Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 17 October 2021

by Roy Milward 17 October 2021

Our call to worship

We welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us.
Psalm 148 1:6 – Praise the Lord.  

Let us pray
Let all God’s children worship God!
Let all creation praise the name of the Lord.
Let us exult his name together.  Let us acknowledge his glory.
Let us worship him together
Let us draw near with thankful hearts
and acknowledge the glory of His name.

Hymn: Crown Him with many crowns.  

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Introduction – Our place in Jesus’s Community
I want to set the scene for our service.  
The Gospel reading is on two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, who ask for special positions in recognition.  This causes resentment amongst the other disciples.  But this bold, audacious or perhaps foolish request from the disciples provides Jesus with an opportunity to teach about how greatness in God’s kingdom is achieved. It is not about position, he says, but about serving others; it is not about being first, but being prepared to be last. 
This week we explore working out our place in Jesus’ community.

Let us pray
God our creator, we are made in your image,
create and reshape us anew for your purposes.
God our sustainer, who sent your Son Jesus to be our servant,
by your grace, forgive us where we have hurt your world.
God our guide and inspiration,
open our hearts to receive your wisdom,
inspire and direct us – in Jesus’ name.

Let us come before the Lord in song and begin our prayers as we sing 

‘Be still for the presence of the Lord the Holy one is here’. 

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Let us pray
Lord God, as we approach you in this place, we come humbly into your presence this morning, ready to explore our place in your community. 
James and John had very set ideas about where they wanted to sit in glory. 
Sometimes we have very fixed ideas about where we want to sit in this gathering.  We like to know our place. Help us to understand that you don’t have favorites and we shouldn’t either, and that we are a community and we are all in this together. Amen

Almighty God how can we express our adoration as we look around us as the God of the community where we are.  You look down from heaven on your children on earth and are overcome with love.  Love that reaches out to touch even the most faraway soul.

God the Father, who made all creation and shares all good gifts with us.
We adore You.
God the Son, just as you walked on earth with your friends, you are always with us.
We adore You
God the Spirit, though we don’t see you, we know that you are deep within our hearts. You make sense of our place in the world.
We adore You.

Let us bring before the Lord our confessions and ask Assurance of forgiveness.
God, forgive us,
when we have not rooted ourselves in you,
when we have not heeded your word in our lives,
when we have not borne the fruit of your love.

God, forgive us
when have slipped into apathy,
when we have forgotten to welcome you,
when we have neglected to welcome each other.

God, forgive us
for your arms are wide open, and yet we often choose not to run into them.
May we shed all the rubbish and allow ourselves to be held once again in your embrace by the power of your Spirit and through the saving work of Jesus

God sees our hearts as we turn to him to seek forgiveness.
He doesn’t want us to fight for preference but to grow ever closer to him through pure and simple love.

As we come to him, acknowledging that we don’t always get it right, he freely and abundantly pardons us. Thank you, most gracious God. Amen
Let’s close this time of prayer by singing –  “Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice”

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Isaiah 53:4-12
Mark 10:35-45

Hymn: Speak, O Lord as we come to you to receive the food of Your holy word.

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Let us pray using the words of the hymn we have just sung.
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness

That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory

Teach us Lord, full obedience
Holy reverence, true humility
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity

Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority
Words of pow'r that can never fail
Let their truth prevail over unbelief

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity

And by grace we'll stand on Your promises
And by faith we'll walk as You walk with us
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

We are in a beautiful period in the lectionary as we work through a Gospel and today we continue in Mark.  We are in that interesting time in the lectionary church year when we move beyond the major festivals (Trinity Sunday being the last of these) and have more time to explore books of the Bible through consecutive readings.  

We share in a series of encounters, questions and conversations that are challenging for Jesus and those he meets – and which still challenge us today.  

Today as we explore our reading Jesus teaches us about serving others.
As Jesus continues to Jerusalem, the disciples are still struggling with what is happening. In this week’s passage, the focus is on the question asked by the brothers, James and John. Once again, the disciples grasp the wrong end of the stick. Despite Jesus’ words about the Son of Man and the coming of a new age, with new expectations, they ask a question almost as if they hadn’t been listening or watching. 

The question (v.37) assumes that Jesus, as king, is going to Jerusalem to claim his throne. They are even confident in themselves and their relationship with Jesus (v.39). But even now, despite Jesus’ predictions of what will happen, they simply fail to grasp just what sort of king Jesus will be (vv.39-40).

In the second part (vv.41-45), 
Jesus explicitly reiterates what he has been saying in his predictions. But then he goes even further, introducing the idea of being a servant. 

Most translations soften Jesus’ actual words because the Greek word in verse 44 (doulos) means ‘slave’. At the time of Jesus, slavery was common and not racial. People owned people as well as land and things. Slaves were owned by someone who had total control over their lives, but who also had responsibility for the slave as a person – even if this was often problematic. 

How do we understand what it means to follow Jesus?  

Following and Leading
Following and leading are intimately connected, but different activities. To follow is to go after, taking your lead from someone else. To lead is to set the direction and expect others to join with you in the task or journey. 
Both are very important. 

Today most people find following difficult – think about how often we question those who would lead:  Why?  Where are we going?  Is this the right way? 
James and John aspire to leadership and status, but they are challenged by Jesus whose leadership is all about following i.e. following God and doing what God asks. How can we learn to be God’s servants (or even slaves)? How do we feel about belonging to God?  Jesus follows the road to Jerusalem, as is asked of him. James and John follow, but they try to do so on their own terms. 

Are we like James and John, do we do the same? 

Is it the cost of discipleship that puts us off, or is it something cultural (in a world where independence and being your own person is constantly emphasised)?  
When asked if they can share with Jesus in what he is doing, James and John say yes – but are they really in this together?  Similarly, we who follow Jesus and ask God to act for us, how committed are we to hearing and doing what God might be asking of us?  ‘Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.’ These are the words of Mother Teresa. 

When we are challenged to serve a needy world, the task can seem overwhelming. The world is a big place. We may feel useless, helpless, but we can do one thing with great love.  And we can start by thinking about the needs of the part of the world where God has placed us. 

We are all in this together – we need not feel or be on our own in doing so. Among the challenges of our church or other community groups, is there one thing that we might take on?  Are our eyes open to see God in every human being?  Dare we pray less for what we want and more to see the world as God sees it? 

It is challenging seeing people who are different to us – people who have opposing ideas and principles, people we may genuinely fear – as all being God’s children just as much as we consider ourselves to be.  Jesus calls us to love and to serve ‘all’, not just our friends and family.  That too can be very challenging, and is why, every day, we should pray (in the words of St Loyola): ‘Teach us to give and not to count the cost.’

The church provides a place for a family, a community, to gather and shelter. 
Church members are called to serve and transform their local neighborhood, flooding the area with God’s unconditional love, bringing the light of Christ into people’s lives, and improving the quality of those lives. 

Last year, during the pandemic lockdowns, many people found new purpose in spending more time outside, finding or creating green spaces for reflection or recreation, or growing food in gardens and allotments. Others assisted in delivering food and supplies to those in isolation and financial need, whether directly or through food banks. In many places church communities, often in partnership with others, have been at the heart of this service. 

Maybe it is too soon to know what things have changed forever – doors permanently opened; new and lasting ventures begun – but certainly the question has been posed.  And evolving needs may require us to change the way we think about our church buildings.  After all, church did not stop when the buildings were closed! 

But now that we have them back, should we be looking at new ways to use these buildings?  Can we make more use of them – open them up – as a place for worship, prayer and reflection, of course, but also as centres of care and hospitality in our community. 

I pray - May it be so with our endeavours as God’s community?  May our lives be surrendered into God’s loving purposes, and may God’s love be revealed more and more.

Let us pray
Thank you, Lord God, that in your kingdom things are wonderfully topsy turvy, and we are all in this together.

Thank you that to do your will we must become servants, and we are all in this together.

Thank you that when we follow Jesus, however little we think we have to offer, we can all minister to each other, and we are all in this together.

Thank you that you know what we need. You came to earth to serve and build up your followers, and we are all in this together.

We thank you for our ministers and church community, all who help us to find our place in your community, and we are all in this together. 

Hymn: From Heaven you came, helpless babe. 

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Prayers of Intercession 
When we seek power and glory for ourselves and overlook the needs of the humble and weak, Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service

Where there are those who rely on food banks and on benefits, Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service

Where stronger nations ignore the plight of the poor; where food and medical supplies are stockpiled while others cry out in need. Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

Where churches focus on their own desires and fail to see the needy at their gates.
Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

When our neighbours are sick, imprisoned by addiction, cold through lack of shelter, lonely through isolation or tearful because of bereavement, Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

When our personal ease and comfort leads us to ignore the threats to the future of our planet, Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

When we as a Circuit ignore the community in which we serve and the churches within that community.
Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

When we as a church community, both those attending here today and those who cannot be with us, ignore the needs of each other. 
Christ, the servant king: Help us to follow your example of service 

Loving God, we pray that our society may become characterised by our desire to serve one another; to help the weak and seek the common good.
Help each one of us to work out our place in the community of those who follow Jesus. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen

And we say together the prayer our Father taught us to say 
Our Father who art in heaven ……..

Hymn: Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine.

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Take our thoughts and turn them into prayer.
Take our prayer and turn it into love.
Take our love and turn it into life. 
In Jesus Christ today and every day.
May the Father raise you to new life,
may the Son go with you throughout your pilgrimage,
and may the Holy Spirit fill you as holy disciples.

Go and announce that “the Lord is KING!  
Alleluia –