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Live from Brunswick Methodist Church in the heart of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. This historic church in north east England , with a fine tradition of music and preaching, has been a focal point for Methodist worship and social outreach throughout its life, and today continues to be a lively, active church serving the city centre. Theme: 'The God who Shapes and Transforms'. With the Rev Eden Fletcher and Deacon Liesl Warren. Organist: David Scott. Director of Music: Ernest Young. Producer: Stephen Shipley.

Release date:

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 8 Sep 2013 08:10

Sunday Worship, Brunswick Methodist Church

Please note:

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.



Radio 4 Opening Announcement:

BBC Radio 4.  It’s ten past eight – time to go live to Brunswick Methodist Church in Newcastle upon Tyne for this morning’s Sunday Worship.  It’s led by the Superintendent Minister, the Revd Eden Fletcher and Deacon Liesl Warren.


Welcome - Rev Eden Fletcher

Good morning and welcome to Brunswick Methodist Church situated in the heart of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. Newcastle has a long and distinguished history developed along the river Tyne and hammered out on the anvil of 18th and 19th century industrialisation.


Today, Newcastle is a vibrant city, home to two Universities, 60,000 students, one of the major science cities in the UK, and a cultural and retail centre with a lively night life!


The Anglican clergyman, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, arrived in the city on the 30th May 1742. John discovered a very different city from the one we know today. We read that John was shocked by the living conditions of the people, and the drunkenness and swearing!, particularly of the women and children, and felt challenged by God to establish the work here by building the Orphan House – the precursor to the founding of our church.


Today Brunswick is part of the worldwide Methodist Church of some 80 million followers. We continue the tradition of John Wesley, by preaching the gospel and reaching out to those who need us most in the city centre. For the past four years we have been delighted to share our building with the Salvation Army, and so with our organist and the Salvation Army band we worship God as we sing one of Charles Wesley’s great hymns: ‘Let earth and heaven agree, angels and people sing, to celebrate with me our Saviour and our King.’


Hymn: Let earth and heaven agree. (Tune: Millennium)


Call to Worship - Deacon Liesl Warren         


Leader: The world belongs to the Lord

All:    The earth and all its people

Leader: How good and how lovely it is

All:    To live together in unity

Leader: Love and faith come together

All:    Justice and peace join hands

Leader: If the Lord’s disciples keep silent

All:    These stones would shout aloud

Leader: Lord, open our lips

All:    And our mouths shall proclaim your praise



Let us pray:


Wondrous and holy God, Creator of the universe

you make all people in your own image,

you live and work in our midst.

You bless us with an immense variety of cultures

and ways of responding to you.

You show us new patterns of living and loving in Jesus.

You give us strength by your Holy Spirit.

All - We bless and thank you


Forgive all among us

who put boundaries around your presence, love and work;

who use diversity to divide people -

to demonise some and accord privileged status to others;

who seek to dominate or destroy those who are different.

All - Have mercy on us all.


Show us all how to live and work with others;

to receive diversity as a gift and not as a threat;

to move beyond tolerance of those who are different

to mutual respect and trust.

Show us the art of listening with respect to one another.

Grant us the help of your Spirit

that, in humility, we may share with others

our faith and story.

All - In the name of Christ. Amen                                                         


Hymn: In Christ alone my hope is found



Reader One (Ruth Colclough):


A reading from the book of Jeremiah, chapter eighteen, beginning at verse one:


This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.


Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.


 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’



Rev Eden Fletcher:


Arriving at the church early one morning I found a young man, clearly worse for the drink and wearing only a pair of jeans sat on the church steps with Christine, our church caretaker, and two police constables standing over him. The police constables offered to arrest him, largely for his own good, but our caretaker intervened, ‘No, no we’ll take care of him’ she said. And so we did. We took him in.


Over hot buttered toast and strong black coffee the young man in his early twenties began to tell us his story. He was a student from Brighton and had arrived in Newcastle on the lunchtime train the day before to meet up with friends. The group had gone straight into town and to the bars drinking through the afternoon into the night and on into the next morning. He had become separated from his friends, lost most of his clothes, his shoes, his wallet and his mobile phone, and now had no idea where his friends were or indeed where they lived.


We found him some clothes from the store kept for the homeless, bought him some shoes and hooked him up onto Facebook where he tracked his friends down. They came to collect him a little time later. The young man insisted upon giving us a pound coin, all he had left, thanked us profusely and left.

What I so love about Christian ministry in the city centre is the sheer diversity of humankind that is drawn together in the one place: the rich and the powerful, the weak and vulnerable, the disorientated. Day to day we never quite know what or who might, quite literally, fall through the doorway here. But the story of the young man from Brighton and countless other young men and women like him that we have worked with here in Brunswick Church is my favourite because whilst it is a life that has gone badly wrong, fallen down, taken a bad turn, the church drew alongside and helped to restore, refashion, turn around and set on a new and hopeful course. Sadly, this is not always possible.


But it seems to me that the Christian message is always one of hope, always of the belief that a person, a city, a nation a situation can be refashioned, remoulded, can be turned around.


As Jeremiah the prophet of Israel watched the potter in his workshop expertly working and re-working his clay on the wheel, God spoke to him, ‘Can I not do this with Israel? Can I not remould, re-shape my people?’ Israel the people of God, called out to be special, to follow the ways of God and serve God, yet a people who had largely forsaken him, living a wayward life and if the community continued on their pathway away from God would find that that way only led to utter hopelessness and disaster - the way in fact that they chose to continue to pursue, for they did not heed the words of the prophets.


But even with the nation rushing headlong towards the precipice, failing to heed any of the prophets warnings, still God’s great desire was that they would heed the prophets words and change their ways, that God would then ‘change his mind’ about the punishment that they would bring upon themselves, for that is the all too inevitable conclusion of a destructive lifestyle - calamity, pain and suffering. For Israel it was still not too late, the clay was still wet, pliable, able to be reshaped in the hands of the expert potter, if only they would hear. So too our own lives, in the hands of the master can be re-shaped, re-fashioned and restored.


Charles Wesley writes in the last verse of our next hymn


Here then to thee thine own I leave;

mould as thou wilt thy passive clay;

but let me all thy stamp receive,

but let me all thy words obey,

serve with a single heart and eye,

and to thy glory live and die.


Hymn: Behold the servant of the Lord (Mozart)

Reader Two (Jill Foster):


Our second reading is from the Gospel according to St Luke, chapter fourteen, beginning at verse 25


Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,

saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’


“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.



Sermon 2 - Rev Eden Fletcher

I have no doubt that such a declaration of Jesus helped to thin the crowd of followers somewhat for many will have found the saying far too difficult and though physically the crowd may have been ‘on the move’, nevertheless many were far too stuck in the rut ploughed by society or family or religious expectations to accept the radical new teaching of Christ. Many were more akin to the pot after it had been fired, hard and brittle, unable to see, let alone live, the radical, transformational life that Jesus was inviting them to discover and live.


The saying of Jesus is a hard one and of course we must recognise the rabbinical way of teaching in first century Palestine. Jesus in telling the disciples that they should hate family members and even their own life did not mean it literally but used it as a device to convey the seriousness of following his way, for living in a world alien and even hostile towards God would bring great cost.


It’s been a great joy in the past two months to have back on display in Durham the Lindisfarne Gospels. The Illuminated Gospels are beautifully illustrated and represent the pinnacle of achievement of Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian art at the end of the 7th century. The Gospels are regarded as masterpieces of early medieval European book painting and celebrate the life of St Cuthbert.


Saint Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk, hermit and bishop who lived a life of intense poverty and physical hardship, travelling to wild areas and preaching hope to the community. He was trained in the Celtic tradition but supported Roman Christianity and was a tactful politician. He spent several years living an austere life on Farne Island, off the Northumbrian coast, before returning to an active role in the church. In 685 he was made Bishop of Lindisfarne. It was in his willingness to hear the call of Christ to give everything up, to live that austere life that drew many to believe through him and for which he is celebrated in this region and through the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels.


So, a beautiful pot is fashioned from the spoiled lump of clay by the hands of the expert potter to convey the glory of God, and a beautiful book is created to the glory of God and to celebrate the life of one who knew what it was to lay down his life for the sheep, to give up everything and to discover the extraordinary life that can only be found in relationship to God.


In accepting the call of Christ and in line with the saints of old, of Cuthbert, of John and Charles Wesley and of William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, let us all learn again what it means to take up our cross and seek again to live the life that God has called us to, a life of joy and freedom in the Spirit.


Hymn: O Jesus I have promised (Hatherop Castle)



Reader Three (David Stabler):


Confident of God’s love for us and our world, we bring our prayers of concern to God: Let us pray.


Sing: O Lord hear my prayer (Taizé)



Reader Three (David Stabler):

We offer our prayers for the world, remembering especially those who are hungry, enduring war and violence, who are homeless, including those who sleep rough in our cities.

You are a God of Hope and in your hands the most difficult situations can be healed, so we bring before you the people of Syria and the Middle East, praying that relationships be restored and that justice and peace will prevail.


Sing: O Lord hear my prayer


Reader Four (Gail Nichol):


We offer our prayers for all those in public life, that they will set a high value on integrity and honesty, seeking always the greater good of the whole community.

God of Hope, we bring before you this city. We give thanks for its vibrant life and the resilience of its people. We pray for those who are struggling to find work, particularly young people. We pray that they may not lose hope but come to know your renewing power.


Sing: O Lord hear my prayer


Reader Five (David Adjepon-Yamoah):


We offer our prayers for those we know who are facing difficult times. Comfort and support them in their weakness.

God of Hope, be with us all on our journey; be close to us as we step forward in faith, renew and refresh us. Help us to know that you have called us to a life of joy and freedom in the Spirit and grant that all may know that they are loved by you.

Sing: O Lord hear my prayer


Reader Five (David Adjepon-Yamoah):


We make all our prayers in Christ’s name. Amen


Deacon Liesl Warren:


Let us say together the prayer that Jesus taught us:


Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.



Deacon Liesl Warren:


Let’s stand and sing our final hymn ‘I’ll go, in the strength of the Lord’


Hymn: I’ll go in the strength of the Lord


Rev Eden Fletcher:

God be our comfort, our strength;

God be our hope and support;

God be our light and our way.

And the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life,

Remain with us now and forever.



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