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Sunday Service for 20th September 2020

With Grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden

Pentecost 16  September 20th   2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romanian grape- pickers

Sunday Service for 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Silence  

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

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

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

The Thanksgiving Prayer used for the Reserved Sacrament service:

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

R. Glory to you for ever

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

as our Saviour has taught us:

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

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

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

_________________

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday service for 23rd August 2020 – Pentecost 13

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden – our Interim Pastor

Pentecost 12  August 23rd  2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening Up St Mary’s for Sunday Services

Good News !

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


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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes to all

Mark Seymour
Secretary to st Mary’s Vestry

Tel  01786 870710


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

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

Sunday Service for 9th August 2020 – Pentecost 10

Pentecost 10  August 9th  2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Service 2nd August 2020

Pentecost 9  August 2nd 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confession:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Service – 26th July 2020 – Pentecost 8

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

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden – our Interim Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad —
The day of perfect righteousness, the promised day of God.
      May we have the grace to share in your Kingdom, Lord,
     through the redemption we have in Christ Jesus.  Amen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing prayer: 
Merciful God,you gave your only Son to be both a sacrifice for sin and an example of godly life:  help us gladly to receive all that he has done for us and follow in his footsteps, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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

Sunday Service for 12th July 2020 Trinity 6

Trinity 6

12th July 2020

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

SERVICE

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

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church

is governed and sanctified:

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

that in their vocation and ministry

they may serve you in holiness and truth

to the glory of your name;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever

Gospel

Matthew 13:1-9

13 That same day Jesus went out of the houseand sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boatand sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The Nicene Creed.

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

The Sermon

When Boris Johnson won the last General Election, his government was to enjoy a few weeks ‘honeymoon’ The media spared his administration criticism. It was called ‘Boris Bounce’ Since Covid though, the nation’s mood has quickly reverted. The Government now faces daily denunciation from many quarters.

Christ was granted a positive reception at the outset of his ministry: accordingly, he was invited to preach in the Jerusalem Temple and synagogues. There he painted word pictures for his listeners, lilies of the field, salt, and light. Later, the attitude of his hearers altered and opposition sprung up from many quarters. Jesus was no longer welcomed by the establishment. His ministry then became of necessity itinerate. In today’s gospel Christ is found preaching from a boat. His method of instruction also changed. Dispensing with word pictures, he taught instead by parable, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This then is the backdrop to one of the best-known parables, that of the sower.

Except that the story is not so much of a sower, but rather the variety of soil found by the sown seed. The sower is anyone who faithfully proclaims Christ’s message.  The seed is the gospel or the good news of the Kingdom. 

In Palestine, fields were formed in long, narrow strips. The ground between them were pathways whose surface was trampled.  The hardness of the soil precluded the seed from penetrating the earth.  This soil represents any hearer with a closed mind.  Prejudice induces blindness.  An unteachable spirit can erect barriers that cannot easily be broken down.  Both pride and fear can close a mind.  There are none so blind as those who deliberately will not see. 

Another kind of soil was the stony ground.  In Palestine, a thin layer of soil on top of an underlying shelf of limestone was common.  On such ground, the seed might germinate rapidly in the sunshine. Then, lacking depth of soil, it would die for want of moisture or nourishment. This is the person who fails to think: here today and gone tomorrow. Many followed Jesus only for what he might give: healings, feedings, or miracles. 

The third type of soil was good but contained thorns and weeds.  Despite best effort, soil is never free of weed, often growing faster than the seed itself. Human life is busy, crowded, and cluttered.  Work is good and essential but can be an intrusion to devotion. Leisure is good and healthy, but that too can become all consuming. Both, often unnoticed, can overcome God’s word.

The fourth type of soil was deep, clean, and soft.  Here the seed gained an entry and found nourishment.  Good ground is willing to hear, learn and to be corrected. It is never too proud nor too busy to listen.  Priorities are in order and the word received readily translated into action and so bearing fruit.  This is the kind of disciple that God requires. As Jesus concluded, “Let anyone with ears, listen.”

A closing thought. Clergy and their congregations often become dispirited, mistakenly believing that through their own inadequacy, little impression is being made on those about them. This parable is a reminder that not everything said or done even with the best of intention will fall on fruitful ground. This is not caused either by fault or shortcoming, but simply reflects a fact of life. It should not though encourage complacency.

Reflection

We reap what we sow.” Good seeds bear good fruit.

Weeding involves careful judgement like most decisions in life

Pruning and trimming, as painful as it seems, works eventually to the good.

Without rains and storms, both in life and in the garden, there will be no growth.

Deep roots are essential to growth.

In gardening, as in life, short-cuts, slipshod efforts, and neglect are readily evident.

Prayer

Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously

Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away

Fortify us for hard times and costly discipleship
That we may endure

Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises

Till us
Turn us
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may be good, good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
Amen

Confession

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

Absolution

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


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord’s Prayer:

Today’s hymn

With today’s recurring theme of nature, an obvious hymn to sing might be ‘All things bright and beautiful’. There is however a delightful anonymous Dutch carol translated by the nineteenth century hymnist G. R. Woodward.

Each verse of the text uses a different flower as its primary image and receives a contrasting musical setting before the celebratory refrain. While this is often sung at Advent and Christmas, there is nothing about the text to limit it to those seasons. The source of the tune remains anonymous, but it was harmonized by Dr Charles Wood. A professor of music both at Cambridge and in London, his pupils included Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Listen on You Tube Charles Wood or Rutter

1. King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.

Refrain:
There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.

2. The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, Humanity. Refrain

3. The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marigold, Obedience. Refrain

4. The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
‘Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace. Refrain

5. Yet, ‘mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless’d be his Name! Refrain

6. Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat. Refrain

Blessing

Jesus the sower
whatever I am today, whatever the mix
of path, rock, thorns, or soil
help me to become good ground
for you, for your word and for your presence and the blessing of God Almight the Father Son and Holy Spirit be with us always

Amen

St Mary's Aberfoyle

Service for Sunday 29th March 2020 – Passion Sunday

The Bulletin for Passion Sunday

29th March 2020

Notices

Thank you to those who have been in contact by phone and email during the week. Please continue to do so, even if just for a chat. I remain of course anxious to help anyone during these difficult days. My thought and prayer for you all.

The extended virus regulations issued earlier this week now prohibit anyone save the incumbent entering his or her place of worship.

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

For those who prefer devotion in another form, the following is a complete service for Passion Sunday

SERVICE FOR TODAY

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

The Collect for the day

Most merciful God,

who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ

delivered and saved the world:

grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross

we may triumph in the power of his victory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

The Gospel.

John 11.1-45

11 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

The Nicene Creed.

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

The sermon

Today, Passion Sunday marks the beginning in the Christian calendar of a two-week period in the Christian calendar during which the sequence of events leading to the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday are recalled.

Passion is a richly suggestive word. In its human context, it describes a state of deep emotional feeling and attachment. In the context of the divine, it conveys the most powerful longing by Almighty God to redeem humanity by allowing his only son to suffer death for the sake of the world.

Exhibiting passion requires self-giving, that in turn may necessitate personal suffering. Christ’s sufferings in the cause of passionate love for the world are well documented in the Gospels. During his anguished visit to the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ confessed to his disciples that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow. As he prayed, sweat like drops of blood fell to the ground. The next day, Good Friday, his accusers spat on him and mocked him. They struck his head repeatedly before attaching him to a cross with nails. Later, Christ called from the cross in words of deepest distress., “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  That Christ willing suffered this and much besides explains the divine context of passion, a holy outpouring of love demonstrated by the crucified Christ.

 However, before showing this love for the world, Christ was to outpour his love for one particular family.  Mary, Martha and Lazarus who lived at Bethany were amongst Jesus’ closest friends. Lazarus became ill to the point of death and, in desperation, Mary and Martha sent for Christ, pleading with him to come immediately and heal their brother.

But Christ didn’t respond as the sisters had wished. Rather he postponed the journey for nearly three days. By that time, Lazarus had died. The explanation for the delay will in time became apparent. Martha and Mary though were unaware of the cause and consequently made no effort to hide their disappointment. “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

At Christ’s bidding, the sisters took him to Lazarus’s tomb and Jesus shook with emotion from the depth of his soul in his concern for the grieving sisters. Christ then was able to show more than mere sympathy for Martha and Mary’ plight.

St John carefully notes in his gospel account no less than seven occasions when Christ exhibited the miraculous. He turned water into wine and cured the hunger of five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. He healed a paralytic at Bethsaida, a royal official’s son at Capernaum, and gave sight to a blind man. He walked over the Sea of Galilee to rescue the disciples from a storm. These account for six miraculous acts. Now Jesus would perform his last and greatest miracle in the presence of Martha and Mary at their brother’s tomb.  

Upon their arrival, Jesus asked that the entrance stone be removed.  Martha though demurred.  “Lord, he has been dead four days.” The stone was nevertheless rolled away. Jesus prayed and then called out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”.  He appeared; his body was still wrapped in burial cloths.  Jesus said, “Free him, and let him go.” The previous six miraculous acts had given Jesus an opportunity to demonstrate the power of God in varying ways. Now in this the seventh at Lazarus’s tomb Jesus proved the power of God to raise the dead to new life.

The reason for Christ’s delay in answering the sister’s plea for help now becomes apparent. The performance of this last and greatest miracle could only be possible after Lazarus had died.   

No act of compassion can be made without cost. According to St John, those who witnessed the miracle went back and told the temple leaders what happened.  John then wrote:

“The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered
and from that day forward they took counsel
that they might put him to death.”

Through this outpouring of compassion for Martha and Mary, Christ had thereby sealed his own fate. And of no less importance, the miracle foreshadowed Christ’s own rising from a tomb.

Amen  

The Prayers

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
Amen.

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

For those who are ill

Merciful God,
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

For hospital staff and medical researchers

Gracious God,
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Confession

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

Absolution

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

The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord’s Prayer:

The Grace

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

Coronavirus On line and Broadcast Services

Coronavirus – Updated information – On line and Broadcast Services

From the Episcopal Church in Scotland
As part of the ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) will this Sunday (22 March) begin broadcasting video coverage of Eucharistic services via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship

The first service, led by the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will be broadcast at 11am on Sunday, to coincide with when many people would normally be worshipping, if church services had not been suspended earlier this week. 

The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service. A new service will be broadcast every Sunday on the SEC website, to allow all congregations to worship. We are aware that some congregations will offer their own version of online worship, but others will not have the means or resource to attempt this, hence this province-wide broadcast.

In advance of the broadcast of each provincial service, the Liturgy will be available to download from the SEC website.  We are conscious of the need to offer as much assistance as possible to those who have no access to the internet, and we encourage people to distribute the video/audio recordings and the Liturgy widely within their own personal networks. In households with no internet or playback capacity, people who can be helped by others through the provision of printed materials will have the opportunity to read the words of the Liturgy to themselves close to the appointed time, praising God along with others in the Church.

“Prayer is an important part of the tradition and spiritual life of the people of God,” said Bishop Mark. “In hard times and good times, quietly being before God with the people we love in our hearts encircles us all in God’s everlasting love and the promise of hope and salvation.”

The service will be available online after its first broadcast, followed by a new one each week, the next at 11am on Sunday 29 March.

Broadacast services – Anglican Church
Subject to outside broadcast capacity and our partners, the BBC will aim to broadcast a weekly Sunday morning church service on BBC One, and on local radi stattions

From Mark Seymour
Secretary to St Mary’s Vestry

22nd March 2020