This short act of worship has been prepared for you. I invite you to share in a few moments with God knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.

Revd Martin Slocombe

Modern Minister


Psalm 67

The Nations Called to Praise God

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
   and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
   your saving power among all nations. 
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
   let all the peoples praise you. 

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
   for you judge the peoples with equity
   and guide the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
   let all the peoples praise you. 

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
   God, our God, has blessed us. 
7 May God continue to bless us;
   let all the ends of the earth revere him.


Hymn – 57 – Let all the world in every corner sing www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfXldoDnvq4

   1      Let all the world in every corner sing:
           my God and King!
           The heavens are not too high,
           his praise may thither fly;
           the earth is not too low,
           his praises there may grow.
           Let all the world in every corner sing:
           my God and King!

   2      Let all the world in every corner sing:
           my God and King!
           The Church with psalms must shout,
           no door can keep them out;
           but above all, the heart
           must bear the longest part.
           Let all the world in every corner sing:
           my God and King!

George Herbert (1593–1633)


Lord God, as we come before you now, we open our hearts to you.
Help us to see that we can learn so much from others, even from those with whom we think we may not share much in common.
Make us willing to stand out from the crowd,
to hear your voice, and act upon it. Amen.

Lord, sometimes we look as though we are listening to others.  But we confess that our attention is often anywhere but where it is supposed to be.

Sometimes we are too distracted by our own concerns.  We care only for ourselves, and listen only to those who say what we want to hear.

Sometimes we don’t listen to people because we don’t like them, or because they are different from us, or because we have decided they have nothing of importance to say without giving them a chance. Sometimes we have bad or unhelpful thoughts.

Sometimes we don’t listen to you, Lord, because we are too busy, or a bit frightened about what you might say to us.

Forgive us, Lord, for missed opportunities. Amen.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been thinking about the importance of sharing the gospel message, both between ourselves, but also outside the church.  We have been reassured of God’s presence in our moments of doubt and fear.  So, who should we be sharing this message with?  Our readings today suggest that this may not be the group of people we might have immediately thought of.


Our first reading, from the book of Isaiah, tells us that our nationality does not guarantee our place in God’s kingdom, nor does it exclude.  What guarantees our place is our commitment to serving God.

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 - The Covenant Extended to All Who Obey

56Thus says the Lord:
   Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
   and my deliverance be revealed. 

6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
   to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
   and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
   and hold fast my covenant— 
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
   and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices
   will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
   for all peoples. 
8 Thus says the Lord God,
   who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
   besides those already gathered.

Our gospel picks up this theme of the importance of what we do.  In this passage, Matthew is commenting on the Pharisee’s dedication to fulfilling every letter of the law, but being unable to see what is really important.  It is the actions of a Canaanite woman, a gentile who does not live in accordance with the Hebrew law, that is blessed.

Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28 - Things That Defile

10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ 13He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ 15But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ 16Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding?17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

The Canaanite woman came as she was before Jesus, and asked, “Lord, help me”.  Our next hymn picks up that humble request.   Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

Hymn – Empty, broken, here I stand www.youtube.com/watch?v=72204B7fgqU

   1      Empty, broken, here I stand,
                Kyrie eleison.
           Touch me with your healing hand,
                Kyrie eleison.
           Take my arrogance and pride,
                Kyrie eleison.
           Wash me in your mercy’s tide,
                Kyrie eleison.
                Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

   2      When my faith has all but gone,
                Kyrie eleison,
           give me strength to carry on,
                Kyrie eleison.
           When my dreams have turned to dust,
                Kyrie eleison,
           in you, O Lord, I put my trust,
                Kyrie eleison.
                Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

   3      When my heart is cold as ice,
                Kyrie eleison,
           your love speaks of sacrifice,
                Kyrie eleison,
           love that sets the captives free,
                Kyrie eleison.
           O pour compassion down on me,
                Kyrie eleison.
                Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

   4      You’re the voice that calms my fears,
                Kyrie eleison,
           you’re the laughter, dries my tears,
                Kyrie eleison,
           you’re my music, my refrain,
                Kyrie eleison,
           help me sing your song again,
                Kyrie eleison.
                Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

   5      Humble heart of holiness,
                Kyrie eleison,
           kiss me with your tenderness,
                Kyrie eleison.
           Jesus, faithful friend and true,
                Kyrie eleison,
           all I am I give to you.
                Kyrie eleison.
                Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

Nick Haigh and Anita Haigh


Like many of you, I was brought up with the advice from my parents that “first impressions count”, and “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Whilst that is true, first impressions can also prejudice your view. 

In my previous employment I often had to interview new members of staff, and so I saw from the other side of the desk how true the importance of first impressions was.  Sometimes I had to work hard to suppress my initial reaction to the person who had just walked through the door, to give them the benefit of the doubt, and allow them to speak for themselves. 

I am currently reading a book called “Accidental Saints” by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Her picture is on the front of this service sheet.  What was your initial reaction to her?  She is a Lutheran priest in Denver, where she started a church called House for All Sinners and Saints.  She was an alcoholic, drug user, she is pierced and tattooed, and uses the same “robust” language in her writing, as she uses in her daily life.  Her appearance and language may put many off, but what she says is fantastic and speaks directly to this notion of prejudice against those who are different.

Our readings today would have been shocking at the time they were written.  The Jewish faith is based on ancestry, and where you come from is critical.  And so, to state that even foreigners will be welcomed and accepted into God’s kingdom goes against all their traditions.  God’s kingdom is not about who we are, or where we are from, but what we do and say.  The outcasts of Israel will be welcome if they love the name of the Lord.

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were singularly focussed on complying with every letter of the Jewish law.  Matthew records Jesus talking to his disciples about what will defile a person.  Man-made rules about what they eat are dismissed.  It is not what goes into the mouth which defiles, but what comes out of it, because what comes out is from the heart. 

What we say is a good indication of what we are thinking, and reveals our true nature which, in a more guarded moment, we might have said differently.  We are all guilty of sometimes speaking before we think, and say things in the heat of the moment, hurting those we love.  How many of us have spoken harshly, or without thinking, or in anger, only to regret the damage it has caused later? 

Jesus then goes on to explain this teaching with a story about a gentile woman who comes to ask him for healing for her daughter.  It is not where she comes from that ensures the demon is removed, but her faith that is revealed in what she says.

This is a famously difficult passage, where Jesus’ words seem harsh and hurtful, likening the woman to a dog.  The disciples want to send her away.  She is shouting and making a huge fuss.  Perhaps they are embarrassed by her behaviour and want to be rid of her.  What is the first impression she has created?  How would you have reacted to a person walking into one of our churches, shouting and demanding?  Jesus’ response seems harsh, but perhaps he is making a point, reflecting the disciples rejection of her, to make them stop and think.

But her words of humility show what is in her heart.  Even the scraps from Jesus’ table are life-changing for her, and are more than she deserves.  Jesus is not interested in who she is or where she is from.  He is interested in what she says and does, and her faith is rewarded. 

These same words are used in the prayer of humble access, which we read as part of our communion service, “We are not worthy even to gather up the crumbs under your table”.  A prayer which should remind us of our humility in the presence of God, and which unites us with all those of a single mind.

Do our words reflect what is in our heart?

Do we approach God in humility, or with a sense of what we think we deserve?

Do we decide who is acceptable to join our church, based upon our first impressions?

Have we missed out on a blessing by rejecting those who we have decided are not worthy?

May God forgive us for our impetuousness, and our quickness to judge.

Intercessions & Lords Prayer

The Canaanite woman sought your help in desperation for the daughter she loved.

Lord, may we learn from this woman, to wait on you expectantly, patiently, persistently, doggedly. Grant us the courage of our convictions when we truly believe we are doing your will.
We pray in faith.
Hear us and answer our cry, blessed Lord.

We pray today for those who feel excluded, whatever their situation, whatever the reason: for prisoners, refugees, the homeless; for the sick, the mentally unstable; for any who feel that they are outsiders.
We pray in faith.
Hear us and answer our cry, blessed Lord.

We pray for ourselves when our faith is weak, or we feel that we don’t belong.
We pray in faith.
Hear us and answer our cry, blessed Lord.

We pray for our families and friends, and for all those in need at this present time

We pray for the churches in our Circuit, this week for Trinity, and myself as your minister.


Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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.



Hymn – In Christ there is no east or west www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb85oKAFQuU

   1      In Christ there is no east or west,
           in him no south or north,
           but one great fellowship of love
           throughout the whole wide earth.

   2      In him shall true hearts everywhere
           their high communion find;
           his service is the golden cord
           close-binding humankind.

   3      Join hands then all the human race,
           whate'er your nation be;
           all children of the living God
           are surely kin to me.

   4      In Christ now meet both east and west,
           in him meet south and north;
           all Christlike souls are one in him,
           throughout the whole wide earth.

John Oxenham, pseud.   (1852–1941)



And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and forever more.  Amen



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