Sunday Worship – 1st October 2023

(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 which has been prepared by Rev Kerry Tankard the Yorkshire West Methodist District Chair.

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

Call to worship

God hears the needs of his people,
he humbles himself in Christ
and comes to their aid.
Let us receive what God is giving,
let us join in thankful worship,
and receive this perfect gift of love.

Song – StF 65 – Sing of the Lord’s goodness

A Time of Prayer

Eternal and Holy God,
we come before you as part of the Body of Christ,
a loving community,
formed in your image
longing to be worthy to be called your people.

You are the wholly, holy, community
Father, Son and Spirit,
the Lover, the Loved and the Love.
You cannot be divided, broken or destroyed, such is the perfection of your communion.

You were before there was creation,
you are now, amid all you have made,
and your love will persist, even after the final setting of the sun.

Glory, honour, and praise are yours, now and forever.

We cannot gaze on your perfection,
so, you dulled your glory
and revealed yourself in Jesus,
he reached out to us
and gathered us beneath his wing.

In him there is shelter and peace,
comfort and hope,
and by your Spirit he invites us to share in your eternal life.

Glory, honour, and praise are yours, now and forever

You have formed us by grace,
and drawn us, one to another.
You inspire the love we feel
and are the source of the love we know.

We sit in the midst of your love now
and rest in its perfect beauty


Glory, honour, and praise are yours, now and forever.


Let us confess our sins to God:

Perfect Love,
in your presence we recognize our imperfection.
We long to love as you love
and yet there are those who have suffered
by our action and by our neglect.

Perfect Love,
hear the confession of our hearts
and grant us forgiveness,
that we might grow in your likeness.
In the silence we hold our regrets before you . . .


Hear the promises in the word of God:

“Perfect love drives out all fear.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.”
“Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.”

Amen. Thanks be to God.



Exodus 17:1-7


Philippians 2:1-13

Song – StF 489 – All I once held dear


Matthew 21:23-32

A Reflection

I don’t know if you are a fan of Bob Dylan. I know he is not everyone’s taste; in fact, the reality is even his own fans have been known to give him a difficult time.

Back in 1965 he released the album “Bringing it all back home”. What was deemed radical by his fans was that side 1 featured the previously adored folk singer backed by an electric band, though the second side remained more faithful to his previous work. However, when he turned up to play at the Newport Folk Festival, where he had been a huge success in previous years, he was booed by his audience because he was playing with an electric band. The occasion was not unique, in fact when he toured over the next 2 years, playing electric sets, he was booed by members of the audience, and when he performed in Manchester he was subject to the abuse of being called Judas for betraying his folk, acoustic, roots.

Dylan has for many years been a free voice, determined to sing, play, and do what he chooses. People wanted him to be stuck, to remain in a place they could control, but instead he was a free musician who offered what was in him, decade after decade, even to fans who were not always impressed.

You will think of other examples I am sure, but I began with Dylan because he was seen to betray others by his faithfulness to his music and art. He suffers rejection and abuse because he does what he believes to be right.

In the reading from Matthew Jesus is being confronted by leaders because of what he has done. We didn’t read today why they challenged him like they did, but it was because what he had done the day before. He had entered the temple, this supposedly holy place, and been appalled by what he discovered. People profiteering out of selling things to would-be worshippers, trying to be faithful to the observations of their faith. Jesus has run havoc in the temple, and it has not gone down well, not gone down well at all. Now he is back, and the leaders need to work out how to deal with him.

Their strategy is to challenge him, to ask about his authority. It appears a straightforward approach, but it really doesn’t work out that way. They want him to give them a simple answer, “God’s authority”, after which they will turn to parts of scripture and seek to undo his answer, but Jesus is not going to make it that easy. He immediately turns things back to them, a question for a question, and they weren’t ready for that.

By whose authority do you believe that John the Baptist worked?

Now, this is one of those perfect questions, and those being asked know it. The leaders know they are trapped in a question – to say that John’s authority comes from God, casts them as the problem. To say that it wasn’t gives them a whole different problem, the rebellion of the people.

What John did, and what Jesus is now doing creates a problem for the leaders. We can see it, and we stand here pointing an accusing finger at them. There they are standing in the way of God’s will, of God’s authority. The thing is, Jesus also said to us, do not judge, lest you be judged yourself. If we stand pointing an accusing finger at the leaders, then there will be fingers pointing right back at us.

So rather than judging the leaders in the reading, let us look at ourselves. One of the things that can happen in church is that there can be tensions between those longing for change, and those who long for nothing to ever change. I wonder which group you think you are part of. One of the things I shared in recent welcome sermons were these words from the conclusion of the 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits.

“Jesuits are never content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to discover, redefine, and reach out for the ma-gis. [the more/the greater] For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed. Indeed, ours is a holy boldness, ‘a certain apostolic aggressivity,’ typical of our way of proceeding.”

I will just let that settle in, that HOLY BOLDNESS.

Jesus is about HOLY BOLDNESS, of overturing what stands in the way, and the leaders don’t like it. How open are we to the voices calling for change? Don’t get me wrong, change should be for good and right reasons, but so should any attempt to stand in its way.

Who have you know who has come to your church who wanted to enable change? Were they welcome, or rejected? Are they still with you? Was change realised, or is everything still the same? Did they try and offer HOLY BOLDNESS, and was it embraced or rejected?

Dylan knew the time had come for him to offer his music differently, and some of his fans rejected that and turned on him. Jesus had turned over the tables, to invoke a new time and bring about a renewed openness to God, and the leaders had turned on him. How are we being Christ like now, and how are we embracing HOLY BOLDNESS?

Song – StF 504 – May the mind of Christ my saviour

A Time of Prayer

Look around your home at the pictures on the wall, or on shelves:

Who in those pictures has inspired your faith (living or now dead)?
Spend time giving thanks for them, for how they impacted your faith and recall what they were part of changing in you.

Remember people who have journeyed with you in faith:

Who in your memory has inspired your faith (living or now dead)?
Spend time giving thanks for them, for how they impacted your faith and recall what they were part of changing in you.

Let your mind think about the world:

Where do you see people expressing their holy boldness today, or places where it is needed?
Spend time letting God lead you to different places and situations, and pray in response to the guiding of God.

Finally, reflect on your journey:

When has God asked you to be an agent of change, to practise HOLY BOLDNESS, and where is God calling you to act now?
Wait on God and see what arises from your memory, and how God prompts you to new action.

Loving God, thank you for all you have shared with me in prayer, let me be faithful to your prompting, Amen.

Song – StF 662 – Have you heard God’s voice

The Blessing

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