Worship for Sunday 24th January 2021, by Caroline Wickens

 Invitation to Worship:

For God alone my soul waits in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.


On God rests my deliverance and my honour;

my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.


God of our salvation:
God of glory:
God our rock:
God our refuge:
God of mercy:
God of loving kindness:
God of power:
God who calls ‘follow’:
lead us where you would have us go. 

Hymn: StF 272   From heaven you came, helpless babe

From heaven you came helpless babe
entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, the Servant King –
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King

There in the garden of tears
My heavy load he chose to bear
His heart with sorrow was torn
Yet “Not my will but Yours”, he said


Come see his hand and His feet –
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered


So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other’s needs to prefer
For Christ we’re serving

Prayers of Confession, Forgiveness and Praise

Jesus is good news for all people.
Yet our lives are marred by sin.
God is compassionate and faithful.

We offer our confession, trusting in God’s love.
We have sinned against you, Lord.
We have faltered – instead of following you.
We have hesitated – instead of following you.
We have resisted – instead of following you.
We have turned away – instead of following you.
We have ignored – instead of following you.
Have mercy upon us.
Forgive us, restore us, heal us;
and release us to follow you.

Holy One, God of all Creation,
you call us to be your people,
to carry your vision in this time and place,
to go where you send us
to help welcome your amazing good news.
As we gather in the presence of the risen Christ
to spread the news that your realm is near,
fill us with your Holy Spirit,
O God of all Creation.
Fill us with your glorious Spirit,
that we may share your good news
with a world in need. Amen.

Reading: Mark 1:14 – 20

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.


Steve was a successful business man who had made his way in the world and prospered. He was also a member of his local Methodist church. I got to know him fifteen years ago now, when he began to explore what else life might hold for him. He was concerned about people living with dementia, and what it might mean to say that they were made in the image of God. He began to explore this by visiting a local care home and sitting alongside people, often singing the old hymns to them. When we talked about this new side to his life, it became very clear that he saw this as a way of living out his belief in the good news of the kingdom of God, brought to us by Jesus. He was following God’s call to be a disciple.

And, you might say, he had repented. We use this word to express the turn away from sinful behaviour which needs to be part of life for us all, but I think the Gospels understand repentance much more widely. Was Steve doing anything wrong in his life? Well, maybe, because everyone falls short in one way or another – but his repentance was much closer to the Gospel understanding of the word. This is about seeking new ways to live the life of the kingdom of God. and to join in God’s amazing strategy to bring the kingdom to full, glorious life here in our midst.

Today’s reading tells us how Jesus came to Peter and Andrew, James and John with his call to repent and believe in the good news. For them, repentance happened in much the same way as it did for Steve. They left the old life, as fishermen, and began to discover new ways of being, fishing for people as Jesus put it. Yet it was not a complete change. They were still the people they always had been. James and John, sons of thunder, could lose their temper spectacularly. Peter denied knowing Jesus. But they also took some of the skills and expertise from their old life into the new. If you watch someone fishing, you see patience and perseverance and hope at work, as they wait for the fish to rise. You see a mixture of strength and gentleness as they bring it to land. And it’s easy to imagine how these new disciples might have brought their experience as fishermen to their new life in proclaiming the good news and fishing for people. Repentance is not about leaving everything behind. It is about discovering how to be more fully ourselves, bringing all we have learnt in life and committing it to Jesus. We too can use the skills of our trade, whatever that is, in the service of the kingdom.

Today’s Gospel invites us to repent and believe in the good news. It helps us see that this is not just a negative focus on the wrong we have done, but far more than that. Repentance is a journey of discovery. How am I going to join in with God in the adventure of bringing the kingdom closer? What do I bring to the table? What skills and experience can I put to use in the service of God’s plan to change the world? As a child of God, wonderfully and uniquely made in God’s image, how am I going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? How am I going to respond to his invitation to repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom?

 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 us

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


Prayers of Intercession

Loving Lord, you call us to follow you in heart and mind, and to join in praying for the people of the world waiting to hear good news.

We pray for the states of America to be united in the days and weeks ahead. 
We pray for an end to violence, for wisdom and protection for President Joe Biden and all who took office just a few days ago. We pray for those who have been involved in attacks against places of democracy, and for the police force and those entrusted with keeping the law and building peace.
Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you.

We pray for those around the world at the mercy of extreme weather conditions. 
We pray for the people of Japan, still living with the consequences of floods months on. We pray for people in Indonesia, remembering especially those rescue workers who died trying to save others, and for those in our own country who live with the fear that their homes and communities will be flooded in storms. We pray for those tackling the climate change challenges of our time and for our own response in our day to day lives.
Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you.

We pray for all who are pushed to their limits at work and at home, for Intensive Care Staff, for all in the emergency services, for GP’s, teachers and school staff, for parents and students, for all whose mental health is at breaking point. We pray for our Government and all whose decisions affect millions of lives. And we pray for one another as we respond to the restrictions locally and nationally.
Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you.

We pray for those whose businesses are closed, whose shops are locked up, whose cafes are empty, whose rooms have no guests, for those whose money is running out, for those on the brink of despair.
Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you.

We pray for those whose lives have been changed by COVID-19, those who struggle with the disease at the moment, those who are living with long COVID, those who are bereaved, those who are still waiting for other treatment because COVID has had to take the priority in recent months.

Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you.

We pray for your church, entrusted with the good news of Jesus, and charged with serving all those in need. We pray for hospital chaplains, for those ministering to the bereaved, and for one another as we seek to share our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ.
Lord, hear our prayer

and draw us all closer to you. Amen.

Loving Lord, bless us with an abundant faith, 

a fruitful ministry, a joyful life.  

Bless us and all those who gather together to continue the work of Jesus, 

who came to heal, save, and deliver us all, 

and who taught us to pray as one family, saying… 

Our Father….

Hymn: StF 563  O Jesus, I have promised

O JESUS, I have promised
To serve you to the end;
Lord, be for 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.

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, now draw nearer
And shield my soul from sin!

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;
Lord, speak and make me listen,
O guardian of my soul.

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.


Lord, what we have learned this day – help us remember.
Teach us to recognise your voice.
Teach us how to see you in our lives and encounters.
Help us to give others space so that they may hear you too.

Hymns reproduced under CCLI licence no.263530. Prayers adapted from RootsontheWeb and Re:Worship.