North Hertfordshire Methodist Circuit. Worship prepared for Methodists at Baldock, Arlesey, Stotfold and High St Stevenage

Sunday 20th September 2020 (Ordinary 25 year A)

This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use while we are unable to attend church. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you.

2020_09_20_GKC_Worship_while_you_are_not_able_to_attend_church (Click here to download)

Message from our Minister

 

Call to worship (from Ps 145)

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Hymn: In Christ alone my hope is found (StF 351)
Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to it here

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!
Keith Getty (b.1974) and Stuart Townend (b.1963). CCLI 052772

Reading: Philippians 1: 21-30

Prayer

Mighty Creator, you made us the pinnacle of your masterpiece to reflect your love mercy and
compassion. We bow our heads in sorrow for we have fallen far short of the potential we have as your
children. We have failed to demonstrate your love in our care for each other and the world. We have not
reflected your mercy and forgiveness in all our relationships. We have not worshipped you in spirit
and truth. Thank you that you forgive us, setting us free from sorrow and guilt. Lift us up that we might
reflect more clearly your character in the lives we live, for your glory, Amen.

Rosemary Clarke, superintendent minister, Buckley and Deeside
Circuit, Methodist Prayer Handbook 2020 – 2021, page 6.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 20: 1-16

Time to Reflect
The distinguishing feature about St Paul’s letter to the Philippians is that he wrote it from prison. He was
unfairly judged and locked up and didn’t know what was going to happen to him. There was every indication that he might suffer worse. Yet Paul was celebrating the good things in his circumstances. He was thinking logically about what had happened, and what was happening now. His logic
was based upon his faith in the living Lord Jesus, whom had met on that road to Damascus, as we can read in the Book of Acts. Paul believed himself called to share the good news of Jesus Christ, particularly in the Greek-speaking, Roman society that he lived in. And Paul had worked out that because he was imprisoned by the Romans, the Imperial guard had heard the gospel of Jesus. This was a fulfilment of God’s work in his life. Thus he rejoiced despite his restricted circumstances.
You and I are experiencing restricted circumstances. Some are affected very severely. How can Paul help us come to terms with this state of affairs? Paul, as he wrote this letter, was seeing his life entirely in terms of his relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus was, in effect, his sole reason for being alive. And, because of the promises he’d received from God, he was convinced that Jesus was his destination in death. Thus he arrived at his extraordinary statement that he didn’t know what to hope for most, death or life. In the end it didn’t matter, because both would serve his avowed purpose to be with Jesus and to bear fruit.
You remember Jesus declaring that his disciples were to bear fruit, fruit that will last. There’s a whole lasting aspect to following Jesus. It’s forever, not just for this life. This doesn’t mean we should disregard this life.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand, preached Jesus, and it’s good news for the poor. Many who are last will be  first, if we strive together for God’s way, God’s justice.
There’s much injustice in our society that breaks God’s heart for the people of Earth that he loves and gave his one and only Son to save. There’s lives that some people clearly think don’t matter, but God disagrees. God calls us to preach and live righteousness. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come, on Earth as it is in heaven. Paul himself in this section writes to commend the church for their good works “I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents.” This is how to bear fruit that will last.
When hopes for this life are being knocked, we who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, like Paul, have something concrete, someone better than concrete, to hold on to.
For Paul, living was Christ, dying was (and is) gain. For us, the same principle applies. I value my God-given life and work and hopes for the future. It is precious. Yet unless I am to be at the whim of events, I must also logically fix my eyes upon Jesus, the goal of my faith.
The gospel promise is for now on Earth and for ever in Heaven. So, in our restricted circumstances, let’s also rejoice in the good that is happening despite restrictions, such as the caring and the appreciation of
those who care. Let us keep on striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, as I know you are doing, and fix our eyes upon the living Lord Jesus.
Amen.

Prayers
Our theme for prayers for ourselves and others is again
“Harvest”. People have been reflecting on harvest as
long as there have been people and harvests. This
prayer from the past spoke to me, so let us pray.
Help us, O Lord, to conquer all harshness of judgement
with your gentleness; to quench all meanness of spirit
with your generosity and to defeat all indifference of
compassion with your fervour. Teach us to be
courageous in loving, patient in suffering and attentive
in prayer; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Clement XI (1649-1721) Methodist Prayer Handbook 2020/2021 p.54

For the fruits of his creation
thanks be to God;
for his gifts to every nation
thanks be to God;
for the ploughing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth’s safe keeping,
thanks be to God.
You have given us a wonderful planet to live on. A
planet for today and tomorrow and beyond. We share
this planet with so much wildlife that it is
overwhelming. Guide us God in our stewardship of this
place. Give us your care and energy for, in tending
now, others will reap future fruit. God you designed
this world for all. Help us to be mindful of where we fit
into the world map and that all people are welcome in
God’s world. Lord we want to grow as your disciples as
we see the harvest growing in the fields. These times
of covid-19 have given us a sharper Focus and a time to
reflect. Show us how to develop in you Lord.
In the just reward of labour,
God’s will is done;
in the help we give our neighbour,
God’s will is done;
in our worldwide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God’s will is done.
Help us to be workers for you, God, wherever you
place us, whoever you place us with. Give us strength,
gifts and abilities we didn’t know we had to serve you.
Let us be people of prayer for those we meet. We pray
for those people who, all day, everyday, help their
neighbour professionally. We pray for those involved in
nursing, caring, policing, teaching, delivering, driving,
collection of household waste, operating, restocking,
working on tills and so much more. Make us mindful of
others as we move about this different Covid world.
Make us aware of distancing, sanitizing and smiling
with our eyes. We want to share our abundant harvest.
Reveal to us ways of sharing with donations to food
banks and charities. We pray for those in despair. Help
them to express their grief in loss, and anger and
frustration of disappointment in loss of livelihoods.
For the harvests of the Spirit,
thanks be to God;
for the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God;
for the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all, that love has found us,
thanks be to God.

StF 124. Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000). CCLI 052772

We asked for a harvest of your Spirit in our lives. Mould and shape us into the people we should be in
you. We have a rich ancestry, starting with Jesus and the Disciples and following with the “cloud of
witnesses” who have inspired us. Let us be people who wonder, fathom and question, but let us know your love and presence in our lives, so that it can be shared with others. Amen.

A time of silence for you and I to bring to God those people on our hearts.

The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn: May the mind of Christ my Saviour (StF 504)

May we run the race before us, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus, as we onward go. The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us always.

Amen.

Original material: Jane & Graham Claydon-Knights

OFFERING
While we are all unable to meet in our various churches during the current crisis please consider the following ways of keeping up your offering for the work of the church.
Pay directly into your church’s bank account.
For High Street Stevenage, the relevant information is:
Account name: Stevenage High Street Methodist Church
Sort code: 20-41-12
Account number 60853259
Description: Your name (especially if gift aided) or “offering”
When we know the information for the other churches, we will add it.
Alternatively, you can fill and save your envelopes or accumulate your regular offering until the churches can meet again.