Home Worship 27th September

Let’s light a candle to symbolise Christ’s presence with us as we begin our worship

Living Water here

Call to worship

Father, Son and Spirit, Holy Trinity, present wherever hearts are open and souls laid bare, bless those gathered here today for worship, fellowship and prayer.

Bind our hearts as one as you are one – Father, Son and Spirit, Holy Trinity. Amen.
[1]


Hymn: 455

1      All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

2      Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray our trust;
what with care and toil we fashion,
tower and temple, fall to dust.

But God’s power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

3   God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom passing thought;
splendour, light, and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore
from his store
new-born worlds rise and adore.

4   Daily doth the almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.

5   Still from earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all
ye who follow shall not fall.

Robert Bridges (1844–1930)  (alt.)
based on Joachim Neander (1650–1680)


We will now say the Lord’s Prayer


Readings: Exodus 17:1-7 Water from the Rock

17 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
[2]


Meditation

Can you remember a time you’ve been thirsty? Really, really thirsty? Parched.

Desperate for water.

How does it feel?

It’s not pleasant, is it?

In the desert, we are thirsty, Lord.

Can you remember a time when you’ve really appreciated a drink? Perhaps after a long day, perhaps in the hot sun, perhaps after going for a run or doing some exercise.

How does it feel?

The cool, refreshing feeling of water on a dry, parched tongue. The way a long drink gives you energy and renews your strength.

In the desert, we are thirsty, Lord. Imagine a rock. A large, hard, dry rock.

It’s not really the place we’d expect water to come from, is it? It doesn’t look much like a tap.

Then, in this story from Exodus, the rock becomes the place where thirst is quenched, where water flows, where refreshment reaches the people of Israel.

In the desert, Lord, you provide water.

Has this happened for you?

Have you ever found something you needed in an unexpected place?

Have you, in the midst of a really difficult time, found someone being extra-especially kind to you?

In the hard times, God is still with us, God is looking out for us.

In the desert, Lord, you provide water.

May your refreshing, cooling, inspiring water flow through me today, Lord God.

Amen.[3]


A prayer of praise

Living God, you are the most high,
We praise you in the desert places of life,
And we praise you when we are richly fed and all our needs our met.

We praise you in this storm,
and when all is calm around us.

Living God, most high, we praise you.

Amen.

A prayer of confession

Here I am, most high God.
Here I am, present to you, open to you,
Knowing that there is much I wish I had done,
And much I wish I hadn’t.

This day, in this moment, I am sorry.

And even as I say the words, O God,
I know I am already forgiven, loved, set free.

To you be all the thanks and praise,
Most high God.

Amen.[4]

Readings: Matthew 21:23-32 The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father[a] went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.[5]


Philippians 2:1-13
Imitating Christ’s Humility

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.[6]

Shining as Lights in the World

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.


Reflections on the readings:

So often it’s hard to do the right thing, isn’t it?

It always seems to take energy and effort, a commitment beyond what might be involved in just watching one more episode of our favourite show or breaking out of our comfortable patterns and rhythms of life. Most of the time, we want to do the right thing, but how?

How do we discern what is the next best step forward?

How do we discover the direction of travel?

What about all the obstacles and difficulties in the way? 

Where will the energy come from?

Are we prone to be a risk taker or are we more risk adverse?

Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer we say your kingdom come, your will be done…but I’m really busy this week, so can we look at finding a date next month when I might have a few hours to help out?

We say the words, but how easy is it to postpone Kingdom-living?

In today’s Gospel reading, we read this classic account of Jesus going toe-to-toe with the chief priests and elders – as he did several times during his ministry. They are trying to trap him with clever words and get him to say the wrong thing. I wonder, however, if many of us don’t have a dialogue rather like this one going on inside our heads all the time as we wrestle with what it means to be a person of faith?

Are we constantly challenging our own motives? Do you hear the little voices of doubt, challenge and discomfort piping up every now and then to hold us back, to keep us from taking that next best step forward?

Are we caught in this trap that Jesus describes in the parable of the two sons: sometimes saying good things or having good intentions and doing nothing about it, and sometimes the opposite? Do we talk a good game, then drift back into our old, selfish, self-centred ways?

Jesus is calling us out today, in the way he so often called out the religious leaders and super religious-types of his day. Can we respond to the challenge?

As Paul puts it in Philippians:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

May it be so, and let it begin with me.

The resources around A Methodist Way of Life offer us a helpful way to wrestle with our inner-Pharisee, with those voices of doubt and selfishness. Do you have a close friend or small, trusted group that you could introduce to the Methodist Way of Life? The commitment to daily actions and the questions of spiritual accountability help us to seek the clarity about what our next step is, and the courage to take it.

Find out more and download some of the resources here: https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/life-and-faith/a-methodist-way-of-life/

God out in peace, surrounded by love, emboldened by the Spirit, and take the next step of faith.
Amen.
[7]


Intercessions

God of all grace, I come to you in prayer again.

God of all hope, I pray today for a world in need, and world full of stories of despair and pain.

God of all love, show me what is mine to do amongst all the uncertainty and fear in my community, my nation and my world.

Where, O Lord, are you calling me?

As the Coronavirus rumbles on and continues to dominate our news agenda and affect much of our way of life, I pray for all those most affected, most isolated, most vulnerable. As support systems, charities, churches and infrastructures all feel the pressure of this prolonged time of lockdown, show me how I can be a force for love.

Where, O Lord, are you calling me?

As many of the other injustices and inequalities of our world are not receiving the attention and focus that they should be (because we continue to battle the Coronavirus), I pray for all who are victims of injustice. Show me how I can bring hope, bring change, demonstrate your love.

Where, O Lord, are you calling me?

Today, I pray, where, O Lord, are you calling me? 
Amen.
[8]


Hymn: 41

Blessèd be your name
in the land that is plentiful,
where your streams of abundance flow,
blessèd be your name.
And blessèd be your name
when I’m found in the desert place,
though I walk through the wilderness,
blessèd be your name.

Every blessing you pour out
I’ll turn back to praise.
And when the darkness closes in,     Lord, still I will say:

            Blessèd be the name of the Lord,
            blessèd be your name.
            Blessèd be the name of the Lord,
            blessèd be your glorious name.

2      Blessèd be your name
when the sun’s shining down on me,
when the world’s ‘all as it should be,’
blessèd be your name.
And blessèd be your name
on the road marked with suffering,
though there’s pain in the offering,
blessèd be your name.

Every blessing you pour out
I’ll turn back to praise.
And when the darkness closes in, Lord,
still I will say:

        Blessèd be the name of the Lord …

        You give and take away,
        you give and take away.
        My heart will choose to say,
        ‘Lord, blessèd be your name.’

        Blessèd be the name of the Lord …

Matt Redman (b. 1974) and Beth Redman


Blessing

Go in the name of Jesus, who stands amongst us and changes the story for humanity.
Go in the name of the Creator, who breathes life into all creation, even today.
Go in the name of the Spirit, moving alongside and within you, this day and forever. Amen


[1] Call to worship by Tim Baker

[2] Bible Text is from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Vine at Home is compiled and produced by Twelvebaskets copyright © Twelvebaskets 2020

[3] Reflection written by Tim Baker

[4] Prayers by Tim Baker

[5] Bible Text is from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[6] Bible Text is from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[7] Reflection written by Wayne Grewcock and Tim Baker

[8] Prayers written by Tim Baker