Sunday Worship 30 June 2024

Order of Service

Below you will find the Order of Service, prayers, hymns and sermon for today’s service.   You can either simply read this or you can
 

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Sunday Worship from the United Reformed Church
for Sunday 30 June 2024

 
Today’s service is led by the Revd Ruth Whitehead

Introduction

Hello. I’m Ruth Whitehead, a URC minister currently serving the Landsker Pastorate – 5 small chapels in Pembrokeshire. Today as we worship we will deepen our thinking about how we discern God’s work for us in the world and find that Jesus heals us, enables us, and helps us deal with being interrupted.

Call to Worship

God is here                                 God is here
Come and worship                      Come and worship
Come and be changed by love   Come and be changed by love

Hymn     God of Grace and God of Glory
H E Fosdick (1878 – 1969)  © Copyright 2013 by Hinshaw Music Inc. OneLicence A-734713  
Sung by the Grosse Poine (Michigan) Memorial Church Virtual Choir and used with their kind permission.
 
God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your pow’r;
crown your ancient Church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

Lo, the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways.
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith & praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.

Reading     Psalm 30

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,  ‘I shall never be moved.’
By your favour, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face; I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:
‘What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!’

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you for ever.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession 

Loving God our creator,
As the Psalmist called out to you in adoration, so do we.
For all the times you have lifted us up:
Forming us in our mother’s womb,
Filling our lives with signs of your love
Surrounding us with grace
We sing out in remembrance of your holiness

Loving saviour, Jesus Christ,
For all the times you have lifted us up:
Sharing our human nature,
Teaching and healing all who came to you
Surrounding us with grace
We sing out in remembrance of your holiness

Loving Holy Spirit,
For all the times you have lifted us up:
Coming to us as helper and comforter
Strengthening all those who need you
Surrounding us with grace
We sing out in remembrance of your holiness

Yet at times we have forgotten your grace and your love,
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on us.
Do not let our fear of failure fill our hearts
But help us to know that you are our helper
Who can clothe us with joy.

Declaration of Forgiveness

The Holy God comes near to each one of us;
God’s grace can turn weeping to dancing as we hear God’s words:
‘child, your sins are forgiven – be made whole’.
Thanks be to God.  Amen

Prayer for Illumination

Loving God, as we turn to your word
Breathe through these words, speak to us, and touch our lives.
So that may be turned to you and to life.  Amen.
 
Reading     Mark 5: 21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Hymn     My Life Flows On in Endless Song
Anonymous Public Domain sung by acapeldridge.com

My life flows on in endless song,
above earth’s lamentation.
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die,
I know my Saviour liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth. 
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that refuge clinging.
Since Christ is lord of heav’n and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes, the cloud grows dim, 
I see the blue above it
and day by day this pathway smoothes 
since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, 
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his! 
How can I keep from singing?

Sermon

More years ago than I care to admit, I was in training for ministry at Mansfield College in Oxford, when we had a visit from a minister who had been out of college about 5 years or so – to tell us what the first years of ministry were really like. I can remember only one thing he said – his definition of ministry was “being interrupted”.

I have often thought what wise words those were. Ministry is being interrupted. And being interrupted can happen to all of us. When you’re deep in thought, or in the middle of something, and the phone rings and a friend needs your time. When you’re just settling down to a favourite show and a member of the family ‘needs a word’. When you’re just about on time for an appointment and someone stops you in the street wanting directions, or a chat. 

We can all experience it, and being interrupted can be irritating, but it can also be the very reason God has put you somewhere.

So I turned to this story of two healings in Mark’s gospel with a smile of recognition – even Jesus experiences ‘being interrupted’.

We can’t help feeling the tension of this story from the point of view of Jairus.

He comes to beg Jesus to come to his house: his daughter is at death’s door. His request is full of action, full of verbs:

‘Come.. lay hands on her…save her’.
At first, there’s relief – Jesus goes with him – there is a chance.

But then – the interruption. 

A woman who has suffered haemorrhages for 12 years comes seeking healing, coming up behind Jesus to touch his cloak. There and then she is healed – and this needn’t have delayed Jesus – the disciples and Jairus know nothing at this stage and the crowd could just have passed on.

But Jesus knows – Mark says he is aware of the power going out of him and he stops and turns round, asking ‘who touched my clothes?’. His disciples point out that he is in the midst of a jostling crowd – but Jesus waits for the one who has touched him seeking healing to step forward.

It’s easy to imagine you are Jairus in this moment… you just want to get Jesus home to your daughter – time is of the essence. We can imagine the poor man hopping from foot to foot, ‘come on, Jesus.. please…’.

We can ease our tension by reminding ourselves that Jairus’s daughter will be not only healed but raised from death by Jesus – so all will be well for Jairus and his family.

I want us, for a moment, to shift our imaginations back to the woman at the heart of the interruption.

When she confesses the whole truth to Jesus – her condition; her status as an unclean, bleeding woman; the money she has spent on many doctors; her faith in Jesus’ healing power; and the cure she has experienced – Jesus does an amazing thing – a unique thing in the gospels.

He calls her ‘daughter’: ‘Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace, free from your afflictions.’

We never learn her name – but the shift from desperate face in the crowd to beloved and healed daughter of Jesus surely makes her the most important interruption in the whole of Jesus’ ministry.

How does this story feels from her point of view? What would she say if we asked her?

“ I was desperate…drained…destitute. For twelve long years this bleeding had afflicted me: and the doctors took my money, but it got worse, not better. I had heard about this Jesus..and he came to our village. I joined the crowd, making sure no-one recognised me – out in public and touching other people! I said to myself that  if I could just sneak up behind Jesus and touch his cloak I might be healed. I pressed forward.. I reached out.. I touched him.. and I felt the bleeding stop. I could scarcely breathe. I was healed.

But just then Jesus turned round and stared at us all and asked ‘who touched me?’.

I knew I had to tell him, whatever might happen. I was trembling as I knelt before him and explained who I was, what I had done, what had happened. Would he punish me for touching him?.. but then he looked at me with such … such grace. “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace”.

Then people around me in the crowd started to smile at me, too: I was…me again.. and a loved daughter of Jesus, who healed me.

This woman was far from being just an interruption in Jesus’ mission to save Jairus’s daughter – this woman was the whole focus of healing and power for Jesus in that moment.

In Eugene Peterson’s version of the Bible, “The Message”,  these 2 related stories are given the title “the risk of faith”.

We might immediately see the risk of faith taken by the woman with the haemorrhage.

But there is risk here for Jairus, too. He has to go at Jesus’ pace, accept this interruption, and then when he receives the dreadful news that his daughter has died, he has to trust Jesus. Jesus says to Jairus “Do not fear, only believe”: and together they travel to his home (too late, surely – the mourners are already weeping outside). Jairus risks continuing to have faith in Jesus – and Jesus returns his daughter to him, alive and hungry!

And what about us? We have decided to worship God today. We might even think we will be lucky enough to be part of a crowd who bump into Jesus here; the spiritual equivalent of seeing Jesus from a distance – being aware of the stories of his love and healing.

But dare we take the risk of faith?

We can dare to reach out in our need for healing, despite all that has happened to us;  we can trust that Jesus will respond to us, heal us, restore us, and we can trust that he will call to us ‘son, be made well’, ‘daughter, your faith has healed you’.
Whatever the people or the events crowding in on us – the healing of Jesus is available to us. Risk, trust, believe, reach… and be made whole.

And what about our church communities – how can we encourage each other to take more risks in the name of Jesus? Above all, let us take the risk of allowing God’s Spirit to show us when something or someone is not an interruption, but is a call to respond there and then.

I can think of a church I know where the young people of the area used to wander round the church car park. So the church locked the gates and put barbed wire on top of the wall to keep them out. Then the young people used to stand at the bus stop next to the church and throw glass bottles over the wall, to have the satisfaction of hearing them smash on the other side. The church could no longer use the car park because of the broken glass, so they campaigned to have the bus stop moved, to try to stop the young people from gathering there. 
But eventually there was a change of leadership and a change of heart. The barbed wire came down, the hall was opened up to a toy library, food club and repair shop. 

For too long the church had considered the behaviour of the community as an interruption to their work, rather than a call to deeper involvement in the needs of the community. By the time they took the risk of faith, the church was too depleted to continue to sustain their building any longer and they made the difficult decision to close. The building is currently up for sale – some of us are praying for a miracle that will see that building used for the kingdom of God.

Each church is different, each story is different and each call to ministry is different.

But for all of us the work of Jesus involves a risk of faith to reach out in his name, a trust for healing where we are wrong, and a readiness to be interrupted. for God’s sake.

May the power of Jesus touch you today, so that you can live with risks through faith in Jesus and move in the strength of his Spirit, to God’s praise and glory. Amen.

Offertory Introduction 

“The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”  (2 Cor 8:15) Let us bring our gifts – of whatever size, to the God whose grace is boundless and all-sufficient.

Hymn     Over My Head I Hear Music in the Air
Traditional Public Domain sung by the choir of Sojourners United Church of Christ.
 
Over my head I hear music in the air.
Over my head I hear music in the air.
Over my head I hear music in the air;
there must be a God somewhere! (repeat)

Over my head I hear singing everywhere.
Over my head I hear singing everywhere.
Over my head I hear singing everywhere;
There must be a God somewhere!
 
Over my head I hear music in the air.
Over my head I singing everywhere.
Over my head I hear music in the air;
There must be a God somewhere!

Offertory Prayer

God of grace, every gift comes from you.
We offer these as signs of our thanks, 
and with them we bring our lives.
Touch and transform all we offer, 
that your grace may be shared ever more widely.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

The Psalmist tells us: Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning  (Ps 130v6)

All-holy God,
We thank you for the joy of your healing presence, 
and we pray for those who most need to know your healing this day.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

We pray for those who weep in frustration, 
as our planet continues to be threatened 
due to selfish exploitation by the human race.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

We pray for those who weep in fear, 
as warfare ravages lands and homes, 
and peace seems impossible.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

We pray for those who weep in pain, 
as they wait for treatment, or hope for a breakthrough.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

We pray for those who weep in anger, as they fail to find meaningful work or as relationships break down.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

We pray for those who weep in despair, 
as they feel that no-one listens and no-one cares.

God who hears…bring healing, bring joy

Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning
We pray for those who bring healing, joy and hope to others.
Help us to find ways to serve the needs around us,
And bring us, at the last, to the eternal morning of your joy with all your saints in heaven, through our saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Hymn     Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore
Pescador de Hombres (96497) I 1977, Cesareo Gabarain. Published by OCP One Licence A-734713  Sung by Chris Brunelle and used with his kind permission
 
Lord, you have come to the seashore,
neither searching for 
the rich nor the wise,
desiring only that I should follow.

O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, 
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have 
found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, see my goods, my possessions;
in my boat you find no power, no wealth.
Will you accept, then, 
my nets and labour?

O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, 
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have 
found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, take my hands and direct them.
Help me spend myself in seeking the lost,
returning love for 
the love you gave me.

O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, 
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have 
found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, as I drift on the waters,
be the resting place of my restless heart,
my life’s companion, 
my friend and refuge.
 
O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, 
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have 
found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Blessing

May God the Father lead you to where you need to be.
May the Spirit open eyes to those you need to see.
May Jesus Christ give you power to change and heal and bless.
May all know your active faith, 
as deeds and words confess that God is love, 
and sends us out to share with others all about.
 

Where words are copyright reproduced and streamed under the terms of  ONE LICENSE A-734713
PRS Limited Online Music Licence LE-0019762
 

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