Call to Worship: We come in love, we come in faith, we come just as we are, as your people, Lord, to worship you now.
1. Sing praise to God who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
the God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation;
with healing balm my soul he fills,
and every faithless murmur stills:
to God all praise and glory!
2. What God’s almighty power has made
that will he ever cherish,
and will, unfailing, soon or late,
with loving-kindness nourish;
and where he rules in kingly might
there all is just and all is right:
to God all praise and glory!
3. The Lord is never far away,
but, through all grief distressing,
an ever-present help and stay,
our peace, and joy, and blessing;
as with a mother’s tender hand,
he leads his own, his chosen band:
to God all praise and glory!
4. O you who name Christ’s holy name,
give God all praise and glory:
O you who own his power, proclaim
aloud the wondrous story.
Cast each false idol from its throne,
the Lord is God, and he alone:
to God all praise and glory!
Johann Jakob Schütz; Frances Elizabeth Cox; Honor Mary Thwaites
Prayers of Praise and Confession
Almighty God, you are sufficient for our every need. You have placed us in a world full of wonder and beauty, providing us with food for our bodies, minds, and senses, and with a desire to grow in our knowledge and understanding, to stretch our imaginations, and to develop the abilities and resources you have so generously given us. And yet the more we learn, Lord, the more we become aware of your wisdom, your power and your glory, for all our discoveries only serve to bring us back to you as the one true and eternal God. Yet even more amazing is that you have built into us a need for relationship, with other people but above all with you, and made this possible by sending your Son, Jesus Christ to live among us. It is through all Jesus said and did, and supremely in His suffering and death that we learn of your great love for us, know our sins forgiven, and by His Resurrection, receive the promise of new and eternal Life. And now, Lord, with your Holy Spirit living in us, we have the joy of experiencing day by day more of your love, your guidance and your faithfulness as we put our trust in you.
If only it were always like this, Lord, our lives would be so different, but often we allow our self-interest to spoil our relationship with others and with you. We are sorry for the times when our words and actions have hurt rather than healed, and for the ways we have taken your gifts as our right, damaged your creation and misused its resources. We ask your forgiveness and for your help in making good what we have spoiled. We thank you that in your love you set us free from our past, and so, healed and restored, we bring our prayers to you now, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen
O.T. Reading: Numbers 11: 4-6; 10-16; 24-29
The rabble among the people had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’
Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. So Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors”? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, “Give us meat to eat!” I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favour in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.’ So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.
So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’
The Israelites clearly had selective memories! They had forgotten the hardships they had endured as slaves in Egypt, but more important they had forgotten how God had wonderfully rescued them, protected and provided for them in their journey to the Promised Land so here they are, complaining again. They’re fed up with manna, the bread God had given them, they want meat – and Moses, not surprisingly, was fed up with their grumbling, they were never satisfied!
But this wasn’t the main problem; the fact was Moses was over-stretched. He felt the whole responsibility for the well-being of this people rested on his shoulders. He dealt with their daily problems, endured their constant lack of gratitude, and often ended up mediating between them and God. Moses was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. And God did what God has a habit of doing, if we are willing to listen and take note! God created a ‘support group’ for Moses. He appointed 70 elders to share the responsibilities, equipping each of them with a share of His Spirit, so that they immediately started prophesying, as did those who were still in the camp, who hadn’t turned up at the Tent of Meeting – surely an interesting thought to ponder, and one that certainly caused problems for Joshua!
1.There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.
2.There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.
3. There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.
4. For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
5. But we make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify his strictness
with a zeal he will not own.
6. If our love were but more simple
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be illumined
by the presence of our Lord.
Frederick William Faber
N.T. Reading: Mark 9: 38-50 – Jesus speaks with His disciples
John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’
Mark’s Gospel consistently challenges our self-interested approach to discipleship, and today’s reading is no exception! We want to follow Jesus but only on our own terms. We sit in judgement on others without noticing the brokenness in our own lives, and in doing so fail to take into account the wideness of God’s mercy, God’s grace and God’s love. And if we are now feeling a little shame-faced, then we are in good company, for both Joshua in our O.T. reading and the disciples of Jesus found themselves in the same boat. They didn’t like it when they discovered that God, that Jesus, has a much more inclusive attitude than they and we often do.
Joshua, as Moses’ right-hand man, was not happy when it was reported that the two elders who hadn’t obeyed Moses’ instructions to gather at the Tent of Meeting, had nevertheless received God’s Spirit, and been prophesying in the camp. Joshua, maybe trying to protect Moses’ interest, wanted them to be stopped, and Moses’ reply may well have taken him by surprise: ‘Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’
The disciples were upset because someone who wasn’t in their group was casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. Was there, perhaps, more than a bit of jealousy here, for this was something they had attempted and failed to do not so long before, so why should this outsider have been successful when they were not? Jesus made it clear that He had no time for such pettiness. Moreover, when we allow issues such as who belongs and who doesn’t, when we make judgements about others, and allow our pre-conceived ideas to get in the way, are we not preventing people, and especially those who feel themselves to be of little worth, from coming to faith? So what can we learn from this?
Surely, that God uses all sorts of people, including those who are outside the church and would not call themselves Christians, to do His work of healing, of serving, of loving. And if we have any doubts about this, maybe we need to recall that Jesus was crucified not in the centre of Jerusalem, not in the heart of a religious community, but outside the walls of the city, the place of the common criminal, the outcast – and why? To bring us ‘outsiders’ into a new living, loving and eternal relationship with God.
So maybe we need to take a careful look at ourselves! What might our prejudices be; what are our weak points, those things that stop us living a whole Christian life and entering into the joy and freedom and new life God promises us? And when we have recognised them, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us do something about them, and to transform us into the people we were created to be. For then we shall bear those distinctive qualities that will single us out as disciples of Jesus, ones that will attract others to want to become His followers too! Amen
- One human family God has made,
and all for each to care.
One world, to be the home for all,
with all its wealth to share.
One Christ, to manifest on earth
love’s ultimate design.
One Church to know the mystery
of broken bread and wine.
- One race, one world – yet torn apart,
we spurn the way of love.
But still ahead, the Christ leads on
and calls his Church to move
from love of power to power of love,
to give the world to all –
to trust the love that conquered death,
outside the city wall.
- And are we brave enough to join
with that great company –
the cost not less than all we have
and are or hope to be –
the bitter cup of human sin
to drink with him who died,
and take his love outside the wall
to all the crucified?
- Claim him who claims us for his own,
to share his pain and grief,
to bear the scars that stamp us his –
the hallmark of belief.
As partners of the living Christ,
who risk the path he trod,
with wondering love we find we share
the timeless joy of God.
Words: © Rosemary Wakelin
Prayers of Intercession: We remember how Jesus had time for the ‘little ones’ and so:
We pray for the powerless in our world. For those who have no voice; those who live under harsh and controlling regimes; those who are denied justice or human rights; all who cannot freely live out their faith. May they find freedom in the love of Christ.
We pray for those who are differently abled; those living with issues others find hard to handle; all who feel isolated, discriminated against, who feel they are of little value. May they find their true worth in the love of Christ.
We pray for those who are vulnerable; the very young and the elderly, those who are ill, grieving, lonely or anxious; those who are homeless, refugees and asylum seekers; for any we know who are struggling. May they find wholeness through the love of Christ.
We pray for our Circuit, those within our churches and for ourselves, and we thank you, Lord, for the privilege of our calling to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Help us, equipped and empowered by your Holy Spirit, to follow His example in reaching out to the little and the lost, the outsider and the stranger. We offer our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
- Lord, your Church on earth is seeking
your renewal from above;
teach us all the art of speaking
with the accent of your love.
We would heed your great commission:
sending us to every place –
preach, baptize, fulfil my mission,
serve with love and share my grace.
- Freedom give to those in bondage,
lift the burdens caused by sin.
Give new hope, new strength and courage,
grant release from fears within:
light for darkness; joy for sorrow;
love for hatred; peace for strife.
These and countless blessings follow
as the Spirit gives new life.
- In the streets of every city
where the bruised and lonely dwell,
let us show the Saviour’s pity,
let us of his mercy tell.
In all lands and with all races
let us serve, and seek to bring
all the world to render praises,
Christ, to you, Redeemer, King.
Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord: in the Name of Christ! Amen