A Ministry for Everyone
Live from Whitchurch Methodist Church, Cardiff, led by the Rev Cathy Gale with an address from the Rev Dr Stephen Wigley and music from the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir.
'Lord, let me not live to be useless' - heartfelt words from the journal of John Wesley. As the founder of Methodism, he clearly didn't live to be useless, and as well as travelling nearly a quarter of a million miles, preaching thousands of sermons, Wesley encouraged other members of his new movement to explore how they, too, could live vital and purposeful lives. In a live service from Whitchurch Methodist Church in Cardiff, the Rev'd Dr. Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church, continues that encouragement when he reflects on the theme of 'A Ministry for Everyone'. The service, led by the Rev'd Cathy Gale, features music by the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir with their Music Director David Young and organist David Geoffrey Thomas. Hymns include 'Christ whose glory fills the skies'; and 'Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go;' together with 'God be in my head' (Walford Davies) and 'Beati quorum via' (Stanford). Producer: Karen Walker.
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
BBC Radio 4. And now we go live to Cardiff for this week’s Sunday Worship. The service is introduced by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church, and begins with the introit ‘God be in my Head’.
God be in my head (Walford Davies)
2.INTRODUCTION REV. DR. STEPHEN WIGLEY
‘Lord, let me not live to be useless’.
These heartfelt words, originally taken from his Journal, are found on a memorial to John Wesley the founder of Methodism (in the parish of Wroot in Lincolnshire, where he served briefly as a curate.)
John Wesley certainly didn’t live to be useless; after the experience which confirmed his faith and changed his life, he travelled nearly a quarter of a million miles, preached thousands of sermons and formed hundreds of Methodist societies. But it wasn’t just about him; he encouraged other members of his new movement to do the same. For he had learnt that the same God who called him, could also speak to the ordinary working men and women he met in his travels, and use them too in the service of Christ.
Reflecting on that sense of a call and a ministry for everyone this morning, I’m delighted to welcome you to Whitchurch Methodist Church, a lively church with roots going back to one of the earliest Methodist societies in Cardiff. The minister, Rev Cathy Gale, will lead us in prayer, after our opening hymn written by John’s brother Charles; ‘Christ whose glory fills the skies; Christ the true, the only light.’
3.HYMN 1 CONG/CHOIR/ORGAN
Christ, whose glory fills the skies
4.OPENING PRAYERS REV. CATHY GALE
God our Father, our Creator, we worship you.
Through your word the universe was made, with all its colour, diversity and life.
Through your grace we received the breath of life – you knew us and loved us before we were born.
God the Son, Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you.
Living in our world you have shown us the way to live.
You have demonstrated God’s abundant love for each one of us.
You have called us to be committed to carrying on your work.
God the Holy Spirit, we worship you.
You show us truth and you enable us to praise you.
You bestow on us talents and abilities to be used in your praise and service.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, we adore you. Amen.
Lord, we confess that often we fail to acknowledge you and your lordship in our lives. We have been prepared to use our gifts and talents for our own benefit and glory, but not to benefit other people and to glorify you. As a result, others are turned away from you, rather than being drawn to you by our lives.
We are sorry that we have been slow to see the role you have for us in spreading the gospel of love, we have not seen ourselves as part of your workforce and have been quick to judge others who are doing their best.
Forgive us Lord and help us to see ourselves as you see us, with the proper amounts of humility and confidence. May we receive your forgiving love today in such a way that we desire to offer our lives to your glory.
We ask these prayers in the name of Jesus, who taught us when we pray, to say:
5.LORD’S PRAYER CATHY/CHOIR/CONG
Who art in heaven,
Hallowed 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,
Forever and ever, Amen.
6.LINK TO PSALM CATHY
Psalm 139, speaks of a sense of wonder, of being in the presence of the God who has known and loved us from the very beginning.
7.PSALM 139 READER 1
(Psalm 139.1-6, 13-18)
1O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
13For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.
‘O God, you search me and you know me’. Bernadette Farrell.
9.LINK TO O.T. READING STEPHEN
Our Old Testament reading today is the classic story of the young boy Samuel
hearing God’s voice in the Temple – a reminder that God’s call can come at any
stage or time in our lives.
10.READING Reader 2
(1 Samuel 3.1-10)
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
4Then the LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.”
So he went and lay down. 6The LORD called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and
went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call,
my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word
of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8The LORD called Samuel again,
a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”
Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10Now the LORD came and
stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for
your servant is listening.”
11. HYMN 2 CONG/CHOIR/ORGAN
Master speak, thy servant heareth . Tune: Ottawa.
12. LINK TO READING STEPHEN
In the second of his letters to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul reflects
on the miracle of the ministry into which he has been called – and how it is that God sustains him through all the challenges he has to face.
13. READING READER 3
(2 Corinthians 4.5-12)
5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
14.ADDRESS I STEPHEN
‘Our response to the God who knows us, calls us and sustains us’
This Church is set in a prominent position on a roundabout at the top end of a
bustling village. One thing it’s known for locally is the distinctive ‘Wayside Pulpit’
notice-board which you can hardly miss as you slow down to enter the junction.
These large posters in bright colours, often seen outside churches, are not
everyone’s cup of tea – and sometimes the message can be a bit ‘cheesy’. However, they do stick in your mind, and one in particular has always stayed with me. It reads simply ‘Carpenter needs joiners’.
I know that’s an awful pun; but it also has something significant to say. For it speaks
of a God who in Jesus is always reaching out and asking for others to join in, to find
their place, to discover that calling which God has in mind for them. It’s all about what Christians term ’vocation’ or call.
Each of the Bible readings today has something special to say on this subject. Our Old Testament reading makes it clear that the possibility of hearing God’s call is not restricted to those with age or experience. The story of Samuel is about a young boy who hears God’s voice but doesn’t at first recognise it or know what to say. It takes the old priest Eli, whose sight is otherwise fading, to discern what’s happening and explain how Samuel is to reply when God speaks again; ’Speak Lord, for your servant is listening’. It’s about young and old working together to respond to God’s call.
Sometimes the response to such a call can be one of disbelief, as if to say, ‘Surely there’s been a mistake - who am I to be the kind of person God might use?’ But the passage from Psalm 139, reflecting the experience of prophets like Jeremiah, suggests that the God who calls is a God who already knows all about us, who indeed has envisioned us before we were born, while we were still in the womb. I used to think
that this was some kind of poetic fantasy, until my wife Jenny had her ultrasound scan during pregnancy, and we saw for the first time the twins who would be born to us,
each already bearing signs of the distinctive persons they would grow up to be.
And there’s something distinctive and precious about the call that each of us hears, as evidenced in the passage we heard from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul is acutely aware of the irony that he of all people, given his distinctive background and previous history of persecution, should end up as an ‘apostle to the Gentiles’; he’s also conscious of others who question his authority to be an apostle at all. But in this most moving of passages, he reminds his readers that ‘we do not proclaim ourselves’ but rather ‘Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Christ’s sake’ before going on to speak of his ministry in terms of its being like ‘treasure in clay jars so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.’
Taken together, the readings speak of a God who knows us, perhaps better than we do ourselves, who is willing to use us, whatever our background or experience, and who is willing to entrust us with that most precious ministry of all, which is to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
They echo the experience of John Wesley, in particular his discovery that God could use and act through the ordinary working people who responded to his preaching and formed the basis of the early Methodist movement. It was Wesley’s willingness to use lay people as local preachers, to uphold the role of women in his societies, and in moments of crisis himself to ordain others as ministers when the situation demanded, which led him into conflict with the established Church.
All this was quite a step for an Oxford educated cleric brought up on the Book of Common Prayer. Indeed, when he first discovered that a young layman had been preaching during his absence in services at the Foundery, Wesley was horrified. It took his mother Susanna’s wise words to convince him that young Thomas Maxfield
was ‘as surely called of God to preach as you are’… and that he should ‘examine what have been the fruits of his preaching and hear him yourself’.
This discovery, almost a second conversion, may have been as important as his heart-warming experience in an upper room in Aldersgate Street, London, of being touched by the grace and mercy of God, for it served to change Wesley’s understanding of ministry, and through him to transform the Church. It was the realisation that the Gospel was not dependent on his ministry alone, but rather on a commitment by the whole Church to the God who knows all of us, who has a distinctive role for each of us, and who promises to sustain every one of us as we respond to our calling in Christ.
In a few moments, my colleague Rev Cathy Gale will reflect on her experience of how such a ministry can move mightily in the most humble of ways; but first the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir sing C.V. Stanford’s ‘Beati quorum via integra est; Blessed are they whose way is straight, who walk in the way of the Lord.’
‘Beati quorum via’
16. ADDRESS ii CATHY
‘A calling for everyone’
Some years ago I was privileged to see a member of the church allowing God to use her in a very simple, but very powerful way. This lady was a retired nurse. She was reserved by nature and would never speak at the front of the church, read a lesson, or take on any church officer’s role. But one day she came to me with a small notebook. She asked whether I would mind if she approached new people who came into the church to worship, get a contact number from them, if they were agreeable, and follow up with a phone call to invite them to return. She took on this ministry – very quietly, on her own – and through her quiet, friendly encouragement quite a few people kept returning to that church and eventually became members. On the one hand it was no big deal – just a few phone calls. But on the other hand it was a very big deal – she offered what she could to God, and He did the rest.
One of our teachings in the Methodist Church is something called the Priesthood of All Believers, a teaching shared by several other Christian denominations. More recently we’ve used the phrase the Ministry of the Whole People of God to describe this teaching. Simply put, it says that we all have equal access to God and God’s grace – irrespective of our title, our training or whether we’re ordained or a lay person.. We’re all equally responsible for God’s work in the world. God doesn’t expect more from me as an ordained minister, than from anyone who calls themselves a Christian.
If we were to ask people who it was that most influenced them as they made a commitment to the Christian faith, many would say it was an ordained person, but I suspect that for a great many more we’d find we’ve all been influenced, and blessed, by people who have simply done their bit, using their particular talents for God.
God doesn’t expect us all to do the same thing in his service. What God does want is for us all to have the same commitment to serving him. Just as God blessed the ministry of the lady whose story I shared, so too, as we offer ourselves and our gifts and abilities to God, we can trust that God will do the rest.
17. RESPONSIVE PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
So inspired by Jesus’ example, and reminded of the calling each of us have to share in the work of God’s saints, let us pray;
Send me Lord;
We pray for the world,
this world which God loved so much that he sent his only Son
to share in its life and bring about its salvation.
We pray for all who live in those difficult and dangerous places,
where communities are caught up in conflict and violence
and the prospects for a political solution seem slim,
asking that they may be strengthened by the knowledge
of your peaceful presence among them.
We pray especially for…
Send me Lord;
We pray for Christ’s church,
for all who meet in his name and share in his service
in local congregations and communities across this country;
We pray especially for our sisters and brothers across the world
Who face the threat of persecution and violence
As they seek to bear witness to their faith in Christ,
And serve as his saints upon earth.
Lead me Lord;
We pray for one another,
for the neighbourhoods in which we live and work,
for those people whose needs we know
and for those whose needs are known by God alone;
We pray particularly for those new situations into which God may lead us,
asking that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit
and used as instruments of Christ’s peace and compassion;
Fill me Lord;
We ask these prayers in the name of the one who calls and equips
us all in his service, even our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our closing hymn by Charles Wesley encourages us joyfully to live out our faith
in the way and place where God has set us;
‘Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go, my daily labour to pursue.’
18.HYMN 3 CONG/CHOIR/ORGAN
‘Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go’ Tune: Antwerp
Now to the God who is able,
By the power of his spirit at work within us
To do immeasurably more than all we can conceive or imagine,
To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
Now, and unto all generations,
And may the blessing of God,
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Be with us all, now and for evermore,
20.Organ Postlude DAVID G THOMAS
This morning’s Sunday Worship came live from Whitchurch Methodist Church in
Cardiff. The service was led by the Rev’d Cathy Gale and by the Rev’d Dr.
Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church. The
Cardiff Polyphonic Choir was directed by David Young and accompanied by David Geoffrey Thomas. The producer was Karen Walker.