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’  (

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.

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:

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.