Sunday service for 4th October 2020

Creation Sunday  4th October 2020
A service of the word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel:  Matthew 21:33-46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Pope Francis has said about Creation:

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

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

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

This traditional hymn celebrating the harvest reminds us of the divine source of our precious natural world.  It is sung at

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

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

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