Sunday Worship – 6th November – A Methodist Way Of Life

Welcome to worship with the Bradford North Circuit! This service has been prepared by Rev Philip Drake as part of the circuit’s exploration of A Methodist Way of Life. Each month, one of the twelve commitments included in A Methodist Way of Life is presented as material for worship, personal reflection, and group conversation. The commitment being explored this month is: ‘We will live in a way that draws others to Jesus’.

We begin with a Call to worship taken from the first three verses of Psalm 34:

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Watch this version of Psalm 34:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
    so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
    and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
    happy are those who take refuge in him.
O fear the Lord, you his holy ones,
    for those who fear him have no want.

Prayer: Let us pray:

Wonderful God
Who is worthy of all our praises
Accept our praise today.
Fill my life with all that I need this day.
Help me to share your love and blessings with those around me
that they may taste and see of your goodness
and be drawn closer to you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

Gospel reading: Matthew 5.13-16:

13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Address: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are they who hide in him (Ps. 34.8)

Address part 1: Taste and see

These are words of personal invitation. The writer of the psalm has clearly had personal experience of tasting and seeing God’s goodness. Now others are invited to do the same. This is a crucial part of the Christian life. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have tasted and seen for ourselves the goodness of God, and had a personal experience of life in the Spirit; but it is our task – our mission – to encourage others to discover for themselves that same goodness of God.

That phrase ‘taste and see’ is very appropriate for today’s gospel reading in which Jesus calls his disciples to be like salt and light. As salt, we can offer the taste of God’s goodness and as light we can offer insight into God’s goodness. Christ’s followers are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Here also is reaffirmation of what we have already said: “You are salt, yes, but for the whole earth, not for yourselves. You are light, but for the whole world, not for a closed fellowship.” Here is that same missionary impulse, which Matthew will sum up at the end of his gospel, when Jesus sends out his disciples to the ends of the earth.

The impact of salt and light spreads far and wide. We are called to be like light. As individuals we can be like lights on a lampstand; as a people together, we can be like the city on a hill. We are also called to be like salt. A little salt can go a long way. As salt brings out the flavour of the different ingredients, so we as Christians are seeking to bring the best out of people. Once the salt is dissolved into the whole dish, it cannot be easily extracted again. Our call as Christians is to fully immerse ourselves into our world bringing a Christian influence to bear on all that is going on there, and to be wholly engaged in the society in which we live. That really is the essence of a neighbourhood church, not being confined to our four walls, but being fully a part of what is going on around us. Many of you are involved in various groups and in different capacities in the life of the local community and further afield, although as a group we might be unaware of exactly what it is that each member of the congregation is getting up to. We don’t go into those activities with a big badge saying ‘Christian’ but our Christian faith will have a bearing on the witness we give. In that way we are being like salt.

Where is our invitation for others to taste and see? In what ways are we being like salt and light to those around us? We reflect on this message as we listen to or join in with the song, ‘Beyond these walls of worship’

Song: Beyond these walls of worship (Singing the Faith 547)

Address part 2: Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I have already referred several times in this address to ‘the goodness of God.’ God is the source of all goodness and we should acknowledge that all good things come from him. The word good is used three more times in Psalm 34 –

10 The young lions suffer want and hunger,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Which of you desires life,
    and covets many days to enjoy good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil, and do good;
    seek peace, and pursue it.

There is the promise that those who seek the Lord will lack nothing good (v.10); there is the reminder that we must listen to God and learn from him if we are to enjoy good things (v.13); and there is the injunction to do good, to make the connection between God who does and has done so many good things in our lives and the example we give of doing good towards others: ‘Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it’ (v.14).

Jesus said that you should let our light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Good works are a sign of our obedience to God’s ways and of our trust in him. Our good works are those things that reveal the goodness of God. We are like windows letting the goodness of God shine through us into the world. Like the school child who was fascinated by the colours of the stained glass window picture of one of the saints – when later asked what is a saint, he answered, ‘Someone who lets the light in.’ As human beings we do not always allow that light to shine through us. We sometimes do wrong things. And not all the actions we name as good are truly good. But whenever we show a concern for justice and peace we can be confident that the goodness of God will be showing through us.

In 1930s India, Ghandi opposed the salt tax imposed on the people by the British rulers. He regarded it as an injustice because to him salt was one of the basic necessities of life. He organised a march from coast to coast collecting sea salt, thereby opposing the salt monopoly that was in the hands of the government. Jesus said you are the salt of the earth. How might we be the salt of the earth in the face of such injustices; how can we as Christians help to guarantee and enhance the basic necessities of life?

Prayers of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer:

Blessed Lord, you call your Church to be a shining witness to your love and glory.
Fill our hearts with joy and gladness to live the good news we proclaim . . .
Bring to fulfilment the hope of your Word.
Blessed Lord, you challenge the rulers of this world with justice and compassion.
Bring release to the oppressed, shelter to the homeless and food to the hungry . . .
Raise the sights of all governments to honour the dignity of all people.
Blessed Lord, you affirmed those with you by calling them the salt of the earth.
We pray for all whose labours go unnoticed but uphold our common life . . .
Unite us in the household of your Son.
Blessed Lord, when we are weary give us strength, when we falter urge us on,
when we stumble and fall lift us up . . .
Refresh and sustain us with your never-failing streams.
Blessed Lord, your light breaks forth like the dawn.
In your mercy receive to yourself those who have died . . .
Bring us to rejoice in your rising glory.

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.

Address part 3: Happy are they who hide themselves in God.

In this final part of the verse, we hear of how we can come under the protection of God; no matter the troubles or fears to be faced we can find a place of safety with him. The picture we are given is someone embraced and wrapped up in the presence of God – the word used is hide or hidden.

When we are the light of the world, we are only light because of the light of God in us. If you like, we are hidden in God’s glory, lost in the bright light of God’s goodness. The words of the psalm actually refer to how happy the man who hides in God. It’s tempting to make the word inclusive so it includes men and women, but there is a point to the use of this word for man. The word used here for man is one that refers to a man of strength, an alpha male, a warrior type – a man used to outshining those around him. But here we have the picture of such a man dwarfed and subsumed by the glory of God’s light. The sixth century Saint Columba was such a man; a warrior, who had taken part in many battles, a man of great endurance, used to commanding others under him, found himself called by God to live a very different life as a monk living in exile for Christ’s sake. On the night he died, he was copying out the psalms, and it is said that at the moment of death he was writing out words from Psalm 34 – ‘those who seek the Lord lack for no good thing’.

God, this giver of every good thing, chooses not to work in worldly ways of power and ostentation, but in hidden ways, largely ignored but recognise by those who love him. Like salt, its effects cannot be seen but they are there to be tasted.

So let’s seek to be like salt and light, inviting everyone to taste and see that the Lord is good. And let’s be like those who hide themselves in him – happy, fulfilled and alive to the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song: Longing for light (Christ be our light) (Singing the Faith 706)

or use Hymns and Psalms 463 To God be the glory.

Blessing: And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all forever more. Amen.

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 of intercession taken from, Intercessions for Years A, B and C by Ian Black, downloaded from with permission to use in acts of worship.

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