Sunday, 6th September: 13th Sunday after Trinity.

Welcome to today’s online worship offering using the same readings, prayers and reflection that will be shared in church plus some musical offerings related to the theme of the service. It takes about half an hour to fully participate in this offering so we hope you can find some quality time to interact with it. Thank you for sharing this service with us.

The prayer for Today: The Collect

Almighty God, who called your Church to bear witness 
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: 
help us to proclaim the good news of your love, 
that all who hear it may be drawn to you; 
through him who was lifted up on the cross, 
and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever.   Amen

Hymn: Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor, 
first-begotten from the dead. 
Thou alone, our strong defender, 
liftest up thy people's head. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
Jesus, true and living bread! 

Here our humblest homage pay we, 
here in loving reverence bow; 
here for faith's discernment pray we, 
lest we fail to know thee now. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
Thou art here, we ask not how. 

Though the lowliest form doth veil thee 
as of old in Bethlehem, 
here as there thine angels hail thee, 
branch and flower of Jesse's stem. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
We in worship join with them. 

Paschal Lamb, thine offering, finished 
once for all when thou was slain, 
in its fullness undiminished 
shall for evermore remain. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
Cleansing souls from every stain. 

Life-imparting heavenly Manna, 
stricken Rock with streaming side, 
heaven and earth with loud hosanna 
worship thee, the Lamb who died. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
Risen, ascended, glorified! 

First Reading: Romans 13: 8-14. Love for One Another

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.  Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy.  Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Psalm 149: O sing unto the Lord a new song

O sing unto the Lord a new song;
let the congregation of saints praise him.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him,
and let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his Name in the dance:
let them sing praises unto him with tabret and harp.
For the LORD hath pleasure in his people,
and helpeth the meek-hearted.
Let the saints be joyful with glory;
let them rejoice in their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their mouth;
and a two-edged sword in their hands;
To be avenged of the nations,
and to rebuke the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains,
and their nobles with links of iron;
That they may be avenged of them; as it is written,
Such honour have all his saints.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be
World without end, Amen

The Gospel: Matthew 18: 15-20. Reproving Another Who Sins

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.  If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.  But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are  gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Hymn: There is a longing in our hearts

There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord 
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love 
we only find in you, our God.
For justice, for freedom, for mercy, hear our prayer.
In sorrow, in grief, be near, hear our prayer, O God.
There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord 
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love 
we only find in you, our God.
For wisdom, for courage, for comfort, hear our prayer.
In weakness, in fear, be near, hear our prayer, O God.
There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord 
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love 
we only find in you, our God.

Today’s Reflection: from Rev Suzanne Johnson, our Curate

As Covid-19 shakes the world, causing mayhem, it’s easy to forget the millions of people who are caught up in political, military, and social extremes.  And, of course, those of us who are caught up in national, local, and family disputes.

And we, as Christians, are just as bad.  We are divided over the issue of women priests.  The church cannot accept same sex relationships. And it still cannot believe in its heart that church people do terrible things! Murder, torture, repression, suppression, anger, retaliation, “digging in of heels”, all of this is still happening across the world and in our homes – and it is up to us to speak out against it.

In this morning’s gospel, Jesus offers not only us, but all peoples, leaders and followers, a way to deal with conflict – a procedure that is clear and open, designed to lead to repentance, restoration and reconciliation.  Something the world, the church, and all of us need more of.

So how should we handle things?  Jesus tells us to start with the person who has offended you. Your knees might be knocking, you might be embarrassed, but if you are alone and you gently but honestly raise an issue, you may be surprised by how well you get on with each other, but you may have to accept that there are wrongs on both sides of a dispute.  If it works, then it’s wonderful, and you have gained a brother or sister says Jesus. 

Of course, the conversation may not always be a success. Jesus tells us what to do if it’s not. We are to try again. Remember 70 x 7 he told Peter!  This time we’re to ‘take one or two others’ with us. This idea is part of Hebrew law regarding evidence.  The others are witnesses – not to the original transgression, but people with an objective viewpoint.  If this doesn’t work, Jesus commands us to ‘tell it to the church’. Now I do not think he means shout it from the steeple, at least I hope not!  Early Christians met in each other’s houses so he means a small group, where you can each state your case. 

It all seems fairly straightforward and easy.  So why don’t we just talk to each other when we are upset, or have an issue with someone?  Is it because we are only human?  Or is that an excuse for our bad behaviour?

Today’s world is really no different to Jesus’, we just have more technology to hand!  Someone says something to hurt you! Tweet it so all your friends know straight away!  Or, use more old-fashioned technology – if someone at church says something that hurts you, tell all your cronies, and have a secret meeting in the churchyard where you can engage in some good old-fashioned character assassination!

Is it not time to take reconciliation seriously? After all if we as Christians cannot apply Jesus’ words to our lives, how can we expect our politicians and world leaders to do so? Jesus assures us we will not be doing this alone. He says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.  Do you think it would make a difference to the way we behave if Jesus were sitting quietly among us, listening to what’s going on?

The final step of the reconciliation process is hard for us to hear: If someone still refuses to yield and be reconciled, “let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”.  ‘If you refuse to listen then you’re out on your ear’.  Seems rather harsh doesn’t it? However, we need to remember how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors. He spent so much time with them, religious leaders criticized him for being soft on crime! 

It’s never easy to tell someone their behaviour’s out of order.  It’s particularly unpleasant when it’s a loved one, or member of the church family. Picking someone up on their behaviour runs against our Christian principles of compassion and acceptance. It is a difficult path to tread.

I believe that God does not want our conflicts to blow out of proportion.  Just as God listens to us, so we should listen to each other. God wants us to love one another, but this does not mean rolling over and accepting everything. No! We have to stand up for the truth at all times.

Of course, this is a challenge. But there are things we can do to help. We can repent of our bad temper, bitterness, resentment, and gossiping. And we can ask ourselves if we are living by the teachings Jesus has given us?  If the answer is, “Well, not always”, then let us pray, not just as individuals but as a church, that God will help us to grow a culture of honesty, love, repentance, and reconciliation.

We cannot always mend fences, we cannot always build bridges and make peace with those who upset us, but we can try. And if we fail we can still love them as Jesus loves them. 

Amen.

Hymn: Put peace in each other’s hands

Our Prayers for Today

O God, you have prepared for those who love you, such good things as pass our understanding, pour into our hearts such love towards you, that loving you in all things and above all things, we may obtain your promises which exceed all that we desire.  

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.  

Jesus said, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name there I am in the midst of them’.  We pray for your world, for your people whereever they are, that you will watch over them, and keep them safe during these extraordinary times.  We pray for those who are frightened for the future and feel there is no purpose to life.  We pray for our families, friends and neighbours, for teachers and children who have returned to school, those about to begin at university, or embark on their chosen career.   Bless and guide those who have great influence on the young.       

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.  

We pray for countries where there is no sanctity for human life. We in this country are so fortunate, and despite the Covid tragedy, we have so much for which to be thankful.  We pray for anyone we know who is ill at home, or in hospital, those who suffer in silence, those who are in despair, and for whom life has lost its meaning.  

May light perpetual shine on anyone who has died in recent days.

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.  

So dear Lord in these uncertain times, we pray St. Columba’s prayer. Be thou a bright flame before me, be thou a guiding star above me,  be thou a smooth path below me, and be a kindly shepherd behind me, today, tonight and for ever.        

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of our Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Hymn: Thy Kingdom come, on bended knee the passing ages pray

Notices for the Week:

Suzanne’s Ordination as Priest: This is now two weeks away (19th September) and Suzanne will preside at the Eucharist for the first time the next day.  Please remember Suzanne in your prayers as she prepares for ordination.  See more details in the ‘News’ section of this website. We will publish the way you can access the streamed service as soon as we receive these details.

Daily Prayers: One outcome of our review of worship during the pandemic is that Jane and Suzanne have recorded a some daily prayers for us to use at home.  Next week, you can go to the ‘Personal Prayer’ section of this website where you will find recordings for each day of the week.  The recordings are about 10 minutes long.

Might you be called to serve on the PCC?: James Snoxall is to step down as PCC Treasurer and we also have three other vacancies on the PCC.  The Council normally meets bimonthly in the evenings (things are different at the moment!) and it is responsible for the financial affairs of the church, the church building and monitoring and review of our Mission Action Plans.  There is always an opportunity on the PCC to ‘specialise’ in your particular interest e.g. outreach, mission, worship, fund-raising, social etc, and there are many exciting opportunities going forward to be part of.  If you feel you may be able to serve or you have a suggestion for a new treasurer, please don’t hesitate to discuss it with the Vicar or any member of the PCC.   Please do think about this: everyone has a role in our church.

Help for our School: St Nicolas School has a clothes and items ‘black bag collection’ next Thursday. partner with a company called Happy School Bags who collect unwanted items that can be reused.  The collections/donations are done once a term and the PTA are paid 65p per kilo for those unwanted items.  The next ‘pick-up’ is next Thursday (10th).  This is a good opportunity to declutter and donate as an investment in our school.  To do so, simply fill as many black bags as you wish, and drop off at the school that morning; they typically collect around 9:00am.  Items accepted are clothing (not uniform or underwear), paired shoes, console games, souvenirs, handbags, belts, hats, accessories, jewellery, toiletries.

The Annual Parish Church Meeting (APCM): this has now been arranged for after the morning service on Sunday, 18th October.  Bring your own coffee and biscuits!  Note the date in your diary.

Blessing: A Clare Benediction

May the Lord show his mercy upon you; 
may the light of his presence be your guide: 
May he guard you and uphold you; 
may his spirit be ever by your side. 
When you sleep may his angels watch over you; 
when you wake may he fill you with his grace: 
May you love him and serve him all your days 
Then in heaven may you see his face.

Voluntary: David Newsholme, Assistant organist, Canterbury Cathedral plays Folk Tune by Percy Whitlock.

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