Good morning and I hope this finds you well, an exciting day today for 10 of our children who will be admitted to Holy Communion during the 9.30 service this morning, please remember them in your prayers. Next week is a really special week for us at St. Maxentius as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our church building. The Bishop of Bolton Mark Ashcroft will be conducting our service and we are consecrating our new pulpit falls in memoriam of Phyllis Greenhalgh and will be having a birthday cake too.
Remembrance Sunday will be at 10am and we will be having our usual act of remembrance around the war memorial, we are hoping that the children will be helping us in this service with some readings and information about our fallen service men.
Our reflection today is Rev Peter and the intercessions by Chris Sutcliffe many thanks to them.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God your Son has opened up for us a new way of living into your presence. Give us new hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF PENITENCE
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 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, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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 OLD TESTAMENT READING
ISAIAH 1. 10-18
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.
When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation— I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
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
LUKE 19. 1-10
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to
welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
Zacchaeus is a remarkable man – for some of us he is the very little man from the children’s song, which makes him rather endearing. For some of us, we know he was a tax-collector, so a “baddie” yet he finds salvation in Jesus – which is lovely and heart-warming. But what if we were to be closer to the people of the time? Zacchaeus is not just a “baddie” but more like a Russian collaborator in occupied Ukraine, a truly abhorrent man, who “we know” is beyond goodness because he has shown it again and again in ripping us off.
There is an element of humour in Zacchaeus up the tree trying to hide but failing so badly. There is a real element of shock- first that Jesus invites himself to such a house – he must have put himself at risk in doing so, and second that Zacchaeus makes the most radical change of life instantly and enthusiastically.
Rich men have been quite prevalent in the previous chapters, there was a rich young ruler who would not let go his possessions – Zacchaeus is the opposite in his response! There have been parables about rich men who want more, who have dodgy business practices, who ignore the poor. None come out well. But Zacchaeus is the exception. The apparently religious young ruler could not let go, but this horrible man does – that is not how it is meant to be!!
So what does this mean for us?
I think we have mostly (well, I know I have!) been brought up to smooth out the edginess in our Scriptures, to make the stories easier, less demanding, more comforting. But when we read the accounts of Jesus interactions with people carefully, we see that it was a much noisier, more public, oppositional world he navigated. His actions caused people to take sides, to respond; his words and teaching were often at odds with the status quo. Can we remove the layer of “story” to get nearer the historic encounters?
We would almost certainly not be too sure about Zacchaeus and his change of heart. We may find the stories of the conversion of hardened criminals exciting, but what if it was our family who had suffered. The crowd in Jericho had been taxed by Zacchaeus and his cronies!
The examples provided in the gospels both support the great themes of Jesus teaching and remind us that even they are not absolutes. As mentioned the rich generally are challenged by Jesus but without obvious change, but lest we write them off, here is Zacchaeus to show it can happen.
If we read on this amazing change in Zacchaeus leads people to say – “Ahh, finally, is the Kingdom at last appearing?” but sadly, no, the oppressive regime will continue, even without this key figure. We should neither make too little of Zacchaeus’ conversion, nor too much. The story is clear but it is not simple!
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 theme.
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word.
May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths and a strength to our lives. Take us and use us to love and serve all people in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the name of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Lord, as we celebrate Bible Sunday, we thank you for the gift of the bible in all its richness; help your Church throughout the world to read your Word, to pray your Word and practice your Word. We pray for all those who have the responsibility of proclaiming your Word
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.
Earlier we heard the story of Zacchaeus whose whole way of life was changed by his encounter with Jesus. Let us pray for those who have yet to know Jesus and have the opportunity to welcome the love of God into their lives.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.
As we move into the season of All Saints, we remember those who have encouraged us in our faith, our Sunday School teachers, Wiggle Worship leaders, Children Changing Places leaders, Youth workers and all the clergy, ALMs and Readers in the Turton Team.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.
Today we pray especially for the children who have been admitted to communion this morning:
Elora Sanderson, Katheryn Appleyard, Alfie Greenhalgh, Luca Power, Stanley Fielding, Henry Fielding, Jack Burke, Francesca Mason, Elodie Killeen and Mya Killeen
May they always know the peace of Jesus, the light of his love and the joy of his life within you.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer
Lord, you are our Shepherd. May we lack nothing. Lead us all into green pastures and beside still waters. That there, all who are distressed in any way, may find their rest as you enfold us all in your fatherly care. Create in us new and faithful lives, full of hope. We pray for the sick in our parish, Peter Warburton, Kathryn Browning, Kevin Maguire and Ann Hall. Lord, be present to them through the support of family and friends and in the care of doctors and nurses, fill them with the warmth of your love.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.
Have mercy, Heavenly Father, on those who have recently died; may they enjoy the eternal life of heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow or weariness. We remember those whose anniversary falls this week
John Robert Eckersley; Andrew Hawker, Emily Greave, Bertha McGlynn, Malcolm Smith, Albert Riding, William Seed, Robert Matthewson
God of yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, that in you we may affirm our heritage and forge new paths. Pour your blessings upon your church as we commemorate the past, seek your will in the present and lay our plans for the future before you. Amen
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 God who has given us in the lives of the saints, patterns of holy living and victorious dying, strengthen us to follow them in the way of holiness. Amen.
May God, who kindled the fire of his love in the hearts of the saints, pour upon you riches of his grace. Amen.
May God, us no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with all the saints, bring us to your home in heaven. Amen.
The blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us now and always. Amen.