Service for 14th February 2021

Contributions by Mrs. Anne Wilde a Methodist Lay Preacher

Opening Sentences: (from Psalm 27)

God you are my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
You are the strong hold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I ask of you, my God, this I seek: to dwell in your house all the days of my life,
to behold your beauty and to contemplate on your Temple.
For you will hide me in your shelter in the day of trouble, you will conceal me under the rock of your tent and will set me high upon a rock.
Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage.
Yes, wait for God!

Hymn : Brightest and Best

Brightest and Best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Fragrance of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and Best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Prayer:

If you were busier, Lord, you would not bother with us.
But you have time for all; you have time to listen.
So we praise you, for having all things in proportion,
and having time in your silence for us to speak.
If you were wiser, Lord, you would not bother with us,
but you are foolish and so you choose us.
So we praise you that your Kingdom is indeed upside down,
that your standards are not the world’s standards;
that you have bent down to touch us.
If you were content, Lord, you would not bother with us,
but you are restless.
Through anger, through excitement, and through love,
your will all things to change and be made new.
So we praise you, that your restlessness has been born in us

As the pain of the world, the cries of your people.
The urgency of your Gospel, and your Holy Spirit
upset our easiness and require us to respond.
We confess that all too often: we are not restless but content with our lives,
we are not willing to identify with the pain of the world,
we do not allow your Gospel nor your Holy Spirit
to upset and disturb your church,
Lord, convict us, have mercy upon us and take away our sin.

Take time to allow God to speak to you.

With a careful eye you have chosen us, such different people,
to be gathered into unity that the world might believe.
So may we not serve your purpose unless we are open to each other;
not care for each other unless we reflect your love;
nor dare to love like you unless we are glad to accept the cost and joy of discipleship.
As friends and followers of Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen,


Reading: Mark Ch 7: verses 31 – 37.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

Reflection

Jesus is returning from his mission-changing conversation with the Syro-Phoenician woman in which we discover the Gentiles are to be included in Jesus’ mission. Now here’s another healing in Gentile territory, and the feeding of the 4,000 also happens in Gentile territory. Not just the Jews then, but for the Gentiles too there is to be wholeness of mind and body and sufficient-and-to-spare nourishment.

No other Gospel tells this story, probably because Jesus uses his spit during the healing, as well as the use of an incantation which sounded more Greco-Roman than something the unique Son of God might do. But that emphatic “be opened”, shows Jesus’ authority. In these, and in other miracles, it’s clear Jesus is acting in the power of God. The response to Jesus’ authority is immediate.

What do we notice about this healing? It’s a Gentile healing and a signal that Jesus’ ministry is moving ever outwards, receiving more and more of the excluded peoples. Unnamed people play their part in bringing the person in need to Jesus – something we can do in prayer as we bring others’ needs before our Lord. It’s also fascinating that Jesus takes this man aside and creates a new relationship with him. Perhaps those two things go together; in our lives, others have prayed for us and we have been drawn into a new relationship with Jesus. Now we pray for others, and they in their turn are drawn into that relationship. And Jesus is setting that pattern of prayer as he looks to his heavenly Father for what is needful for this man. These crowds are unnamed – but they become a cloud of witnesses to the change in this man’s life.

May we all play our part in this pattern of prayer, and in this pattern of witnessing to all that Jesus has done in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Hymn Jesus Christ is Waiting
(John L Bell & Graham Maule 1988)

Jesus Christ is waiting,
Waiting in the streets;
No one is his neighbour,
All alone he eats.
Listen, Lord Jesus,
I am lonely too.
Make me, friend or stranger,
Fit to wait on you

Jesus Christ is raging,
Raging in the streets,
Where injustice spirals
And real hope retreats.
Listen, Lord Jesus,
I am angry too.
In the Kingdom’s causes
Let me rage with you.

Jesus Christ is healing,
Healing in the streets;
Curing those who suffer,
Touching those he greets.
Listen, Lord Jesus,
I have pity too.
Let my care be active,
Healing just like you.

Jesus Christ is dancing,
Dancing in the streets,
Where each sign of hatred
He, with love, defeats.
Listen, Lord Jesus,
I should triumph too.
On suspicion’s graveyard
Let me dance with you.

Jesus Christ is calling,
calling in the streets,
”Who will join my journey?
I will guide their feet.”
Listen, Lord Jesus,
let my fears be few.
Walk one step before me;
I will follow you.


Prayer:

The cross is the way of the lost, the cross is the staff of the lame,
The cross is the guide of the blind, the cross is the strength of the weak,
The cross is the hope of the hopeless, the cross is the freedom of the slaves,
The cross is the water of the seeds, the cross is the consolation of the bonded labourers,
The cross is the source of those who seek water, the cross is the cloth of the naked.
Merciful God, we meet you today at the cross
As inhabitants of one world…….
As those who inflict wounds on each other, deny justice to others,
As those who seize wealth, and are greedy,
As those who put others on trial, and refuse to receive,
As those afraid of this world’s torment.
Giver of life, we wait with you to bear your hope to earth’s darkest places.
Where love is denied let love break through.
Where justice is destroyed let righteousness rule.
Where hope is crucified let faith persist.
Where peace is no more let passion live on.
Where truth is denied let the struggle continue……
Where there is pain, or sadness, anxiety or fear,
Let healing, patience, peace envelop all those in any kind of need.
Reach into this silent darkness with your love;
Deepen the terror of this moment into new hope;
Relieve the hideous cries with your quiet voice of peace;
That here we may know your salvation, your glory, your future
In Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen

Blessing

By the Cross we celebrate death.
By the Cross we proclaim new life.
By the Cross we await the Kingdom.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen