Sunday 6th September 2020 – Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Welcome to our worship. If it is still Sunday morning where you are, I hope you will join us at Zoom coffee at 11.30am. Details, as usual, are on the emailed notice sheet – the link is the same as it was last week.

Today our service is a service of the word and we continue our sermon series on St Paul’s letter to the Romans.

You can either play the YouTube playlist for the whole thing, or click through each part of the service in turn.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Hymn – And can it be?

We have come together in the name of Christ
to offer our praise and thanksgiving,
to hear and receive God’s holy word,
to pray for the needs of the world,
and to seek the forgiveness of our sins,
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may give ourselves to the service of God.

Confession

Keep silence and reflect on the week

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
So let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ,
confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore us to the joy of your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse you from your sins,
and restore you in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
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 will we praise our God.

Psalm 119:33-40

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes  ♦
and I shall keep it to the end.

Give me understanding and I shall keep your law;  ♦
I shall keep it with my whole heart.

Lead me in the path of your commandments,  ♦
for therein is my delight.

Incline my heart to your testimonies  ♦
and not to unjust gain.

Turn away my eyes lest they gaze on vanities;  ♦
O give me life in your ways.

Confirm to your servant your promise,  ♦
which stands for all who fear you.

Turn away the reproach which I dread,  ♦
because your judgements are good.

Behold, I long for your commandments;  ♦
in your righteousness give me life.

New Testament Reading

Romans 13:8-14, read by Linda

Hymn – Lord of all hopefulness

Gospel Reading

Matthew 18:15-20, read by Lindsay

Sermon – The Revd Liz Hassall

Time is very strange at the moment. This year we have lost so many of the markers that help us orientate ourselves through the year. So many holidays cancelled, so few social events happening. It’s sometimes hard to remember what month it is, never mind what day of the week it is. I find myself frequently checking to make sure I haven’t missed appointments or arrangements. Although there are so many things that have been cancelled or re-arranged, there are still things that we have to look forward to.
Birthdays, of course, are significant days. I wonder whether you were the same as me when you were young? The anticipation of a birthday coming was extraordinary. The months and weeks were counted down and the hope of what might be grew to an intensity.
Then the day itself, which may or may not have lived up to the picture of it in my head. I was re-reading a Maeve Binchy novel this week where one of the main characters has been hoping for a beautiful pink velvet party dress and then has to swallow her disappointment when she is given a very sensible skirt and jumper instead.
In our progress through St Paul’s letter to the Romans, we come to one of the most poetic passages, where Paul impresses upon his readers the urgency of living well, living in harmony with others because the day is near.
What does he mean?
There are two levels to this:
Paul talks about behaving well as in the day. In a time where candles and oil lamps are the only illumination, they wouldn’t be wasted on lighting the streets. Moving about at night was therefore pitch black: perfect cover for all sorts of nefarious activities. Law-abiding people tended to stay home at night. It was criminals and law-breakers who were abroad in the darkness. Good deeds belonged to the day, evil to the night, so Paul urges the Romans to live as if in daylight. To live as in daylight is to live assuming people can see what you are doing, so therefore to do nothing that is not lawful, nothing that can hurt another.
But there is another layer of meaning concerning the day. The concept of The Day of The Lord is found in the Old Testament, most notably in Jeremiah. The Day of the Lord is when justice prevails and salvation is found. All wrongs are righted. This is the day that is coming, that we are to live in preparation for.
Jesus rising from the dead has brought the Day of the Lord near, but it isn’t fully here for us. Paul wrote so often with this sense of urgency that the day of the Lord, the day of salvation is right around the corner and you need to be ready.

I’m most familiar with these verses in a responsory that is used at morning prayer in Advent:

Now it is time to wake out of sleep
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.
Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light,
put on the Lord Jesus Christ
and make no provision for the flesh.

What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
I think it is about living according to what Jesus taught, living as if you were Jesus, enveloping yourself in the attitudes and actions of Jesus. And this means loving people.

Love. This whole section of Romans has been about love – from the beginning of chapter 12. Paul briefly digressed at the beginning of this chapter into talking about our relationship with governing authorities but sadly the lectionary has skipped over that bit.

Paul tells his readers that the only obligation we should have is the obligation to love one another. When love of others is at the heart of how you are, you no longer need the specific commandments like the ones forbidding adultery or murder or theft. Love your neighbour as yourself renders all these obsolete. This doesn’t mean that we have freedom to sin in this way just that if we are truly living in love then none of the other rules will be necessary.

To live a Christian life is to live in anticipation of the Day to come, the Day of the Lord. All the things that Paul has emphasized: how to live well, not to take vengeance, resisting evil; all these things are necessary so that at the day of the Lord, we are ready to take our place in fulfilment of the promises of the Lord Jesus.

In effect, the whole of our lives is like waiting for a birthday, knowing it is going to be marvellous, but never quite figuring out how long it is to wait or quite what will happen. Our task as Christians is to live in such a way that we bring some of the promises forward, building communities truly based on love and care for everyone. In doing this we prepare for the coming day of salvation.

Think this week about how you could more fully love your neighbours. Is there something they need, something they are struggling with? Think back to the deepest lockdown – everyone seemed to be more aware of their neighbours then. Is there something practical you could say or do to help someone? Or if you are in need but no-one knows about it, maybe you could reach out to someone this week and ask. So often people are willing to help but just don’t know who needs it and are afraid to offend by asking.

Now it is time to wake out of sleep
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.
Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light,
put on the Lord Jesus Christ
and make no provision for the flesh.

Affirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Hymn – If you believe and I believe

This hymn includes prayers of intercession.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour has taught us, so we pray

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 for ever.
Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Generous God, we thank you for all you have given us. We thank you for all the ways that we can give to you in return. We ask that through our gifts we will see your kingdom grow in our hearts and our homes, our neighbourhoods and our nation, to the glory of your name.
Amen

Blessing and Sending Out

The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.

Hymn – Sent forth by God’s blessing

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.