Sunday Worship – 22nd January 2023

(All our songs this morning are from 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 Thornton Methodist Church, and led by John Darnbrook, one of our Circuit Local Preachers.

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

Theme – Do what you can for God – we can all do something! 

Call to worship

We are here to meet with God and to worship him as the one who called his own Son to fulfil the Scriptures through his life and death.

We gather to praise God, to worship him, thank him for all that he has done for us … and to think about, what we can do for him. For the theme I’ve chosen for this morning’s service is “Do what you can for God – we can all do something!”

From our Bible readings today we will hear that the Church of Christ has many parts, many different people, many different characters, and that we should work together to do his will. Working in unity to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, which is what we sing in our first hymn …

Song Hymn H&P 806 – What shall our greeting be?


Think back, exactly three weeks for me, if you would. Did any of you make any New Year’s resolutions? I wonder how you’re getting on, three weeks later?! Would you like to share with us what they were? And how are you doing at keeping them? Not many people do these days, do they?

Normally, New Year’s resolutions are about things we’d like to do better. “I’d like to . . . . lose a bit of weight / go swimming more often / get fitter” etc. Sometimes, people make a resolution to change part of their character. “I’m going to try to be more patient / less argumentative / more organised” etc.

One of those characteristics may be to be more helpful – something we could all aim to be. And being more helpful could apply, not just to the people around us, our friends, family, colleagues etc. It could also be, that we aim to be more helpful to God. Now then, wouldn’t it be good if we all made that as our New Year’s resolution, and were able to keep it – not just for three weeks, but all the time?! Remember our theme for this morning’s service? Do what you can for God – we can all do something!

I love an acronym, as I find they help me to remember things. And so in preparation for this service I looked up acronyms for the word help. And it could stand for something as dull as a Home Equity Loan Programme, or a High Efficiency Low Pressure hot water system. It could even stand – for those who like their rock music – for Hendrix, Emerson, Lake and Palmer!

But two acronyms for help that I really like are: His Ever Loving Presence, and especially Hope, Encouragement, Love and Patience. If we are to do what we can to help God, then we would do well to always be aware of His Ever Loving Presence as we try and spread to those around us: Hope, Encouragement, Love and Patience!

Let’s think about how we can be more helpful to God as we come to him in prayer.


Let us pray. Let us praise the Lord our God. Let us thank the Lord, the giver of all good things. Let us offer to the Lord our hearts and minds. Let us follow the Lord with all our strength: God of all life, whose Spirit builds the world, God of all people, who rescues us from death, Jesus Christ, whose Spirit lives in our hearts, Jesus Christ, who brings good news to every nation: we praise you. For ever and ever, your faithful people praise you.

Lord, we confess before you that we have not always followed our calling: we have not always served you as we should, we have not helped or cared for others as often as we should. We fall short in so many ways, putting ourselves above others. We have come to say that we are sorry as we call to mind our shortcomings …

Forgiving God, hear us as we bring all that we are and all that we have been. We celebrate when we have shared our lives, our time, our talents, our wealth and our wisdom willingly in your service . . . and confess when we have not.

We celebrate when we have given of ourselves to others, when we have seriously considered what we can do to help you . . . and confess when we have not.

We celebrate when we have spoken to others kindly and with love, sharing the Hope, the Encouragement, the Love and the Patience we receive from you with them . . . and confess when we have not.

We thank you Lord God for hearing our confessions, for forgiving us, and for strengthening and equipping us to do better in future.

We bring all our prayers to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Song – Hymn (H&P) 135 – Go tell it on the mountain

Young people leave

Lord God, bless these young people and their leaders as they leave us now. May they discover for themselves what they can do for you and how they can live out their faith in you, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Gospel Reading

Luke 4:14-21

Epistle Reading

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Song – (H&P) 776 – Make me a channel of your peace


He stood up to read the Scriptures and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written – Isaiah 61:1-2 – The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.

He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him. He said to them, “This passage of Scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read.”

I wonder what it must have been like for Jesus to read out his own calling, his own mission from God his Father. What a moment that must have been for Jesus. What an impact it must have had, on him and on those who heard and saw him fulfilling Scripture right in front of their eyes.

Jesus knew what his mission was, what he had been called to do for God, and he was determined to follow that calling and see the will of his Father fulfilled.

As we, Jesus’ followers, come to church (or follow a written service online or in printed form) on a Sunday, are we aware of our calling, our mission from God? Do we do what we can for God? For we know from my theme for today, that we can all do something!

So then, three points for us to consider this morning. What is our calling from God? How do we know if we are fulfilling God’s will? And what will be the consequences of doing so?

Point 1: So firstly, what is our calling from God? The answer to that question will be different for each person. For as Paul wrote to the Corinthians – when he was describing the Church as the Body of Christ – “Christ is like a single body which has many parts. All of you are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it”

We all have our own unique role to play in fulfilling God’s will in and through our lives. What one person can do for God another person may find impossible. What one person may have been given the skills and enthusiasm to excel at, another person may find difficult or boring.

We are not all called to be hands, or eyes, or feet – in other words to carry out exactly the same role for God as someone else. For God calls us to our own individual role for him. He has a plan that fits our lives, our skills, our characteristics, our nature – but his plan for you will be different to his plan for you or his plan for me. Different too, from his plan for those reading this service in their own homes.

The important point from our Gospel reading is that Jesus recognised God’s calling, God’s mission for him, and he was determined to fulfil it, even though it led to his own death on the cross.

The important point for us therefore, is to recognise our own calling … and be determined to fulfil it by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. So what is your calling from God?

Only you can answer that. Other people may have their own ideas, their own opinions of what work you should be doing for God, but they are not you, living your life, in your circumstances, with your own unique, individual nature. Only you can hear what God is saying to you – deep in your own heart. And if you listen, you will hear him calling you.

It will come as no surprise to you to know that I feel called by God to be a Local Preacher – to prepare and deliver acts of worship and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ within the Methodist Church. I’ve been doing it for nearly 30 years now (I’d try and joke that I must have started when I was about 10, but I don’t think I can get away with that now!) and I do genuinely feel called to do this for God.

It was a calling that I actually heard in my teenage years; that I tested out as I moved into my twenties; and I still feel that calling today.

But many people over those years have said that I should candidate for full time ministry. I’m flattered! They see something in my preaching – maybe God speaks to them through one of my sermons – and they think that I would be good as “Reverend John Darnbrook”! Not thinking that to be a Minister in the Methodist Church is so much more than being able to preach a good sermon!

Nope! The only calling I have ever felt from God in this sense, is to Local Preaching. I have never, ever felt called by God to full time ministry. I think I’d run a mile if I was! For I don’t think I have the skills, the personality, the desire to be a Reverend.

God seems to like me being a Local Preacher – and whilst it’s hard work on top of an ordinary job and my commitment to cricket coaching and all things Sam Darnbrook! – if that’s how I can fulfil my calling from God, then that’s fine by me.

The important point is that I have recognised that calling and accepted it and followed it through. To the point where God can use me to stand in front of a congregation with the challenge – what is your calling from God? Only you can know. Have you recognised it, have you accepted it and are you following it through, living it out, fulfilling the will of God in your life?

So my first point, what is our calling from God? If I am a hand or a foot – I guess I’m more likely to be a mouth! – then you may be an eye, with vision, or an ear, with listening skills, or a shoulder, for someone to cry on. Know who you are, know what you are in God’s eyes, listen to him and recognise what he is calling you to do for him – and it may change over time, it may be different now from what it was a few years ago – recognise it and act upon it. For then the will of God will be fulfilled in you just as it was in Jesus himself.

And so for my second point: How do we know if we are fulfilling God’s will? It’s alright me saying “listen to God”, “recognise his calling”, “fulfil his will” – but how do we know if we are doing that? Don’t worry, God will let you know.

My professional career has always been in commercial insurance, and many years ago, I remember saying to my Underwriting Manager (who I will treasure forever, for all the things he taught me), “You’ve been in insurance longer than I’ve been alive!” Well, that comment has turned full circle, as in the insurance company I now work for, I am the Underwriting Manager and yes, I have been in insurance for more years than many of my staff have been alive!

But as I come towards the end of my career, I’m grateful to be in a job I thoroughly enjoy. It’s different to all those years ago, when I was the youngster. I’m working with different people, doing some similar but quite a lot of different work; using the skills I have developed over the years in different ways as I face new challenges.

But I feel that I am in the right place. Over the years I’ve been with this particular company, I’ve received good feedback from my colleagues and my manager and I feel I am a much more relaxed person than when I worked elsewhere. There are many things that tell me that this is right for me. Probably the most poignant was when my wife Caroline told me I am much easier to live with these days and a much happier person. To the extent that one of my Christmas presents from her at the time was a tin of Mr Happy mints! That got the point home!

And it’s that kind of encouragement that I’m talking about with doing God’s will. I’m not saying that what I do for a living is the full extent of God’s will for me. But maybe he wants me to be in that place to influence those people, for him. Certainly he has made me feel much happier and more at ease since starting there.

And whatever way God calls you to work for him – if you recognise and accept that calling and follow it through – then he will give you good feedback, positive encouragement, a good feeling, to confirm that you are doing his will. I’m not saying life will be easy – Jesus never said that to his disciples. But in your inner self, you’ll know it’s right.

God will never call you to do something for him, and then leave you to struggle on your own. That is not God’s way at all. He will equip you for the task, and if you listen carefully, confirm to you that you are in the right place and doing the right thing.

Just as our calling is unique to each one of us, so the way God chooses to confirm that we are doing his will, is individual to each person. But he will give us that confirmation, that encouragement, if we are open to receiving it.

For God loves it when we choose to accept his mission, and so he does encourage us, because he wants us to achieve our full potential – as people, as his followers, as those who have chosen to accept his will for our lives.

Which brings me to my third and final point: What will be the consequences of accepting and fulfilling God’s calling?

Well as we heard from St Paul, if we each act on our calling and work together for the good of the Church, for the good of Christ, to the glory of God; if we avoid looking down on other people, and see each person as a child of God and with worth and value to God – each person, every single person here and out there as having value to God; if we work to end our divisions, in our churches and in our society; then we will be affirmed by God in the work we do, and we will see, feel and know that we are doing God’s work.

And that … that makes you feel good!

It’s appraisal time at work at the moment. If a manager at work tells you you have done a good job, it makes you feel good, and of value. And what happens next? You want to hear that again, and so you continue to work hard. A good manager will always make time to tell his or her staff when they have done well.

And it’s the same with God. When we know we are doing his will, and we feel good about it, then if we look carefully at the signs around us, and we listen carefully to the voice of God speaking to us, we will hear him say to us, “well done”. And that will lead us on in our journey with him, on to greater works for him, because we want to continue pleasing him and hearing his affirmation of our work for him.

In conclusion therefore: I note from the Circuit Plan that you had a Covenant Service here at Thornton last week, where you will have made promises to God to live and work to his glory, in any way God chooses for you.

Today’s Bible readings encourage us to continue thinking about our Covenant promises: Christ has many services to be done, and the power to do these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.

In that Covenant Service, you may well have prayed: Eternal God, in your faithful and enduring love, you call us to share in your gracious covenant in Jesus Christ. In obedience we hear and accept your commands; in love we seek to do your perfect will; with joy we offer ourselves anew to you. We are no longer our own but yours.

And now, a week later, God continues to challenge us to hear his commands, to accept his calling – individual to each person – and to live out his will.

For he will then affirm us in our work for him – we will know that what we are doing is right. And that will lead us on into greater acts of witness to his wonderful love and his redeeming grace. And true joy will be ours!

So do what you can for God – think about what you can do to help God; to show Hope, Encouragement, Love and Patience to other people. Because we can all do something! Amen!

Song – (H&P) 745 – O thou who camest from above

Prayers of intercession

Let us pray. Heavenly Father we come to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, who heard your calling, accepted your mission and served you all his earthly life, even to the point of death on a cross. So help us to do what we can for you. Open our ears, our eyes and our hearts to your calling; live within us by the power of your Holy Spirit, so that when we hear you calling us, we can and will respond – for we know that we can all do something to spread your love to others.

Loving Lord, grant us today purity of intention, the energy of simplicity, the confidence of our calling, the unity of integrity, the authority of servanthood, the obedience of faith, the urgency of hope, and the voice of love.

And we pray now for those in need. Lord, we offer you our prayers for the world in which we live. We pray for the poor, those living in slums on the edges of many big cities – in circumstances we can barely imagine; and those that are poor, because they do not know you. Please guide us and show us how to bring good news to the poor, both physically and spiritually.

We pray for those held prisoner, especially those held unjustly, perhaps as hostages, and those held prisoner by addictions and habits. Please guide us and show us how to bring release to prisoners, both physically and spiritually.

We pray for the blind: for those who physically cannot see, and those who cannot see the love that is around them. Please guide us and show us how to bring sight to the blind both physically and spiritually.

We pray for the oppressed: for those who are not well, those who cannot be with us today.

We ask your blessing on all those for whom we have prayed. And we thank you for hearing our prayers, which we bring to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Dedication for our Offering

Lord God, we are grateful for all the blessings we receive from you, and for all the ways in which you transform our lives for the better. So we bring you our gifts of money, in the offering plate or by whatever other means we give. Take all that we offer, our money and our lives, and use it to the glory of your name. Amen.

Song – (H&P) 774 – Lord thy church on earth is seeking


Live out your life as Christ your Lord shall choose. We go, to fulfil our calling, to live and work to the glory of God. Amen!

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