Home Service 2nd June 2024

Prayers of Approach

Eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we come to you dressed up or dressed down; we come to you together or alone; we come to you willingly or ‘dragged’ along; we come to you in a place of worship; we come to you with joy or sadness in our lives; we come in a multitude of ways, with myriad thoughts, and with trillions of reasons, but we dare to come because you call us to follow Jesus.
Lord God, Jesus gathered round him his disciples, ordinary everyday folk, together they worshipped you and learned of you. Here we are, ordinary folk, gathering to worship you, the God we adore: help us to share the treasure we have found – the message of Jesus – with today’s world.
Open our minds, O God; open our hearts, O Christ; open our souls, O Spirit; that we might hear your call afresh, respond with enthusiasm and commitment, working together to build your kingdom, to your praise and glory. Amen.

Hymn Lord I have made your word my choice (R&S 316)

Readings: Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Mark 2:23-3:6


The ten commandments governs both relationships with God and relationships with other people, and by Jesus’ time the division of the law into two parts – piety towards God and justice towards others – was widely recognised. This is the background against which Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s Gospel is set.

Today’s reading shows us the final two instances in a series of confrontations between Jesus and religious leaders. Mark uses this early chapter to establish a picture of Jesus pushing at the conventional boundaries to highlight his new understanding of God’s will.

In these two stories the experts are again keen to find fault by interpreting the prohibition of work on the sabbath almost impossibly strictly. Jesus’ teaching is in keeping with the commandments of Deuteronomy since he remembers that God’s sabbath is best kept by being compassionate as God is compassionate.

Hymn This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made (R&S 377)


The Pharisees in today’s reading seem to be looking for something critical to report back to Jerusalem and are openly hostile to Jesus’ actions and teaching. They are keen to interpret religious commandments and traditions as strictly as possible to show him in a bad light. It’s something that is unfortunately not uncommon today. ‘We always do it like this’, are words familiar to most church leaders in a new situation, asking, for example, why the Easter garden is decorated with plastic lions and tigers (yes, really!). Sometimes change and challenge raise a smile. More often they are seen as a threat.

The satisfying thing about rules and traditions is that they provide a comforting framework, we know where we stand with them, and we can achieve a great sense of accomplishment when we have ticked them all off. The downside, and the danger, is that they can lull us into a false sense of security, thinking that we have done all that is necessary simply because we have kept the letter of the law. Jesus words and actions are so shocking for the Pharisees because he upsets their certainties and destroys their sense of security. He blows fresh air into the stale and hollow rule system that the sacred Law had become.

In Deuteronomy the keeping of the Sabbath was linked not just to God resting on the seventh day, after the six days of creation, but also to freedom. Freedom from the slavery which they had had to endure in Egypt and freedom from being forced to work. Keep the Sabbath day holy, make it a day of rest, becomes a command not just for the Jews themselves to rest but to allow their own servants to rest also. By Jesus’ time however this simple Sabbath rule had become cluttered with all sorts of other regulations. It had become so important that intricate detailed rules had been built up around it until the sense of celebrating the good creation, worshipping God, and enjoying freedom from labour was choked in unyielding small-print regulations. There were 30 types of work which were forbidden including carrying anything from one place to another (which could cover almost anything), and today’s examples of plucking a handful of grain (that constituted farm work) and healing the man’s hand – definitely work!

Jesus’ observations about David’s actions when his men were hungry and his question about whether it is lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath only allows of one answer. He saw that the Pharisees had lost sight of what the Sabbath was really for – a day for people’s own good, and a day to be enjoyed not endured. It was a day in which they could rest and concentrate on their relationship with God without the distractions of working. When Jesus is attacked for breaking the Sabbath rules his argument is that God gave human beings the sabbath for their spiritual and physical well-being, so how can it be wrong to feed the hungry or heal the sick on that day? To be tied down so tightly to the rules that your compassion has to be stamped on is hardly in keeping with the caring generous God of love. To borrow and slightly adapt the Mars bar slogan, God gave the us Sabbath so that over the course of the week we might have time ‘to work, rest, play and pray.’

Hymn I danced in the morning when the world was begun (R&S 195)

Prayers of Intercession

Thank you, God, for the gifts you have given us. Thank you for your creation. Thank you for the steadfastness of your love. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the outpouring of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the stories we have of you through the ages, written on stone, papyrus, clay, vellum or paper. Thank you that stories of you were told from one generation to another, passed on by word of mouth. Thank you that the stories are old and trusted and yet ever new. Thank you for all these gifts given through the years that now are treasures to us.

We pray, Lord God, for the people who have helped us along life’s road: those who have nurtured us and cared for us; those who have taught us and trained us; those who have embraced and emboldened us. For them all: Lord God, we pray.

We pray for those who have a troubled road to travel: those who find themselves lonely and friendless; those who find themselves frail and faltering; those who find themselves angry and aggrieved; those who find themselves frightened and fearful; those who find themselves disgruntled and dissatisfied; those who find themselves empty and desolate. For them all: Lord God, we pray.

We pray for those who cannot see the treasures they have; treasures that come from those around them, or from you. For them all: Lord God, we pray. Amen.

Hymn Christ for the world we sing, the world to Christ we bring (R&S 599)


Let us go in the name of the Lord to our homes, our neighbours, our communities, and let us make a difference. May we raise up those who are disheartened, tell others about the risen Christ, and visit those who are lonely, and may our hearts and minds be open to receive all that God gives us and asks of us.
And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, go with us and remain with us, always. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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