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.’

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.

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
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.