Worship for Sunday 12th September 2021, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Who do you say that I am?

Welcome to worship!

In the name of the Lord Jesus

the bread breaker

the light gatherer

cross carrier



May the peace of the Lord Jesus

the peace maker

and the temple disturber 

friend of the sinner

and companion on the road

be with us all


Let us draw close to the Lord Jesus

the saviour

the healer

the teacher

and worship him


and ask ourselves

who do we say he is?

Song: All heaven declares the glory of the risen Lord (StF 293)

All heaven declares
The glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare with
The beauty of the Lord

Forever He will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship Him alone

I will proclaim
The glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain
To reconcile us to God

Forever You will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship You alone

Noel Richards (b.1955) and Tricia Richards (b.1960); © 1987, Thankyou Music

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving

Loving God,
we thank You for Your constant guidance in our lives
and for all the ways You encourage, challenge, strengthen and renew us.
We thank You that we still hear Your quiet words
whispering to us in the silence of our own hearts.
We thank You that through song, prayer, preaching, worship mission and service,
we are still able to hear Your voice.
Through fellowship and community,
we can feel Your presence in what we do and say.

We thank You that when we see the fields of corn
and hear the birds singing,
we are hearing You
and when the wind blows,
we feel You.

We thank You that through Christ’s life,
work, teaching, death and resurrection
You speak to us
and that Your Holy Spirit inspires, comforts and empowers us each day.

We thank You for the times we have felt lost
and have felt Your hand take hold of us
and lead us forward – through difficulties, life problems and illnesses.
We thank You for Your healing touch.

Be with us now, directing our ways
so that we may glorify You in all we do and say.

Forgiving God,
You have asked us to bear fruit in our lives
and to share our faith with others.

Yet so many times we have failed You in doing this.
We have let You down and let ourselves down.
Our thoughts and words have failed You;
we have missed opportunities to speak up for our belief in You,
choosing to remain silent instead of witnessing for You.
Our discipleship has been weak and often non-existent.
We are ashamed of our weaknesses, faults, greed, selfishness, envy, and pride.
Our faith has been shallow, and we have failed You in so many ways.

In Your forgiving mercy and grace
cleanse our hearts and minds that we may better serve You
and so that we can feel strengthened
to follow You more faithfully each day.

Song: Lord, we turn to you for mercy – StF 429

1  Lord, we turn to you for mercy:
may our prayerful words express
something of our heartfelt sorrow
for the sins we now confess.

2   We have trusted far too often
in our human strength and skill;
we have proudly disregarded
what we know to be your will.

3   Yet by your immense compassion
you invite, accept, restore,
leading us to greater wholeness
than we ever knew before.

4   Your forgiveness lifts our burdens,
setting heart and spirit free
to fulfil our true potential,
all that we were meant to be.

5   For you teach a way of wisdom
we may clearly understand:
walking with the God of mercy
step by step, and hand in hand.

Martin Leckebusch (b.1962); © 1999, Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

Reading: Mark 8:27 – 38

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28 And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ 29 He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,[b]will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words[c] in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’


Whodunnit? I wonder if you enjoy reading detective stories. I like the sort where you think you’ve got everything worked out and you know who has committed the crime, and then there is a sudden twist in the plot and all your expectations fall apart. I admire the creativity of an author who manages to deceive the reader into anticipating one outcome when in fact there are subtle clues and hints that take the story in quite a different direction in the end.

Mark’s Gospel is a bit like that sort of story. You might say that he gives away the ending right at the beginning – the Gospel opens with the words ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’. And yet in a sense this is a red herring. Though it is absolutely the truth, at the same time it will confound people’s expectations. Folk in Jesus’ time knew about the Messiah. He would come as God’s chosen representative and would drive out those who were oppressing the people of Israel (the Romans at that time) and would establish a royal reign from the Temple in Jerusalem. Only, of course, Jesus wasn’t that sort of Messiah at all.

Peter’s conversation with Jesus focuses the contradictions very sharply. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah. Though Jesus tells the disciples to keep his identity a secret, he leaves them in no doubt that he is God’s anointed one, come to save Israel and the world. Yet the very next sentence introduces the jarring, shocking news that Jesus is not the kind of Messiah anyone had expected. Rather than glory, this Messiah can expect suffering, rejection, and even death. The disciples must have felt completely at sea – what on earth was going on? And the rest of Mark’s Gospel unpacks the meaning and implications of what Jesus has just said. It tells the story of how Jesus did indeed face persecution, hatred and execution on the Cross and then rose from death, all to show what God’s love really looked like.

For Peter and the other disciples, this turned their world upside down. To speak of a crucified Messiah was so contradictory that it bordered on the blasphemous. They spent the rest of their lives working out what all this meant and how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus might shape their own lives as his disciples. Yet for us, the image of Christ crucified has become so familiar that it’s lost its ability to shock and disorientate us. And that means in turn that we lose the opportunity to learn new ways of living that flow from engagement with the sheer unexpectedness of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

How can we recover some of that? How can we learn in the way the disciples learnt, following Jesus in ways that were wholly unexpected? Think back for a moment to the detective stories. If you read attentively, you spot the clues, little pointers to the truth, often where you least expect them. In learning to follow Jesus, it’s important to keep our eyes open for the half-hidden clues to his presence. We need to be constantly alert to the possibility that Jesus might be present in people and situations, waiting for us to spot the tell-tale markers of his world-changing love at work.

Some may know Methodist minister Rev.Inderjit Bhogal – he joined us for our Sunday evening Zoom worship early in the summer. He tells of an encounter with a homeless man who was sitting on a bench eating bread out of a paper bag. Inderjit sat down beside him and started to talk to him, and before long the man asked if he wanted any of his bread. They ate together, Inderjit receiving from the man’s hospitality. For him, the meeting was transformative – his life was never the same again. He met Jesus in the homeless man’s generosity, and that has led to a life-long commitment to stand with people in difficulties, because that is where he has found the Lord.

Where will you spot the clues that give away Jesus’ presence? What impact will they have on your life? How will you learn what it means to be disciples of the one who turns the world upside down? It’s different for each one of us, because we are all different – and yet it’s the same because we are following one and the same Lord, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

Invitation to Follow

Abandon the illusion you’re a self-contained individual.

Be a part of this wounded world,

and find yourself with Christ.


Set aside your own desires,

give yourself fully for others;

be the hands and heart of Jesus.


Renounce self-protection,

accept your brokenness,

and reach out for love.


Let go of your own plans.

Join in the healing of the world.

You will not be alone.


Follow your soul, not your ego.

Follow it right into people’s suffering.

Follow it right into the heart of God.


Pour yourself out;

let the world pour in;

then you are one with the Beloved.

Song: Meekness and majesty, StF 362

Meekness and majesty manhood and deity
In perfect harmony the Man who is God
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity
Kneels in humility and washes our feet

O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God

Father’s pure radiance perfect in innocence
Yet learns obedience to death on a cross
Suffering to give us life
Conquering through sacrifice
And as they crucify prays Father forgive

O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God

Wisdom unsearchable God the invisible
Love indestructible in frailty appears
Lord of infinity stooping so tenderly
Lifts our humanity to the heights of His throne
O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God
This is your God

Graham Kendrick (b.1950); © 1986, Thankyou Music

Prayers for our needs

Creator God, we come before you

asking prayers for those who lead






As you poured out your love in the Word

may we hear your word and follow;

may the words of our mouths 

and the meditations of our hearts lead us

to you. 


Holy One, we come before you –

a people broken into shards of lives




hidden by the limitations of our eyes.


Help us to see as You see

as you poured out your love in the Word.

May we hear your word and follow

may the words of our mouths and

the meditations of our hearts lead us

to you.


God of Mercy, we come before you –

seeking to live as you command, but often failing,

and thus we are torn by

cries of despair




lost to foolishness and

stumbling blocks

despite your love in the Word


Help us to hear your word and follow

May the words of our mouths 

and the meditations of our hearts lead us

to you.


Gentle God, we come before you

giving thanks for all our blessings

the gift of life






all we care for this day.

Help us to be Your hands.


Incline Your heart, O gracious God, and teach us to love

O Christ, our rock and our Redeemer.


Hymn: O Jesus, I have promised – StF 563

1 O Jesus, I have promised
to serve you to the end;
be now and ever near me,
my Master and my Friend.
I shall not fear the battle
if you are by my side,
nor wander from the pathway
if you will be my guide.

2 O let me feel you near me;
the world is ever near:
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear.
My foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but, Jesus, draw still nearer
and shield my soul from sin!

3 O let me hear you speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
and speak to make me listen,
O Guardian of my soul.

4 O Jesus, you have promised
to all who follow you
that where you are in glory
your servant shall be too;
And, Jesus, I have promised
To serve you to the end;
O give me grace to follow
My master and my friend.

John Ernest Bode (1816 – 1874)


The God who called us here
is now sending us out into the world
to put the words we have heard into action.

As we have worshipped
now let us go on, renewed and refreshed,
to share the good news with those we meet.

Acknowledgements: resources drawn from Unfolding Light; Spill the Beans; RevGalBlogPals; Church of Scotland.