Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 27 February 2022

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 27 February 2022

Welcome to our worship this morning.  We have come to the end of our series on the Apostles’ Creed, looking at what we believe and why.  Today, as our response to all that we have heard, we come to commit ourselves to God, in the words of our Covenant Service.  From the earliest days of the Methodist societies, John Wesley invited the people to renew their covenant relationship with God every year – and today we shall do just that.

Hymn:  Great is thy faithfulness

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Prayer of Adoration
Let us pray.
Glory to the Father, the God of love,  who created us;  who continually preserves and sustains us; 
who has loved us with an everlasting love,  and given us the light of the knowledge of his glory 
in the face of Jesus Christ. Blessèd be God for ever.

Glory to Jesus Christ our Saviour,  who, though he was rich,  yet for our sake became poor, 
and was tested in every way as we are,  yet without sin; 
who proclaimed the good news of the kingdom,  and was obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross; 
who was raised from the dead and is alive for ever,  and has opened the kingdom of heaven  to all who trust in him; 
who is seated at God’s right hand in glory, and will come to be our judge. Blessèd be God for ever.

Glory to the Holy Spirit,  the Lord, the giver of life, 
by whom we are born into the family of God,  and made members of the body of Christ; 
whose witness confirms us;  whose wisdom teaches us;  whose power enables us; 
who will do for us more than we can ask or think. Blessèd be God for ever.
To the one God,  Father, Son and Holy Spirit,  be praise and glory for ever. Amen.

The Collect
God of grace, through the mediation of your Son,  you call us into a new covenant. Help us therefore to draw near with faith  and join ourselves in a perpetual covenant with you;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31 – 34  John 15: 1 - 10

“Can Do” or “Can’t Do” People
Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers …”

Are you a “can do” person or a “can’t do” person?
If someone comes up with an idea to do something a bit different … is your first response, “great – let’s give it a go”  or is it  “no, we can’t do that – it would never work.” Are you the kind of person who sees opportunities – or the kind of person who sees problems?  Are you the kind of person who is willing to take a leap of faith – or the kind of person who likes to keep things the way they’ve always been, because it’s safer that way?

Are you a “can do” person or a “can’t do” person?

Jeremiah was a “can do” kind of guy.  Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem in the time leading up to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586BC.  Jeremiah was in prison when he received the prophesy that we heard this morning.  He was in prison for telling the King of Judah that because of the peoples’ wickedness God had given them over to the Babylonians and it was only a matter of time before the city would be destroyed.  As you can imagine, this was not a very popular message and one that the King was keen to keep quiet!  

It is while Jeremiah is in prison that he does an amazing thing … he buys a field on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Why is this amazing?  Well, because the field that he buys is already overrun with hordes of Babylonians.  There is no way he is going to get anywhere near that field for years … but he believes … because God has told him so … that in years to come the land of Judah will be restored to the Israelites … and he believes … because God has told him so … that his descendants will one day live on that land.

Jeremiah believes God wants him to buy a field and so he does … of course, he could have said, “I can’t do that right now, it would be a bad investment.” Or he could have said, “I can’t do that right now, because I shall need all the money I can for when the Babylonians take over.”  But he doesn’t, Jeremiah takes a leap of faith … he is a “can do” kind of guy.

What is it that makes us “can’t do” people?

Put simply … it is fear.
We are afraid that we will try something and it won’t work – that somehow it will be a dismal failure.  Or we are afraid that we won’t be able to do, what we are being asked to do – and people will realize how limited we are. Or we’re afraid that if we do too much or say too much, the wrong kind of people will notice us and start picking on us and making our lives miserable.  We’re afraid – so we decide that it’s better to do what we’ve always done or not done … to play it safe … to keep our heads down … to find excuses … to say  “we just can’t do it”.

But we don’t have to be “can’t do” people … 
Every one of us can become a “can do” person … so before we think to ourselves… “well I can’t because I’m too old” … or “I can’t because I’m not as fit as I used to be,” … we need to stop and hear these words of Jesus again …

“I am the vine and you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. But apart from me you can do nothing. “

This is the answer isn’t it … if we remain in Jesus, we “can do” all things … but apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
In other words, if we try to do things in our own strength … we will struggle to achieve anything.  But if we tap into the awesome power of God – the Holy Spirit - that is given to each one of us when we accept Jesus as our Lord – then we “can do” all things.

Some people think that accepting Jesus as Lord is just about making sure we get into heaven. “Oh well now I have faith in Jesus, at least I know my sins are forgiven and I shall go to heaven when I die.”

But it is so much more than that – with Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we have the awesome possibility of the Holy Spirit living inside us … guiding us, empowering us, transforming us … so that we “can do” amazing things for God.  

But for that to happen we need to put ourselves into a place where the Holy Spirit can begin to work in us and through us … and the way we do that is through what are sometimes called the “spiritual disciplines”.    Here are the key ones …

Personal Prayer … time spent every day with God on our own … time talking to God, time listening to God … time inviting God to lead and direct our paths …

Bible Reading … God speaks to us through the Bible … words of encouragement … words of hope … words of guidance … and words of rebuke.  “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” says Jesus.  The words of scripture are our spiritual food – our spirits will wither and shrivel without it.

Fellowship … Praying and studying the Bible with other Christians in small groups is another essential to growing in our faith and discipleship.  The Methodist Revival in the 18th century was built on small groups … and there is no substitute for them.

Worship and Holy Communion … time spent worshipping and praising God … receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion … the bread and the wine … the outward signs of an invisible work that God does in our lives.  Both are vitally important … but not sufficient without the other things that I have mentioned.

Truly, if we do all these things we will begin to discover the awesome power of God working in our lives, making us the kind of people who “can do”, rather than the kind of people who can’t.  So what can we do this Spring to become “can do” people?

Can we buy some daily Bible Study notes to study every day throughout the year?  Or use bible study material on the internet.  Or go on to the Newmount Church website and read their “Thought for the Day” every morning.

Can we build more prayer into our lives … perhaps by praying when we’re walking the dog or waiting for the bus … or praying through the pages of the newspaper … or producing a prayer list of different people to pray for on every day of the week … or by using the Methodist Prayer Handbook.

Can we join a Lent study group?  This year we will be studying the Methodist Way of Life.  Based on “Our Calling” to Worship, to Learning and Caring, to Service and Evangelism, the Methodist Way of Life suggests 12 commitments and practices that encourage us to grow in our Christian discipleship … things like … we will pray daily; we will practise hospitality and generosity; we will care for creation; we will live in a way that draws others to God.  Over three meetings during Lent, we will be studying these commitments together and seeing how we can build them into our lives.  
So as we make our Covenant with God today, what are we going to do, to open ourselves up to the power of the Holy Spirit?

Let us resolve to make this year the year when we say to God … “Here I am Lord, use me … for with you, I can do all things.” Amen

Song:  I the Lord of sea and sky

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The Covenant (Introduction) 
God made a covenant with the people of Israel, calling them to be a holy nation, chosen to bear witness to his steadfast love by finding delight in the law.
The covenant was renewed in Jesus Christ our Lord, in his life, work, death and resurrection. In him all people may be set free from sin and its power, and united in love and obedience.

In this covenant God promises us new life in Christ. For our part we promise to live 
no longer for ourselves but for God.
We meet, therefore, as generations have met before us, 
to renew the covenant which bound them and binds us to God.

Let us then seek forgiveness for the sin by which we have denied 
God's claim upon us.

Prayer of Confession
Let us pray.
God of mercy, hear us as we confess our sins. For the sin that has made us slow to learn from Christ, reluctant to follow him, and afraid to bear the cross:
Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has caused the poverty of our worship, the formality and selfishness of our prayers, our neglect of fellowship and the means of grace, and our hesitating witness for Christ:
Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has led us to misuse your gifts, evade our responsibilities, and fail to be good stewards of your creation:
Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has made us  unwilling to overcome evil with good, tolerant of injustice, quick to condemn, and selfish in sharing your love with others:
Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.


Have mercy on me, O God, in your constant love; in the fullness of your mercy blot out my offences.
Wash away all my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within me.
Give me the joy of your help again and  strengthen me with a willing spirit.

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Therefore to all who truly repent, this is his gracious word:  'Your sins are forgiven'.
Amen. Thanks be to God.

Song:  Lord I come to you

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The Covenant
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
let us again accept our place within this covenant
which God has made with us and with all who are called to be Christ’s disciples.
This means that, by the help of the Holy Spirit, we accept God’s purpose for us, 
and the call to love and serve God in all our life and work.

Christ has many services to be done:
some are easy, others are difficult;
some bring honour, others bring reproach;
some are suitable to our natural inclinations 
and material interests, others are contrary to both;
in some we may please Christ and please ourselves;
in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make this covenant of God our own.
Let us give ourselves to him, trusting in his promises and relying on his grace.

Eternal God,
in your faithful and enduring love
you call us to share in your gracious covenant in Jesus Christ.
In obedience we hear and accept your commands;
in love we seek to do your perfect will;
with joy we offer ourselves anew to you.
We are no longer our own but yours.

I am no longer my own but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things,
wherever You may place me, in all that I do, 
and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me and when there is none;
when I am troubled and when I am at peace.
Your will be done when I am valued
and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking;
when I have all things, and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer all I have and am 
to serve you as and where you choose.
Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours
May it be so for ever. 
Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession
As we have entered this covenant not for ourselves alone, but as God's servants and witnesses, let us pray for the Church and for the world.

Loving God, hear us as we pray for your holy catholic Church:  make us all one, that the world may believe.
Inspire and lead all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world:  establish justice and peace among all people.
Have compassion on all who suffer from any sickness, grief or trouble:  deliver them from their distress.
We praise you for all your saints who have entered your eternal glory:  bring us all to share in your heavenly kingdom.
Let us pray in silence for our own needs and for those of others . . .

Lord our God, you have helped us by your grace
to make these prayers, and you have promised through Christ our Lord
that when two or three agree in his name you will grant what they ask.
Answer now your servants’ prayers according to their needs;
in this world grant that we may truly know you, and in the world to come
graciously give us eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Song:  Here is bread, here is wine

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Holy Communion
The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

God our Father, fountain of goodness, creator of all that is, you have made us in your own image.
You have given us life and reason, and love for one another, setting in our hearts a hunger for you.
In darkness you are our light, in adversity and temptation our strength.
You bear patiently with our folly and sin, granting us your law to guide us and your prophets to renew our faith.
In the fullness of time  you came to us in love and mercy in Jesus Christ,  your living Word, full of grace and truth.
He lived among us, declaring your forgiveness  and revealing your wisdom in works of mercy and in his word of power.
For us he suffered and died upon the cross, by death destroying death.
You raised him from the dead  and exalted him to your right hand on high.
Through him you sent your Holy Spirit  to be the life and light of your people,  gathered together in every time and place  to glorify your holy name.

With them and all the company of heaven we join in the unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessèd is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy God, pour out your Spirit
that these gifts of bread and wine
may be for us the body and blood
of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who, on the night in which he was betrayed,
took bread, gave thanks, broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Take this and eat it.
This is my body given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.'

In the same way, after supper,
he took the cup, gave thanks, 
and gave it to them, saying,
'Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many,
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, whenever you drink it,
in remembrance of me.'

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

And so, Lord, we obey his command
with this bread and this cup,
by which we recall his death and resurrection,
the source of our life and salvation.
Grant that we, who share in this holy sacrament,
may be united by your Spirit
and grow into perfect love.
Bring us, with those who have done your will in every age,
into the light of your presence and the joy of your kingdom.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the power of the Holy Spirit,
we worship you in songs of everlasting praise.
Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Breaking of the Bread and Sharing of Bread and Wine
The things of God for God's holy people.

Jesus Christ is holy;
Jesus Christ is Lord.
Glory to God the Father.

Bread and wine are shared

Final Prayer
Faithful God, with these holy gifts
you have fed and strengthened us
in Jesus Christ your Son.
Guide us on our way,
that with all your faithful people
we may come to share the feast
of your eternal kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Song:  In Christ alone, my hope is found

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

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