Sunday Worship – 5th February 2023 – A Methodist Way Of Life

(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 and video across our Circuit .  This is our monthly ‘Methodist Way of Life’ service, this month looking at the aspect of Our Calling, under the heading of Service, specifically entitled ‘Challenging Injustice’.

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

Welcome to worship – I’m Tim Baker, a local preacher in the Aire and Calder Circuit, and the Head of Public Engagement at All We Can.

Today, as we continue to dive into the Methodist Way of Life, we are going to look at that crucial Biblical principle of challenging injustice.

Opening prayers

Heavenly Father,

Thank you that you are a God who humbly gave up power
and acclaim to draw near to us and come alongside us. In our
mission and ministry, may we do the same.
Lord we know that you care not only about our physical
and material needs, but our whole being. In our mission and
ministry, may we do the same
Loving God while you have the power to impose your will on
us you choose to build your Kingdom with us, not for us. Not
through forceful imposition but through trust and partnership.
In our mission and ministry, may we do the same.
We pray for All We Can as they seek to put communities in
the driving seat of development and fulfil the church’s calling
to serve the vulnerable and marginalised. We pray for All We
Can’s partners on the ground – that they would be respected
as the true experts in their contexts.
We pray for ourselves and our engagement with the
surrounding community, may we model humble, locally-led,
empowering relationships.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,

Song – STF 713 – Show me how to stand for justice

Introducing All We Can – part of how the Methodist Church engages with issues of challenging injustice.

What does the word ‘justice’ mean to you? What images does it bring to mind?

How can you be part of a challenge to the things that get in the way of justice? Of seeing Every Person’s Potential Fulfilled?

For me – justice is about what Jesus talks about in John 10:10 – I came that you might have life, and have it in all abundance. It is that abundance, that potential fulfilled that we are craving for every human, every life form, the whole cosmos.

Challenging injustice isn’t simply about ‘doing good’ or ‘random acts of kindness’ or ‘making ourselves feel better about the injustices in the world’. Challenging injustice is a life’s work, an outworking of our discipleship, and about relationship.

I want to introduce you to some of the work of All We Can, to help us find out a bit more about what challenging injustice and working in partnership can look like.

< Victor video – available at >


2 Timothy 1:3-7

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

John 15:15-17

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Would you describe the amount of water in this glass? Is it half full? Half empty? Does it depend what day it is?!

A better way is possible. Do you believe that, when you read the news, when you see the failings of our society? A better world is possible. You might call it naivety, I call it hope.. a better way is possible.

3 ways we can explore this:

Point 1 – Fanning into flame what is already there

  • 2 Timothy shows us the more pastoral side to Paul and a good model for how to step back and empower others. Fan into flame the Gift of God.
  • Paul could have easily micromanaged Timothy and turn him into a mini-me, but he sees Timothy as someone to encourage and invest in, not just an implementer of his plans “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you” – Paul is investing in the God-given potential already present in Timothy
  • All We Can tries to invest in the potential its local partners already have, rather than using local partners to implement plans concocted in the West. Paul trusts Timothy to be an expert in his local context. All We Can trusts its partners to be experts in their context, and therefore to be in the driving seat of development.
  • The same applies for churches which are often guilty of starting new projects and initiatives rather than investing in, and being led by, the local community.
  • Analogy of ‘desire lines’: unofficial paths which appear in parks and fields which show where people actually choose to walk, rather than where planners decided they should. There is now a trend to let desire lines form and then pave over them – fanning into flame what is already present.

Point 2 – Displacing Fear from the Driving Seat

  • Paul identifies a ‘spirit of fear as something which would prevent Timothy making the most of his gifts
  • Inside Out film illustration – fear can be very useful in small doses (prevents you from hurting yourself) but when fear is in the driving seat it harms relationships
  • Fear is a useful check and balance, but not a useful driving force. This is what Paul warns Timothy against.
  • All We Can encounter similar organisations who are scared to put communities in the driving seat because they fear departing from inherited norms, not being in control, and not being perceived as the expert. All We Can take the brave step to move past that fear to pursue locally-led partnerships.
  • What emotions are in the driving seat of church decision-making? fear and insecurity or the simple desire to see other people’s potential fulfilled?
  • God gives us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The Holy Spirit displaces fear from the driving seat
  • Giving up power and releasing others requires self-control, but pays dividends
  • All We Can story – Pastor Christopher is one of the church leaders who received training from All We Can’s partner Eagles in Malawi which helped him mobilise his church to be a catalyst for change in the community. Recently a fire destroyed the house of someone in the village and Christopher said of his congregation “on their own, they collected things they had and gave them to the victims. On their own they took action. In the past they wouldn’t have done that on their own.” By fanning into flame the potential that was already present in the community, the people there are far more resilient.

Point 3 – Jesus is the model

  • Paul’s interaction with Timothy is based on the model he sees in Jesus: “No longer do I call you servants…I call you friends” (v.15)
  • If Jesus calls us friends and comes to our level, how could we ever be bold enough to patronise or speak down to others? How could we ever be bold enough to impose solutions on others? How could we ever be bold enough to maintain a sense of superiority over others?
  • Too often in international development, local partners have been seen as servants, not friends. Too often in the Church, other organisations in the community have been seen as competitors, not friends. Jesus and Paul invite us to reduce power imbalances wherever we see them.

This is what challenging injustice looks like – believing a better way is possible, and committing to it. In our leadership, in our relationship with fear, and in following Jesus as our guide and our model.

What does that look like for you, in your context? Perhaps you can help to support All We Can’s commitment to partnership and rethinking injustice – not as something to be done ‘to’ people, but do be done ‘with’ them? Perhaps you can bring these same principles into play in your own community and church? Perhaps you can engage with government, local or nation, with big business, with energy suppliers, with local charities, in ways that use this same partnership, relational principle to help change the world.

Let us pray.

Hold a moment of quiet, ideally looking at a candle flame, and simply bring your own prayers before God.

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.

We don’t know everything about how all this is going to work out. We have to do some imagining and dreaming to get to a place where we can begin to think about what a world without injustice could look like. But this we know – that we are invited to do so by the Scriptures and the model of Jesus, and that whenever we challenge injustice, in a relational, partnership-led approach, we are doing gospel work.

Let’s sing about how God is at work in those uncertainties and those ‘not knowings’ as we sing – ‘I cannot tell’…

Song – STF 350 – I cannot tell


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.

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