Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 3 July 2022

by A Local Arrangement led by Ruth Croft 3 July 2022

Welcome to worship today. This service is based on the service provided by Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) as part of their annual appeal for funds. If you would like to make a donation, please visit their website

MHA is the largest charity care provider for older people in the UK, founded by members of the Methodist Church in 1943. Today MHA supports 18,500 older people.

Today, we give thanks for all that it, with the help of supporters, has accomplished; we pray for MHA’s residents and members and for those who work and volunteer in the care of others; and we add our voice to helping all older people live later life well, through advocating and lobbying for older people in society and those who work in the social care sector.

The theme this year is Growing Together. Together we can support older people to live later life well through our praying, our giving of gifts of time and money, and together we can add our voice to call for adult social care to be a national priority for the Government.

Our service today focuses on the benefits that God’s creation offers to all of us, and how MHA is using their outdoor spaces to support the wellbeing of those in later life. so we use these verse from Psalm 96 as our call to worship

Psalm 93:3-5
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; The heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, And the dry land, which his hands have formed.

Hymn: Morning has broken

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Opening prayer
God of grace, in the story of creation, you made the earth a garden and entrusted it to us to till and to keep, a place of peace and beauty where we could walk with you.

In the story of redemption, the one who died for us was buried in a garden, and there you raised him up to greet us with new hope and risen life.

In the story of the Church, you tend us as a garden, a place of careful pruning and abundant harvest, where we can work with you.

Meet us, we pray, in all the gardens where we go for nourishment, refreshment and prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21
                  John 15: 1-8

Song: A new commandment

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I have some marigold seeds here, and with them I am able to transform some land, as small and insignificant as they may seem.

Not only will they, with the right nurture and care, grow in to a colourful display providing beauty, but they have many other benefits too. 

As the gardeners among us will know, marigolds make good companion plants for potatoes, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, aubergines, squash, melons, asparagus, sweet corn, chillies and peppers, but do you know why that is?. Here is some science: The roots of a marigold hold within them a chemical substance that keeps harm away, and not only that, but the roots also encourage the growth of fungi which exchange nutrients with host plants for their mutual health and growth.

Here ends the science lesson.

Quite incredible when you think about it. Especially if you imagine transforming some waste land as Isaiah describes into something abundant. In our video we heard how Marilyn and her volunteers transformed their outdoor space into something beautiful for the benefits of older residents like John and their families. We heard earlier the impact that the outdoors can have on those living with dementia, and for John the sounds and smells are signposts in his memories that allow him to live more fully in the present. This is being repeated in many parts across the whole of MHA, and with our support MHA is able to help more people like John, as those living in the wider community as well as residents.

It is quite wonderful to take something that appears to be lost or forgotten or neglected, and plant something in it, that not only brings colour and beauty but is also life giving.

Vegetables may grow on their own, but adding the marigold as a natural pesticide that can also exchange nutrients, enables something better to come about.

It’s like that in our work, our friendships and of course our relationship with God. There is so much we can do on our own, but there is more we can do and be when we grow together.

Our gospel reading reminds us of remaining close to God. “Remain in me and I will remain in you”, not because of anything else except that we too can know life in abundance when we are in relationship with Jesus, and being a part of God’s church enables us to grow together in relationship with one another and with God.

The marigolds teach us how crucial our roots are. Having our roots firmly established in God helps us to navigate this world, not so as to avoid pain and hardship, but not to face those things alone, God remains with us.

Isaiah says: “See I am doing a new thing…I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland”.

We’ve all experienced something of emptiness, of waste, of neglect. Look at how the pandemic affects our world, our communities our neighbourhoods. Health, jobs, relationships, family and friends: so much has been lost. And to grow back from that, to find healing, we need one another, together.

The wonder of God’s creation is seen in the way it continues to recreate. Despite the neglect…even in the wastelands there is growth. There is nothing so empty or so desolate that it cannot be filled with the love and the grace of God.

Once something is planted it takes someone, or in the case of the garden in our film, an army of volunteers, to nurture and to grow and to tend.

It is good for us to be in community, the church, to be that place where we can be nurtured and grow together. Not just for ourselves, but for our neighbours, friends, local businesses and schools
Isaiah says, ‘See! I am doing a new thing’.

What is the new thing that God is calling you to? It could be time to discover and rediscover gifts and passions, hopes and dreams. New ways of nurturing and caring, joining in with one another, finding joy and hope, growing together. ‘See I am doing a new thing’.

And where there was wasteland there will be streams of water according to Isaiah.

Where are the wastelands in our community? What new thing is God doing? What will you do? Maybe help someone with their gardening? Take some flowers to someone to brighten their day? Write a letter or make a phone call to some one you haven’t seen for a while? The possibilities are endless!

As part of our response, the Stewards have invited Rev Chris Briggs, the Circuit Mission Enabler to meet with us at our meeting a week on Tuesday to explore how we can strengthen and develop relationships. We hope this will result in further conversations with the whole church community and beyond into the neighbourhood we serve. 

Just as plants do not live in a vacuum and their health depends on being connected to other plants, so too we need one another. Together God invites us to be part of the new thing that He is calling us to as we grow together. Amen

Hymn: Brother, sister, let me serve you

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Prayers for others
Bless our gifts and our words, bless our time and talents, and enable wise stewardship transforming them so that there may be justice and equity for those in later life, and value for those who work to support them. Bless the work of MHA. The thousands of residents, members, staff and volunteers, the families and their communities. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Bless the garden of your Church, O God. Guide those who plant and tend it. We pray for our Minister, Jacky, and our Local Preachers, Peter and Andy. Protect the young, strengthen the weak, and make us fruitful in ministry and mission. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Bless the gardens of the world, the soil and rain and sunshine, and the work of all who sow and reap. Give abundant harvests, and teach us to share them with justice. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Bless the gardens of our community, including the work and ministry of MHA and for all those in later life. For John and those who find themselves in similar situations, and Marilyn and for all those who give of their time and effort. In all our care for one another, make us grow in wisdom and love, in gentleness, kindness and truth. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Give tender care to all who are struggling through weakness, sickness, grief or change. Show us your grace at work in the times when growth is painful or when death is near. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Give eternal life to all whom you love, through Jesus Christ, the true vine. Give us grace to abide in him as fruitful branches, and bring us at last with all your saints to resurrection life. God of grace, hear our prayer. Amen

Hymn: You are the vine

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May the blessing of God almighty, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who plants, nurtures and calls us to grow together, descend upon us and remain with us forever. Amen