Worship for Sunday 2nd May, by Deacon Pru Cahill

Herbert Boeckl, Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, 1952-60.

Jesus’ last words to the apostles were to take the gospel ‘to the ends of the earth’.

Not long after, a man called Philip discovers ‘the ends of the earth’ coming to meet him, providing an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Call to Worship

Praise the Lord,
bow down and worship the God
who has done wonderful things.
All the ends of the earth shall remember,
and the families of the nations bear witness
that the earth is the Lord’s.
The poor will eat and be satisfied
and generations yet unborn
will praise his wonderful ways.
The Lord upholds us,
he has listened to our cry and has rescued us.
Bow down and worship the Lord our God.

Hymn: StF 443 Come, let us sing of a wonderful love

Come let us sing of a wonderful love,

tender and true;

out of the heart of the Father above,

streaming to me and to you:

wonderful love

dwells in the heart of the Father above.


Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,

joyfully came;

came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,

sharing their sorrow and shame;

seeking the lost,

saving, redeeming at measureless cost.


Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;

why do they roam?

Love only waits to forgive and forget;

home! weary wanderer, home!

Wonderful love

dwells in the heart of the Father above.


Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,

come and abide,

lifting my life till it rises above

envy and falsehood and pride:

seeking to be

lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Robert Walmsley (1831-1905)


Prayer of Thanksgiving …

Lord God, creator of the universe and everything in it,
we offer our thanks and praise for the awe-inspiring beauty that is all around us.
Let us praise your holy name forever and ever.

You give us life to be used in your service and to your glory,
and you gave us your Son, Jesus, to be our example and our redeemer.
Let us praise your holy name forever and ever.

His love for us knows no boundaries and, for us, he became human,
died, rose again and ascended to your right hand to reign forever.
Let us praise your holy name forever and ever.

You gave us your Holy Spirit to guide us in the way that Jesus taught,
so we dedicate ourselves to your service.
Let us praise your holy name forever and ever.

May your Holy Spirit guide us
in all that you want us to think, speak and do.
Let us praise your holy name forever and ever.

… and Confession

God of love, we are sorry
that at times our love for you falters;
that we have wrong priorities;
that we overlook your guidance.
O God, forgive us and renew us.

Loving Saviour, we are sorry
that we disobey your commandments;
that we fail to love;
that we walk by on the other side.
O God, forgive us and renew us.

Spirit of truth, we are sorry
that we disregard your presence;
that our thoughts and feelings are unrighteous;
that we follow the world’s way.
O God, forgive us and renew us.

May your presence abiding in us lead us in the right way,
in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 Acts 8: 26-40

 26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 

32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
    and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
        so he does not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
        For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

John 15: 1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Hymn: StF 404 God’s Spirit is in my Heart

God’s Spirit is in my heart,
He has called me and set me apart.
This is what I have to do,
what I have to do.

He sent me to give the Good News to the poor,
Tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more,
Tell blind people that they can see,
And set the downtrodden free
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come,
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come.

Just as the Father sent me,
So I’m sending you out to be
My witnesses throughout the world,
The whole of the world.


He sent me …

Don’t carry a load in your pack,

You don’t need two shirts on your back

A workman can earn his own keep,

Can earn his own keep


He sent me …

Don’t worry what you have to say,
Don’t worry because on that day
God’s Spirit will speak in your heart,
Will speak in your heart.


He sent me …
Alan T. Dale, Hubert Richards



Philip has been in Samaria because the stoning of Stephen forced him to leave Jerusalem. Philip is well-received among the Samaritans and as a result many believe and are baptised.

An angel of God urges Philip to go down the desert road to Gaza and wait at a particular place. Along comes a wealthy man in a carriage. Luke tells us this is an Ethiopian, that he is a eunuch, and that he is a high court official, leaving us to presume that he is both wealthy and important. Luke’s description suggests a status of someone excluded from full Temple worship, yet committed enough to travel vast distances to get to Jerusalem to worship God there.

On his way there the two men meet and an extraordinary encounter takes place.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that there is no verse 37 in the reading from Acts 8.

The missing verse can be found in a King James version of the Bible but before you go and look, you might like to imagine the words of verse 37. They follow the eunuch’s request for baptism.

Some of my favourite moments in ministry have been in meeting with individuals and families who have requested baptism. One particular family stands out; three young adults whose parents had brought them up in both Muslim and Christian traditions, leaving a final decision to them. Two of the three were about to go to university and so, after much private prayer and discernment together, they felt the moment had come… what is to prevent us from being baptized? (Answer: nothing and we had a great celebration!)

Philip was willing both to be useful where he was, and to go to an unfamiliar place. It was not the most obvious place for an evangelist to work, but Philip had put himself at the disposal of the Holy Spirit and he went as he was sent. So, he was in exactly the right place for God to use him. And even in that brief moment the two men together learnt more of God.

How true it is, even today, (even in a global pandemic) that God opens doors of opportunity in the most unlikely places. We too can help to bring others – and ourselves – into a deeper faith by sharing in their stories and life journeys.

We can all make a difference if we are willing to be used.  

Hymn: HP 42 O love of God, how strong and true

O love of God, how strong and true,

Eternal and yet ever new;

Uncomprehended and unbought,

Beyond all knowledge and all thought!


O heavenly love, how precious still,

In days of weariness and ill,

In nights of pain and helplessness,

To heal, to comfort, and to bless!


O wide-embracing, wondrous love,

We read thee in the sky above;

We read thee in the earth below,

In seas that swell and streams that flow.


We read thee best in him who came

To bear for us the cross of shame,

Sent by the Father from on high,

Our life to live, our death to die.


We read thy power to bless and save

E’en in the darkness of the grave;

Still more in resurrection light

We read the fullness of thy might.


O love of God, our shield and stay

Through all the perils of our way;

Eternal love, in thee we rest,

For ever safe, for ever blest!

Horatius Bonar (1808-89)


Prayer of Intercession

We are witnesses. Lord, inspire us to believe.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for those who need to hear the good news:
those who live in poverty, in deprivation and degradation.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for the sick, the war worn,
the weary and the dying.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for children,
delight of the world today,
hope of the world tomorrow.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for older people,
guardians of the faith,
custodians of wisdom.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for community workers,
those who share values,
culture and care.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

We pray for travellers,
those who share and learn across the world.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out.

Lord, make us your witnesses.
Lord of the resurrection, send us out. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom

The power, and the glory

For ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn: StF 410 Lord, Your Church on Earth is Seeking

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, baptise, 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.

Hugh Sherlock (1905-1998)


Holy Spirit, breath of God, in your call away from the familiar,
give us courage to move willingly into the unknown.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, when faced with uncertainty in your service,
give us courage to be willing to proceed with joy.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, when fear causes us to doubt,
give us courage so that our uncertainties do not turn into terror.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, when faced with temptation,
give us courage to overcome the lures that may compromise our faith.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, when standing in lonely places,
give us courage to remain steady until we hear your voice,
that in all we do and say, your name will forever be praised. 

May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen.

 (prayers adapted from rootsontheweb.com)

Rembrandt: The Baptism of the Eunuch 1926