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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 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.

Reflection on Matthew 16: 21-28

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

I was at a prayer meeting recently and we were talking about the many ways in which we are blessed, for which we should give God thanks each and every day. One of the ladies mentioned how upset she was at the pictures of those people in Africa. After all, she said, there are children suffering just as much in England and they don’t show them on the telly. And their Governments are mainly to blame anyway. I felt tempted to say nothing because I was a guest and I did not want to offend. But a voice said no – this had to be challenged, with gentleness and caring words yes – but it had to be challenged.

In today’s Gospel reading for the first time Jesus talks about his journey to Jerusalem, his impending arrest, trial, death and resurrection. Jesus thinks the disciples have enough knowledge and faith to understand what is about to happen. He was to be rejected by the Jewish leaders, the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law who made up the Jewish Council, the highest religious court in Jesus’ time. They were groups of people who normally disliked and distrusted each other but they would become united in wanting to destroy Jesus.

In predicting all this, Jesus begins to explain God’s plan for defeating Satan and saving humankind. The disciples don’t understand, indeed they are puzzled and worried. Peter is so shocked he takes Jesus to one side and scolds him for speaking this way. Peter was thinking of the effect all this was having on the morale of the other disciples.

Last week, Jesus had confirmed that he was Christ the Messiah, how could he possibly come to such an end? Peter and the others were probably thinking of how they would share in the Messiah’s glory here on earth. They would rebel against and defeat the Romans who ruled over them. They would get rid of them and bring Israel back to power. What Jesus was saying was not the outcome they envisaged.

The disciples possibly didn’t hear, believe or understand the important words about ‘being raised on the third day’, therefore they could not look beyond the suffering and death part. After all the time, the teaching and the examples of Jesus’ work, the disciples could not accept anything less than a triumphant end to Christ’s mission. They had set their mind on human things and not on the Divine. “God forbid it Lord, this must never happen to you” says Peter.

The response Peter gets seems quite harsh when he was being a concerned friend and follower. Jesus, however, realised it was Satan tempting him again, just as he did at the end of those forty days of fasting in the desert. Luke chapter 4 verse 13 warned us that when the devil had ended those temptations “he departed from him until an opportune time”. Well here was an opportune time.

Peter appeared to offer Jesus kind advice and comfort. ‘Get behind me, Satan’ Jesus commands. ‘Get behind me’ is the Jewish phrase for ‘be gone’ or ‘get out of my sight’, ‘go away’. These are very harsh words to Peter who had just declared the Lord to be the Messiah and been told he was the rock on which the Church would be built. But the disciples’ reactions to Jesus showed they did not understand the plan for salvation. It just could not happen! 

Jesus recognised the hidden work of Satan. He wouldn’t have shouted at Peter but spoken in deep sadness as he realises it is Satan placing temptation in His path - and also showing how little the disciples had learned. Jesus did not want to die, but here he was again going through severe temptation; this time it comes in the form of the distress of the disciples and the rebuke from Peter. Peter was not thinking of what God had destined to happen. He had not realised that Christ’s suffering and death were necessary for the glorious resurrection to take place, for our redemption to come.

We have here Christ’s example of how the voice of temptation can come to us through a well-meaning person, friend or relative. We know we have something to do, it is the right thing to do, but it is sure to cause us grief of one kind or another. We may get into trouble or be very unpopular, or cause ourselves and others unhappiness, but we know it is the right thing to do.

Peter said those words because he loved the Lord and could not bear to think of him suffering and dying this way. The hardest temptation we are likely to face is one which comes from someone who is trying to protect us because they care for us. Sometimes temptation is the pressure we feel inside caused by things that are happening, over which we have little control. We need strength to tell the difficult truth, to make that difficult visit and not find excuses to do something else.

Temptations are also opportunities. When we feel the desire to do wrong, we have the opportunity to choose what is right, which will make us feel stronger spiritually. Yes, temptation can be very strong; but God has given us the free will to decide to do what is right. Peter had become a stumbling block to our Lord. Jesus makes clear to the disciples and to us what it really means to follow in his footsteps.

But what does it mean here and now, today, in our lives, in this city and this world. How do we live our lives to show we truly believe in the Messiah?
How do we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him? To risk loving God and our neighbour as ourselves can mean great sacrifice. To deny ourselves means every moment of our life we say no to ourselves and yes to God. Satisfying our own needs should not be what drives us on but caring for the needs of others. To take up our cross is to take on the burden of sacrifice.

Jesus asks “what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life”. We are not talking about being killed for following Jesus, although that does happen in some countries. But what if we spend years working hard, looking out for our own security, safety, comfort. What do we do when time has passed and we can’t look back on life and see an earthly reward that satisfies the heart? What do we think our repayment will be when Jesus comes with his angels? We pray our reward will be in heaven.

Amen.

Intercessions for Sunday 30th August 2020 - Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us pray to our loving Father in heaven.  

Dear Father, help

Help us all in your Church to understand what it really means to love and serve you. In times of testing, strengthen us, in suffering, support us, at the end of our energy, revive us. Through it all, grant us the peace and joy that come from doing your will. 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all world leaders and governments. Lord,teach them that authority comes through cooperation and mutual respect. May there be growing appreciation of others' needs and the needs of our planet, and a desire to acknowledge past wrongs and injustices.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

Father, help us to renew our commitment, loving as you have loved us. Guide all our relationships, our work and prayer. In the many hard choices give us wisdom and courage, and use us to bless our families and friends, and our neighbours near and far. Those who live in our parish thinking especially today of those living or working in Cemetery Road, Rosetta Drive, Young Street and Mortimer Street. Those across the world where daily life is hard and precarious.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father we pray for all who have asked for prayers and we give thanks for blessings received. We pray for children teachers and all who staff our schools. We pray with gratitude for all whose work is vital to us and to our community.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father we commend to your eternal love those who have died to this earthly life. Today we think especially of our dear friend Douglas. God of eternity, in whom there is no beginning or end welcome into your nearer presence those who have died and give comfort to those who mourn their loss. Give us all a greater understanding of the new life you offer.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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

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

View a copy of the weekly service sheet here