Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 10 October 2021

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 10 October 2021

Welcome to our worship today. This printed service reflects what is happening in our face to face worship.

Opening Hymn: Jesus stand among us

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Opening Prayer
Loving God,
We thank you for bringing us here
Safely into your presence
To show us your love
And your hopes for us.
We pray that you will quieten within us any voice but yours
And that your Holy Spirit may open our hearts and minds 
To hear and receive your truth.
In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

First Reading:  Hebrews 4: 12 – 16 (NIV)

Prayer of Confession
Let us say sorry for the times this week that we took God’s blessings for granted 
and failed to say thank you
Let us say sorry for the opportunities we missed to spend time in fellowship with God
Let us say sorry for the things that we did to others which were unkind or thoughtless.

Let us say sorry for the times that our words were unnecessarily harsh or hurtful
Let us say sorry for the times we have held grudges and refused to forgive
Let us say sorry for the opportunities that we missed to do something 
good for someone else.

Loving God, you are a God who loves to forgive all those who are truly sorry. 
And so this morning, we approach your throne of grace with confidence 
asking for your mercy and your grace in our time of need.

Loving God, forgive us and through your Holy Spirit purify our hearts
So that by your grace we have the power to live as you have called us to live.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Song: Purify my heart

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Second Reading: Mark 10:  17 – 31  (NIV)

Sermon:  What must I do?
A man approached Jesus and said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” or in other words … “What must I do to ensure my place in God’s heavenly kingdom?”

Here is a moral and upright man – throughout his life he has kept God’s commandments – and yet he his still not sure that he has done enough to earn his place in God’s heavenly kingdom.  There seems to him that something is missing – he is still not sure … 

And so the man approaches Jesus and says, “What must I do?”  And Jesus looks at this earnest young man, who so much wants to do the right thing, and he loves him.

I wonder how much we relate to this young man.  Have we spent our whole lives doing the right thing – working hard, looking after our families, caring for friends and neighbours, serving the church … but we’re still not sure that we’ve done enough?  There still seems to be something missing … we wonder deep down what else we have to do to be sure of a place in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Let’s hear what Jesus says to the young man …

“One thing you lack.  Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come and follow me.”

Jesus loved that young man and he saw that the one thing that was separating him from God was his wealth.  The man’s wealth had become his security.

Now, the problem is not wealth in itself.  It is our attitude to it.  As we accumulate more riches, the temptation is to trust in our possessions and our ability to get more of them, rather than in God.  We become self-sufficient rather than God-dependent.

And the more money we have – the more we seem to need.

In December 2018, a Harvard Business School Professor called Michael Norton did a piece of research looking at the ultra- rich.  He asked more than 2,000 people with at least $1 million, how happy they were on a scale of one to 10, and then asked them how much more money they would need to get to 10. Michael Norton discovered that no one was happy with their wealth. Amazingly, however much wealth people had, (and some had much more than $1 million) they still said that they needed two or three times as much wealth as they had to be perfectly happy.

But this is not just the case for the ultra-rich is it.  I’m a cautious person by nature and for some years I have been putting money aside for my pension and to provide for myself in my old age.  Now in many ways this is very sensible.  If I have money to provide for myself, then the state doesn’t have to pay for my care and that releases money for other people, who have not been as lucky as I am.  But if I’m honest, I am like the ultra-rich – I just keep putting a little bit more by – and then a little bit more – when the truth is, I have plenty and it’s time to start giving it away.

Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”  

For those of us who are rich, too often we find our security in our possessions and not in God. We become self-sufficient and not God-dependent and that is the problem.  Because our wealth and our possessions can only give us comfort in this life – but cannot give us assurance for the next.  No wonder the young man was uneasy.  Perhaps we are too.

And so the disciples say to Jesus … “so who can then be saved?”

And here is the Good News … Jesus replies, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

God loves us.  God knows how much we worry about money and about the future.  God knows that we can be selfish.  God knows that we do not have the capacity to earn our place in his kingdom.  And the Good News is that we don’t have to.

In the passage before this one, Jesus is surrounded by little children and he says to the disciples, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” 

The kingdom of God is to be received, as a gift from God, with the trust and dependence of a small child.  We cannot earn it – we simply need to receive it – humbly and gratefully.  But to do that we may need to let some things ago …

Listen to this poem (from a book by Charles Swindoll) …
One by one he took them from me

All the things I valued most

‘Til I was empty-handed

Every glittering toy was lost

And I walked earth’s highways grieving,

In my rags and poverty

Until I heard his voice inviting

Lift those empty hands to me.

Then I turned my hands toward heaven

And he filled them with a store

Of his own transcendent riches

‘Til they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended

With my stupid mind and dull

That God cannot pour his riches 

Into hands already full.

The young man’s hands were full – full of wealth and riches.  Jesus knew that to receive the fullness of God’s blessings, to receive the assurance of his place in God’s kingdom, today and in the future, the man would have to let those things go.  

We are told that the young man went away sorrowful.  Did he go away sorrowful, because he wasn’t prepared to give his wealth away … or did he go away sorrowful, because he had decided to follow Jesus and he was sad to let everything go?

We don’t know … but we do know that letting things go is difficult – giving money away is difficult – trusting in God for everything is difficult.  We can’t do it on our own – but with God all things are possible …

So let us today in God’s strength, resolve to move from self-sufficiency to God dependence …  here’s some thoughts on how we can do that …

Firstly, is there something in our lives more important to us than our relationship with God?  Are we workaholics?  Are we spending too much time on social media?  Are we so busy with leisure activities that we have no time for God?  If we were to ask Jesus, what must we do to inherit eternal life, what would Jesus tell us to let go off, so that we could follow him.  Let us ask God each day for the strength to let go of those things that are stopping us from following Jesus.

Secondly, in Philippians 4, Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  When we start to worry about something, let’s get into the habit of offering it to God in prayer – with thanksgiving.

  And thirdly, for those of us who are rich and find our security in wealth, let us look for opportunities to be generous.  Enjoy giving money away.  Rather than buy something we don’t really need, buy something for someone else – maybe some toiletries for the refugees at Susanna Wesley House, or some food for the foodbank.  Rather than add yet more money to our savings “for a rainy day”, let us look out for those around us whose time of need is now and be willing to share. 

The kingdom of God is here and now and we can be a part of it – enjoying God’s blessings – and relishing every single moment – if we are willing to receive it as a child – to put aside our self-sufficency and become God-dependent.  

But for those of us, who pride ourselves on managing on our own, there is no easy way to do this – it is a process.  It is a process in which day by day in God’s strength we make those choices that help us become more trusting, more generous, and more dependent upon God.   

Let us pray,
Loving and generous God,
We thank you that you love us and long for us  to put our trust in you and receive your blessings.
Lord in the silence, show us those things that we need to let go of so that we can follow Jesus more closely.  (Silence)

Lord give us the courage and strength to let these things go.
Lord in the silence, we offer to you all that we are worried and anxious about today (Silence)

Lord, we thank you that you hear our prayers.
Lord in the silence, we ask you to show us how we can be more generous with the things that
we have (Silence)

Lord, may we find joy as we share what we have with others.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Song From heaven you came

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Prayers of Intercession 
using the prayer on page 214 of the Methodist Worship book if you have it but otherwise using your own words, bring to the Lord your concerns for the world, local community, friends and family.

Holy Communion 
Beginning at page 215 of the Methodist Worship Book.

Hymn: Guide me O thou great Jehovah

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The Blessing  
The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you

The Lord look on you with kindness and give you peace.  Amen

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ.  Amen