Sunday Worship 19th March 2023 – Mothering Sunday

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) 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 Rev Nick Blundell, one of our Circuit Ministers. This is the fourth Sunday in Lent, as well as being Mothering Sunday. Whatever your experience of mothering and being mothered, and between us it will be mixed, you are welcome.

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

Call to worship

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8         

 ‘Instead, we were gentle among you.                                                                                 
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.’

Song – StF 36 There’s a quiet understanding


Lord of all creation, as we gather together today to share fellowship, and offer you the praise and worship of our hearts, draw us close to you.  Hold us in your loving arms. As a nursing mother cares for her children, so you care for us.

And as you care for us, so you care for all your children. As we worship this day, open our eyes anew to the consequences of your universal love, and reveal to us again our responsibility to love our brothers and sisters whoever and wherever they are.

Give us eyes of faith through which to see, hearts full of love with which to give and serve, and ready hands and feet to work and walk with you.

In the name of Christ we pray.    Amen.


Psalm 23           


Later in our service we will reflect on the story, told in John’s gospel, of a man born blind whose eyes, and understanding, are opened by Jesus, to the consternation of those who can see but fail to understand.

The psalm given us today is probably the best known of all psalms, and there’s a danger we read it without reading it (if that makes any sense), because it is so familiar. Can I invite you to turn to it again, and spend a little time really looking at the images the words paint for us.  See the generous shepherd; notice the shade of green; let the quiet waters remind you of places you love; dare to look into the darkness of the valley because the Lord is at your side; delight in the table laid for you, and the cup so full it overflows; recognise the place which is promised you, and know that God is good.


Eye-opening God, refresh our vision with your good grace, let us see anew the beauty of your creation, and recognise your latent presence in every human soul. Be with us on life’s path, keeping us company and introducing us to others.

Forgive us when we close our eyes to the needs of our neighbours, or fail to see the consequences of our actions. Show us afresh what you require of us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Song – StF 481 or HP 70 The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want


John 9:1-41     This is a long reading!  It really divides into three sections, and I’m only able to print the first and third here, but if you are able please try to read it all.  The missing link is the account of the Pharisees investigating the healing of the man born blind, including interviewing his mother and father, and shows us something of how those who can physically see can at the same time be blind to the ways of God.

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind  As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.   Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”  But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”  10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.    11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.  I don’t know,” he said.                                                                         ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”  37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”  41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Song – StF 246 or HP 455 Christ is the world’s light, Christ and none other


“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 

I confess to only really noticing this little interchange in preparing for this service.  It has always been there, and I must have read the story many times over the years, but I hadn’t seen it.  I think I notice it now because today is Mothers’ Day, and here is an unnamed mother, with her husband, drawn into the Pharisees’ intrigue as they investigate what is, in their eyes, the illegal healing of this particular mother’s son.

‘Is this your son?’  With apologies to my two sons, who I love dearly, I can bring to mind instances when my response would be a troubled ‘What’s he done now?’  Thankfully, there are many other occasions when a proud ‘Yes he is’ would be the reply!

What tone does this mother hear in the question, and give in her answer I wonder?  The context is ambiguous, with a sense of threat perhaps tempered by wonder at the healing. Although there is ambiguity too in the miracle – a consequence of which would be the loss of the ability of her son to beg a living, and the need to find a new way in life.   I want to assume that a mother’s joy at her son’s healing would outweigh any such consideration, perhaps a naïve assumption, but I choose to hold it.

So I’m hearing some pride and delight in the mother’s answer – yes he’s our son, yes he was born blind, yes he can now see!     But also some caginess when asked how it is that he can now see – we don’t know, ask him yourself.   You can hear it as self-interest, not wanting to put themselves at risk, or you can read it as respecting the right of the son to tell his own story.

Perhaps this mother and her husband play a helpful part in this story, standing as they do between the son who could not see, but who in meeting Jesus has had his eyes and heart opened, and the Pharisees, who could see, but not beyond their own prejudice and small-mindedness, in what should have been the light of something wonderful and amazing.  

These parents acknowledge their son, but fail to acknowledge the one who healed him.  In doing so, they create the opportunity for the son to reflect further and offer more as his vision of the one who healed him grows  and develops – ‘If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ This declaration is enough to get him thrown out of the synagogue, and one wonders how his mother reacted to such treatment of her son.

The reaction of Jesus to this expulsion is to seek him out, and gently open his eyes to the full reality before him.  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”   “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”  Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”  Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.’

The young man has been given more than sight.  And the Pharisees have been given a warning – they have been shown a glimpse of the light of God but have chosen not to see – they are unable to look beyond their own power and self-interest, and so they miss the marvelous.

We don’t know what happens with the mother and father of the man who can now see, and whether they meet the one who put mud on their son’s eyes and opened them. But I like to think they do, perhaps even welcoming him to rest a while, to sit at their table, to break the bread, that he might open their eyes also.

As we reflect on this story, let’s confess the Pharisee within, too caught up in our own stuff to notice the miracles around us. Let’s recognise in the mother and father something of the ambiguity of family life, sometimes finding ourselves in situations we haven’t chosen but in which we need to do our best. And let’s walk with the young man who is ready to have his eyes opened, looking to see more and more of God’s grace in the everyday.                                Amen.

Song – StF 451 Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, open the eyes of my heart


For those struggling with lack of vision, and those working to open our eyes, through medicine, through education, through science, through relationship, through art, through love

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see     

For those struggling with change, and those seeking to midwife us into the new reality, through careful listening, through sensitive words, through good advice, through gentle example

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see

For those caught in the midst of conflict, and those helping us to negotiate a safe path, through wise counsel, through generous peace making, through courageous truth-telling

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see

For those facing the loss of place, home, identity, and those striving to open doors and offer refuge, through charitable generosity, through political activity, through selfless hospitality

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see

For mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and grandchildren and grandparents and siblings and carers and neighbours and friends and everybody who gives and receives value and meaning in human relationship, through time shared, through love dared, through gifts given and words spoken

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see

For church, for this place and these people, and those who carry responsibility.  May we take our duties seriously, but not be overburdened by them.  May we uphold one another in love.  May we not allow the busyness and business of church life to blind us to the marvelous miracles you reveal day by day

Lord, touch our eyes and let us see

In the name of Jesus, Light of the world, we pray.                  Amen.

We bring our prayers together, as we pray, with all God’s people, the Lord’s Prayer.

Song – StF 441 As Water to the thirsty, as beauty to the eyes

We go in peace, in the power of the Spirit, to live and work to God’s praise and glory. Amen.

We bless one another, and all those we have brought to mind this day, as we share the Grace: 

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and always.  Amen.         

(CCLI 1094975. Service prepared by Rev’d Nick Blundell 8 Cecil Ave, BD17 5LH.)

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