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Sunday 2nd August 2020- Trinity 8

posted 31 Jul 2020, 06:08 by Church Office   [ updated 1 Aug 2020, 07:41 ]

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

Sunday 2nd August 2020

Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Our readings this week are all about abundance and feasting.  Isaiah calls the people to return from exile to a different way of life, a life of plenty and abundance, in which their needs will be met.  Such abundance is available when they trust in God and not in their own efforts.  The prophet contrasts the free wine and bread without price with the bread they pay for and work for: contrasting human economy, which prioritizes transactions, to God’s economy, which is based on relationships.  The relational element is highlighted by the gospel miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  Here the miracle is not the provision of food but the creation of community.  In a world in which purity laws and status depended upon whom you ate with, the bringing together of so many people, including the sick and the poor, is truly miraculous.  The miracle points towards the heavenly banquet, the feast to which all are invited without condition.

Pram Service (8am) is now back in Church! Mother Ruth is looking forward to seeing you all there.

Sunday School has finished for the summer so there will be no sunday school until September. 

Readings

Isaiah 55: 1-5

55 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
    and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you
.

 

Gospel Reading: Matthew 14: 13-21

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Sermon

 You have been invited to a party.

An awesome party, really fancy; the food and the wine are the best quality, there are musicians and dancers to entertain you, everything is done for you, all the preparation, the serving, the cleaning up.  You get to dress up, wear your hair high, check your nails, put on your best outfit.  At this party you get to be pretty and witty and bright; you get to be your very best self: take part in fascinating conversation, share hilarious jokes.

This is the best party in town. 

The only catch is that you have be your very best self.  Which is okay, right? because you are pretty and witty and bright.  So you’ll be fine. 

Until you’re not and then, sadly, you won’t get an invite, because this party is just for the best of the best.

You could of course work hard to get back on form and so be assured of an invite next time. 

Or you could go to another party: this party is not so grand.  Its not in opulent surrounding, there is no professional catering, the food is pretty basic and you’ll have to do your own clearing up.  And another thing, you may not get to sit next to the most handsome or amusing guests, in fact you may have to sit next to someone with depression or a communicable disease, someone who’s dress sense and table manners are sadly lacking.  But at least here you can be yourself, not just your very best shiny self, but the self that is prone to anxiety, that has aches and pains, that says the wrong thing, and sometimes does the wrong thing.

You get to choose.

If you choose the first party you will still be welcome at the second.  However, chose the second and you are not going to get invited to the first.

Whatever choice you make do not, I repeat do not ever, never ever ever suggest, even hint, that anyone at the first party might not be the best, never hint at mistakes they may have made or decisions that may be dubious because then not only will never be invited again but you might lose your head.  Literally.

Today’s readings are all about feasts.  The party, the banquet, the feast is a symbol of the good life, the kingdom. 

The feast that the prophet invites us to is not based on how successful or wealthy or well connected we are: we don’t need money, we don’t need to have worked for our place at the table.  It sounds great, wine and milk without price.

Jesus holds such a feast: the food is not as rich as the prophet foretold – bread and fish – and the company leaves much to be desired: the guests are the sick and the crippled, the poor and the depressed, the outcast, hopeless, feckless lot that followed Jesus around seeking a cure for their maladies.  Jesus does not cure them, at least not in the way that they had hoped.  They don’t get to be strong and beautiful, successful and powerful enough to be invited to the other party.  Instead they get to learn how to throw a party just as they are.

Jesus throws this party in the aftermath of John the Baptist’s beheading.  The execution resulting from Herod’s party, which was the best party, best food, best wine, best guests.

Which was the best because everything that was not the best was kept out.  And when John the Baptist intimated that the man throwing the party might have a few problems of his own to deal with he is kept out terminally.

The alternative Jesus party is not second best, it is not about charitable provision for the excluded and the rejected, it is offering us the choice of a different way of being community, a different way of living.

We have grown up with political, economic and systems which see the world as a place of scarcity and sees humans as naturally competitive, always striving for dominance and security in the face of that scarcity.  We have to fight over place and position because there isn’t enough to go round.  Yet in the feast of the 5,000 there were baskets and baskets of left overs collected.

The coronavirus pandemic is a little like John the Baptist: suggesting to us that the party we were enjoying came at a cost and that cost was way too high.

I am sure that many of you had the experience of community upsurge at the beginning of this pandemic – neighbours whatsapping you every five flipping seconds.  How long has it been since your neighbourhood whatsapp has done anything more than ask if anyone has found their lost keys?

As life, for some, returns to normal what about those whose lives are not returning to normal and what about those who have never had the chance to be a part of “normal”.

Can we envisage a new way of being community?  A way that doesn’t hanker after the biggest and the best but sees the great value in the scraps that are left over: gathering them with care so that nothing and no one is lost, so that everyone and everything has purpose.

Can we imagine a way of being that starts from the perspective of those who are left out and left behind and builds a life in solidarity with them. 

If we can, it will be a far greater miracle than merely feeding a few thousand people with one loaf of bread, but it’s party I want an invitation to.  

Prayers

Glorious God,
your generosity floods the world with goodness
and you shower creation with abundance.
Awaken in us a hunger for food to satisfy both body and heart,
that in the miracle of being fed
we may be empowered to feed the hungry in Jesus' name. Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

 Lord our God, your Son Jesus gave hungry people more food than they could have imagined through the simplicity of a few fish and some bread. We are hungry for your presence in our lives. Knowing your unlimited love for each one of us, we bring before you ourselves, our hearts and all those for whom we care.

 

We pray for the national Church. For our Archbishops and bishops, and others who at that level are trying to lead the way forward for all of us into a new way of giving glory and witness to God. We pray that they will continue to inspire hope and courage, not just in people of faith, but for everyone in our country.

We pray for the local church, for the churches in our diocese, deanery and in Clapham specifically. As we slowly start to open up again we pray for all who are desperately missing the opportunity to be here in church, to worship God, to have fellowship with others, and to be fed by the food of Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist. 

We pray for this church, of the Holy Spirit, and for Mother Ruth and all who lead us.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Let us pray for friends and neighbours around the world. Especially for those who are suffering and living in conditions that we could never imagine. We remember those who are refugees, for abandoned and orphaned children, for those without healthcare or basic human needs.

We pray for the people of Spain amid rising Covid-19 infections there, and as we face a possible second wave around the world let us pray that governments will work together for the good of all people and make wise and just decisions. We pray for the people of Malawi, with all the various tensions as the new government beds in. For the United States, as they gear up for another election season this Autumn. And for a resolution of tensions in Hong Kong and in South Africa. We pray that the Lord will unite all of creation in love for him and our neighbour, to the glory of God.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Let us pray for those closer to home. For people who are poor, wherever they may be, and those who cope with daily food shortages, that they will find enough food to live healthy and happy lives. For families, as we enter the summer holiday season, that they might stay safe, especially for those travelling around the world. May this be for them a time of growing together in peace and love. And keep them safe.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

We pray for those parts of the country in a new partial lockdown. That the Lord will give strength to those who are weary and wisdom to the confused. Let us pray that all those who are facing business and job insecurity at this time will find hope and certainty as they look towards the future.

Let us pray for ourselves, that we might find God in the busy-ness and in the quiet moments of our daily lives and responsibilities. Give all of us the strength we need to resolve the difficulties and challenges that we will face after the coronavirus crisis.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

For those who continue to fall ill or who struggle to recover from Covid-19, and for those who care for them, and for all in our own community who are sick or infirm for any reason, at home or in hospital. Let us pray they will find enduring strength and healing in the name of Jesus Christ. We remember especially in our prayers:

Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey, Joshua Clark, Ann Kodz and Donald Edge

And we pray for a moment for our own personal petitions.

Silence

And we also pray for those who have died, and for all who are bereaved. Let us remember their loss and show compassion to their needs, and travel beside them on their journey through grief. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

A prayer of St Alphonsus

Grant me the gift of piety, so that I may serve You for the future with increased fervour, follow with more promptness Your holy inspirations, and observe your divine precepts with greater fidelity.

 

Loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us.

Stay with us.

Feed our hungry souls with your love.

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your Son, Our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday 26th July 2020- Trinity 7

posted 24 Jul 2020, 05:39 by Church Office   [ updated 26 Jul 2020, 08:52 by CHS Info ]












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

Sunday 26th July 2020

Seventh Sunday after Trinity

The parables are piling up this week: mustard and yeast, wheat and weeds, good fish, bad fish.  It is interesting that the things that Jesus first compares to the kingdom of God are things that were strictly regulated and often prohibited under Jewish law: mustard seed and leaven (and of course women).  Dangerous, wild things that, left to their own devices, proliferate and grow out of control.  The following parables of the wheat and weeds and good fish bad fish are instructive: don’t try to divide them, don’t go judging what is good and what is bad.  That is NOT our task.  Our task is to encourage and embrace the growth that the kingdom brings.  It is also interesting that in our first reading Solomon asks God for the wisdom to discern between good and evil – this is the rarest of gifts, a divine quality that humans are not known to possess in abundance.

Pram Service (8am) In Pram Service this week we are exploring yeast & dough & how God wants us to get our hands sticky. Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) It is the end of term, so today is the last Sunday School before we break up for summer! We will be asking for help to take us over the tricky patches, especially those we want to run away from or take the easier path rather than the path that is right. We will be drawing hands, left and right, then cutting them out and covering them with all the helping hands we can think of. Talking to friends, asking parents, smiling at others, holding hands with sad people and listening to friends without interrupting are just a few examples. You will need to bring paper, scissors and some colouring pens/pencils. It has been lovely seeing your faces each week and all your wonderful work, have a lovely summer and we will see you all in September! Join us for the last Sunday school of the academic year here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

 

Readings

 1 Kings 3:5-12

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

 

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

 

Sermon

It starts with a simple question: what is the kingdom of God like?

Answer: it’s like mustard, or maybe yeast, no wait, it’s like treasure, or perhaps good fish and bad fish, old things and new things.

Which is way too much information. So let’s take a breath and begin at the beginning:

It starts with seeds and yeast. 

When I was a kid I went to a Christian summer camp named Mustard Seeds.  Simple enough concept: tiny, seemingly insignificant things with great potential for growth; and more than this, tiny, seemingly insignificant things with great potential for good.

Really?

How about tiny, seemingly insignificant things with great potential for disruption and disorder?

Well, that was certainly true of me and the other kids at camp but it is also true of the mustard seed and the yeast to which we were compared.

Both were considered dangerous and in need of strict control.  The mustard seed in the parable grows into a massive tree which provides a home for the birds of the air which sounds good but its really not if what you are trying to do is grow food crops because you will end up with fields full of out of control weeds housing a heap of birds who will eat anything else that you are trying to grow.  Which is why it was forbidden to plant mustard seeds.

Yeast, or leaven as it was known, is of course also hard to control.  If anyone watched Unorthodox on Netflix you would have seen the large orthodox Jewish family gathering in a kitchen completely covered in tin foil.  The foil is to prevent the accidental formation of leaven which happens all the time when motes of food or flour mix with moisture and wild yeast spores in the air and begin to ferment.  It’s like naturally occurring sourdough starter which, used correctly, can make bread rise and, used incorrectly, can rot and make you sick.

These are not straightforward parables about growth.  Something much more subversive is going on.

Which brings us to the fishermen trawling for fish both good and bad and the steward bringing out chattels, old and new.  The fish and the things are not what the kingdom is compared to: rather it is compared to the people who are so undiscerning.

These parables are in stark contrast to King Solomon who in our first reading is offered any gift he chooses and chooses discernment: the wisdom to know the difference between good and evil. 

What a wise king right? In the light of these parables I am not so sure. 

Solomon desires this gift so that he could rule a populous nation.  And it is certainly a good gift for this job: if you can divide people into good and evil they are much more easily controlled.  The majority of people want to be good.  If you show them what is bad they will unite against the bad and blame them for many of the ills in their society. 

Solomon, the book of Chronicles tells us, was gifted at dividing his people.  First he divided the foreigners from the Israelites and enslaved them.  When he ran out of foreign slaves Solomon began dividing the Israelites, those who were poor and could not pay their taxes were also enslaved.

Deciding who needs to be separated out is still a tricky thing: In Poland, it’s the LGBT community, in American, undocumented migrants and angry black men, in Afghanistan educated women, in the UK benefit scroungers and welfare tourists.

Knowledge of good and evil is maybe not such a gift.

Which is why in the story of the very beginning, God told Adam and Eve, NOT to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

But of course they did and the rest of the story is history: first came shame, then came duplicity, outright lying, cheating and shirking responsibility.  All resulting from trying to divide the good from the bad in themselves, in each other, in the natural world.

Jesus is the most unusual in his refusal to divide others into good and bad, who makes no distinction between pure and impure, good and bad, sane and mad, sick and healthy, stranger and neighbour; but instead opens his arms ever wider to include sex workers, mentally ill, bleeding women, lepers, criminals, collaborators and an ever-increasing number of people labelled “bad”.

The aim of his ministry was not to heal the “bad” to make it “good” but to question why the person was excluded in the first place.

The message of Adam and Eve, of king Solomon, of these parables seems to be that human beings are supremely unsuited to discerning good and evil.

The kingdom of God is radically inclusive, if we are to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven the one thing we should NOT do is start deciding who’s in and who’s out.

What should we do then?

We should be like the man who sowed mustard seed in his field or the woman who hid the leaven in the flour, the net that brought in all the fish, good and bad, the steward who brings out all the things old and new.

It begins by noticing who is excluded and taking action to include them.

What does this look like?

It looks like Paula’s friend who noticed when attending a sixth form open evening, a group of black boys who couldn’t get in because the school stipulated that you needed to attend with a parent, and so she signed in five of them as hers. It looks like the school children in Lambeth who lobbied the council to accept Syrian refugee families, it looks like the churches working to get the homeless guests at Robes into housing and jobs. 

Most importantly it looks like seeing the world as if there were no division between the good and the bad, the sacred and the profane, the human and the divine and trusting the God who sees no division either.

Prayers

Seed-planting, fish-netting, bread-baking, pearl-hunting God,
you shape us into living parables.
Pray with your Spirit in us
so that we may understand our experiences
as healing metaphors,
and become creative and abundant stewards
of the environment you entrusted to our love. Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, grant us the stillness and calm of your Spirit that we might concentrate on these few minutes of prayer together.

We bring before you the deep divisions in the world, in the Far East and elsewhere.  We ask you to give guidance to the leaders of all nations towards finding a way out of deadlock to progress, from division to harmony and from selfishness to cooperation.  Lord, there are so many unnoticed sorrows in the world.  We know that they are not unnoticed to you and we pray that you will reach out and help those who ask.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for doctors, nurses and medical staff who are caring for the sick and all those working in care homes.  Lord, keep them safe and support them, and give them the resilience to carry on.  Guide all those throughout the world who are searching for a vaccine and cure for Coronavirus.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Lord, we beseech you to give wisdom and sound judgment to all those in positions of power and authority in our country and we ask for your blessing on our archbishop, bishops, and on our clergy and all the wonderful team who work here at Holy Spirit in your name.  We give thanks for the success of the current campaign to raise money for the means to broadcast our services and also that we can now return to church to pray and soon to get together again to worship you.  

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for our local community in Clapham, our families, our friends, particularly those we might have neglected recently, our neighbours, the elderly and those suffering hardship, anxiety and fear in the current situation.  We bring before you the sick and entrust them to your tender care, thinking particularly of Jane, Heidi and Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris,  Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey, Joshua Clark, Ann Kodz, Coe Dudding and Donald Edge. In a moment of silence let us think of any others close to us or known to us about whom we are concerned ………..  Lord, comfort them and may they be restored to health and strength.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We remember before you loved ones and friends who have died and we think of all those who are mourning a recent bereavement.  May they find your strength and support in their loneliness. We rejoice in the faithful witness of your saints in every age, praying that we may share with them in your eternal kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Please pardon us for our failings, Lord: for falling short in the fulfilment of  our responsibilities, for the hasty words we utter, for our thoughtless actions, for the unloving thoughts that cross our minds day by day, for failing to listen with sympathy when people talk about their problems, for not putting you first in our lives.  We humbly ask for your forgiveness for these and many other weaknesses.  May we find the calmness of your spirit to overcome the turmoil of life, so that we might have more time for others and more time for you, to consider what you want of us in order to further your kingdom here on earth.

Merciful Father –

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Sunday 19th July 2020- Trinity 6

posted 17 Jul 2020, 06:47 by Church Office   [ updated 19 Jul 2020, 06:49 by CHS Info ]


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

Sunday 19th July 2020

Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Our Gospel reading today follows on from last week’s parable about the Sower who went out to sow, with another farming image.  This week the sower is the Son of Man, the field is the world, and the good seed is not the Word of God, but the children of the kingdom.  And there are weeds in this field.  The image of judgment with weeping and gnashing of teeth at the end of time is hard to bear – most of us prefer to focus on God’s grace, giving us time in this life to turn to him and be joined with the righteous.  Our first reading from the Wisdom of Solomon reassures us of God’s love and care for all people, judging with mildness, and governing with forbearance, and giving us good hope, “because you give repentance for sins”.

Pram Service (8am) Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) This week all about taking the wrong turn and turning back and finding a better way, ‘forgive us our trespassers’. We all make mistakes and God still loves us. So, because God understands how we all make mistakes we should be understanding of others and let them turn away from those mistakes and start again. We shall start with sheaves of newspapers so we can lay a path across our kitchen floors and then when we realise one way is wrong, we must change direction. Trespassers are people making false steps - we need to change our turns and not get cross when other people make false steps!!! You will need to bring newspaper and maybe some colouring pens/pencils.  Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Wisdom of Solomon 12:13,16-19

13 There is not any god besides you, Lord,

whose care is for all people,
to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly;
16 For your strength is the source of righteousness,
and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.
17 For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power,
and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it.
18 Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance you govern us;
for you have power to act whenever you choose.

19 Through such works you have taught your people
that the righteous must be kind,
and you have filled your children with good hope,
because you give repentance for sins.

 

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24 Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

 

Sermon

Observant members of the congregation may have noticed that, both this week and last week, the verses chosen for our Gospel readings from Matthew 13 leave a gap – if you’re following in your Bibles, you’ll have seen that we skipped 8 verses last week, and 5 verses today. Some of today’s missing verses will be included in next week’s Gospel reading.  A writer of a collection of meditations on Matthew suggests that the verses between the parable and the explanation in both passages provide an intentional space for the words of the parable to rest, before we hear the explanation that Jesus gives to his disciples.  Similarly, the seeds sown in today’s parable need to rest in the ground until it is the right time for the harvest: “Like seeds in the soil … parables need to rest in our souls for some time and grow before we can become fully conscious of their meaning.”  Those who devise the Lectionary readings for each Sunday, however, haven’t given us this pause – we jump straight from the parable to the explanation.

I have been blessed over this past week to have time to reflect, having been away for a break in the Isle of Wight. While there, I walked by fields ripe for harvest – barley, rather than wheat - and there was no sign of any enemy having sowed weeds among them, though at the edge of some fields I spotted bindweed curling itself around a few stalks.  I would have been like the slaves in this story, wanting to pull out the bindweed in the way I uproot it from my flower beds – but so often when I do that, I damage the plant the bindweed has attached itself to.  If I had pulled at the bindweed in the field, I would probably have uprooted the barley with it.

This parable is partly about patience – the slaves are told to let both wheat and weeds “grow together until the harvest”.  And it is also about judgment – the judgement of the slaves who want to uproot the weeds straight away, and the judgement at harvest time, when the weeds will be collected first, to be burned, while the wheat will be gathered into the barn. 

Why does the ‘householder’, the ‘master’, tell the impatient slaves to wait?  Is it just that they might damage some of the good crop?  Or is it about waiting patiently to see what might happen?

The crowd listening to Jesus would have known themselves to be the chosen people, precious in the sight of God. They would have identified themselves with the good seed growing to yield a full crop, waiting to be gathered into the safety of the farmer’s barn at the end of time.  They may have seen the weeds as those, like tax collectors, who cooperated with the occupying Romans – or perhaps the Zealots who wanted to create an uprising against the Romans, which would have been violently quashed with many deaths.

By the time Matthew was writing, the early Christians would have seen themselves as the good seed, and the weeds would be those who had not chosen to follow Jesus.  ?

Maybe all of us have parts of good seed and weed within us – all creation comes from God, but we are all capable of being led astray.  God does not intervene in every detail of our lives to stop things going wrong, as we know only too well.  But he does give us time for repentance and redemption.  God is patient and wise – he will judge us, but he loves us, and knows we are not perfect. 

Look back at our first reading today, from the Wisdom of Solomon: the writer knows God cares for all people, He does not judge unjustly, He is the source of righteousness, “your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all”, “you judge with mildness” and “you have filled your children with good hope, because you give repentance for sins.”  This is not a vengeful unforgiving God – this is the God we see in Jesus, who loves all people, and the parable is about waiting patiently. 

However, we cannot avoid the sad fact that there is evil in our world.  The weeds in the story may represent those who will have time for repentance, but not all will choose that.  The end of the story, and Jesus’ explanation, is uncompromising.  It is not for us to judge - that is for God.

We can all see evil thoughts and actions around us – horrendous things that human beings are capable of doing to each other.  The current positive focus on #blacklivesmatter has come from the recognition of the injustice over centuries in the way white human beings have treated their fellow human beings of colour.  That example is helpful here, I think, because it is a sign of hope that things will change. We have to ensure that change does happen - we need action, not just words – but we can see that it is possible, and we can hope that racial prejudice is an evil that can be overcome.

At the time of Jesus the people would have been familiar with passages from the book of Daniel, which referred to an end time when there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  We might not like the reference to the furnace – preaching on the threat of hell fire and destruction has been horrendously damaging to many in the past – but it is equally dangerous to portray God as some kind of loving indulgent grandparent who lets the children get away with all sorts of wickedness. 

The field in the story is NOW – the kingdom is HERE.  We are part of it.  Jesus came and lived and died to bring us into the kingdom.  It is still working towards perfection – if we are the wheat (imperfect, maybe, but still good enough, we hope, to be gathered into the barn at the harvest), then we need to be aware of the risks of the weeds that are around us, and the damage they can do.  If we had heard the New Testament reading for today from Romans chapter 8, we would have heard, verse 22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now…” We are still part of the growth in the field – the end time has not yet come for us.  So let us restrain ourselves from judging others, live in harmony with those around us, and work to resist all that is evil in the world as we seek to share God’s love and peace with all.

The words of this morning’s contemporary Collect again:  Creator God, you made us all in your image: may we discern you in all that we see, and serve you in all that we do, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayers

Faithful God,
you care for us with compassion and firmness,
urging us to grow in love for you.
Through Christ,
may we hear more deeply
your call to be rooted in your way. Amen.


Prayers of Intercessions

Dear Lord,

Let us listen to your words in our hearts. Let us recognise that we have to make choices in life.

Do we wish to work hard so we can be the good seed, even when that way is difficult,

or do we take the easy road? Help us to listen and do your will.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the church.

We know that the church too, has to work hard to ensure that it cares for all people. The church has to repent of the ways it has failed to grow and show your love fully.

Help it to treat all equally, to welcome the stranger, and to protect the innocent. Guide your church to lead as you would wish.

Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the world

Help our leaders recognise that they must build a different more equal world, that it is crucial that they recognise that they must change and seek the common good.

We also pray for the farmers of the world and the wondrous cycle of nature. Help us to work to keep the world as you have given it to us.  Forgive us for taking without giving; reaping without sowing. Help us to use our gifts for the good of your creation.

Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

 

We pray for our community.

God who calls us to loose the bonds of injustice, we pray today for our neighbours. We give thanks for the community we share, and for the opportunities we have to help one another.

We pray for your guidance to find a better way forward, to recognise that to try and address the inequalities all around us, we have to work harder. Let us learn anew to share our bread with the hungry, and use our talents to help others.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the sick

We pray today for those among us who most need thy healing. We pray for all who are sick, in mind, body, or spirit, and those caring for them. In our own community, we pray for those dear to us: for Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey, Joshua Clark, Ann Kodz, and Coe Dudding.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

O Lord, we pray for those gone before us who followed your call to share their light with the world. We pray for those who have recently died, remembering especially David Clarke, Edna Downes and Eileen Maybin, and their families and loved ones who grieve their loss.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Lord, in your mercy,   hear our prayer.

 

Lord as we start a new week, let us be mindful of your wish, that we may be the good seed that grows to do your work.

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

Sunday 12th July 2020- Trinity 5

posted 10 Jul 2020, 08:36 by Church Office   [ updated 12 Jul 2020, 06:59 by CHS Info ]









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

Sunday 12th July 2020

Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Pram Service (8am) Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) Next up is ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. All good things come from the Lord, the sun, sea, the sky, and even the sand between our toes!  Let's revel in it by creating our own wonders of abundance all around us - but especially our food - and some thought for those whose food doesn't flow so readily. We’ll be drawing pictures of food and making food collages. You can download a picture of Mr McGregor gardening from Peter Rabbit to use for your drawings here.  You will need to bring paper, colouring pens/pencils, you may want to use paint or pastels for your art. This week you’ll also need to bring glue, odd bits of fabric to cut, dried pasta, lentils or beans to stick on your food picture.  Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus now starts to teach the crowds who flock to him (numbers are so great that he gets in a boat to teach from there) in the form of parables. The first - the parable of the sower - illuminates the whole genre. Jesus’s words are “the seed”, which will grow only if his hearers are receptive and responsive. Isaiah also emphasises the creative, transforming quality of the divine Word. God declares that, after he has sent his Word out into the world, it “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose . . . and succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. Just as for Jesus’ original audience, this is an invitation to us. Can we open ourselves to God, so that through our actions in the world, we may yield an abundant harvest of inclusive grace and love in the world?

Readings

Isaiah 55:10-13 

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,


    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

 

Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

 

Sermon

I came across something rather wonderful, reading around the texts for this week. It is this: “Here’s a rule of thumb that I use for reading Jesus’ parables: if I interpret it in such a way that there is nothing surprising or even shocking about it, it’s time to go back and read it again.” This shook me right out of the totally misplaced sense of familiarity, and comfort - because parables like today’s remind me of being in church as a small child - which was my first response to this text. If I interpret it in such a way that there is nothing surprising or even shocking about it, it’s time to go back and read it again. There are worse rules of thumb to live by.

In today’s gospel Jesus is talking about words, and hearing them. The seeds sown, of course, are the gospel that is proclaimed. We speak (no pun intended) about the Word made flesh. The Greek word logos means creating, mediating, inspiring. Logos is the word used by John when he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. In the creation myth God speaks, and the world comes into being. It is striking that the parable of the sower starts with one particular word, a sentence in its own right, a non-negotiable demand: “Listen!” So how could I listen again to this so familiar parable, and be surprised? I said that I remember this parable from having been taken to church as a small child, and I suppose that must influence how I respond to it: the path / stony ground / among the thorns / fertile earth is analogous to people, and - this is the bit that is quite child-like - people fall into one of those categories. End of story. Thinking about it as an adult, it occurs to me that it is much less clear cut. In the space of just a few hours I feel I can be attentive, open and receptive and also completely oblivious, entirely missing the point of something right in front of me. That is what it is to be human, after all. Happily, I can critique things a little more acutely now than I could when I was in Sunday School. So, I can ask why would the farmer let seed fall anywhere but into the right soil in the first place? Jesus’ original hearers would immediately have understood something that might pass us by - farmers in first century Palestine would barely have been eking out a living from the land, they would certainly not have had seeds to spare. It would have been unthinkable to be so cavalier about where you sowed the precious resources you had. If you carefully sowed every seed you had in good soil and then reaped a twofold harvest that would be a very good year. But the farmer in this parable is totally careless and yet the harvest is more than abundant: a harvest of thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what he sowed.

Pope Benedict XVI says that the parables were not written into the Gospels “... to convey some sort of abstract knowledge that does not concern us profoundly.” In each one, the hearer “must enter into the movement of the parable and journey along with it … the parables are ultimately an expression of God’s hiddenness i n the world and of the fact that knowledge of God always lays claim to the whole person”

And if the farmer represents God … that would mean that people, mixed up, fragile, inconsistent as we are, capable of being like the path, and like stony ground, and like thorns - and like good soil, too, almost all at once - that would mean that God does indeed lay claim to the whole person. The ways in which we are stony and thorny are equally loved, and loveable, as much as any other aspect of the self. And of course, what follows from that is another question: what if the farmer is the Church? We had better be very sure to be equally inclusive. It is not for us to decide what kind of people are like good soil, as it were.

Here is something else that I read this week that is pertinent: if what you get out of the bible is that God hates all the same people you do, you're in trouble. I also love this phrase which Benedict uses - “an expression of God’s hiddenness in the world”. At the moment I am reading The Mirror and the Light, the final part of Hilary Mantel’s astonishing trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell. Mantel writes about pages of Tyndale’s printed gospels being smuggled into England: “In Antwerp they slide the printed sheets of the gospels between the folds of bales of cloth, where they hide, white against white. Warm, nestled, God whispers within each bundle; his word sails the sea, is unloaded in eastern ports, travels to London in a cart.” This is another phrase that I love - “God whispers” from within the folds of cloth. Like the seed in the earth, enveloped, nurtured, growing. May we be the place where the abundant, inclusive love of God is nurtured.

Amen

Prayers

Through dreams and visions, O God,
you broaden the horizon and hope of your people,
that they may discover the meaning of your covenant,
even in the midst of trial and exile.
Increase the number of those who believe in your word
so that all people may joyfully respond to your call
and share in your promises. Amen.


Prayers of Intercession

Lord God, you know our wants and needs, even before we express them; but even so we bring our hopes, fears, wants, and needs before you today in prayer.

Father, the seeds of your kingdom are forever being sown into our lives and our world, but don’t always take root. We pray that we are, and continue to be receptive and responsive to the transforming qualities of your divine word

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer


We pray for those who are threatened by persecution and violence because of their Christian faith…may they be strengthened by their faith in Jesus Christ and our solidarity with them. And we offer prayers that our own church here in Clapham can draw strength from you, although we are unable to be together in person, that when and where possible we may be reunited in prayer at the Church of the Holy Spirit  

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Father, the world seems to be in such turmoil and fear, stability and normality seem such a long way off.  Grant the leaders of our country and the world perseverance to stand strong in the face of the current adversity and offer love and protection to all those they represent...

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

We pray for our families and friends, our colleagues and our neighbours.  We pray for those that are suffering hardship and adversity in these uncertain times, and we pray that you grant peace to those who are worried and fearful. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Father, we bring to you all who are sick, and all those who are caring for them. We pray especially for Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey and Joshua Clark.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

We pray for those who have recently died and all those who have started their final journey to be with you. May they find love and comfort in their final resting place.

 We also pray for all whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one - be with them in their sorrow and grief

 Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

Grant that, as his death has recalled us to life, so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ...

Amen.

Sunday 5th July 2020- Trinity 4

posted 3 Jul 2020, 06:28 by Church Office   [ updated 5 Jul 2020, 06:45 by CHS Info ]












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

 Sunday 5th July 2020

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Our readings this week ask us to question what we place our trust in. We are promised a rest for our souls, an easy yoke, a light burden and yet the path to this rest seems counter-intuitive: Zechariah tries to persuade us that the war horses, chariots and bows and arrows of the mighty armies will be defeated by someone humble and gentle and riding on a baby donkey.  Jesus claims that the children, the infants and the little ones in life know more of the truth of God than the wise and intelligent.  These readings challenge us to reflect on what we give authority over us; because, the truth is that, we are always in yoke to something: people, places, habits, possessions, beliefs, ways of being in the world. What or whom are we yoked to and what direction are they leading us in?

Pram Service (8am) This week’s pram service is about hiding and seeking, losing and finding and who God tells secrets to. Our craft this week is a colourful chatterbox which opens up to reveal God’s amazing secrets. Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) This week its ‘thy kingdom come’ as we continue to explore the Lord’s prayer. What does God want us to make the world - fair? Just? Kind? Merciful? Pitying? Loving?  We’ll be drawing good things we do - listing the virtues - paint gardens of peace and joy. You will need to bring paper, colouring pens/pencils, you may want to use paint or pastels for your art. Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Zechariah 9:9-12

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!


    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
 I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

 

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus laments the grown-ups’ lack of understanding: children, he tells us, have the truth of God revealed to them more clearly than the supposedly wise and intelligent adults. Conventions and rules and this-is-the-way-it has-always-been stand in the way of us re-visioning our future through the eyes of God—we need to borrow the eyes of a child to see clearly.

Sermon

 Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light – yeah right!

The yoke, an implement used to bind teams of animals together, keeping them under control and driving them in a particular direction, is a symbol of servitude: God’s people throughout history have longed to throw off the yoke of bondage and the burden of oppression.

We do not think of ourselves as bound, we think that we are in control, that we chose what direction our lives move in. But truth be told all of us are yoked to something or someone: an institution we serve, the influences we are under, the people we please, the principles or values (conscious or unconscious) that drive our actions and set the direction of our lives. 

Jesus encourages us to bring our heavy burdens to him but then promises to replace them with yet another burden. 

What we want is the option to be unburdened and unyoked. 

Well, there isn’t one. 

That’s just a fact of life.

But, in confronting it, we are given a choice: the choice to become aware of what drives us, what we are shackled to, what direction we are headed in. 

These things, Jesus says, are often hidden from those who think that they are wise and intelligent; they think that they are free, when, in reality, they are bound. 

Infants, on the other hand, they know that they have to do what others tell them to do.

When Jesus speaks of children and infants, he does not just mean the young.  In the Biblical world the child is the property of others, their lives are not their own.                                                                   

The children, the little ones, the least, are those whose lives are controlled and directed by others and they know it.

When Jesus says that God has revealed the truth to the infants and hidden it from the wise and intelligent, he is not being contrary, he’s just telling us how it is. The least among us have a different perspective on life, they can see things that those with more power cannot.

To find out what they see we need to pay attention.

We need to listen closely to the experiences of those on the margins of life, those who are struggling to stay afloat.  It is from here that God speaks, through the voices of women, the poor, the foreigner, the oppressed.

The current pandemic is revealing some of these voices to us: we are beginning, God willing, to hear the experiences of the low-paid security staff, shop workers, delivery drivers, transport personnel, the insecure migrants who clean our hospitals and take care of our elderly, the black and ethnic minority communities who are dying in higher numbers of the corona virus.

Listening to the voices from the margins though is not as simple as it sounds: we don’t just have to hear what they have to say, we have to unhear what else is being said to us.

As a result of the BLM campaign we are hearing that our history, our wealth, our security, our progress has been built on the back of the poor and the enslaved. This involves not only hearing their story but unhearing the story we have grown up with: the story that it was British exceptionalism, industry and hard work that fuelled the industrial revolution and laid the foundation for our relative security and prosperity and hearing that it was built by the sweat of slaves in the cotton fields of Louisiana and the sugar cane fields of Barbados and Jamaica.

This is not just about history: hearing these stories, questioning the stories we have heard all our lives, opens our eyes to see the truth that those who are making our clothes, cleaning our schools, feeding our children are low-paid, under-valued, living in precarious and even dangerous conditions.

This knowledge is a heavy burden.  But here’s the thing – it offers a path to freedom.  It sets us free to see the world as it truly is, as God sees it. It reveals to us that our security and our freedoms are intimately yoked to the insecurity and bondage of others.  And with that revelation comes the freedom to choose differently.

We can choose to yoke ourselves to one another, to pull together in the direction that Christ sets, towards justice for all God’s people the foolish as well as the wise, the young as well as the old, the poor as well as the rich.

We don’t have the option of being unyoked, unburdened, but we do get to decide which yoke, which burden. 

We can choose to become prisoners of hope and move forwards together in the direction of justice and of peace.v

Prayers

We rejoice, O Christ,
for in your tender compassion
you shoulder our burdens and ease our heavy hearts.
Give us the strength to carry each other
as you have carried us. Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

Let us join our hearts now in prayer:

God who dwells among people rather than buildings, we come to you in prayer for the church where it is weary and burdened. We pray for people of faith throughout the world who have felt isolated through this pandemic, particularly in places where your church already faces persecution. Grant us the rest we need to hear your word of hope, that we may support each other with renewed strength to follow you.
Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God who creates and shapes our earth, we come to you in prayer for the world where it is weary and burdened. We pray for places where lockdown has not ended the destruction of the natural world, nor halted the terrors of war, nor stopped the erosion of democracy. Grant us the rest we need to see both the deep longings and the daily miracles of life around us, that we may work with renewed energy to protect your creation and work for justice in the world.
Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God who teaches us to live with love, we come to you in prayer for our community where it is weary and burdened. We pray for the places in our own neighbourhoods where this pandemic has reaffirmed the deadly tolls exacted by prejudice and systemic racism. Grant us the rest we need to listen to these hard truths, that we may come to a renewed understanding of the unheard voices in our community.
Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God who sustains our miraculous bodies, we come to you in prayer for the sick who are weary and burdened. We pray especially for the needs of those dear to us who need healing: for Jane, Heidi, and Albert Bell; Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey, and Joshua Clark. Grant them the rest they need to heal, and grant us the rest we need to care for each other with a renewed sense of love.
Lord in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God who promises eternal life, we come to you in prayer for the grieving who are weary and burdened. We pray for those mourning recent losses or remembering the anniversaries of loved ones who are now with you. Grant the departed rest, and grant us rest in their memories.
Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

Merciful God, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday 28th June 2020- Trinity 3

posted 26 Jun 2020, 04:37 by Church Office   [ updated 28 Jun 2020, 07:56 by CHS Info ]



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

Sunday 28th June 2020

Third Sunday after Trinity

This week we reach the conclusion of the long section in Matthew in which Jesus instructs the disciples before sending them out in his name, with only the clothes on their backs, like “sheep into the midst of wolves”. In this Sunday's reading Jesus turns his attention to those who will receive - or reject - the twelve as they go from place to place proclaiming the Kingdom of God. To welcome, or reject, Jesus’s disciples as they come in poverty will reveal the state of their own hearts. Jesus' words challenge us, too - are we able to recognise Him in the faces of those who are overlooked and marginalised today? And Jeremiah warns against false comfort, leaving us in no doubt that those who speak truth to power are courting unpopularity; but the world needs people who have the courage and determination to speak out about critical issues, in the hope that eventually they will be heard, and a more just society will come about.

Pram Service (8am) WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME! This week in Pram Service we are exploring what it feels like to be made welcome and how we make others feel welcome too. Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) We’re looking at the second line of the Lord’s prayer: “Hallowed by thy name” so praise, praise praise! We’ll be listing places and feelings which show us heaven here on Earth and then drawing our very own heavenly places! You will need to bring paper, colouring pens/pencils, you may want to use paint or pastels for your art. Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Jeremiah 28:5-9

Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfil the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

 

Matthew 10:40-42 

40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Here we are called to welcome, to take into our protection, to provide for and support the Little Ones. Ones (including but not exclusively children) who can offer us nothing, no prestige, no status, no reward. In doing so we receive our reward already for we have welcomed Christ and God is in our midst.

Sermon

Today’s brief and in some ways rather impenetrable gospel reading speaks about welcoming others, from God herself, to prophets, to the “little ones” (the powerless). Extending a welcome to any of these is the same - the status of the recipient has no bearing on the value of our actions.

I am puzzled by the idea of reward. How would you place value on these actions? Extending a welcome to those who in general are unwelcome, who don’t belong, in any given context can be costly, because you run the risk of making yourself unwelcome too. If you break the ‘rules’ of who should belong, or disrupt the conventions of who is permitted to be an insider, maybe you will find you are not so welcome yourself.

Matthew mentions welcoming a prophet. Jeremiah speaks about the legitimacy of prophets - those who prophesy peace, when peace comes about then can be said to be genuine. It’s interesting that this passage is a conversation between Jeremiah and another prophet, Hananiah. I haven’t checked, but I think that’s pretty unusual.

Anyway, Jeremiah accuses Hananiah of not exactly being the real thing, suggesting that Hananiah’s claim that the people can expect restoration of their lands any time soon is kind of ridiculous. Prophets who had gone before had been preoccupied with anything but peace, rather with “war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms”. So to prophesy peace between nations would be counter-cultural.

We may ask, why wouldn’t you want peace? But if to survive as a nation you have to be on the offensive, then peace is actually probably a path to destruction. Peace between nations was not generally how things worked then. Or now, of course.

So the prophets who prophesy peace are in keeping with the tradition that prophets have unpopular things to say. It is an obvious homiletical strategy, I suppose, to ask who are today’s prophets - and the answers are even more obvious: Greta Thunberg … and it seems unsurprising to me anyway that they come from the tech world, too - Bill Gates said in 2015 that the world was not prepared for a pandemic, and we have seen this is true. Neither message is one that enough people wanted or still want to hear.

The Greek word translated ‘welcome’ in fact means receive. What then if we put ourselves in the shoes of the person in need of welcome? To ask to be welcomed is to put ourselves at risk of rejection. In today’s gospel Jesus speaks at the end of a long set of instructions about how his disciples are to go out into the world, and he says “whoever welcomes you, welcomes me.” This suggests that to be a disciple of Christ, one should put oneself in the way of the gift of another’s generosity, and hospitality, and welcome. And by implication, that one must be prepared to risk rejection. To risk feeling the pain of being an outsider, unwelcome, not belonging.

What if you are systemically ‘not welcome’ day by day, in society, because of the colour of your skin? To return to my question of who are the prophets of today, maybe you don’t have to have a platform on the world stage, like Thunberg or Gates. The people marching and chanting “we can’t breathe” in the days after the deaths of black men whose last words, devastatingly, were “I can’t breathe” - of whom George Floyd was not the first but the latest, and must be the last  - they are anonymous, they are ordinary people, but their message could not be clearer nor more urgent. And what they have in common with Thunberg, Gates and the prophets of old is that they bear a message that for those of us for whom it is intended, for those of us who needed to hear it, is a hard thing to hear; and rightly so.

Surely welcome and hospitality are close to the heart of any vision for the Church, and that is what we strive to practise. In today’s gospel, it is interesting that the bar seems to be set pretty low - just a glass of cold water. Even that much, Jesus says, matters. And yet the gospels contain many instances of extravagance: if a Roman soldier demanded that you carry his pack one mile, carry it two. If someone is in need of a coat, give them not just your coat but your shirt as well. The unnamed woman who anointed Jesus’ feet did so with the most expensive perfume there was; and at the wedding in Cana in Galilee Jesus changed water into wine of inordinate quality, in great quantities.

May we learn welcome and hospitality and inclusion that provides everything that is needed by anyone who asks, be it akin to a drink of water, or to the costliest perfume imaginable.

Amen

Prayers

To fulfil the ancient promise of salvation, O God,
you made a covenant with our ancestors
and pledged them descendants more numerous than the stars.
Grant that all people may share in the blessings of your covenant,
accomplished through the death and resurrection of your Son
and sealed by the gift of your Spirit. Amen


Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray for the Church, both nationally and locally, as we continue to struggle with the changing world around us and the gradual emergence from lockdown with all of the uncertainty that brings. May we ever be ready to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus however we can and meet the needs of those for whom Good News comes all-too rarely. As we remember the two great apostles, Peter and Paul this weekend, the very foundations on which the Church was built, we give thanks today for our own church, our parish community and for Mother Ruth and all the clergy as they continue to guide us and minister to us.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer


Let us pray for our world and for all people who suffer all manner of human rights abuses. For those who live amid conflict or persecution, or in poverty or with little provision for healthcare. We remember the people of Israel and Palestine, amid rising tensions once again in that region. For journalists persecuted in Egypt. For the fragile democracy in Malawi. For the United States, dealing with a rise in Covid-19 cases and continuing tensions around race relations. That God will come close to all who suffer and all who are scared, and bring his peace to all nations.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer


Let us pray for the needs of the people of our own country. For the Prime Minister and government as they try to lead us out of lockdown amid all the medical, political and economic pressures that beset us. For those who are in precarious housing or employment. For those who are worried about their children’s education. For those who have been shielding and who continue to be at greatest risk of the virus. We pray for families as they come back together. May they experience pure joy and happiness in their hearts as they reunite with loved ones. Let us always be thankful for those that surround us and give everlasting gratitude for their health and wellbeing.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer


For the people of Clapham and the surrounding areas where we’ve seen various frictions erupting in recent days. For our Christian neighbours in other churches and people of all faiths and none. In this pride month we pray for our LGBT friends especially, for whom Clapham has been a haven of sanctuary and safety for so long. May we reach out to all our neighbours and may they find sanctuary and hospitality, acceptance and affirmation in God.

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us


For constable David Whyte, critically injured among six others late last week as he responded to reports of multiple stabbings at a hotel in Glasgow. For those who continue to fall ill or who struggle to recover from Covid-19, and for those who care for them, and for all in our own community who are sick or infirm for any reason, at home or in hospital. Let us pray they will find enduring strength and healing in the name of Jesus Christ. We remember especially in our prayers:

Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jonathan Aubrey and Jo Harvey.

We also remember in a moment of silence those known only to us: let us pray that they be sustained by God’s merciful help.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer


We remember James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails, killed in the recent terrorist attack in Reading. And we think, especially, of those who have recently died in our own communities or families:

Ralph Baer

Bernard Maciejko,

And for those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time:

            Charles Lyon

As we pray for all bereaved families, let us remember their loss and show compassion to their needs, and travel beside them on their journey through grief. 

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

 

Almighty God,

We pray and ask you to hear our prayers

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Peter and Paul,

and of all your saints,

We commend ourselves and the whole of creation

to your unfailing love.

 

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers,

For the sake of your Son,

Our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Sunday 21st June 2020- Second Sunday after Trinity

posted 18 Jun 2020, 06:16 by Church Office   [ updated 21 Jun 2020, 09:31 by CHS Info ]


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

Sunday 21st June 2020

Second Sunday after Trinity

Pram Service (8am) We will be celebrating Windrush Day.  Looking at stories of people travelling to make a new home in a far-away land.Click here to find out all about the Windrush generation and to download your printable arts and activity packs for this week (they start on p6). Story, prayer and song for our littlest members. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) we will be tackling the first line of the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father, who art in heaven”. Thinking about all the good stuff that fathers/ step-fathers/ uncles/ grandfathers/ cousins do. We must remember that God is our mother too, we are ALL God’s children- sometimes we may not get on with our siblings but we are all God’s children and we are all equal in His eyes. Different but equal. We will be making a cut out chain of people to spread across the kitchen table all over Clapham. Each one important, each one with valued views and feelings, each one who has to say sorry sometimes. You will need to bring paper, scissors and colouring pens/pencils. Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Jeremiah 20: 7-13

O Lord, you have enticed me,
    and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
    and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
    everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
    I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
    a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
    or speak any more in his name,”
then within me there is something like a burning fire
    shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
    and I cannot.
10 For I hear many whispering:
    “Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
    All my close friends
    are watching for me to stumble.
“Perhaps he can be enticed,
    and we can prevail against him,
    and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
    therefore my persecutors will stumble,
    and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
    for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
    will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
    you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;
    praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
    from the hands of evildoers.

 

Matthew 10:24-39 

24 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Sermon

Jeremiah was a prophet in a time of turmoil in Israel.  He was called by God to speak out about the dangers the nation faced.  He said they would be defeated and taken into exile, and he was proved right.  In today’s reading he describes how at times he tries not to speak God’s word, but it’s “like a burning fire shut up in my bones”, and he is compelled to, even though it brings derision and persecution from those who don’t want to hear his warnings.  The word from God is all about ‘violence and destruction’ he says, and he hates the way he’s forced to speak the truth, knowing how the people will react.  Confronting injustice is costly, but he doesn’t give up.

In his misery, he cries out in despair to God, but he knows that God is with him (verse 11), and verse 13 shows us that he can hold on to the hope and trust that justice will be done.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus preparing his disciples for the resistance they will face when they go out in his name. By the time these words were written down the early Christians were already facing persecution.  He tells them, “what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops”.  Like Jeremiah, they have to speak out, even if it leads to suffering.

Often in the Gospels, we hear Jesus saying ‘Peace be with you’, and earlier in this chapter he has told his disciples to take a greeting of peace to each house they enter. Yet here he says that he comes to bring not “peace to the earth”, but “a sword”.  I am grateful to Angus Ritchie, in this week’s commentary in the Church Times.  He quotes St John Chrysostom who wrote that true peace comes only when sin is confronted: “This more than anything else is peace: when the disease is removed. . . Only with such radical surgery is it possible for heaven to be reunited with earth.”

As Angus Ritchie says, true peace involves facing the truth about what is wrong in our own ‘interior’ lives, and in our common life.  We need to acknowledge, and repent of, the injustices and evasions we have consciously or unconsciously assumed.  He quotes another commentator who writes, “A great deal needs to be transformed, purified, put to death and brought to life again, before the peace that comes from God can reign supreme.” (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to St Matthew). 

If we want the peace in our hearts, and peace in our world, which we so often pray for, we have to address issues of inequality and injustice by which we humans obstruct the coming of the kingdom of God. 

This is particularly relevant right now as we consider how we are all responsible for allowing social, economic, and racial injustice. Like Jeremiah and the prophets before us, we have to speak out and confront wrongdoing. Angus Ritchie warns us against the danger of “an illusory peace” which comes from complacency and anxious self-justification.  We can be tempted to think that we are not to blame for these injustices, but we are all complicit and we need to examine our hearts and our minds in a real sense of shame and sorrow searching for the ways in which we ourselves need to change. We cannot and must not remain silent.  We cannot and must not do nothing if we are to remain true to our Christian faith which proclaims freedom to the oppressed. To be silent is to allow sin to triumph over love.

So what can we do? 

1. One practical way to repair some of the damage that has been done to our shared humanity over hundreds of years is to create a better balance in the teaching of history: we would not need an annual “Black History Month” if black and white history were taught equally in a balanced way throughout the year. We can fight for that, and educate ourselves by reading more to balance the history we’ve been taught in the past.

2. Tomorrow is Windrush Day.  Bishop Christopher has invited us to hold a two-minute silence at 11am ‘to  contemplate the lives lost in the slave trade; lament the racism and racial inequality built into our national systems and structures since that time; and consider what action we can take to confront racial injustice today.’*

3. Pray for wisdom and insight as we examine our own inner prejudices.

4. Take time to listen to those who have experienced racism, talk about these things and speak out when we hear comments or see actions which reveal racist attitudes, whether those are conscious or unconscious.

Jesus rejects a false peace in favour of the interior and social conflict we must face if we are to confront sin. Angus Ritchie again: “There is an interior disturbance, because we must face up to our own entanglement in sin. And there is a social disturbance because, as Jesus explains, an honest reckoning with sin will divide families and communities.

Jeremiah confronted his society with the uncomfortable truths it didn’t want to hear, but his lament ends with a song of praise to the Lord: “he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers”.

Jesus’s teaching on the cost of faithful witness has the same assurance: the disciples will suffer, but “those who lose their life for my sake will find it”: the true and lasting peace of eternal life that flows from his triumph on the cross.

Prayers

A prayer written by the Dean of Southwark:

God of all, who loves each of us for who we are, to whom each life matters,

who counts the hairs on our head, who knows when a sparrow falls;

teach us to love as you love,

to respect, to honour, to care and to protect each of our sisters and brothers,

that your embracing, including kingdom may come now and your love be known.

Amen


God of power,
you uphold us in times of persecution
and strengthen us to meet the trials of faithful witness.
As you delivered us from death
through our baptism in Christ
and the victory of his resurrection
send us forth to proclaim that glorious redemption,
so that the world may claim
the freedom of forgiveness
and new life in you. Amen.


Prayers of Intercession

Lord, grant us the stillness and calm of your Spirit that we might concentrate on these few minutes of prayer together.

Lord, we have seen how fragile the world can be.  Look with your love and compassion on the needs and suffering of all nations. We ask you to give guidance to the leaders of all countries, who have the heavy responsibility of shaping policies for their people.  May they make wise decisions and now more than ever be prepared to work together for the greater good.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for your Church that it may shine as a light in the world, that it may be strengthened in its testimony of justice, truth and freedom in every land and continue to proclaim that all lives matter.  We ask for your blessing on all the clergy who are working tirelessly to maintain the ministry of your word and pastoral care in difficult circumstances.  We think particularly of our own parish and pray that we shall soon be able to be back in church.  Give us courage, Lord, that we might each do what we can to help those in need and comfort those in distress.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for doctors, nurses and medical staff who are caring for the sick and all those working in care homes.  Lord, keep them safe and give them skill, sympathy and the resilience to carry on.  Guide all those throughout the world who are searching for a vaccine and cure for Coronavirus.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for our local community in Clapham, our families, our friends, our neighbours, the elderly, the isolated, the anxious, those who are struggling financially, the hungry and the homeless.  We bring before you the sick and the suffering and entrust them to your tender care.  Comfort them that they might be restored to health and strength.  We ask in particular for your blessing on Jane, Heidi and Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika and Bernard Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris,  Jane Roberts, Damien Harte and Jonathan Aubrey, and in a moment of silence let us think of any others close to us or known to us ………..

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We remember loved ones and friends who have died and we think of all those who are mourning a recent bereavement.  May they find the strength, with your support, to meet each day with steadfastness and patience and may they know that you are with them in their loneliness.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

And, finally, Bishop Christopher’s prayer:

God of faith, deepen our faith

So we may bear witness to Christ in the world;

God of hope, strengthen our hope

So we may be signposts to your transforming presence;

God of love, kindle our love

So that, in a fragile and divided world,

We may be signs of the faith, hope and love

Which we share in Jesus Christ.

 

Merciful Father –

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sunday 14th June 2020- Trinity 1

posted 12 Jun 2020, 08:35 by Church Office   [ updated 14 Jun 2020, 04:08 by CHS Info ]


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

Sunday 14th June 2020

First Sunday after Trinity

This Sunday is the start of “ordinary time” in the church.  All the festivals and feasts are over and now it’s time to just get on with the day to day work of living as God’s people.

It’s a tough start though.  The readings speak of one particular people being special and chosen, “you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples” our first reading from Exodus states.  The gospel of Matthew has Jesus sending his disciples only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and forbids them from ministering to the gentiles and the Samaritans.  How are we to respond? Should we skip over these bits because they make us feel uncomfortable? Should we explain them away? Or should we question the text, argue with it, seek to enter into a dialogue with what it means to be a people who trust God sufficiently to question God and allow God to question us.

Pram Service (8am)  Baaaaa or Roaaaah?  This week we will explore being sheep and being wolves.  Story,  prayer and  song for our littlest members. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) This week we are focusing on the Lord’s Prayer. What is prayer? We will do a bit of chatting to God and we will have a look at the Lord’s Prayer template given us by Jesus.  With Father’s Day next week, we will also be thinking about our fathers and father figures who we trust and love us dearly. Bring crayons, pencils, felt tips, paper and glue - bring any stories or pictures of good things that fathers can do! See you there! Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Exodus 19:2-8 

They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

 

Matthew 9:35-10:8

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

Seeking out the lost and cleansing the lepers. How are we getting on with that? Raising the dead. How about that one? Again, God invites us, in this passage, to think and see differently. But also to live differently - more freely, boldly, faithfully, and abundantly - in light of what Jesus has shown us and in light of what he has given us in the Spirit.

 

Sermon

 A few weeks ago a couple of neighbours were having a fairly good natured political argument about something Kier Starmer had or hadn’t said on our neighbourhood whatsapp group.  Several other neighbours weighed in, not with their views on Kier Starmer, but with instructions to please keep the neighbour chat positive and uplifting. 

I am not knocking my neighbours, this is something we all do.  When the conversation get awkward, when someone says something that makes us uncomfortable, our first reaction is often to restore peace by bringing the conversation to an end, by changing the subject, smoothing over any differences.

This morning we have such a moment in the Gospel: Jesus is sending out his disciples to proclaim the nearness of the kingdom of God, but only to their people, “the lost sheep of the House of Israel”, not to the gentiles, not to any Samaritans, just to the Israelites.

We could easily skip over this bit because the passage is full of other great stuff: the call to poverty and reliance on hospitality, the healing of the sick and calling out of demons, the generosity of sharing what you have with others.

But what if we don’t skip over it?

What if we question what it means for Jesus sent his disciples to bring all this good news to one group and not another?

Throughout the whole story of scripture there is the story of one nation, one people, being chosen, being special as our first reading puts it to “be my treasured possession out of all peoples”. 

There is a way of reading this story that says that God chose the Jews because they were the underdog, an example of choosing the weak over the strong, the oppressed over the oppressor. 

There is another way of reading it that says that Israel was only called so that it could serve the rest of the world.  When God first covenants with Abraham to bless his people it is in order that they may be a blessing to all nations.

Still another way is to read the people of Israel as some kind of divine pilot project: test salvation with one group first and iron out any kinks before rolling it out to the rest of the world.  A bit like trialling the coronavirus tracing app on the Isle of Wight. 

I am not sure that any of these explanations are truly satisfactory. 

It just doesn’t seem right does it?  

Someone else doesn’t think its right either: later in the gospel a Samaritan woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and is told “it is not right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs”.  The children, we are to understand, are the Jewish people, the dogs are rest.  The woman does not back down, she questions, why, why shouldn’t the dogs at least get some of the crumbs? She seems to be more aware of the abundance of God’s mercy than Jesus is.

Here is an outsider who speaks up and challenges Jesus, challenges his privileged position as Jewish male over a foreign female.  An outside who insists on having the conversation.  

The result is that Jesus changes his mind.  Or that’s how it seems. At the end of the conversation with this brazen foreign woman Jesus commends her faith, he heals her daughter – it turns out that there is enough grace and mercy to go round. 

We often perceive of God as God as unchanging, eternal and all-knowing but that is not the God we see here. 

Here we see Jesus expressing views that are common to one group and being challenged to take account of the lived experience of another group and changing his mind.

Here we see Jesus enter into conversation, argue, discuss and change his behaviour. 

In Jesus we see God becoming fully present in one particular human being.  The particularity of Jesus is important, his maleness is important, his Jewishness is important.  Important not because God can only be fully present in men or fully present in Jews but important because God can be fully present in any human life.  Which means that no human life is incapable of being the place where God is present. 

For me Jesus’s very maleness which shows me that God is present in all genders, his very Jewishness that shows me that God is present in all races. 

The presence of God in Jesus allows Jesus change, allows Jesus to learn, allows Jesus to transcend his Jewishness and maleness to stand and argue with this Samaritan woman as an equal.

Perhaps more than anything this passage shows me that if the Samaritan woman can challenge Jesus, can interrogate the Son of God, then we too can challenge the church, we too can interrogate the scriptures.  When we do so we find a that God is always bigger, always more inclusive, always more just than we imagined.  And in finding that God we also find that we too can become a bigger, more inclusive and more just humanity.

 

Prayers

God of compassion,
you have opened the way for us
and brought us to yourself.
Pour your love into our hearts,
that, overflowing with joy,
we may freely share the blessings of your realm
and faithfully proclaim the good news of Christ. Amen.

 

Prayers of intercession

Let us pray to God through his Son and in the power of the Spirit

Let us pray for the church in its strength and weakness. We pray for its ministry in places of persecution – in the Middle East and in China. We ask God’s blessing on churches here without a vicar or leadership, that labourers may be found for God’s harvest. May the church in Clapham continue to proclaim the good news that all lives matter.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


Let us pray for the world in all its fragility. We pray for those working in the media, uncovering news that the powerful would prefer to leave buried. We remember journalists imprisoned or censored because of their commitment to the truth and pray that those controlling print or social media will act responsibly and in the interest of the common good.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Let us pray for our families, friends and our local community. May we look out for each others’ needs particularly those bearing heavy responsibilities caring for adults or children. We offer to God’s care Bonneville and Macauley Schools, Clapham Academy and Lambeth College and all places of learning, especially in these times where education is difficult.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Let us pray for those suffering from sickness of body mind or spirit, particularly those lonely or grieving for loved ones. By name we pray for

Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Bernard Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte and,  Jonathan Aubrey. 

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Let us pray for those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries of death occur around this time. May we all find ourselves made whole in God’s loving and eternal care.

 Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

 

Uniting our prayer with Bernard Mzeki, missionary and martyr, and St Richard of Chichester, we pray Thanks be to thee, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.

Merciful God, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

 

Sunday 7th June 2020- Trinity Sunday

posted 4 Jun 2020, 08:48 by Church Office   [ updated 8 Jun 2020, 13:10 by CHS Info ]

 
 

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

Sunday 7th June 2020

Trinity Sunday

 Today is Trinity Sunday. The day when we reflect on the nature of God and so on the nature of humanity.   Our first reading is the story of God’s creation.  It tells us that we are made in God’s image; and that image is an image of relationship: made together, male and female, made to mirror God’s relationship of Father, Son & Spirit.  We were made by community to be in community.  In this reading heaven and earth are united.  Our gospel reading is another creation story of sorts: in this passage the Spirit of God which brought creation out of chaos is given to us.  We are sent by the risen Christ to reunite heaven and earth, to draw the whole world back into community to be in relationship with God and with one another.

Pram Service (8am) today’s pram service looks at the story of creation.  We explore how we are made in the image of God and we think about how we too can be creative. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) This week it is Trinity Sunday… can you find a clover leaf somewhere on Clapham Common or in your garden. Now let’s make it harder can you find a three leafed clover, not a four leafed clover but a THREE LEAFED CLOVER. Maybe we will find out about the man who told everyone about a three leafed clover. You’ll need to bring colouring pencils and paper, especially green and blue colours. Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 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. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 6 And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 9 And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. 14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. 20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2: 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. 4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the beginning: the story of God’s creation reminds us that we are made in God’s image; and that image is an image of relation-ship: made together, male and female, made to mirror God’s relationship of Father, Son & Spirit. We were made by community to be in community.

 

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

In the power of God’s spirit, the spirit which moved over the earth in creation, we are sent out by the risen Christ to draw the whole world back into community: into relationship with God and one an-other.

Sermon

 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

We always gather together for worship on the first day of the week: it is supposed to represent for us the gift of a new beginning.

It doesn’t feel much like a new beginning and it certainly doesn’t feel very good.

The mess we have made of creation, of community, of relationship. 

We may long for a new beginning, yet we know that we must live with the mess that we have made.  But then again mess is always the thing the newness comes from; even the very first beginning started with “darkness and a formless void”.

In that mythical first ever new beginning God said “let us make humankind in our own image”.  “Let us (note that it’s plural) make humankind (again plural) in our own image male and female God created them.”

We were created as a plural by a plural.  Today is Trinity Sunday the day we celebrate that God is not some monolithic lonely deity but something that is always and by its very nature in relationship with others.  

And on this day, we hear again the story of our beginning – in relationship.

We begin not as one but as many. 

We begin not the same but different.

But God created humankind, male and female God created them – different God created them.  We are not meant to be the same – but we are meant to be together.

God created us and everything but joining together things that were different: the heavens and the earth, plants and animals, male and female, human and divine.

Maybe there is hope in that.

The icon most often used to represent the Trinity is Rublev’s icon.  Showing the three persons of the Trinity in conversation.  There is a movement in the icon – the eyes and hands draw our eye around the circle. But the circle is not complete.  There is a gap. The gap is the invitation for you to enter and join the circle.

Our icon, the icon of the feast of Pentecost is also full of circles:

They are even more incomplete:

There is a half-circle right up here at the top – just about making it onto the icon: this represents heaven, the life of the divine. 

This half circle right down here at the bottom represents the earth, the world.

Most of the icon is taken up with a larger semicircle – the church, the people of God, the body of Christ.  The job of this lot is to join together the two semicircles -the blue one at the top and the black one at the bottom to make the circle whole. Then the heaven and earth, human and divine are once again united, complete.

But it is never complete until everyone’s in it. 

Living in this space in the middle is uncomfortable.  Living with the circle radically open makes us anxious: anyone can join, anyone can walk in, anyone.  And that is a threat, a challenge, it opens us to change.  Frequently churches deal with this by pretending that the circle is complete when it really isn’t. 

In our gospel Jesus gives us the task of completing the circle. 

This week, following the protests at the death of George Floyd, following the publication of the report into the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on our black and ethnic minority communities here, I have some hard conversations.  Conversations that have challenged me, unsettled me, made me feel uncomfortable. Conversations that have again made me acutely aware of how incomplete the circle is. 

God made us to be together but not the same.  God made us different.  We cannot be together unless we acknowledge recognise value and make space for those differences.  We cannot open a space that fits us and assume it will fit everyone.  Race makes a difference, gender makes a difference, sexuality makes a difference, class makes a difference. 

We can’t just open our doors carry on as usual and hope that a new creation will happen all on its own.

That’s where the being sent part comes in. 

This is a huge and daunting task. 

But it begins, as all tasks do, with a single step. 

Ai Wei wei says that one small action is worth a million words. 

I can talk, we can talk, about racial justice in church until the cows come home – but it is when we leave church that is important. 

One small action: talk to your black neighbours, friends, relatives, colleagues about how they are feeling.  

Just talk, be brave, start the conversation – open up the circle.

Prayers

God of delight,
your Wisdom sings your Word
at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet.
Invite us into your joyful being
where you know and are known
in each beginning,
in all sustenance,
in every redemption,
that we may manifest your unity
in the diverse ministries you entrust to us,
truly reflecting your triune majesty
in the faith that acts,
in the hope that does not disappoint,
and in the love that endures. Amen.

Prayers of Intercessions

We come boldly to the throne of grace, praying to the almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for mercy and grace.

You told your disciples, to go out and teach all nations your words,

that all are equal before God, and that love, justice and compassion are the way forward.

 Help us all to obey all that you have commanded.

Lord in your mercy     

Hear our prayer

 

Father of heaven, whose love profound

a ransom for our souls has found:

We pray for the world, created by your love,

for its nations and governments, that they may change and take the action you would wish.

You have shown that love for the poor, the sick and the distressed, is the way ahead.

You have shown that Black Lives Matter- Let all leaders hear your word.. …

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

 

Almighty Son, incarnate Word,

our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord:

We pray for the Church, created for your glory,

for its ministry to be loud and spread the overwhelming message that love and unity

Is the only way forward . …

Extend to us your salvation, growth, mercy and grace.

Lord in your mercy  

Hear our prayer

 

Eternal Spirit, by whose breath, the soul is raised from sin and death:

We pray for families and individuals, created in your image,

for the oppressed, the bereaved, the lonely, the sick and the dying …

Breathe on them the breath of life and bring them to your mercy and grace.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

 

Thrice holy! Father, Spirit, Son,

Mysterious Godhead, Three in One:

Bring us all to bow before your throne in heaven,

to receive life and pardon, mercy and grace for all eternity,

as we worship you, saying, together:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest

Sunday 31st May 2020- Feast of Pentecost

posted 28 May 2020, 10:23 by Church Office   [ updated 30 May 2020, 08:56 ]

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

Sunday 31st May 2020

Feast of Pentecost

 

Today is the feast of Pentecost: the birthday of the worldwide church and our parish’s patronal festival. Today we celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit, no longer a gift for specially chosen individuals but now available to all because all are chosen to carry on Christ’s work in the world and build the Kingdom of God.

For today’s service you will need a candle, something to light it with and something red to wear or wave. 


Please click the links (in blue) for a special Pentecost activity for YOU and YOUR CHILDREN to do as part of a massive community project. You can also go to our what’s happening page for further instructions.

The fiery feast of Pentecost.  This week our pram service brings us the story of the wind and flames that heralded the birthday of the church.  As with any birthday there will be candles, there will be balloons, bring your own cake. Pram Service will now be pre-recorded so you can have your weekly dose of songs, stories and prayers whenever you like, where ever you like and how ever many times you like! Head over to the Children and Youth tab to start the fun! The pram service videos will be uploaded each week before Pram Service’s regular start time- Sundays at 8am.

In Sunday School this week (9:30am) A message from Caroline: Pentecost comes but once a year. It brings together the whole church’s birthday and celebrates our own church as Church of the Holy Spirit, so lots of light and flames! Can people make and/ or bring a cake big or small plus candles to light and crayons to finish Jesus statements - I am the light! Birthday light/ light in our darkness / light to show us the way. You will also need candle and lantern shapes.  Click the zoom link https://zoom.us/j/578055716 to join Sunday school, you will also need the password which can be found in our newsletter. 

 

Readings

Acts 2:1-21

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

When the Holy Spirit comes to the first disciples: each of them received a different gift & they are immediately sent out into the world to use it.

 

John 20:19-23

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Here the risen Jesus breathes his Holy Spirit on his disciples: just as the Creator breathed life into humanity in the beginning: we are to be a new creation.

 

Sermon

 Fire is our most potent symbol: we light a flame when some one dies and we light one when someone is born.  When Christmas comes we light a fire, Easter; we light a fire; Pentecost: we light a fire.

When our hearts are full to bursting and we do not have the words to form a prayer – we light a flame, trusting that it will express the inexpressible and give voice to the unsaid.

This week Minneapolis is on fire: this fire too gives voice if not the unsaid then at least to the unheard longing of many hearts.

The fires in Minnesota express the anger of a community which has witnessed their voices being fatally ignored: when a man pleads for his life for a full five minutes and the boot is not raised from his throat until he has been silent for a further three, something louder is required to give voice to his plight.

Our Diocesan motto is Hearts on Fire and, for the many years that I have celebrated Pentecost with you, my heart has been on fire with love, on fire with hope. 

This year it is on fire with anger.

I want to tell you the story, not of George Floyd and the terrible injustice done to him but of another middle-aged black man.  A man I will be burying next week.  This man was born in the same year as me, he was raised in the same little patch of South London that I was.  He did not die as dramatically or publicly as Mr Floyd, yet I feel that his voice was also never heard. 

The funeral directors could tell me nothing about him, his uncle could tell me nothing about him, when I tried, I could not contact his mother, she had no mobile, no landline and she did not answer the door when I knocked.  I asked a neighbour who said that she thought she had been a member of a local church.  I called the minister who told me that the family had mental health issues, that they were resistant to contact, that I should maybe just turn up and pray the prayers we pray for anyone who has died known or unknown.

I don’t know why I tried again – I did not want to – I was irritable and bad tempered about it but maybe it was professional pride maybe it was that he was born the same year in the same place as me.  Anyway I went again and then again to knock on the door of the home he had shared with his mother all his life.  It was hard to get her to speak.  The first time she sent me away.  But finally she told me he had been mentally ill, he was a quiet soul, he loved music, he liked a drink and a smoke and a fry up.

She told me how hard it was to come to Britain in the 60s, of the racism she experienced, of continually being made to feel less than.  She told me how isolated she was; how as the area had changed in her lifetime and there was no one left on the street from back in day; how the new inhabitants of Clapham minded their own business. 

Both she and her home were run down.  She and her son had received no support.  She had cared for him from birth to death.  He was not murdered by a policeman for being poor and black like George Floyd, but I feel that his life and death were also full of injustice.  He lived and died below the radar, his experiences were never valued, voice was never heard.

At Pentecost the disciples, also a persecuted minority, were accused of being drunken fools, their voices were also dismissed. 

And Peter stood and spoke the words of the prophet Joel: in those days I will pour out my spirit on all people, your young will have visions, your old will dream dreams, your sons and your daughters, even the enslaved, will prophesy.

God speaks through those who are on the margins, those whose voices are often unheard, whose lived experience is frequently overlooked.

This Pentecost, we ponder all that the pandemic is revealing to us: we are aware that the voices of many have not been heard; the black men and women who are more likely to have low paid jobs, more likely to live in over crowded communities, more likely to be overlooked, are more likely to die.

The very old and the very young, the poor and those who struggle, they are the ones who will dream dreams, who will have visions, who will prophesy to us: speaking words we may not want to hear but that we need to listen to.

Before I left the doorstep of the mother, whose son I will bury next week, I asked her what had kept her going all these years.  She told me that as a child she was taught by heart the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm and many spiritual songs and then, suddenly, unexpectedly, she opened her mouth and sang, loudly, passionately:

Oh Lord my God and Father,

oft I stray,

yet still to you I pray,

though life is hard and dark my way,

thy will be done.  

It broke my heart, it filled my heart with sorrow, sorrow which has grown to anger, and then to a deep longing for us to be a community that listens to the voices of all those upon who God pours his spirit: the young, the old, the poor, the oppressed.  

And when we have listened, and when we have heard, and when our hearts have been set blaze, then and only then will the spirit of Lord fall on us and anoint us, anoint us for this purpose only, to bring good news to the poor, to open the eyes of the blind, to proclaim release to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.  

Prayers

Perplexing, Pentecostal God,
you infuse us with your Spirit,
urging us to vision and dream.
May the gift of your presence
find voice in our lives,
that our babbling may be transformed into discernment
and the flickering of many tongues
light an unquenchable fire of compassion and justice. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

Generous God, we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.

We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness

where there is division, sickness and sorrow.

We bring to you all who are sick, and all those who are caring for them,

praying especially for:

Jane, Heidi, and Albert Bell; Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika and

Bernard Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane

Roberts, Damien Harte and Jonathan Aubrey.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,

given us by the risen Lord.

We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,

in the joy of eternal life.

Lord, come to bless us

and fill us with your Spirit.

 

Generous God,

you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the river Jordan,

and upon the disciples in the upper room:

in your mercy fill us with your Spirit,

hear our prayer,

and make us one in heart and mind

to serve you with joy for ever. Amen.

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