Sunday Worship – 5th March 2023

Welcome to the monthly Bradford North Circuit Service, and the twelfth of our monthly reflections on a Methodist Way of Life, this month focussing on ‘We will share our faith with others.’ This service has been put together by Revd Nick Blundell, Revd Christine Crabtree and Deacon Merry Evans, and we welcome you as you join us.

StF 730 – We follow the Lord along the gradual road to heaven

Give thanks to God, Tell all people the story of salvation.
Sing praises to God, Sing glory to God’s holy name;
God is with you in all things, Sing praises to God.

A pair of Wild Geese flying together over broad green and brown Scottish landscapes, along cliffs and
coastlines, along valleys, glens, moors, over lakes and lochs and the sea. These are the pictures that accompany this gentle piano solo Flight of the Wild Goose by Kirk Dearman. Focus your attention on how beautiful the scenery is. Celebrate in your heart and soul how wonderful God’s world is. When the music finishes spend a few moments sharing with God your thoughts and your feelings about Creation, and how you might have a conversation with someone about what you have experienced and felt in these few minutes. What words will you say to them? Imagine their reply to you.

Loving God, as I come before you in prayer, help me to focus my thoughts on you,
letting distractions fall away.


I offer you my words, those of kindness and support, those which have wounded,
those offered with care, and those carelessly spoken.


I offer you my actions, those of generosity and care, those of selfishness,
those done from love and those neglected and undone.


I offer you my thoughts, those of an open mind and heart, those closed by prejudice,
those of love and those of fear.


I offer you myself, you know me and love me.
Help me to love others as you have loved me.

Our readings will be speaking about prayer and how we live, so we prepare ourselves by singing:

StF 520/HP548 Give to me Lord, a thankful heart

In our first reading, Paul is writing to the Colossian church about how they ought to live, pray, and spread
the word of God.

Colossians 4:2-6
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.    At the same time pray for us as
well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for
which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time.   Let your speech always
be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

In our second reading, Peter tells his readers to be ready to answer people’s questions about their faith.

1 Peter 3:15
In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who
demands from you an account of the hope that is in you.

StF 660 Called by Christ to be disciples

(shared by Revd Nick Blundell, using an outline and some illustrations* by Anne Browse, former President of Methodist Women in Britain).
The extract from the letter to the Colossians talks of sharing faith, but also of sharing life – it concerns behaviour as well as belief – how you act as well as what you say. This commitment to share is not necessarily about standing up in front of a crowd, but about sharing our faith with others, where we find ourselves, when it seems appropriate. Not about preaching at, but sharing with. About sharing our story, honestly, as someone who has discovered that Christian faith makes a difference to the life we live and the way we live it. Sharing faith implies that the other person is given the opportunity to partake or not, and perhaps also to share their own story of life and faith with us. Sharing faith can be a little like sharing food. When we share food with others we are respectful and mindful of their needs and preferences. A
gracious host would never insist that food is eaten, but would prepare and present food with care.
My grandmother* had a strange turn of phrase which always made us smile. “Can I press you to a piece of cake?” she would ask. Of course we were not forced to eat the cake, but it was there if we chose to try it.
A few years ago I was at a meal table* with young people on a summer camp. As I served the apple crumble one turned it down. “I don’t like crumble” she said. I asked gently “Have you ever tried it?” “No, but I don’t like it!” “You might like this crumble…” I suggested, and then waited. She cautiously tasted a little, and then devoured two full helpings!

How many people do we meet who have ‘never tried it’, or perhaps been put off by past experience, of crumble or of church? How many people have ‘tried’ church and been hurt or disappointed, or vowed never again to sit through services, like school assemblies, once they could choose for themselves?
According to the words from 1 Peter, we share our faith with others who are willing to engage, who are curious to hear the reason for the hope that we have. We share our faith with gentleness and respect – we do not force it on someone whose mouth is clearly and firmly shut! Whether or not a person appears open to what we have to share may not be down to us.

Some years ago I spent a 3 month sabbatical working with funeral directors and others working in the business of dying. It was a good time, and I learnt lots. Within the period I had two fortnights of working in particular companies, alongside the same people. As they came to know me, the number of questions leading to real conversations about important stuff – life, faith, God, suffering, hope – grew and grew. It felt as if a tame minister was too good an opportunity to miss! And it helped me to realise that people were much more open and interested to hear about my faith, about our faith, than I had thought. If we are given an opportunity to share our faith, we might choose to tell a story of how God makes a difference to us. We can share honestly how our faith helps us in the ups and downs of life, and our declaration may be as simple as saying ‘I felt/knew that God was with me when…’ and give an example of something we have experienced. I felt that God was with me when my Dad died. I knew that God was with me when I was given the words I needed…’ I see God in the spring flowers breaking the hard earth.

One of the easiest ways to share faith is to offer to pray. Perhaps not in the sense of praying out loud there and then (too much too soon = indigestion), but to quietly offer – ‘would it be okay if I included your friend in my prayers?’ – and in doing so sharing something both about your faith (I pray to a God who loves and listens!) , and your care of your neighbour (and that God loves you and your friend too). If you find it hard to talk about your faith, why not begin by chatting regularly with another Christian friend about where you sense the presence of God in your lives? Use ordinary everyday language, and tell it how it really is, doubts and all! Then perhaps pray for each other, that you will each notice the opportunities to share your own faith with others, with gentleness and respect. It is claimed that the Methodist minister, D T Niles, once said that evangelism (sharing good news) is “just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”. Sharing our faith is like sharing where we have found ‘food’; where we have found a hope that sustains us.
When I taste something and know that it is good, I don’t want to keep it to myself! That’s true about faith. And crumble!

A final story from Anne Browse to set you thinking, it’s called ‘Woman on a beach’:
A Christian friend and I were sitting beside the sea. A woman approached us and asked, rather embarrassed, whether we had noticed her stumble and fall as she came up the pebbly beach. We reassured her that no, we had not. She proceeded to share her story with us. She was suffering from terminal cancer, but went out every day to walk and pick up litter. That morning she had noticed the most beautiful butterfly, which had made her exclaim “Wow, isn’t the world amazing?” Having shared her story she carried on up the cliff path. My friend and I were both quiet for a while, each of us, unbeknown to the other, silently praying a blessing on the woman.
● Should we have shared our own faith with her, we wondered?
● What might you have done in that situation, and why?

StF 409 Let us build a house where love can dwell

Prayers of intercession
As we reach the end of our Methodist Way of Life journey, and as we make ourselves ready to travel it again as we continue to walk with God, we come to our prayers.

Can I press you to a piece of cake?
Lord, help us to share our faith in the same way we would share any good thing. Help us to sense your delight in us; to delight in you; and to share that delight with others. Help us not to worry about not knowing all the answers, but simply to tell of our experience of you, when someone asks us.

Helping others find bread
Lord, help us to share our faith as though we were a beggar telling another where to find bread. Let us simply say what has sustained us and given us new life, and allow our listener to choose to follow things up or not. Let us then watch and pray for new opportunities.

Finding a butterfly among the litter
Lord, help us to live our lives so as to open our eyes, and the eyes of others, to the butterfly in the litter. As we help clear up the mess that we and others have made of our lives and our world, help us to see the beauty that we uncover as we dig that bit deeper, and find that you have been with us all along.
As we have come to the end of the commitments under a Methodist Way of Life, let us rejoice in the ways they have strengthened our faith and be ready to keep walking with you, all our days.
And as people who are loved by God, and who seek to make him known so that others might come to know that they too are loved, let us say together the prayer Jesus taught us:

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 sin
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 bring our worship to a conclusion as we sing:

StF 404/ HP 315 God’s Spirit is in my heart

As you watch and pray, and as you speak and act,
may you know God’s presence with you and the Spirit calling you.
And may the blessing of God,
Spirit, Son and Father,
be with you all, all your days.

(Service produced by the Ministry Team 01274 508390 ccl 79951)

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