Tag Archives: Services

St Mary’s Sunday Service 22nd November 2020

We are very grateful to Rev Canon Alison Peden for providing us with this service for us to follow

Please note that St Mary’s is shut from 20th November and that there is no service at the Church this Sunday

Christ the King  November 22nd  2020

Psalm 95  is sung as an anthem at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpZEMzmeFN8:

O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.  Alleluia!

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 everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, our Lord and King: grant that the peoples of the earth may be brought together under his gentle and loving rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:   Ephesians 1:15-23
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 
And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Gospel:
 Matthew 25:31-46
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 
And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 
Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

Reflection:   There is a game where you are labelled with a job on your back, and you have to ask other people questions to find out what it is. Someone suggested that there should be a ‘Sheep and Goats’ game, where your back is labelled  ‘Christ the king’, ‘beggar’, ‘servant’, ‘invalid’, ‘prisoner’ and so on, and you have to work out who you are from how you are treated. With honour? compassion? brusqueness?

What if everyone in the world was labelled ‘Christ the king’?   How would it affect our behaviour to each other?

In Matthew’s parable the judgement is made on ‘the nations’.  We need to think about how the nations treat each other.  It is disquieting that the UK government is thinking of reducing the 0.7% that we give in foreign aid, whilst proposing a £16 bn. spending spree on the military.
I was hungry and you gave me food.

As the Church, we need to consider how we treat each other, and whether we seek out and welcome all as Christ himself.  If Jesus came incognito to our community, to our congregation, would we treat as our King with honour and warmth, care and respect if we did not know who he ‘really’ was?   I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

And in our own lives, our families, our neighbours, our friends, those whom we meet by chance:  do they realise from how we treat them that we see Christ each time we look in their eyes, care for their needs, honour the sacred life that is theirs?  I was sick and you took care of me.

Prayers of intercession:
O God, may your kingdom come:   You sent your Son to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to captives and salvation to your people: rouse us to work in His name.     

Help us to see you face in those who hunger and thirst, and teach us to share what we have, as a nation and as your followers.

May we live in tolerance and mutual respect with those of different races and cultures, and seek to welcome the stranger in our midst.

Guide us as we care for the vulnerable in our society, and be present with all those who are ill, lonely, depressed, anxious, grieving or approaching death.

Enfold our loved ones in your peace and protection, and hear us when we pray for them …

Loving God, you call us to your service, to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this, your world.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit that we may work with you for the coming of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord and King.  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, you have made us a royal priesthood in the kingdom of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Make known his victory through us, we pray, that all the world may see his light.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen

You may like to close with this hymn for the Feast of Christ the King, here sung at St Albans Cathedral:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDFAv0eh-s8

Rejoice the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart! lift up your voice! Rejoice! again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Saviour reigns, the God of truth and love:
when he had purged our stains, he took his seat above.
Lift up your heart! lift up your voice! Rejoice! again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail; he rules o’er earth and heaven;
the keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given.
Lift up your heart! lift up your voice! Rejoice! again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all his foes submit,
and bow to his command, and fall beneath his feet:
Lift up your heart! lift up your voice! Rejoice! again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come
and take his servants up to their eternal home:
We soon shall hear the archangel’s voice,
the trump of God shall sound: Rejoice!

St Mary’s Sunday Service for 15th November 2020

We are very grateful to Rev Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for letting us have this service to follow should you not be able to attend St Mary’s in person

Pentecost 18  November 15th  2020

Faithfulness,  not success

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

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

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

Collect:   Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world.  Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us, and bring us to eternal light and joy; through the power of him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:   1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Gospel:  Matthew 25:14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 
After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave; you have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave; you have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 
Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return, I would have received what was my own with interest. So, take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Reflection:   ‘Concerning the times and seasons’  …  we ‘NEED TO KNOW! ‘  It’s hard to wait indefinitely for everything to be resolved.   Nearly half a century after Pentecost, Matthew wrote for Christians who wondered when Jesus would return in triumph.  They were being rejected by the synagogues and persecuted by Romans.    As the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us when the end times will be?”  (Mt.24:3)   

And so Matthew encourages them with a series of Jesus’ parables about those end times.  The boss is away; he returns unexpectedly; he judges; the faithful are commended, but the rest are cast out. It’s the same pattern whether it’s about the thief surprising the sleeping householder, or the foolish virgins, or slaves investing talents or not. 

It’s tempting to focus on the success of the prudent slaves in today’s parable who invested well and were rewarded.  But Jesus emphasises their faithfulness, not their success.  They continued to believe that the master would return, and so they lived and worked actively for him, keeping themselves prepared and ready.

The ones who got cast out were those who froze out of fear or dozed off in boredom.  Living faithfully in expectation means accepting that some of what we do may fail or seem futile and over-optimistic.  But Christian life means committing to God’s future in hope and leaving the rest to God.  We can’t remain indifferent or asleep.

Jesus’ wonderful promise is that even a moment is long enough to wake ourselves up before the surprise return of the Lord.  As William Camden wrote in his Epitaph for a Man Killed by Falling (1605): 

                     “Betwixt the stirrup and the ground
                       Mercy I ask’d;  mercy I found.”

Prayers of penitence and intercession:
Holy God, you are the maker and sustainer of all things. You teach us to be good stewards of your generosity.  But we confess that we have squandered your gifts and used them as if they had been given for us alone.  We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
Lord in your mercy  hear our prayer.

God of righteousness, you call us to be alert to injustice and need, to abuse and prejudice, to suffering and distress.  But we are slow to respond, fearful and indifferent to cries for help.
Lord in your mercy  hear our prayer.

Loving God, forgive us and wake us up;  make us alert to signs that your Kingdom is coming on earth and help us to work with you for the renewal of Creation, in our homes, our community, our country.
Lord in your mercy  hear our prayer.

Give hope and light to those whose lives are dark and troubled;  give wisdom and guidance to those who direct the affairs of the world;  give peace and comfort to those who are ill or approaching death, and surround with your gracious love those close and dear to us …
Lord in your mercy  hear our prayer.

Merciful God, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour 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).

This hymn looks forward to the grace and mercy offered us at the end of the age:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAcpYr9I6Tk

I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me;
How he left the realms of glory for the cross of Calvary.
           Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
           Sing it with the saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray,
Raised me up and gently led me back into the narrow way.
            Yes, I’ll sing …

He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet;
Then he’ll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet.
            Yes, I’ll sing …

We are very grateful to Rev Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for letting us have this service to follow should you not be able to attend St Mary’s in person

Sunday Service for All Saints – 1st November 2020

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden for providing us with this service to follow, for those unable to come to the service at At Mary’s this Sunday

All Saints  November 1st    2020

We remember, O God…
The countless saints of history

who have blazed a trail of courage through time.We remember, O God…
The tenderness of loved ones, the example of heroes,

the healing words of comforters, the remarkable acts of fearless ones.We remember, O God…
The gentle strength of grandparents, the loyalty of friends,

the kindness of strangers, the joy of children, the sacrifice of parents.We remember, O God…
The supreme love of Jesus, the blessing of his Spirit, the reminder of his words, the sharing of his suffering, the glory of his resurrection:

shown forth in the lives of his disciples, young and old,
dead and living, strange and familiar, brilliant and ordinary.We remember in every time and place the saints of God

who have shown us the Lord.
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us worship God with joy!

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, your saints are one with you in the mystical body of Christ: give us grace to follow them in all virtue and holiness
until we come to those inexpressible joys which you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.
Amen.

Reading:  Revelation 7:9-17
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

Gospel:    Matthew 5:1-12    An all-age version of the Beatitudes
Blessed are the saints who trust God’s power and loving care,
for they are part of the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the saints when they are sad because the world is so unfair.   They have God’s promise that justice will come.
Blessed are the nobodies who know they are nobodies and still do God’s work.   In God’s world they are the leaders.
Blessed are the saints whose greatest wish is to do what God desires.
God will give them what they want.
Blessed are the saints who treat other people gently,
God will treat them gently.
Blessed are the saints who get in trouble when they do what God requires, for they are surely among God’s saints.

Reflection:   St Modoc’s has been sharing stories of unsung saints who have inspired us. Saints are not just those officially canonised by the Church, with their holiness and remarkable deeds; they are also those who let a little of the light of Christ shine through their lives and show what God hopes human beings can be like, in their great diversity.

One striking memory is of interviewing Mother Teresa of Calcutta when she was virtually unknown.  ‘Tiny, determined … she struck me as a powerful, driven woman’.  She had the saintly quality of self-forgetfulness, refusing to answer questions about herself, demanding instead:  ‘Ask me about the work!’

Another person described ‘would be horrified to be included in any list’ of unsung saints.  A dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she inspires through her ‘gentleness, firmness, uprightness and unfailing interest in, and support for, other people’.

We can be helped and uplifted by creative souls who enlarge our vision.  Someone remembers acting in a play about St Cuthman by Christopher Fry, a Quaker playwright better known for ‘The lady’s not for burning’, who tried to convey spiritual truth.  In exquisite poetry, he depicts Cuthman trying to build a church and encountering Christ:
             But gradually I was aware of some one in

                 The doorway and turned my eyes that way and saw

                 Carved out of the sunlight a man who stood 

                 Watching me. So still that there was not

                 Other such stillness anywhere on the earth.
                 So still that the air seemed to leap / At his side …
                 I cried out, and I cried at last ‘Who are you?’
                 I heard him say ‘I was a carpenter’ …

Finally, saints can be found amongst those not obviously ‘religious’.  Arthur Collyer – remembered as a great-uncle – confronted government plans to move the Masai from their lands where he was a District Commissioner in Kenya in 1908.  He was young, dying from TB but passionately committed to protecting the interests of his fellow human beings.  “I often think what it must have been like: young, alone in the wilds of Africa, dying, bitter about injustice and worried about the Masai people.”  As Jesus said, ‘Inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it unto me’.  Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayers:  

For all the saints who went before us, who have spoken to our hearts and touched us with your fire, we praise you, O God.  May we all hear their wisdom and inspiration and become a better place for all.
Lord graciously hear us.

For all the saints who live beside us, whose weaknesses and strengths are woven with our own, we praise you, O God.  May we listen, love and care, building a community that you will rejoice in.
Lord graciously hear us.

For all the saints who live beyond us, who challenge us to change the world with them, we praise you, O God. May their sacrifices bear fruit in the renewal of your world in justice, peace and righteousness.
Lord graciously hear us.

Holy God, join our prayers with those of the saints in eternal light, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give 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:    Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses, each of whom lived a life of faith in God, let us lay aside every weight that slows us down, and let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. And may the peace of God, the love of Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, be among us and within us always. Amen

For all the saints …’ was written by William Walsham How, known as ‘The poor man’s bishop’ and ‘the children’s bishop’ for his work amongst the destitute in London and Yorkshire and his interest in children.
Perhaps another uncanonised saint? The RSCM youth choir sings it at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOC0Mb–FWY 

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy Name, O Jesu, be forever blessed.  
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. 
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
and singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sunday service for 25th October 2020

For those who cannot come to St Mary’s for Richard Grosse’s Final service this Sunday

This service is very kindly provided by Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor

Pentecost 21  October 25th   2020

Commanded to love?

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:   O Lord, in your mercy: grant to your faithful people pardon and peace; that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; 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:  Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.  You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbour. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbour: I am the Lord.  You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbour, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

Gospel:    Matthew 22:34-46
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,  “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand,    until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Reflection:  
We are getting used to trying to summarise what is most important in a raft of commands:  ‘Hands, face, space’  or ‘Test and protect’.  The Jewish law was wide and complex, touching many areas of daily life. The summary Jesus gave was Biblical and well-known, and is now prayed at every Eucharist.

The summary of the Law is still a commandment.  But can you command someone to love?  That seems to go against our common understanding of love as an emotion, a feeling in our hearts.  It can be a bit daunting to say ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Do you(really) love God?’  or ‘Do you (truly) love your neighbour?’  We may quite like them, or even love them sometimes, but is that the same as real love?

We may be able to say ‘actions speak louder than words’.  This is what the wife, Golde, says to her husband, Tevye, in the musical Fiddler on the Roof  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_y9F5St4j0 ) when he asks ‘Do you love me?’:
          For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your
          meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. 
          … if that’s not love, what is?’

Yet it’s not just that loving deeds prove our love; it’s also the case that if you commit to loving actions, your love will grow.  The commandments draw us into a pattern of living that increases our love:  if we honour our family, we find we care more and more for them;  if we respect our neighbours – as our first reading prescribes, by not slandering them or bearing grudges – we find that we actually do care about their welfare and maybe even love them.

And if we commit to prayer, worship, communing with God in Christ, our love of God will grow through the power of the Spirit, so that we can love our neighbour even more, because we love those whom God loves, cherished children as we are of one Father.

You might like to pause with this chant from Taizé, which is sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvfr_2euIFo

                      Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas, Deus ibi est.
                      (Where charity and love are …  there is God)

Prayers:   From the Church of Scotland
Holy God, who gave your Law to Moses, and who personified your Law of love in Jesus your Son, as Jesus reached out to those on the margins, so now in our prayers we do likewise:

We pray for all who have little love in their lives – those who are lonely and afraid, those who are addicted and trapped, those who grieve and mourn, those whose relationships have shattered into a thousand shards.   God of love, help us to hold them close.

We pray for those who love the wrong things – those for whom money or possessions are “god” and where greed has taken over, those who love only for gaining the approval of others, flattery, or power, those who can only love self and where bitterness or hurt has made them inward-looking. God of love, help us to unlock their hearts.

We pray for those who love so much that they give themselves totally – those who are persecuted for truth or oppressed because they take a stand for justice; those who face discrimination because of skin colour, gender, sexuality or class; those who strive tirelessly for the Good News of Jesus, often facing hostility or apathy from others.
God of love, help us to work in solidarity with them.

And now we pray for those most in our hearts, for whom we know special love and concern …  
God of love, help us to trust your compassionate and infinite love for them.

God of Love, hear our prayers spoken and unspoken, and receive them in Your grace and mercy, through Jesus, our loving Saviour.  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, who gave the Law through Moses, and grace and mercy in Jesus Christ:   grant, we pray, that this law of love may be so written upon our hearts, that whatever we do in your name, we do humbly; whatever we seek in your Kingdom, we seek faithfully; and whatever we give of ourselves, we give lovingly; through the servant King, Jesus, our Saviour.  Amen

Love is the gift of the Holy Spirit, prayed forin our first prayer, and          in this hymn which was sung at Dunblane Cathedral as part of Songs
of Praise  – see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIvKDgktutI

Come down, O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear,
and kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn, ‘til earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace, till they become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit finds a dwelling.

Sunday service for 18th October 2020 – St Luke

We are very grateful to Revd. Canon Alison Peden who has provided this service for you to follow if you cannot come to St Mary’s on Sunday

      St Luke   October 18th 2020  

         Praise the Lord, all you saints!

   Praise the Lord, you heavenly hosts!

   So great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us.

       They witness to God’s mighty acts.

         They witness to God’s steadfast love.

                                       Their witness guides us in our faith.

      Give thanks to God for St. Luke, the Evangelist,

      who tells of Christ’s healing power.

      Sing praise to God, sing praises.
      Sing praise and thanks for all God’s saints.

Tradition tells us that St. Luke was the son of pagan parents, possibly born a slave, and was a doctor by profession.  Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and his mother, but none have ever been correctly attributed to him. St. Luke travelled with St. Paul and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome. St. Luke wrote a Gospel and an account of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was said to have been martyred by hanging from an olive tree.

Prayer:  Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reading:  Ecclesiasticus 38:1-4,6-10,12-14Honour physicians for their services, for the Lord created them;
for their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king.  The skill of physicians makes them distinguished, and in the presence of the great they are admired.
The Lord created medicines out of the earth,  and the sensible will not despise them.  And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvellous works. By them the physician heals and takes away pain; the pharmacist makes a mixture from them.
God’s works will never be finished; and from him health spreads over all the earth.
My child, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you.  Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly, and cleanse your heart from all sin. Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him;    do not let him leave you, for you need him.
There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians, for they too pray to the Lord that he will grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.

Gospel:  Luke 4:14-21
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Reflection:  At this time especially, we appreciate the qualities that make good doctors.  I often wonder if St Paul (who suffered from bad health and poor eyesight) was glad for to have the physician St Luke’s company on missionary journeys.  What can we gather about Luke’s qualities from what he wrote and others reported about him?

The first is that St Luke took people as they were, particularly if they were ‘outsiders.’  He was the only gospel-writer who recorded the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the stories of the grateful leper and the penitent woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears.

Next, he focussed on the healing aspects of the gospel:  mercy (the parable of the Prodigal Son);  hope (the joy in heaven of the poor man Lazarus after his death);  and a vision of the Kingdom (Mary’s triumphant song, the Magnificat).  He wanted to convey Jesus’ promise of salvation for the whole person.

Then, he stuck by Paul to the end and did not give up. Paul was imprisoned in Rome, where he was executed.  In 2 Timothy 4:10-11, we hear how everyone had left Paul, and ‘only Luke is with me’. 

The best doctors, nurses and care staff treat everyone equally, offer the kind of reassurance that is healing, and stick by those in their care as long as they need them.  And the best kind of Christians should do the same kind of thing, because it is truly Christ-like.

Prayers:
Gracious God,giver of wisdom, pour out your gifts on politicians, civil servants and managers of the health service, especially at this time when the responsibilities for our health that they shoulder are so heavy.   Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of healing, we thank you for all whom you bless with your gifts of compassion, knowledge and healing skills, especially the doctors, nurses, therapists, and support staff of the health service, those who work in hospices and those who serve in care homes. May they be channels of healing to those who suffer, in body, mind and spirit, and themselves find strength, support and encouragement.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Compassionate God, we hold before you all those in need of healing and comfort, especially those who have asked for our prayers …  calm the anxious mind, bring balm to the depressed spirit, and strengthen the weakened body, that all who suffer may know your presence surrounding and holding them.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of our salvation, you call your Church to bring good news to the poor, health to the sick, and reconciliation to the troubled. Hear our prayers for chaplains in the Health Service, and give us the grace to give hope to all who long to hear of your promises.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour 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!

It is indeed right and good that we should give you praise, thanks and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is the promise of justice and hope, putting the powerful in their place and lifting up the lowly. He came as light and life to those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, your revelation to the nations and glory for your people Israel. He went about healing and doing good, and with his death accomplished the world’s salvation.
He sends the Spirit on his people, that they too may bring good news to the poor, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and proclaiming the good news of life and joy, that all creation might hear and rejoice, as with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we sing:

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, St Luke and all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

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

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

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

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

St Luke records Mary’s song of praise when her cousin Elizabeth greeted the Messiah in her womb, and it is sung here in a version by Bernadette Farrell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15AccZAcdpk

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit sings to God, my saving God, who on this day above all others favoured me,
and raised me up, a light for all to see.
Through me great deeds will God make manifest, and all the earth will come to call me blest. Unbounded love and mercy sure will
I proclaim for all who know and praise God’s holy name.
God’s mighty arm, protector of the just, will guard the weak and
raise them from the dust. But mighty kings will swiftly fall from thrones corrupt; the strong brought low, the lowly lifted up.
Soon will the poor and hungry of the earth be richly blest, be given greater worth, and Israel, as once foretold to Abraham, will live in peace throughout the promised land.
All glory be to God, Creator blest, to Jesus Christ, God’s love made manifest, and to the Holy Spirit, gentle Comforter, all glory be,
both now and ever more.

Sunday service for 11th October 2020

We are very grateful to our Interim Pastor, Revd Canon Alison Peden, who provides this service for you to follow should you be unable to come to Church this Sunday

Pentecost 18  October 11th  2020

 What – or Who – do you have in your mind?

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:   O Lord, since without you we cannot please you: let the work of your mercy in all things guide our hearts; 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:   Philippians 4:1-9
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 
Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel:  Matthew 22:1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 
‘The kingdom of heaven has been compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 
Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 
The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 
Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was silent. 
Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Reflection:   A couple of weeks ago, we pondered the ‘mind of Christ’ as Paul described it in Philippians:  selfless, servant-minded, humbly obedient unto death.  Today, Paul talks about how our ‘hearts and minds may be guarded in Christ Jesus’:  joyful, dependent on God, gentle, filled with the goodness of God.

Our habitual mind-set is vital to how we live.  If our minds are filled with frightening, self-obsessed images and thoughts, we will find it hard to live the free, joyful life of a Christian.  ‘Conversion’ includes changing our attitudes and assumptions – deeply changing our minds.

One way to live according to the mind of Christ is to absorb the ways of others.  Paul encourages the Philippians to let just and pure and noble excellence fill their minds – imitating what they have seen in him!  But our supreme model must be God as found in Jesus.

Jesus shows us what God is like, and some commentators argue that God is not like the king in today’s parable about the wedding feast.  That king is vengeful, violent, and unreasonably condemning a press-ganged guest for not wearing wedding-clothes.

So is God, in fact, more like that wedding-guest?  That is: silent in the face of tyranny – like Jesus at his trial;  refusing to take part in a display of entertainment that smacked of Herod’s vanity and crowd-pleasing; prepared to be cast out for having a ‘mind’ that was free of all fear and self-seeking.

Paul knew what it cost to have ‘the mind of Christ’.  When he wrote so warmly of rejoicing, gladness and peace, he was actually in prison for his faith.  We find ourselves in difficult times, when the most important thing may be what – and indeed Who – fills our mind.  As C.M. Ward wrote: “There are things I can’t force;  I must adjust.  There are times when the greatest change needed is a change in my viewpoint.”

Prayers:   O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom you chose us, before the foundation of the world, and destined us in love to be your own: help us to pray for all your children.

For the life of the world; that your peace may be known and may prevail: praying for diplomats and peacemakers working in the heat of conflict.         Lord, graciously hear us.

For all who suffer injury, death or loss; that they may know the hope to which you call us: especially and those becoming ill with Coronavirus in the second wave and those affected economically and socially.
                             Lord, graciously hear us.

For all who exercise rule and authority; that they may acknowledge your power, and seek justice and good government, not popularity
and profit.       Lord, graciously hear us.

For the Church which is Christ’s body; that it may live for the praise of your glory, filled with joy and peace as we trust in the Spirit’s guidance.  Lord, graciously hear us.

O God, you exerted your strength and power when you raised Christ from the dead, putting everything in subjection beneath his feet: accept the prayers which we offer in his name for the world you have created and redeemed; through him in whom you have set forth the mystery of your will, to unite all things in heaven and on earth,         your Son, our Lord 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:    Let us rejoice always in the Lord, standing firm in Jesus Christ and of one mind in him.  And may God’s peace that passes all understanding guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit guide us into all that is honourable, just and pure. Amen

Kate Wilkinson, an evangelist, wrote this hymn in 1925 – hear it at

   May the mind of Christ my saviour live in me from day to day,
   by his love and power controlling all I do or say.

   May the word of God dwell richly in my heart  from hour to hour;
   so that all may see I triumph only through his power.

   May the peace of God my Father rule my life in everything,
   that I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

   May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea,
   him exalting, self forgetting, this the victory!

   May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
   looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

Sunday service for 4th October 2020

Creation Sunday  4th October 2020
A service of the word

We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, Our Interim Pastor, for providing us with a service to follow in the case that you cannot attend a service at St Mary’s

The service at St Mary’s, for those who would like to attend, is at 11.15 am when we will celebrate the Reserve Sacrament

The Spirit hovered over the water and brought life to all creation. 
Come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Opening Prayer: O God,Creator of life, the Earth is full of your creatures, and by your wisdom you made them all. At your word, the Earth brought forth plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit, the waters teemed with swarms of living creatures of every kind, and world was filled with every kind of winged bird, walking animal, and creatures that creep upon the ground. Mountains, plains, rocks, and rivers shelter diverse communities, and through the changing seasons your Spirit renews cycles of life. During this Season of Creation, open our eyes to see the precious diversity that is all around us. Enlighten our minds to appreciate the delicate balance maintained by each creature. Inspire us to conserve the precious habitats that nurture this web of life. In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reading:  Psalm 148
Alleluia!     Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him, all you angels of his; praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord;
for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost, tempestuous wind doing his will. Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds;

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and rulers of the earth,
young men and maidens, old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name only is exalted; his splendour is over earth and heaven.

He has raised up strength for his people,
praise for all his loyal servants,
the children of Israel, a people who are close to him. Alleluia!

Gospel:  Matthew 21:33-46


Jesus said: ‘There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” 
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will
give him the produce at the harvest time.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Reflection:  This warning parable offers a wake-up call to those who think they can profit from violence and exploitation.  Placed as stewards of a vineyard, the tenants want to keep its wealth for themselves and will go to any lengths to do so, thinking that they can act with impunity.

We see devastation and violence across the world today that arises from similar selfishness, from the destruction of the Amazon to pollution of pristine oceans – and it stretches even into outer space.

The owner of the vineyard wanted the land to be fruitful and productive, tended by good stewards.  The kind of behaviour that the ‘wicked tenants’ displayed led only to their destruction;  it was self-defeating.  We, too, will suffer for exploiting the environment.

But we should care for the world not (just) for economic reasons and our own survival, but because we are God’s stewards, and it is his vineyard, his Creation.  The world is precious because God created it and we love God, honouring all that he has made.

Prayers of Penitence:   The whole creation groans with eager longing for God’s redemption. We come in penitence and faith.         

We confess to you our lack of care for the world you have given us.
Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

We confess to you our selfishness in not sharing the earth’s bounty fairly.
Christ, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

We confess to you our failure to protect resources for others.
Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins and restore us in his image, to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.               

Prayers of intercession:  
God said, ‘Let there be light.’ Eternal God, we thank you for your light and your truth. We praise you for your creating a universe which proclaims your glory.  Let your light shine upon our world.          
Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the heavens.’
We thank you for the vastness of the universe and the mysteries of space. We pray for scientists and astronomers who extend the boundaries of our knowledge.   Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let the waters be gathered together, and let dry land appear.’ We thank you for the beauty of the earth, for the diversity of land and sea, for the resources of the earth. Give us the will to cherish this planet and to use its riches for the welfare of all.
Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day and the night.’ We thank you for the warmth of the sun, the light of the moon, the glory of the stars. We praise you for the formations of clouds, the radiance of dawn and sunset. Save us from wasting or abusing the energy on which all life depends.
Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth living creatures, and let birds fly across the sky.’ We thank you for the teeming life of the seas, and the flight of the birds. Help us to protect the environment so that all life may flourish.    Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind.’
We rejoice in the variety of animal life. Grant us grace to treat all animals with respect and care; to protect endangered species, to preserve the variety of habitats, and to honour the delicate balance of nature. Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

God said, ‘Let us create human beings in our own image.’ We pray for the human family. We exult in its diversity and we repent of its sins, divisions and violence.  Lord of creation: hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have filled the world with beauty: open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

What Pope Francis has said about Creation:

“God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives. If you give her a slap, she will give you one. I believe that we have exploited nature too much.”“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.” “May the relationship between man and nature not be driven by greed, to manipulate and exploit, but may the divine harmony between beings and creation be conserved in the logic of respect and care.”
“We received this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan from future generations, to whom we will have to return it.”

The Lord’s Prayer  expanded from Scripture
Our Father
       who formed the cosmos and knit us in the womb (Ps 139:13)
who art in heaven,
        seated on the throne beneath the seraphim    (Isaiah 6:1)
hallowed be thy name.
         let everything that has breath praise the Lord    (Ps.150:6)
Thy kingdom come,
          creation waits in eager expectation  (Romans 8:19)
Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven;
        
they will beat their swords into ploughshares   (Micah 4:3)
         the wolf shall lie down with the lamb.   (Isaiah 11:6)
Give us this day our daily bread
      which earth has given and human hands have made (Eccl. 3: 13-14)
and forgive us our trespasses        
as we forgive those who trespass against us
        whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven  (Matt.18:18)
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,
         under his wings you will find refuge  (Ps.91:4)
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
         You laid the earth’s foundation   (Job 38:4)
          You bring forth the constellations in their seasons  (Job 38:32)
for ever and ever. 
          Who was, and is and is to come.  (Revelation 4:8Amen

Closing Prayer:    Lord of all, as with joy we have offered thanksgiving for your love in creation, move our hearts to be generous and wise stewards of the good things we enjoy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

This traditional hymn celebrating the harvest reminds us of the divine source of our precious natural world.  It is sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha628Pj_Rns

We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
he sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
    All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,
   then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
   for all his love.


He only is the Maker of all things near and far;
he paints the wayside flower, he lights the evening star;
the winds and waves obey him, by him the birds are fed;
much more to us, his children, he gives our daily bread.
    All good gifts around us …

We thank thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
the seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food;
no gifts have we to offer, for all thy love imparts,
but, what thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
    All good gifts around us …

Sunday Service for 27th September 2020

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

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

Pentecost 17  September 27th   2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers
Almighty God, may all who wield power do so with integrity and for the common good.  Protect those in government from rash or self-seeking action, and guide their policies, especially at this time of heightened danger from Covid-19.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Bless all who seek to influence our lives, that they may inspire us to build a better society and environment.  Open our minds and our hearts to those who can speak the truth to us, however inconvenient it may be for our lives.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Look with mercy, loving God, on those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, especially …         Give your strength to those who help others: to heal and console, to nurture young people and to protect all who are vulnerable.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy God, give grace to your Church as we seek to love you from our hearts and obey your will.  Inspire us to share our hope and joy with those around us, and draw us into deeper faith and commitment.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the power of the Spirit and in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen
The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!
Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

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

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

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


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

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Service for 20th September 2020

With Grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden

Pentecost 16  September 20th   2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

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

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

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

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

Closing prayer:    Christ the lowly and meek, Christ the all-powerful,
                                            be in the heart of each to whom I speak,
                                             in the mouth of each who speaks to me,
                                    in all who draw near to me, or see me, or hear me.
                                                                                                

Romanian grape- pickers

Sunday Service for 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Silence  

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

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

God, who is both power and love, forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by the Holy Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Thanksgiving Prayer used for the Reserved Sacrament service:

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

as our Saviour has taught us:

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

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

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

_________________

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

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

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

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

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