Circuit Worship: 12 September 2021

Led by Peter Powers

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 this linkor simply pressing play on the first video below.

Welcome & Call to worship

It is a great delight to welcome you to this time of worship. Wherever you are
and whatever your circumstances, we hope you will find comfort and hope in
this service. My name is Peter Powers and I am one of the Ministers that work
in the Oxford Circuit.

Call to worship:
Come to worship,
to be comforted and disturbed,
challenged from our complacency,
but also offered forgiveness
and the hope of eternal life.
Come to Jesus, prophet, priest and king.


Opening prayers

Most merciful and gracious God,
we offer you our heartfelt love and praise
because your Son, Jesus Christ,
was willing to risk everything for the whole world.
Even for us.
We come to worship you,
earnestly seeking your will for us –
however risky that might be, you are worth it.

Creative God,
you called us into your kingdom,
and adopted us as your children.
Redeeming Saviour,
you showed us how to be servants,
denying ourselves to serve others.
Sustaining Spirit,
you give us strength to take up our cross
in the service of the kingdom of God.

Teach us to serve others,
and in doing so, to serve you.

Lord, you walked with your disciples from village to village.
And on the way you talked to them about many things.
Giving them your teachings

Some things were not easy to hear or to understand.
We meet you here today, Lord, to hear these things too.
Giving us your teachings

You don’t call us to sit doing nothing.
You want us to be on the move:
taking risks to change our world and save our lives.
Help us, then, to draw close to you,
to be ready to listen. Then to act.
Giving us your teachings

‘Who is Jesus?’
For the times I have been asked this question, and have
struggled to give an answer:
Forgive me, Lord, and give me your words to speak.

For the times I have been ashamed to acknowledge you:
Forgive me, Lord, and grant me courage.

For the times I considered only human concerns, and not God’s:
Forgive me, Lord, and widen my horizons.

For the times I saw opportunities to take risks for God but
looked the other way through fear or indecision:
Forgive me, Lord, and build up my confidence in you.

For the times I only take the chocolates I like out of your box:
Forgive me, Lord, and make me whole,
ready to do your good will.

We have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The same Jesus who took up his cross and died for our sins.
The same Jesus who looks on us now with love and intercedes on our behalf.
Open our hearts to receive your forgiveness and blessing, Lord.


Reading: Mark 8.27-38

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the
way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered
him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the
prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered
him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone
about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great
suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and
be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his
disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are
setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to
become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and
follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose
their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it
profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can
they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my
words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will
also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy


As I look back on our journey, I remember Caesarea Philippi as a group of
villages straddling the hilltops. Jesus brought us from Tyre to walk above the
olive groves out to the fields of sheep, where the eye could look across great
distances, and dwell on the expanse of the valleys and mountains. He was
expansive in his questions. ‘Who,’ he asked, almost meditatively, ‘do people
say I am?’ We looked at one another. It was a question we had heard many
times on the edges of crowds. We answered him as they did: ‘John the Baptist,
reincarnated.’ ‘Elijah, returned from heaven.’ ‘Any one of the prophets!’
There was a pause, as Jesus considered our answers. He cocked his head on
one side, and a smile played around his mouth. ‘You’ve been listening to
gossip,’ he said. ‘Alright…when you hear those speculations, who do you say I
… He looked right at us. There was an embarrassed silence, which grew until
the beating of my heart and the stirring in my chest grew too loud to ignore. I
blurted out what we had talked about among ourselves, ‘You are the Messiah.’
The smile reached Jesus’ eyes. And we walked on. There was nothing more to
be said as that thought, finally articulated, rolled around in our minds and
hearts. Messiah. Messiah. Then Jesus told us to stop overthinking and
concentrate on a place to stay for the night.
Later that evening, as we sat watching the fire burn low, Jesus returned to the
subject. Messiahs don’t always come in triumph. Had we thought that maybe
God had another plan in mind? Had we considered that the path ahead might
not end in glory, but in suffering, rejection, torture and death? There would be
glory, but not in the way we expected. It would come on the third day, when
death would be conquered for ever.
It was late. In my defence, I was tired and confused. I took Jesus aside. This was
no sales pitch. Who would want to follow Jesus if the stakes were so high? But
Jesus was angry. He sent me to bed with a flea in my ear, calling me some rude
names. But the next morning, he settled down with the people who crowded
around him, so that he could unpick the familiar story of Messiah and reweave
the story of salvation in his own way.
‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and
those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save
it.’ Jesus carried on talking for a long time – riddles that we didn’t understand
until much later. What I understood him to mean was, that if we live life as we
please, our lives will soon be over and that’s it; but if we live to please God, we
gain everlasting life.
Then he looked straight at me. He was a prophet of course, as well as Messiah.
He said, ‘Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous
and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he
comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ That prophecy was to
come true in time to come. I was ashamed of him. I denied him three times. I
repented…on the beach, when Jesus challenged me, oh so gently, so lovingly.
He was not ashamed of me. Never. He forgave me and gave me a new
commission: to feed his sheep.


Thanksgiving Prayers

Lord God, we praise you that your ways are not our ways.
We praise you for the gift of your wonderful Son.
Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed redeemer!
Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of his excellent greatness!
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!

He took risks for us, greater than we can ever comprehend. He
took on the troubles and heartaches of the world, and died on
the cross.
Praise Him…
He rose again and gave us new life in him. Life in all its fullness.
Life forever.
Praise Him…

Prayers for others:
So many people in our world today are taking huge risks with their lives for
causes they believe in. We think particularly of those in Afghanistan who have
taken to the streets to protest about the rule of the Taliban. It’s difficult to
comprehend how frightening and disorientating it must be for the Afghan
people to be living with this rapidly changing reality and so we pray for safety.
For those showing huge courage, we ask that their voices are heard, and that
we in the west keep listening, thinking and praying for them. We pray that
leaders with influence use the power they have to guide those who
desperately need it to safety.
Loving God draw close to the people of Afghanistan,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer’
Caring is very much in the news this week and we are reminded of both the
cost of care in pounds and pence and the personal costs for those who do the
caring. Thank you Lord God for everyone who cares. Whether for elderly
relatives, for people with disabilities, or for the frail and infirm in care home
settings. May we never devalue the care givers. And as we as a society wrestle
with the cost of care, help us not to lose sight of the human lives that are
deeply affected by care needs and caring. Thank you that you are a God who
deeply cares for us all. Help us to understand the full meaning of being cared
for and cared about by our Creator.
Loving God draw close to all who give care,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
We are aware of many different people and groups fighting hard for climate
justice; trying to bring to our attention the peril the world is in and effect
change. Thank you for people who care deeply about the environment and are
not afraid to use their voice to speak about it. We pray for everyone preparing
for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year. We particularly pray
for the young people who are mobilising their friends and classmates. Thank
you for their thoughtful concern and the energy they devote to thinking about
such huge global issues. May they be determined rather than daunted by the
scale of the challenge and be encouraged in their pursuit of change.
Loving God, draw close to the people around us who fight continually for
climate justice,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer’
Many of us will have examples of Christian around this world facing
persecution and danger. Brothers and sisters who live in countries hostile to
their beliefs and for whom expressing their faith is a highly provocative act.
Please draw near to everyone who is in danger today because they follow
Christ. Help persecuted Christians around this world find safe spaces to express
their faith and, for those for whom there is no safe space, may they know your
deep love for them. May they powerfully feel the presence of your Holy Spirit
and hold onto the promise of the Gospel.
Loving God draw close to all for whom discipleship is costly,
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
Finally, we pray for ourselves. Whatever circumstances face us in the week to
come may we face them in the knowledge that you are always with us. May we
learn how to let go of the things of this world that weigh us down or distract us
from serving you.
Loving God draw close to all of us this week as we work out what discipleship
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.



Loving God,
we commit to following you this week
into corners of the community
we usually prefer to ignore.
Help us to pray and speak and act for change.

Organ Voluntary

Organ voluntary: Nimrod, from the Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (Edward Elgar)

Jonathan Scott plays the Klais organ of WeiWuYing – National Center for the Arts, Taiwan

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