Live from Eccleston Methodist Church. The Revd Stephen Poxon, Chair of Lancashire Methodist District has walked to every Methodist community he serves, praying in and for each of the churches and schools. How can Christian prayer transform community so Christians reflect and meet the changing needs of the 21st Century? Leader: The Revd Janet Pybon. Director of Music: Sue Guenault. With Eleanor Hey (French Horn). Producer: Claire Campbell Smith.
Sunday Worship, Eccleston Methodist Church 28/10/12
This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.
BBC Radio 4
Eccleston Methodist Church
Sunday, 28th October 2012
BBC Radio 4 (Time check). Sunday Worship takes a trip to the northern countryside now as it visits Eccleston in Lancashire. The service is led by the Reverend Janet Pybon.
Good morning, and a very warm welcome from Eccleston Methodist Church. Eccleston is a former mill and mining village near Chorley in Lancashire, although nowadays few vestiges of the village’s industrial origins are in evidence, and most of the residents are either retired or commute to nearby towns.
Our congregation here in Eccleston has been joined by the Good News Singers, an ecumenical choir, which meets together weekly to sing and pray together.
Prayer has been a special focus for Methodists in Lancashire this year, and our preacher and Chair of District, the Reverend Stephen Poxon has just completed a Prayer Walk around the entire Lancashire District, visiting every Methodist church and school, and praying with and for the community.
Hymns are prayers set to music, and we begin our worship with a great Wesleyan hymn, ‘Ye servants of God, your master proclaim’. In it, we find the glorious image of the church on earth combining its worship and praise with the church triumphant in heaven.
‘Ye servants of God, your master proclaim, and publish abroad his wonderful name’.
Choir / Cong Ye Servants of God (StF 340)
Charles Wesley (1707-88)
Janet Link 1 & Prayers
Prayer is the bedrock of Christian faith and practice: through it we can communicate with God, bringing him our thanks and praise as well as our concern for ourselves and others. In prayer we can also hear God’s response, the ‘still small voice’ that calms our fears and guides our footsteps.
And so now let us bring before God our prayers of praise and thanksgiving and confession.
We come before you in awe and wonder at your power and glory, knowing that no words of ours are ever sufficient to express fully all that you are and all that you do.
You are the one who is without beginning or end, the source of all life and the one who sustains it. You are holy, holy indeed, and we come before you with reverence and praise, offering this act of worship to you.
We thank you for the richness and variety of your creation and for the many gifts that you have given us. We especially thank you that you are a God who wants to be in relationship with us, a God who loves us with a love that knows no end, a God who listens and responds to our prayers.
But, Lord God, we confess that there are times when we do not love you as we should; times when our words and deeds do not reflect either the love you show to us or the love you would have us show to others in your name. We know that there are times when our prayers simply become a list of demands, and we do not make time to listen to you and hear your word.
Forgive us, Lord: renew our faith, energise our worship and our prayer lives, and bring us ever closer to you.
Choir The Lord’s Prayer (arr R. Smith)
Janet Link 2 /Psalm 126
Our Old Testament reading is Psalm 126, which celebrates the return of the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem after years of captivity in Babylon, and it is a joyous celebration of God’s almighty power and all that he has done for his people. Yet life for the returning exiles will not be easy: they have to rebuild the ruined city, and start their lives over again. The psalmist acknowledges that there are still hardships ahead, but ends with the reassurance that in due time there will be a harvest of blessing. We, too, know times when life is hard, and these are the times when our prayer life can seem dry and sterile. The psalmist’s request for God to pour out his blessings like streams in the desert are a plea for the restoration of our faith, together with the promise that after the bitter sowing will come a time of rejoicing.
Glynn / Mark Reading Psalm 126 v1-6 [Music running underneath]
Psalm 126 A song of ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.[b]
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Choir No One But You Lord (Andy Park)
Copyright © 1990 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing.
Janet Link 3/Be thou my Vision
The much loved hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’ is based on an ancient hymn text from eighth century Ireland, but it still resonates with us today, with its heartfelt expression of our yearning for God’s presence and guidance in our lives.
The hymn is a prayer, asking that God will be ‘our vision, our best thought, our presence, our light’. The hymn acknowledges that if we put God at the centre of our lives then we will come to care less about the things that the world values, such as wealth or fame, and instead will ‘set our minds on things that are above’ and recognise that our true treasure is to be found in heaven.
As we sing the hymn or listen to the words, let us make this prayer our own prayer, that God will be our vision and our guide.
‘Be thou my vision.’
Choir / Cong Be Thou My Vision (StF 545)
Irish c.8th century
tr. Mary Byrne (1880-1931) and Eleanor Hull (1860-1935) © Chatto & Windus
Janet Link 4/ Luke 24;13-27 28-35
I think for all of us there are times when, however much we might want God to be at the centre of our lives, our vision and understanding are clouded by our personal circumstances, and we are unable to sense him walking alongside us. These may be times of intense grief, when our loss simply overwhelms us, banishing the sense of a God who is with us. For others it may be times of physical suffering, when the pain we experience is so intense it takes over our lives, making it hard to focus on anything else. For others, deep anxiety or mental anguish can be the things which extinguish all sense of God’s presence or guidance. The Bible, tells us, however, that even at times when, for whatever reason, we are not aware of his presence, God is with us, walking alongside us, waiting to reveal himself to us.
Lesley Reading Luke 24 v13-27
A reading from Luke Chapter 24 beginning at verse 13
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Stephen Sermon pt 1
It started out as a bit of a joke really.
2012 is a Year of Prayer for the Methodist people here in Lancashire and in a planning meeting I said, with a smile on my face, ‘wouldn’t it be good if I visited each of our churches and said a prayer in each one’. Suddenly excitement filled the room and before I knew it a Lancashire Prayer Walk was born and the smile on my face quickly faded!!
I’m not a walker….or at least I wasn’t….. and the thought of walking to each of our 115 Churches and 11 Schools in this Methodist District filled me with trepidation ……but what a wonderful experience……a transforming experience ….similar in some ways to the two friends walking along that road to Emmaus.
Two people feeling desperate and not understanding what had happened the previous few days in Jerusalem to their friend Jesus…….and as they were walking and talking he came alongside them and although they didn’t recognise him he became their companion
The Prayer Walk began on Palm Sunday and has taken 30 days finishing only yesterday at Silverdale, covering most of modern day Lancashire..and on each of the days people have turned up to join me….over 600 people walked alongside me …some for half a mile …most for the whole day…and as we have walked so we have shared our life stories…sometimes the conversation was filled with laughter and at other times the quiet sharing of pain…..companions walking together
This is what we are called to do as followers of Christ…to walk alongside others…in our communities…at work…school…college…among our friends…..to share the joys and pain of life…to be those who walk alongside others…listening and responding …just being there…becoming companions together…
And as Jesus talked to the two friends on the Emmaus Road he helped them understand a little more about what they had experienced….their minds were opened and they saw things differently
It’s amazing …when you walk you see things from a different angle…a different perspective….We’ve walked through beautiful countryside, fields full of bulls, through boggy marsh, the back streets of East Lancs…concrete paths of towns… along sea walls ….in glorious sunshine, torrential rain….and local people have pointed out things I never knew where there…added some of the local history…the way the roofs slope in Nelson…..the new flood defences along the Fylde coast….stopping to look at a stone in the middle of a field on the walk between Whalley and Clitheroe…to be told this a the base of a Preaching Cross…from the 13/14th century… where people gathered to hear God’s word…destroyed in 16th century……and all that is left is this base stone….and I could have walked past it without even knowing…..Seeing things through another person’s eyes has been a transforming experience…
…and how much more transforming when we begin to see the world…society…the breaking news through God’s eyes…..and this only happens for me when I allow Christ to be my walking companion through life.
Lesley Reading Luke 24 v28-35
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Stephen Sermon pt 2
As we reached each of the 115 churches along the walk some of the local folk were there to meet and greet us… a cup of tea…dash to the loo…and a welcome sit down…..and over the 30 days of the walk the hospitality has been wonderful with home made cakes, soup and sandwiches…strawberries and ice cream…time and again discovering that large churches and small chapels are re-discovering the gift of hospitality…..…
For the two friends of Emmaus urged this stranger who had become their companion to stay and eat with them……….and the Church today is called to invite the community they serve to come among them…to welcome all….
As we ate and shared so we prayed together…I asked a simple question in each church we visited…’What is God doing in this place….among you?’……and wow…what stories we heard …of people giving of their time and talents so freely in the service of others…. through care of the homeless…as street pastors…setting up cafes on housing estates to help create a sense of community… church buildings becoming hospitable spaces for groups to meet supporting those with dementia ….those going through divorce…..of Open Door projects for the lonely, the elderly, the marginalised….…creative ways of engaging with families…of work with children, keeping open youth clubs going when community ones are closing with budget cuts……
And all done because of faith…faith in a God who loves us so much that people want others to experience this too…..again and again reliving the Emmaus experience…..
For it was in the home of the friends at Emmaus…over a simple meal as Jesus took bread…prayed and broke the bread that their eyes were opened…they recognised Jesus was in their midst…has been their companion on the road…..
It was in that moment of bread being broken….in brokenness that they saw Christ had been there alongside them each step of the way. And this is our calling as Christians…as the people of God…to be in the midst of the brokenness of the world…the mess as well as the good things of society….to be there so others may catch a glimpse of God being alongside them.
And I can but testify in this small way I have experienced just this… church after church were seeking to be there for the broken of their communities….to become companions with those in their neighbourhoods…and most not in a grand way but often quietly there, with few resources, wondering how to keep going but living out their faith in the only way they know how.
There we were only last week…fields were so wet…boggy …mud sucking boggy....and there were only 8 of us that day……including Arnold, an older man who was wearing walking boots a size too big for his feet…and the further we went the more unstable he became…and he kept losing his shoe and falling on his knees in the mud…and we would drag him up…
and there was Steve kneeling before him in the mud….trying to find the buried shoe and then putting it back on……and as we reached the lovely chapel at Dolphinholme….there were a group of people to greet us…we began taking off our muddy boots....and Arnold was really struggling…first a chair appeared for him to sit on…..off came his boots and then as I turned around I caught a glimpse of a couple of women appearing with a bowl of water and a towel to wash his feet….…and in that moment recognised the Christ among us…..
…The Prayer Walk has been life changing for me…..I have seen things I never knew existed…I have been privileged to enter people’s lives I never knew before and I have recognised the presence of God so close to me….. I’ll miss my walking companions but…
God’s invitation today is to walk with us…..be our companion in every moment of life…..
and God’s challenge is for us to walk with and alongside others…and perhaps like me you may catch a glimpse from time to time of the Christ among you.
Choir Prayer Is The Soul’s Sincere Desire (Sally DeFord)
[Intercessions, interspersed between Hear Us Lord (trad. Afr arr mmg) ]
It is a privilege to use God’s gift of prayer and now we bring before Him our prayers for the world and for ourselves, confident that He hears not just our spoken words but also the whispers of our hearts.
Heavenly Father, we live in a world where there is much that concerns us.
We pray for those areas that are marred by greed and war and for all the innocent people caught up in it.
We remember all the places that have ceased to be front-page news but where the problems haven’t gone away.
We pray for all who go hungry or thirsty.
May all those who are in positions of power and authority strive to make a real difference, serving justly and with honesty and compassion.
Choir Hear us Lord?
Loving Lord, we pray for the church, for those fellowships where hundreds meet to worship and for the places where only a few gather together.
We pray for all the different ways in which we reach out to those around us as we try and show that your love is for everyone, that you love each one of us just the same.
May we constantly seek new ways of sharing with others.
Choir Hear us Lord?
Merciful Lord, we pray for all we know who are in need today.
People or situations we have heard about in the news,
We pray for our children and young people, especially those who suffer any kind of abuse.
We pray for the sick,
those awaiting test results or treatment,
for the lonely,
those desperately searching for employment,
for the addicted.
We pray for those who feel unloved, especially because of bad memories…
and those who mourn.
We pray too for their families and friends who often feel helpless and distressed by the suffering they see but can do nothing to alleviate.
May each of these people know that you love them and are with them and may they rest in your arms.
Choir Hear us Lord?
Father, we bring ourselves to you. You know the things that trouble and concern us, issues that we don’t share even with those closest to us. When asked how we are we hide the truth and smile brightly. Help us not to forget that we can bring our problems to you at any time for you will not leave us. May we move forward in your strength.
Heavenly Father, we offer all our prayers in and through the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Janet Link 5/Summary
Our next hymn, ‘Lord, your church on earth is seeking your renewal from above’ was written by Sir Hugh Sherlock, a Methodist minister, who was born in Jamaica, and became the first Chairman of the newly formed Methodist District of Jamaica. In addition to this hymn he also co-wrote the words to the Jamaican National Anthem, ‘Jamaica, land we love’.
The words of our hymn are a plea for God to send spiritual renewal on his people, to enable us to fulfil the Great Commission of bringing the good news of salvation in Christ to people everywhere.
The hymn contains a wonderful vision of the whole world transformed by the saving love of Christ and reminds each of us of our duty to serve Christ and to enable others to know him for themselves.
‘Lord, your church on earth is seeking your renewal from above.’
Choir / Cong Lord Your Church On Earth Is Seeking (StF 410)
Janet Closing Prayer
Lord God, we thank you for this time of worship, when we have been able to find you in the words of scripture, prayer and song. Strengthen us for the week ahead; enable us to feel your presence at all times and in all circumstances. May we so live our lives that others, too, may come to know your gracious love. Amen.
Choir Clare Benediction (Rutter)
And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us this day and evermore, Amen.
Choir / Cong We Are Marching In The Light Of God (StF 483)
Sunday Worship came live from Eccleston Methodist Church. The Minister was the Reverend Janet Pybon and the preacher the Reverend Stephen Poxon. The choir was directed by Sue Guenault and the accompanists were Mark Guenault and Alan Winstanley. The French Horn was played by Eleanor Hey and the producer was Claire Campbell-Smith.
Remembering Hidden Lives is the theme of next week’s Sunday Worship for All Souls live from St Martin-in-the-Fields