Worship for Sunday 16th January 2022, by Matt Smith


Let us take a moment to still ourselves, our hearts, minds and bodies as we prepare to come to worship.

Hymn 1: Open the eyes of my heart lord                                           

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You x2

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

Holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to see you

Songwriters: Paul Joseph Baloche

Open the Eyes of My Heart lyrics © DistroKid, Integrity Music


Reading: Psalm 36: 5-10

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.


Intro – What are your plans for the year ahead?

What are your plans for the year ahead? I guess this year we have had to get used to any plans having to change at the last minute, but it’s still good to have plans. Holidays to look forward to, visits to friends and family, planning financially, maybe for house renovations, a move, new car. It could be getting married, having children, adopting, it’s good to think ahead. Keeping God at the centre of all that can be the hard part especially if plans change and fail.

As a church what are your plans? Where is God leading you as a congregation? Are you prepared to listen and follow if your plans change? Are there things you need to lay down, pick up, step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do? Are you ready to grow spiritually this year, moving forward in your faith so not to stand still? Let’s see what God has in store for us this year.


Lord we praise you for the week we have just had. We praise you not because everything went just as we wanted, but because each day you are with us, each morning your mercies are new, each day we are blessed to be alive, even in the darkest of times.


We are sorry lord when we get so carried away with the busyness of each day,

never stopping to dwell in your love.

We are sorry when we allow the stresses and demands of work or family

to erode and wear away our hope.

We are sorry when we’re caught up in conflict and frustration,

when we harbour resentment, instead of giving out forgiveness.

We’re sorry when we seek to be fulfilled by food, drink or entertainment,

Yet fail to feast on your truth.

We’re sorry when we desire the wrong things, blinded by the media,

and forget to engage with the real treasures of love and justice.


You are all love, all hope, all forgiveness, all truth and all we really need.

We thank you that each day we are able to come to you, individually and ask for your kindness, mercy and forgiveness.

Thank you that you accept each one of us just as we are, regardless of if our failings ever change, regardless of our past or our future, you will always embrace us with open loving arms.

Thank you that Jesus made a way for that,

Thank you that you live with us through the Holy Spirit


Hymn 2: Be thou my vision        


Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with thee one

Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall

Songwriters: Eleanor Hull

Be Thou My Vision lyrics © Streetvoice International Limited


Reading:  1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.


I was sorry not to be with you in the covenant service last week, but I was able to be at another Methodist Churches service and join in with the covenant prayer too. I love that prayer, although it meant a little more to me this year as it has done in previous ones. I wonder what it was for you that stood out for you in it? The language that we use in our liturgy and prayers is always very telling. We ask for guidance, we expect to be directed, supported, and upheld. We basically believe in a God who is very much active in our lives and able to interact with us. Do we find this in practice? Do we listen for God to speak, do we risk the silence in case it is filled?

I really appreciated Ken’s sermon reflection last week too talking about guilt, duty and shame being words that shouldn’t be in our vocabulary unless proceeded by no more! Sadly I feel the church can often forget this and find these messages being projected on others inside and outside of the community.

So however the gospel message of Christianity has been changed, warped and ignored over the history of the Catholic and Protestant church from its conception in the 16th Century, this is not the gospel message we want to present today.

Our gospel message is not one that seeks to rule, shame and control people, it is one that sets them free,

Our Gospel message is not from an unknown, unintelligible sauce that is so far away and beyond us, intangible, but from a God who is present and among us

This has always been the understanding of the Jewish community in the Old Testament where God was real and spoke through the prophets and visions, was involved in creation, is part of the world around us and in covenant with people like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob etc. who appeared to Moses in the bush, who caused the 10 plagues, who held back the waters of the Red/Reed sea while they passed.  Even with Elijah and the prophets of Baal when the wet wood burnt, God was involved in the lives of his people and it’s on this basis that we receive Jesus, the son of God, God in human form, the epitome of Gods involvement with his creation, coming to be involved with us, one of us, to show the ultimate act of love for us.

This is what Paul is picking up on here in his letter to the Corinthian church. When he uses Pagans in this context it’s probably referring to people who worshiped other gods rather than just not being religious as he talks about being led astray to idols that cannot speak. Idols always reminds me of the golden calf that Aaron created at the foot of Mt Sinai, to bow down and worship to, but at the time Paul was writing the Corinthian culture was rife with different religious beliefs and idols to support them. It was often accepted to worship many idols from different beliefs, just in case one listened more than the others but Paul here reminds them and us of the first two commandment Moses was given. No other gods and that God is a jealous God, so no idols. The God of Judaism and Christianity was a different God, not held up in an image, statue or symbol, he is too big for that, but too personal too. A God who could not be contained.

I love the depiction of Jesus in C. S. Lewis’s books the chronicles of Narnia and in the book the lion the witch and the wardrobe the children, who have heard of Aslan find out he is a lion and are somewhat worried about meeting him.

“Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” asked Susan

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

How do you feel about spiritual gifts? Maybe today as Christians we too may feel a little uninformed, ignorant or maybe a little scared of them so it’s good that Paul reminds us.

You may be sceptical and suspicious of them

You may think that they were for a time and a place back in history, that they ended when the apostles died, those who had actually lived with Jesus.

You may think, yeah its ok for those charismatic evangelicals, but it’s not for me

You may think, finally we are talking about spiritual gifts and can’t wait to experience them

As with so many things in the Christian faith, we have so many varied beliefs.

For those who are sceptical and suspicious of spiritual gifts you are right to be so. Paul’s words here about by the spirit saying Jesus be cursed and Jesus be lord is addressing this. We have to be careful when it comes to all sorts of things that come from God, but Paul points out to us here that only that which glorifies God, that builds up his church and promotes love can come from God. I’ve listened to so call prophecies which I believed were wrong, I’ve had people say to me “this is what God says” but it didn’t come to happen. But just because people get things wrong or mistake their voice for God’s, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t speak to us. Only last week we asked God to put us to doing things, sending us places, to be active in our lives. If we mean it, God needs to speak, not just in words but he must interact.

This is how God is present in our world and church, not by our individual power and willingness to love others, but by God’s power to be his voice, wisdom, knowledge and action. All given by God alone, for use by all God’s people, for the common good of everyone. Not for personal gain, boasting or importance, but for the good of God and others.

Let’s look at Paul’s list of 9 gifts, services and activities

Wisdom                                             Knowledge                                        Faith

Healing                                              Miracles                                             Prophesy

Discernment of spirits                    Tongues                                             Interpretation of tongues

Even though some of these could be seen as less spiritually miraculous gifts (namely Wisdom, knowledge and faith) I believe that they really still are. It’s not general knowledge but a special knowledge that only comes from God, like Jesus had with the woman at the well. We don’t have time to explore them more today, may be a sermon series on them would be good?

So what’s happened? Are they still around today? When was the last time you heard someone speaking in tongues, healing someone or speaking words of knowledge? Are the spiritual gifts finished with, dormant or alive?

Biblically Mark records Jesus saying “And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. Mark 16:17-18

This suggests that these signs should be continuing BUT….

1 Corinthians 13:8 speaks of the spiritual gifts stopping following the well-known passage about not having love.

Historically a rise in spiritual gifts are often experienced around times of revival, Wesley and the early Methodists defiantly experienced spiritual gifts, The Azura Street revival in America and the Welsh revival both saw a huge rise in spiritual gifts. 

I’m not sure where that leaves your thoughts on this, for me as you probably can tell I believe the spiritual gifts are still available to us, I would love to see them more in our churches, not because it shows how good we are, but to show how good God is. Dare we ask for the gifts to be given again, here and now in this congregation, would we be ready if they came?

Hymn 3: Amazing Grace (my chains have gone)                                              

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love
Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love
Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine

Written by: Stan Roto Walker, Traditional, David Pritchard-blunt, Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


Lord we pray for our world, in the aftermath of the world leaders meeting we lift up to you those promises that were made by countries, remind our leaders of the need to continue with them, to keep the environment at the fore front of our minds. Remind us too lord when we use products and journey places that we too have a part to play, even if very small in the caring for this world.

Lord we pray for those around the world who suffer from poverty, drought, famine and war. There is little that we can do physically, but we do remember them just as you remember them and see their pain and suffering. Lord in this world there many never be a time when all these have disappeared, but we ask that for those who suffer, they may find some peace, comfort and joy.

We pray for our country. That our leaders may practice honesty and integrity in their leadership and that we give them the grace to fail. For the struggles that people are finding in society, jobs, homes and families that have been impacted by Covid, but also the growing inequality in wealth. Help us as your people to speak up for those who have no voice, to act where help is needed and love those who need to be loved.

Finally we pray for ourselves, we ask lord for you spirit to move among us, even in our individual homes. We ask that what we have heard may resound in our hearts and minds, speak to us we pray about what you want to tell us, don’t be distant, but for your glory fill us with gifts that may further your kingdom. Build us up we pray, give us vision and courage and a power to speak in your name.

So we say together the prayer that Jesus 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.

Hymn 4: Oh praise the name (Anastasis)                                            

I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet
My Saviour on that cursed tree

His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

He shall return in robes of white
The blazing sun shall pierce the night
And I will rise among the saints
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

Songwriters: Martin W. Sampson / Benjamin William Hastings / Dean Ussher

O Praise The Name (Anástasis) lyrics © Hillsong Music Publishing Australia


May the God who still lives touch your lives this week, with miraculous as well as the simple.

May you feel his presence with you in the good and the hard days.

And may you know the truth of his love for you all the days of your life.



After service: Ok by Josh Wilson                                                          

Shame says you’ve gone too far this time
Shame says you’ve finally crossed the line
Shame says you have to hide away
But shame is shattered by amazing grace

So come just as you are

Bring your broken heart
Your secrets and your scars
You were never meant to carry all this weight
Let your walls come down
And let the tears fall out
And know that Jesus loves you just the same
It’s ok not to be ok
It’s ok not to be ok

This, this is where the healing starts
This is where the light can crush the dark
Here, inside your pain, inside your doubts
Here is where He’s gonna meet you now

Bring your broken heart
Your secrets and your scars
You were never meant to carry all this weight
Let your walls come down
And let the tears fall out
And know that Jesus loves you just the same
It’s ok not to be ok
It’s ok not to be ok

You don’t have to have it all together
You don’t have to have it all together
You don’t have to have it all together
So come just as you are

Bring your broken heart
Your secrets and your scars
You were never meant to carry all this weight
Let your walls come down
And let the tears fall out
And know that Jesus loves you just the same
It’s ok not to be ok
It’s ok not to be ok

Songwriters: Josh Wilson / Jeff Pardo

OK lyrics © Music Of Black River, Mount Richmar Publishing