Home Service 23rd July 2023

Call to worship

Prepare the way of the Lord.
Let us quieten ourselves and become aware of:
· where we are,
· how we are,
· whom we seek,
· whom we expect,
· whom we long to please.

We listen for the sound of his footsteps, his touch on our arm, his smile and his greeting. He chose us – you and me, invited us to come, called us here in person. Because we are his friends and followers, his co-workers in the world, he needs us to be fit and ready, reared on God’s love, filled with the Spirit.

Prepare the way of the Lord!

A prayer of approach

Lord, we choose to come to you today asking for a deeper understanding of your ways, an appreciation of your grace, and a desire to seek your face. Bear fruit in our lives, we pray.


A prayer of thanksgiving

Jesus, Lord of wisdom, power and might,
Lord of understanding and wise counsel, we praise you here today, and thank you for the life-changing work of your Spirit. Amen.

Please read Matthew 3

The book of Isaiah has sometimes been called the ‘fifth Gospel’ because of its foreshadowings of the story of Jesus. It’s here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, describing John the Baptist in his proclamation of the coming Messiah: he is the one ‘shouting in the desert, “Prepare a road for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!”‘ (verse 2).

John is a wild and strange figure, an outsider whose fiery message has a huge impact on the people. His message is one of judgement: ‘The axe is ready to cut down the trees at the roots; every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire,’ he says (verse 10).

The one who will fulfil his prophecy, of course, is Jesus. John’s message is not a comfortable one, particularly in our own day when perhaps we focus more on the loving and caring Jesus. Acceptance and tolerance are the great values of our time, and talk of judgement is rare.

Every age tends to remake Jesus in its own image, which is why paying careful attention to Scripture is so important. When we do this, we find there’s an edge to Jesus we sometimes miss. He fully expresses the character of God, who is love. But love isn’t just a warm feeling of general goodwill; it’s a hot rage against evil, too. We shouldn’t be afraid of anger; we just need to be sure we’re angry at the right things.

A sending out prayer

Loving God, send us out, full of joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope, by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Listening

Long ago prophets knew www.youtube.com/watch?v=S63rjDtYRYg

God Has Spoken by His Prophets www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoPiKqKTmbg

Prepare the Way of the Lord www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpZ_FowUKUQ

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