Sunday Worship – 2nd October 2022 – A Methodist Way of Life

Welcome to this month’s online service. The service is led by myself, Rev. David Goodall, and my colleague Anna Bland. We are both part of the team at Leeds Sanctuary, the Methodist Church in the City Centre of Leeds. I also work across the Yorkshire West District helping churches and circuits to be more intentional about their mission and discipleship through A Methodist Way of Life. This month we are reflecting on the Methodist Way of Life commitment ‘We will care for creation and all God’s gifts’, part of the Learning and Caring section of A Methodist Way of Life. It is a commitment which helps us to respond to God’s call to care for the world, a call which is more important than ever in this time of the Climate Emergency.

Call to Worship:
Creator God, maker of heaven and earth,
as we begin this act of worship, in churches, in our homes,
on our own, with others, send your creative spirit upon us,
that we may worship you in spirit and in truth, and through this worship be inspired,
to care for your creation and all your good gifts. Amen.

Song – Come Ye Thankful People Come (H&P 355, StF 123, MP 106)

Prayers of Adoration and Confession:
In bright light and dull darkness
In the energy of each day and the rest that comes with night
We remember the goodness of God
In the heavens high above our heads
In waters that run deep around the world
We remember the goodness of God
In solid land and flowing seas
In vivid flowers and fruit laden-trees
We remember the goodness of God
In the rising and setting of the sun and the cycles of the seasons
In the patterns of the shining stars
We remember the goodness of God
In oceans teeming with fish
In skies filled with birds
We remember the goodness of God
In a world filled with animal life
And in ourselves as human beings
We remember the goodness of God

And God looked and saw all that he had made,
and indeed it was very, very good.
In rest and reflection, in wonder and worship
We remember the goodness of God. Amen

A prayer of confession:
When we are unkind to people, and forget they are God’s children,
When we are careless with the beasts, and forget they are God’s creation,
When we ill-treat the land, and forget the splendour of God,
Forgive us, O God of love, and reconcile us to yourself, to one another and to the Creation.
Teach us that the earth and all its fullness is yours, the world and all who dwell in it.
Remind us that your Son too enjoyed the fruits of the harvest in Galilee and joins us now as we celebrate
your good gifts together. Call us again to safeguard the gift of life, now and forever. Amen

Taken from:

Reading – Genesis 1:26-28
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

Song – How Great Thou Art (MP 506, StF 82)

Reading – Matthew 21:28-32
‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Conversation between David and Anna
Of all the Methodist Way of Life commitments, ‘we will care for creation and all God’s gifts’ is probably the one I find most difficult. I am not the most natural green warrior and am very willing to admit that I am not the most green-fingered, enjoy my meat, prefer to drive than to use public transport and at times find the various options for recycling frustrating! However, I cannot ignore the fact that caring for God’s creation is a key part of being a disciple of Jesus and we are living in the context of a climate emergency so each of us has to play our part in caring for creation and all God’s gifts.

Our reading from Genesis comes from the creation narrative, the opening chapters of the Bible which seek to capture and record for us to earliest parts of creation. For me and many Biblical commentators, Genesis 1 and 2 are not a scientific account of the detail of creation but a record of what happened in the broadest sense and most importantly to tell us about God and what God was seeking through creation.
In the verses we heard earlier we are reminded that humankind was created to live on the earth, created to enjoy the earth with God and to have dominion over the earth with God. These verses remind us that humankind was not created to do whatever we want but created to be fruitful and multiply in our dominion over, our caring of the earth. Humankind was of course not created to be separate from God but to work in partnership with God.

This partnership with God is for me the greatest comfort when I wonder how I can be part of caring for creation and all God’s gifts. It is a reminder that the call to care is one of living in partnership with God and with other humans. I do not need to solve the climate emergency myself but I do have to play my part.

Anna, I wonder if you could share with us a little about how you feel about playing your part in caring
for creation and all God’s gifts?

I think I would reflect an awful lot of what you have shared David about it being really quite hard. There are lots of decisions we need to make in light of the Climate Emergency. One of the things I struggle with is the sense of overwhelm and apathy. Can I really make a difference as one person? But reflecting on what you said, David, we have a responsibility as Christians. Our relationship with God will lead and inform us to make decisions to care for creation and we see that in A Methodist Way of Life.

For me prayer has been an important part of how I deal that apathy and some of those more difficult emotions which have come up in response to what I have read and what I have seen as I read about the Climate Emergency. It has been a place of lament and anger but also a place of comfort. A reminder that God is a God of hope and that the story of Jesus is hopeful story and that is what we are brought into as Christians. When I can move beyond the apathy and lament and anger, which are all very natural responses which perhaps you have, I can find comfort and hope in my relationship with God.

As Anna has acknowledged, as the Methodist Way of Life commitment reflects (and as I mentioned earlier) as disciples we do have a part to play in caring for creation. But, that can feel overwhelming can’t it, the problem can see so huge we can’t easily see what we are supposed to do. At times I think that means we can fall into the trap of the parable that we heard earlier. Jesus tells the story of a man with two sons who he asks to go and work in the vineyard. One son says he will not go to work but then does, the other says he will but then he does not. Jesus asks the question which of these two individuals does the Father’s will – and those listening say the first, the one who actually takes action and goes into the vineyard. There is much that we could say about this parable and there are many layers to it but taking it most simply, what is important is the action and not our words about the action we might take. If we are not careful we can find ourselves talking and talking about caring for creation with many good intentions but doing very little, where what is important is that we do something, we play our parts remembering it is not for us to solve it all. In my own discipleship it has been doing small things that has helped me to do more. Working in Leeds City Centre I have committed to using the bus rather than driving into the city, this has led me to explore public transport more beyond Leeds and recently as a family we chose to get the train to a family wedding rather than drive. I’m not an eco-warrior yet but I’m taking action which will make a difference, however small which is important to the world and to God.

Anna can you tell us some of the ways you live out this commitment, some of the actions you take?

So I think my answer to this is twofold. In my role here at Leeds Sanctuary I have the privilege of running the Leeds Craftivist group which is a wonderful group of passionate campaigners who use craft and creatively as their form of activism and campaigning. That is a gentle form of activism where we do a lot of saying thank you and a lot of positive reinforcement as we as asking for the change we want to see. We do it through gift giving and as part of that group we have done a range of different things around this topic. We have looked at ethical fashion, banking, how we heat our home, what we can do in our gardens to help with bio diversity and would help locally with nature and reducing carbon footprint. Alongside these more individual changes we’ve been asking for corporate change with banks, the government and various companies and organisation to think about what they are doing about their carbon footprint, often making quite specific asks.

Personally, I have also been on a real journey with this and being part of the Leeds craftivists has certainly been an inspiring and hopeful place to make some of those decisions. I have been a vegetarian for years and am not particularly attached to meat so that wasn’t a hard decision for me to make, but I’ve moved banks and I think very carefully where I buy my clothes and often go second hand. Some of those lifestyle choices as consumers are some of the things I have been thinking about recently.

Thank you, Anna. In his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel one of the things Ivor Jones pick up on from this parable is the son who did the will of his Father was the son who was willing to recognise his mistakes and correct them. I think this is really helpful perspective on the parable and one which speaks into this Methodist Way of Life Commitment. There will be times all of us have thought, spoken or acted in ways that were not in the best interest of creation, that’s the reality of life and the world we live in. The question is will we continue to do that, or will we individually and corporately be willing to recognise our inaction or wrong action and act differently in the future.

If we are going to live out this commitment to care for creation and all God’s gifts we need to be willing to take action but also to recognise those actions we are taking or have taken that we need to do differently going forward for the sake of the creation and for the future generations who will live in it. As we come to a close but before we come to our prayers, which Anna will lead, we’ll hold a few moments of silence to reflect on how we are currently living out this commitment and how God might be calling us to take action in different ways in the future. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession
Jesus, you loved the land and fields of flowers;
bless farmers, gardeners and all who till and care for the soil. 
Lord hear us. 

O God we are one in you, and all that we do affects the whole;
make us aware of our power to seed the world
with good or ill by every thought, word and deed. 
Lord hear us. 

In taking flesh among us you raised all creation to a new dignity;
teach us to have an ever-growing reverence for your bountiful creation
and a sense of responsibility for its preservation. 
Lord hear us. 

Creator God, there is a renewed interest in “grow it yourself”,
allotments and community gardens.
May these movements continue to develop and expand. 
Lord hear us. 

Creator God, you adorn the earth with the beauty of each season;
awaken us to your loving care for all that exists
as you lift up our hearts with colour and surprise. 
Lord hear us. 

Christ Jesus, You assured us of God’s love for us.
May we always respect our bodies and spiritual welfare by
the moderate use of the good gifts of our world. 
Lord hear us. 

Taken from Eco congregation Ireland for Creation Tide 2016 

Lord’s Prayer (read across the whole line to expand on the words of the Lord’s Prayer):
Our Father, who art in heaven You are also at home in the air, the soil, the forests and the oceans, 

Hallowed be Your name by the care we take of your creation,

Your kingdom come all that you see is good,

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven Your will to till and care,

Give us this day our daily bread that all may have sufficient to live life in fullness, 

Forgive us our trespasses our greed, our exploitation, our lack of concern for other species and for future generations

As we forgive those who trespass against us by reconciliation with justice and peace, 

Lead us not into temptation the temptation to equate dominion with exploitation, 

And deliver us from evil the evil of destroying your gift of creation,

For Yours is the Kingdom Yours Lord, not ours,

The Power and the Glory in the cross and the resurrection,

For ever and ever You were the beginning and you are the end. 

Amen. And so be it. 

Song – Be Thou My Vision (MP 51, StF 545, H&P 378)

Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you. Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you. Deep peace of Christ to you.

May God who established the dance of creation; who transforms chaos to order,
lead us and empower us to transform our lives
the witness of the Church and the governments of nations
so that all might preserve and reflect
the glory of God revealed in creation;
and the blessing of God almighty the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you
and remain with you always. Amen.

Taken from Eco-congregation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.