A service for at Home on Sunday 7th November 2021, prepared for us by a Methodist Local Preacher.

CALL TO WORSHIP
Every generous act of giving, every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning

Hymn Singing the Faith 94 To God be the glory, great things he has done!

Prayer
Father God
teacher and doer
lover and giver
you take our breath away
overwhelm us with wonder
reduce us to silence
compel us to try and find the words to describe you

All we can do is repeat ourselves
exclaim the same words over and over again:
we praise you!
we praise you!
we give you the glory!
Rejoice!
Great things!

Dear Lord
they bear repeating
the great things you have done
that we rejoice in
the redemption and the promise

They bear repeating
Sunday by Sunday
week in and week out
as we come to you
through Jesus
your Son and our Saviour
in the power of the Holy Spirit
AMEN

Forgive us, Lord
that we repeat ourselves
say the same things over and over again
make the same mistakes
act without thinking
we can’t seem to stop ourselves

Over and over again
we say sorry
apologise
promise to do better

and over and over
you show us how to begin again
repeat your promises
cheer our spirits

Some things are worth repeating
over and over
echoing in our hearts
sweet music uniting us
while endless ages roll along
God is love!
God is love!
Amen
Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN.

HYMN Singing the Faith 639 Through the love of God our Saviour all will be well.

Reading 1 Kings 17 vv 8-16
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Reading Mark 12 vv 38-44
As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’

Hymn Singing the Faith 244 -Blest are the pure in heart.

SERMON
My friend Viv and I were walking one fine evening in summer along Rockstone Place. We spotted the little gathering in the park, and crossed quickly to the other side. But we were too late. A red-faced man came right up to us and said he hadn’t eaten that day, and would we give him some money to buy chips. I said, quickly, automatically “Sorrynochange.” But Viv said: “ I won’t give you money, but I’ll take you round into Bedford Place and buy you something to eat.” Not, in the end, from the chip shop, but from the Co-op, where she took him to the chill cabinet and negotiated two pork pies and a pint of milk. I don’t know if she would have done the same if she had been alone, but something gave her the courage to do what she did.
We can put ourselves in the shoes of the widow approached by Elijah as she goes about her business. A woman on her own, gathering wood, stopped by a man who has been living rough out in the desert. A man who has found that God will provide; that God will command ravens to feed him and lead him to water. And now this man has come to her because he believes his God had sent him to her. That his God has commanded this woman to feed him. Except she doesn’t seem to have been told anything about it.
Elijah’s lucky. It looks like she’s more like Viv than like me. She is certainly more than ready to bring a cup of water when asked. But as soon as Elijah asks for bread as well in that afterthoughty sort of way, calling after her “Please bring me some bread too,” she says no. I can’t help. I have nothing to spare: just enough for one last meal for two. This is a woman who has the courage to speak the truth as she sees it. “I have nothing to give you: my son and I are hungry, too, and it wouldn’t be fair to him to give away his last meal.”
Elijah’s answer is a promise that none of them will go hungry; that there will always be enough flour and enough oil to make enough bread for the three of them while the drought lasts. They will be given their daily bread day by day.
The Lord will provide.
Jesus points out another widow. Another woman on her own with nothing to spare, apparently going hungry in order to give. He’s just been talking about the rich and powerful showing off their good deeds, drawing attention to themselves. “This is the Jewish Law: watch me and see how it should be done. Follow my example as I take my seat in the synagogue, then stand with a flourish to bow my head in prayer. Here is how to wash your hands before a meal and give the blessing. I am your example: pay attention: look at me”
And Jesus says: “Don’t just look at what they want you to see them doing, but see what they don’t want you to see: that they exploit the weak for their own gain, that they take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes” And there they are, these hypocrites, tossing their gold and silver into the treasury with a satisfactory clang and rattle, drawing our attention again.
But Jesus notices someone else: one of those widows they take advantage of. One of the widows God has told his people to care for, reminding them over and over again in the Law to remember the widow and the orphan. A woman who should be receiving charity, not giving it. Her coins make hardly a sound, they are so small and light, and she does not draw attention to herself – just walks up, drops them in, and slips away. She doesn’t have to do this: no one expects her to be able to give anything, or have anything to offer. But she wants to contribute something, and what she gives is everything all she has to live on. It is a brave thing to do. I wonder what kept her going? Did she have faith, like Elijah, that God would provide? That there would be just enough flour and oil to make her daily bread? That is what the other widow had found: that God kept his promises and provided her daily bread.
We make lavish promises in our hymns and prayers to give everything to God, and then we hold back from giving more than we think we can afford out of prudence that says we should be good stewards and out of fear for the future.
We break those promises, but God keeps his. The widows we have just met knew that. He will take what we offer and use it all. He will take it and make it enough for his purposes and then he will ask for more. Until we truly live the words we sing and the prayers we pray in Jesus’ name.
AMEN

Hymn Singing the faith 566- Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord to thee

Prayers for the world, our neighbours and ourselves
We need to look around us, Lord
to see what’s happening in the world
the nations watching each other
show off their wealth
their weapons
their political power

We need to notice who is being hurt
forgotten
ignored

Give us the courage
to do more than just watch
to speak up for the forgotten
and the ignored

We pray for politicians and diplomats
and pressure groups
and all who work for justice
and struggle to bring peace

We need to look around us, Lord
to see what is happening next door
in our street
to our neighbours

We need to notice who is being hurt
forgotten
ignored

Help us find a way to help
to reach out and share
to say the right words
do the right thing

We pray for all who work
alongside the poor
building partnerships
encouraging communities
for outreach and youth
and community workers
for deacons and chaplains
and all who are called
to the ministry of service

We look around us, Lord
and no one seems to know you
the stories have not been told
the message has not been proclaimed
Help us to tell of what we know
to speak of you
to tell the story

We pray for those who equip us
and train us
encourage and support us

We look around us Lord
and see our friends
our families
those we love

We know who is hurt
afraid
unhappy

you have laid them on our hearts
and we bring them to you
for you are here
you do not just watch
you reach out to touch and heal
to set us free
Accept our prayers, Loving Master
claim the here and now
for your Kingdom
claim us for your disciples
so that we may be of your mind
filled by your burning Spirit
and live and work
to God’s praise and glory
AMEN

Hymn Singing the Faith 664 Lord, you call us to your service,each in our own way.

Blessing
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all
AMEN