Morning everyone, today we are the last Sunday in Epiphany and next week we go back into green altar dressings for the period before lent. Today’s Gospel reading is from the sermon on the mount and the beatitudes.
A reminder to you all about our team service on the 12th February at Canon Slade, 10am. Breakfast will be served from 9.15-9.45, please let your church officials know so that catering numbers can be confirmed. Also a reminder that St Maxentius will be holding a memorial service on Sunday 5th February at 3pm for anyone who has lost loved ones, their names will be read out and you will be invited to come and light a candle for them. Please let me know or pass on names to me via someone from your church, all are welcome.
Thank you to Rev Peter for the reflection today, the Intercessions are by myself.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Lord speak to us that we may hear your word
Move among us that we may behold your glory
Receive our prayers that we may learn to trust you. Amen.
Almighty God to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF PENITENCE
Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly; love mercy and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring us his pardon
and peace, now and forever. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us. You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
God our creator, who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness:
we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, shine into the hearts of all your people, and reveal the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING
1 CORINTHIANS 1. 18-31
The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Glory to you O Lord.
MATTHEW 5. 1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
We know this passage as “The Beatitudes” – from the Latin – Beatus – meaning blessed.
Matthew shapes his gospel around five sections of teaching and this is the first and longest which runs to 3 chapters – what we call the Sermon on the Mount. A Jewish reader would hear echoes of Moses giving the 10 Commandments and the Law on Mount Sinai.
These bold statements are like the 10 Commandments and the subsequent teaching fills them out. The whole “Sermon” ends with a challenge – are we the wise who heed and act on the teaching or the foolish who pay no attention.
The Beatitudes are delightful, in what they affirm and what they promise, what they say about who God has special regard for; they are challenging because they are not straightforwardly “true” – when will these blessings be realised?
Many scholars feel that the final “Blessed” (when people revile you) may be an addition as the poor inspirit and the persecuted share the same affirmation – “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
In that case we can see how the first 4 are blessings on those who struggle, though our translations rather spiritualise away the likely meaning.
Blessed are the very poor (whose spirit is damaged); blessed are those who mourn (because of the oppression and suffering); blessed are the dispossessed of the land (see Ps 37:11 – meek is probably not a good translation of what Jesus said); blessed are the hungry – hungry because justice is not done (the word means both righteousness and justice), and the phrase “will be filled” literally means will be given a feast. So the very poor will have the Kingdom, the weeping will receive comfort, the dispossessed will inherit the land and the hungry will be given a feast.
And the next four are for those of us who maybe are not in the first categories; we show mercy and we receive mercy; if our hearts are pure and set on God we will see God, if we work for peace and shalom, we will be called children of God, for that is what God desires, and if we are persecuted for this, for seeking justice, then, like the poor, we discover the Kingdom is ours.
The qualities of mercy and purity of heart (integrity), of peace-making and of accepting persecution as we pursue justice and righteousness are ones we can develop ourselves, but I want to end by reiterating that this is not a series of demands, it is an invitation to see the world differently and join in. It is for us as a church / parish to work out what this means for us. May the Spirit of Jesus be among our church, especially for those who struggle and grieve, and may the Spirit of Jesus be evident in how we live our lives, receiving blessing and sharing it.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father; he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Here we for the church, for the world, those in need and those who have died, you can follow your own prayers or these below on today’s theme.
Lord we ask you to help your church to proclaim your presence and you saving power. As we give thanks for Jesus and his disciples, may we act as they have taught us and bring your kingdom to all. We give thanks to men and women of vision and who dedicate their lives in your service. We ask for your blessing on our churches and leaders in our team and mission community, guide us to do your work and help others to see the love and joy our faith.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
God of freedom we remember all who are oppressed, who hunger, the meek and pray that they will feel they are not forgotten and will see your kingdom. We give thanks for the merciful, pure in heart and the peacemakers that they are precious in our world. May we rejoice in the diversity we have and embrace each one of us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We give thanks for our homes, our loved ones and our security. May we show your presence in our lives so others may join us in caring for others. We remember at this time those who are lonely or rejected or feel worthless.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
Lord you are with us even when it is dark, we ask you to care for the sick, those in pain or fear. We remember especially, Joan Finch, Irene Bennett, Mildred Gerrard, Thomas Causton, Evelyn Cooper, Kevin Maguire and Harold Bowers.
Lord in your mercy , hear our prayer
We give thanks that in you life is eternal and we ask your blessing on friends and loved ones who are departed from us. From our book of remembrance we pray for James Haslam, Edward Haslam, Thomas Fowler, Frank Entwistle, Richard Louvain Barker, Richard Adrian Daintith and Ellen Pilton.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour jesus Christ. Amen
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen
May the love of Lord Jesus draw us to himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service and the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us and those that we love this day and for ever. Amen.