SUNDAY WORSHIP

A WESLEY Zoom Service takes place every Sunday at 10:30 for details of the access code please contact the Circuit Admin. office at circuit@northlancsmethodist.org.uk or from Jenny Macking

Web services for January and February will be prepared by the following people:

January 17th        Rev. Roy Burley                               January 24th    Rev. Andrew Champley
January 31st        Susan Wilson                                   February 7th    Jenny Butcher
February 14th     Rev. Roy Burley                                February 21st  Sister Vivien Ward
February 28th     Bernard Vause

SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 24th prepared by Rev. Andrew Champley

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62)

Hymn: S t F 455 All my hope on God is founded

All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil we fashion,
tower and temple, fall to dust.
But God’s power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore
from his store
new-born worlds rise and adore.

Daily doth the almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.

Still from earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

Robert Bridges (1844-1930 ) (alt)
based on Joachim Neander (1650-1680)

Prayers:
God of love, power and wisdom, we bow before you in awe and wonder, aware that you are greater than we can ever know or imagine. You are our rock and our refuge whose ways are always sure. We want to praise you with our whole being, as creator and sustainer of all, giver of life and light, eternal and everlasting Father.
In Jesus, your Son, you have revealed your love for us. In his life and ministry, death and resurrection we see your loving purposes and your mighty power. As he proclaimed the kingdom, so may he rule in our lives; as he calls us to follow him, may we have the grace to do so.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us now in our worship to give you praise and glory and help us in our daily lives to show your love to all whom we meet.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

God of truth and mercy, we know that we cannot hide our sins from you, even though we try to hide them from others.
You know us as we are, and so we confess the things that we have done, said or thought which have been wrong in your sight, our lack of trust and our failure to follow Jesus. We ask for your forgiveness and pray that you will help us to live according to your will and purpose through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen

Old Testament Reading:  Jonah 3:1-5,10

Gospel; Mark 1:14-20

Hymn: S t F 250 Jesus calls us o’er the tumult

Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult
of our life’s wild, restless sea;
day by day his voice is sounding
saying “Christian, follow me.”

As, of old, apostles heard it
by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and toil and kindred,
leaving all for his dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world’s golden store,
from each idol that would keep us,
saying “Christian, love me more.”

In our joys and in our sorrows,
days of toil and hours of ease,
still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love me more than these.”

Jesus calls us; by your mercies,
Saviour, may we hear your call,
give our hearts to your obedience,
serve and love you best of all.
Cecil Frances Alexander (1818- 1895 )

Reflection

During the current pandemic, one of the good things we have seen is the number of people who have volunteered to help in numerous ways. They have offered to do what they can. In church we are used to being asked to do things, to take on various roles and we are thankful for those who say ‘yes’. Sometimes people offer and in some cases say that they feel called.
Being called implies being called by someone, and in Christian terms this usually means called by God. We feel that we are called by God to use our gifts and talents in his service, to do his work. Often we associate this calling with preaching or ordained ministry, but these are by no means the only things to which God might call us, and we always must seek to discern what it is he wants us to do.
Throughout history men and women have been called into God’s service. In our Old Testament reading we hear of Jonah, who was called to a specific task which he didn’t want to do! So he tried to run away -you know the story – but ended up rather reluctantly preaching to the people of Nineveh, who to his surprise responded to his message of impending judgement by repenting.
Others were called but felt inadequate to the task. Moses, when asked to speak to authority, said: ‘ I am not eloquent, I am slow of speech’ in other words ‘they won’t listen to me!’ When Jeremiah was called to prophesy, to speak out God’s word to the people, he said he was too young and inexperienced. If we feel inadequate in the face of God’s call then we are in good company. We are not the first to make excuses!
However, there is a more general calling, and that is simply to be a disciple of Jesus- one who learns from him and who follows him.
In our Gospel reading today, we hear Mark’s account of Jesus calling his first disciples in Galilee -Peter and Andrew, James and John all fishermen. Jesus sees them and says to them: ‘Follow me’. He meant this literally and in the sense of following his ways and teaching.
They were called on to give up their normal pattern of life and to go with Jesus, not knowing where it would lead. They had to trust him.
Mark emphasises the authority of Jesus inasmuch as the brothers follow immediately, although it’s likely that they knew something of Jesus before this. At first they would not be far from home and could keep in touch with their families, but later it would be very different, so Peter could say: ‘we have left everything and followed you’ (Mk.10:28).
I’m sure that these four could have found reasons not to follow.
They were ordinary working men, not great public speakers, and yet they were chosen by Jesus. I’m always encouraged by the very unlikeliness of these disciples and the others who joined them and not just the twelve but others including women who followed him.
Some were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector, Simon the Zealot a political agitator, Thomas a rationalist who had doubts, and so on. God does call unlikely people -even you and me!
In my own ministry I have often gone back in mind to the time of my calling, and I have encouraged others to do so, especially when times are difficult or we feel inadequate. It’s then that I remember God’s promise: ‘Do not be afraid for I am with you’. It’s true for all of us who put our faith and trust in him.
The first disciples, as we have seen, were a very diverse group and as the church grew this diversity increased. Disciples disagreed and sometimes quarrelled, argued about who was the most important, but they shared a common calling and faith.
This is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and it is clearly the will of Christ that we should be one in him. Yet we are by nature diverse and so unity in diversity, not in uniformity, is something which we as disciples are discovering, even if only slowly.
Those first disciples were called to trust and to follow. They had to cut loose from other ties and to trust Jesus and his message.
As Tom Wright puts it: ‘That wasn’t easy then and it isn’t easy now, but it’s what all Christians are called to do today, tomorrow and on into God’s future.’

Hymn: 673 Will you come and follow me?

Will you come and follow me
 if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown,
will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown
in you and you in me?

Will you leave your self behind
if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
should your life attract or scare,
will you let me answer prayer
in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see
if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free
and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean
and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean
in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound
in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me.
John L. Bell (b. 1949)
and Graham Maule b. (1958 )

Prayers of Intercession

We pray for the church throughout the world and in our own locality, for our ministers and preachers, leaders and members, for unity and peace; for the enabling and transforming power of the Holy Spirit that we might seek to make disciples for Christ.

We pray for the needs of the world, for the poor and hungry, homeless and refugees and for all who are suffering through the pandemic. We remember those in hospital and the dedicated staff caring for them; those who have lost loved ones and those who are lonely or anxious.

We pray for those in authority, for leaders of the nations and especially for our own government at this very difficult time.

We remember especially those in need whom we know, members of our family, friends and neighbours and commend them to God’s mercy and love.

The Lord’s prayer

Hymn: S t F 686 Jesus, Lord we look to thee

Jesus, Lord, we look to thee;
let us in thy name agree;
show thyself the Prince of Peace,
bid our jarring conflicts cease.

By thy reconciling love
every stumbling- block remove;
each to each unite, endear;
come, and spread thy banner here

Make us of one heart and mind,
gentle, courteous, and kind,
lowly, meek, in thought and word,
altogether like our Lord.

Let us for each other care,
each the other’s burdens bear;
to thy church the pattern give,
show how true believers live.

Free from anger and from pride,
let us thus in God abide;
all the depths of love express,
all the height of holiness.

Charles Wesley ( 1707- 1788 )


A North Lancashire Zoom service takes place every Sunday at 10.30 for details of the access code please contact the Circuit Admin. office at circuit@northlancsmethodist.org.uk
or Rev. Emma Holroyd at emma.holroyd@methodist.org.uk

A South Lancashire Zoom service takes place every Sunday. For details of access please contact Admin. office at circuit@northlancsmethodist.org.uk
We have set-up a new ‘recurring’ zoom event – so the login information should work for all the Sundays in January.

SERVICE for Sunday, January 17th prepared by Rev. Roy Burley

All the hymns are from Singing the Faith

THE PREPARATION Psalm 139:1-6

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Hymn 330 Joy to the world

Joy to the world – the Lord has come!
let earth receive her king,
let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing!

Joy to the world – the saviour reigns!
let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Prayer of approach, adoration, confession and declaration of forgiveness

Loving, gracious God, you know us better than we know ourselves. You know my thoughts and the motives for the things I do. You know what I want to say even before I speak the words, and for that I am so thankful. Even when I struggle to find the words to worship you, you know what is in my heart. So, knowing your presence will surround me, and your love sustain me, may I have the assurance you will hear and accept my spoken and unspoken words, for wherever I go, You will be there. Loving God, you are always ready to hear us. Always wanting to show us the depths of your love and your understanding of us. Always wanting to comfort us and celebrate with us. Our words are not adequate to thank you for your forgiveness and for the privilege of knowing we are accepted as your children and, because we are your children, we can know your peace and joy and everlasting love. Amen

Hymn 322 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

  1. How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
    In a believer’s ear!
    It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
    And drives away our fear.
  1. It makes the wounded spirit whole
    And calms the troubled breast;
    ’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
    And to the weary, rest.
  1. Dear Name! the Rock on which I build,
    My Shield and Hiding Place,
    My never-failing treasury filled
    With boundless stores of grace!
  1. Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
    My Prophet, Priest, and King;
    My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
    Accept the praise I bring.
  1. Weak is the effort of my heart,
    And cold my warmest thought;
    But when I see Thee as Thou art,
    I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
  1. Till then I would Thy love proclaim
    With every fleeting breath,
    And may the music of Thy name
    Refresh my soul in death.

John Newton (1725-1807)

THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

Bible Reading John 1:43-51

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’

46 ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.

‘Come and see,’ said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’

48 ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’

49 Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.’

50 Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’ 51 He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man.’

SERMON Jesus and the honest sceptic

John chapter 1 introduces a number of people who kept talking about Jesus. John the writer of the book was one of those. This entire book is about Jesus first, last, and always. John had so much to say about Jesus that he couldn’t write it all down. Andrew was one of the first to follow Jesus. Once convinced that Jesus was the one he had been waiting for, he immediately found his brother Peter, and brought him to Jesus. Andrew would never be the bright light that his brother would be among the apostles, but Peter might never have known Jesus if his brother hadn’t insisted on talking about Jesus.

This brings us to Philip. Jesus invited him to join him on his road trip to Galilee. But note what Philip does first. He finds his friend Nathanael and tells him about Jesus. Nathanael is our focus today, but think about Philip for a moment. He was a brand new disciple. He may not even have understood half of what he believed yet, but he knew Jesus was the best thing that he had ever heard of. Jesus was simply too good to keep to himself. He couldn’t help himself, he had to talk about him, he had to tell his friend.

Nathanael was a Jew from Galilee, his hometown was Cana (John 21:2), where Jesus would perform His first miracle in a few days’ time. His name meant, “A gift of God,” and that maybe tells us something about his parent heart when he was born. He probably was a fairly knowledgeable student of what we call the Old Testament. When Philip invites Nathanael to meet Jesus, he appeals to his knowledge of the prophesies about the Messiah. But the most obvious characteristic about Nathanael was his scepticism, “Show me first,” could easily have been his motto.

Did you catch his first response to Philip, he says, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Now, Nathanael responds, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Some think that he knew the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem, and not Nazareth. So, if Jesus was from Nazareth, then He couldn’t possibly be the Promised One. Whatever the reason for Nathanael’s dim view of Nazareth, the story doesn’t end there, it is what happens next that is important.

Remember that Nazareth was not considered a very significant place. The town is situated inside a bowl on top of the Nazareth ridge north of the Jezreel valley. Nazareth was a relatively isolated village in the time of Jesus, with a population, it is guessed of about 200. Even with such a small number, Nazareth was overpopulated, there was a scarcity of natural resources such as water and fertile soil and it was a place of relative poverty. In such a situation, there tended to be a fair amount of sickness and disease.

Whilst that is the physical description, we need to realise that spiritually, it was insignificant as well. Nazareth is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament. There is no prophecy, which links the Messiah with Galilee, much less Nazareth. It was not known for great minds or great abilities; nothing special was ever expected to come from Nazareth – certainly not the Messiah.

Jesus has time and room for sceptics and doubters, we often tend to act as though having questions or doubts is a sign of weakness, and it can be, but not always. Let’s face it; if we are honest, we all have our doubts at times, even us ministers. If we didn’t, we would be seen as so gullible that we would be an easy target for every smooth talking person that we come across. Followers of Jesus are not called to have blind faith that believes everything, but we are called to be tender hearted and tough minded. Jesus never scolds anyone for questions and honest doubts; He welcomes the opportunity to answer those questions and doubts. He can reassure us because, He is the truth, He holds the truth; and welcomes all who truly seek the truth.

Jesus especially appreciates honest sceptics, and there is a difference between scepticism that is honest and open to answers and phony intellectualism. Nathanael had his doubts, and maybe he was suspicious and sceptical by nature, however, it is clear that he read and studied the Scriptures. He was looking for answers, and he wasn’t just using his doubts to hide behind, so that, when he was invited to come and see – he came!

Therefore, when Nathanael gets up to follow Philip, he goes to the meeting without expecting anything too special from this so-called “Messiah.” You can imagine Nathanael’s surprise when he rocks up to see Jesus, and Jesus immediately says to him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” You can imagine his shock; he has never met Jesus before, so how do you know me? Jesus responds, “I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.” You can just see Nathanael standing their stunned asking himself, “How in the world does this man know me?”

When Nathanael walked up to Jesus, Jesus could have said, “I know you, you are the person who thought nothing good can come out of Nazareth! Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but here I am, God’s Son in the flesh, now don’t you feel a bit silly?” Jesus could have said that, but He didn’t, instead Jesus focusses on something completely different, because at that time, Jesus wasn’t the only one who was a great person coming out of a strange place. We need to note that there were many people in Israel who didn’t really understand what real faith was.

The background and the current situation are not the issue here; the issue is what Jesus sees in the heart, and the fact that He can see a willingness to trust in His sacrifice. Therefore, here is my challenge, on the basis of all that you have heard, I want to invite you to come and sit under the fig-tree. You see, in the days of Jesus, the fig-tree symbolised fruitfulness and spiritual fullness. When Jesus says, “I saw you under the fig-tree,” He is pointing to the fact that Nathanael was a man who desired a closer walk with the Lord. When you were “under the fig-tree,” you were in a place of reflection, study, and meditation, a place where people expressed their heart of hearts to God. A place where their joys, but also their sorrows, their victories, but also their failures, their confidence, but also their doubts. Therefore, to be under the fig-tree meant expressing your relationship with God. Jesus maybe saying to Nathanael, “I saw you praying, I heard your questions, and I know that you are seeking God’s truth.”

Notice how Jesus greets him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false,” the KJV uses the quaint phrase, “in whom there is no guile.” It describes a person of integrity, in other words, what you see is what you get, there is no pretence, just honesty. The name Israelite was taken from the Patriarch Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jesus will make a reference to Jacob’s dream later in the conversation, and Jesus is probably making a play on words here. The original Israel was known for his deceit and scheming, remember he conned his brother out of his inheritance, and was then conned by his father-in-law. The old Jacob wasn’t to be trusted, but Jesus found a refreshing difference in Nathanael, he was real, and Jesus liked that.

If you have any doubts but are an honest doubter, you can do no better than what Nathanael did. He kept searching and asking God for answers, but he looked in the right place – God’s word. He stayed around the right kind of people, those who believed, which meant, that when he was invited to come and see, he came to see! If you have any doubts that you struggle with, if you don’t have everything all figured out and tied in a nice bundle, but you really would like to find out what God has for you, then you have come to the right place and to the right person. Jesus delights in revealing heaven to honest sceptics; this was probably the heart of Jesus’ final words. He promises Nathanael answers and to even bigger questions than he has now. Jesus refers to Jacob’s dream of a ladder, with angels coming and going to heaven in Genesis 28. He claims that he is the one who makes such revelations of heaven come to pass, as His follower; Nathanael will come to know and understand such things.

Conclusion: I don’t care if you are sceptical about religious matters or if you are religious and often find yourself sceptical about sceptics, you can learn a thing or two from Nathanael and Jesus. Doubters, you can bring yourself, doubts and all to Jesus, come and see. He will love to help you to find help to all the honest questions. On the other hand, if you tend to doubt if sceptics can ever find Jesus don’t worry about it; you don’t have to wait until the people around you have no more doubts before you talk about Jesus. Jesus doesn’t have any doubts, you just talk about what you have found, invite them to come and see, doubts and all, and Jesus can deal with the rest.

Hymn 548 Blessed assurance

  1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
  1. Refrain:
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Saviour all the day long;
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Saviour all the day long.
  1. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
  1. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Frances Jane van Alstyne (Fanny Crosby – 1820-1915)

THE RESPONSE

Prayers of intercession

Let us pray.

God, most gracious and most holy, grant us the help of your Spirit as we pray for the Church and the world.

We pray for the Church in every land . . . for this church and for other local churches . . . that we may worship and serve you with reverence and joy.

Silence

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray for the peoples of the world . . . and for the leaders of the nations . . . that all may work together for justice and peace.

Silence

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray for those who are ill or distressed . . . for the lonely and the bereaved . . . and for those in any other need or trouble . . . that they may be comforted and sustained.

Silence

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

Father, we remember before you all your servants who have died in the faith of Christ . . .

We pray that we too may lead faithful and godly lives in this world, and finally share with all the saints in everlasting joy; through Jesus Christ our 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.

THE DISMISSAL

Hymn 673 Will you come and follow me

Will you come and follow me
if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? 
Will you let my Name be known
Will you let my life be grown
in you and you in me?

Will you leave your self behind
if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer
in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see
if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoner free
and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean,
and do such as this unseen?
And admit to what I mean
in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘You’ you hide
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound
in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name
.Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show,
thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me?

John Bell (b 1949)
Graham Maule (b 1958)

Benediction

May God’s grace fill our lives, Christ’s love overflow in our hearts and the joy and peace of the Spirit challenge and inspire us today and always. Amen