A call to worship:
Come, let us find the Rock of the Church, God’s true Messiah, and offer worship. Then God will be our strength, and Jesus our confidence, as we engage with the world and all its needs.
StF 489 All I once held dear.
All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain, I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now, compared to this.
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you,
There is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord.
Now my heart’s desire, is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours.
To possess by faith, what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness.
Oh, to know the power of your risen life,
And to know you in your sufferings.
To become like you, in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die.
Refrain x 2
Everlasting salvation for Zion
51 ‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 ‘Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last for ever,
my righteousness will never fail.
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise.
2 I will bow down towards your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
that it surpasses your fame.
3 When I called, you answered me;
you greatly emboldened me.
4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,
when they hear what you have decreed.
5 May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
for the glory of the Lord is great.
6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me.
8 The Lord will vindicate me;
your love, Lord, endures for ever –
do not abandon the works of your hands.
A living sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble service in the body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
14 They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
15 ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
17 Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Prayers of thanksgiving
Father, we thank you that we can always trust in you, for you make provision for our faults and failings, and send us all the help and encouragement we need.
Thank you for Jesus and his earthly life among his disciples, from that we learn so much.
Thank you that we can always have confidence in Jesus, leaning on his teaching and promises.
We praise you for who he is, and for who we are and will become in your plans for us. Lead us onward, heavenly Father.
Prayers of intercession
We trust you, Lord, to answer our prayers.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Your will be done, O Lord.
We pray for people who struggle with their faith: through self-doubt, through difficult circumstances, through bad things happening,
through being led astray, by wanting fame and fortune.
We pray for people who feel in the dark,
locked in a situation where they can find no answer, that they might come to understand
that you are the key to everything they need.
We pray for ourselves: when we are in difficult situations, when we try to unlock doors that aren’t ours to unlock, when we don’t focus on the kingdom, when we don’t share our story.
The Lord's Prayer
Please use the version that you prefer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Time to reflect:
This account of Jesus is when Jesus talks to his disciples as he is heading towards Jerusalem to be crucified. Some years ago, I can recall standing in Caesarea Philippi seeing the fresh water coming out of the side of the hills meandering its way eventually joining up with the river Jordan on the way to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. In this life we can encounter mountain top experiences, and at other times we sink to the lowest of the low in valleys and it is so painful for us to share with others.
This passage is known as Peter’s confession of Christ where Peter said,
‘You are the Christ’.
This coming to our senses and experiencing God’s revelation is unique to everyone. I have heard people say when someone is going through a life changing event ‘I know what you are going through’ however my response is that we will never really know what someone is really going through, because we are all so different. Finally, the joy with which Peter came up with his saying ‘You are the Messiah the promised one’, is unique and yet is shared around the world in all nations, as we worship ‘Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour who died at Calvary’, giving us a glimpse of being free to worship the living God.
Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you, his heir. It is helpful to look at the background to what we are reflecting on from the Bible reading today.
Jesus is in Gentile country and this a time spent with disciples in a relaxed way, giving his disciples time for reflection, no crowds. A theologian says, ‘he wanted to leave some representatives who could carry on his work’. Jesus arrives at Caesarea Philippi and in this place, Jesus asks his disciples a question ‘Who do you say I am?’, Jesus is about twenty-five miles north of Galilee, at the foot of Mount Hermon. At this place there is a cave that had a shrine dedicated to a pagan god called Pan. If you visit today, there are still small cuttings where there were once shrines, it is possible Jesus is looking south with his back to the pagan god. The disciples are looking at these ancient shrines and this is a turning point not just for Peter, but also it is when Jesus is about to journey towards Jerusalem, and the shadow of the cross is casting its shadow over his ministry.
This the first recorded account of the Messiah of the Jews, Matthew records Peter’s words saying, ‘You are the Christ’. His reply means ‘You are the Messiah which are recorded in all three synoptic Gospels. With all the disciples standing around, Peter (Simon Peter, Son of Jonah, his full name) steps in and takes the lead.
Today’s reading in the Bible ends with Jesus saying, do not tell anyone He was the Christ.
He could be saying he wants people to make the discovery themselves. It is my prayer that we sometimes need to take time and ask God to show us, if we have any shrines in our lives that hinder our Methodist way of life. Learning and caring says,
We will care for ourselves and those around us.
We will learn more about our Faith.
We will practise hospitality.
Here is a challenge for us in Northampton Methodist Church, in five years’ time will we look back and see if we have been learning and caring for one another. Like Peter will we be able to speak up as he did, as his life was turned around for the Kingdom of God.
In the book of Micah it asks, ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
StF 566 – Take my life and let it be.
Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee; Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love; Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for thee,
Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King; Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee,
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold; Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose,
Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart – it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne,
Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee,
A sending out prayer:
We go out into your world full of the confidence that you give us. May we, like Peter, begin to grasp what is special about your kind of strength and your kind of courage, as we grapple with our turbulent world.