Virtual Worship – Sunday 19th June 2022

This service has been put together by Laura Tunnacliffe, our Circuit Youth Worker, and will be shared at St Andrews on Sunday 19th June at 10.30am.

Call to worship

As our call to worship this morning we sing together ‘As we are gathered’

Hymn – You laid aside your majesty

Let us pray together:
You have turned our sadness into joy.
We worship you, O God.
You have restored us to life.
We worship you, O God.
You have tuned our mourning into dancing.
We worship you, O God.

Creator God, you made us in your image, part of your wonderfully diverse creation, fragile and yet fantastic in your eyes.
Be present with us today, and in all we think and say and do.
Meet us and remake us, shape our hearts and minds that the pattern of our lives
may better reflect your life.

Almighty and loving God, we say sorry for all the times we’ve knowingly done wrong.
We say sorry for all the times we’ve failed to recognise you or your hand on us.
We lay before you all that we are sorry for.

Pause

All powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing Creator, we offer up these prayers seeking forgiveness and restoration, knowing that when we are truly sorry you forgive and restore us.
Amen.

Readings –                 Mark 1:16-20

                                   Matthew 14:27-32

                                   John 21:1-3,7

Hymn – Blessed be your name

Thought for the day

Three readings about taking risks.

In the first one, from Mark, the disciples are called by Jesus and dropped everything to follow Jesus. Whether it was really as instantaneous as Mark would suggest, or whether it took them a few hours or even days to make the decision, they still risked everything. They were part of the family business, with a guaranteed job and they walked away to wander the countryside with this relatively (at this time) unknown and rather controversial preacher.

In the reading from Matthew we find the familiar story of Peter walking on the water. Peter takes the risk and gets out of the boat. His attempt to do the impossible works to begin with but then he starts to doubt that it will work, and once the doubts start to creep in and overwhelm Peter, he falls into the water.

The third reading, from John, is shortly after Jesus has been crucified and has risen. After all the drama, after all of the chaos and uncertainty of the previous few days the disciples return to the familiarity and relative safety of fishing.

After the last couple of years of chaos and uncertainty there is a certain sense of safety and familiarity in returning to what we had before, gathering in familiar spaces with familiar groups of people, just as the disciples gathered together and went out in the boat to fish together. After the chaos and uncertainty it is unsurprising that we are seeking the familiar, but what are we missing or missing out on? If we return to gathered worship at the same time as we’ve always done it in the same space what are we missing out on? 10.30 on a Sunday morning clearly works for everyone gathered here – we are here now – but what about the people who aren’t here with us? As a circuit we have consciously continued sending out written service sheets to circulate to those who are unable to get to church – indeed this service we are sharing together this morning is one such service – but what about the people who have no history with church? I was recently with a congregation who are looking at their outreach to the other users of their building and one suggestion was that if they get the Messy Play person who uses their building mid-week to come and do something with them on a Sunday morning occasionally then that might encourage the families who she connects with to come along too. The idea of outreach is a really encouraging one but is it meeting people where they are at? Jesus didn’t stay in one place and expect the people to come to him. He travelled around and went to where people were. He took the risk that in some places he would not be welcomed, that in some places it might not work out quite how he expected. He even went so far to tell the disciples that it might not always work, telling them that any place they were not welcomed to walk away, shake the dust of that place from their feet and move on.

Our own Methodist heritage is built on the idea of going to people where they were. John and Charles Wesley and their friends started what they called the Holy Club in response to a perceived lack of genuine social justice being pursued by the Church of England. They would go to the poor, the sick and those in prison, taking the word of God to people where they were. As their numbers grew, they formed small groups who met together regularly and asked each other how they had put their faith into action in the previous week. The pattern of these gatherings earned these groups the originally derogatory term of ‘Methodists’, a term which was worn like a badge of honour and adopted by the members themselves as a way of identifying that they were different and proud to be so. The original Methodist gatherings were in an afternoon, allowing for members to go to the service in their parish church in the morning before gathering together to put their faith into action. John Wesley upset the established church so much that, even as an ordained Church of England priest, he was banned from the pulpits, so he took his gatherings out to where people were at, preaching in the streets, preaching in fields. Our roots as Methodists were never in a building but outside where people were already at.

As we come back together as worshipping groups and look at where we are going do we feel energy for mission or do we feel weighed down by the responsibility of keeping a building going? There are a number of places around the District, around the  country even, where congregations have decided that they have no energy or there aren’t sufficient numbers of active people to keep a building going. In some cases buildings have closed and the congregation have moved on to another place, perhaps taking time to rest and restore themselves, perhaps bringing a different sort of energy to the congregation already there. In other places congregations have continued to gather together but have let their building go. One such church in the Huddersfield circuit are embracing their Methodist roots and are gathering in the parish hall belonging to their local C of E church on a Sunday, but are using the money raised from the sale of their old building, which was falling down around them, to fund mission and outreach work with children and young people in their local community. Freed from the weight of maintaining a premises which was sapping them of any energy and drive they had they are building new and thriving work which is very much needed in their community and is showing their faith in action. When asked by young people why they do what they are doing, the project leader’s response is ‘because we want to show you that God loves you and you are valued’.

The reality is that not every risk we take will pay off. Sometimes we can start something which seems to be really obviously needed and it doesn’t take off. We take the risk and step out of the boat and sink instead of walking on the water. But that’s ok – Jesus didn’t always meet with success. It is ok for something to not quite work, or to fail quite spectacularly, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take the risk. Jesus took a risk that he would be turned down by the disciples. Peter took a risk in getting out of the boat. He might have ended up wet in the process, but Jesus didn’t laugh and walk away. Jesus reached out and helped him back up and stayed alongside him, just as he will do with us.

Hymn – Beauty for brokenness

We take the time to listen and focus on the words of this next hymn as our prayers of intercession.

Hymn – Will you come and follow me

Blessing

Almighty and loving God,

As we go from here this morning help us to see where you might be calling us to take risks, help us to reach out to those who we might not normally reach out to, and fill us with your love and blessings, that people might see a glimpse of you through us, and may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all forevermore. Amen.

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