Sunday Worship – 2nd July 2023

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) Mission Praise (MP) and Hymns and 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 St Andrews Methodist Church and led by Rev Phil Drake, our Circuit Superintendent Minister.

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

Call to worship:

God welcomes you.
God receives you with joy today.
Come and receive from God all that you need,
and rejoice that you are one of God’s beloved.

Gathering prayer

Generous God,
we come to this place of worship and hope to be welcomed.
We come to this time of worship and hope to welcome you.
Come amongst us and open our hearts and minds this day,
so that we are ready to receive a word from you,
and ready to receive all whom you love and welcome.
For in doing so we gain a reward more valuable than any this world can offer,
the reward of better knowing you and our fellow human beings.

Song – MP 241 or StF 385 – Holy Spirit, we welcome you

or, StF 409 – Let us build a house where love can dwell

Prayer of confession

Lord, so often our welcome lacks sincerity. The word is
cold on our lips; the smile does not reach our eyes. We are
polite; but there is little warmth in our hearts. Perhaps no
deeds accompany our words, no comfort offered, hospitality withheld.
We ask forgiveness of the One who always receives with open
arms – generous, caring, meeting needs and so much more. We
ask forgiveness from the One who accepts us, unconditionally,
and is never too weary to care.
As we are welcomed, so may we welcome your children in
return, in your name, representing your love and generous nature. 

Assurance of forgiveness

Thank you, O God, for welcoming us even when we do not
deserve it; when we have thought, said and done things that
others would find hard to forgive.
For with you, God, there is always forgiveness. You accept our
flawed humanity, and welcome us back to the fold again and
again when we stray. Thank you for your loving forgiveness,
and for the welcome that encourages us to emulate your

Reading: Matthew 10.40-42

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”


Sometimes – just occasionally! – you get those hot days when a glass of water is a very welcome gift. We have had a few such days recently, and even hotter ones around this time last year. There was one day a number of years ago when my car was not available to me and I was getting around by bike. And nothing’s straightforward – the two places I had to get to were in completely opposite directions from the manse. It was the period of the middle of the day when the sun was at its height – each time I stopped I was hot and sweating – and at each call the first thing that was offered was a glass of cold water. Very refreshing they were too!

It would be easy to underestimate the value of such a gift – a glass of water could so easily be dismissed as a virtually worthless act – water in this country is plentiful (with more rainy days than hot and sunny days?) and it costs virtually nothing to give. Yet on that particular day nothing could have given me greater satisfaction than a simple glass of water.

Perhaps the point to remember about Jesus’ words about a cup of cold water is that Israel is a hot country. A cup of cold water can mean a lot in hot countries, or where water is polluted or scarce. It may seem a throwaway act to us, but in a hot country it will be remembered as an act of kindness.

In terms of Christian mission today’s gospel passage is a reminder that such small actions are very much linked to our witness to our faith. We do not do it for reward, though reward is promised; we are not earning salvation; but we are demonstrating the authenticity of our commitment to Jesus. It is about wanting to live as Jesus lived. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ is especially true of how others assess our faith. How we behave sometimes speaks far louder than what we shout (was not St. Francis reputed to have said, ‘Preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words’?) Maybe it is especially true of our small actions – things which we may hardly be aware of, and would not think that others would hardly notice, yet sometimes these can be the most telling actions of all.

Such small acts can rest at the heart of the gospel message. Small kindnesses mean more than we realise. On one occasion I was watching football on television one evening when there was a ring on the doorbell. When I answered the door there was a woman with a small child stood there with an empty soft drinks bottle in her hand. ‘My car’s broken down,’ she said. ‘The radiator’s got overheated. I haven’t got far to go, but I need to put some more water in.’ So off I went with the bottle to fill it up from the tap, and brought it back to the caller, and she in turn filled up the car radiator. Off she went, and she and her young daughter were able to complete their journey – all because she had been given the gift of some water.

Yet I must say that at the time, I wasn’t without a suspicion about this woman at the door. Because when she asked for some water, I was reminded of an episode when we first moved into the manse in my first appointment, and on the second day we had a caller at the door – a woman with a child who had a hard-up story about needing money, and that whilst they were there, could her daughter have a drink. To this day, I am sure that when my back was turned and I had gone to fetch the drink, the woman was looking around for something to take. Was the caller with the broken-down car was trying to pull the same trick? I don’t think she was, but I am sorry now that my welcome was less than it should have been because of my attitude. She received her gift with a genuine smile, but my gift was not given in the spirit it should have been because of my suspicion – and I was less of a person because of it.

In offering a true welcome we open ourselves to receive of God’s gift to us. I remember once being called in to Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool to administer baptism to a seriously ill infant. It really was a heartbreaking situation for all concerned. I asked the nurse for some water with which to conduct the sacrament, and she returned with water in a flimsy plastic drinking cup because it was all that she could find. ‘Will this be alright?’ she asked. God’s wonderful gift, his free gift of grace in baptism was administered from a plastic drinks cup. Yet the vessel was more than adequate – and we shared in a powerful experience of new life in God. I felt deeply moved by the experience. I had gone to minister to those in need and found myself being ministered to. ‘Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

May we all be blessed in our giving and and receiving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

To think about: Look at this picture. A cup of cold water is a sign of welcome in a hot and dry climate; in the UK we tend to offer cups of tea! If we have a guest, we might show them into a room, turning on the lights and making the space inviting. How might we welcome God?

Prayers of intercession

We pray for those on the fringes of society; 
for those who feel rejected; 
for those who are overlooked; 
for those whom others avoid.
May they know they are welcome in your kingdom.
May they know the welcome of your love.

We pray for those who are lonely.
May they know they are welcome in your kingdom.
May they know the welcome of your love.

We pray for those in prison; especially those kept in isolation.
May they know they are welcome in your kingdom.
May they know the welcome of your love.

We pray for children excluded from school; for their families and those with responsibility for their education.
May they know they are welcome in your kingdom.
May they know the welcome of your love.

Loving God, as you welcome us, may we welcome others with warmth and steadfast love.

Gather up your prayers as you share in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Song – StF 611 – Brother, sister let me serve you

or, H&P 86 or MP 631 – Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord

Acknowledgments: Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Prayers and image taken from Roots resources, copyright Roots For Churches Ltd.

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