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 and 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.
God, our judge and saviour, teach us to be open to your truth and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day with confidence in the salvation which is given through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING – EXODUS 32.1-14
When the people of Israel saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the LORD.’ They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well–being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”’ The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’ But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, ‘O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God
THE GOSPEL – MATTHEW 22. 1-14
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Glory to you O Lord.
Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
This is the third of three parables which challenge the religious leaders and their attitude to Jesus. We have met the son who did not go and work in the vineyard; last week the tenants killed the son of the landowner and this week we find the “respectable” people choosing to ignore the wedding invitation for the King’s son, and humiliating the host in so doing.
The parable continues with the man who does attend but who is not wearing the right clothes, and who is thrown out. As with several of the parables in Matthew the description of punishment moves the story from the human plane to a theological one.
As with last week we find the story has theological markers from the start – last week it was the vineyard, the vineyard owner and his son, this week we meet a king throwing a wedding banquet for his son. A wedding is a symbol of God’s Kingdom. Guests are given good notice of the banquet and then sent a reminder, but they make excuses, while some (like last week) beat and kill the messengers.
Instead the poor, the good and the bad, are invited to the banquet.
The second part of the story is about the man without a wedding robe; this may reflect on an ancient practice that guests were given a wedding robe by the host – that seems to be what it is about, but there is little other evidence to support this. It may have been that there had been a lavish wedding in the area where this had happened. In that case this man has assumed he is good enough as he is; he has spurned the offer of a new wedding robe and entered on his own terms. The king gives him a chance to respond, greeting him in a friendly way, but the man is speechless – as well he might be. Rather than being thrown out of the palace, he is thrown into outer darkness. While the bad are invited and welcome, they are expected to change as it were, and were given the opportunity to do so.
From the first part of the story, do we feel we have been invited to God’s banquet – we may feel confident we have, hopefully we have not made excuses, or said we are too busy; we may feel we are not invited, in which case we should hear that the invitation was extended to all. But from the second part of the story we should not assume we can just wander into God’s presence. We are invited and offered the wedding garment. We do not presume to come to God’s table trusting in our own righteousness!
Jesus’ parables contain challenge and invitation; they are memorable edgy stories – we should feel stirred by them, whether challenged or invited. Where do you see yourself in the different characters in the story, and how do you feel you respond. There is the invitation to the most wonderful of feasts – does that excite us and are we grateful?
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.
Good and gracious God, may our lives show the joy of knowing you and your love. Let preachers and teachers encourage all who hear them to come to you in love. Bless all who seek to extend our lives by a vision of good grace and goodness. We pray today for all our churches and ministry teams in our mission community and in our Turton Moorland team.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Good and gracious God we pray for the unrest in our world brought on by greed power and a lack of understanding. We pray for peace in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine as well as other countries with unrest and populations that are suffering. May they find hope and peace and a commitment to end these atrocities.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Good and gracious Lord, we thank you for your love and attention we have received though our homes and loved ones. We ask your blessing upon all our families and friends and the communities in which we live and work. We remember all who strive to improve our environment. We pray for all who are homeless and those that live on the streets of our towns and cities.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Good and gracious Lord, we thank you for our well being. We ask your blessing upon all who are sad or depressed and all whose lives are darkened with troubles. We remember all who are ill and their loved ones as they care for them. We pray for all those who work in hospitals and all who care for people in trouble. Especially we remember, Thomas Causton, Stephen Haslam, Sue Roberts, Colin Roberts and Barbara Preistley.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Good and gracious God, you invye us all into your presence and to lfe eternal. May we not lose sight of the eternal through the glamour and call of the world. We ask your blessing upon our loved ones departed and from our book of remembrance. Ivy Dugdale, Christopher Joseph Warburton and Harold Isherwood.
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.