Service of the Word for Sunday, 15 November 2020

Led by Revd George Mwaura

Preacher: Revd David Moore

Prelude: Humoresque – L’organo primativo

Introit: The life I now live is not my life

The life I now live is not my life, [×2] but the life which Christ lives in me. [×2]

This is the purpose of God for all,
now disclosed to his people:

Christ in you, the hope of glory! [×4]

Call to Worship and Greetings

Friends, we exist because God made us.

We are here because Jesus calls us.

We are together virtually because the Spirit binds us to each other.

Without God, where would we be? Who would we be?

Let us worship God, who makes us a community of love.

Good morning church, wherever you are at this morning. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Welcome to this online service. It’s wonderful that you can join us as we worship together; may the Lord bless you immensely.

Let us pray…

Opening Prayer

Living God, as we turn towards you, we also turn towards ourselves. We think of what we bring, and what we don’t. And we know that, even though you call us to be ready, you also support us in bringing the little we have, whether we feel ready or not. O God of readiness, ready us, as we pray.


Hymn: Come to us, creative Spirit

Come to us, creative Spirit,
in our Father’s house,
every natural talent foster,
hidden skills arouse,
that within your earthly temple
wise and simple
may rejoice.

Poet, painter, music-maker,
all your treasures bring;
artist, actor, graceful dancer,
make your offering;
join your hands in celebration!
Let creation
shout and sing!

Word from God eternal springing,
fill our minds, we pray,
and in all artistic vision
give integrity.
May the flame within us burning,
kindle yearning
day by day!

In all places and for ever
glory be expressed
to the Son, with God the Father,
and the Spirit blest.
In our worship and our living,
keep us striving
towards the best.

David Mowbray (b. 1938)

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession

Lord of time and space, we gather to give you our thanks,
and as we do so we pause for this moment and turn together to you.
You who hold all time in your hand.
Make us ready to receive you, as we gather in our homes.

But Lord we are also aware that we are not ready
and that you call us to a life of mercy, justice and humility – but we do not always live like this.
You call us to a life of welcome – but we do not always welcome.
You call us to a life of solidarity – but we do not always offer a helping hand.

Have mercy on us, O God, for the times we have failed,
and for the times we have failed to care.
For your name’s sake, and your mercy’s sake.


Prayer of the Week

God of all time, you made time and you entered time to be with us.
We move from ordinary time to extraordinary time, and in all this, we wait for you.
Keep our hearts aflame with the things that please you: mercy, humility, justice.
And as we turn to worship you, we worship you in time, in spirit and in truth.


Bible readings

Psalm 90: 1–8 &12

Read by Raphael Atoyebi

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling-place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death –
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.

7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Let us talents and tongues employ

Let us talents and tongues employ,
reaching out with a shout of joy:
bread is broken, the wine is poured,
Christ is spoken and seen and heard.

Jesus lives again,
earth can breathe again,
pass the Word around:
loaves abound!

Christ is able to make us one,
at his table he sets the tone,
teaching people to live to bless,
love in word and in deed express.

Jesus lives again,
earth can breathe again,
pass the Word around:
loaves abound!

Jesus calls in, send us out
bearing fruit in a world of doubt,
gives us love to tell, bread to share:
God-Immanuel everywhere!

Jesus lives again,
earth can breathe again,
pass the Word around:
loaves abound!

Fred Kaan (1929–2009)

Matthew 25: 14–30

Read by Ola Atoyebi

The parable of the bags of gold

14 ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 ‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”

21 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

22 ‘The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold: see, I have gained two more.”

23 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

24 ‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

26 ‘His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 ‘ “So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd David Moore

Psalm 123

A Prayer for Mercy

1 Lord, I look up to you,
up to heaven, where you rule.
2 As a servant depends on his master
a maid depends on her mistress,
so we will keep looking to you,
O Lord our God, until you have mercy upon us.
3 Be merciful to us, Lord; be merciful;
we have been treated with so much contempt.
4  We have been mocked too long by the rich
and scorned by proud oppressors.

‘Be on Your Guard’

‘Gender equality’ does not get much of a look-in in the Bible. So, we must make of it the best we can! For me, this requires a firm critical posture between the ‘common mind’ of scripture and the knowledge and values of the cultures we inhabit today.

In Biblical studies the word ‘critical’ is not about doubting, but about avoiding simplicity. For most of my working life I used a Filofax diary – this gave me room to make all sorts of notes about people and places, phone numbers and the like.

I have been retired for twenty years. So I claim the right to wander around in past memory; after all, we have just passed through the season of remembering!

In all my adult life my general administrative competence and dyslexia were managed well by Dorothy, my life partner. She was an NHS-trained secretary. More often than not she could second-guess my diary notes before I had even finished writing them.

But, going back a little further into my past, I grew up second in a line of five brothers, three of us experiencing the bombing of Bath. Five growing lads could be very competitive at times – especially on the rare occasions when we had cream cakes for tea and we had to eat all our crusts before the cakes could be eaten.

I have lived through a remarkable period of social history – my life was shaped by living through war, being inside of a house where all the windows and doors were blasted by bombing and then having to relocate the very same day, being taken to grandparents I hardly knew forty-plus miles away. There our family shared the home of an aunt with a severe mental illness. Her husband was in the Army and my father was far away building emergence air-strips all over East Anglia.

My aunt’s illness deteriorated so much that my elder brother and I ended up attending a boarding school from Monday to Friday. Boarding school at five!

Fast forward …

Some years later I was confirmed as a member of the Methodist Church, along with Dorothy and a dozen or so teenagers of a Methodist Church in Bath.

So, as we say … one thing leads to another …. I began training as a Local Preacher and Dorothy and I became an item and somehow a wider purpose began to emerge.

I then spent a year at Cliff College in Derbyshire – not my theological cup of tea but it certainly helped me to sort out who I was and added depth to my journey. However, at this time I did not have a bigger picture of my future plan, but I did follow this time with two years as a youth worker in Basildon, me an untrained youth worker arbitrating a youth club (five nights a week) populated by Old Towners and New Towners. Muscular Christianity was often required! Average attendance was 84 an evening! I also found myself playing football for Basildon Town in the then London League. If I scored a goal it was front page news in the Basildon Recorder!

My Superintendent Minister was Ron Gibbins. (Bless his memory.) He managed and tutored me with a very light but wise hand. I never managed to tell him just how important he was to me and that his presence still remains in my life.

My first appointment as a Minister was in South Wales for three years … and then I found myself as a Minister of a Church in Cable Street, Stepney (said to be a place of real danger and sordid morality). There was a small congregation PLUS a Soup Kitchen for fifty or more homeless men and one or two women. It was open five nights a week.

All of this was so full-on most of the time … but we were young! Our children knew quite a few homeless men before they started school. Bill Mackay, a recovering alcoholic, became one of our baby-sitters! And I also got to know many of the staff at the London Hospital Emergency Department.

‘Be on guard’ does not mean avoiding risk. Being on guard can mean being ‘wide-eyed’. Being a person of faith can mean a willingness to take risks for the good of others.

The Jesus I began following as a young man has at times led me into numerous difficult situations. My faith has had to adapt and change in the light of the circumstances of my life. Faith is to be flexible, not rigid.

Today a good bit of me is agnostic, but that has in no way caused me to jettison the Christianity I absorbed/accepted as a teenager. It has continued to develop over the years.

I do, however, mistrust some popular forms of Christianity. We must find better ways of relocating the bloodiness of the Cross. Remove the cosmetics that hide more than they reveal!

Christianity has a Cross at the centre of everything. And, however much we might wish to decorate or elaborate the Cross, we are talking about death. There cannot be resurrection without death.

Now that takes a bit of thinking about!


Musical Reflection: Ubi Caritas

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor,
Christi amor.

Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum,
Deum vivum.

Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincere.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor,

Affirmation of Faith

Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created:
things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers;
all things have been created through him and for him.

He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead,
so that he might come to have first place in everything.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross.


By Rosemary Kearsey

Loving God, we meet as your people, as one church, but with separate lives.
Although we have individual concerns and different perspectives on the world,
in this time of reflection, let us join together,
so that those whose hearts are rejoicing may support those who are anxious or who mourn
and those whose hearts are heavy, may feel supported, and catch a glimpse of their blessings.

In the prayers which follow, I invite you to respond to the words,
‘Loving God’
by saying,
Move us by your spirit’.

Together, we thank you for people who support us
and for the joys which friends and family can bring in our daily lives.
We pray for people who are anxious or lonely –
who have no-one to share their joys and sorrows, anxieties and fears.

As we experience another period of lockdown,
we remember especially those who are housebound or in hospital,
that they may feel your love surrounding them.
We pray too for those who would have found it helpful to visit our Chapel, had we been open.
We know how well used this facility is in normal times
and we pray that those who would have liked to come
will still find a way to experience the peace and blessing which they find there.

When we feel disconnected, separate, powerless or hopeless,

Loving God
Move us by your spirit.

We pray for all who are anxious or depressed but who feel unable to seek help
because others appear to have more pressing needs at this time.
May they find the support and encouragement they need to overcome their fears.

When we read the papers and watch the news,
it can be hard to notice the good things which are happening in the world.
In the face of violence, aggression and the prospect of war we feel we can do nothing.
We feel overwhelmed.

We thank you for those who are prepared to accept positions of authority and influence.
Give them wisdom and insight; a sense of justice
and a desire to work for the good of all, not the interests of a few.
We pray for the people of the United States of America, as they prepare for a change in government –
that polarised opinions may not threaten a smooth transition of power.

When your world seems to be a place of confusion, greed and bitterness, of rivalry and hatred,
remind us to pray.

Loving God
Move us by your spirit.

We thank you for those whose work brings respite to others;
people who work in aid agencies around the world
and people who work in the emergency services in this country.
We pray for all who care day by day for the sick and dying;
those who support the bereaved and people with mental illness;
those who work with the homeless
and with children who are separated from their parents.

When we see or hear of people in need and we feel powerless to help,
give us confidence and help us to understand what we can do.

Loving God
Move us by your spirit.

Forgive us, Lord, that day by day, we miss opportunities to demonstrate your love in action.
Show us how a word in the right place, a gesture at the right time,
or being alongside someone in times of trouble, even when we can’t be with them in person,
can make a difference.

When we feel ashamed of the way people are treated in our country and in our city,
but think we can do nothing, breathe your Spirit into our lives

Loving God
Move us by your spirit.

Your Spirit gives us life – life in all its fullness:

Eyes to see;
Ears to hear;
Hearts to respond.

We pray once more for your Spirit to awaken our senses.
Give us the faith to know that your Spirit will show us how to act in your service.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory

are yours now and for ever.


Hymn: I, the Lord of sea and sky (Here I am, Lord)

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain,
I have wept for love of them,
they turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone,
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame,
I will set a feast for them,
my hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts be satisfied,
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Dan Schutte (b. 1947)

Blessings and Sending out

Living God, you have made us your people,

We who once were not a people.

You have spread your arms wide and welcomed all.

Your invitation is always open, always ready to extend and expand.

Send us out, now, in the joy of your inclusion
and with the mission of your hospitality for all.

May you dwell among us and call us to be a community.

And may the Blessings of God Almighty
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
rest and remain upon you and all those whom you love wherever you may be.


Church, love and serve Christ in those communities where he has placed you!

Postlude: Sonata in A by Scarlatti