Service of the Word for Sunday, 30 August 2020

Service of the Word

Led by Revd George Mwaura

[The whole service is contained in the audio file and the full text of the service is posted here (with the exception of the text of the sermon).]

Prelude: Sinfonia in D minor by J.S. Bach

Introit: My song is love unknown

My song is love unknown,
my Saviour’s love to me,
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh, and die?

He came from his blest throne,
salvation to bestow;
but men made strange, and none
the longed-for Christ would know.
But O, my Friend,
my Friend indeed,
who at my need
his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew his way,
and his sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then ‘Crucify!’
is all their breath,
and for his death
they thirst and cry.

Here might I stay and sing:
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine!
This is my Friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman (1624–1683)

Call to Worship

God calls us to worship in spirit and in truth,
with both deep sadness and indescribable hope,
as we reflect on all that Jesus went through for us,
and we praise God who goes beyond all our expectations.

Good Morning Church, on this beautiful Sunday morning.
God is good?

All the time.

Let us be still for a few moments as we individually and collectively come before the Lord in reverence,
with music, hymns and prayers….


Gathering Prayer

Lord, the disciples gathered around you,
trying so hard to answer your questions, and to cope with difficult news.
We come before you now and ask your blessings,
as we seek to understand more of your story –
your tough and challenging, but so good a story; a story of salvation for all creation.


Hymn: Praise to the Holiest in the height

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
which did in Adam fail,
should strive afresh against the foe,
should strive and should prevail;

And that a higher gift than grace
should flesh and blood refine,
God’s presence and his very self,
and essence all divine.

O generous love! that he, who smote
in Man for man the foe,
the double agony in Man
for man should undergo;

And in the garden secretly,
and on the cross on high,
should teach his brethren, and inspire
to suffer and to die.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

John Henry Newman (1801–1890)

Prayers of confession

Lord, in humility we acknowledge before you that often we behave like Peter:
hearing your word but going off on our own track,
not wanting to follow your path, especially if it looks rough.
We acknowledge before you that there are times when we desire the world,
but don’t give much thought to our soul.
Lord, we acknowledge before you that there are times
when we are a stumbling block to others and to ourselves,
times when we look for complications instead of just following you.
Forgive us Lord, and help us to follow you more faithfully, in Jesus’ name.


Prayer of the week

O God, whose words burns like a fire within us,
grant us a bold and faithful spirit
that in your strength we may be unafraid to speak your word
and follow where you lead.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


Bible Readings

Psalm 26: 1–8

Read by Robin Kyd

1 Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.
2 Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, Lord,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

8 Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.


This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: In a world where people walk in darkness

In a world where people walk in darkness,
let us turn our faces to the light,
to the light of God revealed in Jesus,
to the daystar scattering our night.

For the light is stronger than the darkness
and the day will overcome the night,
though the shadows linger all around us,
let us turn our faces to the light.

In a world where suffering of the helpless
casts a shadow all along the way,
let us bear the cross of Christ with gladness
and proclaim the dawning of the day.

For the light is stronger than the darkness
and the day will overcome the night,
though the shadows linger all around us,
let us turn our faces to the light.

Let us light a candle in the darkness,
in the face of death a sign of life;
as a sign of hope where all seemed hopeless,
as a sign of peace in place of strife.

For the light is stronger than the darkness
and the day will overcome the night,
though the shadows linger all around us,
let us turn our faces to the light.

Robert Willis (b. 1947)

Matthew 16: 21–28

Read by Janet Trimnell

Jesus predicts his death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’


This is the Gospel of Christ.

Praise to Christ our light.

Sermon by Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

Musical reflection: God so loved the world

God so loved the world
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoso believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world
to condemn the world,
but that the world through him might be saved.

From John Stainer’s Oratorio ‘The Crucifixion’ (1887); words from John 3: 16–17


By Don Head

Let us bring what is on our minds and ask for God’s guidance.

Lord, I love the place where your glory abides

We pray for the church where we cannot yet all gather together in our buildings.
We pray for the preparations to open our building for more activity, especially for public worship.
We thank you for our Ecumenical Partnership and our life as pilgrims together.
Today the wider church remembers a non-conformist minister from Bedford,
John Bunyan, writer of Pilgrim’s Progress and hymns such as ‘Who would true valour see’.

God of peace, who called your servant, John Bunyan to be valiant for truth:
grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at last rejoice
with all Christian people in your heavenly city.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the world, with its current emphasis on what divides us:
nation from nation, black from white, haves from have nots.
We pray that by your mercy you will touch the hearts of all in authority
and enter the hearts of us all, that we will all begin to see our earth as one
and seek to establish a society of fair shares and a common wealth
to replace our current selfish systems which leave the majority in want.

Loving God, you show yourself to those who are vulnerable
and make your home with the poor and weak of this world.
Warm our hearts with the fire of your spirit.
Help us to accept the challenge of these times.
Protect the healthy, we pray, calm the frightened,
give courage to those in pain, comfort the dying.
Console the bereaved, we beg you, and strengthen those who care for the sick.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for our city, Milton Keynes, for increased economic activity
to create jobs to replace those that are being lost.
We pray for all those who are going to be unemployed at the end of this month, when furlough reduces;
for all who are in danger of losing their homes at the end of next month,
when the current protections against eviction cease to operate.
We pray for all our schools and colleges as young people get back to full-time education,
for teachers and support staff and all pupils, especially those starting a new school.

We want to say thank you for our green city
and ask that you will guide and prosper its life in these difficult days
We pray that you will guide each person, young and old,
to care for our environment and provide a life together where all are housed and fed.
We pray that our young people will learn that we all depend on one another
and that they will, in their turn, want their city to be peaceful and prosperous.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Finally, we pray for ourselves, our family, and this fellowship of Christ the Cornerstone.
We pray for your guidance in all our activities in the coming week,
be it work or school, volunteering or caring.
We pray for all on holiday, for all who are ill or indisposed and any that are in need of our prayers.

May we, your people, using all our energy and imagination and trusting in your steadfast love,
be united with one another in conquering all disease and fear.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We are not worthy to ask, save, through the merits and mediation
of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
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.


Closing Prayer

Thank you, Loving God, that you do not call us to anything
without also giving us the resources to cope.
You do not ask us to go anywhere you haven’t been.
You call us to take up our cross,
and we come to you with fear and trembling,
but knowing that ultimately your way is the best.
Be with us, Lord in the coming week and help us to understand as we follow you faithfully.


Hymn: Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake!

Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake!
God’s saving news to all the nations take:
proclaim Christ Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King,
that all the world his glorious praise may sing.

Go forth and tell! God’s love embraces all,
he will in grace respond to all who call:
how shall they call if they have never heard
the gracious invitation of his word?

Go forth and tell! Some still in darkness lie;
in wealth or want, in sin they live and die.
Give us, O Lord, concern of heart and mind,
a love like yours which cares for all mankind.

Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide:
share God’s good gifts – let no-one be denied;
Live out your life as Christ your Lord shall choose,
your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.

James E. Seddon (1915–1983)


Our Lord Jesus Christ knew what was going to happen to him during those last days
but he did not flinch, or back away.
He shared his vision with his disciples and us too.
As we begin another week,
may the Lord remind you to constantly look to him in the good and the tough times.
May he guide you as you go in his name, so that your feet may walk humbly in righteousness.

And may the blessings of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain with you and all those whom you love today and always.


Church, be Christ’s eyes, ears, feet, hands, and mouth
in the community where you live, where you work and where you play
as you love and serve him!


Postlude: Largo from New World Symphony by Dvoŕăk