Worship for Sunday 27th September, by Rev. Ken Stokes

Call to worship

Christ stands before us beckoning us,
For this is the time for worship
This is the time to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God
and rejoice on the journey to whom we are meant to be. Amen

Hymn: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy (StF 526) 

   1      Lord all hopefulness, Lord all joy,
            whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
            be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
            your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

   2      Lord all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
            whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
            be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
            your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

  3      Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
          your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
          be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
          your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

  4      Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
           whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
           be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
           your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Jan Struther (Joyce Placzek) (1901–1953) Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 526 Words: © From Enlarged Songs of Praise, 1931, Oxford University Press.  Reproduced by permission.  All rights reserved. Manley Park Methodist Church CCLI License number 1046897


Generous, hospitable God, who turns no one away,
welcome each one of us now
in this time of worship and gathering
and embrace us in your being.

Loving, life-giving God, as we come to worship you today, we give you our praise and adoration. You are above and beyond, around and in all that we know and experience in our world. Yet your being is beyond our comprehension; your might so much more than we can imagine.

When we learn of the vastness of space, with its millions of galaxies, and light travelling for hundreds of years; or of the infinitely small particles of matter from which all things are formed, we can only gasp in wonder. And you are the creator of all that is. Enable us to step aside from the normal everyday preoccupations of our minds, so we can take in the absolute majesty of your presence; and to realise that without you there would be nothing.


O God, we bring you our adoration for coming to our world in Jesus, and for making your character and mind knowable through his life on earth. We praise you that at his birth he was laid in a manger, and in his ministry mixed with all layers of society, not shunning the oppressed, nor ignoring the poor.

We reflect on the wonder that you who are the ultimate Lord should reveal yourself as a slave; you who wield absolute power, submit to the humiliation of arrest, torture and death on a cross.


Grant, Lord, that we might take to heart the lesson you teach us here, and that we might mould our lives accordingly. Amen.

We sometimes think that the more we have the happier we will be.
‘If only’, then all will be well.
We sometimes turn the other way, closing our eyes and ears, ignoring what we see, choosing to neglect those asking for help.

Sometimes we refuse a helping hand to those in need – we want to do ‘our thing’ instead.

We do not want to confess these things but, Loving God, in this moment, in this place,
in this space that we’ve been given, give us the desire to confess our failings and our sins,
renew us from within and set us free from all that shackles us. Set us free to be the human beings you would have us be. Amen.

1st Reading Exodus 17:1-7

(1)  From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  (2)  The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”  (3)  But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”  (4)  So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”  (5)  The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  (6)  I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.  (7)  He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

 2nd Reading Philippians 2:1-13

(1)  If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,  (2)  make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  (3)  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  (4)  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  (5)  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,  (6)  who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,  (7)  but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,  (8)  he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.  (9)  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,  (10)  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  (11)  and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hymn: “From heaven you came, helpless babe” (StF 272)

1 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.

2 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.

3 Come see his hands and his feet,
the scars that speak of sacrifice,
hands that flung stars into space
to cruel nails surrendered.

4 So let us learn how to serve
 and in our lives enthrone him,
each other’s needs to prefer,
for it is Christ we’re serving.

Graham Kendrick (b. 1950)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 272
Words and Music: © 1983, Thankyou Music.  Administered by worshiptogether.com Songs, excluding UK & Europe, administered by Kingswaysongs, a division of David C Cook <tym@kingsway.co.uk>  Used by permission.

Manley Park Methodist Church CCLI License number 1046897


We live in a society where people are often told that to be able to get on, to be promoted or to gain more responsibility they have to sell themselves.  “Don’t be shy of putting yourself out there” people are told. One of the problems with this advice for life is that it often leads to people trying to make themselves look better than they really are. A couple of years ago my brother had to take several months off work because of heart trouble. When he started to go back to work, he made a startling discovery. This was that another manager who had covered some of Alan’s role, had in his absence, taken some ideas that Alan and his team had developed. This man had gone to the board of the firm and simply claimed these revolutionary ideas were his. Alan. and more importantly from Alan’s point of view his team, were never mentioned. As a result, this man had been covered in the glory that others had earned. This man had bet that Alan was too ill and would retire rather than go back to work. Unfortunately for him he was wrong.

It is so easy to try to make ourselves look good and to build ourselves up, but the danger is that this will unravel when folk find there is no substance to what we say.

In our bible reading Paul says that Jesus is the opposite of the brash, populist, sell yourself at any price leaders that we often experience today. Paul says

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves

One of the noticeable things about Jesus, certainly in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s gospel, is that even as he grew in fame and reputation, he did not point out his own virtues. He points away from himself to what God is doing in the world. He points to the coming Kingdom. Usually in the form of stories about others. Now of course, I recognise that there are places particularly in John’s gospel where Jesus seems to use the term “I am” a lot, however my view is that John’s gospel is more of a later reflection on Jesus nature and significance.

Earlier writing, such as our reading from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians suggest that Jesus was very reticent about selling himself and that that was commonly understood at the time. It is interesting that Paul does not feel the need to justify his claim that Jesus was humble. Paul takes it that his audience will already know and understand this.

Therefore, Paul says that the reason that we should do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourself is because this is precisely what Jesus did.

Jesus did not aspire to live in a palace or to try to be the sort of populist nationalist leader who is adored by their cult of faithful followers. Paul says

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus … who emptied himself and took the form of a slave

Paul says that as Christians we have a duty to make Christ’s attitude of mind our own. This attitude of mind that we need to adopt is the polar opposite to to that of those who seek fame, power, popularity, and fortune.

Paul points out that Jesus did not try to escape his humanity but embraced it. He does not sell himself based on his divine power but instead seeks to benefit people God has given him to care for.

Jesus could have taken the path to power and glory. He could have sold himself. He might have “bigged” himself up. He could have constantly told everyone about the amazing things he could do but he chooses not to take that path.

He points away from himself to God.

Paul pictures this as Kenosis self-emptying. The sense that Jesus deliberately empties himself of prestige that should rightfully be his to be better able to carry out the task God had given him.

In his film “Darkest Hour” the director Joe Wright pictures Churchill played by Gary Oldman taking an underground train in London to be able to talk to the ordinary people of the country and discover their mind.  The scene is immensely powerful and represents the heart of the film. The only real problem with it is that is that by common consent amongst historians it almost certainly never happened. Yet the power of the scene remains because it points to a great truth.

The truth is that the best sorts of leaders are those who make themselves one with us This is the truth that resonates in that film and resonates in our reading from Philippians too. Except in our reading the sense that Jesus does not distance himself from ordinary people is not a fiction. Instead it is a reality. Christ identifies himself with us in all our frailty and weakness and gives up the glory that could have been his so that he can do so.

Jesus chooses to act as God’s servant or slave and ours too. Paul says this should be a model for us, but I think we need to be careful. This passage has sometimes been misused by people who already have power. They have used it to insist that people who have no power remain in servitude and deny their desire to live decent lives.

This is not what Paul is saying. Paul is talking to those in authority, those already with status to lose. He is asking them to humble themselves and show the good news of the gospel to those who are the weakest and most vulnerable.

He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Every thing that happens in Jesus life and ministry, up to the point of his death is a result of his choice to act in the way that God wanted him to act.

This month the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing finally got underway. So, I think it is worth pointing out again the stark contrast between the martyrdom that Salman Abedi and his brother Hashem plotted and what Jesus does. I want to be clear I am not contrasting Islam and Christianity. The Abedi’s are to Islam what Brenton Tarrant the New Zealand Mosque shooter is to Christianity. Yet it remains true that both Jesus and Salman Abedi were prepared to die for their cause. However, the Abedi brothers sought to kill and destroy others to achieve their religious and political purpose. Jesus is willing to die to proclaim God’s love. The critical difference between the Abedi’s and Jesus is one of humility. The Abedi’s arrogantly assumed the right to choose when and how other people should die. However, Jesus sees and acknowledges the value of everyone – even praying for his murderers on the cross. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  

This brings me to the final point that I want to mention. Paul says

Therefore, God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name

I think that this sentence is often misunderstood. Some Christians picture this as the point where Jesus stops being the humble nice guy. They see this as the point where Jesus goes on to become what he truly is, the mighty powerful ruler who can zap his enemies. Normal service is now resumed. Jesus is returned to the throne of power to take retribution on God’s enemies.

Yet I am sure this is not what Paul is saying.  What is it that God is exalting?  Jesus act of loving obedience and sacrifice leads to salvation and freedom for all.
God is exalting the love and humility that we see in Jesus. These thing are not just affectations. In his book David Copperfield Charles Dickens draws a description of a character called Uriah Heep who pretends to be “ever so humble” but is no such thing. His humility is just a cloak that hides his self-serving manipulation. Jesus love and humility are not just trappings to be dismissed. They are essential to who he is. His character and nature.  When Paul says that God exalts Jesus and gives him the name above every name, he is saying that Jesus fundamental nature his love, and humble willingness to serve others are exalted too. It is to this perfect expression of loving service and humility that every knee should bend, and every tongue confess. As we acknowledge Jesus, we are very much acknowledging his humble loving sacrificial way, should be our model, our intention, and our purpose above all others. Amen

Hymn: “All that I am, all that I do”

1 All that I am, all that I do,
all that I’ll ever have, I offer now to you.
Take and sanctify these gifts
for your honour, Lord.
Knowing that I love and serve you is enough reward.
All that I am, all that I do,
all that I’ll ever have I offer now to you.

2 All that I dream, all that I pray,
all that I’ll ever make I give to you today.
Take and sanctify these gifts for your honour, Lord.
Knowing that I love and serve you is enough reward.
All that I am, all that I do,
all that I’ll ever have I offer now to you.

Sebastian Temple © Copyright OCP Publications, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland OR 97213, USA

Manley Park Methodist Church CCLI License number 1046897


Prayers for the people we know, our neighbours and friends, and then…

Loving God, we pray for the humble in our world, those who have not chosen their position in society:

for children sold into slavery or prostitution.

for women living in subservience because

of an oppressive culture.

for those whose work is underpaid and undervalued.

for those who are unemployed.

for those who do the dirtiest jobs – hospital, and street, cleaners, refuse collectors.

Loving God give them hope, and so work in our world by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the dignity of ordinary human beings may be valued, oppression overcome, and the yoke of injustice broken.

Christ in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those highly exalted in our world, those who hold the reins of power:

for the leaders and members of national governments; we pray for

for the managing directors and executives of multi-national companies.

for the staff of the World Bank, the IMF, and all international economic agencies.

Lord, help them to understand the effects of their policies. Grant them true wisdom in the decisions that they have to make and grant them true humility of heart.

Christ in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who have been raised up to lead religious communities.

for the leaders of the different groupings of the world faiths.

We remember Christian leaders but also the leaders of the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

Loving God grant them the humility to recognise that beyond our claims to know your will we may be bound together by our common humanity and a shared knowledge that we are your children.

Christ in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those who have positively chosen the way of humility:

for those who have put others first, parents caring for children, children caring for parents.

for teachers and nurses, police officers and social workers, and all who simply try to do the best job they can for the sake of others and the good of their community.

for aid workers overseas, whose concern is the wellbeing of often starving and dispossessed people.

for those in Britain who work for justice and seek compassion for refugees and migrants

Grant, Loving God, that they may know your love, receive your strength, and rest in your peace. Uphold them in times of stress and self-doubt, give them patient endurance, and the knowledge that are doing your will.

Christ in your mercy. Hear our prayer.


Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.


Hymn: “God of all power and truth and grace” (StF 498)

1          God of all power, and truth, and grace,
            which shall from age to age endure,
            whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,
            remains and stands for ever sure;

 2         That I your mercy may proclaim,
            that all the world your truth may see,
            hallow your great and glorious name,
            and perfect holiness in me.

3          Your sanctifying Spirit pour
            to quench my thirst and make me clean;
            now, Father, let the gracious shower
            descend, and make me pure from sin.

4          Give me a new, a perfect heart,
            free from all doubt and fear at last;
            the mind which was in Christ impart,
            and let my spirit hold you fast.

   5      O that I now, from sin released,
            your word may to the utmost prove,
            enter into the promised rest,
            the Canaan of your perfect love!

   6      Now let me gain perfection’s height,
            now let me into nothing fall,
            be less than nothing in your sight,
            and feel that Christ is all in all.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 498. Manley Park Methodist Church CCLI License number 1046897


And now, go out into God’s world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; support the weak, help the afflicted, honour everybody, love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in his presence and may the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit remain with you always. Amen.