The Chairman of the Chester & Stoke on Trent District of the Methodist Church, which comprises 139 churches, led our worship last Sunday. It is always our pleasure to welcome the Rev’d Helen Kirk as our preacher and last Sunday was no exception. “God is here and in our presence,” were the opening words of Helen’s call to worship and we began by singing a stirring song, accompanied by Neil and Jill Barnett on organ and keyboard, “My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord, there is none like you” before Helen led our prayers of thanksgiving and adoration. The much-loved Psalm 23 followed, which we read together with Helen, then the story of the Roman centurion’s servant who was about to die, told by Luke, chapter seven, and read by Neil Barnett. We heard how Jesus healed the servant and he went on his way.

“Have faith” was the theme of Helen’s sermon. Jesus said it was the Roman officer’s faith which had restored his servant. “What is this faith Jesus is talking about?” asked Helen before she explained the officer was from an occupying force and the Jews were subjugated to the Roman armies, yet this officer set aside all customs and sought help from Jesus, in spite of his humility in saying “I don’t deserve for you to come to my house”. The crowd would have been adverse to the situation and yet Jesus said, “I have not seen such faith in all Israel”. Helen explained three things about Faith: Jesus is praised because his whole perspective in his compassion for the community in which he lives. His action is towards others not self which engenders faith in him by others; Faith is about the acceptance of Grace. The centurion knows he is in an alien place, yet he knows he is in the presence of Jesus, and he has the Grace to accept his help in his dire need; Faith is about the trust we have in that which is beyond us and so we can trust Jesus who is the one who is in everything. So, we trust in one who will never leave us, and we continue to rely on his Grace.

We prayed for others particularly those suffering in the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, and we prayed for peace. We concluded with Holy Communion in which the minister was assisted by Margaret Maxwell.