Sunday Worship – 22nd October 2023

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) Hymns & Psalms (H&P) or Mission Praise (MP) 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 which has been prepared by Rev Christine Crabtree.

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

Call to worship

God, who looks deep into our hearts,
help us to look beneath the surface of our lives and offer ourselves to you.
God, who promises hidden treasures,
help us to look around, and dig beneath the surface, and celebrate what comes to light.

Our Methodist Prayer Handbook theme for this year is Hidden Treasures, and this service explores that theme.  We think of the beauty of God, and of us human beings who are unable to see the fullness of it, as we sing:

Song – StF 11 or H&P 7 or MP 237 – Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!

Prayers of approach

God, you are all around us; there is no place where you are not.
You fill the earth with your glory. 
We can see signs of you in creation, and in the care shown by one person for another. 
The smallest creature, the highest mountain, speak of your creativity.
The love in the eyes of a parent helping their child shows us how you have shared yourself with us.
Yet at times we need to look for you:
when times are hard;
or prayers are unanswered;
or when we know there is more of you than we have yet discovered.
Help us to look for you in unexpected places
so that you might surprise us with your presence
and give us a bigger picture.
May this time of worship bring us to know you a little more.
In the name of Jesus who loves us and reveals you to us, Amen.


Isaiah 45:1-7

Inside the Methodist Prayer Handbook, the President and Vice-President of Conference 2023-34, Gill Newton and Kerry Scarlett, write:

The words of Isaiah 45:3 were spoken to people experiencing huge disruption, conflict and challenge.  Likewise, God is with us in our challenging times.  Even in the midst of uncertainty, we hear stories of how people have encountered God at work in unexpected places, and amongst unexpected people.  Finding these hidden treasures and riches in our churches and communities can help us to rediscover a sense of hope about what lies ahead and find a renewed calling to see where God is at work and join in (missio Dei).

It is perhaps deeply prophetic to hope for “treasures and riches” whilst also acknowledging that the dominant narrative around us is that of decline, fragility and vulnerability.  As we are reminded in Romans 8:22-29 and Psalm 139, sometimes the potential and breadth of the riches of God’s work remain unknown for a long time, as if performing the hidden work of gestation before coming to birth. 

To continue to follow God in these uncertain times means having the courage to recognise that the Church we are called to become may look different to what we are used to.  Yet, even as new church communities and gatherings are forming in exciting and different ways, they carry with them some of our ‘Methodist DNA’ – the treasures of our distinctive Methodist tradition and heritage.

Our hope and prayer is that we will all be open to seeing the treasures revealed to us in our own contexts.

Questions to ponder:
What hidden treasures are you aware of, in your church community, neighbourhood, or in Bradford as a whole?
How might God use things we don’t think of as specifically Christian to reach others, in the same way that he used Cyrus to achieve his aims? What is growing under the surface, ready for the right time?  Are you aware of any of the plans for Bradford 2025, for example?  How might being City of Culture give us opportunities to tell people about God? How many ways can you think of, of sharing the message – e.g. music, drama, dance, etc?

If treasures are hidden, we need to search for them.  Listen to the song ‘I searched for you’ by Martyn Joseph about searching for God.  You can find it on YouTube at:

I searched for you – words and music by Martyn Joseph
from the album “Sanctuary”- Martyn Joseph © Pipe Records 2015
lyrics reproduced with permission

The heart is a mystery
stumble out of bed each day and struggle to be free
stood by an ocean raging blue
a big wave cracked the sidewalk and I fell down there with you
fell in with you

I scoured the land and the sunset glow
you think you know, my friend, you just don’t know
that’s why the heart is a mystery
break it in two and you’ll see things you couldn’t see before

I searched for you
found and lost you on the way
I searched for you
over the hill of a better day
I searched for you
in every mile I couldn’t comprehend
and I searched for you
and I’ll do it again

Should only frame you in a metaphor
not cast you off in our own image any more
big questions etched across the sky
the weight and reason of everything we’d like to know

and I searched for you …

Saw the blessing, saw the curse
I’ve seen my best and I’ve seen my worst
I’ve seen a lot of beauty and I’ve seen a little hate
the great indifference and a twist of fate
Seen a lot of passion and empathy
the power and the greed of the ‘me, me, me’,
Seen a lot of suffering, seen a lot of good
felt the big life love of the neighbourhood
a needle in the arm and the sadness grow
the holy and the hidden and the outcast soul
I’ve seen a lot of surplus but in the wrong place
and in the eyes of the broken I thought I saw your face

And I searched for you
found and lost you on the way
and I searched for you
over the hill of a better day
I searched for you
now I’m stranded here in the passion play
and I searched for you
just give me a sign and I’ll be there straight away
and I searched for you
stood in line till I don’t know again
and I searched for you
every mile I couldn’t comprehend
and I searched for you
and I’ll do it again

The heart is a mystery
stumble out of bed each day and struggle to be free
stood by an ocean raging blue
and I searched for you.

Questions to ponder:
How do you resonate with the song?  Are you aware of searching for God?
Have you found God but think there must be more of God still to be looked for?
Are you aware of having been found by God?~
Martyn sings that thought he saw God’s face in the eyes of the broken.  Where do you think you have seen God’s face?

Let’s give thanks for all the ways we can find God, and help others to find him; and offer our creative gifts to God, as we sing:

Song – StF 726 or H&P 377 – Come to us, creative Spirit


Matthew 22:15-22

When we find our treasures, how do we use them? 

The Pharisees ask how good Jews can pay taxes to Caesar, when the coin has his image on it, which is forbidden; and the tax is allowing Caesar to claim his rule over Israel  – and surely any person proclaiming the kingdom of God, as Jesus was doing, should oppose the Roman occupation.

Jesus asks them to bring him a coin, showing them in this action that they are being hypocritical because they have this currency that they say they despise, in their possession.  He asks them what is on the coin, and tells them to give it (back) to Caesar – ‘paying him back’ sounds like revolutionary talk, but could also mean paying the tax.  And then he tells them to give to God what is God’s, evoking astonishment in his listeners.  Was he saying that the kingdom of God was more important than the Roman overlords, after all?  It is unclear, but Jesus has answered the question in a way that shows he is his own person, and is bringing in the kingdom of God in his own way – not a way of outright revolution but a way that nonetheless asks for our full allegiance.

Questions to ponder:
Jesus says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s – he is not saying that if you do one, you cannot do the other; they are not mutually exclusive.
How do you feel about work done by Christians to further social justice, without overtly talking about God?  Is it the work of the kingdom, or does it fall short?
How can we use the things of this world together with the things of God to further the kingdom of God?

Let’s offer all we are to God as we sing together:

Song – StF 446 or MP 990 – I will offer up my life

Prayers of intercession

Have a look in your newspaper or bring to mind something you have seen on the news, that has made an impression on you. 
Pray about that situation.
See the people in the news; think about their lives.  What is going on for them?
Pray for the victims, and pray for those who have committed the crime.
Pray for families and friends of all those concerned.
Pray for those who will come alongside those who hurt, and who will be affected by it.

Now pray for something closer to your heart, perhaps a family situation of hurt, along the same lines.

Pray for your church and its plans, hopes and dreams; and ask God to help you find the hidden treasures that will help your congregation show the light of Christ.

Pray for yourself, telling God your hopes and fears, and asking God to show you the treasures hidden deep inside of you, and how you can use them.

Join with Christians all over the world in saying together the Lord’s Prayer.

Finally, let’s sing our prayers in the words of:

Song – StF 693 or MP 806 Beauty for brokenness


Lord and Father of us all,
we thank you for our time of worship.
As we draw to a close, help us to consider what we are taking with us from this time,
as we continue to live as your people in the world.
Fan the spark of the Spirit to a flame in our lives,
bringing light and warmth into dark and cold places.
And may your blessing be upon us and all we do,
upon those we love,
and upon your world that waits to see you in all your glory.

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