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From the Chapel of Unity, Methodist College, Belfast.

The Rev Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, explores the importance for Christians of taking risks.

Led by the Rev John Alderdice
With the Chapel Choir, directed by Ruth McCartney

God is Love
Through all the changing scenes
For the Beauty of the Earth
O Love that wilt not let me go
Thy perfect love (Rutter)
Day by Day (Martin How).

Release date:

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Oct 2013 08:10

Chapel of Unity, Methodist College, Belfast.

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BBC Radio 4.  Today’s Sunday Worship comes from the Chapel of Unity in Methodist College Belfast. It is led by the Rev John Alderdice and the preacher is the Rev Dr Heather Morris


CHOIR     Thy Perfect Love (John Rutter)


HEADMASTER Good morning.  As Principal of Methodist College, Belfast, it give me great pleasure to welcome you again to our Chapel of Unity. Methody, as the school is commonly known, is one of the largest grammar schools in Northern Ireland, and a diverse and naturally integrated community of just under 1800   pupils of all faiths and of none.


With six choirs and numerous instrumental groups, music is an integral part of the life of the school life with and you have just heard our Chapel choir singing John Rutter’s Thy perfect love. We’re delighted that our preacher today is the Rev Dr Heather Morris, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and she will be thinking about how the Christian should be ready to take risks.


And so we worship God



God, through the prophet Isaiah has said

When you pass through the waters,

    I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

    they will not sweep over you.


We sing of God’s eternal loving kindness that holds us fast and guides us in the hymn God is love: let heaven adore him


CHOIR God is love (Abbot’s Leigh)




 Let us pray:


Eternal God and Father, you are the source of all life,

The fount of all wisdom, the well-spring of all grace.

Your days are without end, your loving mercies without number.

We depend on you:

And we remember your goodness to us and to those who have gone before us.


You are our God, the all-wise, the all-compassionate.

To you we lift up our hearts and worship you.


But we acknowledge that we have rebelled against you

And broken your law of love.

We have rejected your leadership, spurned your guidance

And have been unwilling to venture into the unknown for your sake.

We have not loved our neighbours and heard the cry of the needy

Forgive us we pray in the name of Jesus Christ

Who sets us free and through whom we are pardoned.


Lord of creation, you give new strength to our faith.

Grant that we may recognise you presence

In all of live and history,

And face our trials with serenity and peace.

We ask this and all our prayers through our Lord Jesus Christ  Amen


We bless God for his many gifts to us in Mack Wilberg’s arrangement of the hymn, For the beauty of the earth.




CHOIR  For the beauty of the earth (Dix, arr. Wiberg)





A reading from 9th Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles at the 11th verse describes events after Saul’s conversion when he arrived, blind in Damascus, and Ananias, a disciple of Jesus was sent to see him


11The Lord said to Ananias, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision* a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ 13But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ 15But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul* and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


CHOIR  Day by Day (Martin How)





A reading from the 13th Chapter of the Gospel according to St Matthew- three Parables of the Kingdom.


Jesus said: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.


45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.


47 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.




One sunny afternoon, many years ago now, kind friends took me water-skiing. Now, I am not a co-ordinated person. “It will be fine” they promised me, “You will have a wonderful time. Most people get to stand up on the skis very quickly”. So we went to a quiet part of a Fermanagh lough and spent an afternoon discovering that I am one of the few people who don’t manage to stand up quickly. That afternoon involved lots of getting in and out of boats, and perhaps it’s because I spent much of  it alternating between mild shock and exhaustion,  that I remember the feeling very well of standing with one foot on the wooden jetty and one foot in the boat.. A deeply uncomfortable feeling. The unsteadiness of having a foot in two worlds.


I told that story last week to a group of teenagers in Wesley College in Dublin, I was talking about integrity and how we face the danger of living differently in different contexts, one person in school but another at home and another with friends.


But it is not just teenagers who face the challenge of identity formation. Not just teenagers who must decide whether or not they will live with integrity. It’s not just teenagers who are tempted to live with a foot in two worlds. We all face that challenge. And for Christians the question is whether or not we will let living faith in Jesus Christ shape all that we are; be the bedrock on which we build the whole of life or whether instead we will choose to portion off our life carefully into separated bundles, jealously ensuring that faith in Jesus does not touch our work, or the decisions we make as to how to spend money or time or our lives.


At the end of that class the school chaplain and I asked the young people what they would tweet or post as a Facebook status if they were a Christian leader. They came back with some magnificent answers and one young woman in the light of the story I had told wrote “Maybe living for Jesus is as simple as taking your foot out of the boat” so that both are on solid ground.


God is at work in God’s church and in the world. As God has done down through the ages God is calling women and men, children and young people and those who are old to follow; to be disciples, to live wholeheartedly in and with God. And as has happened down through the ages we struggle with wholehearted commitment; we try to live, uncomfortable and unsteady, with a foot in two worlds. And for those of us who are fed up with half hearted discipleship; for those who lie awake at night thinking there must be more to life than this; for those of us who know God is stirring us to live generously for the sake of Gods Kingdom, maybe it is “as simple as taking our foot out of the boat” and choosing to throw all our weight onto God, so we trust God completely.


“The kingdom of heaven” says Jesus “is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all that he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-45) They got it, nothing was going to hold them back from going after that which they had found. Rejoicing, in joyful anticipation they let everything else go for sake of the treasure they had discovered.


As President of the Methodist Church in Ireland I have the privilege of week by week and sometimes day by day meeting people who have made that courageous choice to follow God whole-heartedly; people who have made the courageous choice of trusting all to the God who loved and loves and who will forever love the world.


Christians who run food banks and Drop in centres. Who speak out powerfully for peace and reconciliation and counter-act sectarianism by building relationships across historic divides.


Jono and Beth Griffin are Christians and keen surfers. They felt God calling them to develop a ministry with young people, left jobs in Dublin, moved to Shannon in County Clare and the Surf Project was born. Young people go to Surf School and through real life shared honestly and with integrity learn about Jesus.


An invitation to trust God so deeply that we dare to take risks, leave behind that which is familiar for the sake of God’s call and live with both feet firm in Creator, Son and Spirit. An invitation to recognise the value of God’s Kingdom; like the farmer and the merchant in Jesus’ parable, to see what is of real value and to give our whole lives to that.


Now making that courageous decision to trust does not mean that uncertain moments will not come; for they will. Hannah, in the 1st Book of Samuel who loved the Lord, wept and cried out to God because she did not have the child for which she longed, and courageously learns to trust the God with whom she struggles. God tells Ananias to go to the still blind Saul and place his hands on him and restore his sight. Ananias is understandably wary for this Saul had been out to kill and destroy Christians. But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go”.

Saying yes to the invitation to trust God will cost and cost dearly. But even in our trembling uncertain weeping moments will we risk all and stand, both feet firmly in the God who created heaven and earth; will we trust the God, the Son of God, Saviour, who did not stand by and at a distance do nothing, but sent Jesus that all who believe might live; will we lean our weight into the God whose Spirit still hovers over the face of the earth, encouraging, prompting, pointing to Jesus. This God is still in the business of inviting us to follow, even when that means leaving much behind. God still invites us to trust, even when that feels like risking everything. This God is trustworthy. Amen








The hymn, Through all the changing scenes of life, based on Psalm 34 reminds us that in trouble and joy, with God  we have nothing to fear



CHOIR  Through all the changing scenes of Life (Wiltshire)





 Let us pray:


READER We pray for Church and for all who are in positions of leadership and authority within it, here in Ireland and throughout the world. May your Church be a community of love and every Christian, a witness to your grace. Help the Church to maintain its faith but give it the imagination and the creativity to seek new ways of proclaiming your truth and serving your world. Guide it by your Spirit that it will be ready to take risks for the sake of the Gospel and challenge it we pray if it appears smugly content.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer



READER We pray for your world and we think again of places that are rife with violence, countries in the Near East, Afghanistan and other places where there are victims of brutality. We think of those who are in the grip of unimaginable poverty, and of those who are only too familiar with hunger and despair. We ask that you would bless all those agencies which strive to bring relief and release to those enslaved by poverty and want ,and pray that you would give guidance to those who lead nations that they may always be prepared to take initiatives that could lead to the peace of the world.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer



READER We pray for the world of education and learning

Lord of truth and love, you have commanded us to love you with all our mind. So bless the work of this school and all other schools, colleges and universities that in them the truth may never be distorted or concealed but honoured, followed and obeyed. Guide teachers and students as they seek and serve the truth. May their learning lead them to greater and selfless service that learning may flourish and so enrich lives and draw people closer to you, the source of all truth.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer


 READER And we pray for everyone in special need of your grace, guidance and support:

Those whose lives have been changed enormously because of illness or the death of someone they love or through the ending of a relationship.

Those who feeling challenged to move into new territory for them and are very apprehensive

Those who feel utterly uncertain about their future.

Those who are in the grip of debilitating depression

Those who are drawing towards the end of their lives.

My they know that you care for them and may know the assurance of the deep abiding presence of your love.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer








We offer all our prayers in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord who taught us to pray

Our Father who art in heaven, hallow'd be thy name.

Thy kingdom come

Thy 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 Thine is the kingdom the power and the glory for ever and ever  AMEN


Our closing hymn sings of the love of God that, no matter what our circumstances will not let us go.


CHOIR  O Love, that will not let me go (St Margaret)







 And the blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Hoy Spirit be with you all AMEN


Thanks you for joining is at Methodist College. We look at the world as the choir sings.


CHOIR  Look at the World  (John Rutter)



Sunday Worship came from the Chapel of Unity at Methodist College Belfast and was led by the  Rev John Alderdice. The preacher was the Rev Dr Heather Morris, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.  The Chapel Choir was directed by Ruth McCartney and the organist was Emma Gibbins

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