Our Worship Offering for Sunday, 21st June, 2nd Sunday after Trinity

Welcome to our weekly worship offering. This week, we have a variety of hymns, our Gospel reading, a related reflection from Suzanne, our Curate, some videoed thoughts, our intercessions and a lovely recording of our Choir singing in Christ Church Cathedral back in 2013. Our worship is a bit over the half hour this week so we hope you can find a quiet place to sit and enjoy it with us.

Our Prayer for Today [The Collect]

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Hymn: Praise to the Holiest in the Height

Gospel Reading: Matthew 10: 24-39

 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Psalm 86: ‘Bow Down Thine Ear, O Lord, and hear me’

BOW down thine ear, O Lord, and hear me: for I am poor, and in misery.
Preserve thou my soul, for I am holy: my God, save thy servant that putteth his trust in thee.
Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I will call daily upon thee.
Comfort the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For thou, Lord, art good and gracious: and of great mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
Give ear, Lord, unto my prayer: and ponder the voice of my humble desires.
In the time of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou hearest me.
Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord: there is not one that can do as thou doest.

All nations whom thou hadst made shall come and worship thee, O Lord: and shall glorify thy Name.
For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth: O knit my heart unto thee, that I may fear thy Name.
I will thank thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and will praise thy Name for evermore.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the nethermost hell.
O God, the proud are risen against me: and the congregations of naughty men have sought after my soul, and have not set thee before their eyes.
But thou, O Lord God, art full of compassion and mercy: long-suffering, plenteous in goodness and truth.
O turn thee then unto me, and have mercy upon me: give thy strength unto thy servant, and help the son of thine handmaid.
Shew some token upon me for good, that they who hate me may see it and be ashamed: because thou, Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

Reflection: from our Curate; Rev. Suzanne Johnson

How many of us are still watching the news?

I hope the answer is “all of us”.  If, however, you are like me, you may be overwhelmed by utter hopelessness as one disaster follows another.  We are slowly recovering from the effects of Coronavirus – but, just as we thought it was safe, we find China preparing to fight the “second wave!”  Will we have to “lock-down” again?

‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you…’

In America, and across the world, people are rising up in anger against racism once again; a pernicious and downright wicked thought system which affects us all (just think about meerkats and the travelling community).  Why has it taken the death of a “gentle giant”, suffocated in front of the world (through social media), to bring this to our notice?  Why are we so concerned about the toppling of a slave trader’s statue in Bristol and yet not concerned enough to fight for detailed recommendations hidden from us on BAME deaths from coronavirus in the UK?  

Where is our Christian conscience?

And, of course, today is Father’s Day – a secular celebration of fathers across the world.  For most of us, a wonderful celebration of the important men in our lives – those who have loved and cared for us for so many years, those who are always there for us (in my case often at two in the morning after a night of dancing to seventies pop).

However, for too many people, their Father was not supportive and caring, in fact anything but; and when they turned to the church for help, they sometimes found that even here there was abuse and coercion.

Again, where is our Christian conscience?  And, even more so, where is the conscience of the church?

Celebration is important in our Christian lives, as is love, care, and compassion.  We are called to reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves (however that expresses itself).  Most of all we are called to love God, as revealed by Christ in the power of the Spirit.  If we believe in the message of Christ, then we must act as He tells us.

Today’s Gospel reading continues some of Jesus’ hardest teachings, which, although directed at the apostles, is also aimed at us today.  In last week’s readings Jesus tells us what to expect as one of his disciples.  Today, he tells us what we must do: and again, it is incredibly challenging!

 We must expect hatred and insults just as Jesus had to.  Despite this we must stand tall and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom clearly and strongly (from the housetops – woe to you who fear heights!!!).  We may face death, torture, and persecution, perhaps not literally, although many Christians across the world do so.   But we should not be fearful of standing up for the truth, be it the stand against racism, or for truth in the church, or economic equality, or…  

Jesus, the Christ, expects us to give up everything for His sake: Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Wife, Husband, Children, Position, Power, Money, Comfort, literally everything pales into insignificance in the light of His love for us, and what He expects in return.

Difficult words to hear, particularly if you are the new curate! 

We also need to accept that it is not good enough to do nothing: Jesus expects and demands our lives, we are called to spread the Good News wherever and however we can.  There is no such thing as a Christian who hides his beliefs under a bushel (whatever a bushel is).  Go out and spread the greatest news you have: God loves you, holds you in his arms, and has given you the power and authority to fight injustice, immorality, social ills, and all evil in His name.

We are the body of Christ, and as such it is up to us to speak out, to right wrongs, to set the captives free, to bring comfort to those who hurt, to feed the hungry, and to shout out the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Finally, as most of us celebrate our Fathers, let us also remember that Jesus spent as much time with God, whom he called Dad, as possible.  He looked to Him for advice, support, peace, and fulfilment – however he also felt abandoned by his Father, lost, alone and unloved.  Jesus understands, He celebrates with those who find, or found, love in their fathers’ arms, and holds those who do not know, or wish they did not know, their father in His arms.

Anthem: ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’ sung by St Nicolas Church Choir at Christ Church Cathedral in 2013

How do we express the this divine Love?

Our Intercessions: Click the link to listen to the prayers and follow the words below.

O God, the source of our common life, when we are dry and scattered, when we are divided and alone, we long for connection, we long to be one in the body of Christ.  We pray for all Christians throughout the world, that each person may be a servant of Christ, seeking to fulfil God’s purpose in their lives and truly and faithfully following Christ’s teachings.  

Those who lose their life for my sake will find it; Lord, make us channels of your blessing to others that we may each play our part in your healing and redeeming work.

With those we live beside, who are often strange to us, whom we may be afraid to approach, yet who have riches of friendship to share, we long for connection, we long to be one in the body of Christ.  We pray for your guidance in identifying people who we know need the love of Christ in their lives (pause) 

Those who lose their life for my sake will find it; Lord, make us channels of your blessing to others that we may each play our part in your healing and redeeming work.

With those we have only heard of, who see with different eyes, whose struggles we try to imagine, whose fierce joy we wish we could grasp, we long for connection, we long to be one in the body of Christ.  We pray for the poor, the sick, the lonely and the unloved especially those known to us (pause) 

Those who lose their life for my sake will find it; Lord, make us channels of your blessing to others that we may each play our part in your healing and redeeming work.

With those we shall never know, but whose lives are linked with ours, whose shared ground we stand on, and whose common air we breathe, we long for connection, we long to be one in the body of Christ.  We pray for those in authority and power that they may establish justice and freedom in their communities and throughout the world (pause) 

Those who lose their life for my sake will find it; Lord, make us channels of your blessing to others that we may each play our part in your healing and redeeming work.

When we are dry and scattered, when we are divided and alone, when we are cut off from the source of our lives, open our hearts O God, that all your people may be free to breathe, strong to move and joyful in standing together to celebrate your name.  

Those who lose their life for my sake will find it; Lord, make us channels of your blessing to others that we may each play our part in your healing and redeeming work. Amen

Hymn: Such Love

Such love, pure as the whitest snow
Such love, weeps for the shame I know
Such love, paying the debt I owe
O Jesus, such love

Such love, stilling my restlessness
Such love, filling my emptiness
Such love, showing me holiness
O Jesus, such love

Such love, springs from eternity
Such love, streaming through history
Such love, fountain of life to me
O Jesus, such love 

Our Notices for this Week

  • In line with Government guidelines, St Nicolas church building is now reopened for private prayer every Sunday 10 am to 12 noon and every Wednesday from 12 noon until 2 pm until such time as we are allowed to hold public worship. Entrance is via the West door where hand sanitiser is available.  Rewashable face coverings will also be available at the door for you to take if you need one, and we ask a donation to church funds if you take one of these.  It is lovely to be able to open the church and welcome you in once again, but please stay home if you are unwell and especially if you have a temperature, cough or have lost your sense of taste and smell in order to protect others.
  • Now that we are beginning to go out and about a little more, we need to have personal face masks so our very own Busy Sewing Bees have created some useful face coverings for you and your family! The first batch is now available.  If you ring or email Jane first, she will arrange for you to collect from the Rectory, or you can get them from St Nic’s during the open hours.  This is another fundraising enterprise – maybe you could get a mask for a friend or neighbour as well?  Every donation helps to maintain our beautiful building. 
  • St Anne’s Cream Teas: Due to the current health situation it will not be possible to serve Cream Teas at St Anne’s this summer.  We are all disappointed and will miss meeting up with friends for tea but it’s just one more social gathering we are missing out in this year.  As the teas are a major fund raiser for the Church, Sue Blore is planning to serve Sunday Lunches on a monthly basis to try to rectify the deficit. Watch this space for further information in due course.
  • Vicar’s Lunches and Suppers:
  • If you would like to participate in a Eucharistic ‘Virtual Service’, we can recommend streaming the Diocese of Oxford ‘Church at Home’ service at 10:00am at oxford.anglican.org/livestream  (You can also download the order of service). The Rt Revd Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, presides at this morning’s service from her home, and the address is given by Revd Dr Will Lamb, Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford.
  • Wednesday Compline: This weekly service led by Jane and Suzanne attracts some fifteen people and continues on Zoom: 8:45 for 9:00pm and lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to join us next Wednesday for a chat and a short service, just drop Jim a line on oliverjim1@sky.com and he will send you the link; it never fails to give us all a lift.
  • Action on Coronavirus: If you are aware of anyone who especially needs our prayers or perhaps some contact with Jane or Suzanne, please don’t hesitate to email Jane.
  • Offerings/Donations: Our urgent need to increase our funding continues as our weekly offerings are significantly reduced without our church services and we’ve lost out on income from our summer fete. You can click this link to donate now. Thank you.

Hymn: Lord for the Years

A Blessing

Blessing and laughter and loving be ours. The love of a Great God who names us and holds us while the earth turns and the flowers grow, this day, this night, this moment and for ever. Amen.

A Final Choral ‘Voluntary’: having had a rather subdued Queen’s Official Birthday this week, let us end with Handel’s ‘Birthday Ode for Queen Anne; Eternal Source of Light Divine‘. Have a good week.

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