The Service below for Sunday 16th May has kindly been prepared for our use by a Methodist Local Preacher. There will also be a service on Zoom led by a different Methodist Local Preacher. The zoom link will put on this site nearer the time.

Call to Worship (Psalm 1:1,4,6)
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Hymn StF 75 From all that dwell below the skies

Prayer of Adoration
Almighty God our Heavenly Father, Creator of all this and was and will be we come to worship and praise You, our Maker, our Creator. We praise You for Your great goodness, for the care of all your people. We see Your power in the changing seasons, the new shoots of spring, the soft rain, the wind and the snow. Each is for a reason and all is ordained by You.

Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, we confess before You all those actions, words and thoughts that have hurt Your children and hurt You. We know that we have, at times, gone astray no matter how hard we have tried to keep to Your commands. Hear our confessions. Take away our sin, our wrong doing and cleanse us ready for Your purpose in Your Church and in our community.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
We thank You Father for all that You have given to us, for all that we take for granted. We hank You for homes and families, for warmth and security, for daily food and drink. We thank You for friends, for strangers we meet, for opportunities to share the Love of Jesus with Your children. We thank You our leaders both in government and in Your Church. Above all we thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, Who gave His life for each of us on the Cross so that we can be united with You.
Father accept these our prayers in the Name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


Reading: The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John 17: 6-19
6 ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were Yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed Your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from You. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours.10 All I have is Yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as We are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that Name you gave Me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 ‘I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them. 14 I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.18 As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Sermon
“…..for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” John 17: 14b
In his novel, A Column of Fire. Ken Follett writes of the time following the death of King Henry VIII. The monasteries have been closed down, the power of the church has been usurped by the monarchy, the Spanish Inquisition is at its height and Queen Mary is putting to death any one who dares to worship in any other way than she or the Pope decrees.
Certainly in England and in Europe it was a dangerous time to be a Protestant. The Catholic Church was reading Scriptures in Latin which only the priests and gentry would have understood. Few ordinary people would have been able to read. Women were not educated so few would be able to understand and would rely upon their husbands and fathers to ‘advise’ them.
Yet there was a growing Protestant Church. Bibles were secretly being printed in English, French and German. Other books used to teach about Jesus and Christianity were also in the common language. To be caught with one of these meant arrest and torture. To be found printing or distributing these meant execution. Yet these books were printed, they were smuggled into all parts of Europe and the Church grew. Services were held in secret and pastors led cat and mouse lives with the secular authorities.
Gladly, we have come a long way since the sixteenth century!
Whilst reading the novel it was always in my mind that these people, on both sides, professed to be Christians true followers of Jesus. In their actions and the way they behaved to one another this was patently not so.
How can I bring harm upon my brother or sister in Christ if I truly am a Christian? Can I turn a blind eye to others causing pain and distress to any of God’s children? Do I stay mute while the powerful abuse the weak? Can my larder stay full when my Christian family both far and near struggle to feed their families?
These are questions we as Christians need to address. We really cannot stay muted in the world in which we live and allow the harm, the wrongs, that are inflicted day by day on the weak and the powerless.

An image was circulating on social media a few weeks ago.
With the Caption many are asking when are returning to Church, The Greater Question is when are we returning to God. The Image shows two doors one saying Church with a large Queue and the other saying God with one person waiting.

It is a bit of a wake up call to many of us ‘Church People’. Who do I love more, God or the church?
Without any doubt there are many good, kind and helpful people in many of the churches. There are also churches which are far from being ‘part of the community’ preferring to pander to the whims of the well off.
The passage of Scripture we are looking at is not too easy to understand.
Jesus was not and is not part of the world. By this we mean that Jesus does not now nor did He ever conform to the ways of sinful humanity.
Jesus never turned away from injustice or ill-treatment. There are many examples in the Gospels of Jesus acting to prevent injustice and ill-treatment. We can think of the woman caught in adultery who was condemned to be stoned to death. Jesus halted the execution with a simple statement, “Let him without sin cast the first stone”. (John 8: 2 – 7).
Jesus said to the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin”. (John 8: 11b).
Jesus is calling us to also leave our sinful lives and to live as examples to all people. Those who wish to be disciples of the Risen Christ cannot be part of the secular world. Yes, we live our earthly lives in the secular but need not adopt the ways of such society.
Jesus opens His prayer by praying for the Disciples (John 17: 6). He prays that He has revealed God to those whom God has given to Jesus. This means that the Spirit of God moves in the hearts of all disciples to respond to the appeal of Jesus.
Through the disciple, glory has come to Jesus. A patient who has been cured brings honour to the doctor who treated them. A scholar brings honour to a teacher. The athlete brings honour to the one who has rained him or her.
Those whom Jesus has redeemed bring honour to Him. Those who were bad but now made good bring honour to Jesus.
We cannot become truly ’good’ until we accept the Risen Saviour as Lord and Master. For when we do we bring honour to Jesus and upon ourselves.
We can remember the time of our personal confession of faith in Christ. For me there was such a sense of peace and warmth flowing through me as the minister laid her hands on my head as I was received into membership.
The euphoria with which I told all, I met that I had become a disciple of Jesus, for that what how I felt at the time.
Then the evil one took hold of those around me and challenges and temptations were laid before me. Things that the world would see as ‘normal’ but the Christian can see as wrong, as sinful and demoralising.
Trust in Christ and following His way, His teaching is the way of the disciple. To be in Christ is to be a disciple of Christ. Those who truly love the Lord cannot accept the way of the world.
We live a different life. A life of love, a life of giving, a life of forgiving. We also live a life of discipline to keep us from the depravities the evil one foists upon the world.
Let us then return to God, taking the Church with us. Let us shrug off the world that would have us conform to a path of destruction. Let us worship the Lord our God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and His Son, Jesus Christ, our Master and our Saviour.
For we are not of the world any more that Jesus is of the world.
AMEN

Hymn StF 658: A charge to keep I have

Prayers of Intercession
As the Church of God let us be still and pray together.
God of Love, may Your light shine in Your Church community as You work among us and bless us with Your presence. We offer You the gifts You have bestowed upon us, we offer You our ministries. We offer You ourselves to work for You wherever You lead us.
Holy God, may we live with Your life in us.
God of Love, may the whole world come to know You as we know You. May all Your children give You honour and praise. Encourage us to stand up to the evil one. Each us so that we remain firm in our faith and strengthen us with Your power.
Holy God, may we live with Your life in us.
God of Love, may our homes, schools, shops and places of work be places where Your glory is seen and experienced in the ordinary things of life. Fill us with overflowing with thankfulness both in the calm and in the storm.
Holy God, may we live with Your life in us.
God of Love, we pray for Your special affection for the discarded and marginalised, the weak and the vulnerable. We pray for those who find life a struggle, for those who long for respite from pain and depression. Support them in their troubles, O God, bring healing and reassurance and touch them with the gentleness of Your Peace.
Holy God, may we live with Your life in us.
Loving God, teach us to understand our lives here on earth and the life everlasting which is our hope. Help us to understand Your great work of salvation and Your Grace which surrounds us and invites us into Your Kingdom. Teach us to understand how great is Your Love and equip us to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all Your children, both far and near.
Holy God, may we live with Your life in us.
Father we bring these our prayers, all our work and our witness in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ Who taught us when we pray to say:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one
For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are Yours
now and forever. Amen

Hymn StF 345: And can it be

Loving God, in whom we know the power of redemption,
You stand among us in the shadows of our time.
As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life,
uphold us with knowledge of the final morning
when, in the glorious presence of Your Risen Son,
we will share in His Resurrection,
redeemed and restored to the fullness of life
and forever freed to be Your people. Amen

Blessing:
May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us all, with those we love and pray for and those we should love and pray for, this day and forever.
Amen
Let us go in peace to love and serve our Lord.
In the Name of Christ Amen