Weekly Worship

Circuit Worship – Offered by John Hardy

Order of Service – 7th February 2021

 

Call to Worship:

Those who grow weary, or feel faint, or fall exhausted, come.  You shall soar as on eagles’ wings!  Have you not known?  Have you not heard? Our Creator and Lord waits on you to lift you, to love you, and to renew you in His Strength. 

So, together, we offer ourselves to God in worship and in praise.  And we come to sing. 

Hymn 82 (StF): Oh Lord my God

1. O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder

consider all the works thy hands hath made.

I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder.

Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee

How great thou art! How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee

How great thou art! How great thou art!

2. When through the woods and forest glades I wander,

and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,

and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee

3. And when I think, that God his Son not sparing,

sent him to die, I scarce can take it in.

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee

4. When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,

and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!

Then shall I bow, in humble adoration

and there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee

Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989)

 

Prayer of Praise Thanksgiving and Confession: 

Let us pray:

Gracious God and Father, we come before You this morning in awesome wonder as we reflect on Your Greatness and Power and all You have done for us and mean to us.  We praise You that in turmoil and in trouble, even during a frightening pandemic, we know that we can trust You.  You are the hope beyond despair and the stability amidst all the chaos.  And we rejoice in the knowledge that Your Love is indestructible and eternal and surrounds us day by day.

 

And yet sometimes we forget that You are the God of all the world and so we pray that when we feel overwhelmed and overcome by day to day events in our own lives, You will strengthen us; that when our faith falters as we see and read of inexplicable events on the worldwide stage, leading us to doubt Your Love, we pray that You will forgive us.  

When we find it difficult to really believe that Your Hands hold us through any adversity, re-assure us we pray.  

When we collude with the negativity in the world, uplift us we pray.

In His Love we are indeed forgiven and empowered to face the world, no matter what the future may hold.  Thanks be to God.  Amen 

 

Views of a Personal Assistant

Reading:  Preaching and Healing Mark ch 1 vv 29-39

Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House

29 As soon as they[a] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

A Preaching Tour in Galilee

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

Reflection 1 

On Wednesday 20th January, we were “treated” to the spectacle of the inauguration of Jo Biden as the 46th President of U.S.  Traditionally, no matter what else happened then, there is close scrutiny of what he does and the legislation he seeks to enact during the first 100 days of his Presidency.  And the “strap-line” for worship, suggested for today is the “First 100 days of the ministry of Jesus”.

The season of Epiphany, when, traditionally, we consider the manifestation of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, to the Gentiles, is now nearing its end and today’s Gospel reading starts when Jesus has made a strong impression on the people of Capernaum, with His authoritative teaching in the synagogue and the healing of the man possessed by an evil spirit.

The detail of what happened next was carefully recorded by the imaginary P.A. and it is, I think, a microcosm of the whole of the Ministry of Jesus; a small scale reflection of the impact He had on society at large.  Mark tells us that after this incident, Jesus extended His outreach throughout Galilee.  We don’t know how long that initial activity took – but I’m sure it had a greater impact than the first 100 days of any U.S. President’s occupancy of the White House! 

Within Mark’s account in our reading, we see Jesus establishing His priorities for what lay ahead, not with a schedule of work and list of aims and objectives like the P.A. wanted, but simply through His actions and commitment to the work in hand.

So, He met the need of Simon’s mother-in-law, curing her fever, enabling her to then look after Him, and subsequently to serve the crowds that had followed Him to the house, looking for healing and seeking to know more about Him, what He had to say and to offer to them.  Perhaps an early indication that features of His Ministry would be to meet the need for healing amongst those He met, (“Aim” 1 met!); to teach them about His Kingdom and Mission (“Aim” 2 met!); and to encourage a willingness to be responsive to each other’s need in dedicated service (“Aim” 3 met!)

Mark tells us that, early the next morning, probably before sunrise, Jesus left and found a quiet place for prayer.  Of course, we aren’t privy to why He went out alone, or the conversation He had with His Father, but when the disciples found Him, and tried to get Him to return to the house to continue with meeting people there, they had a strong reaction from Him.  He clearly had other ideas.  Could it be that His time with his Father had meant a change of mind and direction as to what He would do next?  Returning to the house wasn’t an option because He now realised that to fulfil His Mission, He and the disciples had to move on to other towns and villages.  His aims and objectives were not defined by the previous day’s events, or the plans others had for Him, but rather after heart-felt and deep communion with God in prayer.  During the rest of His Ministry His actions were to be defined by His close communion with His Father.  His objectives, inspired by that communion, would remain with Him throughout His Ministry and would be honoured in total obedience to His Father and a willingness to do His Father’s Will, even to the point of death (“Nevertheless, not My Will, but yours be done”)

As we look at the incident, in itself, it wasn’t particularly dramatic, but perhaps it provides us with an insight into His coming Ministry and perhaps helps us appreciate how the scope of that ministry was to be expanded as a result of His deepening relationship with His Father throughout the next 3 years, not just the first 100 days.  His close relationship with God was evident and the driving force behind all He said and did.  There was an absolute focus on an active prayer life, underpinning Him meeting the needs of the community and spreading the Good News of new life available to all.  His over-riding concern and priorities were to do the Father’s Will and not be side-tracked into what others wanted Him to do – even His P.A.

And what about our first 100 days of discipleship?  Perhaps they were a long time ago, but what about the next 100 days?  How does this incident challenge us to think about our discipleship and mission?  How dependent are we really on an active prayer life to shape our actions, rather than to go our own way, and follow someone else’s guidance? To what extent do other issues, other plans and priorities, govern our behaviour?  How do our priorities reflect a Christian ethos to the communities in which we live and work?  That isn’t easy is it? Something to think about in a few minutes.

Intercessions 

Gracious God, we praise and thank You today for the Ministry of Jesus in times past and still today through Your Church on earth. So we pray for the world:  

We remember before You places of conflict, where bloodshed and senseless violence and oppression dominate the lives of innocent people and children.  Christ hear us we pray as we open ourselves to the world’s needs.

 

We remember before You places of hunger and poverty, where homes are lost and families divided. Christ hear us we pray as we open ourselves to the world’s needs.

We remember before You places in our communities and neighbourhoods where residents live in fear and without a living faith and belief.  Christ hear us we pray as we open ourselves to the world’s needs.

We remember before You our families and friends, especially any who have suffered loss, or who are ill, or making slow recoveries in these difficult times.  Christ hear us we pray as we open ourselves to the world’s needs.

And so we bring all our prayers together as we join in the prayer Jesus taught His disciples.

Traditional Form                                           Modern Form

Our Father, who art in heaven,                      Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;                                 hallowed be your Name,

thy kingdom come;                                      your kingdom come;

thy will be done;                                          your will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.                            on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.                    Give us this day our daily bread.  

And forgive us our trespasses,                       Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who                               as we forgive those who 

trespass against us.                                     sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation;                    Save us from the time of trial

but deliver us from evil.                                and deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,                              For the kingdom, the  

the power and the glory                               power and the glory are

for ever and ever                                        yours, now and for ever.

Amen                                                         Amen.

 

Hymn 770 (H&P): Go Forth and Tell

1. Go forth and tell! O church of God, awake!

God’s saving news to all the nations take.

Proclaim Christ Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King.

That all the world his worthy praise may sing.

2. Go forth and tell! God’s love embraces all:

He will in grace respond to all who call.

How shall they call if they have never heard

the gracious invitation of his word?

3. Go forth and tell! Some still in darkness lie:

In wealth or want, in sin they live and die.

Give us, O Lord, concern of heart and mind,

A love like yours which cares for humankind.

4. Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide:

Share God’s good gifts with people long denied.

Live out your life as Christ, your Lord, shall choose,

Your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.

J.E. Seddon (1915-83)

 

Reading: Words of Hope Isaiah ch 40 vv 21-31

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

    Has it not been told you from the beginning?

    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

    and spreads them like a tent to live in;

23 who brings princes to naught,

    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,

    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

when he blows upon them, and they wither,

    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,

    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:

    Who created these?

He who brings out their host and numbers them,

    calling them all by name;

because he is great in strength,

    mighty in power,

    not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,

    and speak, O Israel,

‘My way is hidden from the LORD,

    and my right is disregarded by my God’?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

    and strengthens the powerless.

30 Even youths will faint and be weary,

    and the young will fall exhausted;

31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

    they shall walk and not faint.

 

Reflection 2

In this familiar passage, the Israelites have been in exile in Babylon and life has been dark and they have felt powerless, forgotten and dispirited.  They certainly didn’t have a 100 day plan to provide a clear way ahead.  Isaiah responds to their plight by forcefully reminding them of the Greatness and Power of their God (who had been largely forgotten).  He realised that, because they had been so down in the mouth, they had become introverted, looking only at the problems they faced and they had forgotten their God and how He had always provided for and led them.

In his book, “Your God is too small”, J.B. Phillips picks up on Isaiah’s theme and reminds us that if we start to limit what we believe God has done in the past, our perception of what He can do now and in the future will be limited. 

In the first flush of new faith, and appreciation of God’s love for us, I’m sure we all remember that sense of excitement and promise as we experienced at first hand His life-changing power.  Subconsciously perhaps, we had a “100 day plan of action” of how we would develop our new-found faith and share the Good News with those dear to us.  But perhaps with the passage of time, that sense of expectancy of what can be achieved starts to fade and we start to look inwards and downwards like the Israelites of old.

We forget that “100 day action plan” and start to lose our sense of direction and appreciation of the Greatness and Love of God in Christ and perhaps start to think that perhaps our God is too small to make the difference we would like to see in the world.  But, hopefully, our minds can go back to Isaiah’s words – “Those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed and will rise up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow weak”. 

In those times when we start to flag, a re-awakening of that same trust, can bring us back into His Presence, “lost in wonder love and praise”, as we sometimes sing, with a rekindled appreciation of the Greatness and Power of our God, with a revitalised sense of purpose and priorities, and with the wonderful assurance that, always and everywhere, He is with us, continuing to build us up and renew us.  Revitalised by that new experience of His Love and Power, the priorities we once held dear can be re-asserted.  Once again, after a time in the doldrums, He invites us to spend our next “100 days” in refocussed worship and service in our communities, expressing in words and action, a deepened sense of mission and outreach. “How great a Being Lord is Thine”

 

Hymn 53 (STF): How Shall I Sing That Majesty

1. How shall I sing that majesty

which angels do admire?

Let dust in dust and silence lie;

sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.

Thousands of thousands stand around

thy throne, O God most high;

ten thousand times ten thousand sound

thy praise; but who am I?

2. Thy brightness unto them appears,

whilst I thy footsteps trace;

a sound of God comes to my ears,

but they behold thy face.

They sing because thou art their sun;

Lord, send a beam on me;

for where heaven is but once begun

there alleluias be.

3. How great a being, Lord, is thine,

which doth all beings keep!

Thy knowledge is the only line

to sound so vast a deep.

Thou art a sea without a shore,

a sun without a sphere;

thy time is now and evermore,

thy place is everywhere. 

John Mason (c.1645-1694)

 

Benediction:

In adoration of the faithfulness of the Father and the abiding Presence of Jesus with us through the Holy Spirit, go out into His World with a deepened commitment to mission and outreach in our communities. 

And so, together we pray:

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.   

Amen

 

Please be assured that the Circuit Staff are available should you need us. We can be contacted by calling:

01933 312778 for Rev’d Lesley Dinham 

01933 622137 for Rev’d Kim Shorley.

 

Words for the hymns are re-produced from Singing the Faith Music Edition. CCLI reproduced under licence No. 152382


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