Worship for Sunday 8th August 2021, by Rev. Ken Stokes

Call to worship

God of all pilgrims and all people,
breathe life into our faith where it is stale;
breathe truth into our understanding where we are mistaken;
breathe colour into our minds where they are in black and white;
breathe reconciliation into our anger where we are estranged;
breathe eternity into our now when we are afraid;
breathe grace into our lives,
that we might be your disciples in your world today. Amen.

Hymn: StF 116 “Sing for God’s glory”

1    Sing for God’s glory that colours the dawn of creation,
racing across the sky, trailing bright clouds of elation;
sun of delight
succeeds the velvet of night,
warming the earth’s exultation.

2    Sing for God’s power that shatters the chains that would bind us,
searing the darkness of fear and despair that could blind us,
touching our shame
with love that will not lay blame, reaching out gently to find us.

3       Sing for God’s justice disturbing each easy illusion,
tearing down tyrants and putting our pride to confusion;
lifeblood of right,
resisting evil and slight,
offering freedom’s transfusion.

4       Sing for God’s saints who have travelled faith’s journey before us,
who in our weariness give us their hope to restore us;
in them we see
the new creation to be,
spirit of love made flesh for us.

Kathy Galloway (b. 1952)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 116
Words: © Kathy Galloway


We come to you, Lord Jesus,
for the hunger of our longing to be filled;
for our thirst for truth to be quenched;
for our relationship with you to be deepened;
for our lives to be blessed by your living presence.
We come to you, Lord Jesus, in gratitude.

We praise you, Lord Jesus,
because you are far more than we think you are and you call us to be far more
than we dare believe we can be.
As we reflect on your words, and inspired by your life,
draw us deeper into a living relationship
with God our Father, who in you
expressed his love for all creation fully and utterly. Amen.

Forgive us, Eternal God,
when we are angry when the sun goes down and still angry when it rises.
Free us from harbouring
that which prevents us from receiving your grace and from being grace-bearers to others.
Help us to put right what we can
and let go of that which weighs us down.
We ask this in Christ’s name.

Living God, you have placed in the hearts of your children a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.
Grant that, believing in the One whom you have sent, we may know him to be the true bread of heaven,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reading Ephesians 4.25 – 5.2

(25) So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another.  (26)  Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  (27)  and do not make room for the devil.  (28)  Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.  (29)  Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.  (30)  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.  (31)  Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,  (32)  and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Chapter 5
(1) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, (2) and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Gospel Reading John 6.35,41-51

(35)  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

(41) Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  (42)  They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”  (43)  Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves.  (44)  No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.  (45)  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.  (46)  Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.  (47)  Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.  (48)  I am the bread of life.  (49)  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  (50)  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  (51)  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”


Last week one of the new GB News Channel presenters, Nigel Farage, condemned the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) for sending out lifeboats to pick up refugees from sinking rubber dinghies in the middle of the English Channel. How dare they risk themselves to save lives. Anyone would think that was their job. What criminals! I was reminded of the hymn “My song is love unknown” where Jesus faces rejection for innocent loving actions.

“Why what hath my Lord done,
what makes this rage and spite,
he made the lame to run
and gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries yet they at these,
themselves displease
and ‘gainst him rise”

In our reading Jesus says, “The bread I will give for the world is my flesh.”

Jesus did not just teach the Jewish scripture or offer some clever exposition of Jewish tradition like many Jewish rabbis before or since.

Jesus is rather the embodiment of God – the word of God with a skin on it. Later Christians would reflect on Jesus words in John and elsewhere and come to talk about Jesus as God incarnate. Though he comes close to it Jesus is not himself quite saying this.

The symbol of the bread is about feeding and meeting need. God wants to meet the need of his people, yet God’s chosen means is one that is hard and painful because it involves loving sacrifice.

The flesh that Jesus refers to represents Jesus’ humanity. Jesus’ humanity does not ultimately separate him from God, but it does mean that like all human beings he is vulnerable to pain and death.

John sees Jesus’ death on the cross not in any way as an empty futile gesture. It is a sacrifice freely entered into and given, the purpose of which is to save not just a few disciples, not just the nation of Israel but the whole world.

On the grave of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved his famous list of 1200 so called Schindler- Jews by sacrificing all his fortune are these words of a Jewish saying “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”

Jesus gave his life for those who wanted and needed the life he could give. We are called to live that life, that eternal life of love, so that others may be fed, lives may be saved, and we too may do God’s work of saving the world entire.

Questions to think about

  1. Have you ever had to save anyone, physically, financially, spiritually, or emotionally? If so, what did you do and what did it cost you?
  2. Everyday thousands of people die as a result of disease, hunger and poverty that are out of their control. Climate change is destroying still more lives. Many people live frightened and alone. We could change that, we could save some people, maybe most, maybe all. Why do we so often not choose to do so?
  3. Does God hold back anything from us when God shows us grace and mercy. What does God expect from us in return? What do we expect of ourselves?

A Song to reflect on: “Your grace finds me” by Matt Redman

It’s there in the new-born cry
There in the light of every sunrise
There in the shadows of this life
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountaintop
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace, Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

The same for the rich and poor
The same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace, Oh such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
You’re great grace, Oh, such grace
You’re great grace, Oh, such grace

The same for the rich and poor
The same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace, Oh such grace

So I’m breathing in your grace
And breathing out your praise
I’m breathing in your grace
Forever I’ll be breathing in your grace
And breathing out your praise
I’m breathing in your grace
Forever I’ll be

Breathing in your grace
And breathing out your praise
I’m breathing in your grace
Forever I’ll be breathing in your grace
And breathing out your praise
Yeah I’m breathing in your grace
Forever God, Forever God

It’s the same for the saints and the sinner
It’s a love for this whole wide world
For Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

Hymn: StF 611“Brother, sister let me serve you”

1  Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.

2  We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

3  I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

4  I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

5  When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

6  Brother, sister, let me serve you,

let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.

Richard A. M. Gillard (b. 1953)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 611
Words and Music: © 1977 Scripture in Song (a division of Integrity Inc.), Administered by Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square,
Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 1QG.  <www.songsolutions.org> Used by permission.

Prayers for others and ourselves

We pray for all those struggling
under the weight of names they have been called:
for children who have been called useless;
for those called cruel names because they are different;
for young people who have been told they are no good;
for the elderly who are called burdens;
for those whose reputations are destroyed by the press;
for those who have made desperate mistakes
and can never lose the tag of their errors;
for those truth-tellers
whom corrupt governments call criminals;
for those who are asylum seekers who are denied refuge and risk crossing sea only to be only to be left drowning in an ocean of bureaucracy and ignorance.  
for those whose labels, close doors and keep them down;
and for us, ourselves, when we limit our potential
and believe things falsely spoken over us.
Gracious God, hear our prayer
and open our ears to hear you call us all your children and recognise when you offer us the spiritual food of your love and grace.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.
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 for ever. Amen.

Hymn: StF 663 I, the Lord of sea and sky

1. 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.

2     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 word to them.
Whom shall I send?

3    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 send?

Daniel L. Schutte (b. 1947)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 663
Words and Music: © OCP Publications, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland, OR 97213, USA.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

Blessing & Dismissal

As your dearly loved children,
we have presented ourselves before you.
Now we go out to follow your example, Loving God,
to live our lives according to your will,
and to spread your wonderful love.
Go with us, and may we always walk with you, following the path of Jesus. Amen.