Worship for Sunday 28th February, by Rev. Sue Williams

The Second Sunday in Lent

 ‘What’s in a Name’

Opening sentence:

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

StF 317  At the name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,

every tongue confess him king of glory now;

this the Father’s pleasure, that we call him Lord,

who from the beginning was the mighty word.


Humbled for a season, to receive a name

from the lips of sinners unto whom he came;

faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,

brought it back victorious when from death he passed.


Bore it up triumphant with its human light,

through all ranks of creatures to the central height;

to the eternal Godhead, to the Father’s throne,

filled it with the glory of his triumph won.


In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue

all that is not holy, all that is not true;

crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour,

let his will enfold you in its light and power.


With his Father’s glory Jesus comes again,

angel hosts attend him and announce his reign;

for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,

and our hearts confess him king of glory now.

Caroline Maria Noel


Prayers of adoration and confession

God of the day and night,

whose light makes life possible, we rejoice in the colour and beauty of your world, filling our senses and showing us your power and glory.

Creating God

we worship and adore you.


God of earth and sky,

whose imagination conceived and created billions of stars and planets, spinning in silent harmony and grace,

we are awed at the vastness and splendour of your universe.

Creating God

we worship and adore you.


God of land and sea,

whose open handed extravagance delights in variety, covering the earth with more plants and trees than humankind can count, filling the seas with life, from tiny plankton to mighty whale.

Creating God

we worship and adore you.


God of times and seasons,

whose nature is wholeness and balance.

We confess we have exploited your creation, taking more than we need, destroying it, stand idly by as it slowly ebbs away.

Re-creating God, make us new, give us a new song to sing, set us on new paths, give us new dreams and vision, new hope and laughter.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Reading: Genesis 17:1-7 (NRSVA)

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.


StF 464  God it was who said to Abraham (more verses in Stf)

God it was who said to Abraham,

‘Pack your bags and travel on.’

God it was who said to Sarah,

‘Smile and soon you’ll bear a son.’

Travelling folk and aged mothers

wandering hen they thought they’d done –

this is how we find God’s people leaving all because of One.


Christ it was who said, ‘Zacchaeus,

I would like to eat with you.’

Christi was who said to Martha,

‘Listening’s what you need to do.

Civil servants an housekeepers,

changing places at a cost –

this is how Christ summons people,

calling both the loved and lost.


In this crowd which spans the ages,

with these saints whom we revere,

God wants us to share their purpose

staring now and starting here.

So we celebrate our calling,

so we raise both heart and voice,

as we pray that through our living

more may find they are God’s choice.

© 1989, Iona Community


Reading:  Mark 8:31-38 (NRSVA)

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

I have called you by your name


Do not be afraid, For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name; You are mine.

When you walk through the waters I’ll be with you,
You will never have to sink beneath the waves.

Do not be afraid …

When the fire is burning all around you,
You will never be consumed by the flames.
Do not be afraid …

When the fear of loneliness is looming,
Then remember I am at your side.
Do not be afraid …

When you dwell in the exile of a stranger,
Remember you are precious in my eyes.

Do not be afraid …

You are mine, O my child; I am your father,
And I love you with a perfect love.
Do not be afraid …


Reflection : Identity is Important.

When I went for my first covid jab last week, I was asked my name four times!   On the third occasion, the steward in the cubicle said, ‘my mum’s called Sue too’.   When the nurse came back with my dose, as she was preparing to jab my arm, the nurse asked me my name again and said, ‘Oh I’m a Sue too!  But I was christened Sue, as my mum didn’t like long names being shortened!’   As Nurse Sue delivered the injection she injected into the conversation that her surname was ‘Die’.  She said she doesn’t always tell patients her surname.  I wonder why!  And why she never changed her name.

Abraham’s story is a long one, with Abram being 99 years old in our reading today, and with Sarai their journey so far has led them not only a long way in miles, but in trusting God too.   At this point, they are about to discover that God is to be trusted beyond their wildest dreams.  Abraham and Sarah are to have the child that they have longed for, and become the ‘ancestors of a multitude of nations’.  What huge responsibility.  As if that wasn’t enough, God also changes their names.

God changes Abram (‘exalted father’) to Abraham (‘father of many’). and Sarai to Sarah (both names meant ‘princess’ but the renaming stressed that she belonged to God and what she would do.)   I remember that when I was taking RE in the fourth year of senior school, the teacher said it’s impossible to says Abraham without taking a breath to aspirate the ‘h” and this was like when God breathed life into Adam.  I’ll let the theologians amongst you debate that one.  

Stephen (husband) and I chose our children’s names not only because we liked them as names, but because of their meaning.  Helen means ‘light’ and Simon means ‘the listener’.  Little did we know then he’s work in a call centre! 

Often at a baptism service I will bring my newer book of baby names and ask parents if they know the meaning of their child’s name, and – having checked it out beforehand – to look it up in the book, and I go on to ask them to look up Joshua / Jesus and go on from there.    I’m sure you know that ‘Jesus’  means ‘deliverer’; ‘the Lord is salvation’; ‘Saviour’.

Although, when Jesus asked the disciples, ‘But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah’  (anointed one, chosen one, expected saviour).  This is, I was taught as a trainee local preacher, the pivotal verse in Mark’s gospel.  At that moment, the mood changes. Jesus turns to look at his disciples.  He demands their attention.  And says, according to the verse, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.’  For Peter, a moment ago so insightful, is now in trouble as as he can’t handle what Jesus says, and he’s accused of being more interested in “human concerns” than with the “concerns of God.”  

I suspect that many of us, if not all of us, have been more interested in human concerns for the past year and this year’s walk in the wilderness seems like a continuation of last year’s Lent.  Many of us cried, ‘No! This cannot be’.  So I’m grateful to Peter, I can empathise with him, expressing himself honestly, even if it is the wrong thing, not knowing when to shut up sometimes.  But what a future he had, loved, forgiven, set free.  And that is how we are all embraced by God, forgiven, loved, set free, and called.  We just have to discover what that means for us.  I read this week that the cross is not an obstacle to get around, a bump in the road to a better life, but that the cross is the road.   I also suspect that we would rather not follow Jesus down that road, after all it’s a lot easier to follow Jesus when we think suffering is not involved. 

Lent is a good time for exploring that thought and for exploring the trustworthiness of God.   But the reading from Mark does sound a necessary sombre note, we will only find God trustworthy if we want what God is offering. Abraham and Sarah could trust because of their experience over the years, and he wanted a son more than comfort or safety. Jesus’s challenge to his disciples throughout the ages is the same, that we too are called to bring others to Christ, bring them into the family of God. 

It was a long journey from Abraham’s testing to the final fulfilment of God’s promises. The destination of our Lenten journey is clearly to be seen in today’s readings: the mystery of the Cross, in which the father ‘did not spare his own Son’, and the glory which was to be the Risen Christ’s in his final triumph, glimpsed on the mountain.   As we take our own small steps accompanying Jesus in the wilderness, may we by faith trust in God’s promises. And, have a read of verse 17 of Genesis 17!  Amen.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Loving God, we take this opportunity to thank you for blessing us with gifts, and also acknowledging the gifts you have bestowed to others.

We pray for medical and all care staff who work in our hospitals, nursing and rest homes, caring for people with desperate physical and emotional needs.

We pray for those agencies who serve within our communities and for all the volunteers working these areas.  We ask that you give them guidance and strength and courage so they can meet the specific needs of the people needing help.

We pray for our family members and friends who are unwell, especially ………………………..………

We ask that you will guide them and care for them through the long and difficult times.

And we pray for ourselves. May we continue to follow you, to recognise that you have given each of us gifts, that you love us, forgive us and call us.   May we grow in unity, becoming beacons of light radiating throughout our communities as things slowly get back to normal.

We say, Our Father …


StF 663  I the Lord of sea and sky

I, the Lord of sea and sky

I have heard my people cry

All who dwell in dark and sin

My hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night

I will make their darkness bright

Who will bear my light to them?

Whom shall I send?


Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go, Lord, if you lead me

I will hold your people in my heart


I, the Lord of snow and rain

I have borne my people’s pain

I have wept for love of them

They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone

Give them hearts for love alone

I will speak my words to them

Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord …


I, the Lord of wind and flame

I will tend the poor and lame

I will set a feast for them

My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide

till their hearts are satisfied,

I will give my life to them.

Whom shall I sent?


Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night

I will go, Lord, if you lead me

I will hold your people in my heart.

Daniel L. Schutte

© Words and Music OCCP Publications


Final prayer:

Amidst the turbulence of the world

your cross O Christ stands

holding all that would be lost.

Bless us in your redeeming love

and bring us through your passion

to the joy of your resurrection.

In the power of the Holy Spirit

we make our prayer to the Father.  Amen