Good morning everyone, I hope you are all well. I am having to make a change to our worship at home as I am now doing ordinand training and my time is now very limited. There will still be a service for you, but it will be the same for a few weeks and each week I will change just the readings, prayers and reflection. Today’s reflection is by Rev Peter, it is wonderful that he is on the mend and is starting a phased return to us all. The intercessions are by myself.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence. Give us new hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF PENITENCE
The Holy Spirit fills the world and knows our every word and deed. Let us then open ourselves to the Lord and confess our sins in penitence and faith.
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.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who in his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with heartfelt repentance and true faith turn to him; have mercy on us and deliver us from our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.
THE COLLECT – Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; through 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.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING –
PHILIPPIANS 2. 1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
THE GOSPEL –
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Glory to you O Lord.
MATTHEW 21. 23-32
When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin,” we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
This is a strange altercation: quite abrupt. Jesus does not just not-answer the first question but he probes the views of those who ask, identifying their double-standards. But it is not a ‘game’; Jesus is asked about his authorisation and if the priests etc won’t or can’t answer about John then they will not accept what Jesus has to say either. We may want to ask ourselves, ‘what authority does Jesus have today?’ ‘What authority do I give to Jesus in areas of my life?’ That can be quite an uncomfortable question – or maybe it is a genuinely difficult question to answer – how do I go about living a Christian life in the world today? ‘What does it mean to be a Christian and a member of God’s church today?
And the second part of the reading is a deceptively simple story about the two sons; one says No but then changes his stance and goes – the other says Yes to his father but does not do it. The first is rude, very rude in Middle Eastern culture, the second says the right thing but fails to act; for some the latter is the better behaviour. But Jesus goes on to say that the irreligious, the ‘others’ responded to John, but the priests did not and continued not to. It is clear that the rude son who changed his mind, repented, is the commendable son, not the well-spoken (but disobedient) son.
What might this little story mean for us? In what way are we asked by God to do something, and what are we asked to do? The prophet Hosea summed things up as ‘show mercy, love justice and walk humbly in God’s sight’. Jesus summed it up as ‘Love God and Love your neighbour as yourself’. These are the values – it is up to us to think how we can live them in our own situation – some of us are more active than others, have more time than others, have more opportunities than others.
We live in a world where there are huge social problems and inequalities, and where individuals and families can struggle with real burdens, some carried for many years, some which may never be able to be put down. Some are self-inflicted (in part), but many are not and some are caused by the actions or inaction of others.
Within the altercation with the religious leaders there is a lovely phrase – ‘going into the kingdom of God’. In the challenge and in the difficulties there is this invitation open to all, to go into the kingdom of God, to feel secure in God, however difficult the world around might be. As we ask what God wants from us, as we seek to give Jesus the proper authority, we should also know that Jesus invites us to find our place in the Kingdom of God – the gift of God, the grace of God is given to us – we do not earn it – we receive it. So last question to ourselves – do we feel we are invited into and are members of God’s Kingdom and family and people? I hope so.
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 forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
During the intercessions, we pray for the church, our country, our government, people in difficulty and those who have died. You can use your own prayers or if you prefer here are some on today’s them.
Loving Father, we give you thanks for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ for in him you have opened the gate to eternal life. Bless all who seek to proclaim the good news, all who preach the word and go out in mission. We remember all who witness in their daily life and all who seek to serve you faithfully.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving Father, we ask your blessing upon all who have important decisions to make this week. We pray for those who are rulers and politicians, for scientists and research workers, for judges and all who strive for peace. We remember all who find it hard to remain faithful and loyal and pray that they may be given new strength and courage.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving Father, we give you thanks for our homes and our loved ones. We pray for all who have influenced our lives through their example and teaching. We remember all families where relationships are breaking down or life has become hard. We ask your blessing upon all who have to make difficult decisions about their homes, their relationships otr their way of life.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving Father, we remember all who are confused by the many choices of life and who find it hard to cope. We pray for those who have lost their freedom and all who suffer from tyranny. We ask your blessing on those who are ill and those who have decided they need to go into care. We pray today for Thomas Causton, Irene Garbett, Barbara Preistley, Stephen Haslam, sue Roberts and Colin Roberts.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving Father, we thank you that Jesus came down to lift us up to the fullness of your kingdom. We rejoice in the fellowship of your saints in glory. We remember before you all our friends and loved ones departed and from our book of remembrance. John Greenhalgh, Frank Hampson, Jason King, Joyce Caruthers, Ernest Jones, Joyce Stables, and Jim Walsh. We commit our lives and all of creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 for ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us and watch over us; the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us; the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever more. Amen.