Monthly Archives: September 2020

Sunday Service for 27th September 2020

St Mary’s is now holding services every Sunday at the Church in Aberfoyle

For those unable to come to St Mary’s, our Interim Pastor, Revd Canon Alison Peden, has prepared a service for you to follow at home

Pentecost 17  September 27th   2020

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 2:5)

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:   Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered by your Holy Spirit into one, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:Philippians 2:1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you,
enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Gospel:  Matthew 21:23-32
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’
And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Reflection:
The religious authorities in Jerusalem challenged the authority of Jesus after he had entered the city as Messiah and driven out the moneylenders from the Temple, fearing Roman repression if there was a popular uprising.  We might translate their question as: “What on earth do you think you are doing?”   Or perhaps just:  “Who are you?”
‘Authority’ can mean the having the legal right to compel another, but it can also mean the traditional influence someone has over us (e.g. a parent) or the charismatic influence of someone inspiring (e.g. David Attenborough).  That sort of authority is given to a person voluntarily;  they earn it through their sincerity and goodness.
Jesus emptied himself of all claims to authority that might rest on his status, or social position, or legal power.  St Paul wrote that he emptied himself, coming as our servant, utterly dependent for his authority on how people responded to him and his message, offering only love.
That was the only way that God could reach out to us and be sure that we would respond from our hearts rather than obey only with our lips.  The father of the two sons in the parable was rather like this, because he did not compel them to obey his request, but hoped that his love would have earned their respect and obedience.
God in Christ stands before us now, asking whether we will go and live for him, putting him before ourselves and our preferences.  His only authority is the burning, selfless love of Jesus.  If we really open ourselves to that love, we will find ourselves going to work in his vineyard, finding that our hearts belong to him and our feet follow his.

Prayers
Almighty God, may all who wield power do so with integrity and for the common good.  Protect those in government from rash or self-seeking action, and guide their policies, especially at this time of heightened danger from Covid-19.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Bless all who seek to influence our lives, that they may inspire us to build a better society and environment.  Open our minds and our hearts to those who can speak the truth to us, however inconvenient it may be for our lives.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Look with mercy, loving God, on those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, especially …         Give your strength to those who help others: to heal and console, to nurture young people and to protect all who are vulnerable.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy God, give grace to your Church as we seek to love you from our hearts and obey your will.  Inspire us to share our hope and joy with those around us, and draw us into deeper faith and commitment.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name 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 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:    The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son, Christ Jesus 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.

Charles Wesley’s great hymn of commitment is sung by the choir of Rochester Cathedral at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3UYybc7Xa0

O Thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire
and still stir up the gift in me.

Still let me prove thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.

Sunday Service for 20th September 2020

With Grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden

Pentecost 16  September 20th   2020

“Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  (Phil. 1:27)

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, you have created the heavens and the earth, and ourselves in your image.  Teach us to discern your hand in all your works and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reading:    Philippians 1:21-30
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 
I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Gospel:  Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus said, ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. 
When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.”  He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” 
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 
Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 
But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I


not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

Reflection:  
As the end of the UK furlough scheme approaches, we may wonder how those who have worked ‘as normal’ since March may feel about those paid to stay at home and not work.  It’s tempting to feel envious of others whose lot seems to be better than ours, whether it’s to do with work, health, relationships or just general quality of life.

Jesus described a situation in which some labourers in the vineyard thought that they had been given a raw deal when others who had worked for only a fraction of the day received the same wage as them.
The landowner said, “Are you envious because I am generous?”  The original text reads, “Is your eye evil because I am good?”

Jesus and his contemporaries thought that sight comes from the light within the body, which is sent out when you look at someone or something.  Hence the idea that looking with envy or malice sends out a curse – the ‘evil eye’.  He said (Matt. 6:22-23) that the eye is the lamp of the body, full of moral light or darkness.  Looking with envy at someone would thus be sending out evil, stirring a response of anger or worry in others and damaging relationships. 

In any case, we rarely know what life is really like for others, and the so-called ‘idle’ labourers may have been trying all day to find work somewhere, fearful that their families would starve if they failed. But the landowner was imaginative enough about their situation to have compassion on them, paying them what they needed to live.

For Jesus, that generous landowner was God, who knows us through and through and gives us all the grace and love we need in our particular situation.  The Kingdom of Heaven comes on earth when we are confident enough in God’s love for us that we have no need to be envious or stingy at all.


Prayers
Heavenly Father, we hold before you all who work, often in difficult situations, and at this time with great uncertainty.  We remember those who have lost their jobs or fear that they will, and who worry about their responsibilities. Guide with compassion all who seek to support and direct them, and dispel the prejudices that hinder them.
Lord graciously hear us.

May your healing presence rest on those who have heavy burdens to bear:  the pain of illness and disability; the sadness of loss and bereavement;  the fear of repression and prejudice; the dark valleys of the soul in these troubled times.
Lord graciously hear us.

Send your grace upon your Church as we try to proclaim our faith and hope when so much of our congregational life is constrained.  Help us to notice the beauty of your world and to rejoice in your steadfast love.  Teach us the wisdom that it is only in losing ourselves in service that we truly find ourselves.   Help us to ‘ live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’, loving others as you love us.
Lord graciously hear us.

Bless Bishop Ian, and all the congregations of this diocese, those who worship at home and those who can attend services in person.  We give you thanks for the privilege of our spiritual freedom and remember those who live in fear persecution for their faith.
Lord graciously hear us.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name 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 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:    Christ the lowly and meek, Christ the all-powerful,
                                            be in the heart of each to whom I speak,
                                             in the mouth of each who speaks to me,
                                    in all who draw near to me, or see me, or hear me.
                                                                                                

Romanian grape- pickers

Sunday Service for 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15

“No one is undeserving of forgiveness, and this includes you.”   (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

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, you call your Church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you.  Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen

Reading:    Genesis 50:15-21
Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Gospel:  Matthew 18: 21-35
Then Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.  For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 
But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 
Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

Reflection:   There is much helpful material to ponder this Sunday on the website ‘The Edge of the Enclosure’ – http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/proper19a.html

Here is one passage quoted there, from The Book of Forgiving by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, who were deeply involved in the work of reconciliation after apartheid in South Africa:

“When we forgive ourselves, we also free ourselves from a cycle of punishment and retribution directed at ourselves.  This is not to say we are not responsible and accountable for our actions.  If I come into your house and steal your belongings, I cannot then go home and say, “Well, I forgive myself, so all is right in the world.”

Learning from the past is not the same as being held hostage by what we have been done.  At some stage we must let go of the past and begin again.  We have said repeatedly that no one is undeserving of forgiveness, and this includes you.

I know it can be difficult to offer ourselves the forgiveness we can so freely give to others.  Perhaps we hold ourselves to a higher standard than the standard to which we hold other people.  (If we think carefully, we recognise this double standard as a small piece of arrogance:  ‘I am a better person than he or she is, so I should behave better’.)

None of us is perfect, but we can perfect the art of learning from our past mistakes, and we can perfect the art of self-forgiveness.  This is how we grow and change, and, ultimately, begin anew.”

Prayers
Eternal God, we have learned so little from the ancient wisdom of Israel we find in your Word. Help us to turn and follow in your ways.

We pray especially for an end to war and violence, the demonising of enemies and the use of brute force to resolve differences.  May each side in world conflicts recognise their own faults and seek peace.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our own country and the communities around us. 
May we grow in wisdom through the struggles of this present time, changing what needs to be changed and holding fast to what is good and just.  Give us generous hearts that do not measure out limited forgiveness or hold grudges.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who cannot forgive themselves for what they have done.  Heal the hearts of those who have committed crimes, who have hurt others badly, who have not lived the lives they expected of themselves.  May we all learn how to begin anew.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your Church, Lord, that it may be a place of forgiveness, humility and new life.  Open us to those we regard as outsiders;  help us to live in peace with those who have different views from ours, and bring us all under the gentle rule of your merciful grace.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen

Confession:
God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear
in love. We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

                        Silence  

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 the Holy Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Thanksgiving Prayer used for the Reserved Sacrament service:

We thank you, Lord our God, for this world which you have given us;
you never cease to make it new, and you call us to work with you; 
you accept the work of our hands.

R. Glory to you for ever

You have made humankind in your image;  each one of us is fashioned in your likeness, and we are able to recognise your face in the faces of our brothers and sisters.

R. Glory to you for ever

You have never desired to live apart from us, and you have taught us
to know you through the Law and the Prophets, the Apostles and Evangelists, who told us the marvellous story of your love.

R. Glory to you for ever

And you have come to us in your Son, Jesus Christ. In him you  
walked along our roads, looked at us with human eyes, did the kind of things that we do, and shared with us the joy that can never be lost.

R. Glory to you for ever

Now you give us his very life, and we give ourselves to you.
Through the death and resurrection of your Son, through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, we can make you our eternal home.

R. Glory to you for ever

So, with all Christians who are gathered together today everywhere, throughout the world, and with the great procession of your Saints,
as brothers and sisters we pray to you,

as our Saviour has taught us:

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 the God of peace make us perfect and holy,
and may we be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God has called us and will not fail us. Amen   (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

_________________

This well-known hymn was sung at Westminster Abbey at the Commonwealth Day Service in 2017 – you can see and hear it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1MN3chW1Hk

Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise; in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard, beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee; rise up and follow thee.

Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace; the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm; O still, small voice of calm.

Sunday Service for 6th September 2020


 
Sunday Service Pentecost 14  September 6th   2020

O how good it is when a family lives together in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)
 
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 and eternal God, make us grow in faith, hope and charity: and that we may be worthy of your promises, cause us to love what you command; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen

Reading:    Ezekiel 33:7-11
So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Gospel:  Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus spoke to his disciples:  ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

Reflection:  
The current crisis has made us acutely aware of how we need to be responsible to and for one another.  We are more and more aware that what we do affects others – whether it’s wearing a face mask on an aeroplane or supporting local businesses that might go bankrupt. 
This can involve reminding others about their behaviour, or being ourselves reminded by others.
Today’s gospel is about authentic community, not just about rebuking another’s faults.  The Church has a huge opportunity to show what good community is like and how we can be lovingly responsible.  That is so important at a time like this, when it’s hard to socialise and keep relationships going, and when it is tempting to do just what we want.
Christians are bound by love, a love that is poured into us by Christ. Such love means that we can trust one another to want what is good for us.   Christians are also responsible – like a ‘sentinel’ (Ezekiel 33:7) and are prepared to accept limits to their freedom, just as Jesus, though Son of God, accepted the limits of human life.
But the real core and power of community as we know it as a Church is the fact that Christ is among us – in our homes as surely as at church.  He binds us into a body that is so much more than a club or a network.  The Church – the body of God’s people, the Body of Christ – is the living presence of God in the world, seeking to draw all into the new life and hope of God’s Kingdom, as we live out the love and respect that characterises true community.

Prayers
Let us pray for reconciliation and responsibility amongst the communities of the world, so that all peoples may flourish.
Almighty God, we hold before you the nations of the world, in so much need of healing.  As tensions rise in the United States, bring wisdom and justice.  As reconciliation seems to emerge in the Middle East, bring peace and justice to your Holy Land. 
Lord graciously hear us.
God of mercy, help us to learn from the pandemic.  Show us how we can build true community, accepting the ways we need to live now so that the welfare of all is ensured.  Help us to support those who fear for their jobs, their incomes and their future.
Lord graciously hear us.
Loving God, be present with children and young people as they struggle to catch up with what they have missed.  May they not be held back from all they can achieve by the actions of others.
Lord graciously hear us.
Guide your Church, Lord, as we navigate stormy waters, and keep us from all that would hinder your work in the world.  Nurture through your grace all the congregations in our communities.
Lord graciously hear us.
Bless our families and friends and help us to keep close and loving bonds with them.  May we be cleansed of any ill-feeling, forgive and ask forgiveness, and rejoice in all you have given us in our lives. We pray especially for …
Lord graciously hear us.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name 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 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:  May the God of peace make us perfect and holy,
and may we be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God has called us and will not fail us. Amen   (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
 
_________________
 
George Herbert (d.1633) wrote this hymn about how our least actions count when we do them for the love of God.  What we do matters!
It is sung at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHXilLgfVEU
 
Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, “for thy sake,”
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.