Sunday Worship – 14th May 2023

(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 Thackley Methodist Church and led by Rev Nick Blundell, one of our Circuit Ministers. Today is the beginning of Christian Aid week, and we draw heavily on CA material in our service today.

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

Call to worship (based on Psalm 47)

Clap your hands, all you peoples.   
Shout to God with songs of joy.
God has gone up with a shout.        
Sing praises to the most high.
God is ruler over all the Earth.         
We worship God with all our heart.

Hymn – H&P 758/StF 685 In Christ there is no east or west   

Prayer of approach 

Creator God, you have planted the seed of love in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives.    
We long for the brightness of your presence drawing us ever closer to you and to one another,
as we join with your people at all times in all places to worship and to serve.
We confess those frequent times when we have been stony ground,
too hard to value the tiny seed, the generous smile, the heartfelt word.     

[Women] You grow us into community.
[Men] You grow us into community.
[All] You grow us into community.   

We confess those frequent times when we have been stony ground,
too hard to see beyond our selfish desires and tacitly accepting a world  
that smothers the dreams of those with less power and wealth.
Creator God, once again, you have planted the seed of love in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives.  
We draw near today in the knowledge that your forgiveness waters the seed
and nurtures us with the power of your Spirit to grow, to flourish and to bear the fruit of your justice
now and forevermore. Amen

Collect for Christian Aid Week
God, gardener of Eden, who flung stars into space and nurtures the tiniest plant, lift our hopes and dreams above the loss and damage of our suffering planet, that we might share your long-dreamed vision which values the pea as much as the plant, fill us with your life-giving hope and inspire us with your creative Spirit now, and in the age to come.  Amen.

Story – Esther’s pigeon peas.

A story from Malawi, known as the heart of Africa, ofEsther Saizi, her family and her community, and the bread she bakes in an oven provided by Christian Aid, from flour made from her locally grown pigeon peas, which grow when other crops fail – and remove the need to import expensive wheat. Pigeon Peas are tiny things, yet make such a difference, as does the co-operation between neighbours. Esther’s rolls are loved by adults and children alike!   If you are able to watch the video please do: 


Joel 1:10-12; 2:18-29

(set out for three voices – if you’re on your own you might like to imagine reader’s voices, and hear a conversation rather than a monologue?).

Voice 1 The fields are devastated: the ground mourns.
Voice 2 For the grain is destroyed, the wine dries up, the oil fails.
Voice 3 Be dismayed, you farmers, wail, you vine-dressers, over the wheat and the barley;
Voices 1 & 2 For the crops of the field are ruined.
Voice 3 The vine withers, the fig tree droops. Pomegranate, palm, and apple, all the trees of the field are dried up.   
Voices 1 & 2 Surely, joy withers away among the people.
Voice 1 Then the Lord became jealous for the land, and had pity on the people.
Voice 2 In response to the people, the Lord said; I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a mockery among the nations.
Voice 1 Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Voice 2 Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green.
Voice 3 The tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
Voice 1 O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God.
Voice 2 For God has given the early rain for your vindication, abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.
Voice 3 The threshing-floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
Voice 1 I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.
Voice 2 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord, who has dealt wondrously with you.  
Voices 1 & 3  And my people shall never again be put to shame
Voice 3 Then afterwards, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.
Voice 1 Your children shall prophesy.
Voice 2 Your elders shall dream dreams.
Voice 3 And your youth shall see visions.
Voice 1 Even on the enslaved ones.     
All In those days, I will pour out my spirit.


Matthew 13:31-32     
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Song – StF 256 When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there? 


Joel 1:10-12 is a lament whose words could have been written today. Its words echo across dry, crippled lands where climate chaos has taken everything – food, water, health and hope. In places where people have done nothing to cause the devastation with which they are burdened, joy withers like the crops they depend on.   

Joel 2:21-22 uses a familiar biblical phrase – ‘do not be afraid’. Used by prophets and angels and Jesus himself; spoken to Abram, to Hagar, and Mary when she was asked to say yes, this phrase does not belittle the fear we feel, but calls us to not let fear win. Do not be afraid – but stand together, walk and work together to bring justice. The status quo relies on our fear-induced apathy. This passage reminds us that God created the world for good and we are called to steward and serve creation and each other.

Matthew 13:31-35   The mustard seed is an evocative, surprising image, representing the subversive power in small things. At Thackley this morning we baptise two brothers, Mason and Broady. Their parents know that some little things change everything! Life is not the same when a little bundle of life arrives.
The mustard seed, this ‘smallest of all seeds’ takes over. It was not always a welcome sight in an agricultural setting. It was a weed that, once it took hold, grew exponentially and threatened the ground around it.
If we put our readings together we see a picture of a kingdom built on a just and equitable sharing of resources – unwelcomed by the powerful few who want to control everything. When we unite with those who struggle at the margins, we, like the mustard seed, can create a place where people can rest and nest safely. Yeast, too, is expansive, and the image builds on the one before. While the mustard seed offers a tree so large birds of the air come and nest, yeast feeds many when mixed with flour and water. We are called to be yeast in the world, the agent of change – change that feeds the world.

Offertory Prayer        

God, our Farmer. You plant the seed. You water the seed. You nourish the seed.
You value the widow’s mite. You value Esther’s peas. You value what we bring today. 
What we bring today is already yours. Accept these, our offerings, and use them to help dreams come true in this community, through this church, and in your world through Christian Aid.      Amen.

Song – H&P 145 or StF 249 Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love  

The following is a communion liturgy for two voices prepared by Christian Aid. We will be sharing communion at Thackley. You might like to prepare a little something to eat and drink to join us when we take bread and wine.

Voice 1: Bring the harvest home. Bread baking and wine fermenting. Fruit of the toil of working the land. Reward of months of waiting and worrying. Of watching for the sun and praying for the rains.
Voice 2: We gather around this table with all who work in food production. From farming and transport to preparation and sale.
Voice 1: Bring the harvest home. The peas that are picked and ready for sale. The negotiations complete and deals signed. Farmers and cooks coming together. Cooperatives formed, recipes written, dreams inspired and income improved.
Voice 2: We gather around this table with all who bring people together to form co-operatives and unions, enabling safer working practices and fairer trade.
Voice 1: Bring the harvest home. The crops that have withered in the drought or rotted in flooded fields. Impoverishing the seeds for the next year and dashing people’s hopes and dreams as our climate emergency takes lives and livelihood.  
Voice 2: We gather around this table with all who campaign for climate justice. For scientists and innovators, protesters and politicians.
Voice 1: Bring the harvest home. The peas that are milled into flour. Bread broken symbolising the injustice and brokenness of our world. Where those who grow food go hungry and those responsible for our climate emergency get richer and richer with impunity.   
Voice 2: On the night before he died, Jesus took bread and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying: ‘This is my body broken for you. ‘Take, eat, do this in memory of me.’ And the tables start to turn as truth is spoken to power and reparations are made.     
[Bread is shared]  
Voice 1: Bring the harvest home. The grapes that are fermented. Wine poured, symbolising the possibility of a new way of living together. A new covenant with the Earth that is our home. Where dreams may come true
Voice 2: After he had given thanks, Jesus took a cup of wine and gave it to them, saying: ‘This is the wine of the new covenant. ‘Take, drink, do this in memory of me.’ And we start to dream together of sustainable alternatives and new ways to live together.
[Wine is shared]   

Thanksgiving Prayer   
God of broken bread and wine shared. We give you thanks for the story of Esther and her community that helps each other. May we learn and be inspired to be part of that community that helps each other and to extend that community to the Earth and to the ends of the Earth that all may live and live abundantly. Amen.

Song – H&P 402 or StF 696 For the healing of the nations

Intercessory Prayer

Esther Saizi told Christian Aid: ‘When my husband passed away last year, it was a difficult period. I was heartbroken by his passing. Eventually as I knelt down and prayed to God, I knew he was with him and I had to move forward. I knelt and prayed that God would help me.’ Rejoicing in the answer to prayer that Esther received, and confident in the power of prayer to change the world, together we pray:

For people throughout the world suffering from poverty and injustice:   
• facing the challenge of soaring inflation making it difficult to afford everyday essentials.  
• families affected by natural disasters such as drought, famine and flood. 
• those living with the impact of climate change, particularly when it destroys essential crops.  
• victims of the aggression and violence of others – individuals, communities, nations.
• Esther Saizi and women like her who bring their communities together.    
• for farmers who provide essential food for their communities.
• cooperatives which give people more power over their own lives.
• an end to the economic exploitation by big businesses. 

We pray for those known to us facing illness of body, mind or spirit, and for those who care for them.
For those living or working in places that are unsafe or unsettled.
For those experiencing bereavement or loss, and those fearing it. 
May the love and light of God uphold and enfold them and us, and make peace possible.

We pray for this Christian Aid week, that we, as individuals, households, fellowships and churches might respond with openness and generosity to the stories and needs of our neighbours near and far. May God bless and multiply the gifts we give, and deepen our commitment to one another and to work and pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.

We share together in praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Song – H&P 239 or StF 328 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun   

Sending and blessing

Go into the world working together for change  
so that everyone can thrive and share life in its fullness.
And in all we do let us show the love of Jesus.         
Let us treat everyone with dignity.   
We will show the love of Jesus.
Let us stand up for equality.     
We will show the love of Jesus. 
Let us fight for justice.
We will show the love of Jesus.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,   
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.    Amen. (CCLI 129818. Service prepared by Rev’d Nick Blundell 8 Cecil Ave, BD17

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