Led by Ian Leck.
If you would like to join this service of worship using just the videos playing one after another, you can visit our playlist on Youtube by following the link below:
Welcome and call to worship
Hello, and welcome to this online service from the Oxford Methodist Circuit. I’m Ian Leck, a Local Preacher from Woodstock, and I look forward to sharing with you in this service. Whoever you are and wherever you are, you are most welcome, and I call you to worship. (Pause)
Come together as God’s people. Come together and be yourselves. Bring to God your joys and your struggles. Bring to God your hopes and your fears. Bring to God your beliefs and your doubts. Come together to be God’s people; and let us praise the living God as we hear the words of no. 28 in Singing the Faith – “Jesus calls us here to meet him as, through word and song and prayer, we affirm God’s promised presence where his people live and care.” I’ve chosen this hymn particularly because of its third verse, which reminds us of the inclusiveness which should characterise the Church.
“Jesus calls us here to meet him” (Singing the Faith 28)
Prayer for forgiveness
We now share in a prayer for forgiveness, which will include a time of silence in which to ask God’s forgiveness for whatever wrongdoing is most on our minds. Let us pray.
Loving God, you come to us in so many ways, but so often we fail to welcome you, or even to realise that you are there. Forgive us the weakness of our faith, the pride which makes us unable to learn your way and your truth, the complacency with which we view our own feeble efforts. Forgive our failures to welcome those companions on our “common search for truth” who differ from us. Forgive our abuse of your creation, and our failure to love you with all our being and our neighbours as ourselves. Forgive our failure to respond wholeheartedly to the call to follow Jesus …
God forgives us. God makes peace within us. We claim this healing, in faith and hope. Amen.
We now listen to the gospel and epistle readings appointed for today. We’ll then reflect on the epistle’s call to us to care for those in need, as the song “Brother, sister, let me serve you” is played.
Gospel – Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Epistle – James 1: 17-27
Gospel: Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
Epistle – James 1:17-27: Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
“Brother, sister, let me serve you” (Singing the Faith 611)
Prayers of concern:
We’ll now share in our prayers of concern. These again will include periods for silent prayer; and also, each time I say “We pray for faith”, I invite you all to join in the response “May we follow where you lead.” Let us pray.
We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.
Creator God, we pray for the world in days when it is hard to believe that the hungry will be fed, that there will be justice and freedom throughout the world, and that damage to our environment will cease. We pray for people driven by war or intolerance or poverty to leave their homes, and for the leaders and peoples of the countries to which they go… We pray for the world even if we cannot see you within it. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.
We pray for humankind in days when it is hard to believe that love is stronger than hatred, that the sick will be made well, and that death has been destroyed. We pray for those suffering as a result of the Covid pandemic and other disorders, for all workers in the health and social services and in medical research, and for all those known to us who are passing through difficult times … We pray for humankind even if we cannot see you among us. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.
We pray for the Church in days when it is hard to believe that we have a message for the world, that our unity is greater than our division, and that we will ever serve you as we should. We pray for the many Methodist ministers and deacons who will be moving to new homes and churches this week, and for the communities to which they will minister… We pray for the Church even if we cannot see you at work within us. We pray for faith. May we follow where you lead.
Eternal God, increase our faith in the love made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and inspire us to follow him. Amen. (CRCL 1:140, altered)
And we join in the Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer.
Our closing song challenges us to love God by loving our neighbours – which is surely what it means to be doers of the word. It’s number 256 in Singing the Faith – “When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there?”
“When I needed a neighbour, were you there, were you there?” (Singing the Faith 256)
Loving God, you have placed your word in our hearts. Send us out now to be not just hearers but doers of your word, to work as your agents with those of every creed and colour and name to make the world a better place. Amen.
Organ voluntary: Ciacona in E minor (Dietrich Buxtehude)
Kimberly Marshall plays the Fritts organ of Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA