Monthly Archives: August 2020

Sunday service for 23rd August 2020 – Pentecost 13

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden – our Interim Pastor

Pentecost 12  August 23rd  2020

‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
              and the quarry from which you were dug’  (
Is.51:1)

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away
the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at
the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are
the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen

Collect:   Almighty God, we are taught by your word that all our doings without love are worth nothing. Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:    Isaiah 51:1-6
Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her

waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.
I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out
and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.  Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats;
but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

Gospel:  Matthew 16:13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Reflection:   When Jesus re-named Simon, son of Jonah as ‘Peter’, the rock, he identified him as the prototype of a disciple.  We might think this strange, given Peter’s faults and mistakes, but Jesus knew that he would become a leader in the Church, and a faithful apostle.

Andrew McLellan, a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, gave a memorable sermon on Peter and rocks, whose insights I am going to use unashamedly, because they really make you think.  He talked about three different kinds of rock.

The first is ‘igneous’ rock, which is formed by heat at the earth’s centre and solidifies into very hard rock, such as granite.  Peter’s hot temper and passion were problematic – as when he cut of the High Priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane – but his steely determination and courage came to the fore after Pentecost when he had to confront the authorities in Jerusalem and preach boldly.

The second kind is ‘sedimentary’ rock, consolidated from layers and chips of older material, producing rocks like sandstone.  Peter drew on the Scriptures that he had absorbed over the years to convince those around him that Jesus was indeed the Messiah that they awaited.  He was made from rock with a past.

But our nature and our experience can be challenged and changed by what happens to us and by those we meet.  Rock that undergoes great heat and pressure forms the third kind – ‘metamorphic rock’, such as marble.  Peter’s passion and deep-rootedness were transformed into a service of God that was self-giving, healing and Christ-like.

Marble is versatile, low-maintenance, enduring and beautiful.  This is the kind of disciple that God transforms us into, through the gentle pressure of the Spirit in our lives.

Prayers
God our Father, be present in the world as we struggle to cope with the pressures laid upon us.  Give wisdom to governments looking for ways to deal with public health, unemployment and political instability, and help them to find lasting solutions.
Lord in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Merciful God, surround with your peace all who are anxious and depressed at this time, especially young people fearful for their future and those who face loneliness, worry and disability.
Lord in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Lord of all creation, keep us mindful of the lessons we learned in lockdown, so that we take thought for the environment and do all we can to steward it well and faithfully.
Lord in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Holy God,  you built your church on the rock of faith and commitment, Jesus Christ being the true cornerstone:  open our hearts to being transformed into the disciples you want and need, so that your love and forgiveness may be known to all.
Lord in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins
may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion
and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: 
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new.  Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen

We may wonder how the Church will emerge from the pressures being placed upon us at this time, so this hymn is a good way to affirm that God is leading the Church, his Body here on earth, through every age.

You can find it sung at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44RNKCp-hCY

Thy hand, O God, has guided thy flock, from age to age;
their wondrous tale is written, full clear, on every page;
thy people owned thy goodness, and we their deeds record;
and both of this bear witness; one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Thy heralds brought glad tidings to greatest as to least;
they bade men rise, and hasten to share the King’s great  feast;
and this was all their teaching, in every deed and word,
to all alike proclaiming one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Thy mercy will not fail us, nor leave thy work undone;
with thy right hand to help us, thy victory shall be won;
and then, by all creation, thy name shall be adored,
and this shall be their anthem: one Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Sunday 30th August – Open Service at St Mary’s at 11.15 am

Opening Up St Mary’s for Sunday Services

Good News !

Our first service at St Mary’s will be at 11.15 am on Sunday 30th August 2020


We are very grateful to Bill Rootes, who has agreed to take this service for us.  He will be at St Andrew’s before taking our service and is travelling down to both Churches from some distance away.  He is taking a lot of trouble to help us.  So a big thank you to him

I attach below some notes which I hope wil let you know what to expect. 

Things will be a bit different and strange until we get use to new routines. 

I do hope that you all feel it safe to come.  We have all the precautions and protocols in place and approved by the Diocese.

After the 30th August, we can review what we need in terms of service frequency.  But Bill is happy to take a service for us at both Churches each Sunday, should we wish that.

Best wishes to all

Mark Seymour
Secretary to st Mary’s Vestry

Tel  01786 870710


 
St Mary’s – Covid19
Notes for the Congregation
 
We have consent to open the Church for Private Prayer and for Sunday Services,  But you will find that things will be significantly different to what you are used to.  We have to keep physically distant from each other; we cannot sing ; so no sung hymns (we might be able to hum to a couple with organ accompaniment); you will need to wear a face covering, and much else.

If you attend St Mary’s for Private prayer or for a Sunday Service, you will be asked To wear a face covering at all times inside the Church To Complete a Contact Tracing form – in which you confirm that you and your household are free from Covid-19 Symptoms, and consent to have your details passed to NHS Scotland if necessary To Maintain a 2 meter Physical Distance from all others both inside and outside the Church To Sanitise your hands on entering and on exit To adhere to the one way system.  Entrance via the Porch.  Exit via the Vestry Not to touch or use any Hymn Book, Bible or any of the other books or leaflets To Use the one time service sheet provided Not to touch the pew ends as you go up or down the aisle, if possible Not to touch the Altar rail during Communion, if possible To inform the Secretary should you or any of your household develop Covid-19 Symptoms  within 5 days after the service To use the passing places, so as to avoid close contact with others You will be asked, by an Usher,  to go up to the Altar (for those wanting to receive the Eucharist) one by one.  You will stand and be offered a wafer by the celebrant, but no wine.
 
 
Notes
 
Please take care to adhere to the correct physical distancing from others as you arrive and leave, including in the access road and car park
There will be no collection during the service.  Please use the Collection plate as you leave.
There will be a disposable one time service sheet each week
The WC in the Vestry will be out of use – except in an emergency. Take precautions before coming if you can please
 
 

Sunday Service for 16th August 2020

Pentecost 11  August 16th  2020

“If it’s not Good News for everyone, then it’s not good enough yet.

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away
the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at
the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are
the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen

Collect:   Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and sent into our hearts the Spirit of your Son.  Give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that all people may know the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Thus says the Lord:  ‘Maintain justice and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed.    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 to my covenant – all 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.’  Thus says the Lord who gathers the outcasts of Israel:  ‘I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.’ 

Gospel:    Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just 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.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection:   In a Bible study at Cornton Vale women’s prison, we discussed , ‘Was Jesus ever naughty?’ It’s a good question, because it makes us think about what it means to say that Jesus was fully human, as well as fully God.  Humans experience the growth of their bodies, minds and spirits, and their understanding of the world  – if all goes well – becomes deeper and closer to all that is true and good.

When Jesus met a pagan woman in the notoriously ‘wicked’ district of Tyre and Sidon, he can’t have expected a lesson in understanding.  He responded at first to her request for healing for her daughter with a brisk ‘I’ve come for the Jews, not for the likes of you’.  But she pointed out that there were plenty of leftovers (12 baskets?) for the rest of the world.  Perhaps this triggered a memory of the prophecy of Isaiah in Jesus’ mind: the Lord will ‘gather the outcasts of Israel’.

The woman widened Jesus’ vision of the Good News that he came to proclaim – that God is not just for one group, one type, one age or gender or ethnicity, but for all people who turn to him.  As Debie Thomas wrote: If it’s not Good News for everyone, then it’s not good enough yet.  Jesus may have heard the passage from Isaiah many times, but until it was made real in the person of the Canaanite woman, he had not fully let it sink in and become a part of him.

When we meet someone who is different and ‘other’, and find that our set views, our sense of entitlement and our bias towards those who are similar to us are challenged, will we be as ready as Jesus was to open our eyes and change our minds?

Prayers: 
God of compassion, you have shown us such great mercy.  Through the witness of your Church may all the world experience the goodness of your mercy.
Hear us, we humbly pray

Lord of all, you have created us to live together.  Help us to see that our common life depends on each other’s work and goodwill.  May nations learn to live in peace and cooperation.

Hear us, we humbly pray

Abundant God, you make the earth bring forth good food.  As you provided for the children of Israel, we pray you will also provide for all those suffering from famine and hunger in our world.

Hear us, we humbly pray

Loving God, how good and pleasant it is when your children live together in unity.  Open our eyes to those who are outcast, forgotten and undervalued in our communities.
Hear us, we humbly pray;

Lord Christ, may those who call out to you in great faith find your heart open to their cries.  We ask for healing for the sick and suffering, the desperate and disturbed.  We pray especially for …
Hear us, we humbly pray

God of blessing, bless your people with life for evermore.  May the dying find comfort; may the departed rest in your peace.

Hear us, we humbly pray

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins
may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion
and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: 

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;  and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

Hymn:  This hymn was written by Fr. Frederick Faber, an Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic in 1845.  He was an admirer of hymns by the Methodist leader Charles Wesley.
You can find it sung at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwfT3SY_PU

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more keenly felt than heaven:
there is no place where earth’s failings
have such gracious judgement given.

There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that Christ has shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be illumined,
by the glory of the Lord.

Notice

We have consent to Open St Mary’s again for Services- We will let you know as soon as we can what is planned and when our first suday Service can take place. There is some work to do in preparing the Churvch for Covid-19 and then of course we shall have to find a pesronb willing to take a service for us.

More news as soon as we have it.

Sunday Service for 9th August 2020 – Pentecost 10

Pentecost 10  August 9th  2020

Jesus, Son of God, shows us how to navigate stormy waters

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church.  Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

Reading:     I Kings 19:9-18
When Elijah reached Horeb, he came to a cave, and spent the night there.  Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’
He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’

Gospel:    Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Reflection:   One can feel some sympathy for the disciples:  they had been shocked by the murder of John the Baptist by Herod, asked to feed a huge crowd with five loaves and two small fish, then were bundled into a boat and sent off into a storm. 

Jesus was showing them how to live faithfully in a world that was full of uncertainty, violence and danger.  Our own times are scarcely less dramatic, and we too need to look to the Master to discover how to navigate our journey through this age, and how to meet the challenges which our own lives face us with.

Jesus walked freely and securely on the water, coming to the disciples, calling Peter to him.  The reason he did so was that he knew who he was  – as the disciples proclaimed:  “Truly, you are the Son of God”. This was a direct challenge to the ‘powers that be’ – the Roman Emperors who were beginning to be called ‘Sons of god’.  It marked Jesus out as someone who had an alternative perspective on life, a loving Father in heaven and a divine mission.  The world might swirl about him in chaos and violence, but he could stand secure in its midst and know that he was utterly safe in the hands of his Father.

St Paul calls us ‘citizens of heaven’ (Philippians 3:20-21) to affirm that we, too, have a source of authority and security that is beyond this world.  We do not have to buy into its fear and violence because we know we are secure in the hands of our loving God, whatever is happening to us and around us.  We can – with God’s grace –  navigate the choppy waters of life with the same security and confidence that Jesus had.

Prayers:  From the Presbyterian Church of America:
Gracious and loving God, Creator of all things good and bountiful,
as we move into the unknown experiences of this new day which you have made, be our steady companion and guide, and help us rejoice and be glad, for we know it is a privilege to be alive today, and to have the opportunity to live into being the people you call us to be.

God of hope and healing, you promise that in the midst of suffering,
you will always be present. We pray that all who suffer in any way,
whether through illness, injury, poverty, hunger, homelessness, addiction, violence, or grief, be especially aware of your sustaining presence, and encouraged by your love to persevere.

So many places in our country and throughout the world continue to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.  Heal those who are ill,
comfort those who mourn, and give wisdom to those who lead.
We ask for your special presence with all medical personnel
and essential workers who are tired, but still working so hard to save lives. Support them and give them strength for this journey.

Help us, God, to heal divisions, build trust, listen and learn from each other, that we may all work together for the common good. In facing conflicts in our own lives, God, we pray that you remove bitterness or resentment from our hearts, and keep us from ever returning evil for evil. Help us instead to overcome evil with love.
   
And when the way before us seems closed, and we do not know what our next step should be, lighten our darkness, Lord: make the path plain before us, and let us walk beside you with trust and confidence and joy.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.
Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer:  The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;  and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

This hymn is sung at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XUYZoguhEQ

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Sunday Service 2nd August 2020

Pentecost 9  August 2nd 2020

Today we focus on Jesus’ feeding of the multitude – a feast of life.

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom.  Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:     Isaiah 55:1-5
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!   Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Gospel:    Matthew 14:13-21
Now when Jesus heard that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Reflection:   A feast at which a prophet was brutally murdered, and a feast at which a crowd of hungry people were healed and fed.  It’s quite a contrast. Jesus was devastated by the news of Herod the tyrant’s deadly violence against his cousin John, and withdrew to grieve.  But the crowd, who thought that John would bring change for them, were also shocked, and they were lost sheep seeking a shepherd.  Jesus brought them healing and nourishment and hope.

Herod feared public opinion and feared for his own security, as all tyrants do.  His concern was not the people’s welfare, but his own survival.  Jesus had the security of knowing his mission and the Father’s love, and was free to turn from himself to others.  His ‘compassion’ was more than a kindly attitude;  his ‘heart went out’ to the crowd, and he was determined to share God’s abundance and love.

Herod’s birthday feast, at which John the Baptist was murdered to satisfy his step-daughter Salome’s request, served up death on a platter.  It symbolises all that is rotten and destructive in our world: the death-dealing power of tyrants, the casual dismissal of human life, the dangers faced by those who seek to challenge evil.  We are all too familiar with selfish power and frightened violence.

Jesus offered a feast of life. He gave the crowd rest, security, healing and food, a feast that Isaiah had a vision of in our first reading.  His action was a protest against all that is self-seeking, fearful and destructive, and it was a reverent, worshipful celebration of the abundant gifts of God to be multiplied and shared with everyone. 
It was truly a sign of the Kingdom of God.

To ponder:
A Russian proverb says:  When a Russian dies, the weight of all the bread that they have discarded unused is calculated.  If it is greater than their weight, they are sent to Hell.

Prayers: 
Almighty God, we pray for those in power, that they may not succumb to fear or self-seeking, but seek the common good with integrity.  We pray especially for the governments in Westminster and Holyrood, with the responsibilities and temptations they face at this time.
             Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all compassion, we pray for those who seek healing, shelter and food, especially those for whom the support of the past months is coming to an end.  Show us ways to share the security and abundance that you have given us.
            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of mercy, we pray for those who face threats and violent death for standing up for what is right.  We remember especially those persecuted for their faith.
            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy God, bless your Church as it seeks to share the good news of your love and compassion.  Guide Bishop Ian and all Christians in our neighbourhoods as we seek your Kingdom coming among us.
           Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Confession:  

God our Father, we confess to you and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, and in what we have failed to do. We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from the power of evil, for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

God, who is both power and love, forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.
Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   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.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: 
May our mouths speak the praise of the Lord,
our minds think the wisdom of the Lord,
our hands and feet do the will of the Lord:
and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon us for ever, Amen

You might like to finish with this hymn, which you can find sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVCpF8-VuE

I heard the voice of Jesus say,  “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad. 

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him. 

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.