Greetings to everyone reading this,
We hope you are all well and enjoying the sunshine.
I seem to have said that many times over the last 13 weeks but I think that reflects the fact that we have had some wonderful weather during that time which has in some ways made our predicament more manageable, for which we thank God.
I am grateful for His presence, protection and peace which I have certainly been aware of through the writing of the service and in the joining ‘together’ with you that it has enabled.
This week’s sermon is written by Chris Absolon from Holy Trinity. Chris is soon to be ordained; many congratulations to Chris on completing ordination training.
May you know God’s peace, hope and comfort as we come together as God’s family although physically apart.
Polly Andrews, Seniors Minister at Holy Trinity (07914 871417) firstname.lastname@example.org
James Bradby from St Michael’s Monkton Combe (01225 722700)
A Service for Sunday June 28th
We prepare to worship God
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.
Let everything be said and done in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ.
Sing psalms, hymns and sacred songs: let us sing to God with thankful hearts.
Open our lips, Lord: and we shall praise your name.
Collect for the Third Sunday after Trinity
Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
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.
We confess our sins to God
Lord God, we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us and restore to us the joy of your salvation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hymn - Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!
Old Testament - Jeremiah 28:5-9
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord. 6 He said, “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. 7 Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: 8 From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”
New Testament - Matthew 10:40-42
40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Hymn - Stand up, stand up for Jesus
Stand up, stand up for Jesus ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,it must not suffer loss:
from vict'ry unto vict'ryhis army he shall lead,
'til ev'ry foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict in this his glorious day:
ye that are men now serve him against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own:
put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with pray'r;
where duty calls, or danger, be never wanting there.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
this day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song:
to him that overcometh a crown of life shall be;
he with the King of glory shall reign eternally.
How long O Lord?
When I was at school, I acted in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of being Earnest’. I played the part of the vicar, Dr Chasuble, with no idea that one day I too would be ordained! That is still to come in September, but one of the many memorable lines in the play is when Jack says to Gwendolen ‘I must retire to my room for a moment. Gwendolen, wait here for me’, to which she replies, ‘If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.’
Like Gwendolen we are not good at waiting are we, we are not good at dealing with uncertainty, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is struggling with not knowing how the current coronavirus pandemic is going to end. So many have died and been ill, so many families are grieving. How will we get out of this? What will happen for all those who have lost their jobs? How will children catch up with their lost education? When will I be able to hug my brother again? Will I or those close to me catch it now that we are going out more?
That is why our Psalm today, Psalm 13, so resonates with me. David voices what I am thinking: ‘How long O Lord?’ How long is this pandemic going to go on for?
One of the great things about the Psalms is that they show us someone grappling with God, and trying to manage their feelings of unfairness, sadness, and disappointment, as well as expressing their praises to God. David often sounds angry with God, or seems to doubt him; at times he feels that God has forgotten about him. We don’t know what prompted this Psalm; we don’t know what David was facing that made him feel like this, but clearly it was something serious, something that made him feel that God wasn’t protecting him, that God had hidden his face from him. Perhaps that is how you are feeling now; that God has forgotten you?
David shows us that it is OK to be honest with God, to tell him exactly how we feel, (and although we may often be tempted not to do this, as David says in Psalm 139 ‘O Lord you have searched me and you know me. You perceive my thoughts from afar’ – so it’s no use pretending with God and saying that we are fine when we aren’t! He knows anyway!).
So Psalm 13 encourages us to be honest with God, to lament, to tell him how we feel, but also to plead with God – in verse 3 David cries ‘Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.’ Although he can’t see an answer to his difficulty, David desperately persists in prayer. I don’t find it easy to keep praying when nothing seems to be happening. When I have prayed for years for someone it’s hard to keep going – David is a good example for me, for you, to keep praying even when the situation seems hopeless.
‘But’ is often a key word in passages of scripture, a hinge that a door turns on, opening up a whole new vista, a contrast, and a move from one position to another. It often introduces God’s love and grace into what seems an impossible situation. Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 ‘You intended to harm me but God intended it for good.’ In Acts 3 Peter said to the crowd around the temple ‘You killed the author of life but God raised him from the dead.’
Here in our Psalm is another great ‘but’. Despite his situation that appears hopeless; despite his doubt that God is hearing his prayer; his feeling that God has forgotten him, David still declares in verses 5 and 6 ‘But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.’ He contrasts his acknowledged feelings of doubt with his belief in God’s goodness and love. The Psalm sets out for us an example of the tension that we all have to hold, between our experience here and now, and our trust in the eternal things of God.
We may well, like David, be crying out ‘How long O Lord?’ about a range of issues, not just about coronavirus but other global concerns such as racism, inequality, poverty, and climate change, and also about our more personal concerns, things affecting our families and ourselves. Let us also, like David, declare our trust in God’s unfailing love, and remember that he has been good to us.
Giving thanks and remembering what God has done are so important and powerful. I am finding the current situation difficult, but looking at this Psalm has helped me to remember the good things that God has done for me in the past and to give him thanks despite what I am currently feeling.
King David rejoiced in God’s salvation – he may have been thinking of the way that God rescued and saved the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt, and David trusted that God would save him from his current predicament in a similar way. David didn’t know that his descendant King Jesus would fulfil God’s salvation for all people; but we do, so when we rejoice, even in our difficulties, we can thank Jesus for all he has done for us, lift our eyes to the cross and remember with thanksgiving what he did for us.
‘How long O Lord?’ We too can cry out and lament – so if you are feeling like that then tell God how it is, don’t try and hide your feelings from him. We don’t know how long the things that trouble us are going to go on for, but God does, so whatever the situation is that you cry out to God about, let us all follow David’s example and in the midst of our struggles trust in God, remember what he has done for us in the past, thank him for his goodness, and thank Jesus for his saving work on the cross for all people.
‘But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.’
As we say the Creed, we join Christians past and present, and from all over the world, in proclaiming our common faith.
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.
Hymn – Abide with me
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless,
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes.
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
We offer our prayers to God
We begin with the prayer of General Thanksgiving
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages.
Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who are struggling in life, and feel they cannot cope at this time.
May those who are overwhelmed and burnt out recognise you speaking to them and know your provision, power and peace.
May they remember that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them and know the reality of a peace that passes all understanding.
Lord Your word says that you are close to the broken hearted and comfort those who mourn
We pray for those who have lost someone very special to them, and are wandering along the dark valley of bereavement.
May they know your presence with them, your hope every moment of their day and your comfort surrounding them.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
We pray for those who give their time and effort to fight against inequality and exploitation.
We particularly ask for your love, wisdom, justice and mercy to be guiding and present in overcoming racism.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.
We remember before you those who are working to make peace a reality. Help us to be an instrument of your peace.
Lord we pray for our government and scientific advisors as they lead our country through the relaxing of social restrictions. Please give them wisdom. Help us to be sensitive and sensible in our lives and daily routine as we get used to this new normal. We continue to thank you and ask for your protection for ourselves, those we love and our country. Please help those who are struggling with the restrictions, may they know your peace, presence, hope and joy.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one, as our Saviour has taught us, so we pray:
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, the glory are yours,
now and for ever.
Hymn - O for a thousand tongues to sing
O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise (x2)
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace! (x3)
My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim (x2)
to spread thro' all the earth abroad
the honors of your name (x3)
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease (x2)
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace (x3)
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
he sets the prisoner free (x2)
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me (x3)
To God all glory, praise, and love
be now and ever given (x2)
by saints below and saints above,
the Church in earth and heaven (x3)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ,