Sunday Worship – 29th 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 Baildon Methodist Church which has been prepared by Mervyn Flecknoe one of our Local Preachers and a Lay Pastor at Baildon Methodist Church.

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

Loving God, Loving People, Loving the World


Welcome to this service of worship about our logo tagline, our mission as a church:  Loving God, Loving People, Loving the World, if you ever forget it, have a look at any of our waste or recycling bins, they go out on the street for everyone to see the mission that we claim.  First let us sing…

Song – StF 8 – God with us: Creator, Father,

Prayers:  a prayer for forgiveness

Spirit of Love, we long to become more loving creatures ourselves.  Too often, we have nursed our wrath to keep it warm.  Too often we have revelled in our belief that someone else has deliberately harmed us or our family.  Too often, we have gone to bed unforgiving and unforgiven, leaving poison to accumulate overnight.  What fools we mortals be!  We seek the happiness that comes from abandoning frowning, hatred, suspicion, and greed;  the happiness that comes from smiling, loving, sharing, laughing, and from generosity to others.  We wish to open our hearts to your spirit of love and repent our time wasted on recrimination, envy, and rage.  Hold our hands as we travel to a happier, more loving, life.  Amen.

Song – StF 499 – Great God, your love has called us here

Lectionary Reading:

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”


During April 2010, a group, chosen to represent the various groups in our church, met several times to produce a mission statement as the basis of a ten-year plan for improvements.  This mission is on our logo, on every document, and on all the waste and recycling bins that we put into the street every week.  This is the mission: Loving God, Loving People, Loving the World

To show you what a narrow escape we had, here are the nine other starting suggestions: 

  1. We worship together;  We serve together those whom we can reach;  We support others who work with those whom we cannot reach
  2. The World is our parish – we welcome you all;  Our Church is a family – here you will find love
  3. Love for you, Love for me, Love for those who enter, Love for those overseas
  4. Love is our answer What was your question again?
  5. Enfolded by the Spirit of God Our family welcomes you
  6. Seeking to emulate the life of Jesus
  7. We promote peace, We seek resolution, We offer love, We tread lightly on the Earth
  8. Working for a better world as children of the Spirit
  9. Ransomed, Healed, Restored, Forgiven;  enough about us, now it’s your go!
  10. Loving God, Loving People, Loving the World

In retrospect, did we make the right decision?  If you had to choose a mission statement for your church, what would it be?  We wonder all the time:  does this statement describe how our church behaves?  Does this mission statement apply to us now?  Would visitors to our church recognise the connection between what we profess and what we do?

The mission of our church should tell us what the Church is about.  What is the point of it?  Who would miss our church if it became a carpet warehouse? 

Another question:  why so many mentions of the word “Love” in the nine suggestions that we started out with?

What do we mean by “Loving God”?  Ten years ago, this church embarked on an adventure called Jesus-Shaped People, and the tag line then was “Everything you need to be a Christian and nothing you don’t”.  When we renew this mission in January, we have changed the tagline to “Getting to the heart of Christian living”.  Is this the same as our effort to Love God?

The Greeks had at least nine words for love, each with its own meaning.  What can it mean when we say that we love:

A homeless family
A bully?
An orphan in Libya?
A father in an overcrowded inflatable crossing the English Channel to find work in the UK?
A lifetime partner?
One’s own child
One’s own parent?
A dog?~
And is “Falling in Love” the same use of the word?

Song – StF 691 – What shall our greeting be: Sign of our Unity

Scripture Reading: 

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 

A conversation between St Paul and the preacher

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 
Hey, I am a preacher, mate! 
My stock-in-trade is angelic ecstasy and human eloquence. 
That may just be my fantasy but should the consequence
Be that my heart should be holding love, not hate, for anyone?

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day…
Well that’s easy to say,
But God simply does not shower these gifts like rain.
The Bible’s not just history, my job’s to help the meaning flower,
To tell what truth remains for us when this world stains our lives,
To wield the knives that cut the cord
That keeps us from the Lord and all his work.
I have to do that all with love?

I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps,
But if I don’t love, when push does come to shove,
I’m just a lump of rock that blocks the fountain of God’s grace.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
Although I feel that I must share,
The wealth I have, to show I care
On a scale from 1-10 of Christian Love, it just nowhere.

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.~
Well, Heavens above! 
Tell me more about this Holy Dove

Love never gives up.
What? I have to keep this loving-cup
Flowing with goodness to those who spurn His grace,
Unknowing of the joy that’s growing in the heart
When we take part with Jesus in this human race?

Love cares more for others than for self.
Now that’s a problem even Santa’s elf can’t crack.
Just putting into a sack a gift for someone in a war zone
May save their family from the blood and mud,
But fortunately does nothing to setback
My own progress into my comfort zone.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
The basis of our whole society
Is making people want what they can see.
If you, then me!
Why shouldn’t I be taking all the nice things I can afford?
Please tell me, Lord!
I can’t agree to do without stuff to that degree.

Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,”
But what about my thirst for the admiration of other people?
What’s the worst that can befall my vanity? 
Is it inhumanity? 
Or denying my Christianity? 
Is swank really just profanity?

Love doesn’t fly off the handle,
I just can’t hold a candle to those who stay so calm
Whilst enduring harm,
Like St Paul who took it all on the chin
And refused the sin of anger.

Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
What?  Not even the sins of sisters and brothers? 
Not even politicians, intent on keeping their positions,
Whilst ignoring all their missions
To help the poor?

Love doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Oh come off it, this is surely far too novel! 
We all enjoy a revel,
Especially when those who seem to be on the level,
Are found to be in cohort with the Devil.

Love takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth,
I used to think this in my youth,
But now I find it is a bit more complicated,
When lies and obfuscation are celebrated,
And infamy located,
Right in the seat of power.

Love puts up with anything, Love trusts God always, Love always looks for the best, Love never looks back, But keeps on going to the end. 
Well, send me on a course
If I’m to be a source of inspiration
On the practice of Love for younger generations. 
I will really try to keep this ethic,
But, right now, I’m feeling just a bit pathetic,
Maybe I need to follow Jesus,
Who from our sins will free us,
As towards a life of love He sees us travel.

This is not comfortable or easy advice to follow.  It requires us constantly to examine our motives, our actions, our relationships, to make sure that they are based on love.

As for our politics, we can be tempted unconsciously to switch off any thought of love when we go to the polls.  The newspapers, the TV and Radio, every political flyer through our letterboxes will all appeal to our lower natures.  We will constantly be assailed by candidates telling us that they will provide what we want.  In this sort of atmosphere, it is difficult to remember that we are trying to be people shaped by our contact with Jesus.  When we make decisions, those decisions should benefit wider humanity, even our “enemies”.  Our decisions should aim to benefit the other organisms that share this planet with us.

As for the “Loving the World” bit, we have a difficulty here.  I could probably make you feel guilty about the catastrophic heating of the planet, I could surely tell you of the predictions that several billion of the seven billion people on this planet will lose their lives by the deliberate acts of ourselves, and others who have high carbon footprints.  But would this do any good?  What effect can any one of us have?  Nothing will happen whilst the newsreader can go from a dire warning about the future straight into a cheerful:  “Now to other news, a man has beaten the world record for eating pork pies…” or some such trivia about a celebrity.  Sadly, there will be no change until the whole of the affluent world becomes as frightened as the poorest are now, as we were with COVID, so that all other subjects are relegated, and draconian measures are put in place with broad agreement.  However, when your grandchildren ask you the modern equivalent of, so what did you do in the war, Daddy?  How will we be able to answer?  That, as followers of Jesus, we held respect for creation and tried to limit our damaging effect on it?

Song –  StF 242 – A new commandment I give unto you

Prayers for our mission

Loving Lord, we wish to leave this world a better place for passing through it.  We ask that you oversee all our living, so that we constantly measure our behaviour, our thoughts, our speech, our actions, against the standard of the love that you showed to those around you.  We thank you for the positive examples of living that we see amongst those whom we admire, and we regret that we do admire some who are profligate and selfish.  We thank you for all those who sustain your work here with gifts of money, of time, and of expertise.  We thank you for all the smiles we receive each day and for those we donate to others.  Bless the people of this church in all their works, so that this neighbourhood be better for the church being here.

The Lord’s Prayer

Song – StF 44 – Come on and celebrate his gift of love

Final Blessing

Come with us, Lord Jesus;
Fill us with your Spirit;
Shape us to your likeness;
Use us to enfold with love our needy world.

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