Resources for 24th January

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: The following resources are based upon the resources produced by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland. The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.

The Grandchamp Community has its origins in Europe in the 1930s, when a group of women of the Reformed tradition sought to rediscover the importance of silence and listening to the Word of God. Today the community has fifty sisters, all women from different generations, Church traditions, countries and continents. In their diversity the sisters are a living parable of communion. They remain faithful to a life of prayer, life in community and the welcoming of guests. The sisters share the grace of their monastic life with visitors and volunteers who go to Grandchamp for a time of retreat, silence, healing or in search of meaning.

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you always!

Hymn: Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

In peace let us pray to the Lord: Lord, you are the vinedresser who cares for us with love. You call on us to see the beauty of each branch united to the vine, the beauty of each person.
And yet, too often the differences in others make us afraid. We withdraw into ourselves. Our trust in you is forsaken. Enmity develops between us.
Come and direct our hearts toward you once again.
Grant us to live from your forgiveness so that we may be together and praise your name

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
We sing your praise in the midst of the world and among all peoples,
We sing your praise in the midst of creation and among all creatures.
You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

We sing your praise among suffering and tears,
We sing your praise among promises and achievements.
You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding;
We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation.
You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

We sing your praise in the midst of rifts and divisions,
We sing your praise in the midst of life and death, the birth of a new heaven and a new earth.
You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! Amen

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Abiding in Christ: the unity of the whole person

John 15: 1-17
(Link goes to Oremus NRSV online)

Reflection on Scripture: Jesus said to the disciples, “abide in my love” (Jn 15:9). He abides in the love of the Father (Jn 15:10) and desires nothing other than to share this love with us: “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (Jn 15:15b). Grafted into the vine, which is Jesus himself, the Father becomes our vinedresser who prunes us to make us grow. This describes what happens in prayer. The Father is the centre of our lives, who centres our lives. He prunes us and makes us whole, and whole human beings give glory to the Father.

Abiding in Christ is an inner attitude that takes root in us over time. It demands space to grow. It can be overtaken by the struggle for the necessities of life and it is threatened by the distractions, noise, activity and the challenges of life.

We live in a time that is both troubling and magnificent, an often dangerous time where we are challenged by pandemics, wars, violence, poverty, racism and climate change. Yet as Christians seeking reconciliation, justice and peace, we also know the full value of a spiritual life, have an immense responsibility and must realize it, unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God. It is a question of life and death.

Though we, as Christians, abide in the love of Christ, we also live in a creation that groans as it waits to be set free (cf. Romans 8). In the world we witness the evils of suffering and conflict. Through solidarity with those who suffer we allow the love of Christ to flow through us. The paschal mystery bears fruit in us when we offer love to our brothers and sisters and nurture hope in the world.

Spirituality and solidarity are inseparably linked. Abiding in Christ, we receive the strength and wisdom to act against structures of injustice and oppression, to fully recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters in humanity, and to be creators of a new way of living, with respect for and communion with all of creation. The summary of the rule of life that the sisters of Grandchamp recite together each morning begins with the words “pray and work that God may reign”. Prayer and everyday life are not two separate realities but are meant to be united. All that we experience is meant to become an encounter with God.

Hymn: In Christ There Is No East Or West (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Intercessions: God of love, through Christ you said to us: “You did not choose me but I chose you.” You  invite us to receive your friendship. Teach us to respond more deeply to this invitation, and to grow and grow in a life that is ever more complete.

 The joy of our heart is in God.

God of life, you call us to be praise in the midst of the world and to accept one another. May your loving gaze, which rests upon each person, inspire us to  celebrate  each other just as we are.

The joy of our heart is in God.

 God you who gather, you knit us together as one vine in Jesus. May your loving Spirit abide in us at church and in our community that together we may celebrate you with joy.

The joy of our heart is in God.

God of the one vineyard, you call us to live in your love in all we do and say. Touched by your goodness, grant us to be a reflection of that love in our homes, schools and workplaces.

 The joy of our heart is in God.

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The visible unity of Christians

1st Corinthians 1:10-13a
(Link goes to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: We Are One In The Spirit (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Intercessions: Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places. Come and whisper in our hearts the prayer which Jesus addressed to his Father on the eve of his passion: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe”.

Thank you. Amen.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall.

Thank you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, Consoler of all, open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back to you when we lose our way.

Thank you. Amen.

Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, give us poverty of spirit so that we may be open to your grace.

Thank you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, you never abandon the men, women and children who are persecuted for their faithfulness to the gospel. Give them strength and courage, and support those who help them.

Thank you. Amen.

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The unity of all peoples with all creation

Revelation 7: 9-12
(Link goes to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Thy hand O God has guided (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Intercessions: God of life, you have created everyone in your image and likeness. We sing your praise for the gift of our many cultures and traditions. Grant us the courage to stand against injustice and prejudice

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

Merciful God, you have shown us in Christ that we are one in you. Teach us to use this gift in the world so that believers of all faiths in every country may be able to listen to each other and live in peace

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

O Jesus, you came into the world and shared fully in our humanity. You know the hardships of life for people who suffer in so many different ways. May the Spirit of compassion move us to share our time, gifts and resources with all those in need.

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

Holy Spirit, you hear the fury of your wounded creation and the cries of those already suffering from climate change. Guide us toward new ways of living that are in harmony with all creation.

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope! Amen

Blessing:

Be one, so that the world may believe! Abide in God’s love, go
into the world and bear the fruits of this love.


May the God of hope fill us with all joy and all peace in
faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the
Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit. Amen

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass is recovering from a hip replacement and we hold him in prayer and look forward to reading his lectionary leanings soon.

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 24th January from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/

Resources for 17th January

Music before we worship: EXCESS LOVE feat. Osby Berry (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship:  Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. Mark 2: 13-14

Hymn:  All people that on earth do dwell (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Father, we come, because you have chosen us for service, you have called us by your grace, you have set us free from all that held us, and you have made us whole, and enabled us to know you. We have come to praise and to thank you

Generous God. All that we are is made by you, your grace surrounds us and your peace lives within us. You lead us and sustain us, encourage us and empower us.

We are grateful for the world into which Christ your Son sends us, its beauty and majesty awes us its poverty and injustice challenges us to service and sacrifice. Make us attentive to the call of the needy and oppressed, equip us Lord to respond to your call, to serve you gladly and to work for your kingdom and your glory Amen


Confession:  Forgiving Lord. Through your son, Jesus Christ we know of your compassion and mercy.  We know we are not perfect Lord.

Lord you placed us in the world to be its salt: We were afraid of committing ourselves, afraid of being stained by the world, we did not want to hear what ‘they’ might say and our salt dissolved as if in water

Lord you placed us in the world to be its light: We were afraid of the shadows, afraid of the poverty and injustice, we did not want to know ‘difficult’ people and our light slowly faded away.

Forgive us Lord when we have failed to serve you in thought and word and deed

Assurance of Pardon In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service, strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

1 Samuel 3: 1-10 (11-20)

Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18

John 1: 43-51
(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

I am sure I am not the only one to have had one of those embarrassing moments when you answer the phone and assume it is one person and merrily chat away until much later you realise that you’ve been talking to someone else. 

In our Old Testament reading Samuel also made an assumption.  He assumed the voice calling him in the night was the elderly priest Eli not God.

Why?  Maybe the young Samuel was used to the aged and partially sighted Eli calling out in the night for assistance.  It speaks well of Samuel that three times he willingly leapt up in the night without complaint to offer assistance to his mentor.

Maybe Samuel didn’t realise it was God calling him because he felt that he wasn’t worthy of being called by the Lord.  He was young in a society that equated wisdom with age.  His mother had promised that he would serve Eli and the other priests in the temple and whilst he seems a diligent worker in the hierarchy of the temple he was the most junior, the very bottom rung of the ladder.

Like Samuel, God calls each and every one of us for a purpose.  Because he sees our potential.  Whilst we may think we are ordinary God has extraordinary plans for us.

Sometimes, even if it takes a while, we realise it ourselves, that God has chosen us for his service in some way commensurate with the gifts he has bestowed on us.  Other times some of us need a nudge in the right direction like Samuel received from Eli.

Eli’s work for the Lord was coming to an end, yet his work was not yet over.  Eli is an encouraging example to all God’s servants of shall we say, advancing years.  God still had work for Eli.  Eli had a pivotal role to play in pointing Samuel to God, encouraging Samuel to listen to the Lord and in mentoring the young servant of God. Eli’s role in guiding Samuel to the Lord is a reminder that even when the body won’t let us do the things we used to do in church there is a role in helping others find and develop their faith

Samuel would rise to be a prophet, a judge and national leader who would anoint Saul and David as Kings.  None of which might have come about if it were not for Eli’s intervention.

The reading describes the calling of a humble ordinary boy to serve the Lord in an extraordinary life far beyond the imagination of the small lad sleeping on the temple floor when God speaks to him.

There are several similarities between our Old Testament reading and our Gospel reading.  Often when we read the passage from John we heard today, we concentrate on Nathaniel and his conversation with Jesus but it also worthwhile considering Philip.

Philip is not a disciple we hear much about.  Despite being named as one of the chosen twelve in Luke chapter 6 verse 14 he seems a peripheral figure.  In fact there are other Philip’s in the Bible that seem more prominent and more dynamic.  Philip the evangelist in Acts chapter 6 springs to mind.

Most of what we know about Philip the disciple comes from John’s Gospel.  He usually appears in association with Andrew and commonly in situations where he is somewhat out of his depth.  He seems to be operating at the extent or just beyond the boundaries of both his competence and comfort.

This may explain why his calling is so direct.  He doesn’t seek Jesus out, Jesus seeks him out.  Jesus takes the initiative.  Possibly because if left to his own devices Philip might have been too reluctant to pursue his interest to the point of commitment.

But Jesus sees something within him.  For whatever Philip’s limitations he recognises Jesus for what he is, the messiah promised by the prophets and the law given to Moses.  Not only does he recognise Jesus as the messiah he proves himself an effective personal witness to Christ.  He points his friend Nathaniel to the figure of Christ.

This ability of a seemingly ordinary individual to draw others to Jesus may be why Jesus went out of his way to enlist the seemingly ordinary to his band of disciples.

Philip is one of the less prominent of the twelve, often seeming to be at the periphery of events, yet Jesus calls him, it show us that whilst we may feel our limitations God’s call will enable us to act at the limits and beyond of what we perceive to be the boundaries of our capabilities.

Our Christian heritage is littered with examples of ordinary people such as Philip doing extraordinary things for Christ.  Even today in Syria and Iraq we see our brothers and sisters in Christ remaining true to their faith in the very real and immediate face of persecution and death.  They are not Bishops, nor monks or nuns, they are ordinary Christians like you and I doing something remarkable through their faith in Christ.

Whilst we may not emulate their extraordinary actions our readings today act as both an encouragement and exhortation to us to respond to God’s call.

Firstly that whatever age we are, whether young like Samuel, or old like Eli. God has work for us.  It could be for us to rise to prominence like Samuel did.  It could be something more simple, yet equally important such as Eli.  The gentle words of encouragement towards others to listen to God’s voice.  To encourage others to faith and to grow in faith through discipleship.

It could be the personal witness of Philip, sharing our belief in Christ with friends and colleagues.  Guiding those to the salvation that flows from following Christ.

Both Samuel and Philip were called by God, their calling differed but their eventual reaction was the same.  They listened and responded.

And so it is with us.  We too need to listen attentively to God’s voice, hear his call to us and discern his will of how we might serve him.  To place our trust in God and his plan for us.  To be embolden that no matter how ordinary we might feel, when empowered by God we the ordinary can truly do the extraordinary.

Hymn: Will You Come And Follow Me (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Reconciling God, we pray for Your World.May all that is divided by doctrine or politics, class or nationality, be united in Your praise.

We pray for a peaceful world, where children grow up without fear, where security rests on trust rather than threats, and where nations fight against poverty rather than against each other.

We pray for all in authority, that those who lead us,may establish right priorities, and that by Your wisdom and their vision the world may reflect Your kingdom.

Healing God, we pray for those who are ill and suffering,for all who are worried for those who are grieving or experiencing trauma and for a world gripped by the repercussions of pandemic.

May we all know the power of Christ to sustain us and the love of friends near and distanced to support us. You know our greatest fears, our longings and our hopes, sometimes these are expressed in so many different ways, so Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen Phill Mellstrom, Worship Development Worker for the Church of Scotland

The new call of the Baptist Union of Great Britain to sustained prayer for the NHS

Pray for all the NHS staff for their own safety, energy and peace in dealing with each and every patient.

Pray for those in hospital leadership, for wisdom and for good decisions to give the best outcomes for patients.

Pray for patients; for healing, for peace and ultimately to fight this disease and get home and pray for their relatives who feel helpless.

Pray for the vaccine, that it will and is working against this latest strain of Covid-19.

Pray for a reprieve and an end to Covid-19.

These prayers we bring to you in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Hymn: Be Thou My Vision (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: Lord tune our hearts and minds to recognize your bright calling to us to live in ways that reflect your steadfast love.

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Finding weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 17th January from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B (Kindle Locations 378-379). Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary (Kindle Locations 2944-2948). Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Methodist worship

https://churchofscotland.org.uk/worship/weekly-worship/monthly/january-2021

https://baptist.org.uk/

Resources for 10th January

Music before we worship: “Here Again” by Elevation Worship live from Elevation Church Ballantyne (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

God of power and of love, at his baptism you called Jesus your beloved son and sent your Spirit upon him. May we, born of water and of the Spirit, know ourselves to be beloved by you. Help us to rejoice in the new life to which you call us. Amen.

Hymn:  How great thou art (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Adoration:  Glorious God

We worship you, O Lord our God, in the splendour of your holiness, in full knowledge of your grace and mercy and in the presence of your people, our brothers and sisters in Christ. We worship you, O Lord our God.

In the beginning you were there, and this world and all within it were part of your creative plan. In the beginning you were there, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with eternity in your hands. In the beginning you were there, Creator, and your word brought light to a dark and barren land.


Thanksgiving:

For those who, through word and deed, proclaim your name within these streets, who live the life they preach and, by the Spirit, testify to the one who has and is to come; for those who have led us us to the place where longings can be satisfied by the one who is truly Son of God, we are truly thankful.


Confession: 

God of glory and strength, too many times we act as though we have been baptized with a baptism of repentance alone never expecting nor wanting the power that comes with forgiveness and your Spirit. Forgive us for failing to lay claim to the new life Christ offers. Help us move through repentance to rebirth.

Remind us, Lord, as we struggle with the burdens of this life, that when you walked from the baptismal waters of the Jordan, you submitted to a life of divine service and sacrifice.

Blind would see, deaf hear, lame would leap for joy— and for our sake, those not even born, you suffered humiliation, arms outstretched in love upon a cross. Lord, Forgive us, remind us and encircle us in those loving arms, we pray.

Assurance of Pardon In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Eternal Father, at the Baptism of Jesus you revealed him to be your Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Keep all who are born of water and the Spirit faithful to their calling as your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Genesis 1: 1-5

Psalm 29

Acts 19: 1-7


Mark 1: 4-11

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Spirit of the living God (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: by Revd Peter Cornish

            One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that being a church member means different things in different churches – but what is far more important is that we are for the most part baptised people: people who have been baptised in the Christian Church.

            I remember a very special occasion in the first church I served in when an older lady – she was aged 86½ – came for baptism. Since her husband had died she had put her trust in the Lord Jesus and being baptised was the obvious way she could witness to her new-found Christian faith. She didn’t think she’d been baptised as a baby and in any event the church where it might perhaps have happened had been bombed and all the registers had been lost. So that was a real celebration for her, for her family and for the church.

            But what was the point? Why was it important for her to be baptised? and why did we bother making the arrange­ments? It’s because baptism is not so much to do with what we do and say, but to do with what God has done and what God says.

            St Paul says that we are baptised into union with Christ in his death and his resurrection – in other words, we’re identifying ourselves with all that God intended through his Son’s death on the cross and his wonderful resurrection. We’re reconciled to God, we’re made God’s friends and we share in his victory! We’re saying ‘yes please!’ to everything God has done for us in Christ! We’re saying: yes, I recognise that I am a sinner, I need forgiveness, I need cleansing – and you, Father God, have loved me so much that you gave your only Son to die on the cross for me and to be my Saviour. And we’re saying: yes, Father God, I believe that you raised your Son from the grave and you have conquer­ed death not only for him but for me and for all who trust in you; and I commit myself to you, I place myself in your hands, for whatever remains to me of this life and for eternity.

            And there’s something more too, because when we come for baptism, we’re accepting our place within God’s people, our place within the hundreds of millions of people who have accepted God’s gracious invitation and who have gladly said ‘Yes please!’ to his call. In baptism we’re saying – or our parents and godparents are saying on our behalf – that we have placed our trust and our loyalty in Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son, and we long to be his disciples, his followers, so long as life shall last.

            Way back in the Old Testament God had said through his prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen one in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him” (Isa. 42:1)

and today we’ve read about the time Jesus was baptised and those words in Isaiah were echoed by the voice from heaven when Jesus came up out of the Jordan: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). And Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove. God the Father was publicly declaring Jesus to be his Son; and when we are baptised God marks us out as his children, adopted into his family. And you’ll have noticed there that for Jesus (who of course knew that passage of Isaiah very well) being God’s Son meant being God’s servant, offering his heavenly Father his obedience and his total loyalty, his commitment to his Father’s will.

            So for us baptism is a sign that we offer that same dedication to our Father God, because we know how much we depend on him and rely on him and how much he has given us in his grace. Baptism – and confirmation – is a commissioning to Christian service; we are commissioned to serve our Father God in the power of his Spirit, in whichever ways are possible and appropriate at our stages of life. When Jesus is baptised, that is the beginning of his active ministry, with the Holy Spirit guiding and enabling him.

            But the reason why we can offer that same dedication to our Father God is because what he said to Jesus he says also to us. God chooses us before we choose him – that’s a vital principle which we always do well to remember: that’s what we mean by his ‘grace’, his generosity. God chooses us before we choose him, and he says to each of us: “You are my son / my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Not all of us will be able to remember being affirmed so heartily and lovingly by our earthly fathers; but that is how our Father God sees us. And he longs for us to accept his love and to live within his love. He loves us; and that’s why we can love him and serve him, because we want to.

              Unlike that 86½-year-old lady, most of us probably won’t be able to remember our baptism. But nevertheless our baptism is tremendously significant: it’s a sign of our cleansing, a sign of our place within God’s love, a sign of our place within God’s plans, a sign of our belonging in God’s family and his Church.

              At the end of St Matthew’s Gospel, the risen Jesus tells his followers to baptise new believers “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19): the Father who made us and loves us; the Son who identified himself with us in our sinfulness and lovingly gave himself for us on the cross; and the Holy Spirit who empowers us and who is always with us in his love. We are baptised people, and nothing, but nothing, can take that away from us. Amen.

Hymn: Spirit of God, unseen as the wind (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Living God,

In our hours of need we turn again to you, for as the Psalmist says “may the Lord give strength to his people.”

We put our faith in you, because you have proved your faithfulness time and again. We reaffirm our love for you because you have never let us go.  We thank you that you are not distant from us. but have drawn near, in your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He has shared our life, tasted our death and defeated it; He understands our worries and our fears. Help us to respond as your children now.

As we find ourselves once again in national lockdown, we pray about the pandemic spreading even more quickly across our country and the world, remembering all who have lost loved ones. and praying for those seriously ill at this time whether through Covid-19 or other illness of mind and body.

We lift them to you Lord for your grace and blessing.

We uphold the National Health Service. as it responds once again to this added pressure on its already overstretched services. We pray for doctors and nurses and all in the caring professions, who work to help and support people as best they can.

We remember those working behind the scenes. testing samples, confirming results, giving information to patients.  We uphold others trying to roll out vaccines, those bringing education into the homes of children.  We pray too for those that help keep the infrastructure and supply chains of our country open.

May this crisis bring out the best in us, not the worst. Help us to live by faith and not by fear; to build bridges not barriers,  May we not forget our responsibility to one another, not least to the vulnerable and voiceless in our communities.

We pray for those who have been laid off as their work disappears; for financial hardship for individuals and businesses; for the impact on the economy and pensions, when austerity has already left its mark.

We pray for those feeling isolated and anxious during this lockdown and for the affect it has on people’s mental health.

We remember those. who cannot visit loved ones in locked-down care homes and hospital wards; for those shielding, whose social contacts have been severely curtailed; help us to find creative ways of keeping in touch, of assuring them they are not forgotten or ignored.

May congregations find new ways of living though this time. May we not forget our faith, but draw strength from it. So may our worship be heartfelt, our fellowship deepen, and our service increase.

God of grace and God of mercy, hear our prayers at this time. Strengthen us, by your Spirit, so that: we may carry on our lives as best as we are able, looking out for others, showing love in action, being faithful in prayer, and bringing encouragement, hope and peace; always trusting in you, our Rock and our Redeemer.

These prayers we bring to you in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Hymn: Shine Jesus Shine (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

In water renew us. In calling, affirm us. In living, guide us. In proclaiming, strengthen us. In faith, encourage us. In trusting, love us.

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Metanoia Repentance a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 10th January from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Revd Peter Cornish

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B (Kindle Locations 378-379). Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary (Kindle Locations 2944-2948). Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Methodist worship

Resources for 3rd January

Music before we worship: The Living Stones Quartet: Come be born again (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship: 

As wise men from the east discovered the Christ-child and offered their precious gifts, so we gather today to bring our offerings of praise and service to our Lord and Saviour.

Hymn:  As With Gladness Men Of Old (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Adoration: Glorious God

Your light reveals to us the beauty of this world, for we see it through your eyes and the purpose for which it was created. Your light reveals to us the darkness in this world, for we see things as they are and how your children, once lost, might be set free. Your light reveals to us the wonder of your grace, for we see within your Son the hope of salvation and, through him, new life.


Thanksgiving:

O Shining Light, we give thanks for the light of this day, for the light of eternal love, for the light of the journey to justice and peace, and for the light of your grace in our lives. Shine through us, we pray, that the light of joy may spread through the world.

Thank you, Creator God, for the epiphanies you give us, generated from our recognition of your expansive and inclusive love for us, and for all creation. Teach us to serve you and one another as wise ones following the direction of your light. Amen.


Confession:  When your light shines on those in need through hunger, injustice, oppression or fear, and we stay silent, wash our hands and carry on, forgive us. You came to earth for such as these, fed the hungry, healed the sick, conquered fear, spoke out, turned over tables, challenged the way things were, and then passed the torch into the hands of your disciples. Grant us the courage, compassion and faith to shine your light into unfamiliar and less comfortable places.

Assurance of Pardon In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Eternal God, by a star you led wise men to the worship of your Son. Guide by your light the nations of the earth, that the whole world may see your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Isaiah 60: 1-6


Matthew 2: 1-12

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Lord Jesus Christ (Living Lord)(The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture:

In the days before everyone had a sat nav if you were driving in convoy someone who knew the way would lead and the others follow.

I remember one summer we were going on a family holiday to Great Yarmouth, now my brother had not long passed his test and had a soft top MG midget. Only my brother could have a midget less than a year after passing his test. I’m sure the insurance was more than the car was.

So of course given the option of going in an Austin 1800 or a soft top MG I chose the MG. My father, knowing the way would lead the convoy.

Now some people who lead others like that would guide those following at junctions, indicate early approaching roundabouts and traffic lights, get in lane in plenty of time for the car following behind to do the same.  But not my Dad. He indicated twice, once when we left the road we lived in, and again when we turned into the street we were staying at in Yarmouth.

Roundabouts were treated a sense of chance like a roulette wheel. How we got there I have no idea.

Fortunately the wise men weren’t following my dad. Because their journey was far more important than a Belgrove family holiday. The visit of the wise men is a significant event. It is a significant event because it speaks of the universal revelation of Christ.

To be honest we don’t really know much of the wise men. Mathew doesn’t tell us how many there are; the portrayal of 3 in our nativity sets is based on the fact that 3 gifts are mentioned. The traditional names we associate with them stem from a later era.

Despite several traditions saying they might have come from Persia, Arabia and India we don’t even know where they came from other than the east. Because of that we can reasonably assume that they weren’t Jewish.

That makes their visit to the infant Jesus a significant event. The coming of the wise men to Jesus was symbolic of the fact that this Messiah Christ was for all people, not just the Jews. This Christ would be Lord of all who acknowledge Him and respond to His love and grace.

The wise men visibly demonstrate that all who are looking for Christ can

find Him and recognise Him. And once they had found and recognised the Christ child, their immediate response was to kneel before Him in silence and worship Him.

Just like the Magi we as disciples of Jesus have been guided to the word made flesh. We come before him bowing our knee to our saviour offering the gift of our lives in service.

The revelation of Christ witnessed by the Magi we too have experienced. For some of us that revelation may have been sudden. A short journey in the form of a road to Damascus style conversion. For others the journey may have been lifelong. A long slow enduring travelling with Christ.

That journey isn’t always an easy one, life isn’t always a box of roses, celebrations or any other box of chocolates you can think of. We get sick, our loved ones get sick, people get made redundant, our kids succumb to life’s temptations all manner of life events. That is when we most need the guiding light of scripture, of prayer, the support of others and the church to focus us on Jesus.

We only hear of the Magi’s response to witnessing the presence of Christ. They bow down in homage offering their gifts, we don’t know what happens to them in years to come, just that they took a different route home. But from our own experience we know encountering Christ isn’t a one off experience.

That God reveals his love for us through Christ our saviour not in a one off event but through a plethora of means of revelation.  God shows his loving care for us through his creation and providence.  It is shown in the resources and bounty that he bestows upon us.

We are guided to Jesus through the pages of Scripture, pointed to Christ by the prophets, learning of the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels and hearing his teaching and his call upon our lives.

Christ reveals himself to us through the lives and actions of others, their love and care for us, our community and the world, mirrors God’s love for the world in Christ.

And we have the guiding stars of our own lives. Those who like the star have led us to Jesus.  Maybe our parents, a friend, a Sunday school teacher or even a preacher.  Those who took the time to share with us the Gospel message.

It is this revelation, this good news that we in turn are called to share through our witness to the world around us. To bear testimony to the loving grace of our saviour.

Like the gentiles, like the wise men, there are many in our society that live in spiritual darkness. Those who must for their salvation make their own journey to see the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. To follow the light, the star that is the prince of peace, the light unto the nation’s. To fall down and worship Christ as king to pay homage to their Lord and saviour.

But where do we come in? Well sorry to say this but we are the camels. I’m sure a few of you got the hump at that observation. We are the ones who journey with the seekers of Jesus, at times to carry them across the wilderness, to lead and bear them in their journey through sharing our own experience of God’s revelation in Christ Jesus.

So that they too may offer their own gifts and pay homage to Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, Immanuel, God with us.

For all glory be to Christ our Lord

Amen

Hymn: Born in the Night, Mary’s Child (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Loving God you invite us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs.

Loving our neighbours as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world.

Lord in Christ we know of your healing and we pray that those known to us who are ill at this time may know your presence and anointing.

We bring before you……

We pray for those in despair anguish and grief that they may be reassured by your steadfast love

Lord we pray for the people of the world, for those living in fear and persecution at home and abroad. Lord we are one people around the world, all made in your image we pray that all are treated with justice and fairness. We remember the homeless, those in poverty and the plight of the refugee. Lord may they see the light that is the hope we find in you.

Lord we pray that our world tainted by division, conflict and war might be washed clean by your justice and peace. That the leaders of the world might tread the path that leads to healing and peace.

Lord we pray for the life of your Church throughout the world, may every congregation be a community of love and every Christian a witness to your grace.

Lord we pray for all those that work to make our communities a better place, for teachers and those who provide care to those in need. We lift before you those working in healthcare, local government and community facilities.

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves

May we know your will for us, as the star led the magi, guide us to make the right choices so that we might work as one to build your kingdom.

In the name of our saviour Jesus Christ we pray

Amen

Hymn: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

Let us go now by another road – the road of constant trust and faithfulness to God. Let us be watchful – for those whose way is fearful; let us be ready – to stand beside the outcast; let us be prepared – to stay the course with those who suffer. Let us go to the world in the power of the Spirit to fulfill our high calling as disciples of Christ, who shines on us now and forever.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Go and Search a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 3rd January (Covenant) from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B (Kindle Locations 357-359). Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary (Kindle Location 2936). Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Methodist worship

Resources for Christmas Day

Junior Church resources: Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship:  We are here to bring good tidings of great joy, and to proclaim that in the birth of the Christ-child and the humility of a stable is God’s salvation for every nation upon earth. Let us worship the Lord!

Carol:  Joy To The World (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers: Great and Glorious Lord.

We come with joyful hearts awash with praise and thanksgiving

The angels bring us good news. Take heart, Jesus Christ is born today. Take heart, the prince of peace has come.  Take heart, Jesus is Emmanuel.

God is with us, this good news is for all the earth. Let us lift up our hearts and rejoice with joy! Jesus Christ is born!

On this day of days, loving God, we gather to celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, born long ago and still today, child of the universe present among us. May we, in the things we do and say, continue to give birth to the presence of the living Christ in our world today.

For the brightness of Bethlehem’s star, announcing to all who can see that a Saviour is to be born, we give you thanks. For the beauty of the angels’ song, announcing to all who can hear that the time is drawing near, we give you thanks. For the pure joy of a mother’s cry, announcing God’s blessing on her with such faith and humility, we give you thanks.

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: God of light and hope, of stars and surprises: open our eyes to your glory and our hearts to your presence, that we may respond with joy to the angel song; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Isaiah 9: 2-7

Luke 2: 1-20

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: See him lying on a bed of straw (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Christmas Caim The following prayer is a contemporary Celtic caim – an encircling prayer which Celts used to affirm God’s presence and protection.

The life of the infant Christ encircles us with surprising gifts: Look outwards and see an everlasting hope for good. Look inward and find each new possibility.

The life of the infant Christ encircles us with surprising gifts: Look beyond you and see the light of the star which beckons us on. Look beside you and welcome the company of love.

The life of the infant Christ encircles us with surprising gifts: Look widely and find the Christ is near in friend and stranger. Look closely and touch the life of the divine within your own heart.

Stay, stay here now, in the beauty of encircling love.

Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:
Loving Lord

We give you thanks that through your grace you sent your Son, our Lord into the world. We pray that through your strength we like him, might become agents of change in our world.  Through the birth of your Son we know of your all conquering love.  We know that we are powerless without you so we humbly bring our prayers for the world we are called to serve.

We pray for those who live their lives in the darkness of illness and despair at Christmas.

In Christ we know of your compassion and we lift before you those known to us suffering from illness of mind and body. May they know the power of your healing love.

We lift before you those who mourn and grieve and for all missing loved ones over Christmas.  We pray for those shrouded by the dark clouds of despair and anxiety.  May they see the light of your love at work in their lives.

Loving Lord, you created a world where all your people should live in harmony, justly and equally, yet the frailties of humankind have turned your vision into a land of inequality and injustice.

We pray for those whose lives are cloaked in the darkness of poverty and homelessness, for whom Christmas brings little cheer.  May they see the light of your hope in their lives.  We ask that your blessing be upon all the organisations that work to ease the plight of those in poverty and those seeking to provide short and long term shelter to the homeless. 

May our local and national politicians work alongside other agencies to eradicate the poverty and homelessness that shames our society. We pray that the forces of good might heal the division and inequalities so clear in our towns, our country and the wider world.

We pray that your healing be upon those affected by persecution and war and that your peace will illuminate the world and bring an end to humankind’s failings of war, greed and prejudice.

Father we pray for your universal church. Called to be one body we remain at times fractured and broken.  We give thanks for our brothers and sisters in Christ, may we through our love resolve to work together as one fellowship of disciples or your kingdom. May our voices be as one as we preserve Christian faith in our community, when we speak out to proclaim your saving love and bear witness to your glory.

Finally Lord, we pray for ourselves.

Open our eyes to the plight of others and may we be filled with the Holy Spirit and emboldened to act to challenge injustice and inequality in our world. May our words and deeds be filled with love and compassion for others as through our discipleship we might bring justice to our world. 

We pray all these things in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing:

God our Father, whose Word has come among us in the Holy Child of Bethlehem: may the light of faith illumine our hearts and shine in our words and deeds; through him who is Christ the Lord

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Simeon a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home Christmas Day from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Methodist Worship

Resources for 20th December

4th week of Advent

Music before we worship: Long ago, prophets knew: by Joy and Ruth Everingham (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Introduction: Advent is the start of the Christian Year. It is a time when we look forward with happiness and joy to the birth of Jesus, son of God, who will bring light into a world of darkness, freedom for the captive and justice for all peoples. If there was ever a time when the world needed such a message of hope, it is surely now as people around the globe continue to struggle with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

A tradition of Advent which need not be affected by Covid-19 is the lighting of Advent candles to mark each of the four passing weeks of Advent, culminating in the lighting of the final candle on Christmas Day to represent Jesus, light of the world. You may wish to place five candles in a safe prominent space in your home to light during your journey through Advent. This week our theme is peace.

Call to Worship:  Let us worship God

Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9: 6

Hymn:  Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Advent prayer God of hope who brought love into this world, thank you for the love that dwells between us. God of hope who brought peace into this world, thank you for the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope who brought joy into this world, thank you for the joy that dwells between us. God of hope, the rock upon which we stand, thank you for all that unites us this day and throughout this Advent time.

Adoration and thanksgiving:

We will speak of your love for ever, and proclaim your faithfulness to every generation, for your word is dependable, your promises secure.

A child is to be born within one nation but for all nations. Our God will be revealed, the Son of David born in humility. Love will come down to earth as servant-king and vulnerable. We will speak of your love for ever, and proclaim your faithfulness to every generation, for by grace incomparable our salvation is here.

When you come to us with gentle whisper or mighty wind, and ask what seems impossible to human minds, as you did with Mary, may our response not be to hesitate, make excuses or run away, but to echo instead those trusting and beautiful words, ‘I am the Lord’s servant; may your word be fulfilled in me.’ For Mary’s faithfulness and her life of service we thank you, Lord.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.


Confession: 

As we celebrate the gift of love within a manger and remember that Jesus Christ came for our salvation, forgive us if our hearts are cold and faith is hard to find. Bring us back to the mother, Mary, who bore the child who would be king. Remind us of her gentleness, her faithfulness when asked to be the blessed one through whom the divine would walk upon this earth. Oh, that we should demonstrate such faith!

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: All-powerful God, let the splendour of your glory rise in our hearts like the dawn, that the darkness of the night may be scattered and the coming of your only Son may reveal us as children of the light. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen Methodist Worship

bible(8)

Scripture readings:

Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26

2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16


Luke 1: 26-38

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Hark the glad sound! The Saviour comes (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: A reflection, prayer and activity from the United Reformed Church Walking the way steering group

As the fourth candle is lit, we consider the love which God sends us through the coming of Jesus into the world.
An old saying tells us that God does not call the equipped, but rather equips the called. Ever true to form, God has a habit of calling people who seem unsuited for the task which has been set.


In Psalm 89, we read of David, known ultimately as a powerful king loyal to the values and ways of God, but perhaps best known for slaying the giant warrior Goliath when he was called in his younger days as a harp-playing shepherd boy to face this behemoth of an enemy. Why would God choose a young, inexperienced child to carry out this massive task, instead of an older, more experienced warrior?


God does it again, of course, in Jesus, whose arrival we await with growing anticipation. Jesus comes onto the world, not as a grown adult ready to face the challenges of life with wisdom and fervour, but as the child of a working class carpenter family, where the man of the family is not actually his father, and is forced immediately following his birth into exile as a refugee, fleeing for his life against King Herod. Again, why would God do such a thing?

If we ever wanted a sign of God’s love for us, it is surely in the person of Jesus. For, in Jesus, we have Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’, not as a king or a warrior, but as a human being, just like us, facing the same joys and challenges of life which we face on a daily basis. As one popular Christmas carol puts it, ‘For he is our childhood’s pattern, day by day like us he grew. He was little, weak and helpless, tears and smiles, like us, he knew’.

In calling young, inexperienced people to do great things, God shows that, no matter who we are, regardless of our background or abilities, we are loved, just as we are, and called to be part of building God’s vision of peace, justice and love for all.
As we wait for these last few days before Christmas we can join with the psalmist and say: “I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

Prayer:

Expectant God,
The heavens can no longer hold your abundant love,
So, you pour out the gift of your embodied self
Relinquishing the beauty of your majesty,
To adorn the pale colours of our humanity.
Choosing to enter into this world in a place of scarcity and need.
Reveal to us this hidden world
of poverty,
of refugees,
of suffering.
As you choose this as the place of your birth
Let us choose this to be the place of our rebirth.
Rebuild us,
Transform us,
Make us anew.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Amen.
(Attributed with thanks to Kieran O’Brien/CAFOD)

Activity:

Gifts are often given at Christmastime as a sign of our care for others and a reminder that we are thinking about them.
Who, in your community, needs to feel God’s love right now? Who is lonely? Who is tired? Who is struggling? Is there a gift you could offer them which might be useful to them at this time? Could you cook a meal to deliver to someone living alone? Could you make some cards for your neighbours to wish them a Merry Christmas? Could you ‘pay it forward’ when you next buy a coffee so that someone who can’t afford one can enjoy a drink? Could you donate to a local charity supporting homeless people over the winter?
These may seem like simple acts of kindness, but they can make a huge difference to people who need to know that they are loved by God, and those around them.

Hymn: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, let us turn our
hearts and minds to the Father, with confidence in his generous love and mercy:

That the Church will faithfully proclaim the Word of God to every part of the world, we
pray to the Lord…


That Government leaders will be responsive to the needs of their people, especially
families with young children, we pray to the Lord…


That all who are pregnant and afraid may welcome the life within them, and draw
strength from the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary: Do not fear, we pray to the Lord…


That the poor, the lonely, and the neglected will experience God’s love during this joyful
season through the kindness of others, we pray to the Lord…

For those who grieve and mourn, for those for whom this time of year is tinged with sadness, for all those in need of God’s presence, we pray to the Lord….


That all who are busy making preparations to celebrate Christmas will take time to reflect on God’s love for them, we pray to the Lord…


For those who have died, that as they shared our Christmas joy on earth, they may come to enjoy eternal glory in God’s kingdom, we pray to the Lord…

Almighty God,
prepare our hearts with your grace,
that like Mary, we may be a worthy dwelling place for your Son.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: As we prepare for Christmas celebrations may we hold your love in our hearts Lord, giving it as a precious gift to others in your glorious name.

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Fourth Sunday of Advent a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 20th December from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition

United Reformed Church: https://urc.org.uk/our-work/walking-the-way.html Written by John Collings and Simon Peters on behalf of the Walking the Way steering group

Methodist worship

Sermons4kids

Resources for 13th December

3rd week of Advent

Music before we worship: O Come O Come Emmanuel (feat. Naomi Raine & Nate Moore) – Maverick City (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Introduction: Advent is the start of the Christian Year. It is a time when we look forward with happiness and joy to the birth of Jesus, son of God, who will bring light into a world of darkness, freedom for the captive and justice for all peoples. If there was ever a time when the world needed such a message of hope, it is surely now as people around the globe continue to struggle with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

A tradition of Advent which need not be affected by Covid-19 is the lighting of Advent candles to mark each of the four passing weeks of Advent, culminating in the lighting of the final candle on Christmas Day to represent Jesus, light of the world. You may wish to place five candles in a safe prominent space in your home to light during your journey through Advent. This week our theme is peace.

Call to Worship:  Let us worship God

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Hymn:  Tell out my soul (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Advent prayer God of hope who brought love into this world, thank you for the love that dwells between us. God of hope who brought peace into this world, thank you for the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope who brought joy into this world, thank you for the joy that dwells between us. God of hope, the rock upon which we stand, thank you for all that unites us this day and throughout this Advent time.

Adoration and thanksgiving:

At the rising of the dawn and the setting of the sun we will rejoice in the Lord. In the busyness of the day and the quieter times within, we will rejoice in the Lord. In the joining of our lives and the fellowship we enjoy, we will rejoice in the Lord.

You came to this world for the poor in spirit, the broken-hearted, those held captive, those lost in sin. You came to this world to bring good news and wholeness into lives, to bring release and to forgive. You came to this world to guide your people from a desert place to a kingdom of love and grace. You came to this world to show how far love is prepared to go, and, on a cross, showed heaven on earth.

God is close, and we will rejoice. The world awaits, and we will rejoice. Incarnation is soon, and we will rejoice. God is restoring our fortunes, and we will rejoice. We shout with joy, and we will rejoice.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.


Confession:  When we trust the wisdom of this world, straying from the pathway you would have us tread: Lord, in your mercy. Forgive us. When we fail to hear your gentle word, choosing other voices to follow instead: Lord, in your mercy. Forgive us. When we hesitate to speak your name, fearful of our failings or of what might be said: Lord, in your mercy. Forgive us.

God of true joy, in the light of Christ we know of your grace and forgiveness, restore us and renew us, make us daring! Heal our broken hearts, free us from our prisons, and teach us to rejoice in your love through our acts of faithful living. Amen.

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: God for whom we wait and watch, you sent your servant John the Baptist to prepare your people for the coming of the Messiah. Inspire the minister and stewards of your truth to turn disobedient hearts to you;that, when Christ shall come again in glory to be our judge, we may stand before him, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 126

Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11


John 1: 6-8, 19-28

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: I come with joy, a child of God (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: A reflection, prayer and activity from the United Reformed Church Walking the way steering group

As the third candle of Advent is lit, we consider the joy which the coming of Jesus signals for all humanity, even, and especially, in times of darkness and uncertainty.
With the continuing Covid-19 crisis, questions are rising about how we might ‘save Christmas’ during physical distancing requirements, local lockdowns, possible transport restrictions and increasing worries about the economy.


It is understandable that we yearn for the things we might miss this year, such as big parties, gatherings in church buildings, family events and singing carols together, but as Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, it is not us that need to save Christmas in order that it might be joyful, but rather the joy of Christmas which can save us!


When Psalm 126 speaks of the fortunes of Zion being restored, mouths full of laughter and tongues with songs of joy, the Psalmist is referring to the rewards of the very long and arduous journey which the people of Israel undertook in the Old Testament, a journey which led them to places of pain and suffering, uncertainty and fear. However, it was also a journey which shaped them and helped them to focus on what really matters as they found fresh, creative ways of responding to God’s will in difficult circumstances.

This week, we remember another arduous journey, that of Mary and Joseph as they travelled to Bethlehem to register as part of the nationwide census, while with Mary heavily pregnant with Jesus. As if the distance weren’t enough of a challenge, we know that, upon arrival, they couldn’t find anywhere to stay and then, after giving birth to Jesus, Mary, her husband, and new-born baby, had to flee for their lives as King Herod sought to kill the child.


Looking back on these journeys, we know that, through God, the outcome was better than anyone could ever have imagined. For even when we feel lost, isolated, restless, fearful, or uncertain of what’s happening or where we’re heading, God is always with us guiding us ever towards a future of hope, peace and joy. As we continue to prepare for Jesus’ arrival, we can join with the Psalmist and ask “Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev” that we, too might know the wisdom and blessing which God seeks to reveal to us, even in this time of darkness.

Prayer:

With expectant waiting
we anticipate your coming.
Come close to us, Lord,
come very close.
Come, Alpha and Omega,
who is from before the ages.
Come, Son of Joseph and Son of Mary,
who went down to Nazareth to be obedient to them.
Come, Morning Star,
who named the stars.
Come, carpenter from Nazareth.
who knows the smell of planed wood.
Come, Beloved Son of God,
who knows the heart of God.
Come, Son of Man,
who knows the hearts of God’s people.
Come, Lord of Life and Prince of Peace.
Come, Dayspring and Rising Sun.
Come, Wonderful Counsellor.
Come Immanuel, God with us;
God very close to us.
Amen.
(Attributed with thanks to Ged Johnson/CAFOD)

Hymn: May the Mind of Christ My Savior (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Faithful God, we trust your promise that one day your kingdom will come.

We pray for those who suffer unjustly…God of justice, we look for a world where justice is reigns.

We pray for those who are anxious…God of peace, we look for a world where peace will reign.

We pray for those who feel alone, isolated and unloved…God of love, we look for a world where fellowship will reign.

We pray for those who are sick, and those who care for them…God of love, we look for a world where wholeness will reign.

We pray for those who have lost hope, and cannot see a way to travel…God of love, we look for a world where hope will reign.

We pray for those who walk in darkness, and cannot see the light…God of love, we look for a world where the light of your love will reign.

God of justice, peace and love, comfort your people, we pray. Speak tenderly to us, we ask. May your kingdom come; and may it be seen in us, as we live it day by day, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Rev Dr David Hinchliffe

Hymn: Joy to the World (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: May you know joy through God’s saving grace, May you be a beacon of joy as you walk in the world. May God’s joy and light shine throughout the world.

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Third Sunday of Advent a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 13th December from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition

United Reformed Church: https://urc.org.uk/our-work/walking-the-way.html Written by John Collings and Simon Peters on behalf of the Walking the Way steering group

Methodist worship

Rev Dr David Hinchliffe

Resources for 6th December

2nd week of Advent

Music before we worship: Zach Williams – No Longer Slaves (Live from Harding Prison) (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Introduction: Advent is the start of the Christian Year. It is a time when we look forward with happiness and joy to the birth of Jesus, son of God, who will bring light into a world of darkness, freedom for the captive and justice for all peoples. If there was ever a time when the world needed such a message of hope, it is surely now as people around the globe continue to struggle with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

A tradition of Advent which need not be affected by Covid-19 is the lighting of Advent candles to mark each of the four passing weeks of Advent, culminating in the lighting of the final candle on Christmas Day to represent Jesus, light of the world. You may wish to place five candles in a safe prominent space in your home to light during your journey through Advent. This week our theme is peace.

Call to Worship:  Let us worship God

In accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.  Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Peter 3: 13-15a

Hymn:  The King of Love my Shepherd is (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Advent prayer God of hope who brought love into this world, thank you for the love that dwells between us. God of hope who brought peace into this world, thank you for the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope who brought joy into this world, thank you for the joy that dwells between us. God of hope, the rock upon which we stand, thank you for all that unites us this day and throughout this Advent time.

Adoration and thanksgiving: O God of peace, your way is sure and leads to salvation. You send your Son, the promise of life eternal; your Holy Spirit guides us to truth. We hear your heralds proclaim the path of obedience, and receive your abounding grace, making firm our footsteps; we know that all is made ready to follow you faithfully. We praise you in thought, word, and deed. By your mercy, affirm your unending love for us, and in our worship make us alive in your promise.

In the streets we walk and the places we go, with people we meet and decisions we make, thank you for being our guide, O Lord. Take us to places where you would go; give us words that you would say; so that in this Advent season of promise and preparation, we might gratefully point the way to the one who takes away the sin of the world.

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.


Confession:  We have a promise, a God-given promise that will not fail— of a new heaven and a new earth, where love and righteousness reside. May our lives reflect that promise and be found spotless on that glorious day. God of love and mercy, pour your living water into these hearts; cleanse and refresh them that they might overflow in praise.

Assurance of Pardon: In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: God of all holiness, your promises stand unshaken through all generations and you lift up all who are burdened and brought low: renew our hope in you as we await for the coming in glory of Jesus Christ, our Judge and our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, world without end. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13

Isaiah 40: 1-11


Mark 1: 1-8

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Come, thou long expected Jesus (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: A reflection, prayer and activity from the United Reformed Church Walking the way steering group

As the second candle of Advent is lit, we consider the peace which God offers but also calls us to maintain in the world around us as we await the coming of Jesus.


Although peace is a strong tie which binds different groups from various backgrounds, creeds, and opinions firmly together, it can also be undeniably fragile. It takes a lot of hard work to unite different groups, especially when people disagree or hold grudges. It takes even more commitment to keep people united, getting to know each other more closely as they grow and develop together. As we wait for Jesus’ arrival at Christmas, now is an ideal time to begin that process of unity, working towards a lasting peace.
It is inspiring to read in Psalm 85, “I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants”. The psalmist knows that they can trust in the promise which God has made.


However, they also know that we all have our part to play in living out these promises, in order that they may come to pass, for “surely, his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land”. No matter how much we may pray for it, peace is not going to delivered to us on a plate. What has been given freely, however, is the gift of Jesus, and, in our acceptance of him, the ability to live in ways which see ”love and faithfulness meet together” and see “faithfulness spring forth from the earth”.


We know the risen, living Jesus and that the power of the Holy Spirit is with us every day as we seek to live the life of Jesus today. “Our land will yield it’s harvest,” but only when we are able, through God, to plant the seeds of unity and peace. “Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” How can we sow the seeds of unity and peace, in the name of Jesus, where we are?

Prayer: God of Salvation,
Wake us up Lord!
The night is nearly over.
Let us begin our Advent journey.
Move us from our lives
Of greed and selfishness,
From our globalised world
Of inequality and exploitation,
To your kingdom
Of righteousness and mercy.
To a transformed world,
Where peace is built on understanding not weapons,
The poor are empowered to live their lives to the full,
Businesses are built on need not greed
And your Creation is nurtured not abused.
Wake us up Lord!
Let us live as people of the light.
Amen.
(Attributed with thanks to Sue Cooper/CAFOD)

Activity: Depending on Covid-19 safety measures in your area, why not take this pilgrimage with friends or members of your household/bubble?


As you travel around your local area, either physically or virtually, consider the struggles and challenges people in your community might be facing at this time of year. Perhaps some are feeling isolated or disconnected. Some will be facing financial hardship as costs mount up and uncertainty about employment grows. Some will be facing physical and mental health concerns which cause them great suffering, disruption and pain.


In this world, it is us whom God calls to be a living presence of peace and hope. Consider how you might shine the light of God’s peace in your area this Advent. Is there someone feeling lonely you could call? Could you donate to a local foodbank or work with people in your church to set up a collection centre? Are there organisations or charities in the local area you could support to help those facing particular difficulties?

Hymn: Faithful One, So Unchanging (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Compassionate God

In this time of Advent as we look to the Prince of Peace may that peace descend upon your people your Church and the world.

Just as the promises of John the Baptist were fulfilled in your Son we come now confident that you will hear our prayers.

We pray your peace be in the hearts of those who are anxious, worried and fearful, that in your peace they might find strength and security.

May your peace be in the hearts of those who mourn and grieve granting them comfort and reassurance.

We pray that your healing may bring peace to those who are ill as we lift them before you.

We come asking your peace in the wider world, we remember the places on conflict and war.  Father guide your people to live in harmony and peace.  May you bless the peacemakers and all who work for peace.

Grant O Lord your peace to those in poverty and in need at home and abroad, as we give thanks for the agencies working to help.

We pray to Lord for your Church, may we be united in harmony acting as a beacon of peace to our communities and the wider world.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.

Amen

Hymn: On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: May you know God’s peace in words and ways of comfort. May you show God’s peace in words and ways of comfort. May God’s peace and hope shine in all the world.

And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Second Sunday of Advent a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 6th December from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Seasons of the Spirit. Prayers for All Seasons: Based on The Revised Common Lectionary Yr. B . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition

United Reformed Church: https://urc.org.uk/our-work/walking-the-way.html Written by John Collings and Simon Peters on behalf of the Walking the Way steering group

Methodist worship

Resources for 29th November

1st week of Advent

Music before we worship: Christy Nockels -The Thrill of Hope- Advent Hymn (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Introduction: Advent is the start of the Christian Year. It is a time when we look forward with happiness and joy to the birth of Jesus, son of God, who will bring light into a world of darkness, freedom for the captive and justice for all peoples. If there was ever a time when the world needed such a message of hope, it is surely now as people around the globe continue to struggle with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

A tradition of Advent which need not be affected by Covid-19 is the lighting of Advent candles to mark each of the four passing weeks of Advent, culminating in the lighting of the final candle on Christmas Day to represent Jesus, light of the world. You may wish to place five candles in a safe prominent space in your home to light during your journey through Advent.

Call to Worship:  He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians Chapter 1: 8-9

Hymn:  I will sing the wondrous story (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Adoration &Thanksgiving: God of hope who brought love into this world, thank you for the love that dwells between us. God of hope who brought peace into this world, thank you for the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope who brought joy into this world, thank you for the joy that dwells between us. God of hope, the rock upon which we stand, thank you for all that unites us this day and throughout this Advent time.

Spirit of wisdom, rest upon us; grant us understanding and an increase in our faith. Spirit of knowledge, rest upon us; grant us discernment in decisions we must make. Spirit of power, rest upon us; grant us faithfulness when we are spiritually weak

Spirit of God, present in Jesus, Saviour, rest upon us this Advent time, we pray.

This is a time for preparation, of walking toward Bethlehem, making straight the path that will lead others into the presence of the divine. We bring our gifts to you—the offering of our hearts in worship and praise

Whilst we give thanks and praise to God we recognise our own failings as we confess our sins.


Confession: 

There is a fire within our hearts ignited by your love and grace, which we carry with us on our walk with you. Forgive us when that flame is dampened by the temptations of the day. By your Spirit’s breath revive us, Lord of light and life, we pray.

Assurance of Pardon: In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Lord our God, keep us your servants alert and watchful as we await the return of Christ your Son, so that when he comes and knocks at the door he may find us vigilant in prayer, with songs of praise on our lips. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19


Mark 13: 24-37

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: Like a candle flame (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: A reflection, prayer and activity from the United Reformed Church Walking the way steering group

As the first candle of Advent is lit, we consider the hope which Jesus brings into the world.


Throughout the year, people of differing religions and cultures enjoy different ways of thinking about hope. For Jews, Hanukah marks the rededication of the second temple, a key moment of hope in a festival of light. For Hindus, Diwali, the festival of light, celebrates and focusses on all that overcomes darkness, evil and suffering. For Muslims, Eid al-fitr marks the end of a month of fasting (Ramadan) with a celebration of all God’s blessings to us. These celebrations of hope are perhaps needed more than ever as the world continues to struggle with the Covid-19 crisis.


Throughout the Bible, there are many people who face similar experiences of uncertainty, fear and suffering, including the author of Psalm 80. This psalm is clearly a cry of despair, as the psalmist shares the anguish of their suffering with God. They could very easily have been writing during a pandemic, as it says in verse five “you have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful”.
It is also, however, a psalm which looks forward in hope, and puts trust in God, asking: “Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” Things may not always work out as we expect, we might end up in places where we do not want to be, or struggle to find a way out of. We can always trust, however, that no matter how bleak things may seem God is always with us and will never abandon us.


As we wait for the coming of Christ, we do so expectantly. It is not simply that we hope Christ is coming. Christ is the hope that we know is coming. Even if we can’t celebrate in the ways we are used to, let us approach this season with joy, waiting for the hope that is on its way to us.

Prayer: Come Lord, your wounded world is yearning for you to come again.Come Lord, your weary world is crying out for you to lift us up out of our despair, our hunger, our thirst for something better,our need for the food that will last.Come Lord, come again,we need to begin again. (Attributed with thanks to Sue Allerton/CAFOD)

Activity: As Advent begins, we have an opportunity to share with God everything that’s on our hearts and minds as we prepare for the coming of Jesus into the world.If you were writing your own psalm, what would you include? What would you want to say to God about the situation you face right now? What frustrations would you express? What fears would you share? What does the coming of Christ into the world mean to you? What help do you need from God? Have a go at writing your own psalm, either on your own or with help. It doesn’t need to have a particular form, pattern or rhyme, but it should be an honest expression of what you’d like to say, good and bad, to God at this time.

Hymn: Love Divine all loves excelling (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others: Compassionate God

In this time of advent as we recall the awaited fulfilled promise of your Son, we come before you in prayer confident that you hear us.  So we come before you with our prayers for the church, the world and others.

Loving caring Lord, we come before seeking your healing for those we know who are unwell, Father heal those who are sick in mind or body as we lift them to you.

We pray too Lord for those in need of your comfort and support, for those who are worried and anxious, for those feeling the effect of the uncertain times we live in, who feel the pressures our society places upon lives.  We lift before you those who feel the pain of loss and grief. May they know your reassuring love.

We pray Lord for our community as it prepares to adjust to moving out of Lockdown, for the hope and also the uncertainty that lies ahead, may your ever true and unwavering love guide us in the weeks ahead.  We pray too for the members of our community struggling to cope financially, and we give thanks for the work of charities and projects that seek to help those in need.

We pray for those in positions and power, locally, nationally and globally that you would grant them wisdom and guide them towards your path of justice and peace.  May you guide them and all peoples to live in harmony and equality, living peaceably with one another with a fair and just sharing of the world’s resources.

We bring before you your church, we give thanks for the dedicated work of all who utilise their gifts in your Holy name.  May your worldwide church be as one body of Christ in our mission and evangelism, bringing your love to the world.

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves lead us in our daily living, draw us near to you in faith so that we might serve your Kingdom in all we do.

Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord in whose name we pray.  Amen

Hymn: Lo! He comes with clouds descending (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: We go forth into this day with the glory of God’s anticipation moving through us. With active longing, we await inspiration, clarity of purpose, and new gifts of the Spirit. Go with the light of God, the affirming love of Jesus Christ, and the ever-renewing power of the Holy Spirit.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: First Sunday of Advent a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 29th November from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

United Reformed Church: https://urc.org.uk/our-work/walking-the-way.html Written by John Collings and Simon Peters on behalf of the Walking the Way steering group

Methodist worship

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Resources for 22nd November

Music before we worship: Hillsong – Here I Am To Worship (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Call to Worship:  Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; The Holy One is God, the Holy One made us and we are like sheep in God’s sheepfold. Come before him with thanksgiving, ready to give thanks and to offer gratitude to God. For the Holy One is good and steadfast love and faithfulness will be God’s nature forever. We are God’s people.

Hymn:  O Worship the King all glorious above (The link opens up youtube in a separate window)

Opening prayers:

Adoration: Oh, that the world might acknowledge your name and join with us in worship and praise. Oh, that the world might recognise its need and look to you for forgiveness and grace. Oh, that the world might comprehend your love and turn to you for salvation and peace.


Thanksgiving: Shepherd-king, you lead us to green pastures and safekeeping in your kingdom, welcoming all who follow and acknowledge you as Lord. For such love and faithfulness, generation to generation, and your care for all who are the sheep of your flock, we thank you.


Confession: For all those times we simply turned aside and looked the other way when faced by need, forgive us. For all those times we could have said something and brought a little comfort but stayed silent, forgive us. For all those times a neighbour was lonely and, rather than visit, we shut our door, forgive us. Unlock our hearts; let love pour out and overflow, through your grace and mercy, we pray.

Assurance of Pardon In repentance and in faith, receive the promise of grace and assurance of pardon.

Here are words we may trust; words that merit full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  To all who turn to him he says, “your sins are forgiven”.  He also says follow me.

Thanks be to God Amen

We combine our prayers in saying the prayer that our Saviour taught us

Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the Day: Eternal Father, whose son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord: keep the church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen Methodist Worship

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Scripture readings:

Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24


Matthew 25: 31-46

(Click the links above to go to Oremus NRSV online)

Hymn: The Servant King (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Reflection on Scripture: The Shepherd King

I grew up in a mainly arable area and can readily tell wheat from barley and whilst not much pastoral farming took place, I, and most likely you too, would like to think I can tell a sheep from a goat.

However in the days when Jesus was speaking in our reading from Matthew things were very different, sheep and goats looked very similar, weren’t the fluffy creatures we know today that have been bred for their wool.  In biblical times it took the trained eye of a shepherd to tell sheep from goat.

Such was their similarity the shepherd often distinguished between them by their behaviour.  I’m no expert on animal behaviour, especially sheep and goats but a quick search online reveals some insights of their characteristics.

Sheep being browsers tend to move as one in a flock whereas goats being browsers tend to wander off in all directions.  Sheep seek the safety and security of the flock and shepherd whereas goats like to do their own thing, taking chances on their own.

Sheep are willing to be led, responding to the call and voice of the shepherd whereas goats apparently are more likely to hear the voice of the shepherd and head off defiantly in the other direction.  Whilst sheep seem happy in the confines of the fold it is said that if your fences can’t hold in water they can’t hold a goat as they will find a way out.

Given the different characteristics of sheep and goats it is no surprise that they are used as metaphors of those who embrace Christ and those who don’t.  It of course fits neatly with the motif of Christ as shepherd, gathering and tending his flock.  In our reading from Matthew that motif is extended as Christ the Shepherd King.  In the role of shepherd Jesus discerns those of his sheep but also delivers judgement in the way a king of those days would have done.

If the notion of Christ’s judgement and its heavenly or fiery consequences sit uncomfortably with us then we should take comfort that it is a chance for us to change, a chance for us to respond to what is a call for obedience.

It is a call to live a life in obedience of Christ’s commandments the greatest of which is to love one another.

The passage makes clear that our judgement will not hinge on how long we have been Christians, how frequently we pray or how well we know Scripture but upon how we have treated the most vulnerable and needy within our society.  To put it another way, how we have reflected the love of Christ we receive to those around us in need.

In verse 40 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”.  In short what we do to others we do to Christ himself.

Poverty and injustice are the visible manifestations of the world’s brokenness and distance from the Kingdom.  Jesus invites us to respond to his call for obedience offering us two paths, either to be a goat and endorse and engage in inequality or to be of his sheep to recognise and respond to those in need.  It is a choice that requires and demands an active response, if Jesus’ words are a call to obedience then they must too be a call for action.

We cannot simply declare our love of Christ and take our place among his sheep, we must live out that love towards others through word and deed.  The grass of the Lord’s pasture is given to all his flock and it is incumbent upon on us to enable an equal and just sharing of his blessing.

By reaching out in love to those around us we might respond to Christ’s call for obedience and action and who knows, we might discover that some we thought were goats are actually sheep after all.

Hymn: When I Needed A Neighbour (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Prayers for others:

Gracious God, for those moments when people feel like what they offer is never enough, we pray that they may be filled with hope and strength to recognize and invest in their gifts. 


We pray that those who have wealth, power, and political ties may use their positions for the good of all. We pray for people in situations of oppression, where dignity and self-worth are violated, and where greed diminishes the life of another. We pray for those in need, for those struggling to put food on the table, for those struggling to heat their homes and those without a place to call home.


We pray for those known to us and in our community who are sick, depressed, mourning losses, feeling alone, seeking new hope, looking for work or feeling alienated.

In all these things, grant us courage to respond with your gifts of mercy, encouragement, love, kindness, endurance. Amen.

Hymn: At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Blessing: Friends, go well, with and within the currents of Spirit. Be of good courage, and gentle of heart. Be of wise mind, and open to new instruction. Be of vision, not ignoring the obvious and pressing. Be of simple faith, yet radically open to questions and doubts. Be free; a generous healing and freedom for others.

And the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us now and forever more.

Amen.

Additional resources:

Junior Church resources: Resources from Sermons4kids Bible Story Colouring page Activities (opens up the website Sermons4kids)

Video service from St Peter’s Methodist Church Canterbury click here

Lectionary Leanings: Instinctive good a weekly lectionary reflection by our friend the Revd Dr Paul Glass and click here for Paul reading his reflection on video (The link opens up you tube in a separate window)

Daily devotions from the United Reformed Church. A radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up on the page to receive The Sunday Service email which will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.

Worship at home 22nd November from the Methodist church. A really great way to follow along at home worshipping with other Christians at home.

Acknowledgements:

Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. Bible Reading Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year A . Wood Lake Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Methodist worship