Worship for Sunday 4th February 2024, by Rev. Ken Stokes

Call to Worship

Are you talking to me?
I’d better come closer.
My hearing is not what it used to be.
It used to be that I heard you clearly, Lord.
But now I’m coming closer.
Are you talking to me?
Speak clearly, Lord,
And help me to hear.

Are you talking to us?
We want to come closer.
We want to hear you clearly, Lord.
Speak clearly, Lord,
And help us to hear.

Opening Prayer
Written by Rev. Sharon Read

Creator God, you brooded over the waters at creation

Marking the beginning of time and space

Give us a sense of wonder as we embrace and engage with you

On this Communication Sunday

As we tell the Gospel story 

 In word and image, 

 In person and online,

 Present and at any point in the future,

 With others and alone

Help us to meet with you and be open to the old and to the new 

As we worship together


Hymn “It only takes a spark”

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;

That’s how it is with God’s Love,

Once you’ve experienced it,

Your spread the love to everyone

You want to pass it on.


What a wondrous time is spring,

When all the trees are budding

The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming;

That’s how it is with God’s love,

Once you’ve experienced it.

You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring,

You want to pass it on.


I wish for you my friend

This happiness that I’ve found;

You can depend on God

It matters not where you’re bound,

I’ll shout it from the mountain top – PRAISE GOD!

I want the world to know

The Lord of love has come to me

I want to pass it on.


I’ll shout it from the mountain top – PRAISE GOD!

I want the world to know

The Lord of love has come to me

I want to pass it on.


A Thanksgiving Prayer for Communication Sunday Written by Rev. Alan Bradley

Loving God, we thank you for the many ways in which you communicate your love.

Placing our hands around our ears

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of hearing For the sounds, music, words that we hear For all that speaks of your love. For the people who speak to us,

face to face on our phones through podcasts and radio for teachers, reporters and preachers, For all that communicates and connects us. 

We give you thanks.

Placing our hands around our eyes

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of sight

For the colours, shapes, wonder of the world we live in

For the gift of the written word

For our bibles that reveal your story

For the writers, translators and theologians who give us insight

For the poets and storytellers who take us deeper,

For the gift of images, art and visual media For all that communicates and connects us.

We give you thanks.

Placing our hands on our hearts

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit

For the deeper communication of the heart

For the breadth of our emotions and connections in this world

For the good news of Jesus Christ and his message of love and justice

For the gift of knowing you

For the gift of knowing we are loved

For your Spirit that leads and guides us, day by day For all that communicates and connects us.

We give you thanks.

Placing our hands on our lips

Gracious God, we thank you for the gifts we have been given

For we are called to communicate and share your love with others

Through our words

Through our actions

Through all our choices and ways of service

To communicate your life through the life of your church To proclaim with our lips that Jesus is Lord For all that communicates and connects us.

We give you thanks.

In the name of Christ Amen.

Readings: John 4: 1-26 and John 4:39-41

John 4: 1-26

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.

How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 4:39-41

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

StF 248 “I have heard the voice”

  1. I heard the voice of Jesus say:
    “Come unto me and rest;
    lay down, O weary one lay down
    your head upon my breast.”
    I came to Jesus as I was,
    weary and worn and sad,
    I found in him a resting place,
    and he has made me glad.

  2. I heard the voice of Jesus say:
    “Behold I freely give
    the living water; thirsty one,
    stoop down and drink and live.”
    I came to Jesus, and I drank
    of that life-giving stream;
    my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
    and now I live in him.

  3. I heard the voice of Jesus say:
    “I am this dark world’s light;
    look unto me, your morn shall rise,
    and all your day be bright.”
    I looked to Jesus, and I found
    in him my star, my sun;
    and that light of life I’ll walk,
    till travelling days are done.

    Horatius N. Bonar (1808-1889)

Sermon by Andrew Lunn

Let’s pray.

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord Our Rock and our Liberator. Amen.

Well, I hope you’ve just been talking about some conversations that you’ve had. Had a sense of those ways in which you’ve engaged with other people and talked with them. I hope also you’ve heard the story of Jesus and the woman by the well. That conversation which took place between two very different people. We know of the woman by the well from that gospel story. In the tradition of the Orthodox Church, she’s known as Fatina. So let’s call her that, that conversation between Jesus and Fatina. And they were two very different people. A woman from Samaria who in her own community was maybe a bit on the edge. People weren’t sure about her lifestyle. And then on the other hand, a Jewish man, a rabbi, someone who was pushing the boundaries of people’s spiritual and lived experience. And they sat, and it begins just with a simple request for water. And yet out of that comes a conversation which changes Fatina’s life.

It’s a conversation which slowly moves deeper and deeper and reveals more and more of what might happen. For Fatina, it’s a conversation which reveals to her something of herself. A conversation which also speaks to her about a deep resource that Jesus talks about a living water, a spring of living water that will well up within her. The thing about this conversation, which may be most remarkable, is what happens afterwards. That Fatina is not just changed in herself by it, but that she wants to tell someone about it. She goes off immediately to have other conversations. She goes back into the town and says to people come and meet this man who tells me everything I ever did. And so those townspeople then come to meet Jesus and to have their own conversations with him. And so there’s a sort of a flow from the conversation of Jesus with Fatina out into the conversation she has with the townspeople. And in fact, if Orthodox tradition is to be believed she went on to become herself a missionary, an apostle. She went with her sons to the city of Carthage, and there she helped to start a new Christian Church. She could not keep the story to herself. She had to tell it. She had to go and have those conversations with other people.

Of course, for us, we see that flow of conversation as stretching on to us as well. What began with the way in which Jesus talked to people around him became something that they then shared as they went out into the world. And finally the story came to us. And just as for Fatina, the story which transformed her life has transformed ours as well, the story of the love of God shown through Jesus.

The question for us now, of course, is how we are going to go on sharing the story. We want today on a Communication Sunday, to be thinking about how we can best communicate the story that has changed our lives.

There are lots of ways in which we might do that, but I was struck recently about the way in which some of the stories which can be told can be full of energy and colour. We had a training day for the Superintendents of the district. And we were led by Michael Wakelin, who’s a Local Preacher in Macclesfield Circuit and used to work for the BBC as their head of Religion and Ethics.

He knows a lot about the world of communication, so he helped us by helping us to think about what you do to get ready for a radio interview or a television interview, being questioned by a journalist about something you were doing, and encouraged us to think about our stories. And those stories that the Superintendents came up with were full of life. One told about a community garden. The church had started worshipping in their car park during the COVID pandemic and had so enjoyed being out of doors and had been aware of this patch of wasteland next to their church car park. And so they’d ended up turning it into a community garden, and now it was full of life and they had beehives there and honey being produced, and people were coming from the community to come and use it.

Another spoke about something they did at Halloween. A town centre where all the shops used to open and do a pumpkin trail and the church joined in. And they had their own pumpkins, which told the story of Jesus. Pumpkins with stars for eyes to tell the story of Christmas, a cross, for the nose to tell the story of Easter. And a big smile to let out the love of God into people’s lives and to talk to the children about that.

Someone else told a story about a remarkable pastoral encounter with a woman who was rediscovering her grief over a stillbirth from many, many years before, and of how that encounter and how she dealt with that and eventually visited the place where she discovered her baby had been buried, changed her perspective on life and allowed others as well to think about their own grief and loss and how they could be supported in that.

So what about your own stories, stories from your church about the things that you’re doing together? How are you going to go and share those? As I said, it doesn’t really matter how you do it.

It may be through engaging in a community Facebook page and telling your stories there.

It may be through a press release and trying to get the local media to take notice of something that you’ve done together.

It might be through just a conversation over the garden fence with a neighbour, but in all sorts of ways we want to place ourselves in that flow of conversation.

Taking the story of the good news of God’s love out from one to another and to become part of the way in which God transforms human lives, a spring of living water welling up within each person to eternal life. Amen.

Discussion Question

If you can have a chat with a person sitting near you and talk about an interesting conversation that you’ve had recently. If you are alone, please think about an interesting conversation you have had. Who did you talk to and what did you talk about?

Hymn: StF 728 “O God, you search me”

  1. O God, you search me and you know me.
    All my thoughts are open to your gaze.
    When I walk or lie down you are before me;
    ever the maker and keeper of my days.

  2. You know my resting and my rising.

You discern my purpose from afar,
and with love everlasting you besiege me:
in every moment of life or death you are.

  1. Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
    you have known its meaning through and through.
    You are with me beyond my understanding:
    God of my present, my past and future, too.

  2. Although you Spirit is upon me,
    Still I search for shelter from your light.
    The is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
    even the darkness is radiant in your sight.

  3. For you created me and shaped me.
    gave me life within my mother’s womb.
    For the wonders of who I am, I praise you:
    safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Bernardette Farrell (b.1957) based on Psalm 139


Prayers of Intercession:
Written by Rev. Ian Rutherford

Thank you, God, for your Word: made known through prophets; made firm through scripture; made flesh in Christ; made present by your Spirit.

Thank you also, God, that you speak to us and through us.

Thank you, God, for all who have laboured long and hard to hear and know, and to show your word for all the world.

Thank you, God, that you are never without witnesses, that countless quiet and faithful people, listening, wait on you; ready to hear, willing to speak. In the clamour of competing voices, thank you that your Word can still be heard. Make us expectant to hear, available to speak and willing to change.

In Christ`s name  

Living God, Today our prayers are for the transparent saints: humble Christians through whose lives people can see and hear you without having to try;
writers whose poems, novels or speeches are so inspired that readers can see your ways and hopes for humanity;

musicians and composers who so lift people`s hearts that they feel they are in heaven itself;

artists who in portraying scenes of pain or joy give to the world eternal signs of beauty and possibility;

preachers whose passion for proclaiming Jesus 

fills their congregations with commitment and new life;

digital specialists, website managers, social media content makers, newsletter writers and poster creators whose inspiration, creativity and clarity broadcast your good news and sustain community.

Transparent to you, channels of love, laying bare the Kingdom, shining lights in a dark world, they glorify you and bring from our lips heartfelt praise now and always.


Hymn:  StF 377 “Down the mountain” 

  1. Down the mountain the river flows,
    and it brings refreshment wherever it goes.
    Through the valleys and over the fields,
    the river is rushing, the river is here.

The river of God sets our feet a- dancing,
the river of God fills our hears with cheer:
the river of God fills our mouth with laughter,
and we rejoice for the river is here.

  1. The river of God is teeming with life,
    and all who touch it can be revived.
    And those who linger on this river’s shore
    will come back thirsting for more of the Lord.

  2. Up to the mountain we love to go
    to find the presence of the Lord.
    Along the banks of the river we run,
    we dance with laughter, giving praise to the Son.

    Andy Park

Closing Prayer

We have heard for ourselves: the great love of Jesus.
We have drunk for ourselves: the living water of God.
We have seen for ourselves: the new life of the Spirit.
May we, this week, share the great love,
living water and new life with those we meet

and may the blessing of God our Creator,
Jesus our redeemer and the ever-flowing Spirit

be with us now and always.