Sunday, 27th September: 16th 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 our 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 in this worship with us.

The Prayer for Today: The Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; 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.

Hymn: We have a Gospel to Proclaim

We have a Gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name,
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Tell of His birth at Bethlehem,
Not in a royal house or hall
But in a stable dark and dim,
The Word made flesh, a light for all.

Tell of His death at Calvary,
Hated by those He came to save,
In lonely suffering on the cross,
For all He loved His life He gave.

Tell of that glorious Easter moon,
Empty the tomb, for He was free.
He broke the power of death and hell
That we might share His victory.

Tell of His reign at God’s right hand,
By all creation glorified,
He sends His Spirit on His Church,
To live for Him, the Lamb who died.

Now we rejoice to name Him King,
Jesus is Lord of all the earth,
This gospel message we proclaim,
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

First Reading: Philippians 2: 1-13  Imitating Christ’s Humility

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human  likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Hymn: At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.

The Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32   The Authority of Jesus Questioned

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.

Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Worship Song: Trust and Believe. Listen to the recording and reflect on the words below.

Why do you stand alone?
Why are you so withdrawn?
Open to Him, be not afraid,
The Lord will take care of you.
 
Why do you fear your future
Will only be filled with pain?
You’re in His hands, trust in His plans.
He will take care of you.
 
He loves you more than you know.
Open to Him, just let go
Of all your fears, of all your cares.
Let Him love you. His heart is good toward you.
Trust and believe.
 
You’re a child in God’s economy,
Predestinated, chosen, His bride-to-be.
How could He not prepare the best for you?
Let Him love you. His heart is good toward you.
Trust and believe.
 
He loves you more than you know.
Open to Him, just let go
Of all your fears, of all your cares.
Let Him love you. He will take care of you.
Trust and believe.

Today’s Reflection: By Rev Jane Cresswell, our Vicar

A peaceful driver was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy street. Suddenly, the traffic light turned amber just in front of him. The man did the right thing stopping at the crossing even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the crossing. The tailgating woman hit the roof – and the horn – screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands in the air. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, berating the guy in front of you, and cursing at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on your car. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.”

There is an interesting parallel between this story and the parable of the two sons in this morning’s Gospel reading, and this parallel can best be understood by discussing some of the events leading up to the confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Shortly before this confrontation, Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as mentioned in Matthew 21:1-17. Jesus entered the temple and promptly upset the apple cart. In other words, he challenged the status quo by driving out the livestock and money changers.

Needless to say, the religious leaders were not happy. They were running a very lucrative business in the temple. You see, in order for people to make sacrifices in the temple, they had to sacrifice an animal that was unblemished and people had to buy unblemished animals at the temple…and often at inflated prices. To make matters worse, people could not use regular currency in the temple. They had to use official Jewish currency, and the money-changers charged interest rates of about 25 percent.

The religious leaders mistook their self-righteous attitudes for true belief. They were more concerned with themselves, their own salvation and determining who was and was not saved instead of helping the lost come into God’s presence. The rabbis were now losing money, and so they decided to confront Jesus and challenge his authority. They tried to discredit Jesus and show the people that he did not have authority. They did not question his miracles or his supernatural abilities. They just questioned the source.

Jesus might not have had official authority, but he did have the one authority that the religious leaders did not – namely, the authority and power of God. The religious leaders had used their religion to keep themselves away from God. They had their traditions and rules, and therefore they had no need for God. We can be the same way. We mistake our actions, traditions and rules for true faith in Christ. We’re great when we’re at church on Sundays, but we have trouble making something of our Christian lives where we live, work and play.

Jesus used the parable of the two sons to tell the religious leaders that those on the bottom end of society had nothing except God. They might have said “no” to God in the past, but they said “yes” right now – it was not too late. On the other hand, the rabbis had once said “yes”, but simply assumed, rather arrogantly, that they had a good chance of salvation.

Jesus emphasizes the messages of the prophets; messages of hope, thinking better and repentance. He points out that this can be more likely in some very unlikely people – people like the prostitutes and financiers he referred to in the Gospel reading. The religious leaders, on the other hand, thought that they had no need for forgiveness because of their struggle to reach their favoured status and keep it. 

Two thousand years ago, a handful of people turned the world upside down, just like Jesus turned things in the temple upside-down. Why? Was it because those first disciples were smart? There’s no sign of that. Was it because they were powerful? No, because they were from the bottom tier of the social structure of their day. Was it because they were strategically placed? No, because they were Galileans. They had such an impact on the world because they were totally dedicated to Christ, and if we are totally dedicated to Christ, there is nothing we can’t do.

But actions speak louder than words. We need to be more like the disciple Andrew, who, while he didn’t write any of the books in the Bible, led people to Jesus – people like Simon Peter and the boy in the parable of the loaves and fish. Following Jesus is the source of our power – the power to change direction. It will lead us in directions that we don’t want to go. It forces us to leave our comfort zone and “self-righteous” religion.

A small boy in church with his parents listened to the minister describe his visit to a poor home. The minister described the bare rooms, the ragged clothing, the empty dishes on the table, and the pale, hungry children. When he had finished his story, he announced the closing hymn. But the little boy, with tears in his eyes, cried out to his father, “But, Daddy, aren’t we going to do anything about it?”  God is asking us the same question over and over again today – are we going to do anything about it?

This year in the midst of Covid 19 with all the struggles of so many in our society and neighbourhoods who find themselves redundant, struggling to put food on the table to feed their children; or struggling to stay sane with no one to talk to if they live alone and are frightened to go out; gives us opportunities to put our faith into action as we reach out to be a blessing to those around us in new ways.

Anthem: Words from Psalm 25: ‘To Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. My God I trust in Thee’.

Prayers for Today

Inspiring Sharing Love Quotes for Everyone - EnkiQuotes

Lord, teach us as a Church to travel light. On our collective pilgrimage towards your heavenly kingdom, let us use the Church’s money and possessions to serve you, and may we not become weighed down with the mundane concerns of bricks and mortar, necessary though they may be. May we draw comfort from the thought that we are not alone, but travelling the same road as our Christian brothers and sisters. Help the Church as a whole, as well as its individual members, to share what we have with others the world over in love, and to store up for ourselves and the Church treasure in heaven.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, you asked for our hands: we gave them for a moment, then withdrew them, for the work was hard. You asked for our mouths to speak out against injustice: we gave you a whisper that we might not be accused. You asked for our eyes to see the pain of poverty: we closed them for we did not want to see. You asked for our lives, that you might work through us: we gave a small part, that we might not get too involved. Lord, forgive our calculated efforts to serve you only when it is convenient for us to do so, only in those places where it is safe to do so, and only with those who make it easy to do so. Forgive us, renew us, and send us out as usable instruments in your name.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Living Bulwark

Lord, the source of our common life, when we are divided and alone, we long for community. With those we live beside, whom we may be afraid to approach yet who have riches of friendship to share, we long for community. With those whom we have only heard of and who see with different eyes, whose struggles we try to imagine, we long for community. 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 community. When we are dry and scattered, when we are divided and alone, breathe on us O Lord that we may joyfully stand together and celebrate your name.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

How and Why We Can Trust God with All Our Hearts | by Ed Elliott | Medium

Lord, we pray for those whose acquaintance with grief is greater than they feel able to bear. Teach us all to trust where we cannot see, walking in the light we have: your light which illumines our path and shows us the way. Help us to cling to the knowledge that you will never abandon us, and that even in the valley of the shadow of death, your rod and your staff will be there to comfort us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, open our eyes beyond the puzzling reflections in the mirror of this life so that we may see the wide-open spaces of promised freedom, may glimpse the communion of saints, and brush the wings of angels. May we recognise for a moment the glory of the universe, where darkness and doubt dissolve, where the gash of a wound shines.  Then shall we know as we are known, and shall feast at that table where you reign with all your saints, for ever and ever.  Today we remember especially Kath Somerville whose funeral takes place this coming week.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Hymn: Meekness and Majesty

Meekness and majesty manhood and deity
In perfect harmony the Man who is God
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity
Kneels in humility and washes our feet.

O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God.

Father's pure radiance perfect in innocence
Yet learns obedience to death on a cross
Suffering to give us life
Conquering through sacrifice
And as they crucify prays Father forgive.

O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God.

Wisdom unsearchable God the invisible
Love indestructible in frailty appears
Lord of infinity stooping so tenderly
Lifts our humanity to the heights of His throne.

O what a mystery meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship for this is your God
This is your God
This is your God.

Notices for this week

APCM Report: In preparation for the APCM (18th October), a copy of this report is now available for everyone on the electoral roll.  If you are unable to come to church, we will arrange to deliver your envelope to you.

Macmillan Coffee Morning: The sun shone on Friday and a lovely time was enjoyed by all in the sheltered south side of the churchyard raising over £300 for MacMillan.  Many thanks to all who came and baked to make it such a successful event.

Harvest Thanksgiving: Our Harvest Festival Service is next Sunday (4th October).  Whilst we can’t sing ‘Come ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest-home’, we can give thanks for all the fruits of God’s creation and respond to the needs of our world today – and there will be a choral contribution from members of our choir.  This year, we are asking for donations for the Slough Foodbank. Their current ‘wishlist’ for donations is FOOD: Sponge Puddings, Tinned Fruit, Instant mash, Jam.  TOILETRIES: Washing up liquid, Laundry, Shaving Gel.  They do NOT need soup, baked beans, tinned fish, pasta sauce, milk or coffee (overstocked at present).  They have created a wish list with Easho, which enables you to buy online the items they need.  You go to https://www.easho.org.uk/apps/giftregistry/registry/102974.  There will be something for children in our online offerings for Harvest.  Sadly, we can’t have a shared harvest lunch together after the service but perhaps we can all think about having something special for lunch at home!

Taste of Taplow: Have you been in touch with Tony yet to change your recipe in the forthcoming new book?  He needs to know by the end of this month (ie by next Wednesday) so that the book can be completed in time to produce it before Christmas.  We still need some local sponsorship for the printing costs too; any ideas?

New Members for PCC: It is an exciting time to be involved in steering our Church’s mission in our community.  The pandemic has made the whole church think afresh about it’s mission and purpose and we are part of this.  Would you like to contribute your thoughts and ideas as we plan our future together?  Please do consider this and talk to Jane or any member of the PCC about it.  Our Annual Parish Church meeting is now just three weeks away.

Final Hymn: Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendour

A Blessing

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.

A Voluntary: Vaughan Williams, Rhosmedre Canterbury Cathedral

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