Welcome to our worship. If it is still Sunday morning where you are, I hope you will join us at Zoom coffee, which will be a little later this week at 11.45am. Details, as usual, are on the emailed notice sheet. If you don’t receive this, please click up above on the Contact page and send an email to Carol, who will make sure you are added to the list.
This week would normally be our annual service at Byland Abbey. This year, we have our open air service in the churchyard at Coxwold but, for those who are unable to join us, we offer this service.
The form of the service today is the first part of the communion service, finishing with the peace and the prayer of spiritual communion. I hope this gives you the opportunity to meditate and ponder as you pray.
Service written out in full
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Hymn – Hills of the North
Prayer of preparation
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Prayers of Penitence
Introduction to Confession
God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ
to save us from our sins,
to be our advocate in heaven,
and to bring us to eternal life.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,
firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments
and to live in love and peace with all.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Collect – Prayer for the week
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
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 for ever. Amen
New Testament Reading
Romans 14:1-12 read by Lucy Willshaw, our new children and youth worker.
Psalm 103: 8-13
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, ♦
slow to anger and of great kindness.
He will not always accuse us, ♦
neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, ♦
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, ♦
so great is his mercy upon those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, ♦
so far has he set our sins from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, ♦
so is the Lord merciful towards those who fear him.
Hymn – Amazing Grace
Matthew 18:21-35 read by Roger Pearce from Brandsby
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Glory to you, O Lord.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
When we have our usual service at Byland Abbey, I’m always struck by the symbolism of meeting in a place where the physical bones of the Church have been ripped away. There is no roof, there are few walls, nature has reclaimed the floor. Yet, when we gather, there is the Church. A group of people coming together to proclaim the importance to them of Jesus Christ and pledging to live differently as a result.
This year has been an extended demonstration of this. Circumstances dictated that we stopped meeting in our church buildings. Did that stop us being Christ’s Church? No, it did not. We looked at what has been taken away from us and decided that it is not going to stop us expressing and carrying out our faith.
Did we all do this in the same way? No, we did not. Some embraced technology as a way to worship and stay in touch with people. Some chose not to, others were unable to. We each reacted to lockdown in different ways, but that is because we are all different.
I wonder how your faith has been nurtured this year. Have you returned to tried and trusted books from the past? Have you phoned the national prayer line? Has the weekly service on Radio 4 become your church?
I was overjoyed this week when someone told me that they had used their prayer book to read morning prayer every Sunday, using the readings from the Link, almost as a subversive act.
There are as many different ways to follow God as there are people choosing to follow him.
As we continue in our journey through the letter to the Romans, in our passage today we find St Paul grappling with this. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been part of some churches where there has seemed to be a very high standard of behaviour required before you can be considered to be a real Christian. You look around at the people there and feel that there is no way you can match up to their holiness.
There’s obviously something of this going on in the Roman church. Some of it has to do with choice of diet and some of it seems to have to do with how they spent their Sabbath day. Paul describes those choosing to eat only vegetables as weak in faith. Vegetarians the world over will now rise up in protest at this. There is nothing here about whether it is intrinsically good or bad to be vegetarian. This is about their motives for choosing a vegetable diet.
Eating only vegetables doesn’t make you more holy, neither does it make you less holy. Thinking you are a better person because you eat only vegetables is more of a problem.
Some people, in order to feel secure in their faith, need to restrict themselves and their lifestyle so they don’t go off the rails. They do feel that their faith is too weak to survive without that boundary round it.
I think there is something of the same here when dealing with alcoholism. An alcoholic cannot have even a small drink without grave consequences whereas someone who is not an alcoholic can enjoy a drink with no problems. The alcoholic knows their weakness and finds strength in the rule of abstinence.
One key thing here is the attitude to weakness. By calling someone weak, we are not writing them off. Rather, we are saying that they are precious and should be supported so they can take a full part in the community.
We are the body of Christ. We all have different gifts and different weaknesses.
Paul goes on to say that what matters is not so much what choices we make, but the attitude we have towards God once we have made that choice.
If you decide to be vegetarian, do it in a way that honours God. If you decide to eat meat, likewise, eat in a way that honours God. More importantly still, honour the decisions of each other. What does that look like? On a practical level, the meat eater should ensure there is something vegetarian at a feast, and vice versa. Both should have the well-being of those who produced the food in mind. Both should thank God for providing what is good.
The trouble is, we are all human, with all the intrinsic insecurities that goes along with that. It is so easy to slip into the trap of judging others because they are different. To write others off in the hope that this makes us look better in contrast.
We live in an individualist society. So much of what we worry about is to do with our own survival or success. Christianity cannot survive if people think that it is purely about the individual. It is not about my faith in Jesus or my choices about how I live. The Christian life is about us. All of us and the choices we make together.
I don’t know whether you have ever watched team time trial cycling. There’s often a stage at the Tour de France where the teams race against the clock, each rider in the team taking turns to battle against the wind at the front. The aim of the race is not to get a rider to the finish line first but to get the team there. In a team of 8 or 9 it might be the time that the 5th or 6th rider crosses the line. You can’t win a team time trial by focussing only on your own speed. You have to concentrate on the needs of the team around you.
You can’t live as a Christian by looking only at your own way of life. You have to look at the needs of the whole community. There’s no point getting up and praying for three hours every day if you ignore the phonecalls from someone down the road who needs your help.
God is concerned with all of us and trusts those who are stronger to bring along those who are weak. Not to judge them, not to look down on them, but to love them and recognise in them the face of God.
We are the Church, the body of Christ. We are in this together and we can’t manage without one another, each lifting the other up and supporting them at different times as needed.
As we go into an uncertain autumn and winter, it is the connections between the Christian community that will be most important. We can be the Church without walls and a roof, but we can’t be the Church without each other. The Lord says Every knee shall bow and every tongue give praise to God. Keep in mind the needs of the team and keep lifting up and supporting those who need it.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge
the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is
worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Everlasting God, Lord of compassion and gracious understanding, we come with an openness to express our concerns for the Church and the world, and to thank you, for your goodness.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer
Merciful God, we recognise that the work of helping people through life can leave church leaders vulnerable to spiritual attack. We thank you for our church leaders and pray that they won’t allow criticism or negativity to blunt their ministry; that they will hear encouragement, and that they will always respond in love and forgiveness when difficulties arise. We pray for Archbishop Stephen, John, Bishop of Selby and Archdeacon Sam and all who minister in our local churches.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Creator God, we pray for our world, where through television, we see the misery and tragedy brought about by wrong choices and brought into our homes day by day. We pray for wisdom and compassion in all negotiations and decisions taken by our world and local leaders; and ask that there be humility in leadership and responsibility for right action shared by all and we particularly pray that this may apply to all things associated with the Pandemic.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Father God, help and guide our schools, colleges and universities as they return for a new educational year, especially with all their concerns about the Coronavirus and how they will cope with social distancing but still be with one another and learn with and from one another. May their teachers inspire a love of learning for its own sake and kindle joy in all subjects and sports and help them to grow into caring and knowledgeable adults.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Gracious God, we raise before you those from our community who are ill, hospitalised or recuperating and for those we know within our families and circle of friends.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Merciful God, give us ears to hear and minds to understand the message of immortality for the children of your kingdom so that we may look forward with patience and confidence to that time when we will join you in the peace of eternity. And we especially pray for any we know who recently died and are on that journey to you.
Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Faithful God, forgive us for those times when we treat ourselves with less kindness than you do. We want to believe in ourselves the way you believe in us and so as we go out to live the coming week show us more of the life you have designed especially for us to live
Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
God of life, saviour of the poor,
receive with this money
gratitude for your goodness,
penitence for our pride
and dedication to your service
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We are the body of Christ.
In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Let us then pursue all that makes for peace
and builds up our common life.
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.
Hymn – I am the bread of life
Today I will read the institution narrative from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, then offer a time of silence, finishing with the prayer for spiritual communion and the Lord’s prayer.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIVUK)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
The Lord’s Prayer
Today, I am using the traditional language Lord’s prayer. Please pray in whichever language or version you prefer.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn – At the name of Jesus
Blessing and Dismissal
The peace of God, which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.
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.