Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 26 June 2022

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 26 June 2022

Welcome to worship this morning. We begin by singing praises to our God.

Opening Hymn:  Great is thy faithfulness 

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Opening Prayer
Lord God, we come to you with hearts that are cold, that they may be warmed by your selfless love.
We come to you with hearts that are sinful, that they may be cleansed through the blood of Jesus
We come to you with hearts that are weak, that they may be strengthened by your Holy Spirit.
We come with hearts that are empty, that they may be filled with your divine presence.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us now.  Amen

First Reading:  Galatians 5: 13 – 25   

Prayers of Confession
Loving God, We are sorry for the ways that we let you down – for the things that we have done that we know are wrong and for the good things that we fail to do, because we can’t be bothered.  In the silence let us make our own prayers of confession …


The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Come Holy Spirit …
where we are tempted to think the worst of others, fill us with love.
Where we are tempted to be pessimistic, fill us with joy.
Where we are tempted to worry and fret, fill us with peace.
Where we are tempted to want everything now, fill us with patience.
Where we are tempted to be selfish, fill us with kindness.
Where we are tempted to be mean-spirited and miserly, fill us with goodness.
Where we are tempted to be apathetic, fill us with faithfulness.
Where we are tempted to be judgmental, fill us with gentleness.
Where we are tempted to gluttony and self-indulgence, fill us with self-control.
For we ask these prayers in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Second Reading: Luke 9: 51 – 62    

Introduction:  Jesus the WayJesus has set his face to Jerusalem.  He knows that only trouble will meet him there, but he sets out knowing that this is what God requires of him.  Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem.  It is a journey that takes ten chapters in Luke's Gospel, ten chapters which are full of Jesus' teaching, ten chapters on how to live the "Jesus Way".   For what Luke is trying to communicate to his readers through the medium of a physical journey is that Jesus is not just "on the way" - but Jesus is the way - Jesus is our model for life in all its fullness.

And the teaching begins in this chapter from Luke in the encounter with the Samaritans.  The Samaritans and the Jews were enemies.  There was a longstanding feud between them over which of two temples was the site of the one true sanctuary written about in the Deuteronomic Law that we find in the Old Testament.  The Jews, who were largely descended from the tribes who had settled in the Southern Kingdom of Judah believed that Jerusalem was God's chosen place.  The Samaritans who were descended from the tribes who had settled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel believed that Mount Gerizim in the region of Samaria, was God's chosen place.

It was unsurprising then that Jesus and his disciples should be shunned by the Samaritan people, when the Samaritans discovered that they were on their way to Jerusalem.  But what is perhaps surprising is the response of the disciples to this rebuff.  "Lord", they said, "Do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?" -  some manuscripts add the words, "even as Elijah did?"

The disciples are referring to the great showdown on Mount Carmel between the Old Testament prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal, where two great altars were set up each carrying a bull as a sacrifice - one to God and one to Baal.  The prophets of Baal called upon their god to send fire upon their altar and burn up the sacrifice, but nothing happened.  Then Elijah stepped up to his altar, poured water on everything and then called on God to set the bull alight.  And fire poured down on the altar burning up the sacrifice and licking up the water.  After that great triumph, Elijah ordered that all the prophets of Baal should be seized and slaughtered.   

Now the disciples brought up on the Jewish scriptures, would have seen nothing wrong in emulating the great prophet Elijah  -  a man who was typical of the Old Testament   -  a man who knew of no other way of dealing with the enemies of Israel, than by slaughtering them without mercy.  As James and John saw it, the Samaritans had offended Jesus, their Lord and so they must be destroyed.

But Jesus would have none of it and he rebuked them.  Some manuscripts add the words, And Jesus said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy people's lives but to save them"

In this encounter the disciples receive their first lesson from Jesus, that the way of Jesus is not the way of the prophet Elijah. The way of Jesus is not one of retaliation and destruction.  

God is doing a new thing - revealing a new way to live - in the person of Jesus Christ.  And those who wish to follow - to be his disciples - have a new way of life to learn.   And in the next few verses Jesus begins to spell out the extraordinary demands of this new way of life, which we will consider after the next song.

Song:  Jesus be the centre

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Reflection:  What does Jesus’ Way look like?
If Jesus is “The Way”, what does that “way” look like? This is what Jesus says in  verses 57 – 62.  For those who would be disciples there is 
A new risk to be taken

A new priority to be set

A new direction to be followed

Let's look at these briefly in turn.  

To be a disciple, there is a new risk to be taken.
Someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you, wherever you go." And Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

Most of us like to have a place we can call our own.  After a busy day at work it feels good to come home, to make a cup of tea and relax.  It's never the same in a hotel room, or in a friend's house.  There's something special about being at home.  It feels safe, it feels comfortable.   As human beings, we seem to have a need to build places that we can call our own, places in which we can settle and put down roots.  

If we look back at the history of the Methodist church, we see this same need to create places of our own.  The Methodist Church began as a movement of holiness societies meeting in peoples’ homes, but it wasn't long before the Methodists started building churches.  And just like with the Jews and the Samaritans – it is often the place – the buildings that create the most arguments and divisions within our churches.  

If we are to become disciples of Jesus - then Jesus is saying that we must be prepared to give up our security - the security we find in places - in our homes, in our church buildings.  For that is the cost of discipleship, that is the risk of discipleship, that is what marks out the disciple from the temple-worshipper or the church-goer - the willingness to travel light and to throw off the baggage of buildings and place, if that is what God desires of us.  

So what this is saying is that … if we spend more time discussing our church buildings than worshipping within them … If we spend more time refurbishing our homes, than we do praying for our neighbours … if we refuse to answer God's call on our lives, because it might mean we would have to move to a different area or take up a role in a different church …

then we have ceased to walk the way of Jesus …  because the “Way of Jesus” asks us to take the risk of sitting lightly to the baggage of buildings and things … and “The Way of Jesus” asks us to take the risk of leaving behind the security of home and place if that is what Jesus requires of us. That's the first thing.

Secondly, for those who would be disciples, there is a new priority to be set.   Jesus said to another man, "Follow me", but the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."  Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."

The Jews counted proper burial of their family members as of utmost importance; to leave the father unburied would be thought scandalous.  The duty of burial was considered more important than studying the law or attending the Temple service or even killing the Passover Sacrifice.  But Jesus says leave it.

What is Jesus saying here?  Is he really so dismissive of Jewish custom and ritual?  No.  What Jesus is saying is, “Consider the most important duty that you have – that of burying your family members.  I am giving you a new priority that is even more important than that – and that is to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” 

This verse had a particular resonance with John McNeill, a well-known Scottish preacher from the 19th century.  When his father died in Scotland, John was in the English Midlands and due to address an evangelistic meeting on the day of the funeral.  People would have understood, if he had cancelled the meeting, but he didn't, for he said,

"Jesus stood by me and seemed to say, "Now look I have you.  You go and preach the Gospel to those people.  Would you rather bury the dead or raise the dead?"  And I went to preach."

Now, I am sure that in most instances God is not going to ask us to miss the funerals of our loved ones, for a preaching engagement.  But for those of us who would be disciples, Jesus has given us a new priority – and that is to proclaim the kingdom of God – to proclaim that the world is God’s – that God loves everyone with in it – and God wants to help us to live our lives as fully and joyfully as possible.

We live in uncertain times.  We are persuaded by the media to be afraid – of the next variant of Covid, of war in Europe, of spiralling prices, of climate change, of waves of immigration.  People are understandably anxious and fearful of all the future may bring.  

But we have Good News to share about a God who loves us – a God who cares – a God whose Spirit can give us the strength to face each new day with confidence.  For those of us who would be disciples, we have a new priority to proclaim the Kingdom of God – and it has never been more urgent. That's the second thing.

Finally, for those who would be disciples, there is a new direction to be followed.
Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family."  Jesus replied, "No one who takes hold of the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God."

I will follow you Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family … surely, not an unreasonable request.

800 years earlier, when the prophet Elijah chose Elisha to be his colleague and successor, Elisha said to Elijah, "Let me kiss my parents goodbye; then I will come with you." And Elijah let him go.  So Elisha went back and not only said goodbye to his father and mother, but made a sumptuous farewell feast for all who lived or worked on their farm.  Only then did he set out after Elijah and became his attendant.  Now Elijah was an important man of God  - engaged in the service of the one true God of Israel  - yet he made no objection to Elisha taking time to bid his family farewell.  So what's the hurry now …

Once again Jesus emphasises that his way is not the way of Elijah - that the business of the Kingdom is even more urgent than the work undertaken by the great prophets of old.  There is no time to waste.  There is no time to say goodbye to the old life, before embarking on the new.  The one who would follow Jesus must follow now!

Jesus says, "No one who takes hold of the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God."

The ploughman who looks back as he ploughs will not plough a straight furrow - the follower of Jesus, who is always clinging to the past, who is always looking backwards and not forwards - will be of no use to the Kingdom.

Disciples press on “running the race”, “fixing their eyes on Jesus” and not always looking backwards to the way things were.  Disciples have a new direction to follow.

Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. And as he sets out, he unfolds to the disciples a new way of living - the Jesus "Way" and he invites them to share in it with him.  

To those who would be disciples of Jesus there is
a risk to be taken - the willingness to give up the security of buildings and things so that we may travel light in Christ's footsteps

a new priority to be set - to go and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom (as John Wesley put it, we have nothing to do but save souls!)

a new direction to follow - to press on, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, not clinging to the past, but moving forward and onward in the power of the Spirit.

Jesus makes clear in this challenging passage that adopting the Jesus’ way of discipleship is not a part time commitment.  It is a life-changing shift in direction and priorities in which our human needs and wants give way to the call of God on our lives.  So the Jesus’ way of discipleship is not for the faint hearted or the half-hearted, the luke-warm or even the well-intentioned.  It is too demanding.  But we trust that all who God calls – God also equips to answer that call.  We cannot do it on our own but with God all things become possible.

So let us pray that God will be with us as we seek to deepen our discipleship and walk in the way of Jesus …

Let us pray …
Loving God, through your Spirit, give us the faith, to trust in you so completely, that all our earthly securities lose their importance in our lives. Give us the love, which longs to reach out to others in your name, proclaiming your Kingdom in word and in deed,  and give us the hope, to press on into an unknown future with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.  Amen

Song:  Will you come and follow me?

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Prayers for Others
Let us pray for all people everywhere according to their need.

We pray for the peace of the world. 
We remember particularly the people of the Ukraine and the leaders in this war … President Zelensky and President Putin.

Move among us by your Spirit
Break down barriers of fear, suspicion and hatred.
Heal the human family of its divisions and unite us in the bonds of justice and peace.
Lord in your mercy , Hear our prayer

We pray for our own nation – for our Government, for businesses, for the Unions and those that they represent. In all the disputes we pray that both sides will meet in a spirit of compromise and we pray that just and fair solutions will be found – so that all people involved feel that their concerns have been heard and their feelings respected.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Finally, we pray for our families, our friends and all those we know who are sick or lonely or anxious at this time.


Lord, where there is illness bring healing, where there is sadness bring joy, where there is anxiety bring a sense of peace and where there is mourning bring comfort. Lord, may they know your love and the comfort of your presence in the days to come.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

For we ask these prayers in the name of Jesus, Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn:  To God be the glory

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The Blessing  
May your feet walk in the way of the Lord
May your voice speak the word of the Lord
May your hands serve God in blessing others and may you know the peace of God now and always.

And the blessing of God,  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,  be upon you and remain with you for ever.  Amen.