Worship for Sunday 7th July 2024, by Rev. Ken Stokes

Call to worship

Come humbly into the presence of God,
whose power is made perfect in weakness.
We know that without God we are nothing.
Come together, be bound together, 
in the company of our strong God. Amen.

Hymn:  StF 526 “Lord of all hopefulness” 
Jan Struther (Joyce Placzek) (1901–1953)

  1   Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of 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 of 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.


Loving Jesus, we come before you just as we are,
with our own needs, our own problems.

We thank you, Lord,
that however we feel individually, 
we do not need to fear approaching you.
Help us to see our shortcomings in a new light,
as raw material that you can use to bring blessing on ourselves and others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

So loving God, we come to you now, in full knowledge of our frailty. Lord, forgive us.
We ask your forgiveness for the times we see our imperfections as negatives, not opportunities for you to be at work in our lives. Lord, forgive us.
We ask your forgiveness for the times when we let ourselves be dragged down by the things other people say about us, or by the things we say about ourselves.
Lord, forgive us.

We pray that you would make us more aware of your 
ever-present grace, and willing to take advantage of your 
all-encompassing power in our lives.
Be with us, good Lord. Amen.

Collect Prayer

Lord and giver of life, you alone nourish and sustain your people, through Christ, the bread of life.
Feed our hunger and quench our thirst,
that we may no longer work for what fails to satisfy,
but do what you require, in obedience and faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn:  StF 404 “God’s Spirit is in my heart”
v.1 & refrain Alan T.Dale (1902-1979) vv.2-4 Hubert Richards (b.1921)

  1. 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 down trodden free,
and go tell everyone
the news that the kingdom of God has come;
and go tell everyone
the news that God’s kingdom has come.

  1. Just as the Father sent me,
    so I’m sending you out to be
    my witness throughout the world
    the whole of the world:

  2. Don’t carry a load in your pack;
    you don’t need two shirts on your back;
    God’s workers can earn their own keep
    can earn their own keep:

  3. 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:


Reading: Gospel of Mark Chapter 6 verses 1-13

(1)  He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.  (2)  On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!  (3)  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  (4)  Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”  (5)  And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.  (6)  And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  (7)  He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.  (8)  He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;  (9)  but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.  (10)  He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.  (11)  If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”  (12)  So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent.  (13)  They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Authority in vulnerability

US President Theodore Roosevelt once said that the art of diplomacy was to “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. The message is clear – listen to what I say, or I can do you serious harm. The Church has in the past used this technique to spread its message. For example that Charlemagne the famous leader of the 9th Century A.D.

converted pagans through conquest and the sword if people did not convert then they died.

This week the United States Supreme Court, at the instigation of Donald Trump, gave any future legal immunity for any official acts. The consequences of this seem little short of terrifying. Give orders to put your political rival immune in jail. Immune.  Order soldiers to shoot refugees at the border. Immune. Trump who is ahead in the opinion polls has the chance to fulfil his dream of invulnerability.

Jesus however stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from this way of thinking. His way of presenting authority is the authority that comes from vulnerability

Some of you may recall some riots that took place early 1981 in places like Toxteth in Liverpool and Moss Side in Manchester. Unemployment was soaring – many people were desperate.  That summer the inner cities caught fire. Of course the riots hurt most the areas where people were rioting as is often the case with anger that anger was misdirected not at politicians but at the property, shops and homes of local people. The police were caught in the middle.  Into one such situation in Derby stepped a young man I knew called Dominic carrying his guitar. The crowd of young people were baying at the police who were stood behind their riot shields. An ugly battle looked inevitable. But Dominic a young Christian went where angels fear to tread and started singing 60’s peace songs in the middle of the street. Everybody was completely taken aback. Dominic’s singing was not great and some of the young people laughed and catcalled but it did not matter Dominic kept on singing – the police were smiling too doubtless thinking that lad is an idiot to stand out there no riot shield and just a guitar. It was only as Dominic ran out of songs that those people realised who the fools were –not the lad with the guitar but themselves. The would-be rioters walked away smiling the police relaxed and backed off. The situation was changed because one lad with no weapons and totally vulnerable responded to his Lords voice to proclaim the gospel.

Christian authority is not the same as the authority of ordinary human power it lies in simply obedience to and trust in God. Sheer vulnerability speaks of authenticity

Speaks to people because it does force or cajole.

Of course with another group at another time the outcome might not have been the same – Dominic might well have been injured or worse. 

That is the risk of the gospel. Its power lies in vulnerability. Christ did not ultimately proclaim God’s love through miracles or even just through powerful teaching but on the cross when he was stripped of everything that we consider necessary for human dignity

Christ speaks to us with authority not of terror but the authority of one who loves us so much that he was prepared to die on the cross so that we should know that love.

Some questions to think about
1) When have you felt most vulnerable?

2) Were there things that your vulnerability made possible that you wouldn’t have done otherwise? e.g. asking for help; sharing your true feelings etc.

3) God was revealed in Jesus and most perfectly through the cross. Have your times of vulnerability brought you closer to God. If so, in what way?

A song to reflect upon

Lord, I Need You

Song by Matt Maher

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defence, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defence, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way

And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defence, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
You’re my one defence, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

My one defence, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Songwriters: Matt Maher, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Paul Stanfill, Christy L. Nockels. For non-commercial use only.

Prayers of Intercession
God says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Loving God, there are so many situations in our troubled world that need your hand upon them. 
Some we are aware of, many we are not. But you know.
We pray today for countries at war, 
that their leaders may realise the futility of human power
and the all-sufficient power of God, who desires both justice and peace.
We pray for areas affected by natural disasters,
that those effected may know that they are not alone,
and there is light even in the darkness.
We pray for people who are disabled, 
who struggle with the tasks of everyday living,
that they will receive the help and encouragement they need.
We pray for people with illnesses, seen and unseen.
For those who suffer in ways we cannot begin to understand.
For people who do not know your love and power in their lives.

Loving God may they know that your power is made perfect in weakness. Amen.

Hymn:  StF 518 “Father hear the prayer we offer”

Love Maria Willis (1824–1908)
Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition
Tune: Sussex – Ralph Vaughn williams

1          Father, hear the prayer we offer:
            not for ease that prayer shall be,
            but for strength that we may ever
            live our lives courageously.

2          Not for ever in green pastures
            do we ask our way to be;
            but the steep and rugged pathway
            may we tread rejoicingly.

3          Not for ever by still waters
            would we idly rest and stay;
            but would strike the living fountains
            from the rocks along our way.


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.