Sunday worship – 28th June 2020 – 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Welcome to worship today, which has been planned and led by our lay worship planning team. The service is led by Liz Crawshaw, who is currently training to be a reader. As usual, there is a playlist set up at the top to play the whole service, including hymns. Or you can go down the page and play each video separately, or read the words if you prefer.

If you are reading this before Sunday morning at 11.30am, please join us at our Zoom Coffee. Details available from Revd Liz – see the contact page on the main menu.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out in full

CALL TO WORSHIP

Let us worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen

The Lord be with you,
And also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Lord, direct our thoughts and teach us to pray.
Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn

Reflection from Sian

Today is the first lay-led service since the announcement that Revd Liz will be leaving the Byland Churches later in the year. Deep down I wasn’t surprised. We have been privileged to benefit from Liz’s calling and her talents which have guided and taught us and grown us in faith – and we kind of knew that she would eventually have to be shared; that we couldn’t keep her for always.

So we’re sad and feeling somewhat vulnerable with a vacancy looming – how will we cope without our leader?

It strikes me that this is remarkably similar to how the disciples must have been feeling as Jesus prepared them for His departure – as we’ve been hearing in Matthews Gospel Chapter 10 over the last two weeks and concluding today.

We too have been well prepared (in our case by Revd Liz) and are now being called to continue without her; to continue learning how to be the sent church in our communities and to be Jesus’ disciples here and now.

Daunting as that task is, I am hugely reassured by the words in our Gospel reading today. In the version from The Message Bible, Jesus says “Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty … the smallest action of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice”. How great is that? – whatever we are able to do, however small it might seem, Jesus says that we all do have something to offer. And of course we aren’t really alone – the Holy Spirit will guide us, as it did those first disciples.

And we have each other: working and praying together, with God’s help there is potential to turn this vacancy from something we really wish wasn’t going to happen, into an opportunity to grow our Byland Churches together – in faith , in service and, who knows, even in numbers.

Confession and assurance of forgiveness

Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We confess that we have sinned
In thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.
Amen.

Almighty God,
who in Jesus Christ
has given us a kingdom
that cannot be destroyed,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to God’s truth,
strengthen us to do God’s will
and give us the joy
of his kingdom,
through Jesus Christ
our Lord.
Amen.

Blessed is the Lord,
For he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy,
and in our song we will praise our God.

Prayer for the week – Collect

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Hymn

Readings

Romans 6:12-23

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Matthew 10:40-42

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon – Roy Collard, Recognised Parish Assistant

Are you someone who responds well to a challenge? Or, to put it another way, have you needed challenges in your life to help you to develop or grow?

Perhaps running a marathon has been something to inspire you, or rebuilding a house or a car from scratch or even climbing every Munro in Scotland. I’m in awe of people who set themselves such challenges, people like Nick Bailey, the Salisbury policemen whose story was on TV a couple of weeks ago, who set himself the challenge of running a marathon as part of his recovery from being poisoned. I can’t say that physical challenges have ever motivated me – nowadays, reading a long Victorian novel, or mastering the two types of subjunctive in German grammar are the sort of challenges that provoke me.

Twelve years ago, we attended the memorial service in St Paul’s for Chad Varah, the founder of the Samaritans, and a gauntlet was thrown down to us all – “You’re here today to celebrate the life of a great Brit – now what are you going to do to continue his work?” I really didn’t think I could do it – talk to strangers in the middle of the night who could be suicidal, pick up a phone not knowing what depth of despair a caller might have reached. I responded to the challenge, and I’m glad I did. It’s made me realise just how vital that action of taking up a challenge is to us all. Not only does it provide motivation and a sense of achievement when you’ve conquered it, but I find it gives a greater understanding of myself and my own weakness – an insight into human nature if you like. Responding to a challenge is neither easy nor painless, but it can make us more innovative, more creative and test us to a particular limit.

Why do I say all this about challenges? Simply because it seems to me that the two readings this morning, from Matthew’s gospel and Paul’s letter to the Romans have something in common – a reminder to us all of the challenges we are set in being a Christian. And two of the greatest challenges of our Christian life are letting God work through us and maintaining our discipline in our Christian journey.

The three verses from Matthew come at the end of more than a chapter of instructions that Christ gives to his first disciples, the body of which we have studied over the last two Sundays. Christ tells the disciples their task of spreading His word will not be easy, and in these last three verses He summarises how they will be received and treated, and how they will be rewarded. Through this, there is of course the challenge for us, for we are the inheritors of those disciples. Christ tells us of the opportunities we are given to meet and serve our maker and by talking about the potential rewards, there is – by implication – the alternative if we don’t take these opportunities. It’s our choice, how do we respond? Are we obedient? Do we follow because we have to or because we want to? The challenge here is to let God work through us and to do His work, just as those twelve disciples did two thousand years ago.

In writing to the Romans, Paul develops further what is meant by this challenge of obedience in a Christian life. He understands the weakness of our humanity and how, even after we have chosen a Christian life as opposed to the life of a sinner, it is all too easy to slide back into the temptations of the old life, or as he puts it – to the life of impurity and wickedness. We walk a tightrope of temptation between vice and virtue. But our challenge is to accept the grace of God and to let God work though us. To impress upon us the importance of this teaching, Paul uses graphic images – of slavery. And perhaps this may shock us. It’s not difficult to understand what he means by being a slave to sin. But being a slave to righteousness seems at first sight to be contradictory, but perhaps that’s because of our twenty first century response to anything that uses the word slave or slavery. Two thousand years ago such an image was a part of everyday life. Being a slave to righteousness is obeying God, is accepting the teaching of the gospels and accepting that our life of sin is behind us. This life demands a discipline from us, a self-discipline that keeps us on a road to eternal life through following God’s will.

Our challenges, as Christians, then, are to let God work through us and to discipline ourselves to a life of righteousness.

During the past few months we have all been provided with challenges, some of them pretty daunting – not being able to grieve with friends and family, not being able to be with grandchildren, parents, family or friends, coping with loneliness, feeling confined and restrained, our freedoms curtailed, living in fear or anxiety of contracting the virus, for both ourselves and our loved ones and of fearing for the future. We’ve had to respond in the same way we do as human beings to all challenges – by persevering, by relying on our inner strength and as Christians by prayer and by reminding ourselves that God is with us in our struggles and adversity as much as He is in times of joy. By accepting God’s grace, we know that we pursue His teaching, we know that we accept the discipline of loving Him and of loving our neighbour as ourselves. We have all experienced the love of neighbours, near and far, we have all given and we have all received. Through telephone, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime we have maintained connections and given and received succour, through sharing words of encouragement and concern with fellow villagers as we meet them on our walks, through collecting or receiving prescriptions, sharing food deliveries, clapping together on Thursday evenings, simply offering or receiving a hand or an act of kindness whenever and wherever we can. I have heard of so many examples of individuals diligently making scrubs for medics, masks for friends and neighbours, and headbands for nurses and doctors to ease the stress of wearing masks and shields. No act of kindness will go unnoticed in God’s kingdom, as Jesus reminds his disciples – “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones ………none of these will lose their reward.”

For me, a greater challenge lies ahead – as I’m sure it does for all of us. How will we as Christians respond after the lockdown has eased further and life has returned to something more normal? Will we maintain the discipline of obedience by continuing the acts of kindness that have cemented our communities? By continuing to remember friends and family with whom we have re-established connections? Will we continue to be loyal customers to the small local businesses and individuals who have adapted so well to the economic crisis by making deliveries to us – the farm shops, the meal providers, the local grocery deliveries – or will we slide back to supermarkets? How will we respond to those around us – and in the country as a whole – who are going to be affected by the economic and social hardship that will inevitably come? How can we reach out to those most in peril as food banks are relied on more and more and unemployment has its inevitable toll?

I guess the answer to all these questions is by letting God work through us, by responding to those challenges that Jesus gives His disciples, by following the discipline to righteousness that Paul spells out to the Romans.

For as Christ reminds us, every act of kindness will be rewarded. And as Paul concludes, whilst the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Affirmation of faith

We believe in God the Father,
From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
Who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
Who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen

Prayers

We pray for wholeness in the body of Christ across our world – for justice, peace, and healing. Bind up fractures within the Church we pray; humble the proud and lift up the lowly.
We pray for Stephen Cottrell as he prepares to take up the role of Archbishop of York. May your Holy Spirit guide and support him through all the hope and expectation that his ministry will entail.

Lord of our world: Send us your peace

We give thanks for your wonderful universe – for the song of the birds, the light of the stars, the majesty of the mountains, the beauty and productivity of the fields.
Mould us into stewards of your creation. We pray that concern and care for our world may remain high on our agenda as we come out of the trials of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lord of our world: Send us your peace

We pray for peacemakers around the world and for those with position and authority to implement necessary change.
We pray for your continued presence and power to inspire and lead them – that they will hear Your voice.
We pray for an end to violence, for restoration of broken communities and for love for all our neighbours regardless of who they are.
May the forgotten, the lost and the hungry know you are with them and feel your comfort.
Reign with justice and peace in all the corners of your world, we pray.
Give us courage and selflessness as we learn how to emerge from lockdown and we pray for your guidance and wisdom in this and all things.

Lord of our world: Send us your peace

We lift to you everyone in our immediate world – our villages and communities, our friends and family – those we see often, those we haven’t been able to see for too long.
We pray for those who are finding it hard to hear you at the moment. Give us all strength and fortitude in this challenging and time.
We remember in our hearts all those we know who are unwell or suffering and need our prayers today…

Lord of our world: Send us your peace

We pray for Liz and Phil, Toby and Jenny as they prepare for new horizons. We give thanks for them as a family and for what they have given to us.
We pray for ourselves as the Byland Churches. As we begin to plan for the vacancy; deepen our faith, expand our discipleship and guide us forward together. Unite us in your love and commitment to share your Good News.
We give thanks for the wonderful variety of gifts and talents across the fellowship of our Churches and pray that, with the help of your Holy Spirit, we will put these to good use together.

Lord of our world: Send us your peace

O Lord, the help of the helpless,
the hope of the hopeless,
the saviour of the storm-tossed,
the harbour of voyagers, the physician of the sick;
we pray to you.
O Lord, you know each of us and our petitions;
you know each house and its needs;
receive us all into your kingdom;
make us children of light,
and bestow your peace and love upon us.
Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
And the glory are yours, now and forever.
Amen

Offering

Gracious God accept our
gifts and, with them, our lives
to be used in your service.
Amen.

Blessing

May the power of
Christ heal us,
the eyes of Christ
gaze upon us,
and the peace of Christ
shine through us,
today and evermore;
and may the blessing
of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be amongst us and
remain with us always.
Amen.

Sending out

We go into the world in the name of Christ,
with the love of God
And in the power of the Spirit.
We go, but we do not go alone.
We go together and Christ goes with us.
Amen

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.