Mr Ian White, Secretary of the Chester & Stoke on Trent Methodist Synod, was our preacher last Sunday morning. Ian is always welcome in our pulpit at Ashley Methodist Church and senior steward Bunty Hodgkins was very warm with her welcome. The theme of the service was the life of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who repented during his meeting with Jesus. As his call to worship Ian used some words from Psalm 113”You servants of the Lord, praise his name. His name will be praised now and forever”.
With Neil and Jill Barnett providing the music on organ and piano we sang the “Let all the world in every corner sing: My God and King:” Ian led our prayers of praise and thanksgiving followed by a prayer of confession. There were two bible reading, the first from Psalm 96 read by Jill Barnett and the second read by Neil Barnett from Luke, chapter19 which told the story of Zacchaeus who climbed a sycamore tree as Jesus was passing below on the road to Jericho. Zacchaeus was a little man; Jesus confronted and challenged him and Zacchaeus agreed to give half of his belongings to the poor and he said he would pay back four time the sum collected if he had cheated anyone. Jesus stayed overnight with Zacchaeus and he was criticised by the onlookers for doing so as Zacchaeus was regarded as sinful.
In his sermon Ian spoke about Zacchaeus who was a small man yet he was a significant figure in the life of Jesus and familiar to all who have been brought up in the church. On his journey to Jericho, Jesus was stopped in his tracks by the call from Zacchaeus, and although Jesus didn’t have time he made time . How do we deal with the unexpected, asked Ian ? Zacchaeus was isolated and unpopular but he is looking for strength, protection, eternity and divinity from Jesus. The crowd expressed concern making false judgements, but confronted by the grace of Jesus, Zacchaeus helps us to realise our lives can be changed.