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Services

Once again, our church is closed for services in line with the latest restrictions from the Government. We will re-open as soon as we are allowed to do so. In the meantime, we keep everyone in our prayers and please share Dorothy's thoughts for each Sunday and the prayers.

The church will be open for PRIVATE prayer each Sunday from 10.00 to 11.30 a.m. and Thursday from 11.00 a.m. to 12 noon. Social distancing must be observed and face masks worn.

A link to all services in our area which are being streamed can be found on the Diocesan website

First Sunday:

10.00 a.m. Said Communion (when a major church festival there will be a full communion service)

Other Sundays

10.00 a.m. Holy Communion

11.00 a.m. Refreshments in hall

 

Wednesdays 9.30 a.m.

Said Communion - Common Worship order one.

Only the services on the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month will be at St. Saviour's. The services on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Wednesdays will be at St. James's, Thornton.

Thursdays 9.30 a.m.

Morning Prayer

 

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have designated November as a Month of Prayer for the Coronavirus situation. See the information here

For the texts for each Sunday see the relevant notice sheet

CHRIST THE KING
Sunday Next Before Advent
22. 11. 2020.

Prayer For Today
Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings for Today

Ezekiel 34 verses 11-16, 20-24
Ephesians 1 verses 15-23
Matthew 25 verses 31-46

REFLECTION on Matthew 25 verses 31-46. 
Christ the King: Caring for those in need.

What do you do when those television adverts come on pleading for money and showing some skin and bone, pot-bellied children in Africa, drinking filthy water that will kill them, or a street urchin scrabbling in a giant rubbish tip of South America, or the orphans living in the freezing caves of Syria? Do you change the channel, go make a cup of tea, blame their parents for not using contraception or their governments for being wicked and corrupt? How do you balance this with the need to keep our own children from being abused or saving the local cats and dogs? All of which has now been complicated by the effects of the pandemic.

We have come to the end of a series of parables in which Jesus taught his disciples the attitudes and character qualities that would guide them to him. Basically, these parables spoke of two types of persons. We have those who serve Jesus, are therefore prepared for his return and will be rewarded accordingly, and those who do not serve him and will reap their just rewards.

Jesus spoke about the need for watchfulness – in the words of our scouts “be prepared”. We had the parable of the faithful and the unfaithful servants who were found behaving appropriately or inappropriately as the case was. We had the ten bridesmaids, being seen as wise or foolish according to their level of preparedness and the results that followed. Last Sunday we had the parable of the talents, with the three servants behaving wisely or otherwise and achieving accordingly. There are two central warnings in these stories that Jesus told. The first is the suddenness of his return. None of the people in the stories had any warning, just the sudden shout that the master was here. The second warning is the level of preparedness that was evident in some people and not in others. In every case they were rewarded or punished accordingly.

These stories were not just for the disciples; they are a stark warning to us about being prepared no matter what our circumstances. In an instant everything stopped and an account had to be made. In the final story this week, it is not so much a parable as Jesus telling the disciples, in reasonably plain language, how they are expected to live their lives as they await his return and the reward that they can expect.

The theme this week is being accountable. We are all to be held accountable for what we do in this life whilst awaiting the return of Christ the King. Christ will return in all his glory accompanied by all the angels. He will sit on his throne of glory and all the nations of earth will be gathered before him. The people are then separated as sheep and goats. Like all Jesus’ examples, this one would have been easily understood by the disciples. The shepherds in those days had mixed herds of sheep and goats. When the shepherd brought them back to the fold at night, he had to separate them out. The goats were not good at keeping their body heat, so they went undercover. The sheep on the other hand had their fleece and preferred to be a little cooler. Also, they were more valuable. After separating the two types of peoples the King deals with them according to how they have been caring for their fellow humans. We are commanded to love one another as Jesus has loved us. He loved us so much he willingly left his home in heaven, came to earth as a mere human, suffered humiliation, pain and an excruciating death to save us.

On judgement day, Jesus will say to the people on his right “come you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you”. Jesus will judge the righteous and the unrighteous. The righteous are invited to enter the eternal kingdom which Father God had prepared from the beginning of time.

Jesus is King and exercises judgement over all his people. He judges according to whether we have loved our neighbours according to his example. He gave the story of the Good Samaritan as the means of identifying who was our neighbour. Our neighbour is the person in need, no matter where we find them, no matter what they look like. Jesus gave specific examples of the needs that we may see, showing ways that our love should be expressed or, on the other hand, how we can hold it back. Jesus said “you will inherit the kingdom of my Father because I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me”.

The people on the right are stunned. “Lord, when did we show you such acts of mercy? Jesus replies “Just as you did it to the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me”. The righteous have been doing these works because of the inner transforming grace of God in their lives. They certainly were not legally bound to do it. They were obviously not expecting any earthly praise or reward but simply following Jesus’ example of ministering to the needs of their fellow humans and doing it in all humility.

We are not just required to love those who are like us. God loved, and continues to love, everyone and everything that he made. But there is also a built-in value in those God created in his own image, made in his own likeness. It doesn’t matter that they are living lives that do not follow God’s commands. They may be unattractive in their thoughts, words, actions, in what they have failed to do, or even in the way they look. We are commanded to love them as we love ourselves and to understand their nature. We can dislike and challenge the bad actions but not dislike the person as a human being.

The unrighteous in their turn ask of Jesus “When did we see you in your time of hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness or imprisonment and fail to care for you?” They get the same reply – they failed to do this for one of the least of his flock and so they failed him. This judgement that Jesus pronounces on them shows sins of omission to be equally as serious as sins of commission.

All one needs to do to miss out on God’s grace is to ignore him. And in ignoring those in need we ignore God. Edmund Burke warned, ”All that needs to happen for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing”. I know most of us can quote numerous times that Government has ridiculed our church leaders for criticising some action or inaction by said Government which caused suffering to the poor or vulnerable of our society, or the world even. Jesus on numerous occasions criticised the religious leaders of his people for their lack of social involvement and care of the people, whether physical or spiritual.

This reading strongly emphasises that the gospels always have social implications, so the bible tells us how to love our fellow humans. Not all social services have the gospel at heart because, like the Good Samaritan, some people will do good deeds for others even though they do not have a gospel faith as their basis. In the reading the Christian community is given a clear warning that our salvation could be in doubt unless we act with love to those in need. Christ our Judge stands alongside those who suffer, and our love for them is service to him. And our Lord loves a cheerful giver!!

One writer suggests we need to live as though Jesus was coming back today but plan as if he wasn’t coming back for a hundred years. That way we are covered by practicality and our faith. Amen.

Prayers for Sunday 22nd November 2020 – Christ the King

We pray to our Everlasting God, through our Saviour Jesus who is both Christ the King and the Son of Man and who understands our needs and the needs of this world.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Loving God, help us to look after our precious world.  May we find ways to ensure the continuation of endangered species of both animals and plants whilst, at the same time, meeting the needs of the people who live alongside them.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Father God, we pray for our communities here in Bradford.   We think of our families, friends, colleagues and neighbours as we are unable to meet in this period of lockdown. Be with those who feel lonely, neglected and unloved.  We give thanks for all who are still working to keep us safe, fed and warm.  We pray for all those who live in the Parish and all those who live out of the Parish but worship with us at St. Saviour's.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Loving God, we bring before you all who are sick  in body, mind or spirit; those who are suffering from Covid and those who are affected indirectly through  cutbacks in care or the fear of seeking help.  We rejoice in the good news of progress with a vaccine and pray that it will be safe, effective and readily available to all, not just the rich countries who can afford to pay for it. 

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Merciful God, we raise before you all who have died and who are now with your Son the king.  We think especially of those known to us who have recently died, or whose anniversary of death falls at this time.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we give thanks to you for all that you do in our lives.  As the church year comes to an end we commend to you all those for whom we have prayed throughout the year and ask that you continue to use us and our prayers to make a difference in their lives.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessing
Christ our exalted King pour upon you his abundant gifts and bring you to reign with him in glory. And the blessing of God almighty the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

 

SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE ADVENT

Sunday 15th November 2020

Greetings everyone, wishing you all God’s love in these difficult times.

Collect for Today, the Second Sunday Before Advent

Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and heirs to eternal life: grant that we, having this hope,  may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings for Today

Old Testament           Zephaniah 1 v 7, 12 to end
New Testament         1 Thessalonians 5 v 1 to 11
Gospel                      Matthew 25 v 14 to 30


Reflection on Matthew Chapter 25 verses 14 to 30
Second Sunday Before Advent 15. 11. 2020

My Father was a baker by trade, which he learned as a young man in Jamaica. As a gifted baker, his speciality was making what is called ‘show breads’. These are eaten at Easter and Christmas or at major special functions. Traditional bread dough in the Caribbean is of a different consistency in that it is much denser, making it easier to produce specific shapes. My favourite is the mother duck and her ducklings. This shows the mother as if she was leisurely floating along on water with about 12 chicks, evenly set out around her and also floating along. The whole bread is about five feet around its base, so it is quite a spectacular display on the table.

When my Dad came to England, he got a job in a bakery. There was a variety of breads produced, but everything needed to be mass produced to reduce cost and he could not show off his flair and speciality. Dad soon became bored. In addition, the pay was very low compared to engineering factory work, and he had a wife and children to support. He had to discover a new skill or talent to support his family long term.

Our Gospel reading this morning is about being responsible and productive. We heard about the three servants being given talents in amounts equal to their abilities. A talent was not a sum of money, it was a given weight of just under 100 pounds. The value of the talent depended on whether it was copper, silver or gold that was being weighed. If we take the middle one, the silver, then one talent would have been worth 20 years’ pay for an ordinary day labourer. One talent was beyond the wildest dreams of the average poor person. We can see why that third servant got so scared and decided to bury the thing in order to keep it safe.

The master in this case was not just fabulously wealthy, he also appeared to have a reputation for being a hard man in his business dealings. The first two servants go out and wheel and deal to the best of their ability and are able to get a 100% return for their master. The servant with only one talent found a number of excuses for doing nothing. He even suggests to his employer that he was immoral in his business dealings. He made a profit off other people’s efforts and could be cruel in his dealings. For this lack of effort, the servant receives a severe reprimand, being called wicked and lazy. He is thrown out onto the streets, so he loses his job and his home. This servant thought only of himself and his own security. He risked nothing and he achieved nothing.

In these modern times, when we talk of talents, we are suggesting some special thing or gift which a person is good at (or even exceptionally good at) like we see on the TV talent shows. As people of God, we each of us have our particular skills or gifts. They may be a natural talent that we were born with, or some aptitude that we have developed and become skilled at through education and training. We may have worked in a particular field for a number of years giving us skills that can be transferred into areas of work within the church.

It’s not just the physical gifts, there are emotional gifts as well, making some people excellent listeners and others gifted advisers. We all have different gifts, some of us are blessed with more than one. From these gifts we are able to express some form of ministry within the church and even extend it out into the community. The list of talents to be found in the average congregation is very wide, but it can sometimes take some creativity to discover such talents and encourage the person to offer their gift to the church in ministry with, and for, others. In harnessing all these gifts, it is important that we appreciate the different ones that we each have to offer.

Sometimes there can be jealousy when we see someone who has more than one gift, or who appears to have an abundance of a particular gift. This too can be part of the message from this parable. In our reading, none of the servants complained about what was given to another because each one was gifted according to their ability. We too need to recognize that we are unique in our different types and levels of talents which we offer for the work of Christ. As disciples of Christ, we must be prepared to be intentionally productive with our talents as a demonstration of our faithfulness in awaiting his second coming. We have all been bestowed with gifts in that we are graced with kingdom life. How we use these gifts in the service of the kingdom is the central message from this parable.

All of our service in the kingdom is built on value, no matter where we serve and the greater or lesser the return.  Our responsibility is to plan for the long haul and use our gifts to advance the kingdom of God. The problem with the unproductive servant was his wrong attitude toward his master. And sometimes we have the wrong attitude about God.

People who reject faith in God and Jesus his Son often excuse this by claiming that God is mean or uncaring about their problems. They cannot come to faith till they can figure out how a supposedly good God can allow so much suffering in the world. In so doing, they deprive themselves of the salvation to be had through faith in Christ. Christians too can develop wrong attitudes about God. When bad things happen, we can see God as unloving in allowing our circumstances to come about. We feel we should not suffer because we believe in God and so we turn from the path of obedience. Sometimes people can be so overwhelmed by grief and tragedy that they cannot see the light of God’s love and care. This is where good reading, teaching and understanding of scripture can strengthen one’s faith.
Yes, there are times when we make excuses for not having enough time for God, why we cannot serve the church or minister to others. But God knows our weaknesses and loves us just as we are.

He has blessed us with many gifts and continues to do so daily. All he asks is that we in turn use those gifts for the good of others and in the fulfilment of his kingdom here on earth. Amen.

Intercessions
Oh Lord our redeemer, guide our thoughts and our words in our prayers today, let our hearts be filled with your praise and never let us forget the things that you do for us.  At St Saviours we pray for our community of Fairweather Green, let them be aware of our faith in you Lord and the love we have for you and the services we hold in our church.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord we pray for those who feel forgotten and unseen, may they know that they are remembered and seen by you. Help us to partner with you to remember the forgotten, search our hearts to reveal those we hide our faces from, the outcast, the stranger or the homeless. Change our hearts that we may turn our faces towards these people and see them as your beloved children

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all who struggle with mental illness, anxiety and depression, we pray that there will be resources released to help, enough staff employed, and finance given to mental health services nationally. Help us to be a friend and a listening ear to those who suffer, fill us with compassion and wisdom.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we pray for the dying and those who love them, we pray for those who have completed this life and made the journey through death. Lord we thank you for the work of those who comfort the bereaved.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our pray

Loving God, at this time of crisis when so many are suffering due to Covid 19 with the isolation and limitation on our daily lives, we pray for our estranged families and friends and the nations of the world, we ask that they are all blessed and kept safe within your loving arms. We ask that you give leaders wisdom, our health service strength, all people hope. We pray that you will lead us through these difficult days to the fresh springs of joy and comfort that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Blessing

Restore us again, O God of hosts,
Show us the light of your countenance and we shall be saved.
Bless and keep us, today and always.
Amen.

Sunday 8th November 2020

Collect for Today

Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reflection 0n Remembrance Day 2020
Matthew Chapter 25 verses 1-13

To the one God who is Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is Remembrance Sunday.

As usual, we have had a number of programmes over the past few weeks looking at the historical facts of World War 1 and World War 2 in words and pictures - most eclipsed by the corona virus or the US elections.

We now have so few of those heroic men and women with us, there is an urgency to immortalise those remaining in word and picture. For me the most moving this year has been the story of Captain Sir Tom Moore as he walked up and down his garden path raising funds for the NHS. Captain Tom has proved to be an inspiration to others who, from whatever perspective, have sought to touch our hearts and raise funds for their particular charity.

We cannot downplay or disregard someone who is in our time and in our country. The bravery of this veteran was not only in doing his duty to protect the world in general and this country in particular. It was also in his willingness to present himself to the people and the TV cameras showing the age, relative disability and the pride proudly borne for his country. His family was so proud. The nation was so proud. Once again, we wear our poppy with pride.

Captain Tom continues to stride out on behalf of those in need. In contrast we hear of the horrific attacks on freedom in France and Austria; we are struggling with the attacks on equality and freedom in countries where such principles and beliefs are supposed to be the bedrock of society, only to find to some they are superficial.

This year, the argument over wearing or not wearing a poppy has been muted in the face of a pandemic and its ramifications for all ages. But our world is still being ravaged by wars and conflicts. Every nation is struggling to sustain its people through what some are calling a plague, but factions still find the commitment to attack others because they do not share their beliefs.

Our usual Remembrance Day events have been cancelled this year due to the virus. These events were never about glorifying war or crowing over the losers. Yes, I suppose those who were on the losing side would probably prefer to forget the past. In fact, many of our former service men and women wish they too could forget the many horrors they witnessed. But it is in remembering the tragedies that we may make decisions to ensure they do not happen again. No, I don’t mean the punitive stance of drawing up our coastal drawbridge and throwing those we think are different off the ramparts, or at least leaving them to drown in the channel. Constantly needing to blame someone else for my own difficulties can be self-demoralising and therefore self-defeating. It also leads me into making poor decisions with serious consequences. Decisions may be poor not just for any country, but can send ripples of harm across the world.

What we have is a moral responsibility to our children’s children to ensure we make good decisions now. We need to play our part in times of peace, to hold our leaders to account to ensure that their decision making is fair and just. The poppy appeal is wonderful, but it should not allow the Government to slide out of its responsibility to provide the best of care to its former military personnel.

We cannot support those who say they will only honour the personnel of World War 1 and 2 because all conflicts since then were politically rooted. Each war and conflict was, and is, politically rooted. All of them have been about some group seeking power over another. Constantly asking God to give us peace is only acceptable when we make decisions and carry out actions that promote peace. Years ago, and still in this day, the pride of our country’s human stock gave, and are still giving, their lives to protect our fragile peace. They believed in what they were, and are, being ordered to do.

Today we say thanks to those who have given their lives, their strength of mind, their physical labour, their hopes and their fears, so that we can be free. In the absence of the virus we would have been free to enjoy a football match, travel most of the world on holiday, or publicly criticise our politicians as we see fit. We are now aware of what it feels like to have such freedoms curtailed. We need to make societal decisions in a conscious state as to the consequences and outcomes thereof.

We don’t want to be like the five foolish virgins. They knew the procedure of being a bridesmaid and the wedding process. Yet they went partying without all the necessary paraphernalia for partying in the dark. They did not take the necessary additional oil. By the time they got back from the all-night store the bridal party was back at the groom’s house, the door locked, and they were not admitted. Jesus warns us to “watch”, that is be prepared. We need to be wise in seeing through the flannel that the politicians often offer us. They often appeal to the worst of our human biases and prejudices, our envy, our arrogance and our greed.

Jesus asks us to be faithful Christians living by his examples of love, justice, integrity and peace. If we are prepared and live by such faith, we will overcome all that the evil one puts in our path. With faith, we will endure, gain our souls and enter God’s kingdom. Amen.

Intercessions on Remembrance Sunday

God, our refuge and strength, bring near the day when wars shall cease and poverty and pain shall end; that earth may know the peace of heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, we pray today especially as this year we are unable to commemorate their sacrifice in our customary way, for all those who have given up their lives in the service of their country, fulfil in them the purpose of your love; and bring us all, with them to your eternal joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy God, we pray for your church throughout the world.  In the Anglican cycle of prayer, we pray today for the Province of the Caribbean and for Howard Gregory, Primate and Bishop of Jamaica.  In this diocese we pray for Bishop Nick and Bishop Toby and all the clergy in their charge. 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing Lord, we pray for all who are affected by the Covid pandemic; those who have lost their lives and those who mourn them, those suffering from the infection and those who have to make difficult decisions, medically and politically, which affect all our lives.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our city and particularly for this parish. May we strive to help our neighbours in any way we are allowed and bring comfort and hope to all those around us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for all who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit, and for those who care for them.  Bring them relief in their distress and ease the burdens which oppress them.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember before you those who have left this mortal life, those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at this time.  May they rest in peace and rise in glory. According to your promises, grant us, with the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, a share in your eternal kingdom.

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

Blessing

Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path, and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and always. Amen.

 

Reflection on Matthew Chapter 5 verses 1 to12
All Saints’ Day 01. 11. 2020.

I think that, apart from the Lord’s Prayer, these are the most familiar verses in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. They are known as The Beatitudes but could be interpreted as the be-attitudes. Jesus sits down to teach his disciples the very essence, the essential ethics of the Kingdom of God which they are to understand. Jesus is calling for a change in the way the people think about the Kingdom of God. Each beatitude consists of two parts: a statement about certain people who are blessed followed by the promise of their reward. Each beatitude declares God’s grace of blessing to those who identify with him. God is committing himself to the disciples - and us in the present age - and will bless everyone richly in the future.

We hear of important righteous states of existing, of people for whom God has compassion. Each starts with the word blessed. One writer noted that ‘blessed’ was difficult to translate into English because in Greek it incorporated such states as wholeness, joy, well-being and the holistic peace referred to in the Hebrew word shalom.

Let us look at a few of the Beatitudes more closely.

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit – these are not just those who have unfortunate circumstances and or are financially poor. They may be spiritually and emotionally oppressed also and in need of God’s help. These are the pious poor, the humble who are solely dependent on God and are aware of that fact. They have no confidence in their own successes and achievements as they rest in the gift of God’s acceptance and fellowship.

This beatitude undermines the worldly assumption that material acquisitions are a sign of God’s approval in one’s life and therefore come as spiritual blessings. These poor are blessed because they have a position in the kingdom of God; they are the special objects of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus ministered to them to see who was responsive and pious and therefore would receive God’s grace.

2. Blessed are those who mourn – the loss of anything we value will produce varying levels of mourning. In the current state of a pandemic this includes loss of a loved one, of a business or job, of status in society. Some are experiencing a lessening of faith and therefore their standing with God. The self-satisfied are tempted to rejoice in themselves and their accomplishments but those who are at rock bottom will mourn. To mourn is to know godly sorrow for sin, to be deeply concerned about the evil in the world due to the injustices and perversions in society.

Jesus offers us all the comfort of God’s love.  In acknowledging our desperate states, we draw nearer to God and God draws nearer to us in return. We are comforted in the knowledge of the sacrifice Jesus made to gain for us the opportunity for eternal comfort. And in his heavenly presence “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7 v 17). In the meantime, we are required to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. In our mourning we should not grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonian 4 v 13). Our mourning should show our lives as examples of the good news of the kingdom of heaven and offer the comfort of God’ presence to others.

3. Blessed are the meek - these gentle persons receive the deepest satisfaction from God’s created earth. There are so many who live to dominate, are aggressive and tyrannical to those weaker than themselves. This goes from inside the home to covering whole countries. The gentle don’t assert themselves over others in order to advance their own causes. Being gentle should not be seen as being weak. Jesus described himself as being “gentle and humble of heart”, but he was not afraid to challenge the religious leaders and rebuke his own disciples for being self-centred. Jesus had the spiritual strength to endure torture and death on the cross. He knew the disciples would face similar suffering.

“The meek shall inherit the earth”, Jesus says. In offering a path of faith in God’s will, a gentle person can endure a great deal when working to establish that will in others. Jesus gave us himself as the supreme example of how to be gentle in preaching the good news and proclaiming the freedom of spirit that comes with being meek.

The beatitudes are a stark contrast to the revolutionary extremists we see around the world who prepare and exhort their followers for guerrilla wars, some of them in the name of religion. Jesus prepared his disciples in grace and sent them out in missions of healing demonstrating the love of God for all humanity.

On this day when we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday, we are being asked to reflect on Jesus’ teachings within the beatitudes and apply them as the Saints did. They don’t sound easy to accomplish, but there is very little about living such a life of faith that is easy. I am sure some are easier than others. It is the honest and continuing striving to attain that is so important.

Prayers

Let us pray to God, whose saints have witnessed his glory.

Everlasting God, we pray that your Church, built on the foundation of the saints, will be faithful to the teaching of Christ. Lord and Father, as you kindled the flame of your love in the hearts of the saints, give to us the same faith and power of love; that we may benefit from their unselfish examples.

We pray for Christians everywhere; for all who lead us; for the clergy and lay people; especially for Dorothy and Patrick and Grace who work hard to secure our worship and our safety here at St Saviour’s

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

As the coronavirus continues to impact all we do we pray for those affected by it first hand; those who have died and their stricken families; those who have recovered but still struggle with the after effects; the mothers forced to labour and give birth alone without support of close loved ones; parents of sick children who are restricted from visiting; those whose treatment has been postponed or cancelled; and for those struggling with anxiety and loneliness. We ask you to bring comfort and strength to all in their need.
And guide us all to do what is right for the good of everyone in response to the guidelines we are asked to follow.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for those who represent us in government; that the decisions they make are considered, compassionate and just; and not made through vanity or political point scoring.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

We pray dear Lord for all who are dear to us, friends and families, and that we might be able to meet them all soon. We pray for those who live in the parish, especially those who live in Avocet Close, Bell Dean Road, Charteris Road, Goldcrest Avenue, Lower Grange Close, Marmion Avenue, Merlin Grove, Raven Terrace, and The Square

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, in the Garden of Gethsemane you shared with everyone who has ever been afraid. You conquered fear with love and returned from death itself saying ‘Do not be afraid’. In the light of your love death has lost its sting, and so has fear. Lord, may your love be the key that releases us from suffering and fear.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Faithful God, we thank you for the example of all the saints and as we go from our worship into the world help us to follow in their footsteps with courage and hope determined, like them, to do your work and live the Gospel of your Son.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessing

God, who has prepared for us a city with eternal foundations, give you grace to share in the inheritance of the saints in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

Amen.

Reflection on Matthew Chapter 24 verses 30-35
Bible Sunday 25. 10. 2020.

In the Gospel reading this morning Jesus is instructing his disciples privately about the future. He is talking about the end of days and the second coming of our Lord.  

Earlier, Jesus had warned his disciples about the sort of things they would have to endure: the violent upheavals, poverty and disaster; many of them would be persecuted and killed. Jesus foretold the total destruction of the Temple, and of Jerusalem itself, in the not too distant future. Not one stone would be left standing on top of another. This took place some 70 years later. People would perish in their thousands. As if all that suffering wasn’t bad enough it would then be followed by the end of time.

o indication as to how long that would be. The only certainty is that Jesus will return. Well we have now been waiting nearly 2 thousand years and we could be here for another two thousand - or he may come tonight. 

Jesus is the Son of God. He had repeatedly told the leaders of the people of future events. They kept asking for a sign as to when all this was to happen. They wanted signs to confirm Jesus’ authority, which he refused stating that all his miraculous works were sign enough. In today’s reading when Jesus talks about a “sign” he is referring to an ensign, like the flag that is flown from a ship. This will be his battle flag. With that Jesus himself will appear in the heavens with power and glory. With that appearance in the sky all the warring peoples on earth will stop their chaos and destruction and start to look to their own personal survival.

There will be angels who will give a blast of trumpets and Jesus will give them the task of gathering all the faithful from every corner of the globe. This will be better and more mind blowing the best movie you have ever seen. All the faithful will be gathered up to be taken into heaven to God the Father.

Jesus reminds the disciples of a natural event that they would have been totally familiar with – the budding of the fig tree. This budding announces that summer is about to arrive. This is a lesson that they – and us - have to take on board Jesus says.

There are events that have happened, and are happening, in our world that indicate that we need to be watching and praying. We have to keep our faith alive and strong because our Lord’s return is imminent. Look, he says, he is even at the door. But Jesus also states that the people of Israel, the “generation”, would not die out until his words have come to pass. The writers of our gospels would have known that Jesus was not meaning the immediate generation. They were writing the gospels many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, but they wanted to keep the words alive for us for the deeper truth that they held.

Christian people from the beginning of the new church have struggled with the concern about when Christ would return. The warning to be constantly on our guard is hard to live by. Look at how we have dealt with Covid -19. We managed the first wave of lockdown well - just – but, once we felt we were relatively safe, folk became stir crazy. Many want fun now and promise to worry later.

As the two thousand years have passed by, those who don’t believe in Jesus scoff at our faith. What we see are a people who refuse to accept that there is a knowledge and understanding beyond them. To acknowledge our Lord Jesus makes them feel they are not in control. We have others so wrapped up in their everyday graspings they refuse to believe that the end will come because it hasn’t happened yet.

On the day of Jesus’ return, we will either be prepared, or we will not. There will be no perhaps, or maybe, or “just give me a minute to think and say sorry”. We have to keep watch and be prepared. We have to be vigilant. No matter what our circumstances we have to make our lives secure by living in a manner that seeks the kingdom of God. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul says our faith will strengthen us to the end so we may be blameless on the day Jesus returns.

We have to live in a state of preparedness as we do not know the hour when or Saviour will return with salvation for those who have lived righteously. As people of faith, we are about to begin celebrating the season of Advent. We are waiting expectantly - not for Christmas, but for the second Advent and Christ’s return when he will take us unto himself.

We will begin our new life with our Father in heaven where there will be everlasting joy in God’s presence. This is the hope that sustains and strengthens us at this time, and in all our times of need, when it looks like the world is falling apart. Jesus tells us all of this to encourage us to Godly living and the spread of the gospel message.

Amen

Bible Sunday Prayers

Merciful God, teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty, that trusting in your word and obeying your will we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord.     

Almighty God, we pray for all Christians throughout the world.  We thank you that, through study of our bibles, we may discern your will and live our lives as you would wish.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Creator God, we pray for this world and for peace throughout its lands.  We pray for peace between and within nations, communities and families.  Give wisdom to all in authority and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace that they may respect each other and seek the common good.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray today for all whose lives are disrupted by the pandemic, those who have lost their lives and the bereaved, those survivors trying to manage the after-effects and those whose routines are changed by the ever-evolving rules.  We pray that order may be restored.
Be with those who today are in distress; the hungry, the homeless, the destitute and all who feel that their situation is hopeless.  Bring them hope and restore their faith in the future.
We pray for the people of this parish especially those who live in Arthur Avenue, Brindley Grove, Roding Avenue and Sheldrake Avenue.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing Lord, comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, and for all those who work in the medical and welfare services who look after them. We pray for all those in our intercessions book as we name in our hearts those known to us.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember before you those who have gone before us, those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at this time. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints, we commend ourselves and all people to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Blessing

May God bless us, that in us may be found love and humility, obedience and thanksgiving, discipline, gentleness and peace, this day and always. Amen.

 

Reflection on Luke Chapter 10 verses 1 – 9.
Celebrating the Feast of Luke, the Evangelist 18th October 2020

Today is the feast-day of St Luke the Evangelist. He was a dear friend of the apostle Paul who described him as “the beloved physician”. For our Gospel reading this year we have the story of the sending out of the seventy.

If the story sounds familiar that’s because just a few weeks ago we had the story of the sending of the twelve, the inner circle of disciples who were the first to be commissioned by Jesus, with similar directions. In the same way that the twelve were supposed to represent the twelve tribes of Israel so people have sought to give reasons for the number seventy. Some link it to Genesis, Chapter 10, where the then seventy nations of the known world are named. The symbolism there is that Jesus is sending his message to the whole world. A few writers insist it was seventy-two because of the quality of the manuscripts they have read. Also, seventy-two can be divided by twelve - if one believes that mattered. Jesus would have had his reasons.

The first important factor is that Jesus sent them in pairs. This would have been important for mutual support as the evangelists were to teach and preach in some pretty hostile neighbourhoods. It is also very uplifting and reassuring to talk to colleagues who are involved in the same type of ministry that you are. Such colleagues tend to understand the little things than can be so frustrating or puzzling. Each disciple needed a colleague to give checks and balances in dealing with the powerful feelings of successfully performing miracles.

Jesus is not just sending the seventy off to random places. They are going to places where he intended going at a later date. They are to start preparing the way for Jesus’ coming to the people. Preaching paves the way and then the Lord himself comes to make his home in our souls. The disciples have been given the teaching and examples by Jesus. They are to go out now and get some practice under their belts.  They have spent the time at theological college; they now have to do practice time as a curate, gaining skills and confidence. As with the first twelve, Jesus again points to the fact that there is so much work to be done. The people are thirsty to hear the words about the salvation of God but the numbers available to fulfil the task are very few. They – and we - are to pray that God will identify and send more workers to carry out the task.

This emphasises the importance of prayers to God to bless us with more workers. Mission is not just methods of selling the faith to new people; it is also about the Lord directing us to share our faith and the grace with which we have received it.

Jesus hurries the disciples along, go now he insists, get going with the work. But he also warns them of the dangers of the mission they are undertaking – not least of the probability of hostile rejection. They are being sent as almost defenceless lambs into the midst of packs of wolves. Wolves devour their prey, but the disciples must go.

They are to carry no money because they won’t need it. God will provide. No luggage as that will only slow them down. They must not greet people on the road. It’s not that Jesus wants them to be rude but there is no time to stop and exchange pleasantries with people they meet. The work is urgent.

These disciples were not going to be teaching in the synagogues, they wouldn’t be allowed to do so. They would do their work in people’s homes where they were staying.
The disciples were not to spend time blessing people who were unwilling, who yawned when you mentioned God, argued that God did not exist or got angry at the thought that there was a more powerful force than all the armies in the world. Teach with zeal and enthusiasm those whose ears and minds are open.

Having arrived in a town, they were not to bounce around the homes looking for more comfort. No, stay in one place. Enjoy whatever is offered as food and refreshment. This is hard work and that is your payment. Sounds like very hard work indeed. I do know a priest whose wife refused to have children because she felt his salary was pathetic and even her teacher’s salary would not make up the discrepancy.

Jesus tells these disciples they are to give thanks for what is put before them. In return they are to cure all those who are brought for healing and heal their souls with the message of the kingdom of God.

Our ministry as Christians continues to call for many more workers. Working alone is dangerous for the spirit. Working with others, be they ordained or lay, offers a sharing of ministry. There is accountability and protection for each. There is a shared wisdom and knowledge. All skills can be celebrated, with every aspect being built on dependence on God, beginning with prayers.

Intercessions Oct 18th

Let us pray in trust to God who has loved us into being and cherished us all our life,

Loving God, guide your Church into ways of spiritual beauty and gracious wisdom. May your word be spoken with conviction and heard with humility and joy. Sustain and feed us so that we bear fruit in abundance.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Loving God, may justice and righteousness flourish in this neighbourhood, this country and this world. Bless those who work to right what is wrong, and mediate where there is conflict.  Raise up leaders who are happy to serve and protect them from corruption of power.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Loving God, we thank you for the nurture we have received, and pray for our children and young people as they grow. Protect them from evil and strengthen them in faith. May they continue to be yours forever.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Loving God, give comfort and healing to all who are in any kind of need, sorrow or pain.
To the weary and dispirited, grant refreshment.
To the disillusioned and despairing, grant hope.
To the fearful and confused, grant comfort.
To the spiritually blind who take refuge in selfishness and foolishness, grant the light of understanding.
To all, grant the blessing of your peace.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for those who have died to this earthly life and now live in your nearer presence. We give thanks for the blessed Virgin Mary, St. Luke, and all who have ministered to us. We commit all our loved ones and ourselves to the safety of your keeping.

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

Blessing
The Lord bless us and watch over us;
the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us;
the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace.
Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 21 verses 33-46
The wicked tenants
Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity 4th October 2020

Three years ago, on a Thursday afternoon, I received news that a much loved family member was in casualty in a serious condition. Luckily, I had the time to visit taking his partner with me. On Friday evening I again visited, taking his son and grandsons to say hello. He looked much better and assured us he was really feeling much improved. After dropping his family at their home and before I arrived back home myself, I received phone calls to say he had died. Family and friends were utterly distraught. Relying on tomorrow, next week or next year, to set our affairs in order is really chancy.

In our gospel reading Jesus is instructing everyone, in particular the Chief Priests and the Pharisees who are the religious leaders and who had just questioned his authority. Jesus was telling them off about their woeful neglect of the souls of the people and the punishment that they would receive as a result. This is not one of those stories that leave any reasonably intelligent person in any doubt as to what Jesus is saying.

The vineyard is the people of Israel; the owner is God; the tenant farmers are the religious leaders of Israel; the servants, sent to receive the fruit, are the prophets of the Old Testament; and the Son is Jesus the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah had blamed Israel for the sourness of her fruit, but Jesus was singling out the religious leaders for special responsibility. When a person knows better, they are morally required to do better.

For every religious leader, of whatever faith, this is a clear message of what the consequences will be for misleading or misdirecting the people. For these learned leaders the story is really quite plain. The relating of the prophets to the servants, and Jesus to the Son who was killed, shows that Jesus was very conscious that he had a different and more important task than the prophets of old.

Jesus is also talking of his special and unique relationship with his Father God. God sent him on the mission to earth, to save humanity, in the sure knowledge that his death was the ultimate price that had to be paid for our redemption. There was a higher expectation of the people when God’s Son came among them, but there was an even higher expectation of the religious leaders; to lead the people in the right and proper path. Their role was not to overburden the people with tiny, petty rules that had to be obeyed in order to be accepted into the synagogue. These rules made the daily people’s lives a constant strain.

Their role was to steer the people to the path that would demonstrate the love of God for them and their love for God, and lead them to salvation.

Within all this was also the absolute conviction that this was humanity’s final chance as individuals to hear the word of God, to receive it, and to live accordingly. In describing the death of the son of the vineyard owner, we have a description of what was to happen to Jesus. He too would be rejected by the masses. He too would be put to death in a most irreverent manner; hung on a cross between two criminals.

In this parable we have the situation of how open minds become closed. The religious leaders were the fine minds amongst the people. They knew the holy book off by heart. But they had spent so much time twisting the holy words, in order to blindfold the people and secure their own social positions and wealth, that that they would not accept the wisdom of the prophets of old. They would not countenance the fire and brimstone message from John the Baptist. That was too much in your face and threatening. They absolutely would not accept the enduring appeal from Jesus to love God with all aspects of their being and to love their neighbour as themselves. What!! Their neighbours were not of the same faith.

After all the time and effort they had expended in reaching the giddy heights of importance and authority that they had achieved? No way. They certainly would not hear that God’s patience with his people was becoming exhausted and his judgement of them was inevitable. This judgement was to become a physical, historical act, in the form of the total destruction of Jerusalem as punishment by the Romans.

The death of God’s son is the stone that the builder refused who has become the cornerstone on which our faith is built. Our risen Christ has gathered unto himself a new people, we are the new nation of which Jesus spoke. To us is delegated the task of passing on the message of a new salvation- a new hope. To us is delegated the task of producing the fruits of true righteousness.

Shutting those glass doors behind us as we enter this place; staying at home when we hear a message that we do not accept; having more “interesting” things to do; these are not options that Jesus offered. We really have to have serious thoughts about where we want to be for eternity and start working towards that place. This is the everlasting hope we have in Christ. Amen.

Prayers

Holy God you made our world to be like a vineyard and choose a people to be its tenants.  May we who are now the workers in that vastly changed vineyard prove to be worthy of the work you trust us to do in Jesus’ name.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Holy God, we pray for your church and ask that it might always provide a solid foundation upon which we can anchor our lives.   We pray for our church here in Fairweather Green and our Diocese.  We especially pray for all throughout the world who pay a heavy price for their faith; who daily experience hostility, from their governments, employers and neighbours.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Creator God, we pray for all in authority that they may never be tempted to abuse or misuse their power.  In these challenging times, grant them wisdom to balance the demands of the economy with those of our health and welfare. Help us to follow the guidelines and work together to combat the disease.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We bring before you our community and all who work so hard to keep us safe and provide for our needs. We think especially of our young people as they receive their exam results, a worrying time normally, but especially so at present.  Be with them as they make life choices.  We pray for all who live in our parish, especially those who live in the streets listed in our prayer book for today.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Gracious God, we pray for the ill, the lonely and distressed especially those tormented by fear arising from the Global Pandemic. We pray for healing and wholeness in their lives.  Help us to bring life and love, joy and hope, to those who live in despair and give help to all those treating the effects of Covid-19 and those working to find a cure.  We especially bring before you those known to us and those who have asked for our prayers.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Merciful God, remember the souls of your servants now departed and for those who are saddened by their passing. Be with the bereaved in their loneliness and give them the faith to look beyond their present troubles.  We think of those who have recently died and those whose anniversary occurs at this time.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, forgive us when we only turn to you when things trouble us and when we forget to thank you for your blessings and bounty. Help us to recognise all the wonderful things in your world for which we should be grateful and send us out into the coming week ready to show our gratitude in all that we do and say.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessing

The Lord bless us and watch over us, the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us, the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace. Amen.

View a copy of the weekly service sheet here