Skip to main content

Virtual Worship - 21 November 2021

Call to worship

As we come into your presence, Loving God,
open our ears to hear your call,
our eyes to see those around us as you see them,
and our hearts to receive and share out your love for us and our world.

Song

Singing the Faith 526 – Lord of all hopefulness

Prayers

Jesus, you just weren’t as meek and mild as we might think.
You weren’t frightened to speak your mind,
to get people thinking so they could understand better.

We praise you, Lord.

When we are in a spot and struggling to find answers,
you are such a fantastic role model.

We praise you, Lord.

When our hearts are so hard that we almost feel the ice in them,
you melt them, and make us truly human again.

We praise you, Lord.

You call us on to better ways,
to the beauty of a relationship found only in you.
You give us hearts to appreciate you and each other in so many different ways.
You are a God of abundant riches and blessings.

We praise you, Lord.
Amen.

Lord God, sometimes we find it so hard to come to you,
to confess our sins to you.
Sometimes our relationships – with you and with each other – aren’t right.
It can be all too easy to let other people, or things, keep us away from you.
And sometimes we try and keep others away.
Please forgive us, Lord, and teach us what truly matters to you.
Amen.

Assurance of forgiveness

God takes us in his arms and blesses us.
God loves us and protects us.
When we come to God in a true spirit of repentance,
from the littlest ‘sorry’ of the youngest child,
to the biggest ‘Father forgive’ of those old enough to know better,
God hears us and welcomes us with open and loving arms.
We are blessed.
Amen.

Song

Singing the Faith 256 – When I needed a neighbour

Readings:

1 Samuel 3:1-10: God Calls Samuel

The boy Samuel was Eli’s helper and served the LORD with him. At that time the LORD did not speak directly to people very often. There were very few visions. Eli’s eyes were getting so weak that he was almost blind. One night he went to his room to go to bed. The special lamp in the LORD’s temple was still burning, so Samuel lay down in the temple near where the Holy Box was. The LORD called Samuel, and Samuel answered, “Here I am.” Samuel thought Eli was calling him, so he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed. Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” Again Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” Samuel did not yet know the LORD because the LORD had not spoken directly to him before. The LORD called Samuel the third time. Again Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” Finally, Eli understood that the LORD was calling the boy. Eli told Samuel, “Go to bed. If he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, LORD. I am your servant, and I am listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. The LORD came and stood there. He called as he did before, saying, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak. I am your servant, and I am listening.”

Mark 10:13-16 Jesus Welcomes Children

People brought their small children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them to bless them. But the followers told the people to stop bringing their children to him. Jesus saw what happened. He did not like his followers telling the children not to come. So he said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people who are like these little children. The truth is, you must accept God’s kingdom like a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it.” Then Jesus held the children in his arms. He laid his hands on them and blessed them.

Reflection

Put yourself in the shoes of the small children in the Gospel reading. Your parents have told you about this really amazing person who is going around the local area, talking to people about God, healing people who are sick, noticing and making time to hear the blind man at the side of the road, the deaf person, the woman who is called unclean, even (and you’re not quite sure what you think about this) that woman from Samaria. And then they tell you that you are actually going to see him! You get yourself ready in your smartest clothes and set off, along with your brothers and sisters and the neighbours’ children. You are so excited to get to see Jesus, and you are all talking to each other, getting louder and more excited as you get closer to where Jesus is. The crowd parts and you can actually see him! You and your siblings start to run forward in excitement…and all of a sudden there is a group of men blocking your way, looking very crossly at your parents. You stop suddenly and can hear the men speaking angrily to your parents. You don’t understand what is going on. Why can’t you go any further forward? Your mother takes your hand and pulls you back, looking very upset. You hear her say, “We only wanted a blessing.” The man in front of you looks even more cross and snaps back at her, “What makes you think he has got time for children, especially noisy and unruly ones such as these!”. You feel a bit hurt and upset. You weren’t being THAT noisy. Well fine, if Jesus is too busy to talk to you then maybe he isn’t that great after all. He is just like all the other adults, writing you off because you are a child.

Have they never heard of Samuel?! Samuel was “just” a child when God spoke to him, and God didn’t speak to many people at that time. God knew that Samuel was “only” a child but that didn’t seem to stop God from talking to Samuel, and it wasn’t like God gave Samuel a simple message to pass on. I mean, imagine if God told you to tell your teacher that really bad stuff was going to happen to his family. That’s not a simple message to pass on is it? You huff indignantly and turn around to head back home, but then you catch sight of Jesus’ face. He has heard what the man has just said to your mother and his face, which was smiling a moment ago, suddenly changes and becomes sad. He moves towards you and your friends and family. You turn around to start walking back home, feeling really upset and let down – you thought Jesus was different. You hear a shout - “Let the children through, bring them here to me!”.

Wait, what? What is going on? You turn round to see where the shout is coming from, and Jesus is there behind you. He puts his arms out for you and the other children, gathers you together and guides you into the middle of the crowd. He sits down with you all gathered around him and says a special prayer of blessing on you all as the adults all stand around, amazed that Jesus has stopped his conversation with them to bless you and your friends. I wonder what sort of impact an encounter like that would have on you as you grow up, what choices you might make as a result. Jesus tells the watching crowd, and us reading that passage today, that the Kingdom of God belongs to people who are like the children. I wonder what the crowd at the time might have made of that. What about you? What do you think Jesus meant by this?

As adults we are very good at making judgements and putting obstacles in place, sometimes with very good reason, sometimes because we fear ‘the other’. Children, on the other hand, are much more open and accepting. A few years ago, on the children’s TV channel CBeebies, there was a lady with a limb deformity, so she had no right hand. When she first appeared on screens there was a significant number of people who complained about her being seen on screen, suggesting that seeing her would scare the children. I know a number of children who were regular CBeebies viewers at that time – not a single one of them ever cried or wanted it turning off because she was on the screen. In reality it was the adults who were feeling uncomfortable at the sight of someone so obviously different. Children will respond with curiosity to someone who is different. They may be wary around strangers, and may ask questions that make us as adults feel awkward and uncomfortable, but they don’t judge people based on what they look like, what they say, what they wear, where they come from. Those kind of judgements that children start to place on things and people come from the adults around them.

Jesus doesn’t tell us not to be cautious, but he does challenge us the have ears like Samuel, open to hearing God’s call to us, a heart like the boy who gave up his five loaves and two fish to feed thousands of hungry strangers, the courage of David, even if we are afraid that the challenge ahead might be too great, and the loving acceptance of those who are different to us.

As we move towards a time of prayer, our next hymn is “What a friend we have in Jesus”.

Song

Singing the Faith 531 – What a friend we have in Jesus 

Prayers for others

God of rainbows and wellingtons, we pray for anyone who finds life grey and dull. Help us to find ways of sharing with them the joys of play and the delights of puddles.
God of roses and whispers we pray for anyone who finds life cold and lonely. Help us to find ways of sharing with them the warmth of laughter and the intimacy of love.
God of rest and wonder We pray for anyone who finds life hard and painful. Help us to find ways of sharing with them the release of healing and the promise of hope.
We pray, knowing that we ourselves are in need, and trusting that you are faithful. in the name and Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song

Singing the Faith 673 – Will you come and follow me? 


In our homes, we are children of God. In our schools and work, we are children of God. In our church, we are children of God. Wherever we are, we are God’s children. Let God’s kingdom come! Amen.

Today’s prayers © Copyright 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserve

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Virtual Worship - 28 November 2021

Advent 1 Service Sheet (pdf) Hello and welcome to this recorded service, presented by Bradford North Methodist Circuit. I am Martin Bashforth and I am a local preacher in the circuit. Today is Advent Sunday. It marks the beginning of a season when we contemplate the coming of Jesus into the world, to be its Saviour. It is hard for us, who know the full story of Jesus’ coming, his preaching and teaching, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, to imagine the expectancy with which his coming was awaited, and to fully appreciate the impact which his coming would have, on those who recognised him as God’s Son and accepted him into their lives. Nevertheless, it is important that we reflect on his coming and understand its relevance for us, living in the 21st Century. The coming of a Messiah had long been foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. But he did not come in the way the people of Israel expected, as our first hymn tells us: Song STF 169/ HP 81 Come, Thou long-expected J

Virtual Worship - 14 November 2021

Remembrance Sunday Service Sheet (pdf) Call to worship Jesus said: Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God. The peace of the Lord be with us all. We gather on screen, in homes, young and old, servicemen and women and their families, and those who have no connection to the armed forces, but who come to remember and give thanks for those who put themselves in the line of fire for the sake of the people of their country. We remember those who have given their lives in conflicts past and present; those who have sacrificed their physical and mental health; those who have lost loved ones and those who are in situations of war and fear. And as we remember, we commit ourselves to work for the goal of all people living together in peace, justice and freedom. Song:  O God, our help in ages past (StF 132/HP 358/MP 498/SF 415) Prayers of adoration and confession Lord our God, Lord over all, higher than we can imagine and closer than our very breath, we bring you our