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Services

Our church will re-open on Sunday 9th August

The 10.00 a.m. service will be a socially-distanced said communion service. In line with regulations masks must be worn, there will be no singing, a one-way system will be in operation and the words for the service will be on the overhead projector. Communion will be in one kind ony - the bread - and we are unable to offer refreshments after the service. But we will be here! All are welcome to join us.

 

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

 

For the texts for each Sunday see the relevant notice sheet

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.

 

Reflection on Matthew 21 v 23-32
16th Sunday After Trinity 27. 09. 2020.

Last week, Jesus demonstrated righteous indignation at the mercenary activities of the religious leaders who had turned the temple into a marketplace. Today, as Jesus once again enters the temple and starts teaching the people, these authority figures, gather and challenge Jesus as to what authority he had to do all that he did and who gave him this authority. It wasn’t just the cleansing from the day before but also the healing and the principles of faith and salvation in Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus responds by saying “Fine, you answer my question first then I’ll answer yours. John’s baptism and preaching; was that from heaven or something that he himself thought up?” The leaders understand the trap in Jesus’ question immediately. If they said John’s teaching was from God, then why had they not believed? They also faced political suicide because that would suggest King Herod and his illegitimate wife had murdered God’s messenger.

 Alternatively, if they said John’s message was not divine, the people would probably attack them for saying the Baptist was not a faithful martyr of the highest calibre.  
The leaders decide on the cowardly and dishonest way out by claiming they didn’t know the answer. “Okay” says Jesus “Then I will not answer your question”.

Jesus then goes to the heart of the matter and invites the leaders to reflect on their faith and actions with a parable of two sons who are both asked to do a day’s work by their father. The first initially refuses, which would be unheard of in a family of that time. But he quickly reflects and goes to work. The second says “I’ll go immediately, father”. But he did not go. Jesus asks an easy and non-threatening question. Which son carried out the father’s instruction? The leaders cannot evade the question and are forced to identify the first son as being the good and obedient one.

Jesus promptly delivers judgement on these religious leaders. He points to the persons most looked down on in Israel; the tax collectors who collected money from the Jews on behalf of the Romans and often cheated both sides of people; the prostitutes who were usually single or widowed women with no source of income. Jesus says these persons will enter the kingdom of God before the high and mighty religious leaders and teachers of the synagogue. When John the Baptist was preaching about the imminent arrival of the Messiah and announcing the means of entry into the kingdom of God, it was the tax collectors and prostitutes who believed and came to faith, not the religious leaders.

The second son sounded so respectful, “I go, sir” he said – but he did not. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 verse 21: “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven”. The religious leaders acted like the son who said yes but did nothing. They preached at the people and considered themselves to be above the ordinary folk. Externally they looked and talked the part. But they were usually hypocritical in that they did not live by those laws.

There is a certain parallel here to the situation of the covid-19, once again sweeping through our nation. We all heard the message of the dangers of ill-considered behaviour but so many have, and still do, ignore it. Yes, yes, they say, it is the government who are confusing us, but nothing is going to interfere with their fun.

We have a loving and forgiving God. He will forgive every sin when we say sorry and change our behaviour. These verses have great importance for us as Christians. It applies to us as much as it did to the Jews. Doing the will of the Father is the ultimate goal.

Prayers

Dear Lord, we pray for the healing of nations, for a recognition of our need of you and a turning away from all that is evil.  We pray for all in authority and worldly power that they will take wise advice and act responsibly in this time of great worry and stress due to coronavirus, and we pray for the safety and wellbeing of everybody.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Everlasting father thank you that there is nowhere we can go that is beyond your presence. The bible says we should not give up the habit of meeting together but should persevere in encouraging one another. We have followed this word  by the use of technology available to us to continue our faith, prayers, and praise of you,  now we thank you  that we have been able to return to church in a modified way  to join together and praise you.  We thank all our bishops, deacons and clergy for their help in administering on-line preaching and for their help with these different services.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Dear lord, we thank you for the love you have shown our families, and the community of Fairweather Green especially those residents in our prayer list for today.  We ask that you will help them and us as parents not to only be speakers of your word but also doers of your word in their homes and our homes.  We declare Lord that your love and sacrifice will always be in our hearts and minds and that we will demonstrate the same love to our children.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father bring healing and wholeness to those who suffer in body mind or spirit.  In the sleepless nights and endless days of pain give grace to persevere with patience and turn dark times in places of spiritual growth.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Thank you, father, for your promise to be with us always and not just until we die. We remember with affection those of our parents who loved us into existence and now live in eternity. Gather up into your loving arms those who have died recently and comfort all whose memories make them aware of loss today.

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

Blessing
May God’s love surround us, God’s joy fill our lives,
God’s peace be in our hearts, and God’s blessing be with us today and always.
Amen.

Dedication Festival  20. 09. 2020.  Reflection on Matthew 21 v 12-16

Today is the dedication festival for this Church. We are celebrating the date in 1966 on which this place was dedicated to God for worship by his people. This year it is difficult to feel celebratory under the circumstances.

Our bible reading today is about Jesus visiting the temple in Jerusalem as part of his work for God. It is the most special time of year called the Passover. Jesus, being the Son of God, a firm acknowledger of the word of God and working to his precepts, has followed the Jewish law to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem for this solemn festival. When he was born as an ordinary person and living here on earth, Jesus set us the example of following the rules and services as set out in the holy book. On arrival that particular day, Jesus was absolutely shocked to see what was taking place in the house of God, what we would call the church.

Jesus found that the priests had given permission for the setting up of stalls which sold animals to be used as Passover sacrifices. From cows for the people with lots of money, down to doves which were what the poor people could afford. Can you imagine the mess, the smell and the noise in God’s house? For those who had travelled into the city, and therefore had to buy their sacrificial animal there, I bet you they were paying way over the odds.

The priests would be charging rent for the stalls and fees to give certificates that the animals were perfect, as required by law. The people were also required to pay a half shekel each year as a kind of council tax for the use of the main part of the temple. You would have to pay extra to come into this part of St Saviour’s! But the coin that was in use then was Roman money which, according to Jewish law, the priests could not accept, so money changers were allowed to set up their shops as well. Like the little booth over on the right as you go into Morrisons or at airports. This is the same as when your family goes on holiday abroad and you have to go to the bank or the travel agents to get special money to spend where you are going. The money changers would also have been paying the priests rent for their stalls. The priests were really into getting loads of money.

One person wrote that, if we look closely, we will find that all the big bad things that occurred in the Church owed their reasons to love of money and power. Jesus in his great anger drives out the cows and sheep so their owners would have had to run after them to round them up. The money changers’ tables were knocked over in all directions and the dove owners ordered to get their bird cages out.

Jesus never forced anyone into God’s house, they went to hear God’s word and for his teachings – but he did not hesitate to drive out those who were disgracing that holy place. As the Son of God, he had the authority and the power to do it. Jesus showed he cared nothing for money by scattering it over the ground. He was also showing his contempt for all who would use religion for worldly gain.

I have concerns about churches that tell people they have to hand over 10% of their wages to the church. This takes no account of their financial commitments. On the other hand, is their personal financial commitment putting the cart before the horse?

Like any good mum or dad, Jesus corrected the children’s bad behaviour but also gave the reasons for the punishment.  ‘Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace’ he says.  The temple was the house of God dedicated to his honour and for his glory. Those people had turned what was holy and spiritual into a noisy, messy, smelly, indoor market. The temple was a place where people gathered to worship God and where the God of Israel lived with them. Can you all remember when you moved into your current home? I bet the first thing you did was clean it to your satisfaction. Before he could begin any teaching, Jesus’ first piece of work was to clean out the house of God.

The priests and the traders were being insulting to God by what they were doing and Jesus, as God’s Son, was hugely hurt on behalf of his Father. Jesus then shows that God’s house should be used for the right purposes by healing the blind and the lame who came to him to be made better.  When we enter Gods house, this church, we are blessed in that we can sit quietly and get into the right frame of mind to worship God. We used to sing songs to tell of our faith, expressing to God how much we love him and giving thanks for his many blessings. Because of the virus we are not supposed to sing. We still say prayers as we talk with God. We have pauses where we try to hear what He is saying to us. We have objects designed to help us concentrate and tune in to God and not be distracted, such as the candles, the altar and the cross.

A way to help us remember what we are supposed to be doing is to say before the worship “I tune in to God”. During the worship as I sing and pray to God, he tunes in to me. After the worship we used to tune in to each other when we would eat and have a drink and catch up. That is not possible at present, but we stay in contact by phone or waving and shouting across the road when we happen to pass each other.
This year makes it 54 years – only a blink in the grand scheme of things but I pray this beautiful place will still be here offering hours of peace, rest and respite from the stresses of our world to all who own the faith of Jesus.

Prayers
Intercessions 20th September 2020

Holy God, you have called us here today; and so as we gather in your house we offer to you our prayers which reflect our love for you and our love and concern for those we love and for the people of the world.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Dear Lord, we pray for all churches everywhere and all who worship you however and wherever they can.  We give thanks especially at the anniversary of the dedication of this building in your name for all who have worshiped here and continue to do so at possibly one of the most difficult times in this place’s history. We remember with gratitude all the clergy, and lay people who have brought your word to us; the church wardens, vergers, Sunday school teachers, uniformed leaders and volunteer helpers, everyone who has been part of establishing and maintaining your presence in Fairweather Green.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We have so many blessings to be grateful for that are sometimes forgotten about in our anxiety over Covid19.  We give thanks for all the good things and pray that better times will come to us all.  We pray for all who live in this parish especially those named in our prayer book today.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Gracious Lord, as schools try to return to normality we pray you will guide all young people on their new journeys; those going to college and university for the first time; those continuing their education in different settings; those who have moved on from formal education; those for whom the future is still to be decided; and those on an established path; bring them confidence and your support.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God, help those we know and love to turn away from habits which are harmful to them. Help them to turn to you in times of crisis. Lord, we also bring to you those we know who are ill or suffering in any way.  Give them healing and restore them in body, mind and spirit. 
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Mighty God, we remember in your presence all those who have died, and particularly those we have known and loved; thank you for them and thank you for your promise of eternal life and peace. Be close to those who are recently bereaved, strengthen them with the knowledge that you are always there to lean on and to be carried through difficult times.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Faithful God, at the start of this new week, help us to be an example to others and show us the practical steps we need to take to develop consistency and integrity in all that we do in our lives.
Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Blessing

Christ whose glory is in the heavens, fill this house and illuminate your hearts; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always.

Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 18 v 21-35    13. 09. 2020.
14th Sunday After Trinity.

At some point in our lives we may have heard someone say “I’ll forgive him (or her) but I’ll never forget”. This underlines how difficult it is to forgive the person who has hurt us.  Forgiveness is never easy; it is hard. The history of humanity across the world shows that it is the most difficult thing in the world. As a result, we have broken family relationships, sections of a community are ostracised, there is enmity between countries for a war hundreds of years ago.

The teaching in Judaism (based on Old Testament readings in Amos and Job) is that three times was enough to show one had a forgiving spirit. It was seen that repeat offenders were not really repenting at all. This argument is also part of our legal system in the way we punish offenders. The punishment gets more severe with repeated offending.

Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive someone. He doubles the required number and then goes for the lucky number seven. Jesus answers “Not seven, but seventy times seven”. That’s 490!! Some suggest Jesus meant to say “seventy-seven” times. Whichever, can we see ourselves forgiving someone for hurting us so many times? The point is the number is irrelevant, it is the quality of forgiveness that is important. Jesus says we must forgive without keeping count.

Jesus explains the principle by relating the parable of the kingdom of heaven as being like a king with numerous servants. The king is checking his books and demands that those owing him should pay up. The amount owed by one servant equals 50 million denarii. One denarius was the normal day’s wage. He owed over 10 million pounds in today’s money. The law in Jesus’ time allowed for the debtor, his family and all his goods to be sold to recoup the money owed. The man throws himself at the king’s feet and pleads for mercy and an extension for payment. This is ridiculous because there is no way he can repay this astronomical sum in his lifetime.

The king realises that there is no way he can ever pay back the debt. He forgives it and crosses it out of his books. Forgiveness was because of the servant’s attitude not his ability. On his way along the corridor the first servant sees another servant who owed him the equivalent of £16. He demands payment. When his colleague makes the same plea for mercy, he assaults him and throws him into debtor’s prison. The other servants are so appalled they report it to the king.

The king angrily points out that the first servant should have used the same judgement that he had received. The mercy he received should have had such a profound influence on his life and his values that it should have been his benchmark in relating to others. His punishment is now severe as he is thrown into prison and tortured for the rest of his life.

This unconditional forgiveness that Jesus is explaining is hard to take on board. When we have been hurt, we don’t want to be hurt again. We sometimes want to get even with the abuser. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” does not quite fill the space. If we do forgive it is usually on condition that the other person says sorry and maybe makes recompense.

Jesus says the eventual punishment of the first servant is how God will treat us if we don’t forgive our brother from our hearts.  One person wrote “Mercy is not giving to a person what he deserves.  Grace is giving to a person what he does not deserve. When we come to know God and have experienced his mercy and his grace, we can begin to understand what his kingdom is about. This changes our life and ways of living so we are able to extend the same mercy and grace to others.

The first man’s debt was beyond possible payment. This is the kind of debt we have been forgiven by our God. We could never pay it back. But we have been forgiven through the death of his Son. We should be willing to forgive the hurts done to us by our brother or sister. Not just tolerate their presence but forgive them from our hearts. Amen.

Prayers for Sunday 13th September 2020

Merciful God, your Son came to save us and bore our sins on the cross: may we trust in your mercy and know your love, rejoicing in the righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Almighty God, we pray for the Church throughout the world praying today for our link Dioceses in Sudan, Erfurt and SW Virginia.  In this diocese we pray for Bishop Nick and Bishop Toby and all who minster under them.

            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for the world about us, remembering today 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.

            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all involved in education; those back at school getting used to new ways after a prolonged absence from the classroom; those starting or returning to higher education on line or in person that their studies can continue in strange circumstances without upsetting their learning experience.

            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all who live in this parish; especially this week those who live in Allerton Road, Bullroyd Avenue, Bullroyd Crescent, Bullroyd Drive, The Oval, Hedge Side, Hedge Way and Hedge Close.

            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit, and we pray for those who look after them. We pray for all who are in hospital at this time and those awaiting treatment. 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 pray for those departed this life, for Douglas Ingham and those others who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at this time.  May they rest in peace and rise in glory.  May we also at the last find a place with the Blessed Virgin Mary, John Chrisostom and all the saints in your eternal kingdom.

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

Blessing

May God bless us, that in us may be found the spirit of forgiveness, love and humility, obedience and thanksgiving, discipline, gentleness and peace. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 18 verses 15 – 20
 6th September 09. 2020     13th Sunday After Trinity

It has been interesting hearing the veiled threats to Boris Johnson and his inner circle as to the future roasting they will get for mishandling this pandemic and its consequences. There will be numerous reviews and investigations. Heads will roll and not just those of the non-elected civil servants and advisors as currently happens. The areas of failure have been numerous and serious for the ordinary public.

I think the basic and most difficult issue the church has to deal with is failure. How do we admit that we or one of ours has done wrong? Actually, we have been trying for over 2 thousand years to get to grips with the fact that there are divergent points of view within the church on a number of matters. That is how we have arrived at these numerous “Christian denominations”.

If we look at a number of the major General Synod debates over the past 25 years, we can identify many areas of significant disagreement. We had the issue of women becoming priests, human sexuality, unity with other Christian churches, baptism of non-church people, marriage after divorce, women bishops.  We have had innumerable discussions about the Eucharist, not least regarding the variety of Eucharistic prayers. The list goes on and on. I am still aware that, despite our majority voting system, there are members who remain vehemently against decisions that the church at large has taken. Some were incredibly bitter to the point where a few have left the Anglican Church. But we are Anglican and that is very much what it is about – remaining in unity despite our areas of difference - this is essentially what we have to come to terms with.

As forgiven people, our fellowship is the expression of our common commitment to Christ, not to our own ideas of perfection. We don’t have to be perfect to be good. Being converted, or born from above, is only a beginning. We are on our way with Jesus, and on our way of maturing as we walk in the Spirit. The first Adam failed and never reached maturity after being created innocent.  Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to make the right decisions and go on to maturity. But they failed.

This Gospel reading outlines an important template of how to become reconciled when a brother or sister is in disagreement with you, or sins against you. There are major viewpoints to be taken into consideration here. The passage has a number of people to be specific about. For the Jews a neighbour was one who shared the same nationality.  A brother was one who shared the same religion. It was seen as closer than nationality.

Jesus was quite revolutionary in considering where action had to originate from in order to rectify matters. Jesus states that the disciple sinned against, in other words the victim, was responsible for beginning the action for restoration of the loving relationship. Jesus is saying that the spirit of forgiveness holds sway over the spirit of retaliation – take heed world leaders! This requires that the person who is wronged must seek peace rather than belittling his offending brother in the sight of the rest of the community. The essential aim is to restore the offending brother back into the fellowship of the church community. In scripture this goal is further detailed in both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

It is incredibly difficult to fulfil this aim successfully without additional personal pain. Our Lord Jesus lays out the steps to make the process easier.

1st - go to the brother on his own to discuss matters. This enables everyone’s ego to be protected, so he is not embarrassed in front of others and feels freer to accept wrongdoing. It also ensures confidentiality. There is no gossip.

If that fails, the 2nd step is next – take one or two brothers with you and try again. This ensures transparency in the discussion, as well as witnesses to protect the sinner in the negotiations – just in case your demands for restitution are excessive or misguided. Now, being a reserved people, this is usually as far as most of us want the discussion to go. After this there is an odd situation where we all pretend we are not aware of the pain on all sides, in the hope that things will go back to normal. It seldom does.

Jesus’ next step is to take it to the whole congregation. Whoa!

This is serious because, if the sinner will not heed the whole church group, then he/she can be excluded from the committees and decisions of the church as they are seen as deliberately choosing to remain in the wrong. The person is excluded not just to acknowledge the leadership and authority figures of the church, but to enable the whole body to maintain a disciplined church.

It is not just for the brother or sister who has done wrong, but to show that brothers and sisters care enough to express an opinion and assist in achieving the healing and accord once more. This is also for the sake of the integrity of the church within the whole community of Christ.

On numerous occasions we have all heard stories, long after the event of course, about someone who has done a major wrong, or a series of wrongs, within the church or the general community, to which those with the ability to take action chose to turn a blind eye.
Jesus says this is not acceptable and gives us a step by step process of how to deal with it; to care for our offending brother or sister but also to maintain our own integrity as part of the worshipping community. Taking our bat home is not an option.

This is our duty to our brother or sister, to ourselves, to the church and to the wider community because of the Christian life we are to live as children of God.


Intercessions for Sunday 6th September 2020 – 13th Sunday after Trinity

In our need and human weakness, let us come Almighty God with our prayers. 

Unchanging God, change us from our hearts, until the whole Church awakens to your love that reaches out, nurtures and celebrates, neither holding back from what is difficult, nor rushing where angels fear to tread.  We pray for sensitivity and courage.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

Almighty God, give us such love for the world that we pray with longing, 'Your kingdom come.' Give our leaders the grace to see their work as services and their role as stewards. Sharpen the recognition of needs and the commitment to just provision. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

Merciful God break all habits of destructive behaviour in our homes and families, our friendships, and in all the homes of this parish. Develop our ability to celebrate what is good, and to face with honesty what is not. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

Healing God, lay your hands on those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit.  May they know the support of your presence and find wholeness and peace in your love. We pray especially for those who believe they are beyond your forgiveness. May they discover the freedom of your acceptance. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Eternal God, in your unchanging love, receive all those who have died in faith, that they may rejoice in you for ever. Today we remember especially our friend Douglas and we pray for his family and those who now greatly miss him.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

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, now and always. Amen.

View a copy of the weekly service sheet here