Sunday Worship – 8th January 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 and with the congregation at Baildon Methodist Church, and led by Mervyn Flecknoe.  This is our monthly ‘Methodist Way of Life’ service, this month looking at the aspect of Our Calling, under the heading of Worship, specifically entitled ‘We practise hospitality and generosity’.

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

We practise hospitality and generosity
We are gathered here together for the only hour in the week that we all have to contemplate life as it is and life as it should be;  to consider our past behaviour and beliefs and to make resolutions for our future;  to come to terms with our mortality and the legacy that we leave for those whom we will leave behind us.  Let us not waste it, nor consider it a bore;  let us open our hearts and minds to the influence of the Spirit;  let us consider what we know of the life of Jesus Christ, and how that might inform our behaviour.  Let us learn from one another;  let us listen to those with whom we disagree;  let us greet people without prejudice and understand what they have to teach us.  This service is about hospitality;  a part of the Methodist Way of Life. 

Song STF 28:  Jesus call us here to meet him

Psalm 112

The homes of the upright—how blessed!
Their houses brim with wealth
And a generosity that never runs dry.
Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—
God’s grace and mercy and justice!
The good person is generous and lends lavishly;
No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,
But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.
Unfazed by rumor and gossip,
Heart ready, trusting in God,
Spirit firm, unperturbed,
Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,
They lavish gifts on the poor—
A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.
An honored life! A beautiful life!
Someone wicked takes one look and rages,
Blusters away but ends up speechless.
There’s nothing to the dreams of the wicked. Nothing.

Song STF 681 Comunity of Christ who make the cross your own

Written by the NewZealander, Shirley erena Murray, who died just recently during the Covid-19 epedemic. 

Community of Christ,
who make the cross your own,
live out your creed and risk your life
for God alone:
the God who wears your face,
to whom all worlds belong,
whose children are of every race
and every song.
2 Community of Christ,
look past the church’s door
and see the refugee, the hungry,
and the poor.
Take hands with the oppressed,
the jobless in your street,
take towel and water, that you wash your neighbour’s feet.
  3 Community of Christ,
through whom the word must sound
cry out for justice and for peace
the whole world round:
disarm the powers that war
and all that can destroy,
turn bombs to bread, and tears of anguish into joy.
  4 When menace melts away,
so shall God’s will be done,
the climate of the world be peace
and Christ its sun;
our currency be love
and kindliness our law,
our food and faith be shared as one
for evermore.

We open ourselves to other people, making space for them in our homes, in our lives, in our priorities, and in our hearts.  Hospitality is an attitude of openness to others, to learn about them and from them, to widen our understanding and perhaps to be changed by the encounter. It’s not always us being hospitable to someone else – it’s a blessing to receive it, too.
The classic Bible story about hospitality is that of Abraham welcoming three strangers. Abraham makes them comfortable and gives them food, actually, Sarah gives them food of course,  but the three travellers also bring something and what they bring, changes Sarah and Abraham’s lives forever (Genesis 18).
Generosity is also a basic Christian practice. As we have freely received, so we are to give freely. Principally we give because of God’s inexpressible gift in Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Our generosity will include what we give in the collection plate or by standing order to the church, and to appeals especially at this time of year by other charities. It also goes beyond these in our use of time, talents and attention. There are many Bible passages about hospitality.  Let’s read from the second letter to the church in Corinth, chapter nine, in which St Paul is thanking the Corinthians for their contribution to poor Christians in Jerusalem.
Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!
Continuing this theme of generosity and hospitality, the second reading is from the letter to the Hebrews chapter 13  this letter is widely believed to have been written by Paul’s co-worker, Priscilla, in Corinth.  If that is true, it is the only book in the Bible written by a woman, and it sounds like it.  She echoes the story of Abraham who entertained three strangers into his home:

Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.

Song STF 711 Pray for the Church

St Paul develops the idea of Generosity and Hospitality by introducing a rather challenging idea.  This quote is taken from the book of Acts chapter 20

“I’ve never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’”

We can sagely nod our heads at this wisdom, after all, we are Christians, followers of Christ.  But exploiting the weak is precisely the foundation of our modern concern with growth.  We are avoiding any restrictions on selling anything to anyone;  in my work for Litter-Free Baildon, I pick up three or four large binliners of litter each week around the village and down to Shipley.  Most of it comprises the packaging of foodstuffs and drugs that no-one needs and that in most cases do harm.  No-one needs to eat in the street, unless they are homeless. No-one needs crisps, or disposable vaping kits, or for that matter coca cola;  no-one needs to drink alcohol in the street, nor to throw away gambling slips.  These are all products consumed by the weak and vulnerable to make a profit for the rich.  We elect, as our representative in Parliament, an MP who receives payment in kind from the gambling lobby, and who represents their interests in Parliament.  Gambling and drinking alcohol in the streets, throwing away the cans afterwards, is precisely the behaviour that wrecks families.  Hospitality requires us to take the needs of the vulnerable into account, and to try to understand them, to do all in our power to help them improve their lives.


Lord of our homes and head of our family, we ask for homes that brim with wealth of love and happiness, in which we celebrate joy and good fortune.  We pray for those whose lives are without love, who cannot bring themselves to feel happiness, who cannot see joy, nor find gratitude for good fortune.

Lord of hospitality, we ask for homes that welcome strangers and friends alike, where our generosity exceeds our spending on self.  We pray for those who have no generosity or hospitality to share, who have their backs against the stone wall of poverty and who despair for this coming winter.

Lord of conversation, we ask that all our words may leave others feeling better about themselves and that our ears be tuned to hear the stories of others, overcoming the desire of our mouths to make others hear the stories of our misfortunes.

Lord of our church, we ask that this church reflect all that is best about our homes and our love for you and for your other children.

Lord of the weak, we pledge to do whatever we can to support their quest for better lives rather than to exploit their vulnerability.

In all things, we desire to emulate the life of our saviour, Jesus Christ, assist us, Lord.


Luke 14

Our last Bible reading is from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 14, and it records one of the many instances when Jesus was receiving hospitality from someone else.

One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. Right before him there was a man hugely swollen in his joints. So, Jesus asked the religion scholars and Pharisees present, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?”

They were silent. So, he took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?” They were stumped. There was nothing they could say to that.

Jesus reminds us that from time to time, we need to change our habits, and our choice of which parts of scripture to follow.  It is undoubtedly true that the pharisee’s view of the Sabbath was founded in the scriptures, our scriptures.  It is also true that we not only disregard these scriptures, we have even changed the day of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and then abolished most of the laws that made it special, all in the name of individual freedom of choice.  We ignore many of the instructions found in the Old Testament about things that are an abomination to God, like some clothing and foodstuffs.  However, one part of scripture that we cannot ignore is the requirement to be hospitable to the stranger, the outcaste, the poor and the sick.  If you take a pair of scissors and cut out all the passages that refer to these acts, your Bible would not hold together, it would look as though it had been through the shredder.  The Pharisees felt threatened.  They had tried to live according to the scriptures, blind to the burdens that they imposed on others, blind to the suffering that they caused.  Jesus was asking them to change their religious beliefs.  They crucified him.

This winter, people will die of poverty, children will grow up stunted, unable to learn in school whilst they are hungry.  This will happen in north Bradford.  So, I ask you, as I ask myself, do you need the new £400 fuel supplement more than a single mother in Windhill?  Is it more important to you to have money left over at the end of the month than to give a donation to Syrian refugees in Lebanon?  Who needs a Christmas present most, your child or a Ukrainian refugee child?  Jesus challenges us to change our thinking.  The pharisees found this a tough call because they did very well for themselves out of the system that prevailed.  We are going to find it tough too.  Jesus offers us happiness and fulfilment;  are we brave enough to take it?   

Song four StF 372 come down oh love divine


Lord of Life, we offer thanks that we feel richer when we share, that we feel more complete when we include others in our lives, that we feel more a part of humankind when we give hospitality.

We ask your blessing on all that we give, and on ourselves as we give.  We give thanks for gifts of time, gifts of expertise, and gifts of money to maintain this church building so that it may be of service to the many others that use it.  Amen.

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 forever. Amen.”

Song STF 443 Come let us sing of a wonderful love

Thank you for joining us for this series of the Methodist Way of Life.  Let us hope that it has enabled us to become better Christians, of more use to God in His world; 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.