Home Service for Sunday 18th June 2023

Prayers of Approach

Eternal God, we have heard your story, read your story, felt your story. As we gather in worship, may we know deep within us that your story lives on and that your story involves us, and is woven through the history of time with us as a part of it.

Living God, who walked among us, who moved into our neighbourhood, we come to find our place in the bigger picture of your world, to find our story in your story. May our lives entwine together, as we draw closer to you. Amen.

We sing to the Lord and worship with joy; for we never forget that the Lord is God. God made us and to God we belong; we are God’s people, we are God’s flock. We gather with each other to give thanks to God, we enter with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts. For the Lord is good, the Lord’s love is eternal, and the Lord’s faithfulness lasts for ever. God’s story has led us, inspired and transformed us, called us, acknowledged us, loved and redeemed us. Almighty God, our voices sing your praise, our hearts offer our thankfulness. Amen.

Hymn Jubilate everybody (Psalm 100, R&S 713) or I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart (R&S 386)

Readings Psalm 100

Exodus 19:2-8a

Matthew 9:35 – 10:23


In Psalm 100 the whole earth is called to worship God, but how will that happen if the world does not know who he is? In the Exodus reading God explains the covenant to Moses who explains it to the people. The relationship is based on the people’s obedience to God. Exodus expresses God’s particular care for Israel ‘out of all the peoples’, and Matthew’s Jesus sends his disciples only to Israel. But Israel’s calling to be God’s people is at heart a vocation to divine compassion and to draw all nations to God. The twelve tribes say, ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do,’ and the twelve disciples share Jesus’ healing and peace with those who welcome them. Being God’s ‘priestly kingdom’ or ‘a testimony to the Gentiles’ is a particular privilege, but in a violent world it is a costly calling.

Hymn Your words to me are life and health (R&S 321)


At this stage in the Gospel story Jesus has performed several healings and his fame is spreading. It is time to share the load, so he commissions the twelve apostles, symbolic of the tribes of Israel. Jesus tells them how costly it may be, as they go out as sheep among wolves, to share in his ministry and suffering. Jesus’ commission is risky, but what an adventure! It will be hard and dangerous, but they will be treading a new path, living in a new way. At this stage they are to focus on their own people, and they are to be single-minded in achieving their goal – fearlessly trusting God for protection.

It is sometimes said that we are a ‘risk-averse’ society today. Of course, we want to keep people safe – especially those who are vulnerable – but that phrase ‘risk-averse’ is generally intended as a criticism. However there are problems that might arise from being ‘risk-averse’. Never taking risks means that we cannot learn and grow, and when unavoidable problems arise we are less able to cope with them. Jesus was concerned with protecting his followers and likened himself to the good shepherd who looks after the sheep in contrast to the ‘hired hand’ who abandons the sheep when the wolf comes. And yet here, in today’s reading, Jesus says he is sending his followers out ‘like sheep among wolves’. Does this mean he doesn’t care for their safety anymore? Why do you think the good shepherd did this? What are the possible rewards of taking this risk?

Jesus is sending his disciples out on a risky mission and in today’s world, wearing our safeguarding hat, we might ask if he has done a ‘risk assessment’ first. What are the things they might encounter on the road, what sort of weather might they have to cope with, and what equipment will they need? I will be going to Guide camp next month and will be taking a great deal of ‘essential’ equipment. In the past we used to issue a very comprehensive ‘kit list’ which itemised just about everything even down to handkerchiefs or tissues, soap in a box, face cloth, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and comb in a bag! We don’t go into quite such prescriptive detail these days but we do still have a parents meeting at which we advise what to bring (especially wet weather gear and wellies!).

In contrast Jesus’ disciples were sent out with nothing beyond the clothes they wore, not even a spare pair of socks or undies! They were to rely on the hospitality of the people they met, and although eastern traditions and obligations of hospitality to travellers and strangers were much stronger than they are in our society today there was still no guarantee that they would find a welcome.

Discipleship is a risky business. Then and now, followers of Jesus are called to step beyond their comfort zone and risk rejection. And, just as the Israelites in the wilderness were, they are also called to trust that they will be looked after. Hence they have no need of money or spare belongings. They are given authority to perform practical acts of compassion for those in need, and their faithfulness will be rewarded.

When did you last find yourself outside your comfort zone?
Why do you think Jesus says that the disciples will be like sheep among wolves?
How might the disciples have felt as they heard these instructions?
Do you actively seek to step outside ‘the box’?

What are the risks and benefits of stepping outside the box?

Hymn God’s spirit is (deep) in my heart (R&S 576)

Prayers of Intercession

Loving Lord, you call and equip us to serve you. Watch over those who risk their own safety by caring for oppressed believers. Strengthen and protect all those who are persecuted for sharing their faith in places where living out their Christian faith in peace is not allowed. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Loving Lord, you empower us to live out our discipleship. Give wisdom, imagination and the strength to persevere to those who face apathy as they seek to live out their discipleship. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Loving Lord, you understand what it means to suffer for what is right. Give comfort and courage to those who are unjustly imprisoned, intimidated and tortured because of their faith. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Loving Lord, you taught us to pray for those who abuse and hurt us. We pray for people who persecute those who hold different beliefs from their own; may they be touched by faith and their hearts be opened to love, that the world may be united in your love. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Hymn Colours of day dawn into the mind (R&S 572)


Transforming God, as we go from here, may we be full of your amazing story, wanting to share it with those we meet, so that more lives may be transformed.

In our journeying may we be adventurous, In our encounters be kind, In our hearts be at peace. And may God bless us as we take risks, and reward us as we make a difference. Amen.

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

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