Worship for Sunday 16th October 2022, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

We have gathered in God’s holy presence, 

the One who etches grace on our hearts.
This is the place where God will transform us into disciples.

We glorify our God, who yearns for justice, 

not just for a favoured few, but for the least of our world.
This is the place where God will write compassion on our souls.
We give thanks to God for unceasing grace; 

we remember God’s persistence in saving us.
This is the place where God will breathe the Word into our lives


Song: StF 544 As the deer pants for the water

As the deer pants for the water,
So my soul longs after You,
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength, my shield,
To You alone may my spirit yield,
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver,
Only you can satisfy,
You alone are the real joygiver,
And the apple of my eye.

You’re my friend and You are my Brother,
Even though You are a King,
I love You more than any other,
So much more than anything.

Martin J.Nystrom (b.1956)


Prayers of Praise and Renewal

Lord, you are our keeper,
the one who watches over us,
you are always present,
ever loving, ever faithful.
You are creator and redeemer.
We praise you
for your kindness and justice,
and for all that you are.

Lord, you are our place of help.
Where others fail us and circumstances change,
you remain and you are unchanging.
Your love supports us, underpinning us
with a strength beyond ourselves.

Lord, you are the one who offers us justice.
We praise you for your kindness towards your people.
We thank you that you call us
to a life-giving existence,
that we may give and receive
in your name, learning your ways
and caring for your world.

Lord, you are the one who notices all the anguish of this world.

Forgive us when we have closed our eyes
to the things that matter,
when we have prioritised the trivial surface matters
over urgent needs and deep-seated injustice.
Forgive us when we have chosen to look away
from those who need us the most.
Forgive us when we have stretched ourselves so thin
that we do not have time and energy
for that which you call us to do and to be.
Forgive us and restore us, we pray.
Give us what we need to live, love and pray persistently,
in the power and counsel of your Spirit.

Lord, you are the one who hears us.
You not only hear us,
you accept us as your children,
surrounding us with grace and forgiveness.
Thank you for your unconditional love.

Reading: Jeremiah 31:27 – 34

27 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 28 And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Hymn: StF 443 Come, let us sing of a wonderful love

1 Come let us sing of a wonderful love,
tender and true;
out of the heart of the Father above,
streaming to me and to you:
wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

2 Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,
joyfully came;
came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
sharing their sorrow and shame;
seeking the lost,
saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

3 Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
home! weary wanderer, home!
Wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

4 Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
come and abide,
lifting my life till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride:
seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Robert Walmsley (1831 – 1905)

Reading: Luke 18:1 – 8

18 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”’And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’


What should we pray for? That question seems to get harder the older I get. Should I pray for sunshine for the church picnic? People would enjoy that more than rain; but what about the dry gardens gasping for water? If I pray for poor people, is that too general? But if I pray for a poor individual, what about all the others who also need prayer? Choice is confusing – as anyone knows who has stood in front of a supermarket’s array of ketchup. What should we do with the dizzying range of possibilities for making best use of this amazing gift that God has given us, the gift of prayer?

Jesus’ story gives us a big clue. He tells us about a widow, one of the least privileged members of his society. In a world where women depended on men for economic and social support and protection, widows were isolated and vulnerable. This widow, we learn, had an opponent. We know nothing about the nature of the dispute between them, except that it was so bitter that they felt unable to resolve it between themselves, so that the widow had to turn to the judge.

Her request to the judge is at the heart of the story. She asks the judge for justice – not special treatment, or the punishment of her opponent, but justice. What does justice look like in this story? The judge is described as unjust: he neither fears God nor respects other people – and he readily acknowledges this. So justice is the opposite of this. It’s a deliberate decision to honour God and respect other people. This is what the widow is asking for. She wants to be respected, within the framework of God’s awesome power.

Our reading from Jeremiah adds to the picture. In this prophecy, God decides that the only fair way to treat the people is to give them all the same easy access.  No longer will they have to learn from other people, running the risk of misunderstanding and misinformation. God’s word is within them, so that everyone is able to make sense of it. People like the poor widow are just as much able to understand God’s word as the rich judge. Everyone is equally able to take the Godly decision to honour God and respect other people.

So the story of the widow is a story around the passion for justice, the longing to be respected within a society which honours God – and nothing deflects her from her goal, until finally she achieves her desire and wears the judge down to the point where he takes notice of her. This is what prayer is like, says Jesus. I don’t think he is talking only about her determination and refusal to give up. He also has in mind the content of her prayer: give me justice.

So when I look around me and see all the wrongs of the world, what do I pray for? Let there be justice, Lord; let people be respected within a society which honours You. When Uighurs are oppressed, when Rohingyas are exiled, when inhabitants of the UK need to turn to foodbanks, when so many people are victims of violence – let there be justice, Lord, and let it begin with me.

To think about: What have you prayed for in the last week? What changed? Do you recognise any link between your prayer and the change that happened?

Hymn: Inspired by love and anger

Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,
Informed of God’s own bias, we ask him once again:
“How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?”

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,
Their cruel plight composes a litany of need:
“Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?”

From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,

The fear of lost advantage provoke the bitter cry:
“Don’t query our position! Don’t criticise our wealth!
Don’t mention those exploited by politics and stealth!”

God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”

John Bell (b.1949)


Lord God, just as the widow persisted, we persist in our prayers of intercession.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.
Hear our cries for justice, mercy and peace.

We pray for all involved in our justice system, for police officers, judges, lawyers and all who uphold the law. We pray for all who work in our prisons and for all those serving prison sentences.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.
Hear our cries for justice, mercy and peace.

We pray for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where Russian strikes have again targeted civilians. For Somalia. And for aid workers everywhere. We pray for safe passage for lorries and workers to reach those in need.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.

Hear our cries for justice, mercy and peace.

We pray for families everywhere, of those killed in the nursery in Thailand. And those in the garage explosion in Ireland. We pray for widows, orphans, the needy and the vulnerable. We pray for our own loved ones and for our communities. For those who are fearing the prospect of blackouts this winter and dreading escalating debt due to the ever-spiralling cost of living.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.
Hear our cries for justice, mercy and peace.

We pray for all who preach your word, Lord. For all Christian leaders in our churches. For all your people. You call us to pray, to work at it and not give up. You care about every detail in our lives, from the smallest to the more complex.  We place all into your hands, for on you we can depend.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.
Hear our cries for justice, mercy and peace.

The 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.

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: StF 545 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, be Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
Be thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
O raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor earth’s empty praise,
Be thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Be thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
O sovereign of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, thou heaven’s bright Sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be thou my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Irish, 8th century


Go now, to serve Christ and follow him.
Let God reshape your heart
and live in obedience to the law written within you.

And may God centre you in justice and steady your spirit.
May Christ renew your joy and strengthen your will.
And may the Spirit teach you God’s hidden wisdom

    and fill you with songs of rejoicing.

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