill.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

We read in our scripture reading:

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I believe God calls us to be those springs of hope. And as we start this new year, let’s think about our readiness to respond to that call. To be a Moses. To be an Aaron – those spreading and light in the darkness. Those restoring dignity, equality and justice.

For Brian, hope was his textbooks, being first in his class. Hope was riding to school on a bicycle. Hope was a full stomach. And hope was being a pilot. But as we face this new year, what does hope look like for us, for our neighbours, for our community and for our world?   How are we to spread that light in the darkness? To paraphrase Martin Luther King Junior, only light can drive out the darkness we find in this world, and love, and only love, can drive out hate.

 
HYMN 4
Shine Jesus Shine
 
Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me
 
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, River, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light
 
Lord, i come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood i may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me
 
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, River, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light
 
As we gaze on your kingly brightness

 
David Billett  
Every one of us has a light that they can shine…Shine your light this week keep it switched on, make a difference for good in somebody’s life. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 and I charge with you  this commitment.:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

And now we Glorify our Father as we say

Our Father….
(Lord’s Prayer)

PRAYER BENEDICTION 
Elder David Billett  
Eph. 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Hymn 5 Let us sing that well known hymn “This Little Light Of Mine”
 
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
 
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine
 
KEN  All around the neighbourhood
ALL I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
 
KEN Will you hide it under a bushel?
ALL No! I'm going to let it shine
 
KEN Will you Hide it under a bushel?
ALL No! I'm going to let it shine
 
KEN Hide it under a bushel?
ALL No!
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
 
KEN  Everywhere I go
ALL I'm going to let it shine
Everywhere I go
I'm going to let it shine
Everywhere I go
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
 
CHOIR Let it shine till Jesus comes
ALL I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine till Jesus comes
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

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