This service can be used at home if you are unable to get to church. As you pray and reflect, we trust you will feel part of the wider church community.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence,
O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. 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 sins of the world:
have mercy upon 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.
Almighty and eternal God,
you have kindled the flame of love in the hearts of the saints:
grant to us the same faith and power of love,
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,
we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;
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. Amen
First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2.9-13
You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.
Gospel: Matthew 23.1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Three questions you might ask about the readings
What strikes you from the readings?
What puzzles you from the readings?
What excites you from the readings?
Quite a bit of this part of Matthew’s gospel is Jesus either being challenged by the various authorities, or Jesus challenging them for their behaviours. These altercations were remembered by the disciples and were considered important for the early church to reflect on. In modern language today’s passage is about integrity, service and the proper use of power / the danger that leadership can so easily lead to the abuse of power.
This is true in churches and in dioceses or groups of churches. It is true too in homes and places of work. Sadly, it is part of our “fallen” human nature to want acclaim, to want status and to feel we should be rewarded. For those of us who are ordained, and, more so, for those of us who are appointed as vicars / rectors, these verses need reading and heeding. But they have something to say to all of us. Jesus is provoking us to look at all relationships where status or power might creep in, or maybe where status or “power” is offered to us; we remember the temptations of Jesus at the start of his ministry.
Some can regret the loss of previous status or position and feel they are no longer worth as much as they were; this can lead to an inner sadness or even an outer annoyance. Some can find somewhere or something where they can exercise some power, but not necessarily in a way which builds up the people of God or the wider community. Richard Rohr has written a book called “Falling Upward” and he challenges those in middle age and after to see life as being about how much we can enable others, not how much we can achieve ourselves. How much we achieve will diminish, but how much we can encourage and enable others will increase if we let it.
We begin our Communion services with the sentence “Grace, mercy and peace .. be with you”. These are the values we should seek, model and share, whatever our place in the church. There are those who can teach us and of course we can learn from others, but do those who lead and teach model the way of Jesus and those values? Even when others don’t, do we still seek to do so. As Jesus points out Moses’ seat and Moses’ teaching remains even if those who are in charge of it, fail to put the teaching into practice. If we know we have received grace, mercy and peace from God, it is easier to share it. If we don’t then let’s pray we do receive and grasp these wonderful gifts.
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 Holy Spirit, born of 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 at 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.
Please include your own prayers as well.
In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world
Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Mission Community, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land.
Bless the leaders, guard the people, guide us in our future;
May we share the gospel in word and deed
and bring glory to your name;
Lord bless our churches we pray
Lord God we pray for our community
We pray for our schools, the children and staff.
We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others
We pray for Councillors and carers;
Lord bless our community we pray
Lord God we pray for our nation
May our leaders lead with integrity and justice
Give them wisdom and direct their decisions.
We pray that ours may be a nation
where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped
and where all may flourish;
Lord bless our nation we pray
Lord God, we pray for our world,
for the war-torn places, we pray for peace.
We pray that all may work together to alleviate need
and to protect this world for future generations;
Lord bless our world we pray
Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit
We pray for those we know, and those who have no one to pray for them.
We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve;
We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul
Lord bless the sick we pray
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 forever. Amen.
Keep a moment of quiet as you allow God to speak to you,
as you let your spirit rest in God’s Spirit.
May the Lord
bless us and watch over us,
make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us.
May the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace,
and may the blessing of God Almighty,
our Creator, our Redeemer,
the one who gives us Life
be among us and with us all always. Amen.