Sunday Worship – 11th June 2023

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) and Hymns and 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 Allerton Methodist Church, and led by Mervyn Flecknoe one of our Local Preachers and Lay Pastors

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

Miracles and how they happen

Today, we are thinking about ordinary people like you and me, and the miracles that we can perform, if only we choose to believe that we can.  First, a collect for today:

Lord of miracles, grant us the hope and understanding that will enable us to work miracles in your name, so that all the creatures of this Earth may find a home here, both while we live, and when we are gone.  Amen

William Henry Parker, like my Dad, was an insurance agent, lay preacher, and Sunday School teacher in Nottingham in the early 20 century.  A friend described him as a person who was “quiet in demeanor, kindly in disposition, always trying to see the best in others.  He was one of God’s true gentlemen respected and loved by all.” William Parker thought about the countless times his students had said, “Please tell us another story.”  So, he wrote this hymn:

Song – H&P 153 – Tell me the stories of Jesus

One of today’s lectionary readings is from Matthew 9:9-26 and it concerns miracles that Jesus wrought.

Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” Matthew stood up and followed him.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”

…As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along.

Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.

By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and the neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Clear out! This girl isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. But when Jesus had gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet—alive. The news was soon out, and traveled throughout the region.

Let us pray

We hear many stories these days, Lord.  Some are stories of hatred, telling how women, people from overseas, or people who are otherwise different from us, are less valuable than we are, or a threat to our happiness.  Help us listen to the stories of hope, of love, of forgiveness, of miracles that change people’s lives, so that we may model our lives on yours and so that we are able to be your representatives in doing good on Earth.


Lets sing again. Rev Dr Michael Forster, just one year younger than me.  Vicar of Lydbrook for 20 years in the Forest of Dean, fellow of the Royal Schools of Music before becoming an NHS chaplain in Leicester.  In his own words “Michael Forster now retired from his post as an NHS mental health chaplain.  He divides his time between writing about spirituality and pastoral care, making handmade furniture, and trying not to act his age”

Song – StF 615 – Let Love be real in giving and receiving

Reflection 1

Let me tell you about some miracles, first, in Ukraine.  Since the Russian invasion and Putin’s attempt to destroy everything there that makes life liveable:  food supplies, hospitals, schools, homes, electricity, safe nuclear plants:  small miracles have been taking place.  One hundred and sixteen people have come from other countries into this invaded minefield to help.  These are professional people, logistics organisers, nurses, physiotherapists.  People like you and me have come to support nearly 700 local people who, despite living in a blitz situation, have chosen to spend their time helping others with medicine and food supplies.  People like you and me have contributed:  800 tonnes of medical supplies, kettles, and heaters, 200 beds for war-wounded people, post-operative physio support, mental health support, training in first aid for railway staff, who are often the first on the scene, special services to ease the pain of rape victims.  Who would have thought it?  Did it occur to me to go?  No!  Did I believe anything like that would happen?  No!  Is it a miracle?  Well, yes.  The organisation for which all these good folk volunteer is called Médecins Sans Frontières.  Doing the work of Jesus on Earth.

Here is another example:  Nearly two thousand million people on this earth of ours don’t have anywhere safe to go to the toilet.  In our house we share three toilets between two of us, there are another dozen at our church and four in the village public conveniences.  Think about the women and girls, especially in densely packed housing, in hot climates, in places where modesty requirements are much greater than here, when there is no-where private for girls to change sanitary wear beyond the gaze of men.  

Today, 1 in 4 people around the world lack safe drinking water.  Children worldwide miss 443 million school days each year because of dirty water and poor sanitation.  Every year, women and girls spend 97 billion hours finding a place to go to see to personal needs.  What a waste of time!  What an affront to dignity!

But all is not gloomy.  In the last 10 years 180,000 toilets have been built at an average cost of £60 each in areas badly affected.  This has brought toilet facilities within walking distance of over a million people in 45 countries.  The £60 for each one of those toilets was donated by someone who was grateful to have their own toilet.  Is that a miracle?  If your toilet is not yet twinned, and if you are really grateful for it, get in touch with the Toilet Twinning charity who also provide clean water supplies.

One more example, last August, there were devastating floods in Pakistan.  The floods were made much worse by the climate crisis created by us, because we have been driving cars, eating beef, taking foreign holidays, and living in badly insulated houses.  Over 25,000 individuals donated to the OXFAM Pakistan Floods Appeal raising £1.35m in the few days before the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, which also raised significant funds a portion of which was also administered by OXFAM.  These donors were not people in the floods, they were people who slept in dry beds at night in their own homes, with supermarkets just down the road, suffering no thirst, no hunger, no medical deprivation (apart from that produced by 10 years of underfunding of the NHS).  They were just ordinary people whose generosity was motivated by love.

Are these miracles?  If not, what would you count?

Now, here is someone who wrought miracles:  Samuel John Stone graduated from Oxford about 1850, but instead of pursuing a lucrative career in the Law, he became a pastor in the impoverished and violent East End of London until his death in 1900.  He was known as the poor man’s pastor, working ceaselessly in his attempt to follow the work of Jesus amongst the most deprived in society.  He wrote this hymn:

Song – StF 690 The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord

Today’s second lectionary reading includes this:  Romans 4:17-25

We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”

Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.


We could be reading any number of passages that give the same message about our obedience to God bringing freedom and release from shackles;  the same message about the value of belief in the miracle of God’s Grace.  Any of you who have worked in a food bank team, or a team organising a carnival, or Bradford Street Angels, or the Telephone Samaritans, will know what a wonderfully human feeling it is to work in a team.  Jesus knew this when he gathered fishermen, tax inspectors, the odd zealot and farmer, and made them work together.  They experienced the benefits of working together and of bringing joy to other people.  Miracles.  Bringing out the best in people and coaching them in teams is one of the five characteristics of Jesus’ ministry.  For reference, the other four seem to be:

  • Working with the poor and marginalised, trying to persuade the rich to do the same; this is ongoing work;
  • Constantly reflecting in the presence of God, the church calls this “prayer”;
  • Speaking our message in plain language instead of using the specialised language of the church; and being able to unlearn unhelpful beliefs;
  • Fearlessly speaking truth to power (well, it is OK to be afraid but do it anyway!).

The truth of the matter is that, when we work together for good, believing in a great vision of God’s kingdom, hoping for the best, we become truly human and we achieve miracles.

This does not stop when we die because the last time our voices are heard is when our last will and testament is read.  What will it say?  Will it continue to distribute our remaining wealth to the great causes we have supported whilst we were alive?  Or will it keep that money in the family, just like the aristocrats and oligarchs who own 90% of our Country’s landscape and wealth?  It is worth a thought before you rewrite that will. 


Lord of life, I wish to join the miracle-workers of your team of Christians.  I want to be part of the solution to the world’s misery, rather than part of the problem.  I want to experience the comradeship of working together to create hope and joy.  I want to live surrounded by your love and to share your love with others.  I want to follow the example that you set for those with whom you lived and for whom you died.  I want to rise again from my old self to a renewal, a rebirth, to salvation.  Help me!  Amen

Our fourth hymn set to a wonderful Welsh tune, rejoices in the great good fortune that we experience following the life, teaching, and example of Jesus.

Song – StF 323 I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me 

A Prayer for those who wish to dedicate or to rededicate themselves as Christians

Jesus, I believe that you lived, taught, and died to rescue me from sin and death and to find salvation.  I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you.  I choose you as my King.  I give myself to you in obedience.  I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Lord and my King.  I believe that there can be a new heaven and a new earth, and that I can help bring hope to all your children.  Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. 

Restore me, Jesus.  Live in me.  Love through me.  Thank you for my life so far, please accept my new life in your service.

The Lord’s prayer from “The Message”

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Song – StF 44 Come on and celebrate

Come with us, Lord Jesus;  Fill us with your Spirit;  Shape us to your likeness;
Use us to enfold with love our needy world.

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