We are so pleased that you are here watching today and joining with us in worship. Our service today is prepared and led by our lay worship team. If you click on the playlist immediately below, it should all play one after the other. If you would rather take it slowly and read the service to yourself, then scroll down further.
Zoom Coffee is at half past eleven on Sunday morning. The details are listed in our weekly notice sheet or you can contact Revd Liz (see contact details above) to find them.
Service written out in full
Call to worship
Let us worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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 – Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us.
Reflection from Roy Collard
This morning’s epistle, which you will hear shortly, is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It was written by Paul when he was in prison in Rome and is thought to be one of the last letters he wrote. Paul composed the letter ten years or so after he had founded the church in Philippi, and he is anxious about it as he hadn’t heard from there recently. He’s concerned that pride and quarrels may be damaging this fledgling church and so he writes to share his joy with them – the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. The passage we will hear this morning is renowned for a poem that Paul places in the letter, a poem that we all know well through the hymn At the name of Jesus. Liz will say more about this in her talk, but I would like to say something, not about the poem, but about the last two lines of this morning’s reading in which Paul exhorts the Philippians to carry on doing as he taught them – even though he is not with them. He reminds them that it doesn’t matter that he’s no longer there with them because it’s God himself who’s the one at work amongst them, not Paul.
During the pandemic, those of us who serve as churchwardens in the benefice have been meeting regularly online and not surprisingly one of our major topics of conversation has been how we will run our churches when Revd Liz moves on – until a new incumbent arrives. We have no idea how long that will be for, as the process of replacing Liz will not begin until the new year, once Liz has left us. It seems to me that Paul’s message to the Philippians could equally be one to us during the time of the vacancy next year.
A couple of weeks ago the wardens were fortunate to share our meeting with the archdeacon and, based on her experience of vacancies elsewhere, she reassured us that these times can engender growth in churches and in individuals, not least in bringing people within the benefice together. I hope that by doing God’s work we shall have the will and the energy to achieve all these things. A vacancy need not be a period of uncertainty, but it can be one of anticipation, and one of enlightenment as we learn more about co-operating with each other and supporting one another across our seven churches. Archdeacon Sam reminded us all that the best thing we can do at this time is to pray, – and I hope that we all can – pray that we will receive a pastor who can continue Liz’s wonderful work with us, pray that we can grow together during this time and pray for guidance in how we can all help lead our churches forward. It is, after all, as Paul reminds us, God who is at work amongst us, enabling us to do what pleases HIm.
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,
and walk humbly with you, our God.
Assurance of Forgiveness
May the God of love bring us back to himself,
forgive us our sins
and assure us of his eternal love.
In Jesus Christ our Lord
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.
Lord of creation
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 25 v 1-8
To you O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No-one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.
Show me your ways, O Lord
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
Hymn – Fight the good fight
Talk by Liz Crawshaw – Reader in Training
Two caterpillars were sitting on the branch of a tree just passing the time of day, when a beautiful butterfly flew overhead. One caterpillar turned to the other and said “You’ll never catch me going up in one of those!”
How often do we fail to see ourselves as we really are, or as the people we are meant to be?
We have just heard the verses from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus challenges the Chief priests and elders and tries to show them the people that they are meant to be. The leaders are questioning Jesus in an outright attack “By what authority are you doing these things?” They are trying to trip Jesus up. Jesus diffuses the situation by replying with a question “Did John’s baptism come from heaven or from men?” They can’t answer; whatever they say could be held against them, and so they say “We don’t know” Throughout the gospels Jesus’ opponents are good at setting traps, but also good at falling into them! The answers that Jesus gives avoid arguments, either by turning a question back on his attacker or by moving the discussion to another level; think about his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well where each of her questions is answered by another question until she sees that Jesus knows everything about her. But he’s not just a skilful debater, this is not like the cut and thrust of Prime Minister’s question time with people trying to score points. This is Jesus acting as a servant, longing to bring people to a proper understanding of who he is and what he is offering. This is God’s son, speaking with all authority and showing compassion.
And so, he tells them a parable. Parables work by putting two things side by side as a comparison. Some parables like the parable of the sower need an explanation, and this is given. Some are really difficult to understand and are open to a number of interpretations. But there are others that stimulate us to think about what Jesus is saying, and I think that this is one of them. It brings us into the story so that we can make discoveries about ourselves.
The father in the story represents God. The first son, when asked by his father to go and work in the vineyard refuses but then changes his mind and does. The second son when asked says “I will sir”, outwardly very respectful, but he doesn’t go. Jesus asks which of the sons did what their father wanted. The religious leaders say “The first”; that is the one who said no to his father and then repented and did what he asked. Without realising, the religious leaders have identified that the first son is like the tax collectors and prostitutes, the outcasts in society who at first do not offer obedience, but have repented and said “yes” to God. Jesus points out to the religious leaders that they are like the second son; they show co-operation and willingness, they “talk the talk” as the saying goes. They are more intent on following the letter of the law, than on showing love and compassion. They do not repent; they are deaf to God’s message. I wonder if in hearing Jesus’ parable some of them did begin to reconsider their lives.
So why did Jesus bother with the leaders who were only trying to catch him out. I think that we find the answer in our Old Testament reading, where Ezekiel records “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone declares the sovereign Lord, repent and live!” And again, in today’s psalm, the psalmist says “Show me your ways, teach me your paths. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways, according to your love remember me, for you are good O God”
God is not willing that anyone should be lost. I believe that Jesus had not dismissed the religious leaders as a hopeless case, he wants them to repent and change their lives; he wants to show them a new way of living.
It’s really hard for us to follow the right path, in fact I would say it is impossible, unless we understand what it is that Jesus did for us and how we should in turn be with each other. So, let’s look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians and at the poem or hymn to which Roy has already referred. Paul tells the people of Philippi that they should have the same attitude as Christ, that they should show compassion and tenderness, looking to the needs of others rather than to their own needs because this is what Christ did on earth. Jesus did not just act as a servant; it is in becoming a servant that he revealed himself as God. In the emptied and humbled Christ, we encounter God and see God as he really is. It’s not that Jesus set aside his majesty and became a servant. His majesty is in his being a servant. Paul says “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow……. and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Being a servant is the very essence of Christ’s glory.
What does it mean to bow before Jesus? Recently many people have taken, or bent the knee in remembrance of George Floyd, a man who suffered. They bend the knee in respect for him, and in a broader sense are saying that they don’t accept that some people should be treated differently. As we in our hearts bow to Jesus, we are remembering his suffering, we are showing respect and worshipping him. We are saying that in following Jesus we will not accept that anyone should be treated differently. We are declaring how we should live together as Christ’s body here on earth.
If only we had two lives; the first in which to make all our mistakes and the second to learn from those mistakes and change. But this is no dress rehearsal. This is it. But the parable of the two sons shows us that we can repent, we can change, we can have life in all its fulness. Jesus came to save sinners, he came for everyone, and no-one was to be lost.
And as we move together into the vacancy we will grow together, pray together and stay together, knowing that it is God who is working amongst us. Let’s pray that in the process no-one is lost, that we show love and compassion to all, and that we ordinary caterpillars can grow into the beautiful butterflies that we are meant to be.
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.
Hymn – We turn to you, O God of every nation
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him, King of glory now;
how we long and pray for this to be so in our world.
Lord Jesus, King of glory, we pray for the leaders of our world and in all walks of our life, that by living and working in your Name they will use their God given authority wisely, justly and with humble awareness of the responsibility it entails.
Lord Jesus, King of glory
Hear our prayer
Humbled for a season, to receive a name from the lips of sinners unto whom he came.
Lord Jesus, King of glory, you came into our world to save us all. How amazing that, through your grace, whatever misjudgements we make, you will always allow us to change our minds and be welcomed into your kingdom.
We pray for your help and guidance in spreading this wonderful message and in being better at Talking Jesus.
We pray for Liz as she prepares us for her leaving and prepares herself for moving on.
Be with our church leaders as they guide and support us through the process of vacancy and of finding a new incumbent.
We pray especially for Archdeacon Sam; for the clergy who will help us, especially for Stephen; for our churchwardens; and for all our lay leaders.
We pray that the vacancy will be a time of growth, in unity, as individuals and as your body in this place.
We pray and long for a new incumbent to join with us, to work with us and to grow with us.
Lord Jesus, King of glory
Hear our prayer
In your hearts enthrone him … Let His will enfold you in its light and power.
Lord Jesus, King of glory, be with us, we pray, as we try to grow in your image – in whose image we were made.
As you were servant to your Father, enfold us in your love that we in turn may be your servants in showing love to others.
Give us the grace to love our neighbours, even those we find it harder to love.
We pray for our family, friends and communities. We lift to you those who are unwell, afraid, struggling, grieving and we remember in our hearts those we know who need our prayers today; may they feel the embrace and comfort of your enfolding arms.
Lord Jesus, King of glory
Hear our prayer
Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again…And our hearts confess Him King of glory now.
Lord Jesus, King of glory, as we wait for your sure and certain return, don’t let us forget that you are still here with us, working amongst us through your Holy Spirit.
Remind us, we pray, to hand over our concerns to you.
Remind us not to be too eager and to try and do everything by ourselves or for ourselves; but to pray and to ask for your help in the confidence that you are there working with us, together, in your Name.
Lord Jesus, at whose name every knee shall bow,
who from the beginning was the mighty Word;
your will enfolds us in its light and power
and our hearts confess you King of glory now.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
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 in our homes,
in our neighbourhoods and our nations;
to the glory of your name.
Hymn – At the name of Jesus
May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always. Amen
We go into the world in the name of Christ,
With the love of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We go, but we do not go alone.
We go together and Christ goes with us.
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.