Home Service Sunday 9th October 2022

Prayers of Approach

Lord, we gather before you to celebrate your great works. Throughout history, you have shown your grace and mercy, and have lifted up the outcast and the lowly to show them how special they are to you. Lift us now, we pray, that we may always remember your love for us and be open to sharing it with others, whatever their situation. Amen.

Lord, you are gracious and compassionate, loving and just in all your ways. We give you praise for all that you are. Holy and awesome, wise and good – our God forever. We worship you today and always. Amen

Maker, redeemer, life-giving God, we thank you for all you have done for us. We acknowledge the myriad ways you have impacted our lives, the times you have helped us, healed us, drawn near to us. We recognise that there will be times you have helped us, but we did not see – we thank you for those, too! Help us perceive your working in our lives, and renew in us a spirit of gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for all you have done for us! Amen.

Hymn To God be the glory, great things he has done (R&S 289, MP 708)

Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-15c

Luke 17:11-19


Jesus is approached by 10 men with leprosy who ask for mercy. Jesus sends them to the priests and, on the way, they are healed. But only one returns to give thanks to God. Even though he is not a Jew but a Samaritan, Jesus commends his faith.

In this week’s Old Testament reading, Naaman was almost too arrogant to allow God to heal him – he thought he was too important to do what Elisha asked of him. In contrast, the 10 lepers in the Gospel story, who were deemed outcast, had faith and did not hesitate to do what Jesus asked (even if only one expressed gratitude). Do we allow others to break free of the labels we give them?

Hymn Will you come and follow me (R&S 558)


Imagine you are offered something for free. How do you react? For many of us our first thought would probably be, ‘What’s the catch?’ And in a lot of cases we would be right to be wary. ‘Free’ is not always free. We are all familiar with the offers – three for the price of two, cheapest item free, buy one, get one free (BOGOF), or free gift when you spend over £X. Often when something is genuinely free we can’t believe it or are reluctant to accept it. At St. Annes carnival in June Churches Together had a stall at which as well as literature and sweets we offered free crafts for people make. Visitors kept asking how much they were and so many insisted on giving us donations that we had to get a tin for them as it proved so difficult to convince people to accept a free gift.

Naaman too found it difficult to accept a free gift. If we had read on further in the story after his initial reluctance to do such a simple thing as washing in the river Jordan, perhaps partly because he thought it was too easy, too ‘cheap’ a price to pay for such a valuable thing as being cured, Naaman tried to shower Elisha with gifts of jewels and rich clothing. It seems that Naaman is trying to discharge a debt, or buy the healing, rather than accepting it as a gift from God and simply expressing gratitude.

Healing however is a free gift – it is God’s grace. For the nine lepers in our Gospel story the healing was a return to society and normality. ‘Leper!’ ‘Samaritan!’ – the ten knew the labels both of disability and race but only the Samaritan realised the true value of the gift they had received, which pointed to the importance of the giver. All he had to give in return was his gratitude, and he gladly ran back to Jesus to give that. This might not seem much, but the cost to him was the delay in his return to society, however briefly, so his gift is precious indeed.

Our church life is all about gifts — God’s gift in Christ, expressed in so many ways through our worship — the gift of God’s love, the gift of Jesus, the gift of the Holy Spirit. We feel, rightly, that all the gifts of God should inspire us to be more giving ourselves. But does passing the plate around in the service, or taking any kind of collection at all, from visitors to our churches, mean that they can leave feeling that they have fulfilled their obligation to reciprocate the gift?

The lepers met Jesus on the border between Galilee and Samaria. They had been forced out of the civilised, populated areas because of their disease. Jesus deals not only with their illness, but also the way in which they are cut off from society. By sending them to see the priest, he is ensuring that they are officially declared ‘clean’ and able to return to their families. Still today there are those who are forced to live on the margins of society, separated by their illness or their condition. Today’s ‘lepers’, outcasts and foreigners, might include a wide range of people – TB and Aids sufferers, those with a mental illness, the poor, those on benefits, the unemployed or homeless, foreigners, refugees and asylum seekers and so many others. How can we be Jesus to these people – not only in ministering healing, but also in restoring people back into community?

A verse which unfortunately is omitted from the version of the hymn ‘Will you come and follow me’, in Rejoice and Sing reads:

Will you let the blinded see
If I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoner free
And never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean,
And do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean
In you and you in me?

This autumn and winter, as many of us open our churches and church halls to provide ‘Warm and Welcoming Places’ can we simply accept people as they are, and allow them to be who they are, as we minister to their needs? And can we ourselves simply accept the gift and grace of God and be thankful?

Hymn God is love, his the care (R&S 274)

Prayers of Intercession

We pray for a world in need of healing. Today we remember those who do not feel part of their communities. They may be sick and feel excluded from normal life. Or perhaps, like the lepers Jesus healed, their condition causes others to shun them. Maybe they have suffered loss of some kind – bereavement, or unemployment, or loss of mobility, or dementia and loss of memory – and others avoid them, unwilling to engage with them in their pain and need. We bring all these people before you – the avoided and those who avoid – and we acknowledge it in our hearts if we fall into either of these camps. We ask for healing of the wounds, visible and invisible, that we bear and that we inflict on others. We pray for healing of divisions so that, in community, spirits may be healed even when bodies cannot.

We pray for those struggling to be restored to their communities: those who have come out of prison, those who have been serving in the armed forces, those who have spent many months in hospital, those who have worked away, those who have come back after the breakdown of a relationship. Help us to welcome them, encourage them, support them, and respect them. May all be held in the grace of God, whose mercy knows no limits. Amen.

Hymn The church is wherever God’s people are praising (R&S 583)


God of all, as we go help us, in our worship and in our lives, to cross the boundaries of prejudice, of suspicion, of fear, of intolerance, of superiority, of doubt, and make us faithful to your all-inclusive love. Bless us with the ingredients of a faith that is real, make us obedient to your purposes for our lives,

and may we know your presence with us always. Amen.

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

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