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

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, Year B, January 24, 2021

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.

2021_01_24_GKC_Worship_while_you_are_not_able_to_attend_church Click here to download)

Message from Our Minister

Call to worship (from Psalm 62)

For God alone our souls wait in silence,

for our hope is from him.

He alone is our rock and our salvation,

our fortress; We shall not be shaken.

On God rests our deliverance and our honour;

our mighty rock, our refuge is in God.

 

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us

 

Hymn: Amazing Grace (StF 440)

Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to it here

 

  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

was blind, but now I see.

 

  1. God’s grace that taught my heart to fear,

and grace my fears relieved;

how precious did that grace appear

the hour I first believed.

 

  1. Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

God’s grace hath brought me safe thus far,

and grace will lead me home.

 

  1. The Lord has promised good to me,

his word my hope secures;

he will my shield and portion be,

as long as life endures.

 

  1. And, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

and mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil

a life of joy and peace.

 

  1. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

bright shining as the sun,

we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

than when we first begun.

John Newton (1725-1807). CCLI 052772

 

Scripture reading: Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

 

Prayers of adoration and confession

We praise you God for the unity of the Trinity. We marvel at the completeness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all working together as a whole. We rejoice in the differences and the power and flexibility of the triune God, three in one.  Hallelujah!

 

Forgive us, Lord, when our weaknesses lead us to view fellow travellers with lack of grace. Let us see our companions on the road as you see them Lord. May we value our similarities and celebrate our differences and learn to move in one direction.

 

If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.. Amen. Thanks be to God.

 

Gospel Reading: Mark 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

 

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

 

Time to Reflect

Jesus started to preach: “The time is fulfilled – the crisis is full upon us – the Kingdom of God is right here to be grasped!”

It was a time like no other. This had never happened before and would not again. Now was the time to act. And in this time, men and women dropped everything for a higher cause, the ultimate cause: the Kingdom of God. None of them knew what following Jesus would lead to. But for them, they could see no choice.

 

Such language is of course with us right now too, in the middle of the second wave of a global pandemic that is deadlier for this nation’s civilian population than World War Two. I shudder to think of the devastating effects upon so many people. Detractors hate to acknowledge the necessary authority taken to try to minimise the deaths. Yet in that noise, millions are going beyond what they are paid or expected to do in order to make a difference. We are right now in a battle for thousands of lives.

 

In our gospel reading, Jesus knew what had to be done, and he kept secret the reality of his journey to the cross, and the crosses that his followers would carry. He was unable to explain it. Even when he did, they didn’t understand. They had in their minds expectations of earthly victory, God’s kingdom on earth as a political force. None imagined the story ahead as they left their nets. But that wasn’t the point. As Andrew, Peter, James and John left their nets to follow Jesus, their only thought was YES, I WILL FOLLOW. As the old chorus says “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back”.

 

For us today, our hope is given in people carrying on working above and beyond in hospitals, shops, schools and so many other essential places, in people volunteering to help with vaccination centres, in vaccines having the effect we need, in new strains being kept away through harsh travel measures, and in people behaving as they are asked, despite the pain and inconvenience and distress it causes.

 

I have taken part in prayers for Christian Unity this week, and we’ll pray some more shortly. Working together is essential, said Jesus, so that the world sees that we are Christ’s disciples. Working together as a country, and as a planet, are the only ways that more and worse devastation are to be avoided. Working together takes humility, something that doesn’t always come naturally to human beings.

 

Jesus appeared on the scene at a crisis point where there was only one way forward and would immediately become costly for his followers, but there was no other way. Costliness is part of discipleship. The costliness that this pandemic is asking of us is necessary right now. It is a time like no other.

 

Prayers

Dear God, instruct us as how to pray in these times. We are united in a fight against Covid. Show us how to work together as churches and community through the power of the Spirit, the grace of the Son and the wisdom of the Father. We thank you for the cooperation and sharing that has taken place over the last year and we see your hand of healing in our times. We watch the news and see the medical teams overstretched and weary. We ask for strength and energy for them and for their families. Unite us in prayer.

 

We watch the news and know people are grieving, you know our friends are grieving. Help them to grieve, and give them a way forward. Unite us in prayer.

 

We watch the news and we know economies are suffering and that the poorest will be poorer. Give us understanding and compassion. Unite us in prayer.

We watch the news and are amazed at the vaccines and the gifts of the scientists so many people receiving vaccines shows hope. Let our hope be in you Lord. Unite us in prayer.

 

We watch the news and see unrest all over the world. We pray for peace and justice. Unite us in prayer.

Prayer During Pandemic – From the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

 

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between

preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close

remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those

who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other let us yet find ways

to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours. Amen

 

Let us have a time of silence in which to pray for people that praying hands have put on our hearts.

 

Let us join together in the unifying prayer. Say it in which language and which version is most comfortable for you.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Film Clip: “I will follow him” from Sister Act

 

Loving Lord,

thank you that you meet us where we are,

in the middle and muddle of our daily lives.

Help us to hear your call,

to recognise your voice,

and to respond to your invitation

to follow you whatever we might be doing.

Amen.

 

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us always. Amen.

Original material: Jane & Graham Claydon-Knights, Churches Together in Hertfordshire and Roots for Churches.

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.