Sunday Service

The Methodist Churches Irby, Greasby, West Kirby Order of Worship 28.2.21

Call to Worship

Leader From Bethlehem to Nazareth,from Jordon to Jericho from Bethany to Jerusalem,

from then to now All Come, Lord Jesus

Leader To heal the sick, to mend the broken hearted, to comfort the disturbed, to disturb the comfortable, to cleanse the temple, to liberate faith from convention, All Come, Lord Jesus.

Leader To carry the cross, to lead the way, to shoulder the sin of the world, and take it away,

All Come, Lord Jesus.

Leader Today, to this place, to us, All Come, Lord Jesus

Hymn StF 116 Sing for God’s glory

1 Sing for God’s glory that colours the dawn of creation, racing across the sky, trailing bright clouds elation; Sun of delight succeeds the velvet of night, Warming the earths’ exultation.

2. Sing for God’s power that shatters the chains that would bind us, searing the darkness of fear and despair that could blind us, touching our shame with love that will not lay blame,

 reaching out gently to find us.

3. Sing for God’s justice disturbing each easy illusion, tearing down tyrants and putting our pride to confusion; Lifeblood of right, resisting evil and slight, Offering freedom’s transfusion.

4. Sing for God’s saints who have travelled faith’s journey before us, who in our weariness give us their hope to restore us; in them we see the new creation to be, spirit of love made flesh for us.

 Kathy Galloway (b. 1952)

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession

Sermon  Who do you say that I am? Mark 8:27-38

Mark’s gospel is written with a significant degree of urgency.

His Jesus story left his readers in no doubt that he was convinced that Jesus, this “Son of God”, was the Messiah. But not the popular Messiah of popular expectations.

Mark’s Messiah was the teacher who astounded his listeners – who taught with authority; who exorcised those possessed by demons, healed the sick, and comforted the sad. He ate with tax collectors who were loathed and with sinners who were despised.

He challenged the religious conventions if they obscured God’s love. He taught by stories and parables. He worked with, harnessed, nature’s powers in ways never seen before or since.

And he always practiced what he preached. Some Pharisees, unconvinced, or perhaps wanting to call his bluff, asked him to show them signs from heaven in order to prove his identity.

Meanwhile the man and woman in the street asked “Where did his man get all this? What is this wisdom with which he opens our eyes? Is not this the carpenter Joseph’s son?

Jesus himself will have wrestled with similar questions. Although Mark does not dwell on the time spent in the wilderness following his baptism, the other Gospel writers give insight into the struggle

Jesus had with the question “who am I?” The temptations he faced gave substance to what must have been an inner questioning. He heard God say to him at his baptism; “You are my

son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” But it is likely there were times when even he wondered what that meant. Luke tells us the “devil left Jesus until an opportune time”. Maybe

he was alluding to the questions Jesus confronted throughout his ministry. What was his cry from the cross “My God, why have you forsaken me?” if that was not one last surfacing of the question

“Who am I”? Small wonder then that Jesus would want to know what others

thought of him. Who did they think he was? What were their expectations of him?

This is how Mark records the conversation.

Read Mk 8:27-29a Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”

By now Jesus’ reputation was widespread. Many of those who encountered him on their journeys found their life-journey changed. Others were profoundly disturbed and, rather than allow

this itinerant Rabbi to shake their foundations, retreated into what they knew and with what they were comfortable. For some Jesus was the answer to all their dreams. To others he was their worst nightmare. Some saw him as the political activist who would help them throw off the yoke

of Roman domination; others saw him as the trouble maker who would upset the fragile concord that existed between conquerors and conquered. To some he was sent from God, because only someone sent from God would be able to do the work of God. To others he was a dangerous radical tramping roughshod over centuries of belief and doctrine. Some saw him as Elijah, or one of the prophets, whose return to earth would herald the beginning of the end times when God’s

kingdom would be established once and for all. Others saw him as an imposter who led gullible people away from the true religion. This Son of God, this Messiah, seemed to be all things to all men – and women. Is there any wonder then that Jesus should ask “Who do people say that I am?” This was Peter’s reply.

Read Mark 8.29b-33

Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell

anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside

and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter

 and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things

but on human things.”

It was not enough for Jesus to hear his disciples recite who other people thought he was. He needed to know who they thought he was. Had they begun to grasp the truth about his identity or did they simply share the popular images? “And you, who do you say that I am?”

I wonder if Jesus was asking for his own benefit, or the disciples? Perhaps a bit of both. Jesus needed reassurance, the confirmation, that his journey from the wilderness was leading him

where God wanted him to go. His disciples needed to know what this meant for him and for them.

It was Peter answered for the rest. “You are the Messiah” From our historical perspective it seems the obvious reply. We have read the story from start to finish. But in the context of its

time, Peter’s response was “one small step of faith for man, one giant leap of faith for mankind”,

to misquote someone else who reached for the moon! Peter dared to articulate the expectations, not only of his contemporaries, but of generations of those who had gone before. That took some doing, especially given the lack of incontrovertible proof that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Something had prompted Peter to give his answer but Jesus needed to be sure that their understanding of Messiah matched his own, so told his disciples to keep quiet about it for the

time being. They had just head the proclamation of the century, and Jesus told them to keep it to themselves! But Jesus had to be certain that Peter and the rest understood what Messiah really meant. And what better way to test that than by spelling out what lay ahead for him and for them?

But it was at this point that the popularist notion of Messiah and the true vocation of Messiah

came into sharp relief and exposed Peter’s inadequate understanding. Messiah’s way was the

way of love, of humble servant-hood, of righting wrongs, and it inevitably led to sacrifice. And that for some people, himself included, that sacrifice was unto death. Jesus’ Messiah was not the all-powerful political liberator; his rule achieved by popular uprising. The new age he heralded would not be imposed by force of arms. Rather, his Messiah would offer a new way of being human. A way that released all the finer gifts placed by God in each person from the beginning of creation; those that Paul was later to describe as gifts of the Spirit. The tools of Jesus’ Messiah were towel and basin, bread and wine, service and sacrifice. And Peter just could not make sense of this. ‘What do you mean Jesus? This cannot be. You are God’s anointed, the Messiah. Assert yourself!”I wonder; did Jesus hear the tempters’ whisper? If so he was up to the challenge.

“Get behind me Satan”.Peter still did not understand, so Jesus called the crowds to join the disciples and spelt it out for them.

Read Mk 8.34-38 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and  sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Jesus challenged those would-be followers with the cost of their

own discipleship. They must deny self. Take up their cross if they were to follow him.

Jesus’ contemporaries and Mark’s readers would be all too aware of what is meant to take up a cross. Crucifixion, with all its horror, was a frequent spectacle under the Roman rule. The condemned were required to carry the cross piece of timber to the place ofcrucifixion. To “take up a cross” had meaning beyond what we can imagine. And Jesus tells his would be followers – this is what it takes to be a disciple.

Discipleship is not a matter of agreeing a particular set of moral teachings or ethical framework. It is a daily walk with God that transforms one’s life; indeed, becomes a way of life.

It raises questions about who we think we are as well as how we regard Jesus. It challenges us to reflect upon the values and priorities that shape our lives and asks to what extent they match

those expected of us. And it asks if those whose life’s journeys cross ours, are left closer

to God as a result of the encounter. (Charles New 28.2.21)

Hymn StF 513 Take this moment, sign and space

Take this moment, sign, and space; take my friends around; here among us make the place

where your love is found.

Take the time to call my name, take the time to mend  who I am and what I’ve been, all I’ve

failed to tend.

Take the tiredness of my days, take my past regret, letting your forgiveness touch all I can’t forget.

Take the little child in me, scared of growing old; help me here to find my worth made in

Christ’s own mold.

Take my talents, take my skills, take what’s yet to be; let my life be yours, and yet, let it still be me.

John L. Bell (b.1949) and Graham Maule (b.1958)

Our Prayers of Concern for others The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn StF 673 Will you come and follow me

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same? Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known, will you let my life be grown in you and you in me? Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same? Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name? Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same? Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen, and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name? Will you quell the fear inside and never

be the same? Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name. Let me turn and follow you and never be the same. In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.

Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

John L. Bell (b.1949 and Graham Maule (b.1958)

Prayers of Dismissal and Blessings

Leader Lord God, in this world where goodness and evilcontinue to clash with each other,

instill in us, and in all your people, the discernment to see what is right,

faith to believe what is right, and courage to do what is right.

All And the Peace of God, That passes all our understanding, Keep our hearts and minds

In the love of God, Today, and every day. Amen