Worship for Sunday 12th February 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

O come let us worship and lift our hearts . . .

Not because the world is good and last week was awesome,

but because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,

the God of the whole Earth.


O come let us worship and raise our hands . . .

Not because our lives are all sweetness and light,

But because even those who walk in darkness

can see a great light,

the Bright and Morning Star


O come let us worship and bow down . . .

Not because God gives us what we want,

But because God gives us what we need –

Jesus, the holy one, God’s incredible Gift


Opening hymn: Come, now is the time to worship StF 24

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are before your God

One day every tongue will confess
You are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose You now

Come, now is the time to worship…..
Brian Doerksen (b.1965), © 1998 Vineyard Songs UK


Prayers of Approach

God of wonder and glory, this world around us is awesome.

You created it!

You continue to hold it together,

even as we threaten to tear it apart.

God of justice and righteousness,

to you we look for the truth.

You are the ultimate judge.

Your wisdom cuts through the lies.

God of grace and mercy,

the love you have shown us in Jesus is more than we deserve.

Your arms are open wide,

like a waiting father for his prodigal children,

ready to welcome and restore.

God of living water, we confess the dryness of our lives:

the brittle words we have thought and spoken . . .
the relationships that are crumbling . . .
the arid perspective that centers on self . . .
the cracked and jagged edges of our world . . .

Hear our confession, O Christ,

and rain down your mercy upon us.


Jesus says,

“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.

The water that I will give will become in them a spring of living water.”


We come to you now thirsting for your living water.

Guide us to the streams of your wonder and glory,

your justice and righteousness, your grace and mercy,

that we may drink and be satisfied,

renewed for our continuing journey with Jesus.


Reading: John 4:7 – 29

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me,  a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ 11 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13 Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

16 Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 17 The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ 19 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ 21 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is

now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ 26 Jesus said to her, ‘I am he,  the one who is speaking to you.’

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ 28 Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’


An encounter does not have to last long to be life-changing. Think Romeo and Juliet, or (more down-to-earth) the day someone told you you’d got the job and could you start on Monday? Or the moment when you felt that the preacher was speaking the word of God directly to you, and nothing would ever be the same again.

The encounter between Jesus and the unnamed woman at the well is something like this. The conversation might have lasted ten minutes, yet at its end the woman is completely reoriented. She is a different person, occupying a different place in her community.

She comes to collect her water at the hottest time of day, and the likely explanation for this is that she is anxious to avoid other people. We learn later of her complex marital relationships, which in that society provide a reason for behaving like an outcast. Her one-to-one conversation with Jesus begins with anxiety – unnecessary words revealing her tension – but ends with revelation. On the way, she experiences moments of growing self-esteem and self-respect, so that she is finally able to take the risk of speaking out what she is wondering. This man, who is a prophet, who is proclaiming the good news – could he be the Messiah? And Jesus affirms her guess. She is no longer a maritally irregular outcast but someone who is worthy to speak face-to-face with the Messiah, as one of his disciples, on the way to becoming what God had called her to be. And as a consequence of that, she takes centre place in her community, telling everyone about this amazing person she has met – could he possibly be the Messiah? Her life is turned around, and through her, others from her community find Jesus too.

A key part of the journey of discipleship is this discovery that you matter, you are welcome, you are valued, you are loved. When John Wesley encountered the Lord on that night in May 1738, he said that ‘his heart was strangely warmed’, a moment of affirmation which changed life for him and for millions since. His discipleship, with him since childhood, was suddenly renewed into an all-consuming passion which made him the travelling preacher and church-shaper we still recall today.

If we long to grow as disciples, it’s easy to think that we need to try harder, pray harder, fast longer, take on more and more church jobs. This part of the story of the Samaritan woman tells us that it’s not about that – those jobs and prayers may be a consequence of discipleship but are not a cause of it. Discipleship flows from that moment when we stand before Jesus and he entrusts us with the truth about who he is, because we are worthy to receive that good news and we are capable of living by it.

Hymn: Come with me, come wander StF 462            

Come with me, come wander, come welcome the world

Where strangers might smile or where stones may be hurled;

Come leave what you cling to, lay down what you clutch

And find, with hands empty, that hearts can hold much.

Sing hey for the carpenter leaving his tools!

Sing hey for Pharisees leaving their rules!

Sing hey for the fishermen leaving their nets!

Sing hey for the people who leave their regrets!


Come walk in my company, come sleep by my side,

Come savour a lifestyle with nothing to hide;

Come sit at my table and eat with my friends,

Discovering that love which the world never ends.

Sing hey for the carpenter …


Come share in my laughter, come close to my fears,

Come find yourself washed with the kiss of my tears;

Come stand close at hand while I suffer and die

And find in three days how I never will lie.

Sing hey for the carpenter leaving his tools


Come leave your possessions, come share out your treasure,

Come give and receive without method or measure;

Come loose every bond that’s resisting the Spirit,

Enabling the earth to be yours to inherit.

Sing hey for the carpenter …

Words and Music © 1987 The Iona Community

God of wisdom, we pray for those who thirst for knowledge. Bless researchers seeking to find ways to eliminate disease in order to bring healing and hope to sufferers and their families. Guide and inspire them that they may be encouraged and successful.

Quench their thirst with your living water.

God of mercy, we pray for those who thirst for justice. We hold before you those who work in the courts and the whole legal system. May they be conscientious in pursuing the truth that justice may be applied even-handedly to all who seek it.

Quench their thirst with your living water. 

God of peace, we pray for those who thirst for peace. We remember all those who are suffering as a result of warfare and civil strife. We especially commend to you the people of Ukraine in their desire to live peacefully in their own nation.

Quench their thirst with your living water.

God of compassion, we pray for those who thirst for healing and restoration. We hold before you all aid workers especially those working alongside the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Give them wisdom, insight and strength to meet the needs of the day and the vision to build for the future.

Quench their thirst with your living water.

God of love, we pray for those who thirst for your presence and your healing touch. Be near to those who are sick in hospitals and at home and those who care for them. Give them patience and strength to carry on and may the assurance of your presence bring them hope.

Quench their thirst with your living water. 

May all your people gathered here receive the thirst-quenching power of your living water that we may be renewed, restored and re-invigorated for our discipleship.

We pray in the name of Jesus who offers living water to all. Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven

Hallowed be your name

Your kingdom come, your will be done

On earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us

Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

Now and forever, Amen .

Hymn: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds StF 321            

1 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
and drives away our fear.

2 It makes the wounded spirit whole
and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.

3 Jesus! My shepherd, brother, friend,
my Prophet, Priest, and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

4 Weak is the effort of my heart,
and cold my warmest thought;
but when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.

5 Till then I would thy love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of thy name
refresh my soul in death.

John Newton (1725 – 1807)

Closing Prayer

Thank you that we are accepted.
Thank you that we belong.
Thank you that you give us the water of life to drink.
Help us to be accepting of others,
and invite them to drink your water too.

Material taken from re:worship and Rootsontheweb