Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

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

Whi is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

A gathering prayer

Let us come together to be still, 
to be known, loved, and held by God our creator,
to be thankful for all that God gives us,
to be healed and restored,
that in our worship today
joy and gladness may refresh and renew us.


Hymn – 161 – Speak O Lord, as we come to you

   1      Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
           to receive the food of your holy word.
           Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
           shape and fashion us in your likeness,
           that the light of Christ might be seen today
           in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
           Speak, O Lord, and fulfil in us
           all your purposes, for your glory.

   2      Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
           holy reverence, true humility.
           Test our thoughts and our attitudes
           in the radiance of your purity.
           Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see
           your majestic love and authority.
           Words of power that can never fail;
           let their truth prevail over unbelief.

   3      Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
           help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.
           Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
           that will echo down through eternity.
           And by grace we’ll stand on your promises,
           and by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
           Speak, O Lord, till your Church is built
           and the earth is filled with your glory.

Keith Getty (b. 1974) and Stuart Townend (b. 1963)

Prayer of adoration & confession

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.

God of community,
you look down from heaven on your children on earth, and are overcome with love.  Love that reaches out to touch even the most faraway soul.

God the Father, who made all creation,
and shares all good gifts with us.
We adore you.

God the Son,
just as you walked on earth with your friends,
you are always here with us.
We adore you.

God the Spirit,
though we don’t see you, we know you are deep within our hearts.
You make sense of our place in your world.
We adore you. Amen.

Lord, sometimes we have very set ideas about communities. The ones we belong to. The ones we aspire to. The ones we stay away from. Help us to see as you do: you love every member of every community. We are all one in you.

Forgive us when we look down on others, or consider our way alone to be the right one. Help us to work together with you for good, putting ourselves aside and others always first. Amen.

God sees our hearts as we turn to him to seek forgiveness. 
He doesn’t want us to fight for preference but to grow ever closer to him through pure and simple love.
As we come to him, acknowledging that we don’t always get it right, he freely and abundantly pardons us.
Thank you, most gracious God. Amen.


Hebrews 5:1-10

5 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
‘You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you’; 
6as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest for ever,
   according to the order of Melchizedek.’

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45 - The Request of James and John

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ 


Yesterday, we repeated the process at the airport that we did two weeks ago.  We joined the queue to board our flight, then watched as those who paid extra for “Speedy Boarding” walked past us and boarded the flight ahead of us.  Because they had paid extra, they were made a priority. 

But although they might have sat down first, they travelled on the same plane, to the same destination, and arrived at exactly the same time as we did.  Being a “priority” allowed them to jump the queue, but didn’t give them any other tangible benefit.  We travelled together regardless of the cost paid.

James and John it seems, also wanted “Priority Boarding” for themselves. 

Many sermons have been preached based upon this reading, often along the lines of the necessity for humility in those who are God’s servants on earth.  The aim of servanthood being the enhancement of the lives of another, rather than your own.  The fundamental mistake that James and John made was their attempt to impose the standards of this world onto the Kingdom of God.  Their desire for Priority treatment was rooted in their need for recognition of their own standing or talents or abilities, or perhaps acknowledgement of what they have contributed to Jesus’ ministry as disciples.  What they have failed to grasp during all of their time with Jesus is that God values us all equally as human beings, creatures of his creation.  As children of God, James & John are already in receipt of his blessing and will inherit God’s promise of salvation – the destination is the same, whether they are first on board or last, whether they have paid for extra legroom or not!

These readings also challenge us on a slightly different front, namely what is our motivation as disciples?  James and John have undoubtedly sacrificed much, and offered much, as they have served Jesus, but their question now raises the question of why?  Did they think that the more they gave, the more they would receive?  Did they choose this life, calculating how much they were prepared to give to it in exchange for the reward that was on offer, or did God simply choose to freely offer Jesus to them?

For me, one of the most humbling questions of faith, is why did God choose me, or James or John, or any of us?  Fundamental to our recognising and responding to our calling is the realisation that we are being called by God in a direct and affirming way, chosen for a reason, our challenge, to find out why!  As chosen people, we are sustained by God, as opposed to choosing to follow for ourselves, and therein being reliant upon our own strengths and abilities.  Being chosen as equals alongside everyone else who walks the path of faith with us, means that God walks with us, and sustains us all equally.  As the reading from Hebrews reminds us, we do not presume to take this honour, but can only take it when called by God.  The rewards are also those offered by God, rather than those chosen by ourselves, or which we perceive we have earned.

So, do you come because you have chosen to, or because you feel called to?  There is a fundamental difference.

What does it mean to be called rather than choosing for oneself?  Positives and negatives?

Coming to faith should not be a calculated decision but a response to hearing a personal call.  When we think about why our churches are not full, I don’t necessarily think it is that those outside the church actively chose not to come, but rather that they haven’t heard or recognized God’s call upon their lives, and therefore see no reason to come.

As disciples, we are called to recognise God in the world, and to join in with what God is already doing – we see Jesus not crucified on the cross, but carrying the cross – and our calling is to join in the carrying.  Our journey of faith is something in which we participate actively, not because of the reward we think we will earn, but because Jesus is already treading the path of servanthood, and calls us to join in – alongside everyone else who has heard his call.

When we boarded the plane we found that all the seats were the same, we took off together and we arrived at the same destination together.  The “Speedy Boarders” thought they would receive special treatment, but they arrived just as we did.  It doesn’t matter if you are first on board or last, the important thing was that we caught the flight in the first place.


Hymn – 664 – Lord you call us to your service

     1    Lord, you call us to your service,
           each in our own way.
           Some to caring, loving, healing;
           some to preach, or pray;
           some to work with quiet learning,
           truth discerning,
           day by day.

   2      Life for us is always changing
           in the work we share.
           Christian love adds new dimensions
           to the way we care.
           For we know that you could lead us,
           as you need us,

   3      Seeing life from your perspective
           makes your challenge plain,
           as your heart is grieving over
           those who live in pain.
           Teach us how, by our compassion,
           you may fashion
           hope again.

   4      Lord, we set our human limits
           on the work we do.
           Send us your directing Spirit,
           pour your power through,
           that we may be free in living
           and in giving
           all for you.

Marjorie Dobson (b. 1940)

Prayers for others

We pray for the world, and the events happening in it.  We especially join with the nation today as we pray for the family of Sir David Amess, giving thanks for his life of service as an MP over decades, and especially as Methodists we pray for the Minister and congregation of Belfairs Methodist Church.

We pray for your church in the world,

for the North East Somerset & Bath Circuit, of which we are a part, for it’s ministers, lay workers, churches and congregations – especially this week we join with the Circuit as we pray together for Midsomer Norton, and their minister, Stephen Robinson

As Churches Together in Radstock & Westfield we pray for the congregation at St Nicholas’ Church in this time of interregnum

We pray for our friends who are unwell, and their families who are supporting them, and for all those we know and love …………

And we pray for ourselves

In silence or spoken aloud, we bring our own prayers


God of all, we ask on behalf of all those in need.


The Lord’s Prayer

We say together the prayer that Jesus gave us:


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.  Amen.  

The last verse of our closing hymn reminds us that God calls us, goes before us, and sustains us.

“You go before us and there we will follow, taking our cross in the service of all”

Hymn – 672 – Where can we find you, Lord Jesus our Master?

   1      Where can we find you, Lord Jesus our Master?
           We want to serve you, to answer your call.
           Where do you lead us and ask us to follow?
           What should we do in our service to all?

   2      ‘Go to the hungry, to those who have nothing;
           go where the farmlands are empty and bare.
           I broke the bread for the people around me;
           out of my plenty, think what you can share.

   3      ‘Go to the homeless, to those who have nowhere;
           go where my people sleep out in the rain.
           I had no comforts but what others gave me;
           offer them shelter, give ease to their pain.

   4      ‘Go to the outcast, to those who have no-one;
           go where my sheep are rejected and lost.
           I dined with sinners and reached out to lepers;
           go and do likewise, and don’t count the cost.’

   5      Where will we find you, Lord Jesus our Master?
           We are your servants who answer your call.
           You go before us, and there we will follow,
           taking our cross in the service of all.

Allan Charles Dickinson (b. 1954)


Lord, take our thoughts
and turn them into prayer.
Take our prayer and turn it into love.

Take our love and turn it into life. 
In Jesus Christ today and every day.



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