Virtual Church

You are welcome to join our Sunday Service - our Parish Eucharist - online at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/850453964?pwd=S3RiSUwrdWdwMGhxVjFyYUdNREpOUT09

You can download the order of service here, and a printable version of the readings, sermon and prayers can be downloaded after the service.

17th January 2021

posted 14 Jan 2021, 06:02 by Church Office


Parish Eucharist - Second Sunday of Epiphany



This week a writer from the New York Times asked her readers how they would describe the events on the Capitol of January 6th; one replied an epiphany. The season of Epiphany is the season of revelation, when what is true about God and the world and ourselves becomes clear. What is being revealed in our old testament reading (1 Samuel 3:1-10) is, interestingly enough for our times, the corruption of power. Eli is “blind”, he does not hear the word of the Lord, he allows his sons to exploit and oppress the people for their own gain. In this epiphany God begins a transition of power to those who can see clearly and speak with a prophetic voice. The gospel passage (John 1:43-51) continues the theme of seeing: Philip asks Nathaniel to come and see, Jesus sees Nathaniel, Nathaniel, he prophesies, will see his calling as a bridge between heaven and earth. In these testing and tumultuous times what are we being invited to see? And how are we called to act upon that vision?

Readings

1 Samuel 3:1-10 

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Gospel Reading: John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Collect
Eternal Lord,
our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole creation
to your glory, hidden through past ages
and made known
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

10th January 2021

posted 8 Jan 2021, 02:43 by Church Office   [ updated 8 Jan 2021, 02:58 ]

Baptism of Christ - Parish Eucharist

This Sunday is the feast of the baptism of Christ. Our readings present baptism, our baptism, as a new creation, being re-made, and re-claimed by God. We start with Genesis and the first creation: humanity formed by the spirit of God, gazed upon and beheld by God, claimed by God as “good”, “separated” and “called” by God – given a distinct identity and purpose. Our gospel then gives us Mark’s version of Christ’s baptism. Mark’s is the shortest and simplest of the gospels: it has none of the razzmatazz of angels, travels, gifts, strangers, cosmic spectacles and changes in time and space. It gives us the basics: a man comes, is baptised. As he emerges from the waters of baptism the spirit of God descends on him and he is called and named by God – claimed as his and claimed as good. God’s re-creation here begins with a human turning up just as he is. Any information about who he is, where he has come from, what special talents and gifts he has, what he has done, what others say about him is irrelevant to Mark. This is how we too begin again by submitting just as we are to being re-made, re-claimed and re-called by God.

Readings 

First Reading: Genesis 1: 1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

THE GOSPEL: Mark 1:4-11
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Collect 

Heavenly Father,
at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son:
may we recognize him as our Lord
and know ourselves to be your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Amen

Sunday 3rd January 2021

posted 29 Dec 2020, 11:44 by Church Office   [ updated 29 Dec 2020, 13:05 ]

     Epiphany

Parish Eucharist

  


Epiphany is the season of revelation, when the divine breaks into our ordinary lives and we catch for a moment the awe and wonder of God’s nature and our own remade in God.

 Isaiah this morning speaks to those who sit in darkness, in the gloom of despair, those who feel helpless in the face of the world’s troubles.  His words encourage us to hold onto God’s promise that God’s light will shine on us. This Prophecy still held hope for those who wrote the gospels who saw its promise fulfilled in the birth of Christ.   The light that he brings, however, is not to be borne by Christ alone but to his fellow children of God; us. In Christ God gives us the power to become his children and to inherit his kingdom.  We choose how to use the “riches” he bestows on us his people.  Herod chooses to use his power for his own ends and uses it to destroy the hopes of others.  Christ, the new king, acknowledged by the travellers from the East, uses the power and riches of God to serve others.  

 

 

Readings

Isaiah 60:1-9

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
    and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
    the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
    all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
    and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you,
    the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall be acceptable on my altar,
    and I will glorify my glorious house.
Who are these that fly like a cloud,
    and like doves to their windows?
For the coastlands shall wait for me,
    the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from far away,
    their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
    and for the Holy One of Israel,
    because he has glorified you.

 Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.


Collect

 Grateful for the glory revealed today through God made flesh, let us pray.

(Silence is kept)

 

Creator of the heavens,

who led the Magi by a star

to worship the Christ-child:

guide and sustain us,

that we may find our journey’s end

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

27th December 2020

posted 22 Dec 2020, 06:17 by Church Office   [ updated 26 Dec 2020, 03:38 by CHS Info ]

First Sunday of Christmas - this service is online only
Parish Eucharist

The year is drawing to a close and we will be relieved to see the back of it. But what is our hope for the future? Where do we look for inspiration and guidance? In whom do we place our trust? Even the prophets framed their future hope in terms of power and riches. Yet Simeon sees salvation in the face of a child, the possibility for a new future (not just for his people but for all people) in the poorest and the lowest. Where are we looking for our future hope? 



Readings

Isai
ah 61:10-62.3 
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

THE GOSPEL: Luke 2:15-21

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who wonderfully created us in your own image
and yet more wonderfully restored us
through your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as he came to share in our humanity,
so we may share the life of his divinity;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen

20th December 2020

posted 18 Dec 2020, 00:55 by Church Office

Fourth Sunday of Advent 
Parish Eucharist 

What is a fitting home for God? Where does God choose to dwell? In Samuel King David wants to build a house for God, a beautiful house made of finest Cedar wood. God laughs at this suggestion offering instead to dwell with his people. Between the time of David and the time of Mary the people of Israel had constructed an opulent temple and designated the holy of holies as the home for God, a home into which no human could step. And so God steps out and steps straight into the mess of ordinary human life. Mary’s body becomes the home of God.

Readings

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

The Gospel: Luke 1:26-38 
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Collect
O God our redeemer,
who didst prepare the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of thy Son:
grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he shall come again to be our judge;
who liveth and reigneth with thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen

13th December 2020

posted 11 Dec 2020, 07:38 by Church Office   [ updated 11 Dec 2020, 07:43 ]



Third Sunday of Advent
Parish Eucharist

We continue to celebrate the prophetic voice in today’s readings; honouring those who cry out against injustice and offer a vision for a better world. 

Isaiah gives us God’s manifesto pledge and a job spec for those who long for its fulfilment. The confidence and courage with which both prophets speak is a model for us today and a call for us to support those who risk much by speaking out. 

God’s confidence stems not from his own status or achievements but from the job that God has given him.


Readings

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, 
because the Lord has anointed me; 
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted, 
to proclaim liberty to the captives, 
and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, 
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.


THE GOSPEL: John 1:6-8, 19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


Collect
God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

6 December 2020

posted 4 Dec 2020, 03:23 by Church Office   [ updated 4 Dec 2020, 03:26 ]

Second Sunday of Advent

Parish Eucharist


Advent is a time of waiting but it is also a time of longing.  One our deepest longings is to feel at home.  Our readings today reflect on the sense of alienation and a desire for belonging and the homecoming we long for.


Isaiah 40:1-11 The people of God in exile long to return home, they long for Jerusalem to be theirs once more.  God’s vision for the restoration of Jerusalem comes not from the heart of the homeland but from the wilderness.  Here, they will receive a new and larger understanding of being at home, a home that can encompass, not just their people but all peoples.


Mark 1:1-8 John the Baptist echoes Isaiah’s call: the wilderness is not just the place where the voice calls from, it is the place where God is at work, the place where we are called to meet God. To truly come home to God we need to leave the place we call home and journey into the wilderness.  Here we begin to understand what true home is.



Readings 

Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
 and cry to her
that she has served her term,
 that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand 
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, 
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass, 
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades; 
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain, 
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,

“Here is your God!”
See, the Lord God comes with might, 
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him, 
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

 

THE GOSPEL:  Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


Collect

O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power

and come among us,

and with great might succour us;

that whereas, through our sins and wickedness

we are grievously hindered

in running the race that is set before us,

your bountiful grace and mercy

may speedily help and deliver us;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,

be honour and glory, now and for ever.

Amen


29th November 2020

posted 27 Nov 2020, 04:36 by Church Office


First Sunday of Advent

Today the new year begins but it begins not with a new thing but with a time of waiting. Advent is the time of watching and waiting for God’s coming among us. We are a tad fed up with waiting in 2020, we are impatient for life, in all its fullness, to begin again. Waiting is something that God’s people are experienced at. It is not a time of passivity but a time for the much needed work of reflection: in what ways have we turned from God? How have we closed our ears to God’s cry in the world? What needs to be begun again? Advent symbolism is full of demolition and deconstruction but only in order that God can rebuild. Today Isaiah gives us the image of clay in the potter’s hands, a chance for us to submit our lives, individually and communally, to God’s (often painful) work of remoulding us into his people once again. 


Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

 

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lordand do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

THE GOSPEL:  Mark 13:24-37

“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Collect

Almighty God, as your kingdom dawns, turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen


22nd November 2020

posted 20 Nov 2020, 02:52 by Church Office   [ updated 20 Nov 2020, 10:53 by CHS Info ]

Christ the King / Sunday next before Advent

Today is Christ the King Sunday and marks the end of the church year.  Traditionally this Sunday focused on Christ coming at the end of time to rule.  It naturally leads us to consider the extent to which we serve Christ now and to reflect on all the many other things that rule our lives.

The Bible uses the image of the shepherd as the model for a good king: someone committed to building up the flock and not to fattening himself.  Ezekiel questions whether the people & their leaders are serving the common good or for their own and promises a time when God will rule & the weak and the poor will be cared for.  The gospel reading also presents God as a servant king and reminds us that we too share in Christ’s reign: to spread Christ’s rule we must learn to serve and favour the poor & weak.  

Readings

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

 

Matthew 25:31-46

“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,[a] 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.”

Collect

God the Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King, and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory. Amen

15th November 2020

posted 13 Nov 2020, 02:37 by Church Office   [ updated 13 Nov 2020, 02:39 ]


Second Sunday before Advent

As we move towards Advent our readings take on a more urgent tone: they can feel quite bleak (but the world around us not exactly a bed of roses at present) but they also contain grounds for hope.  The prophet Zephaniah lambasts the people for believing that all their blessings are the result of their own efforts and are not a gift from God.  He warns that judgment is coming and no amount of worldly security and comfort will protect the people.  Matthew’s parable is also about judgment: the servants are judged according to the use to which they have put the gifts entrusted to them.  Yet both readings emphasis God’s extraordinary generosity, the abundance of blessings and riches that are at our disposal:  even the servant who is entrusted with the smallest amount is given a fortune. The promise in both readings is that when we use our gifts, creatively, generously, liberally, then abundance will multiply.  Whoever we are, the greatest or the smallest, God can and will use us. 


Readings

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18

Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests.


At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.” Their wealth shall be plundered,  and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.

 

The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there.


That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. 


I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the Lordtheir blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. 


Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

 

Matthew 5:14-30 

"For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Collect

Heavenly Lord,

you long for the world's salvation;

stir us from apathy,

restrain us from excess

and revive in us new hope

that all creation will one day be healed

in Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen



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