Sunday Services, Meditations, talks and sermons!

Sunday 24th January  2021

URC  Sunday Worship

 Revd. Mike Walsh

 

To join listen or  follow this service CLICK HERE

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Alternatively if you wish, you are invited follow this act of worship from the Methodist South East District for this Sunday 24th January 2021.

Prepared by

Rev. Dr. David Hinchliffe

Chairman of the Methodist South East District.  

Introduction and Explanations

Dear friend,

The beginning. Last week began to think about the beginning of our life as a follower of Jesus. Today we are thinking about two famous experiences of being called by God: Jonah, and fishermen-brothers Simon and Andrew, and James and John. Their reactions couldn’t be more different. How do you respond to Jesus call to “Follow me?”

Blessings

David

Preparing to Worship

You may like to be still, light a candle as we continue to celebrate Jesus, the Light of the World; and listen to a calming piece of music as we gather in worship

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”  (Isaiah 60.1)

The Lord called the disciples to be fishers of men. He calls us to follow him, to trust in, rely on and have confidence in him.
Come, let us cast our nets into his waters and offer ourselves in worship and praise.

Hymn (Singing the Faith) 7 – God who made the stars of heaven

Living Christ, the light of nations,

Radiant as the sun,

Build us up, a growing body;

Knit your Church as one.

May our loving be a witness

All the world may see.

Send your Spirit, bond of peace,

Source of unity.

 

Spirit God, equip your people,

All with gifts to share:

Messengers to speak the gospel,

Ministers of care.

So may valleys rise to greatness,

Mountains be a plain.

Come, surprise us; change our lives;

Heal each heart in pain.

 

So may nations praise your greatness,

Do your will on earth,

Free the captives from their prisons,

Treat the poor with worth.

So may desert, coast and village

Sing new songs to you.

Light of nations, fill the world,

Making all things new.

A Gathering Prayer

Loving Lord,
thank you that you meet us where we are,
in the middle and muddle of our daily tasks.
Help us to hear your call, to recognise your voice,
and to respond to your invitation to be with you now. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Adoration.

God of our salvation: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God of glory: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God our rock: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God our refuge: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God of mercy: we pour out our hearts in praise.

God of loving kindness: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God of power: we pour out our hearts in praise.
God who calls ‘follow’: lead us where you would have us go. Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT READING:     JONAH 3. 1-5, and 3.10-4.2

A Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness

Lord, just like Jonah, fear can prevent us from spreading your good news’, or from responding to your call to do something different.

Fear of being unpopular.
Fear of being inadequate.
Fear of having to give up possessions.
Fear of losing people we love.
Fear of losing friendships.
Fear of hard life changes.
Fear of becoming different.

We are sorry, Lord, for giving in to our fears.
We’re sorry for allowing social or family pressures to influence our decisions.
Help us to respond to your call without hesitation.

Help us to lean on you.
Help us to trust in you.
Help us to learn from you.
Help us to follow you.
Help us to spread the good news.
We ask in your powerful name. Amen.

Jesus, you came proclaiming the good news of God,
and endured the cross through love for us.
Through your sacrifice, we are forgiven.
May we share this good news
– so that others will know your loving freedom in their lives.

Amen.

 GOSPEL READING:           MARK 1. 14-20

Hymn (Singing the Faith) 673 – Will you come and follow me?

Will you come and follow me

If I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

And never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown,

Will you let my name be known,

Will you let my life be grown

In you and you in me?

 

Will you leave yourself behind

If I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind

And never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare

Should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer

In you and you in me?

 

Will you let the blinded see

If I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free

And never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean,

And do such as this unseen,

And admit to what I mean

In you and you in me?

 

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide

If I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

And never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found

To reshape the world around,

Through my sight and touch and sound

In you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true

When you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you

And never be the same.

In your company I’ll go

Where your love and footsteps show.

Thus I’ll move and live and grow

In you and you in me.

 

A Prayer as we reflect on the Scriptures

Lord, as you called the disciples,

Open our ears to your calling,

Open our eyes to your presence,

Open our hearts to your love,

That we may hear you, and hearing you may love you,

And loving you may serve you,

Whom to serve is perfect freedom;

Through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Amen.

Sermon:           “Will you come and follow me?”              Revd Dr David Hinchliffe 

Perhaps because I had been summoned for jury service (even though, in the end, I didn’t get to sit on a trial!), my daughter gave me a fascinating and very readable book for Christmas: Under the Wig by William Clegg QC, who, according to the blurb of the book “has fought more than 100 murder cases – more than anyone currently practicing at the English Bar.” One of the interest insights of the legal profession is that, contrary to what we might think, eye-witness testimony isn’t always that reliable. Even two people telling the same story will tell it in different ways. Think of today’s gospel reading.

On Wednesday, the daily reading in the Methodist lectionary was Luke’s account of the calling of Simon Peter (Luke 5. 1-11). Luke gives us a full (and perhaps familiar) account of the call of the fishermen Simon and Andrew and James and John. Jesus commandeered Simon’s boat as a floating pulpit. After the sermon Jesus asked Simon and Andrew to put out to deep water and to cast their nets for a catch. They are reluctant; they have had a fruitless (or should that be fishless) night. But they agree to – and catch an extraordinary haul, so big in fact they have to ask for help to land it. Simon is afraid at such power; but Jesus reassures Simon and gives him a commission: “from now on you will be catching people.” What a vivid description Luke the story-teller gives us.

How different is Mark’s brief account in today’s gospel reading: only the baldest of facts. Simon and Andrew were casting their net, and Jesus called to them, “’Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Similarly, as Jesus sees James and John mending their nets, he calls them to follow, and they abandon their father Zebedee and the hired men and follow Jesus. No impressive catch. Just a call, a commission, and a response: immediately they follow Jesus. How different to Jonah.

I love the story of Jonah. It is almost the perfect source material for a children’s story or a cartoon. Jonah is called by God to and prophesy doom and destruction to Nineveh (a major city in Assyria). Jonah promptly runs in the opposite direction. Then a mighty storm whips up on the boat, everyone in peril and Jonah realises it’s his fault for running from God – and he promptly is thrown overboard by the sailors and he is eaten by a giant fish – swallowed whole, where he remains for three days and three nights. Then, to add to the comedy, Jonah is sicked up onto the beach, and once more God commands him to go and proclaim judgement on the city, and he does so. And in what one commentator called the briefest prophecy in Scripture: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And what happens? Fiery destruction? No! The people, and even the King, repent of their sins, and seeing their repentance God does not bring calamity to Nineveh or its people. Jonah is furious! In a tantrum (thank goodness he didn’t have Twitter!) he rages at God: “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Jonah must be one of the few preachers to be angry when people responded to his message! So what do we learn from our Bible passages?

Firstly, we learn what Jonah knew, but tried to run away from. God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. The gospels will make that abundantly clear in the sacrificial love we see in Jesus throughout His ministry, and ultimately in His crucifixion, death and resurrection. God’s love will and does give all it can, that we might have life. Even the worst offender (in Jonah’s view, the people of Nineveh) can change, and can be forgiven. There is hope in God’s love for me and for you.

Secondly, God invites us to come and follow Him. Sometimes we respond immediately as Simon and Andrew, James and John did in Mark’s gospel. Sometimes we run as far away from it as we can – like Jonah. The latter is a response I often hear from candidates for ordained ministry who sense a call, but try to ignore it or run away from it. Yet also like Jonah, ultimately they cannot ignore it and have to respond. In fact very few of us are called to ordained ministry. Yet all of us are called by Jesus to follow Him. Have you responded to his invitation, or are you running away. Or haven’t you heard it before? In which case Jesus invites you now to follow Him.

And thirdly, as followers of Jesus we are given a commission: to seek to make more followers of Jesus for Him. That sounds scary, doesn’t it. Most of us probably react by saying “I can’t do that!” or “I’m not an evangelist!” We might say “I’m not a fisherman like Simon and Andrew.” And yet the reality is that by our lives, how we live, how we love (and in Jonah’s case, even how we challenge bad behaviour) can act as an invitation to others to come, follow Jesus. For most, that’s not a call to ordained ministry – though it might be for you! For most people it is a call to be a follower of Jesus in your daily life: at home, at work, alongside our family and our friends (when we are allowed), in acts of love and service day by day. We can help change the world, that the Kingdom of God might grow on earth as in heaven. And you and I are invited to play our part.

Every single one of us will witness differently to the story of Jesus and our relationship with God. Yet what people can see in us, is the reality of God’s love for them and for us. So will you cast your nets aside and come follow Jesus? As the words of the hymn of asked us:

Will you come and follow me

If I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

And never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown,

Will you let my name be known,

Will you let my life be grown

In you and you in me?

 

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide

If I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

And never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found

To reshape the world around,

Through my sight and touch and sound

In you and you in me?

Will you? Amen.

Introduction to the Prayers of Intercession, including a prayer for Christian Unity

 Today is the Sunday in the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, writes:

“the Church is united not by any institutional framework as such but by the urge and the urgency of the Holy Spirit making us hungry and thirsty for God’s justice and compassion to prevail on earth.”  Thus we pray for the Church, for the world and for ourselves.

Lord God, we thank you for calling us

Into the company of those who trust in Christ

And seek to obey his will.

May your Spirit guide and strengthen us in mission and service to your world;

For we are strangers no longer

But pilgrims together on the way to your kingdom;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayers of Intercession

God of the past and of the future,
we bring to you in prayer those people and places on our hearts today:

We remember the parts of the world
where people are being killed, oppressed and displaced.
We pray especially for the people of Tigray in Ethiopia,
for the people of Dafur in the Sudan,
for the Uighur peoples in China.
May those in power leave behind violence and follow your call to peace. Amen.

Lord Jesus, you called fisherman as they worked,
so we pray for fisherman today as they struggle to make a living.
We pray for all those who work to bring food to our table
as they struggle with the complexities of legislation and the challenges of extreme weather.
And may those who exploit or abuse leave behind cruelty and follow your call to compassion. Amen.

We pray for all young people caught up in and trapped by gang violence,
for those who have been stabbed or shot and for their families,
for those who live in fear of being attacked,
for those who have been imprisoned, who have committed murder – and for their families,
for all those who carry weapons.
Help them to leave behind despair and to follow your call to hope. Amen.

We pray for the people of America as Joe Biden begins his term as President,
and for Kamala Harris and all those entrusted with the responsibility
of re-shaping and re-uniting the states that make up that vast nation,
so divided by race and politics and so ravaged by Covid.
Help them to leave behind ambition and to follow your call to serve. Amen.

We pray for one another,
for our church families, our communities, and our loved ones,
for those who feel overwhelmed by the challenges of each day,
for those adapting to new ways of living,
for those who are ill,
for those close to death,
for those who are grieving.
Help us all to leave behind all that separates us from you and from one another
and to follow your call to trust and to love –
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn (Singing the Faith) 676 – Christ, from whom all blessings flow 

Christ, from whom all blessings flow,

Perfecting the saints below,

Hear us, who thy nature share,

Who thy mystic body are.

 

Join us, in one spirit join,

Let us still receive of thine;

Still for more on thee we call,

Thou who fillest all in all.

 

Closer knit to thee, our Head,

Nourished, Lord, by thee, and fed,

Let us daily growth receive,

More in Jesus Christ believe,

 

Never from thy service move,

Needful to each other prove,

Use the grace on each bestowed,

Tempered by the art of God.

 

Love, like death, has all destroyed,

Rendered all distinctions void;

Names, and sects, and parties fall:

Thou, O Christ, art all in all.

A Prayer of Sending 

When opportunity beckons: be bold.
When Jesus calls: be ready.
When we are asked to do something different: be prepared.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

 The Blessing

God who called you to work with Him,

Strengthen you by the power of His Spirit,

That you may be worthy of your calling;

And the blessing of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you always. Amen.

Acknowledgments:

Methodist Church (South East District) CCLI Licence Number: 1175342

 © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.

Ruth C. Duck (b. 1947) Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 7. Words: © GIA Publications Inc., 7404 S. Mason Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638, USA. www.giamusic.com  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.

Ibid.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.

John L. Bell (b. 1949) and Graham Maule (b. 1958). Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 673. Words: © 1987, WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow G2 3DH  Scotland.  <www.wgrg.co.uk>

David Adam, Radiance of His Glory, (London: SPCK, 2009), Book II, 28.

William Clegg, QC. Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence. London: Quercus, 2019.

Luke 5.10 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Edition)

Mark 1.17 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Edition)

Peter J.M. Southwell, “Jonah” in J. Barton (ed.) et al, The Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 594.

Jonah 3. 4

Jonah 4.2 My italics.

Methodist Worship Book © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes, 1999. 561.

Rowan Williams, Candles in the Dark: Faith, Hope and Love in a time of Pandemic (London: SPCK, 2020), 80.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 676.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission.

Adam, op.cit., 30.

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