Sunday, 30th August: 12th 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 lovely musical offerings including one specially recorded for us. 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 joining us.

The Prayer for Today: The Collect

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.

Hymn: Jesus, where’er thy people meet

Jesus, where'er your people meet,
there they behold your mercy seat;
where'er they seek thee, thou are found,
and ev'ry place is hallowed ground.

For thou, within no walls confined,
inhabits the humble mind;
such ever bring thee where they come,
and going, take thee to their home.

Here may we prove the pow'r of pray'r
to strengthen faith and sweeten care,
to teach our faint desires to rise,
and bring all heav'n before our eyes.

Lord, we are few, but thou art near;
nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;
O rend the heav'ns, come quickly down,
and make a thousand hearts thine own.

First Reading: Romans 12:9-21   Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Aria: Eternal Source of Light Divine

Eternal source of light divine
With double warmth thy beams display
And with distinguish'd glory shine
To add a lustre to this day.

The Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28. Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord!  This must never happen to you.”  But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?  Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.  Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Anthem: The Lord’s My Shepherd

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

As we heard in last week’s gospel, Peter recognised and proclaimed Jesus as God’s Messiah, the bringer of hope.  Today we read how he still needed to learn what that meant and how he didn’t at all like the first lesson.  

Jesus is no warrior king.  From a human perspective, Peter’s recognition of Jesus as God’s anointed King, the Messiah, suggests it might be logical to work out a strategy for getting rid of the present kings and priests who are currently misruling Israel and installing Jesus as King instead.

But this isn’t where Jesus is coming from.  Jesus’ kingdom is a topsy turvey kingdom.  Some of you may remember reading “Alice through the looking glass” in your younger days.  And in that story, that mirror- image world which Lewis Carrol created, you have to do the opposite of what you expect.  So for example, if you want to walk towards something, you actually need to walk in what seems like the opposite direction.   And Jesus’ kingdom is a bit like that.  Yes, the Kingdom of God is coming; yes he will be enthroned as King; but the way to this Kingdom is the opposite of what Peter and the other disciples expect.  It lies through suffering and the cross.  It is the way of self-giving love.

Christ’s self-living love and freedom in ‘the Passion of the Christ’

No wonder Peter didn’t like the idea.  We struggle, all of us, to follow Jesus, to pick up our cross and walk the same way.

What might it mean to take up our cross?  

What might it mean to take up our Cross?

It may mean choosing to do what is right and risk being called foolish.  Even his disciples thought Jesus was foolish, heading straight towards Jerusalem and certain danger – yet he went resolutely out of conviction and love, confident that he was walking the path God had called him too.  Or taking up our cross may mean graciously living with the pain and suffering of life about which we can do nothing.  When we can alleviate pain and suffering, we rightly do so.  But we can’t always.  Sometimes crosses are inflicted on us by others.  Perhaps you yourself or others you know have had to plough a hard furrow in life.  And in those situations, Jesus walks alongside bringing courage and hope and comfort, carrying the cross alongside us.  This is a path he knows well.

You may remember the story of Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross for him on the way to Calvary.  And it’s good for us to ask ourselves how we might help those around us whom we know to be carrying heavy burdens; how we might help them bear that load.  Friends, family and neighbours may make the difference between coping and not coping.  And that is one of the things that people have found so unbearably hard during the course of this year as they found themselves physically cut off from loved ones.

We know that Jesus is risen, Lord of the world and yet we are still called as we wait for his coming in glory to live our lives according to the theology of the cross.  That is the way of glory.  Cling on to your life and you’ll lose it, says Jesus.  Give everything you’ve got to walk his way, including life itself, and you’ll win it.

Paul puts that message another way in the passage from Romans we heard.  We need to abandon our normal way of doing good – our careful calculation of moral balances, of rights rewarded and wrongs paid back.  The way God’s victory is to be implemented is through generous, overflowing love, meeting the other where they are, and always with blessing and peace; no cursing, no pride, no vengeance, but the quiet confidence that the God of the cross has triumphed over evil and will at the last put all wrongs to rights.

Our Prayers for Today: Our intercessions today are based on the anthem “Do not be afraid” by Philip Stopford, which is being sung by a small number of our choir during Communion in church this morning. Listen to this recording from Liverpool Cathedral and then use the prayers below.

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. 
I have called you by your name; 
you are mine. 
When you walk through the waters, 
I'll be with you; 
you will never sink beneath the waves. 
When the fire is burning all around you, 
you will never be consumed by the flames. 
When the fear of loneliness is looming, 
then remember I am at your side. 
When you dwell in the exile of a stranger, 
remember you are precious in my eyes. 
You are mine, O my child, 
I am your Father, 
and I love you with a perfect love.

“Do not be afraid for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name”

We thank you, our Father in Heaven, that you have called each of us by our name and know us and love us as individuals. As we give thanks for the body of Christ here in Taplow made up of each of us, we ask for your inspiration as we seek to be your light in our community and neighbourhoods to point towards you in our uncertain times.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

“When you walk through the waters I’ll be with you, you will never sink beneath the waves”

We give thanks for those in our country and across the world who are working so hard to guide all peoples through this challenging time. Thank you for the scientific and medical communities striving for a vaccine and for their work in treating and supporting those in physical or mental need. Help us all, locally, nationally and internationally, to stand united to avoid falling divided.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

“When the fear of loneliness is looming, then remember I am at your side”

Thank you that the certainty of your message of love can support us when we feel alone or uncertain. As our country prepares to start a new school and university year, we pray for parents and teachers, school children and university members and ask for safety and learning as they all work together for the futures of the young in our communities. We especially pray for the headmistress, teachers and pupils of St. Nicolas’ School Taplow.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

“You are mine O my child, I am your father and I love you”

We hold before God those sick in body, mind or spirit at this time, those recovering from treatment, remembering Jessie Cooper at home after surgery, and those locally and across the world rebuilding their strength after COVID-19. We pray for those who mourn this loss of a loved one and may light perpetual shine on those recently deceased.

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

Hymn: The Servant King

Notices for the Week

PCC Meeting: The PCC met in the Churchyard last Sunday after the morning service. There is a summary of the outcomes of the meeting in the ‘News’ section of this website.

PCC Vacancies: James Snoxall is to step down as PCC Treasurer and we also have three vacancies on the PCC.  Might you be called to serve on the PCC?  It 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 on the PCC 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.  Thank you.

Connections: This opportunity is for everyone. There is a one hour session in the Rectory Garden next Wednesday, 2nd September starting at 7:00. We will be using some text to reflect on ‘The Spirit of Love: Loving Neighbour’.  You don’t need to bring anything except perhaps something to drink (!).  Please do think about coming for what is likely to be a stimulating session together. It would be helpful if you could let Jane know if you are coming.

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!

Cream Tea at St Anne’s Church, Dropmore: the second ‘take-away’ cream teas last Sunday raised a further £83 for St Anne’s Church.  Many thanks to everyone who helped and came to buy.

Suzanne’s Ordination as Priest: This is now three weeks away (19th September) and Suzanne will preside at the Eucharist for the first time the next day: Sunday, 20th.  Note the dates now!

Our Online Worship Offerings: Because these offerings are clearly appreciated by people unable to get to church, we will continue them and from next week (the start of September), they will be in the ‘Services’ section of this website and it will be possible to look back at previous offerings. There will always be a link to the current service on the home page.

Final Hymn: All my hope on God is founded

Blessing

Bless to us, O God, the road that is before us, 
Bless to us, O God, the friends who are around us,
Bless to us, O God, your love which is within us,
Bless to us, O God, the light that leads us home. Amen.

Voluntary: John Stanley’s Voluntary in D Minor played by Alan Phillips at St Mary Rotherhithe, London.

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