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, or contact Revd Liz for details.
Those of you who joined us last week will know that Toby was then in hospital. He’s well on the mend now and recovering at home. Thank you for all your prayers and offers of help. We have felt truly supported by our church community.
I hope many of you will be receiving the Village Link magazine in the next few days. You will find details of our planned live services there although plans can of course change so you are advised to check with the wardens beforehand. Face-masks should now be worn in church unless you are exempt and we will be continuing to ask you to observe social distancing as well.
Today we are using a liturgy prepared by Stephen, with hymns chosen by Sian and prayers by Liz Crawshaw. Thank you for stepping up and helping in a week where my thoughts were mainly elsewhere.
YouTube Service Playlist
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.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Hymn – Let all the world in every corner sing
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.
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.
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.
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.
Give judgement for me, O Lord,
for I have walked with integrity; ♦
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, O Lord, and try me; ♦
examine my heart and my mind.
For your love is before my eyes; ♦
I have walked in your truth.
I have not joined the company of the false, ♦
nor consorted with the deceitful.
I hate the gathering of evildoers ♦
and I will not sit down with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, ♦
that I may go about your altar,
To make heard the voice of thanksgiving ♦
and tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house of your habitation ♦
and the place where your glory abides.
New Testament Reading
Romans 12:9-21, read by Anna
Hymn – Lift high the cross
Matthew 18:15-20, read by Euan
Sermon – The Revd Liz Hassall
Have you ever thought about making a list of all the people you care about? It is an interesting exercise. Easiest to figure out who the people are you care about most – often friends and close family – but then as the circles get wider, it is harder to remember everyone. Think of the people you know through church, but then there are bound to be people who you have vaguely seen in church at some point but don’t really know. There are the people who walk past your house each day – they should probably be on the list. You would definitely stop and help them if they fell and hurt themselves. Where do you draw the line? What about the people who you really dislike? Do you care about them too?
Last week I gave you a 30 second introduction to this part of the letter to the Romans. Let’s go into a bit more detail. The beginning of chapter 12 is very much a new section of the letter, with a different focus. Up until this point, Paul has been writing to the church in Rome and going very deep into theology, explaining to them how the gentile church and the Jewish church are to be connected and why that makes sense in the light of the old testament writings.
Paul, when he wrote this letter, hadn’t visited Rome yet, although he was planning to in the future. It was written about the year 57AD.
By this point the Jews had been under severe persecution in Rome and had been thrown out of the city. The Church in Rome, which, as far as we knew, had been founded by Jewish Christians, thus had all their leaders removed and only gentile Christians were left, who were thrust into leadership. By the time of this letter the Jews were beginning to be let back in to the city and so the Church was figuring out where they stood.
So, after writing to the Roman Christians that salvation was for both Jew and gentile, Paul comes to the point of talking about how they should live as a joined up community. This is advice which is applicable to any community.
Last week we heard that we are all one body, that we have different gifts which we should strive to use to the best of our ability. Now, Paul goes on to give some very necessary advice.
I could pick any one of the phrases from this section and talk just about that, but let’s take a quick overview.
Love is at the core of the Christian life and that is Paul’s focus here. But what does love mean?
Love begins with those closest to us. Love one another with a genuine love. You don’t need to be Christian to do that though. What is distinctive about Christian love is that it is rooted in our relationship with God. “Be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord”. It is also rooted in prayer – what effect does that have?
I remember in the past having had a really passionate argument with a friend. It had got out of hand and we both walked away feeling aggrieved and that we were definitely in the right. Turning to prayer a little later, a nudge of the spirit prompted me to look again at what I had done and said. Had I really been utterly reasonable from beginning to end? I was sure I had been. A few minutes later, not so sure. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I had indeed spoken out of turn and over-reacted. Ugh. That moment when you realise you have to go and apologise. We’ve all been there.
When we pray about our lives and those around us, God helps us to love them better.
Paul then throws the net of love wider. Contribute to the needs of the saints, extend hospitality to strangers. It’s easy to love those we care about and share our lives with. The Christian life means more than that – it means learning to love those who don’t seem to deserve it. As Paul puts it: “bless those who persecute you”, “never repay evil for evil”.
This is one of those bits of Christianity that I think about when people talk about religion being a crutch for weak people. They’ve obviously missed this aspect. Being constantly challenged by God to love people who have hurt you and make you want to swear loudly at them is not a crutch. It is a difficult road to take. Loving someone when they have done nothing to earn it is awful, really hard, profoundly challenging. Yet it is what we are called to do.
Paul ends this section, however, with an interesting point of view. It isn’t that people who do wrong will get away with it. It’s just that it isn’t our job to sort it out. We’ve probably all heard the phrase “vengeance is mine, says the Lord”. This is where it comes from. We can’t take vengeance without damaging ourselves. Paul says to leave room for God to work, to sort people out, because we can trust that he will sort everyone out in the end. The final picture Paul leaves is that, by being kind to your enemies, you will heap burning coals on their heads. Nice.
Living a Christian life is all about love. We know that. But love is not a wishy-washy emotion. Love is a choice that changes our lives.
I asked you at the beginning to think about making a list of all the people you care about. Maybe actually do this. Put a series of concentric circles on a piece of paper. Think of the kinds of people who would be in each level. Friends and families in the middle, neighbours and acquaintances further out. Then think about who is not in those circles. Who are the people you don’t care about? Who are the people you secretly despise? The call of the Christian life is to bring those into your circles of care and figure out how you can love them.
This, then, is our faith. To love, for God’s sake, where it is neither deserved nor desired.
Hymn – Put Peace Into Each Others’ Hands
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.
Intercessions, prepared and read by Liz Crawshaw
Son of the living God, help us to live as your children; in harmony with each other and united in our love for you.
We come to you as your church in this place.
Make us joyful in hope,
patient in affliction, and
faithful in prayer.
Help us to bring the Good News of the Gospel to those who do not know you; give us the words we need, and help us to live lives that show that you are living in us.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
We pray for your world damaged by poverty and war and anger. We long for a time when your peace will fill your world. We pray for leaders who will overcome evil with good; for people who will share with those in need. We pray for a time when all people across the world will be treated with justice and equality. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
We bring to you our villages, all the places where we live. May our homes be places of peace and love, holiness and hospitality. May we learn to accept one another and to forgive, and may our villages be known for their kindness and generosity.
We bear your name, and feel your hand on us. Guide us, walk with us, share our lives we pray.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
We pray for those who are not at peace, those struggling with financial worries, those who feel isolated and alone. So many people who are living in fear, and do not know which way to turn. Those fearful for their health and all those who care for them in care homes, hospitals and at home.
We lift to you Toby Hassall and pray for his healing.
In a moment’s silence we name in our hearts all those for whom we have concerns; the sick and the failing.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Your love dear Lord stretches throughout the universe. It is a love that has no end, and nothing can separate us from that love. We pray for all who have passed from life to death who now experience your love face to face. We pray for Andrew Sidders, and thank you for his life and for his faith that shone through him. We pray for Jane and all Andrew’s family. We bring to you all those we know who have died, and all those who mourn their death.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
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
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.
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.
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.
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.
Hymn – Come Down O Love Divine
Sorry – this one won’t embed onto the site. You will have to click to find it.
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.