Tag Archives: Church services

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.

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 – 26th July 2020 – Pentecost 8

The coming of God’s Kingdom is a mysterious divine initiative
that we should humbly watch for and welcome.

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden – our Interim Pastor

Hymn:  listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx1eMwlDFb8

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;  to His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him ! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favour to our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same for ever, slow to chide, and swift to bless
Praise Him! Praise Him!  Glorious in His faithfulness.

Father-like He tends and spares us; well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us, rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him ! Praise Him ! Widely as His mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore Him, ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him, dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him ! Praise Him ! Praise with us the God of grace.

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:   O God, protector of all who put their trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:  fill us with your mercy and your grace that with you to rule and guide, we may so use the good things of this present life that we do not neglect things of eternal worth, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading     1 Kings 3:5-12:    
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Gospel    Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 
Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

 Reflection:   It’s tempting to react to stress, change and uncertainty with a desire to manage and control what we can, to be active and proactive.  The Church has been flung into a new world, where worship and meetings go online, and where face-to-face is risky.  It’s a world of opportunities and losses, of potential renewal and potential decline.  We don’t really know where we will be in six months’ time, let alone a year hence.  So we are tempted to say:  “But let’s start building the Kingdom of God anyway!”

These ‘parables of the Kingdom’ in our Gospel give us a timely reminder that the initiative is God’s, and the action is God’s.  The first two – the mustard seed and the yeast – point to a persistent weed and an irrepressible fungus which simply get on and grow, whether you want them to or not.  Nothing could stop God sending Jesus to live amongst us;  nothing could stop the growth of Christian faith, and nothing will deter God’s action in the future, though it may take forms that are surprising and unexpected to us.

The second two parables – about selling everything for the treasure and the pearl – describe the kind of action God takes.  Jesus prized humanity, however ‘feeble’ our frame (as the hymn puts it), and gave everything he had for us.  The word used in today’s gospel for ‘bought’ means ‘redeemed’;   we were redeemed for the price of Jesus’ life, because he counted us – even us – to be a treasure and a pearl of great price. God’s kingdom comes at a price that love is willing to pay.

In the face of such dedicated, persistent love and purpose, our own home-grown ideas and plans of how to ‘bring about the Kingdom of God on earth’ are misplaced.  Solomon got it right when he did not ask for what he thought would be most useful, but simply for wisdom to know God’s will for his people.  The Kingdom of justice, compassion, and peace will be God’s gift to us, not our own achievement. 

May we commit ourselves to follow God’s lead, wherever it might take us and whatever it might cost.

Prayers:  We pray today using the hymn ‘Thy kingdom come’. The tune can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1JmfuKNkzw

Thy kingdom come — on bended knee the passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see on earth that kingdom’s day.
     We give thanks for Christians through the centuries who have
     handed on the gospel and built the Church that nurtures us.
     We pray for Bishop Ian and for all Christians in our neighbourhood.

But the slow watches of the night not less to God belong,
And for the everlasting right the silent stars are strong.
     We pray for all who see no hope and hear no good news:  the sick,
     the unemployed, the lonely and abused; and especially for …

And lo! already on the hills the flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls, proclaim the day is near.
      We pray for modern-day prophets whose vision inspires new life,
      new ways of living, new solutions to old problems, new ways to
     understand and accept each other.

The day in whose clear-shining light all wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be clothedin might, and every hurt be healed.
     We pray for those who are denied justice, not treated equally,
     demeaned by prejudice, ignored, despised and rejected.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad —
The day of perfect righteousness, the promised day of God.
      May we have the grace to share in your Kingdom, Lord,
     through the redemption we have in Christ Jesus.  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: 
Merciful God,you gave your only Son to be both a sacrifice for sin and an example of godly life:  help us gladly to receive all that he has done for us and follow in his footsteps, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

May we go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the Lord.  Amen

Service for Sunday 5th July 2020 – Trinity 5

Trinity 5

Sunday 5th July 2020

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:

hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,

that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth

to the glory of your name;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

For the gospel

Ephesians 2:19-22

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

The Nicene Creed.


I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.


Sermon

There are doubtless mixed feelings of fear and eagerness as the long period of lockdown starts to change. A desire to reopen our buildings sits alongside the anxiety of charting the unknown.

Our churches first shut their doors on 23 March. They have now been closed longer than any time since Pope Innocent III banned church services between March 1208 and May 1213.

Some within the church have regarded the locked door to be a positive development. One recent report describes the worshipping church as having changed in a matter of weeks from being an “Odeon” to a “Netflix” What precisely does that mean? The typical 1950s cinema offered one film with no alternative. Pre pandemic, choice of church worship was similarly limited. After the 23rd March, a vast variety of service suddenly became available; all at the touch of a button and without the discomfort of a pew.   Now, as a Linkage worshipper, if both the Bulletin Service as well as the Province’s weekly offering prove unacceptable, then a choice of service from churches and cathedrals up and down the land is readily available. We are told that there have been several instances of people coming to faith through this new medium.

Consequently, in some circles this development has emboldened opinion towards abandoning buildings that some simply regard as millstones. An Archdeacon in the Church of England wrote recently “We can’t go back . . . to preserving bricks and mortar” She argued that congregations and weary wardens long to be “released to be church, rather than being burdened with the responsibility of preservation, so that “the new life we have seen emerge in lockdown might blossom and flourish”. These same people are perplexed as to why church buildings need ever be open for prayer, because God listens wherever prayer is offered. The argument of course is nothing new: it is simply that the pandemic has sharpened its focus.

There are of course two sides to any discussion. Many still believe the place of worship essential to spiritual life. The poet T.S Eliot summed up the inviolability of a holy building thus:

. . . wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his
blood for the blood of Christ,
There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it
Though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with
guide books looking over it. . .

For many, it matters greatly that the church door has remained locked during the pandemic. Everyone, believer or not, needs a focal point in time of need. Nothing though is so simple Technically our own churches could now reopen for private devotion. However, there are many onerous conditions imposed by government legislation before this might happen. Both vestries have therefore, wisely decided to defer further consideration until the situation becomes clearer.

At a loose end, I decided a few summers ago to repaint the church railings at Callander. Naturally, passers-by stopped and chatted. None were churchgoers, but readily admitted the comfort derived from seeing St Andrews and its manicured garden as a constant in an ever-changing word. One even donated a pot of paint!

As for St Mary’s I once received a complaint from a cashier working at the then Aberfoyle Motors. It was about the church bell. Why wasn’t it being rung? Although not a churchgoer, he confessed comfort from the knowledge that prayers were being said nearby.

What the novelist Susan Hill writes of cathedrals could equally be said of our churches: “Where else . . . is such a place, where the sense of all past, all present, is distilled into the eternal moment at the still point of the turning world?” She asks another rhetorical question, which amplifies the point: “But surely there are other places that will serve the purpose? To which people may come freely, to be alone among others? To pray, to reflect, to plead, gather strength, rest, summon up courage, to listen to solemn words. What though and where are these other places to which the pilgrim or the traveller, the seeker, the refugee, the petitioner, or the thanksgiver may quietly come, anonymously, perhaps, without fear of comment or remark, question or disturbance?” Her question is perhaps answered by the poet Philip Larkin. A church is “a serious house on serious earth”

With all these hopes and anxieties in mind, Bishop Ian will be leading discussion with vestry members in August to explore this question in practical and spiritual terms. This might frame thought in readiness.

Prayer:  

Thank you, gracious God, for the privilege of being part of your building, your dwelling, your temple. Today, I offer myself to you, so that you might put me exactly where you want me to be, so that I might contribute to the building of your home on earth. I pray for my home church, that we might truly live as your dwelling in the world. Amen

Confession

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution

The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Today’s hymn (Listen on Yoube ?)

1 We love the place, O God,
wherein thine honour dwells;
the joy of thine abode
all earthly joy excels.

2 We love the house of prayer,
wherein thy servants meet;
and thou, O Lord, art there
thy chosen flock to greet.

3 We love the sacred font;
for there the holy Dove
to pour is ever wont
his blessing from above.

4 We love thine altar, Lord;
O what on earth so dear?
for there, in faith adored,
we find thy presence near.

5 We love the word of life,
the word that tells of peace,
of comfort in the strife,
and joys that never cease.

6 We love to sing below
for mercies freely given;
but O we long to know
the triumph-song of heaven.

7 Lord Jesus, give us grace
on earth to love thee more,
in heaven to see thy face,
and with thy saints adore.

The author, The Revd William Bullock was born in 1797 at Prittwell, Essex, but later emigrated to Canada. He died in March 1874 at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bullock was first the Anglican rector of St. Paul’s in Trinity, Newfoundland and later of St. Luke’s Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia. When the church was designated a cathedral in 1864, Bullock was appointed St. Luke’s first dean.
Bullock’s descendants relate a family story that the author was criticized for not including a verse in the hymn about the pulpit. He replied with characteristic wit: “Perhaps this is what I should write:
We love thy pulpit Lord,
For there the word of man
Lulls the worshiper to sleep
As only sermons can.”

The hymn is sung to Quam Dilecta

Blessing

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you,

that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered

by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you

in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord

and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father Son and Holy Spirit be with us always

Amen

Sunday Service fro 7th June 2020 – Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

7th June 2020

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Collect

Holy God,

faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever

The Gospel

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.(A) 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.(B) 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,(C) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,(D) 20 and teaching(E) them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you(F) always, to the very end of the age

The Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

The Sermon

John Spilsbury, the London cartographer and engraver, has been credited with creating the first jigsaw puzzles around 1760. Why though a jigsaw puzzle? Since the first Sunday of Advent last year, the Gospel readings have acted as pieces of an imaginary jigsaw puzzle. These weekly passages have been gradually revealing a picture both of the life and nature of Christ.  Last week, Pentecost became the next but last piece of the imaginary puzzle. Here Christ first manifested his risen presence to believers through the Holy Spirit. Today the final piece of jigsaw is placed to complete the picture. This is the complex image of God Christ and the Holy Spirit within the concept of what is referred to as the Trinity.

First things first; Tri, the first letters of the word Trinity naturally mean three. From this is derived for example, the three wheeled cycle, the tricycle, and the three-sided geometric shape, the triangle.  In the Christian context of the Trinity the tri or three is God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These three as separate entities are not difficult to understand. In the Trossachs, God can readily be appreciated as creator.  Placed in the imaginary jigsaw already are pieces depicting Christ, God the Son, on earth.  Finally, the Pentecost narrative describes how frightened and disheartened followers were revived by the appearance of the Holy Spirit.

In Cambridge, I once heard what I judged an excellent sermon about The Trinity. The preacher illustrated his sermon with a visual aid, which, he explained that was capable of performing three functions. He produced a radio that could also play a tape and a CD. It illustrated perfectly, or so I thought, the concept of the Trinity. God the Creator can also God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

Over coffee though, the preacher was taken to task by a lecturer in theology who had been sitting in the congregation. ‘What’ the theologian asked the preacher ‘would you do if you wished to listen to the wireless, but found that it was no longer working and could not be repaired?’ The preacher had to admit that he would have to replace the faulty equipment. This though was the theologian’s point: God is always working within the Trinity. If he is not working as Creator, then he will be working as the Son of God or as the Holy Spirit. God in the Trinity is therefore, three in one, but also one in three. I still preferred the sermon.

Sometimes prayer is addressed to God the Father, as for example in the Lord’s Prayer ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’.  By contrast, John Henry Newman’s famous prayer is addressed not to God, but to Jesus.  ‘O Lord support us all the day long of this troublous life’. Most Pentecost prayers are addressed to God as Spirit starting with words like ‘O Holy Spirit of God’. We can though address prayer to any part of the Trinity and wherever we send it, it will be answered.

Some doubtless remain unconvinced. Why bother with the Trinity? Why not simply believe in God and be done with it?  Alas, the Chelsea flower show has become a victim of the lockdown. How the wonderful colours that characterise the show are being missed. So, it is with faith: to experience God’s glory in full, He must be seen and believed not in monochrome, but in the rich variety and glory of the Trinity.

Reflection

The Trinity is the unique relationship of creative love that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through the gift and grace of our baptism and confirmation we are personally invited to be part of this dynamic and life-giving union. The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which we have received. Romans 5:5

Prayer

To the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Father,
you sent your Word
to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know
the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you,
one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in you.
We ask you this, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Confession

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution

The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCnRYj3lMlQ Today’s hymn

   1    Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
            early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
        holy, holy, holy!  merciful and mighty!
            God in three persons, blessèd Trinity!

   2       Holy, holy, holy!  all the saints adore thee,
            casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
        cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
            which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

   3       Holy, holy, holy!  though the darkness hide thee,
            though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
        only thou art holy, there is none beside thee
            perfect in power, in love, and purity.

   4       Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
            all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea;
        holy, holy, holy!  merciful and mighty!
            God in three persons, blessèd Trinity!

The choice of today’s hymn has not been difficult as it has long been associated with the Trinity. It was written in the early 1800’s by Reginald Heber then vicar of Hodnet in Shropshire. The author was prolific during this period, writing more than a hundred hymns. More to the point, many have survived. Heber was plucked from the obscurity of Hodnet to become Bishop of Calcutta in October 1823. He travelled widely and worked to improve the spiritual and general living conditions of his flock. Arduous duties, a hostile climate and poor health led to his collapse and death after less than three years in India. Memorials were erected there and in St Paul’s Cathedral, London

The tune for this hymn, Nicaea, was composed by John Bacchus Dykes The tune name is a tribute to the First Council of Nicaea – held by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325 – which formalized the doctrine of the Trinity. Dykes was first appointed a church organist at the age of ten. Forsaking a promising musical career, he chose instead to be ordained. 

Sunday Service and Bulletin for Sunday 3rd May 2020

Easter 4 2020

Richard writes

It is hard to believe that within the course of a few days, St Mary’s has been deprived of two of its most loved and cherished members, David Miller and Kate Joynson. Our sadness is shared with the community at large.

First, their respective funeral arrangements. Under normal circumstances, memorial services in church would have been held for both. The numbers attending might well be imagined. However, such services are, for the time being at least, impossible. David will be cremated on Thursday 7th May. Timings and details are to be confirmed, but it is planned that the cortege will drive a circuitous route through the parish to allow as many who wish to pay their last respects from the side of the road.

Kate’s burial has been provisionally arranged for Wednesday 13th May.

It is hoped that a full appreciation of David can be published in due course. For Kate, I take the liberty of writing a few words now. I apologise in advance for any factual error.

Just as David’s name was always accompanied by Saffrey’s so Kate was to Peter. We remember Peter presently in lockdown at his care home in Stirling. Theresa tells me that the lockdown in Bermuda is a great deal more stringent than we experience. It will be impossible of her to leave the island for the foreseeable future. Michael is struggling with homeworking in London. Our thoughts and prayers with both. For these wishing to be in touch with Theresa by email, her address is theresa.joynson@googlemail.com

Older members of the community have told me that Kate’s mother was a powerhouse of initiative and energy. Kate was very much her mother’s daughter and did much for the good of others. Her involvement with the Abbeyfield in Aberfoyle will forever be appreciated.

Kate was born at Douglas Mains outside Bearsden, now alas under a housing estate. She and Peter married in Edinburgh in the early fifties. With Theresa and Michael, they lived variously at Braendam Thornhill and outside Cambusbarron before eventually settling at Laraich.

Who of us at one point or another have not enjoyed Kate and Peter’s hospitality? Kate always belittled her culinary skills, but evidence proves otherwise.

 Kate took a wonderfully positive outlook on life, even when Peter’s mobility began to tax her strength.  She possessed delightful eccentricities. She drove in a ‘press on’ fashion, sometimes with and sometimes without spectacles as the mood took her. Her previous vehicle was registered with the letters CAV. David Miller, observing her car one day commented that the Latin word caveat means warning, be on your guard.

Kate always reserved for herself the seventh lesson about sheep and shepherds at the annual Carol Service. She always read wonderfully clearly. But then, anything moving on four legs, especially a dog, was dear to Kate’s heart. With Peter elsewhere, life latterly centred around the welfare of Dan, her golden Labrador.

Kate always valued independence and, thanks largely to the devotion of Alison and Angus, that was made possible to the last.

Dear Kate, rest in God’s peace.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

Today’s Service

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Collect

Merciful Father,

you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd,

and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again:

keep us always under his protection,

and give us grace to follow in his steps;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospels

Gospel 1

John 9

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Gospel 2

John 10:1-10

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.


The Sermon

‘Matthew, Mark, Luke and John bless the bed that I lie on’. So runs the ancient rhyme about the gospel writers. Mark is largely acknowledged to have written his account of the Good News before Matthew and Luke. John wrote some years after all of them.

Imagine for a moment the four as artists rather than writers, tasked to depict their respective gospels on a blank canvas. Mark would draw Christ’s life in pencil carefully, but with barest detail. Matthew and Luke would add subtle colour and shading to Mark’s account by way of the nativity narratives.  John’s depiction though would be strikingly different, akin to a post-impressionist painter using rich oil colours and vibrant swirling brush strokes to fill the canvas.

As a Gospel writer, John achieves this depth of meaning by placing one narrative next to another, so that the first might illuminate the meaning of the second.

Today we examine an example of John’s juxtaposition. This will explain why two, rather than a single gospel reading are printed.      

Traditionally, the fourth Sunday after Easter Day is observed as Good Shepherd Sunday. In the second gospel, Jesus describes himself as the gate for the sheep, offering the only way in and out of the sheepfold. However, only by reading the first gospel can the imagery of the second be fully explained.

The first gospel narrates how Jesus gave sight to a young man blind from birth by mixing a paste with his saliva and spreading it over the man’s eyes. Later, when the man as instructed by Jesus washed his eyes in the Pool of Siloam, he could see.  Although a miracle, the act was nothing unusual; all four gospel writers bear testimony to Christ’s extraordinary powers of healing.

Having described the incident, John then records the reaction of the watching Pharisees. The young man’s parents were too frightened of them to acknowledge Christ’s powers. Not so their grateful son: he openly confessed to Jesus as an expression of gratitude ‘I believe’ Seeing was indeed believing. (9:38) Jesus then proclaimed to the Pharisees. ‘I have come into the world that the blind might see’ (9:39). The Pharisees, forever on the defensive sprung upon these words. ‘What, are we blind too?’ (9:40)

At this point, the second gospel begins. Jesus’ words about sheep and shepherds were directed against his critics. Jesus spoke of sheep and shepherds, thieves and strangers to explain how giving sight to a man, who had never seen anything, showed the huge difference between true believers, and false prophets who had sight but nevertheless failed to see. To make his point, Jesus drew on one of the most common images in scripture: sheep following their shepherd.

Sheep are mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible. This is hardly surprising because they were important sources of wool, milk and barter. Throughout the Bible, sheep served as a symbol of God’s people. God is portrayed as the shepherd of his chosen flock most famously in the 23rd Psalm.

Sheep share human characteristics. Sheep are followers, copying other sheep, even to slaughter, or into danger. Lambs are conditioned to follow older sheep. Following is an instinct. Sheep are more inclined to follow other sheep than a shepherd.

Sheep find safety in numbers. Since predators attack the outliers, sheep stick closely together. When grazing, sheep will keep at least 4-5 other sheep in view. They are very social animals, and the instinct to flock is strong.

Sheep rarely walk in a straight line. By tracking one side to another, they see what is behind. They can spot danger from up to 1500 yards away, but they have trouble finding a half-open gate without help.

What then of human nature? We are inclined to follow each other more instinctively than to see the Good Shepherd. Before Covid 19 at least, we tend to associate with those we know best and huddle together when danger is sensed. We spend more time looking behind, than walking ahead. Consequently, we are blind to the shepherd and the open gate of the sheepfold.

By placing the texts side by side, John underlines the importance of believers seeing and recognizing the shepherd. The young man had sight given to him and, as a result, believed. The Pharisees had sight and yet were blinded and consequently failed to recognize the Messiah.

Jesus says he is the Gate, the way to safety and green pasture. Do we see the gate?

The prayer

O Lord, may we find you amid our trials. We pray that You would teach us what it means to see beyond our troubles, knowing that You are with us.  Even so, Lord God, we see the challenges those around us are facing. We ask You to intervene, to be with those who are in need, to prompt us to participate with You as You care for your people, and, most of all, to restore creation and to make all things new. We pray that we would not be anxious, but that You would give us Your peace. Let us live differently during this trial so that the world might see You in us. Amen.

Confession

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution

The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

The Hymn:

For today, there can only be one possible choice. This was written by Sir Henry Williams Baker, Bart., eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker. He was born in London in May 1821, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Taking Holy Orders in 1844, he became, in 1851, Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire. This benefice he held to his death in February 1877. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1851. This hymn is his best known and the last audible words upon his dying lips were those of the third verse. Listen on YOutube

   1    The King of love my shepherd is,
            whose goodness faileth never;
        I nothing lack if I am his
            and he is mine for ever.

   2       Where streams of living water flow
            my ransomed soul he leadeth,
        and where the verdant pastures grow
            with food celestial feedeth.

   3       Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
            but yet in love he sought me,
        and on his shoulder gently laid,
            and home rejoicing brought me.

   4       In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
            with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
        thy rod and staff  my comfort still,
            thy cross before to guide me.

   5       Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
            thy unction grace bestoweth;
        and O what transport of delight
            from thy pure chalice floweth!

   6       And so through all the length of days
            thy goodness faileth never:
        good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
            within thy house for ever.

Conclusion

The God of peace, who brought from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, make us perfect to in every good work to do his will; and the blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore

Amen.

Sunday Service for 19th April 2020

Sunday 19th April
Easter 1

Notices

Today marks the first anniversary of Saffrey Miller’s death. Our thoughts are with David and the family. Today’s hymn, which can be heard via YouTube, closed her Memorial Service.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel. The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

For those who prefer devotion in another form, the following is a complete service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Collect for the day

Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 27:5–11
5 One thing have I asked of the LORD;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;
6 To behold the fair beauty of the LORD *
and to seek him in his temple.
7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
and set me high upon a rock.
8 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.
9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
10 Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.
11 You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, LORD, will I seek.

The Gospel.

John 4:23–26
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

The Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

The sermon

Invariably during the current crisis, anyone of importance appearing on television is filmed against the backdrop of their bookcase. Wearying of being hectored, viewers are beginning to turn attention instead to the shelves behind the speaker’s head. Are the volumes arranged neatly, suggesting the owner’s tidy mind, or stacked at random suggesting perpetual inner whirlwind? Are the spines colour- coded, signifying perhaps pedantry? Did the books reach the shelves by courtesy of a never to be repeated offer from ‘Reader’s Digest’, or to dispatch an uninvited encyclopaedia salesman from the doorstep? In short, are the books simply to impress or have they at some point been opened?
My own bookcase contains a slim volume by one Julian of Norwich entitled ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. In truth, it has never been opened until recently, but is now steady ‘work in progress’. Although penned in the 14th century, it is remarkably relevant to these disturbing times.
Julian of Norwich wasn’t male as the name suggests, but rather a woman. Her birth name remains unknown: her identity is derived from her life-long association with St Julian’s church, which stood in King Street next to one of the busiest thoroughfares in medieval Norwich.
Julian was born in 1342 during the time of The Black Death. The plague led to bad social conditions and oppression of the poor. There was a shortage of labour, high taxes and bad harvests. Unrest led to the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Religious persecution was also rampant, and many people were put to their death because of their religious beliefs.
Julian wasn’t a nun, but a lay person who chose a life of contemplation. In this role she became a special kind of mystic, known as an anchoress. An anchoress was a person called to a solitary life, not cut-off from the world, but rather within it. She anchored the light of God amidst the darkness of life around her. Thus in 1373 she voluntarily entered ‘lockdown’ within a cell attached to St Julian’s church; it was though used before her time and again after her death. Lest she felt tempted to leave, the entrance was blocked behind her with stone. Her life centred on prayer and contemplation a life highly respected at the time.
Julian kept a servant who brought her meals. She listened through a curtained window to passers-by who needed counsel. The only other living soul who entered her space was her beloved cat, that allowed the rat population to be kept at bay.
On 8 May 1373 she was struck by severe illness, doubtless plague related. During sickness, she experienced 16 profound visions. She scribbled each in detail, lest she later forget them. After recovery, and for the next 20 years, she recorded them in full. Her writings became ‘Revelations of Divine Love’, the first book written by a woman in English, and it remains a spiritual classic.
Unlike many religious teachings of her day, Julian did not write of a vengeful or judgmental God, but a God with an all-enveloping love, like a tender mother or father. In its 27th chapter, Julian wrote “All Shall be Well!”
Readers might initially be tempted to judge these as words befitting someone detached and remote from the hardships and troubles of everyday life. In fact, these were not Julian’s words, but those of God. Julian was naturally sceptical that in a plague, things would ever turn out well. She filled thirteen chapters with such doubts. God, in response, assured her that the mysterious action of divine love and power and wisdom will indeed make all things well. God even presented Julian with examples of how suffering had been made well, and sin into glory. But Julian for a long time remained unconvinced, wanting to know how all things could be made well. Ultimately, God doesn’t explain how things could be made well but invites Julian to trust in that future of wellness.
Knowing that Julian argued with God is helpful, because believing “all shall be well” is not a simplistic devotion or a mental mind game; it is an invitation for us all to live more trustingly.
Julian’s hermitage was destroyed at the Reformation and St Julian’s church during the Baedeker air raids of 1942. Later, the cell was rebuilt along with the nave and chancel of the main church. It serves as a shrine to Lady Julian of Norwich who is also commemorated in nearby Norwich Cathedral by a statue and a stained-glass window.
Prayer and meditation from ‘Revelations of Divine Love’
After that the Lord brought to my mind the yearning that I had for Him in the past, and I saw that nothing stood in my way except sin (and thus I observed universally in us all).
And it seemed to me that if sin had not been, we would all have been pure and like to our Lord as He made us, and thus, in my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the beginning of sin was not prevented, for then, it seemed to me, all would have been well. I ought much to have given up this disturbing wondering, but nevertheless, I made mourning and sorrow about it without reason or discretion.
But Jesus (who in this vision informed me of all that I needed) answered by this word and said: “Sin is inevitable, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Amen

Confession
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution
The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.

The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.
Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.
Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee, and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

The Hymn

1 The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the Passover of gladness,
the Passover of God;
from death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our God hath brought us over
with hymns of victory.
2 Our hearts be pure from evil,
that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal
of resurrection-light;
and, listening to his accents,
may hear so calm and plain
his own ‘All hail’, and, hearing,
may raise the victor strain.
3 Now let the heavens be joyful,
and earth her song begin,
the round world keep high triumph,
and all that is therein;
let all things seen and unseen
their notes of gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord is risen,
our joy that hath no end.

The Grace
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with me always. Amen.