Good morning everybody and welcome to this week’s Worship at Home, I hope you are well and coping with all that life is throwing at us. There are lots of good things going on and lovely people to meet. It is St. Maxentius Church 150th Anniversary of the present building on the 6th November, Bishop Mark of Bolton will be taking our service and Arthur Greaves is collating an exhibition of memorabilia including the original plans for the building. We have invited past vicars, councillors and other VIP’s to share our service and having cake and refreshments afterwards. Exciting times, do join us if you can.
Today’s reading carries on the series of Jesus’ parables, this one is about two people with two different prayers. The reflection is by Rev Hannah and intercessions are by myself.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Lord, direct our thoughts and teach us to pray. Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth, through Jesus 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 all of 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.
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.
O God, for as much as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; 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.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING
2 TIMOTHY 4. 6-8, 16-18.
As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
This parable, if we do our homework, puts us in something of a bind. At face value, the parable is written so that we will be drawn to identify with the tax collector due to his demonstration of humility, as opposed to the Pharisee who displays a sense of moral superiority. Be humble like the tax collector, and don’t be haughty like that Pharisee, and you’ll be justified before God. Simple, right?
There are many problems with this traditional interpretation and we should heed caution when we explore texts such as this. Not only can it lead us to commit the same offense that the parable is teaching against, as we thank God that we’re not like that Pharisee, more importantly, it can lead us inadvertently into perpetuating harmful ideas about the Jewish community. On the face of things it is hard for us who have minimal understanding of the cultural milieu in which this was written and so we might not fully understand the distinction between a Pharisee and “all Jews,”. The risk we run is that we fall into old ideas about Jewish people and Judaism as legalistic and out of touch. We need to explore and speak with care so as to avoid harm.
So, as we move forward carefully, what CAN we safely say about what is going on here today? Well, instead of falling into the either/or situation of the tax collector versus the Pharisee, what if we admitted the complexity of all humanity and searched for common ground? Yes, the tax man was a sinner, and yes, the Pharisee is cast as judging him. But what if the righteous acts of the Pharisee were in fact the very acts that eventually benefitted the Tax collector? When we pray “forgive us our sins” we acknowledge how one person’s harmful acts can negatively impact a community. The flipside can also be true—the righteous acts of one person can benefit the community. So I think the take away today is this: try not to judge, welcome those who wish to do the right things, and remember that your good works are for the benefit of both you and the rest of our community.
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, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come 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 theme.
Father you hear the prayers of the lowly and accept the penitent sinner. Help your church to welcome all who seek forgiveness and newness of life. Let us show how we all share in your grace and goodness. We pray for those who hear the confession of others and for all who counsel those who are full of remorse. May we learn to trust in your love and acceptance.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
Father, we give thanks for your creation and ask your blessing upon all who are working to conserve and protect the earth. We pray for the peoples of the earth who have been moved out of their homes and land through the power and greed of others. Father forgive us when we are insensitive to those who suffer as a result of our desire for cheap products. May we do all we can to bring justice and fair trade to peoples and nations. We pray for all who are oppressed at this time.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We give thanks for our families and loved ones. We remember how they have cared for us even when we seemed to have failed their love. We ask you to bless all who are suffering from broken relationships and unforgiving hearts. We remember all who are full of anger or resentment and lack your love and peace.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Father, we know that you love and care for us. May we show that same love to others. We ask your blessing upon all who are outcasts or refugees, all who have been made homeless and have nowhere to go. We remember all who are ill at home or in hospital especially Derek Sumner, Kevin Maguire, Kathryn Browning, Maureen Hulme, Ann Hall and Peter Warburton. We ask that they may have courage and hope in their troubles.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Father, you offer us the gift of eternal life even though we are unworthy of you. You welcome us into your kingdom. We pray for our friends and loved ones who have departed from us and from our book of remembrance…Harry Done, Mary Sylvia Clinton, Donald Berry, Emma Scowcroft, Rev William Thompson and Joan Nightingale. As they shared their lives on earth with us, may they now share with you in the fullness of eternal life.
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 this day 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 the Lord Jesus draw us to himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service, 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 now and for ever more. Amen.