Worship for Sunday 18th June 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Remember that our God is the only God—

the One who made us,

the One who sustains us,

the One whose Spirit lives within us.


Let us enter God’s house with thanksgiving;

and come into God’s presence with praise.


For God is good,

with unfailing love that lasts forever,

and faithfulness that extends to all generations.


Opening Song: StF 65 Sing of the Lord’s goodness

Sing of the Lord’s goodness Father of all wisdom,
come to him and bless his name.
Mercy he has shown us, his love is forever,
faithful to the end of days.

Come, then, all you nations,
sing of your Lord’s goodness,
melodies of praise and thanks to God.
Ring out the Lord’s glory,
praise him with your music,
worship him and bless his name.

Power he has wielded, honour is his garment
risen from the snares of death.
His word he has spoken, one bread he has broken,
new life he now gives to all.


Courage in our darkness, comfort in our sorrow,
Spirit of our God most high;
solace for the weary, pardon for the sinner,
splendour of the living God.


Praise him with your singing, praise him with the trumpet
praise God with the lute and harp;
praise him with the cymbals, praise him with your dancing,
praise God till the end of days.


Ernest Sands (b.1949)

Opening Prayers

God, you created the world.
Shaping tall mountains and deep valleys, flat moors and calm lochs,
creatures that fly high or swim deep.

Variety that astounds us, a complexity beyond our comprehension.
Your creation amazes us always and at times gives us incredible joy.

God, you created each one of us and know us through and through.
You know our names, the number of hairs on our heads,
the words on our lips before we even speak them.

God, your understanding of each individual astounds us,
its reach is beyond our imagining.
Your full recognition surprises us,
at times it gives us incredible joy.

So gracious God, who fills us with joy,
as we contemplate the world around us and the precious life of every human being,
let us not doubt that everything is possible for you.

This morning we gather to worship you and offer our joyful praise.

Gracious God, in your good time you appeared to Abraham by his tent,
and life was transformed.
In your good time you appeared on earth as Jesus,
and life was transformed.
In your good time you brought our life into being, filling us with your Holy Spirit,
and it is now our opportunity to be disciples in the world today.

The direction of our lives has brought us to this place at this time.
As we reflect on the long history of the People of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ
we are aware that millennium after millennium
people have attempted to follow You faithfully.

We are painfully aware that we stray from the path Jesus invites us to follow.
So where we have neglected You or neglected others,
Where we have put our own desires first
and pushed down the agenda of the needs of those close to us,
Where we have boasted not in you but selfishly in our own individual achievements…

Forgive us we pray… (Silence)

Whether we seek forgiveness often, or hardly ever,
faithfully and repeatedly God forgives.
Know the depth of that forgiveness and be at peace… (Silence)

In your good time, and through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit,
breathe new life into us that our daily actions may tell the world
that we are pilgrims of the One whom death could not hold down,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reading: Matthew 9:35 – 10:9

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

Hymn: StF 673 Will you come and follow me?

Will you come and follow me 

if I but call your name? 

Will you go where you don’t know 

and never be the same? 

Will you let my love be shown, 

will you let my name be known, 

will you let my life be grown 

in you and you in me? 


Will you leave yourself behind 

if I but call your name? 

Will you care for cruel and kind 

and never be the same? 

Will you risk the hostile stare 

should your life attract or scare? 

Will you let me answer prayer 

in you and you in me? 


Will you let the blinded see 

if I but call your name? 

Will you set the prisoners free 

and never be the same? 

Will you kiss the leper clean 

and do such as this unseen, 

and admit to what I mean 

in you and you in me? 


Will you love the ‘you’ you hide 

if I but call your name? 

Will you quell the fear inside 

and never be the same? 

Will you use the faith you’ve found 

to reshape the world around 

through my sight and touch and sound 

in you and you in me? 


Lord, your summons echoes true 

when you but call my name. 

Let me turn and follow you 

and never be the same. 

In your company I’ll go 

where your love and footsteps show. 

Thus I’ll move and live and grow 

in you and you in me. 

John Bell (b.1949) and Graham Maule (b.1958)


There is a reason why the owners of football clubs pay large sums for the services of outstanding managers. There is transformative power in the science and art of enabling eleven players to give of their best as a team. Without an effective manager, a football side can become a disorganised rabble very quickly.

It’s hard to believe that Jesus never watched a game of football! If the game had been around in his time, perhaps he would have talked about a team without a manager rather than sheep without a shepherd. Today’s reading tells how he chose his own team, their names recorded, like those names emblazoned across the back of the players’ shirts. They are not anonymous individuals but people with their own personal stories, so that when friends heard ‘Peter’ or ‘Matthew’, it evoked a whole set of memories and associations. The Gospel honours their individual identities by remembering their names.

There are many stories in the Gospels about the disciples travelling with Jesus, sharing his mission through being at his side – the team learning together what he wants of them through their relationship with him. Here, they have a different role. Jesus is not coaching them just for their own personal benefit, though of course they do need to grow in faith and hope and love, like every disciple. This story focuses on what they are able to give to other people. They are to go out to the ‘lost sheep’ and share the good news with them – these people who Jesus recognises as ‘harassed and helpless’, pushed around by those with greater power and unable to control their own lives. The disciples are sent out to give them hope. They bring the resources to help people find ways to handle their problems and engage with their difficulties. They are to become managers in their own right, working with people to help them escape from being like lost sheep and discover God’s purpose and direction for their lives. And all this is possible because they have discovered God’s purpose for themselves, through their own relationship with Jesus Christ, the Word of God who speaks order and beauty into life with compassion and love.

God still calls disciples by their names, recognising each of us as individuals with our own gifts and talents, with our own experience and relationships. God still wants to hold each of us close so that we can learn how we should live and what place we have in the wider community of disciples. And God still sends us out to share what we have learned. For in our own communities there are so many who are harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd, a team without a manager. God still wants us to offer hope to people as they face difficulty or hardship. There are many ways of doing this, from a smile of support to work at a local foodbank. Often, though, what we do matters less than who we are. Just by being there as Jesus’ disciples, we can show that problems don’t have to be overwhelming, that despair doesn’t have to dominate. When life becomes chaotic – and that happens for Christians just as much as anyone else – we still have hope in the promise of our Lord Jesus: I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Hymn: StF 503   Love divine, all loves excelling


1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art.
Visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

2 Come, Almighty, to deliver,
let us all thy life receive.
Suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

3 Finish, then, thy new creation;
true and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.

Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788)


Today is Father’s Day: a prayer for fathers

Lord God, it’s not easy being a father today, and so we pray:
for fathers in a society that is constantly redefining their role;
for fathers who stay at home and look after children;
for fathers who have been forced out of their families or away from their children;
for fathers with adult children who must relearn what it means to be a parent.

We pray also for families with fathers who are inadequate, violent, lazy or unkind;
for families where there is no father present at home;
for families in which there seems to be a succession of different ‘fathers’,
making it hard for the children to build lasting relationships or know their true identities.

Whatever their circumstances,
may every family find wholeness and help
as they look to God, the loving Father of us all.

Thursday marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, carrying men, women and children from the Caribbean to make their homes in this country

On this day, God of all peoples, we remember and give thanks for the many hundreds of thousands from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa who have given so much to the life of this nation. We are especially thankful for the contribution of faith – accompanied with practical expressions of love through uncountable social action initiatives – that individuals from other nations have made here.

We recognise that living together as a family, community or society offers many challenges, some of which appear to be difficult, sometimes impossible, to overcome.  We thank you Father for your example of embrace in and through the person of Jesus. Help us to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones and to allow you to help us see ourselves, and more importantly you, in the heart and minds of ‘the Other’.

Finally, Father, we ask you for the grace to live together as your people and as part of the human family. We do so humbly today, Windrush Day. In Jesus name. Amen.

We pray for all disciples as we take the risk of sharing our faith

We pray for those who feel like sheep among wolves
in their place of work, or in their own communities.
Compassionate God, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are vulnerable,
those who are bullied,
those intimidated by their neighbours, their peers,
and those in authority over them.
Compassionate God, hear our prayer.

We pray for those whose lives are chaotic

because of sickness, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty.
Compassionate God, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who preach the Gospel,

especially those who do so in a hostile and dangerous environment

Compassionate God, hear our prayer.


The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn: StF 407  Hear the call of the Kingdom

Hear the call of the kingdom, lift your eyes to the King,
Let His song rise within you as a fragrant offering,
Of how God, rich in mercy, came in Christ to redeem
All who trust in His unfailing grace.

Hear the call of the Kingdom to be children of light,
With the mercy of heaven, the humility of Christ.
Walking justly before Him, loving all that is right
That the life of Christ may shine through Him.

King of Heaven, we will answer the call,
We will follow, bringing hope to the world,
Filled with passion, filled with power to proclaim
Salvation in Jesus’ name.

Hear the call of the Kingdom to reach out to the lost,
With the Father’s compassion in the wonder of the cross,
Bringing peace and forgiveness, and a hope yet to come;
Let the nations put their trust in Him.

Keith Getty (b.1974), Kristyn Getty (b.1980), Stuart Townend (b.1963)


Transforming God,
as we go from this place of worship,
may we be full of your amazing story,
wanting to share it with those we meet,
so that more lives may be transformed.

Resources adapted from: Roots on the Web, Re:Worship, The Church of Scotland, The Baptist Association