Sunday 21st January 2024

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) or Hymns & Psalms (H&P) numbers will be given where available)

Welcome to our Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our circuit and with the congregation at BoltonMethodist Church and led by Rev Christine Crabtree one of our Circuit Ministers.

Click on the blue links to follow them for bible readings and associated links

This service takes place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and so I have used the readings chosen by the churches of Burkina Faso to be used on this Sunday.  There is a service at if you would like to join in with Christians around the world in the prayers and responsive readings there.

Welcome and call to worship

In this week of prayer for Christian unity, let us call to mind all those who worship in different churches and in different ways, yet seek the one God who receives us all.

Lord of all, make us one in you.  Amen.

Song – StF 678 or H&P 765 – Come, all who look to Christ today

Prayers of approach

Lord of all that is, that was, and that will be;
Lord of sea and sky and tallest tower built by human hands;
Lord of noise and silence, of movement and of stillness;
we come to worship you.

As we come, we realise that you first come to us –
that you have been approaching us long before we knew you were there;
that you continue to approach, and call us to meet with you;
we come to worship you.

In your love, clear away any barriers we build,
any wrongs we have done,
any wrongs done to us,
that cloud our vision of you;
and help us to worship you.  Amen.

Song – StF 689 – Summoned by the God who made us rich in our diversity

Reading: God comes to meet with Abraham

Genesis 18:1-8

Questions to ponder

In this passage, God comes to Abraham – but Abraham makes himself ready to receive.

Abraham prepares a meal, as any good host would do in that tradition.  It would have taken time for the bread to have been baked and for the calf to have been prepared and cooked – this was not to be a rushed meeting. 

How do you prepare to meet with God? Do you set aside a particular space and time?  Or do you pray at different times during the day, when something occurs to you?

In this busy world, how do you react to interruptions?  Can you go from your quiet time into the service you offer, and see all of it as part of God’s work – ‘moving from God into God’?

On the other hand, how do you guard your own thoughts from leading you away from your quiet time so that you feel unsatisfied and unfed by your time of prayer?

How do you think your experience of prayer is similar to or different from that of people of other denominations?  How might your answers help to draw us closer together?

Let your thoughts lead you into prayer.

Song – StF 464 – God it was who said to Abraham

Reading: We read the story of the Good Samarian

Luke 10:25-37

We re-tell this familiar story in many ways.  Perhaps instead of the priest and the Levite we have college students, and the Samaritan becomes a punk rocker.

Or the priest and the Levite are replaced by a teacher and the town mayor, and the Samaritan a prisoner just released.

Each time we catch something of the story, of the unexpectedness of its ending, but we do not capture the whole story.  You see, the priest and the Levite had good reason to walk past the man who had been attacked.  If the man had died of his wounds, they would have made themselves unclean by touching a dead body, which was forbidden for priests (Leviticus 21:1-4), and would lead to people being unclean for seven days (Numbers 19:11-13).  Should they risk touching the body of someone who might be dead, they would be defiled and would not be able to perform their duties until they were declared clean again.

Was Jesus saying that Samaritans were nice people really, or questioning the Law that put ritual purity before compassionate action – so that it was the one who was not under the restrictions of the Law who was free to act in a loving way? 

What prevents us from responding in love to those in need, especially to those who are different from us?

Reflection on the Good Samaritan by Christine Crabtree

I am not good. I only responded.
As I rode along, the road ahead shimmered in the heat.
I saw in the distance –
something dropped by a traveller?
a heap of rags?
a disregarded sack of rubbish?
The man ahead of me walked past –
nothing important, then.
nothing valuable, then.
nothing that needed action, then.

And on I rode, watching flies gather and hover.
The heap took shape – distorted shape –
a man, beaten and stripped;
a man, dying without help;
a Jewish man, and I a Samaritan.
I am not good. I only responded.

I saw in him –
a fellow traveller;
a man hanging on to life;
someone who could have been me.
I tethered my horse,
took wine and oil
to clean and soothe his wounds,
and bandaged them.

I helped him stand,
half-carried him
and held him against me on the horse,
picked up the reins, and rode on.
I am not good. I only responded.

We made our way,
slowly, trying not to jolt
this hurting, half-dead man,
until I saw, ahead, the inn.

The innkeeper and I
took clean water to wash him
and fresh rags to bandage him
and thin soup to nourish him.

I had to leave the next day,
but left funds to pay for his care,
and promised more on my return.
And as I mounted my horse,
where that broken man had lain,
who might have spurned me, had we met
in other circumstances,

I reflected:
I am not good. I only responded.

If you have time, use the picture above to help you imagine yourself on the horse, holding the injured man in your arms.

Feel the horse’s gait beneath you as you ride.

Feel the warmth and the weight of the man who is unable to support himself.  

Inhale the smell of him. How does this closeness make you feel about him?

Can you imagine riding in this way with someone from whom you are estranged?

What comes into the picture for you?

What changes in you, as you travel?

Let your imagination lead you into prayer. 

Song – StF 681 – Community of Christ

Prayers of intercession

Call to mind the church that is nearest where you live.  Is it a Methodist, Anglican, URC, Baptist?  Or some other denomination or group?  Are they are large church, or few in number?

Pray for them as they worship. 
Lord, bless our neighbours who are sisters and brothers in Christ.

Call to mind the Churches Together group you are a part of.  What kinds of things do they do together?  What blessings are they offering to the world around them? 

Pray for them as they seek to work together for good.
Lord, bless our neighbours who work towards the unity Jesus prayed for.

Call to mind a situation in the world where there is conflict – there are so many. How long has the conflict existed?  What is its root cause?

Pray for those on both sides as they clash with one another.
Lord, bless our neighbours who are estranged and in conflict, and help them to see your light in the eyes of those on the other side.

Call to mind your plans for the coming week.  Where will you be?  Who will you meet?  How will you share the love of God with those around you?

Pray for those who live with you, around you, in your neighbourhood.
Lord, bless our neighbours, family and friends, and may we together build strong community in your name.  Amen.

With Christians far and wide, we join together in the prayer that Jesus taught us:

Our Father …..

Song – StF 679 Come, build the Church – not heaps of stone


We go from this place of worship into the world.  May God help us to see that our seeking of him continues as we seek him in our daily work, and as we respond to his image in the faces of those we meet.

And may the blessing of God, Creator, Saviour, and Loving Presence, be upon us and all those we love, today and always.  Amen.

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