Welcome to today’s online worship offering using the same readings, prayers and reflection that will be shared in church plus some musical offerings. 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
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, 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
First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8. Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
Hymn: Lord thy word abideth
The Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:34-46. The Greatest Commandment
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Hymn: Love Divine
Today’s Reflection: from Rev Jane Cresswell, our Vicar
A massively built woman with wild hair came storming into the registry office and slammed the door shut behind her. She thrust a piece of paper at the clerk, she said, “Did you or did you not issue this license for me to marry Jacob Jones?” The clerk looked at the document carefully, and replied, “Yes, ma’am, I believe we did. Why do you ask?” “Because,” she said, “he has escaped, and I want to know what you plan to do about it!”
Well you can hazard a guess why Jacob Jones may have run for his life! Real love can only be found where there is freedom. As children grow older and begin to wrestle with faith issues, they sometimes ask, “Why didn’t God make everyone so that they would all love him and obey him?” And the answer is simple: “Where there is no freedom, there can be no love. So from the start, God gave us the freedom to choose whether we would embrace him and follow him, or push him away and live for ourselves. Really loving God, or really loving another person, is simply opening your life to that person — sharing yourself with them, and allowing them to share themselves with you.
But there is a tremendous amount of confusion in our world today about what real love is. We use the word “love” so casually, so carelessly. So many things go parading as love in our society that, as a nation, we sometimes lose touch with what love really is. How often do we hear of real, selfless, sacrificial, committed, love? Actually when you listen to some of the stories of doctors and nurses and carers who have been treating and looking after the sick and frail and elderly during the current pandemic, often at risk to themselves, you realise the selfless, sacrificial and committed way in which they devote their lives and use their skills for others.
And for us as Christians– it is vitally important to know what real love is, because the two most important duties of the Christian concern real love.
What we find in Matthew 22 is a familiar story. A lawyer came to Jesus. This wasn’t the kind of lawyer we have today. This was an expert in the Jewish religious law. Elsewhere Matthew calls these people “scribes.” The scribes or lawyers copied the Scriptures by hand, and actually counted the letters on the page to make sure nothing was left out. They were also responsible to copy and know the commentaries on the law. Theirs was not an easy task.
So here is a person who is intimately familiar with God’s law. He has copied it by hand over and over. He has memorized it. He has read and copied what other people had to say about it. And he comes to Jesus and asks, “What’s the bottom line? Out of this huge body of material called the Jewish Law, what is the most important commandment of all?” And Jesus says, “Love” – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
What is the bottom line on what God wants for us? …having a life that is open to God, and open to other people, an openness to God and to others that we could also call “love.” What does it mean to have a life open to God?
First, loving — having an open life — is an attitude of the heart. There’s a lovely story about a mum rocking her young son on her knee and suddenly, he lifted his head, stared straight at his mother, and became very still. Then he cupped her face in his hands and said almost in a whisper, “Mummy, I’m in your eyes.” He had seen his own reflection in his mother’s eyes, and it was a startling discovery. The mother stopped rocking and said quietly, “And I am in your eyes too!”. In life’s uncertain moments, it is comforting to know we are in our heavenly Father’s eyes. And we know it best when we have our eyes fixed on him.
It’s not possible to love others well until we truly love ourselves … and I don’t mean pandering to the false self that we often mistake for who we are, but rather loving the unique self that is made in the image of God to receive and reflect his love in the world. And opening our lives to others means that we have them in our eyes just as we are in our father’s eyes. Our attention is focused on them in a caring way. In his first letter, John wrote, “We love because God first loved us.” By first loving us, God taught us how to love. Maybe we could say, “Because God first had us in His eyes, we are able to have others in our eyes.”
Real love — having an open life — is an attitude of the heart. It’s about compassion. Secondly, loving — having an open life — is something you do. Compassion leads to action. C. S. Lewis once said: “it is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital “H” than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”
When we really love, when we open our hearts and lives to others, we are drawn to them. Real love cannot sit back and observe. It calls for action. It means going to visit that person in hospital who has been on your mind even if it is windy and rainy and staying home in the warm seems a cosier option. It means picking up the phone to find out how someone is. It means going the extra mile for the neighbour who’s in a bit of a difficult situation. It means listening yet again to the same story because the person who is telling it needs to make sense of what has happened by telling it again. Jesus talks of this kind of loving as being at the heart of God’s law, what God really wants from us? And that kind of loving is ultimately the world’s best hope.
As Christians it is our calling to model that loving for the world and help them develop hearts that are open to God’s grace and God’s peace and God’s voice. Ultimately it is that love that is the hope of the world. What does God ask of us? What’s the most important part of God’s law? Jesus says it is love — a heart and life that is open to God and to others. Love that involves caring attitudes and caring actions that flow from the security of knowing that we ourselves are loved. This love is ultimately our world’s only hope.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind,
and love your neighbour as yourself.
Anthem: O Sing Joyfully A Batten. See the words below
O sing joyfully unto God our strength: make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take the song, bring hither the tabret: * the merry harp with the lute. Blow up the trumpet in the new mo,On: e'en in the time appointed. And upon our solemn feast day. For this was made a statute for Israel: and a law of the God of Jacob.
In love and trust, let us pray to our God.
Holy God, give us courage to tell out your truth without fear, And to work for your kingdom with joy. Thank you for the support and love of other Christians, And the richness of our varied traditions. May we focus our attention on you with such love That all unnecessary divisions between us crumble.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Holy God, we pray for law makers and keepers; May our laws work to uphold what is just and true. We pray that we may live in godly peace and goodwill Through the desire to live well.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Holy God, we pray for all those in prison and those returning to the community. We pray for those imprisoned by guilt or shame, Or trapped by physical frailty, illness or paralysis. We pray for those whose lives are tragically disrupted By war, famine, poverty and disease.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Holy God, we remember those who, Dying in faith, rejoice to see you as you are. And today we remember especially Bev Daily. We thank you for their example And commend them to your peace for ever. Bring peace to those who mourn, especially at this time, Liz Daily and the family.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
Holy God we give you thanks for the love Poured out to us each minute of each day, And ask for the grace to live our gratitude And give freely of what we have freely received.
Merciful Father, Accept these prayer for the sake of your Son Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Anthem: Hear My Prayer, O Lord. Purcell. Psalm 102:1
Hear my prayer, Lord, and let my crying come unto Thee.
Notices for the Week
Thank you from Phil and Pam:
“We would both like to thank everyone for the kind words, for the lovely carved bowl and crucifix from oak from St. Nicolas’ Church, the most generous collection and the beautiful flowers, last Sunday. Everything that happened last Sunday was greatly appreciated by us both at the end of a most rewarding time for us both”.
Operation Christmas Child:
This is something we can all do. A small shoebox can have a big impact. What goes into the box is fun but what comes out of it is eternal. Be part of changing children’s lives all over the world in the name of Jesus through the power of a simple gift. We can either pack a shoebox and take it to Braywick Nurseries (drop off point) between 9th and 16th November, or we can send a pre-packed shoebox for £20 by going to shoeboxonline.samaritans-purse.org.uk
St Nicolas Church Christmas cards:
These will be available from 1st November after the morning service at St Nicolas Church. There is a choice of a stained glass picture or the church in the snow. They are £5 for 8. There is also a Village green in the snow scene: £3.50 for 5. All sales go directly to the church. Card payment available.
Bowled Over: Also starting in November (and running through until Christmas) will be Jim’s woodwork stall which, this year includes some lovely items made from St Nicolas Church oak. There will be many photos of what is available on our website and some items available in church after the morning service on Sunday. All proceeds for church funds. Card payment available.
Silent Auction for a baby quilt: Jenny Harris has made a beautiful baby quilt. It is square, 100% cotton fabric, hand-quilted and fully washable and is to be sold for our church funds. These pictures do not do it justice but Nicola Mole (our ‘virtual auctioneer’) is bringing it to church for you to see and you can make a bid by either bidding on paper in church or by emailing Nicola (firstname.lastname@example.org). For every bid received, an anonymous benefactor will make a £2 donation. So get bidding— the reserve price is £40 and the closing date for bids is 6th December.
Tales of Taplow: This new book on the history of the church and the village will be available from 15th November for £10 per copy. It includes stories from the War Memorial, the coming of the railway, the history of the Riverside, the iconic Taplow bridges, the Canadian Red Cross Hospital, and loads more including recipes from local restaurants as well as all the church community. Proceeds are for the church heating fund.
Lighthouse: If you know children and young people, please do pass this message on to them!
“After Lighthouse Live in the summer, Lighthouse Central will be putting on a series of continuity online events, starting with a Light Party on Friday 30th October. We have brand new presenters and we’ll tell a Bible Story about Light (and duck billed platypi!) and how we can all show the Light of Jesus. There is also a brand new drama featuring Captain Noah’s Spaceark! Plus all the favourite Lighthouse songs with actions. It will be available here https://go.allstarskidsclub.com/catalog 5.00pm on Friday 30th October so do please encourageof our church family to join in.
Our next event will be a Christmas Lighthouse Live and then an Easter event. Our fervent prayer is that we will be able to deliver physical Lighthouses in the Summer 2021.”
Final Hymn: Angel Voices Ever Singing
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 [Ruth Burgess]
Voluntary: Moonlight Sonata: Beethoven