Worship for Sunday 2nd July 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

I will sing about the wonders of your love forever, O God!

I will tell everyone I meet about your faithfulness

to all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm,

that your faithfulness is as enduring

as the heavens above.

Blessed are those who know you as their God,

for they walk in the light of your presence.

Hymn: StF 498  God of all power and truth and grace

  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 wash 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 might 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 my sight,
    And feel that Christ is all in all.

Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788)

Prayers of wonder and praise, confession and thanksgiving

You have called us to you, O God;
your welcome awaited long before we ever responded.
Certain of your joy at our coming,
we gather before you to worship and adore.

God, you are the open arms of acceptance,
the warmth of a hearty welcome,
the joy of a real smile.
We cannot see you,
and Jesus walked the earth long before our time,
yet we know by faith
that he embodied your welcoming presence
in his dealings with your needy children.
We bow before you in worship and adoration
for all that you are.

Lord, so often our welcome lacks sincerity.

The word is cold on our lips; the smile does not reach our eyes.

We are polite; but there is little warmth in our hearts.

Perhaps no deeds accompany our words, no comfort offered, hospitality withheld.
We ask forgiveness of the One who always receives with open arms –

generous, caring, meeting needs and so much more.

We ask forgiveness from the One who accepts us, unconditionally,
and is never too weary to care.
As we are welcomed, so may we welcome your children in return,

in your name, representing your love and generous nature.

Thank you, O God, for welcoming us even when we do not deserve it; when we have thought, said and done things that others would find hard to forgive.
For with you, God, there is always forgiveness.

You accept our flawed humanity, and welcome us back to the fold again and again when we stray.

Thank you for your loving forgiveness,
and for the welcome that encourages us to emulate your generosity.

Reading: Jeremiah 28:5 – 9

Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfil the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.’

Song: StF 471  Lord, I come to you

Lord, I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I found in You
Lord, I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord, unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord, renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love

            Geoff Bullock (b.1956)

Reading: Matthew 10:40 –  42

40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’


‘Tell the truth!’ Those are words most of us heard as children, and maybe said to our own children, as they, and we, tried to wriggle out of a difficult situation by being economical with the truth. Yet at the same time, we learnt that it was not always wise to say exactly what you thought – for example, if your best friend’s new haircut really didn’t suit them, it was better to keep your views to yourself. Societies value tact and concern for the feelings of others, but place an even higher value on reliability and integrity.

The Scripture readings we’ve just heard explore this in different ways. Jeremiah is concerned about the use of words to mislead. He’s replying to another prophet named Hananiah, who has been delivering optimistic prophecies about peace, at a time when the people of Israel were facing war. Jeremiah’s words suggest, tactfully but strongly, that he does not believe Hananiah is delivering an authentic prophecy – rather, he is making up what he thinks people want to hear. Falsifying the word of God in this way is serious, for it misleads the people and misrepresents God. Jeremiah implies that Hananiah is doing exactly this – let’s wait and see what actually happens, he says – and he contrasts this with his own authentic prophecy. His words are often unpopular because he challenges hearers’ preconceived ideas, but he speaks truth to power with searing integrity.

Jesus is concerned about the interface between honest words and honest action. Even the most heartfelt words lack integrity if they do not lead to heartfelt action; ‘it’s all just words’ is a complaint that expresses exactly this. So Jesus uses the image of a cup of cold water to symbolise the offer of hospitality, support and concern. In these hot summer days we can see why such a simple gift might be the perfect expression of welcome to strangers and friends alike. It is the sign that our hospitality is more than warm words; it is an authentic, sincere engagement with the needs of the new arrival. If words of love are to be taken seriously, then they need to be spoken from the heart and backed up with practical action, so that they are far more than ‘just words’.

So in our lives as followers of Jesus, we are called to be people whose words and lives are consistent with each other and with the love of God which we claim. We are called to tell the truth, even when this means challenging society’s norms or the behaviour of individuals. We do not have the Hananiah option of telling people what we think they want to hear, for this breaks the link between our words and the Word of God, Jesus, who is himself the living word, full of grace and truth. And we are called to live the truth, so that our words and actions are all of a piece, and people can see that we mean what we say because we put it into practice. We all have our own role-models to look up to; one of mine is Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spoke of courageous resistance to evil, stood up against Hitler and was executed shortly before the end of the war. His words carry weight because they fit with his whole life.

The invitation of these readings is to speak and act with integrity, consistent with the truth as we see it. And that is easier to say than to do! Often it is so hard to work out where truth really lies in a situation, let alone follow that strand of truth to the end. But God helps us in many ways. The more we learn about the dynamic creativity of the universe, the more we understand of the coherent logic that underlies it. The closer we come to Jesus, the more we become like the one who described himself as ‘the way, the truth and the life’. The more attuned we are to the Holy Spirit, the more we grasp the purposes of the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). In our search for truth, and for ways of living truthfully, we can be sure that the Lord is on our side and that we please God by choosing to live in this way – as children of the truth.

Hymn: StF 505  More like you, Jesus, more like you

More like You, Jesus, more like You

Fill my heart with your desire

To make me more like You

More like You, Jesus, more like You

Touch my lips with holy fire

And make me more like You


Lord, You are my mercy

Lord, you are my grace

All my deepest sins

Have forever been erased

Draw me in your presence

Lead me in Your ways

I long to bring you glory

In righteousness and praise


Lord, you are compassion,

And never-ending love,

For you have redeemed me

By your precious blood.

Create in me a clean heart,

A spirit that is new,

The joy of my salvation

Is only found in you.

            Scott Wesley Brown


Holy God, we bring our prayers for others, feeling the pains and burdens of the world, with confused minds and uncertain steps but knowing that you are our God and you do hear our prayers.

And so, for the world we pray:

Holy, Holy, Holy God
Hear our prayer.

For ordinary citizens in Ukraine and Russia and Sudan who struggle to comprehend what the war is all about, where it is going, what is the truth and what is false.

For those fearful for their lives, for their families, for their well-being and their future.

For those who have no choice but to fight and those who have to decide the next actions and work out their consequences.

Holy, Holy, Holy God
Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are fleeing their homes, their countries, their cultures,

due to poverty, persecution, greed, war and neglect.

For those who see no future for their homeland, no peace, no comfort, no welcome, no hope, no joy, no love. For those who trek and sail with no belongings or support, crossing borders and cultures in uncertainty and desperation. We pray that those peaceful folk who travel and journey may find hospitality and welcome and space to build secure and safe lives and livelihoods.

Holy, Holy, Holy God
Hear our prayer.

We pray for governments and leaders worldwide who share the responsibility for the climate and its changes, its health and its future, its wellbeing and its survival.

For areas where deforestation is happening at an alarming rate against all sensible advice. For those nations dealing with flood and drought and consequent poverty and need.

Holy, Holy, Holy God
Hear our prayer.

We pray for those we meet day by day, at home, at school, at work, when shopping, when walking, when talking, friends, family neighbours. May they all see and know in us the presence of a loving God, the welcome that as Christians we are called to give, a smile, a listening ear, a hand to guide, a touch of comfort, a word of prayer.

Holy, Holy, Holy God
Hear our prayer.

And we bring all the prayers of our hears, spoken and unspoken.

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

And 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 forever


Hymn: StF 504  May the mind of Christ my Saviour

1 May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
live in me from day to day,
by His love and power controlling
all I do and say.

2 May the Word of God dwell richly
in my heart from hour to hour,
so that all may see I triumph
only through His power.

3 May the peace of God, my Father,
rule my life in everything,
that I may be calm to comfort
sick and sorrowing.

4 May the love of Jesus fill me
as the waters fill the sea.
Him exalting, self abasing:
this is victory.

5 May I run the race before me,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as I onward go.

Katie Barclay Wilkinson


Loving God,
Be with us as we share the truth of your love and kindness
each day this week.

Resources adapted from rootsontheweb and re:worship