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Sunday 6th September 2020 Trinity 13

posted 4 Sep 2020, 03:57 by Church Office   [ updated 7 Sep 2020, 12:28 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 6th September 2020

 Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

We’re all in it together seems to be the message of this week’s texts.  They don’t sit comfortably with our modern individualism and attitude of minding our own business.

In the reading from Ezekiel God promises to appoint sentinels to watch over his people. To warn them when their treatment of one another is unjust.  It seems harsh that the sentinels themselves will be blamed for the sins of those whom they have failed to warn; yet it makes clear that we are responsible for one another; building the kingdom of God is not a solo pursuit.   In the gospel passage Jesus points out that our individual relationships impact upon the whole community.  Each of us has power and authority to set one another free with forgiveness and generosity or to bind one another with judgement.   Conflict and disagreement are not the issue, its whether we care enough about one another.  Relationships inevitably break down from time to time but we are called to keep working to mend them when they do.

In PRAM SERVICE  (8am in church) this week we are exploring how to get along with each other: falling out and making up again.  Songs, stories, prayers and this week making friendship paper chains.

Readings


Ezekiel 33:7-11 
7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life. 10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” 11 Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Matthew 18:15-20 
15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

 

Sermon

 “Where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them”, says our Lord.  It is a wonderful promise, Christ present with us now – the trouble is, the other two or three.

Today’s readings are all about how hard other people are to live with. In our epistle the Roman Christians are being reprimanded for quarrelling and jealousy (as well as the more exciting sins of revelling and drunkenness).  And the gospel reading is a list of instructions for how to try and patch it up when we fall out. From the very beginning neither the church nor its members were perfect and we should not expect them to be. Nonetheless today’s readings are also all about how we are responsible for one another whether we like it or not; whether we like each other or not we are to love each other.

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.  But, as the letter to the Romans love is not something we should choose whether or not to bestow upon one another, it is a strict obligation, it is what is required of us, we OWE it to one another as a debt.  Fortuitously for those, who like me, are not always easy to love, love does not mean that have to like each other all that time, or that we have to get along with one another all the time, loving one another does not preclude disagreements and disputes; which is a bit of a relief. 

Our readings reveal that right from its very beginning, there was tension in the Christian community, between our calling to love one another and our inability to always get on with one another.  It is good to know that we are not failing to love one another when we disagree with each other, and that we are not failing to love one another when we wound one another, which, because we are human, we are bound to do.  But we are failing to love one another if, having wounded one another, we do not seek, with all our will, to mend that relationship. 

Which is why our gospel instructs us to talk to one another. Jesus tells us to do the opposite of what we usually do when we have been wronged by someone, we usually don't speak directly to the person. Instead, we go and tell two or three or four or five other people.  Often when we are wounded, our primary concern is to lick our wounds and assure ourselves of the support of others, or to justify ourselves and prove that we were in the right. And that’s normal, but Jesus tells us that our primary concern should be to restore our relationship with the person who has hurt us because, we owe one another a debt of love.

The language of debt and the forgiveness of debt is important in the gospels; In Jesus’ time debt was life threatening – as it still can be today – it brought loss of land, livelihood, family and place in the community. An indebted person was unable to maintain their social position.  If someone’s debt was forgiven, they were restored to their place in the community.

So, it is with love, if we love someone, when they wrong us, our obligation is to do whatever is possible to mend our relationship. Jesus tells us that we have the power to lose or bind, to retain sins or to forgive them. We have the power to destroy or to restore. The choice is always ours. When we choose to forgive, when we choose to love, then we become the place where Christ is present, then we are the two or three gathered in his name.

People are difficult! Community is hard work but it is here that Christ is found. If we did not have one another, we would not have Christ in our midst.

Prayers

Holy God,
you call us to righteousness and light.
Teach us the undivided law of love,
that we may love your children even as you do,
love you with all our will and strength,
and find our freedom in this blessed service,
taught to us in word and deed
by Jesus Christ our Lord. 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 of all nations on earth, we ask you to look with your love and compassion on the areas of the world that so desperately need your presence and healing.  We think of Beirut, Belarus and many other places.  We pray that you will help governments to find answers to the cruelty and anguish, man’s inhumanity to man, the heartbreak of refugees and broken families, the hopelessness of so many lives.  Lord, please help the helpless and bring succour to the suffering, through your unconditional love.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

We pray that you will give wisdom and sound judgment to all those in positions of power and authority in our own country and we ask for your blessing on our archbishop, bishops, and on our clergy and all in the team who work here at Holy Spirit in your name.  We bring before you the current campaign to raise money for the means to broadcast our services for those who cannot get to church.  Lord, as you taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves, give us courage to do what each of us can to help those in need; to comfort those in distress; to offer practical help and the assurance of your love to those still lonely and isolated.

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

We pray for our local community in Clapham, our families, our friends, our neighbours, the elderly and those suffering depression, hardship and anxiety about work. We think of all those returning to schools and universities and pray that they will remain sensible and safe in your sight.  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 and  Joshua Clarke. In a moment of silence let us think of any others close to us or known to us about whom we are concerned ………..  Lord, lift up those who are brought low and keep them in your love.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

We pray for loved ones and friends who have died and we think of all those who are mourning a recent bereavement. We pray especially for Margaret Gale who recently passed, we pray for her family and those who cared about her.  May they find your strength and support in their loneliness.  We remember the slenderness of the thread which separates life from death, and the suddenness with which it can be broken. 

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer

Lord God, may we know you as the true Messiah and, in spite of all our failings, be rocks to form a sure foundation on which you can build and develop your church here on earth.  Give us your wisdom and surround us with your love that we may live in fellowship with you, in harmony of spirit with others, and for the good of all mankind.

Merciful Father –

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

 

Ċ
Church Office,
4 Sep 2020, 03:57
Ċ
Church Office,
4 Sep 2020, 03:57
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