Welcome to today’s online worship offering using the same readings, prayers and reflection that will be shared in church plus some musical offerings (one specially recorded) related to the theme of the service. Our Holy Communion service in church today is being led for the first time by our Curate, Rev Suzanne Johnson following her ordination as priest and we have a visiting preacher, Rev Linda Hillier (sermon is included here). 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
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; 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: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near; Sing now in glad adoration! Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, Who, as on wings of an eagle, uplifteth, sustaineth. Hast thou not seen How thy desires all have been Granted in what He ordaineth? Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him! Let the Amen Sound from His people again; Gladly for aye we adore Him.
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.
The Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46. The Judgment of the Nations
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Hymn: When I needed a neighbour
Sermon: by Rev Linda Hillier, Associate Minister at St. Mary’s Church, Slough
Today, is a special day, not just for Suzanne, or her friends and family, but for this parish, and the readings Suzanne has chosen for this her first mass, communion, eucharist, Lord’s supper – whichever you want to call it, are about care and provision, goodness and welcome, charity and love of the highest order.
These are the ideals we are called upon to aim for if we are followers of Jesus. These are the ideals which we strive to live up to, often with great difficulty. It’s not easy is it – to follow Jesus and his calling; to be a sheep and not a goat, to show love and patience, tolerance and compassion, generosity and kindness, not just occasionally, but every day, – but those attributes are the attributes of God shown in and through his son Jesus – and if we are followers of Jesus then we need to attempt, in our daily lives, to be sheep and not goats.
Now I have a real problem with the idea of being on the right hand side and not the left, and of using my right hand to make the sign of the cross when I am blessing someone because firstly I am naturally left handed, and secondly in part, even though I am left handed I am a little confused. I use a knife and fork right- handed, but a spoon and fork left handed. I knit right – handed, but I sew left-handed. This is compounded when I drive as I can’t tell my left from my right. I want assure you though that I do keep to the right side or should I say the left hand side of the road.
But historically as we know the right, and using your right hand was considered clean and Godly, the left hand was considered unclean and not Godly. However we think of ourselves in terms of being followers of Jesus; however hard we try, there are times when we are right with God, and frankly, sometimes when taking the analogy of sheep and goats, we are all goats on the left hand of God.
And yet, God is always gracious and loving; he is kindness personified and he calls us to follow the example of his son Jesus in caring for friend and stranger, those that love us and those that dislike, maybe even hate us. He calls us to forgive as he forgives, and to be generous and feed all who are hungry. Not only is it the right thing for the other person, but it is good for us to be kind and generous, caring and forgiving. We usually feel better for it, rather than being always against the world, or ready for conflict and disagreement. The nature of God is to help us feel good, if we are good to others. A warning though – we are also called to be humble and not boast about being good. Your generosity is between you and God; no one else needs to be told.
Yesterday, Suzanne took a big step in her pilgrimage with God and in fulfilling his calling on her life. At her priesting she was commissioned afresh, now able take her place in this parish as a priest with joint responsibility alongside Reverend Jane for the cure of souls for this parish of St. Nicolas with St. Anne. And coronavirus couldn’t stop God’s purposes for his church and those he calls even if we have had to wait a few weeks.
In priesting Suzanne, the church moves up a sort of hierarchy in that she is now one step further to the back of a procession; all deacons are now in front of her, but Suzanne will always be a deacon, called to serve all people. And I know that it even if she hasn’t always known God was calling her to be a priest, it has always been Suzanne’s desire in her life to serve others – be they family, neighbour, friend, colleague, parishioner or stranger. Yes, God has used Suzanne in his purposes amongst you this past year, but importantly and not to be forgotten is the fact that God has used Suzanne throughout her life in her generosity, in her caring for the bereaved and sorrowful, the families and individuals looking for acceptance and welcome, the lost and the sick.
And I know that the Suzanne who stands before us today, is here, not because she is wonderful or brilliant, or more important than anyone else, or deserving to be further back in that procession, but she is here because God is at work, working his purpose out, using everyone who will listen to his call. Suzanne is called to celebrate at his table today, and I am sure that like me, you all feel privileged to witness God at work, and privileged to receive the sacrament Suzanne will soon place into our hands.
We thank God today yes, for Suzanne, but more especially for his goodness and love shown in the breaking of bread and in the community and worldwide family centred on Christ, remembering that when even though we all find it difficult to be sheep, we are all welcomed in love, and we might just be a sheep on the left if not on the right.
Suzanne, may the Lord continue to bless you, as you continue to grow into the person he has always called you to be. Amen.
Anthem: Beauty for Brokenness (recorded by the Church Choir and visiting singers. The words are below.
Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair Lord, in the suffering this is our prayer Bread for the children, justice, joy, peace Sunrise to sunset your kingdom increase! Shelter for fragile lives cures for their ills Work for the craftsman, trade for their skills Land for the dispossessed, rights for the weak Voices to plead the cause of those who can't speak. God of the poor, friend of the weak Give us compassion we pray Melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain Come, change our love from a spark to a flame. Refuge from cruel wars, havens from fear Cities for sanctuary, freedoms to share Peace to the killing-fields scorched earth to green Christ for the bitterness, His cross for the pain. Rest for the ravaged earth, oceans and streams Plundered and poisoned, our future, our dreams Lord, end our madness, carelessness, greed Make us content with the things that we need. God of the poor, friend of the weak Give us compassion we pray Melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain Come, change our love from a spark to a flame. Lighten our darkness, breathe on this flame Until your justice burns brightly again Until the nations learn of your ways Seek your salvation and bring you their praise. God of the poor, friend of the weak Give us compassion we pray Melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain Come, change our love from a spark to a flame.
Prayers for Today: Simply click the link below to listen to the prayers based on the hymn “Christ be our Light’. You can follow the words of the prayers below.
Lord, we give thanks for all those who respond to your call to serve you as your holy people remembering especially today Suzanne our Curate, Jane our Vicar, Linda our preacher today and all the clergy of your church. We know that we each have a vocation to serve you as your holy people; take our insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, and give us courage to see ourselves and others as you see us, with gifts and potential to transform your world from darkness to light and to help to build your Kingdom in our community.
Christ be our Light, Shine on your Church gathered today
Loving God, strengthen our innermost being with your living voice that has the power to bear all things even the weight of this global pandemic, even the long haul of watching for symptoms, of patiently waiting for this to pass, watching and waiting, keeping our gaze fixed on you, and looking out for our neighbours near and far. Shine your light on those in hospital, surround the frightened with your tenderness; give strength to those in pain; hold the weak in your arms of love, give hope and patience to those who are recovering and comfort those who are bereaved.
Christ be our Light, Shine on your Church gathered today
Lord, you said ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’, Instil in our shaken souls the belief and hope that all things are possible with your creative love; for resources to be generously shared, for us to change the way we live to reduce climate change, for the selfish to become the selfless, for science to source solutions to our problems. May your love that never ends be our comfort, strength and guide for the wellbeing of all and the glory of God.
Christ be our Light, Shine on your Church gathered today
Heavenly Father, you are the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of our Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn: I heard the voice of Jesus say
Notices for the Week
Macmillan Coffee Morning: This will take place next Friday (25th) between 10am and noon. Donations will be by card and the Macmillan guidelines now state that participants should bring their own thermos or insulated cup of tea/coffee. Cakes will be available to eat/takeaway and may also be pre-ordered if you contact Pam Taylor. To keep the event COVID secure, the event will take place in the churchyard, social distancing will be maintained with a maximum group size will be six. If you wish to make a donation but cannot come, it can be done using your smartphone and QR code. For further details see Pam Taylor.
Harvest Thanksgiving: This year, our Harvest Festival Service is at 10:45 on 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. Needless to say, they are very busy at the moment and their September ‘Wishlist’ for donations is the following. We will update this with the October Wishlist when it becomes available. FOOD: Sponge Puddings, Tinned Fruit, Instant mash, Jam. TOILETRIES: Washing up liquid, Laundry, Shaving Gel. 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!
Can you help? — New Book: Tales of Taplow: Two years ago, Hilary and Tony put together TASTE OF TAPLOW; a book of recipes contributed by our congregation, friends, clergy, and local restaurants including the Oak & Saw, and Roux @ Skindles. It also contained some history of the church, with some splendid photos. It sold out in about four months, raising about £1,500 for the church! We are working on a new edition, TALES OF TAPLOW, which is more of a history book but with some recipes. It will include a comprehensive section on the War Memorial as well as the history of the church and the Taplow area. We’re aiming for it to be out before Christmas and with a larger print run. Would you like us to include your favourite ‘tried and tested’ recipe in the new book? If you had a recipe published last time, we will include it again. However, you are welcome to send a replacement; there’s space for one recipe per person. Please email it to Tony before the end of September (email@example.com tel:07747 613900). Do you know of a local business who may like to sponsor some of the printing cost in exchange for a mention in the book? The only outlay is the printing, and all proceeds will go to our church.
Might you be called to serve on the PCC?: The Annual Parish Church Meeting is now under a month away (18th October) and we need new people on the PCC. Please do consider if you might support our church in this way. We need a full PCC to steer our Mission Action Plan going forward. Please do think about this and talk to Jane about it.
Final Hymn: Go Out with Joy
A Blessing for Suzanne, a new priest of God’s church
Gracious Father, maker of all the world, Bless Suzanne as she embarks on a new journey as priest in your Church. Be with her on every road. On every hill, meadow and stream, under cloud, under stars, through storm and in sunshine. Guard her, O Father, Protect her, O Christ, Guide her, O Holy Spirit now and in weariness, now, and in happiness, now and in danger, now and at her journey's end. Enfold her in your love, and surround her with your care, that she may sing your song every step of the way. Amen.
Our ‘Virtual’. Recording of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus‘