Home Service Sunday 25th February 2024

Prayers of Approach

Mysterious God, you love and hold the universe in being. You treasure each of us as a work of art, a sign of your presence. When we haven’t a clue what you are doing, help us to trust you, knowing that you see the whole picture.

Faithful God, as we continue our journey of Lent, we come together as your family, your church, your people, to worship and to learn from you. None of us are too young or too old to follow you. All of us can be surprised by new opportunities, new challenges, new ways to serve you. We are known by name and cherished as your children, whatever our age, whatever our circumstances, for you call and love us all.

Eternal God, how wonderful and vast are your horizons. Thank you, creator God, for making us in your image. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for calling us to be your disciples. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for empowering us to fulfil our calling. Thank you, Holy Trinity, for the expanse of your love and the depth of your faithfulness. Amen.

Hymn The God of Abraham praise (R&S 121)

Readings Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:22-31

Mark 8:31-38


In Genesis 12, God calls Abram to leave his home, family and country to set out for a land ‘that I will show you’, with the promise of being made a great nation. Today’s reading transforms that promise into a covenant, with responsibilities on either side. Abram is to follow God and in response, God will give Abram many descendants. The changing of names, from Abram (‘exalted ancestor’) to Abraham (‘father of a multitude’), and from Sarai (‘quarrelsome’) to Sarah (‘princess’), is a demonstration of trust. Names, back then, said something about their owners. These name changes are not because of what God has done; they are in anticipation of it.

In our Gospel reading Jesus is telling his disciples a difficult truth about what will happen to him in his death and resurrection, but Peter finds it hard to take, and argues with Jesus. Jesus sets out that God’s ways are different from human nature: we must forget about our earthly desires and follow Jesus. Like Abraham the disciples are given a promise and a choice, whether or not to follow is up to them, and us. We may not know how God’s promises will be kept, but there is a call to choose to believe them nonetheless.

Hymn To Abraham and Sarah the call of God was clear (R&S 553)


Today’s readings all have a theme of trust running through them. Although it had been many years since Abram had answered God’s call to leave his home and was still waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled he still trusted God. This trust was recognised in God’s reaffirmation of the promise and the establishment of a covenant, a formal and binding agreement, between God and Abram and Sarai signified and ‘sealed’ by the giving of new names which embodied the promise and agreement that was being made between them. Abraham would be the father of many nations and Sarah the princess who would number kings of nations among her descendants.

Psalm 22 too shows the writer’s trust in God, no matter what difficulties or hardships the writer faces. It begins with lament, a pleading with God and a questioning of God’s actions (or lack of them) and his apparent absence. It’s most familiar verse, to us at least, is verse one which Jesus cried out from the cross, ‘My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?’ Those who heard that terrible cry would have known very well what followed as it was one of the psalms used at the Passover to illustrate God’s relationship with his people. It tells of suffering and apparent abandonment but then moves on to the psalmist’s recognition that God has not ‘disdained the suffering of the afflicted one…but has listened to his cry for help.’ (v. 24). It is a reminder of God’s love for his people experienced by the psalmist and reaching out down the ages from the very beginning and into the distant future, ‘to a people yet unborn.’ (v. 31). It becomes an expression of faith and trust in God.

When we come to our Gospel reading the disciples are again called to trust and, like Abraham, they are given a promise, a promise which entails making a choice. The choice this time is stark – it is a choice between life and death. Jesus is nearing the end of his ministry and needs to remind his disciples of what lies ahead, the dangers and suffering that he himself must face and the consequences for his followers. Following Jesus is not going to be easy, the Messiah isn’t going to sweep away all opposition and overcome Israel’s enemies in a great military uprising as many hoped and believed. He is going to die and be raised to life.

For Peter this is too much. He has just recognized Jesus as the Messiah and surely God’s anointed one cannot die? The Romans commonly used crosses for the execution of criminals and insurrectionists and everyone would have understood the implications of what Jesus said. It says a lot for Peter’s relationship with Jesus that he feels able to ‘rebuke’ him but Jesus cannot afford to let such misunderstandings and misconceptions stand in his way and responds sharply and emphatically. ‘Get behind me, Satan’ sounds particularly harsh but Jesus has to emphasise the necessity of what is to happen to him, to himself as well as to Peter, the rest of the disciples and the crowd of followers.

Peter was in danger of missing the point, of letting preconceptions and popular images of the Messiah get in the way of what was really important. But the promise is there, ‘those who lose their life… will save it,’ and will gain eternal life, recognised and accepted by the Son of Man when he comes in glory. Let us too, trust in God’s promises.

Hymn Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim (R&S 422)

Prayers of Intercession

Faithful God,

May we live the story that we tell – of your suffering love for us, of your creative power, and of the gospel promise of a world made new. May we be ready to play a part in the healing and restoration of our relationships and of your world, and may we be ready to heal the hurt that separation from you and each other has brought.
Your promise is to all generations: We believe that all things are possible with you.
We pray for followers of Jesus Christ; for those who are imprisoned for their faith, for those who serve as missionaries, for teachers of the faith…
We pray for those who deny themselves to serve others; for those who work in hospitals and prisons, for those who are carers, for those who serve their communities as volunteers…
We pray for those who carry the weight of a cross; for the homeless and unemployed, for those who are ill or bereaved, for those who struggle with mental health…
We pray for ourselves, as we follow Christ; for strength to overcome our struggles and failures, for our fears and worries, for those we love, and those who love us…
Give us fresh energy to face the future, with all its seemingly intractable issues, and may we be ready to respond to your call to follow you, though the pathway is challenging and the way ahead may require sacrifices.
Your promise is to all generations: We believe that all things are possible with you.
May your faithfulness give us hope in believing. Amen.

Hymn At the name of Jesus (R&S 261)


In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, give us hope, give us love, give us grace, and give us a voice to spread God’s hope, love and grace to the world around us.
Send us out with your blessing to be a blessing to others.
Send us out named as children of God to name others as children of God.
Send us out to walk in your footsteps so that others too may walk the way of the cross. Amen.

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

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