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Sunday 27th June 2021 – 5th Sunday after Pentecost – 4th after Trinity

WORDS OF WELCOME

Welcome to our weekly selection of prayer, music and readings from holy scripture suitable for today, the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. Our reflection on today’s readings has kindly been provided by Mr Chris Limb, who has become one of our regular preachers.

OPENING SENTENCES

As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth:

So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations

INTROIT HYMN – Rejoice today with one accord (tune: Ein Feste Burg) led by Sheffield Cathedral Choir

COLLECT

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – Lamentations 3:22-33

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth, to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it, to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope), to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

HYMN – New every morning is the love (tune: Melcombe) led by Sheffield Cathedral Choir

EPISTLE – 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

GRADUAL PSALM – Psalm 30

Exaltabo te, Domine

  1. I WILL magnify thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up : and not made my foes to triumph over me.

  2. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee : and thou hast healed me.

  3. Thou, Lord, hast brought my soul out of hell : thou hast kept my life from them that go down to the pit.

  4. Sing praises unto the Lord, O ye saints of his : and give thanks unto him for a remembrance of his holiness.

  5. For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life : heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

  6. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed : thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong.

  7. Thou didst turn thy face from me : and I was troubled.

  8. Then cried I unto thee, O Lord : and gat me to my Lord right humbly.

  9. What profit is there in my blood : when I go down to the pit?

  10. Shall the dust give thanks unto thee : or shall it declare thy truth?

  11. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me : Lord, be thou my helper.

  12. Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy : thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.

  13. Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing : O my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

GLORIA

GOSPEL – Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

HYMN – Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old (tune: St Matthew)

1 Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old
Was strong to heal and save;
It triumphed o’er disease and death,
O’er darkness and the grave;
To thee they went, the blind, the dumb,
The palsied and the lame,
The leper with his tainted life,
The sick with fevered frame.

2 And lo! thy touch brought life and health,
Gave speech, and strength, and sight;
And youth renewed and frenzy calmed
Owned thee the Lord of light;
And now, O Lord, be near to bless,
Almighty as of yore,
In crowded street, by restless couch,
As by Gennesareth’s shore.

3 Be thou our great deliverer still,
Thou Lord of life and death;
Restore and quicken, soothe and bless
With thine almighty breath;
To hands that work, and eyes that see,
Give wisdom’s heavenly lore,
That whole and sick, and weak and strong,
May praise thee evermore.

REFLECTION – Chris Limb

Mark 5:  21 – 43

‘The Lord may not come when you want Him, but He’s always going to be there on time.’ So once said the well-known American actor Louis Gossett Jr. A rather strange quote, don’t you think?  Sounds like a contradiction in terms, yes? Or am I missing something? You see, I came across this phrase while I was reading through this morning’s Gospel passage, and it set me thinking.

It’s a story which is also told in both Matthew and Luke’s gospels, although Mark relates it in more detail, capturing a greater sense of drama and tension. It actually comes hot-on-the-heels of two earlier miracles performed by Jesus; the calming of a storm, while he and his disciples were sailing across Lake Galilee, and then the healing of someone who’d either been suffering from mental health issues, or spiritual; a demonic possession (perhaps even both). In any event, Jesus restored him to health in body, mind and spirit. And so, as we heard, Jesus returns from his voyage across the lake, and the shoreline is teeming with people shouting and shoving, clamouring to get a glimpse of him.  (I imagine if it were happening today, folk would be struggling to take ‘selfies’ with him!)

Yet amidst all of this cacophony of noise and confusion there is one particular guy who manages to gain Jesus’ attention. He’s not just anybody either. He’s a highly respected leader of the synagogue, responsible for the running of services and the upkeep of the building (rather like a churchwarden or an elder). The type of authority-figure who tended to be suspicious of Jesus, perhaps to the point of being openly hostile towards him. And yet this guy, whose name we’re told is Jairus, is more than happy to set aside any prejudice or misgivings he may have had about this controversial figure. He’s desperate; and I think that given the circumstances he’d have been willing to turn to anyone, do anything, pay any amount of money, in order to achieve the result he craved. The thing is his young daughter is terminally ill. (We’re not specifically told what this illness is. Some kind of fever, perhaps. Whatever it is, we’re given a very strong sense that time is of the essence.) And so, Jesus ignores all the other groupies and attention-seekers and agrees, without any hesitation, to accompany Jairus in a bid to heal his daughter. However, things don’t go according to plan. Jesus is intercepted unexpectedly.

We might ponder as to what on earth could be more important than this life-saving mission. Yet Jesus allows himself to be interrupted, and in the most bizarre manner as well. Someone has touched the edge of his cloak, and he stops and demands to know who did it, to the bewilderment of His disciples.

“Who touched you? In this crowd, ‘Who didn’t touch you?’ is the question!”

Yet Jesus is insistent. He won’t move on until he gets to the truth, and so the culprit nervously steps forward. She’s a woman who’s been desperately sick for around twelve years, suffering from severe haemorrhaging. Coupled with all the pain and discomfort which that would have brought, she would also very likely have been ostracised by her friends and family, as her condition rendered her ritually unclean (see Leviticus 15: 25-30). She wouldn’t even have been permitted to attend synagogue. Indeed, knowing how easy it was in that society for men to divorce their wives (see Matthew 5:31), it’s perhaps safe to assume that her husband most likely has ‘up and left her’. She’s spent all her savings on doctor’s bills (how fortunate we are to have our wonderful NHS!), but all to no avail. And so, she feels this is her one window of opportunity; the one moment when, just maybe, she might be able to sneak a healing from this amazing miracle-worker. No doubt, she felt that if she approached Jesus openly, he may well have shunned her; that’s the sort of response she would have expected from most other religious leaders, who would have been concerned about being contaminated by her ‘uncleanness’. By the merest touch of his cloak, she knew without a doubt that she had been healed. And Jesus (although he didn’t see her do it) is also aware that a miracle has taken place.

I wonder how we feel about that. Jesus isn’t just a tap; a commodity that’s there for the taking! Jesus becomes aware of the person’s need. He somehow feels the power reaching out to them. Why, then, does he insist on confronting her? After all, it’s taking up valuable time, isn’t it?

Perhaps it is because he wanted the recipient of his power to be fully healed. Not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually as well. When she ‘spills the beans’ to him, no doubt expecting a tirade of abuse, Jesus calls her ‘Daughter’; a term of endearment and compassion; and assures her that her faith (both in initially reaching out to him, and then by stepping out openly to meet him) had brought about her healing.

However, it seems that, tragically, this woman’s healing came at a terrible cost. I’m sure we can all identify with poor Jairus as he heard that most dreadful news:

‘It’s too late. Your daughter has gone. It’s all been for nothing.’

No doubt Jairus began playing the ‘If only’ game:

‘If only I’d managed to contact Jesus sooner. If only that wretched woman hadn’t distracted him. ‘If only… If only …’

I guess we’ve all played that game when something awful happens. But of course, it never avails anything, does it?

It is what it is. You can’t turn back the clock, and nothing can be changed. We have to accept it. And yet what does Jesus say?

“Don’t worry. Just have faith!”

What an incredible statement! But how did Jairus respond? I suspect he’s in a state of shock. Perhaps the disciples are half carrying, half supporting him at this stage, as Jesus and his ‘inner ring’, Peter, James and John, continue their march undeterred, toward Jairus’ house.

We may be a bit bewildered at the reaction of the folk gathered at the house. They burst out laughing! I mean, really! But, in those days it was customary for professional mourners to turn up at the home of someone who had suffered a bereavement. (I know. Weird. But different times, different customs. Everyone has to make a living, I suppose.) But Jesus soon clears them out, leaving only Jairus and his wife, together with Peter, James and John.

And Jesus raises the dead girl to life! We’ re even told the beautiful sounding Aramaic phrase he says in the process, ‘Talitha cum’, which literally means ‘Little girl, get up’, before instructing her parents to give her something to eat.

I remember this scene, as depicted in the animated movie ‘The Miracle Maker’, a few years ago. The little girl is leaping up and down, giving ‘high fives’ to everyone. Really quite delightful.

Interestingly, we’re told how the girl was twelve years old, exactly the same length of time that the woman in the crowd had been sick. There seems to be a curious link between these two, very different people, doesn’t there? Both were possibly at opposite ends of the social spectrum, yet they each equally received new life from Jesus. While we may well consider that the woman’s needs weren’t as urgent as those of Jairus’ daughter, the point is that Jesus doesn’t necessarily view things in the same way as we do. While Jesus healed many people during his ministry (possibly more than the gospel writers tell us) that wasn’t his main aim. Yes, of course, they were a great blessing to the recipients of the healings, and to their families and loved ones, yet the main purpose in all he did was to introduce people to the love of God, in real, utterly relatable ways. And to enable us to discover how we can encounter his love, even during the bleakest of moments.

Only last week we were thinking about how Jesus and his disciples encountered a fearsome storm whilst sailing across Lake Galilee. Of course, we’re familiar with the story. We already knew that Jesus would save the day and calm the storm. But for the disciples, experiencing the sheer terror of Mother Nature at her worst, and finding Jesus fast asleep in the back of the boat, it must have been devastating, to say the least. Yet Jesus hadn’t abandoned them. He was there all along. And he brought them safely through it, in a way that transformed the way they viewed the world around them.

The truth is none of us are exempt from life’s ‘storms’. Traumas like those which struck Jairus and the nameless woman in the crowd with all the force of a tsunami on steroids may well tear through our lives, maybe without any warning. We were never guaranteed a problem-free life. Writer and church planter, Pete Greig, expressed it very well when he said recently*:

“We want God to airlift us out of our problems, and he more often parachutes in and joins us in the midst of them.”

Which really summarises the truth behind what’s known as the Incarnation; God becoming a human being in order to share in all our humanity, all our suffering, and thereby bringing us closer to the Father; and in the process enabling us to share the burdens of one another; to share his love with one another.

As the writer of the Book of Lamentations said:

“The LORD’s kindness never fails! Deep in my heart I say, ‘The LORD is all I need; I can depend on Him.”

May we each be able to say this prayer, from the heart. Amen.

Chris Limb

(Edited for St Andrew’s website by Douglas Jones)

* https://youtu.be/jguu74fnrSs

(Full interview with Archbishop Justin Welby)

ANTHEM – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (Sir Edward Elgar)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord; to give unto them that mourn a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He might be glorified. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations. (Isaiah 61:1–3, 11)

PRAYERS

Heavenly Father, we give you special thanks today for those to whom you have bestowed the gift of healing, and we bring before you all who are suffering from any sickness or discomfort in body, mind or spirit. We pray that you will enable and inspire all who seek to assist and comfort others; those who work as researchers, providers or practitioners in the many fields of medicine, treating ailments and caring for the sick and those in need. We pray for any who have fallen victim to any kind of illness or disabling health condition, especially those suffering in any pain or discomfort. We pray that they may find relief from their discomfort and alleviation of their pain, resulting from the care administered to them, and from the treatments provided and formulated for them. We give thanks for the many instances of healing administered to the faithful in times past, which are contained in the events recorded in the holy scriptures. In our own time we continue to pray for victims of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and for those who are suffering from any form of trouble, sorrow, need, sickness or adversity. We bring before you the people of Miami who have lost loved ones in the recent collapse of a residential tower whilst people inside were sleeping, for the rescue workers who are seeking to locate survivors, and for all the victims of this, or any other tragedy. We ask that you bring hope to faithful, healing to the sick, comfort to the bereaved and eternal life to the departed.

We bring this and all our prayers before you in the words our Saviour taught us, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon us, and upon all those we love, this day and always. Amen.

FINAL HYMN – Great is thy faithfulness

 ORGAN VOLUNTARY – Five part Fantasia in C minor BWV 562 (J S Bach) played by Richard McVeigh on the organ of Arundel Cathedral.

https://youtu.be/IUII3QIa_1o

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Sunday 20th June 2021 – 4th Sunday after Pentecost – 3rd after Trinity

WELCOME

We extend a warm welcome to you and invite you to share with us in our weekly selection of readings, prayer and music chosen to suit the lectionary for today, the 4th Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s readings seem to guide us in thought to trusting in God unconditionally, and our thoughtful reflection has been provided for us by Revd. Helena Roulston.

OPENING SENTENCES

From the rising of the sun until its setting:

The Name of the Lord shall be great!

Tell it out among the nations:

That the Lord is King!

INTROIT HYMN – When morning gilds the skies (tune: Laudes Domini)

COLLECT

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. Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you!” Saul clothed David with his armour; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armour, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

HYMN – Little David, play on your harp

EPISTLE – 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also.

GRADUAL PSALM – Psalm 9

GOSPEL – Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

HYMN – Eternal Father, strong to save

REFLECTION – Revd. Helena Roulston

“Let the little children come to me” – a familiar verse to many of us, uttered on the lips of Jesus as his disciples were ushering unruly children away. Jesus then goes on to say something unheard of and probably quite shocking to his listeners: “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it”.  There have been numerous debates concerning what it might mean to receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, and for good reason, yet Jesus leaves us no room for negotiation in this statement.

So what do these verses have to do with our readings for today?

Let’s think first about the boy, David. He grows up to become a great king, and we are familiar with the stories of his fame and fortune in adult life, but what do we know of David as a boy? When I read through the David and Goliath story, I see the epitome of a young teenage boy who, being presented with what he sees as a problem, rather than assessing the situation as the adults had been doing, just goes in, all guns blazing, and without hesitation. Actually, his actions potentially put at risk the lives of all the Israelites, but that doesn’t seem to concern him. He has killed wild animals before, so why should this be any different? Viewing this scenario from our own, adult perspective, we may well consider for a whole number reasons that David’s logic was nonsensical, resulting in him acting stupidly, recklessly and irresponsibly. But David doesn’t see it like that at all.

To our grown-up and worldly eyes, David’s trust in God in this situation seems foolish and naïve. We are expected to enter the Kingdom of God as a child, as Jesus tells us. David’s unconditional trust in God may indeed seem utterly foolish, but this is exactly what God is demanding from us. 

This reminds me of a song I used to enjoy singing when I was a teen myself called ‘Undignified’. The words are:

“I will dance, I will sing to be mad for my King

Nothing else is hindering the passion in my soul…”

And the chorus where I would usually jump around and break out some crazy moves.

“And I’ll become even more undignified than this,

Some may say it’s foolishness.

But I’ll become even more undignified than this.”

God hasn’t called us to be particularly dignified, upstanding or restrained. God calls us to be ourselves – to allow ourselves to be fools; naïve and reckless for him. God calls us to tap into our child-like self; that inner child which we all have access to, but which in some of us has become buried a little deeper than it has in others.

Being child-like doesn’t mean we will go around throwing rocks at people’s foreheads; we all have our own story.  Being child-like is about reminding ourselves that it is okay, in fact it is God’s gift, to put our adult worries, burdens and concerns aside and to trust in Him.

This isn’t easy, though. “Lord, help me to trust in you” is a constant prayer on my lips, as there is often a part of me that will be drawn to the “yes, but…” or the “what if…”.  And it is even harder to trust when you are in the middle of a storm, (whether metaphorical or actual).

Our Gospel reading reminds us that when we find it difficult to place our trust in God, we are not alone. The disciples in the boat have Jesus in their midst. Despite having seen him performing miraculous healings, and hearing his powerful teaching, when the storm blows up they begin to panic. In the same situation, I would probably have done the same!

But Jesus is asleep on a cushion. The storm rages, but Jesus sleeps on peacefully. By remaining asleep, Jesus is displaying a child-like trust in his Father. Think how vulnerable you are when you are asleep. A child who is asleep has complete trust and faith that their parents will protect them in all things. In this sense, sleeping is the ultimate state of placing your complete trust in God; that his love will surround and protect you from adversity through the sleeping hours. Here again, we have an example of a scene which the discerning adult would most likely consider somewhat foolhardy; that sleeping on a boat at sea during a wild storm isn’t a particularly wise thing to do! Yet another example of what Jesus meant by entering the Kingdom of God as a child – that unconditional trust.

Perhaps this week you might spend some time observing the children you may chance to encounter; perhaps children playing in a park, or shopping with their parents in a supermarket; or maybe there are young children in your own family. Watch how they interact with their parents; how they trust their parents to look after them and protect them from danger; and see how that trust enables them greater freedom to explore and discover, to laugh and play.

As you are watching, consider for yourself what Jesus means when he asks us to receive the Kingdom of God like a child? And reflect on the lyrics in that song, “some may say it’s foolishness”, and ask yourself the question, “So what is God saying to me?”

Let us pray,

Loving Lord, you have told us to receive the Kingdom of God as a child. Help us to recognise your wisdom through the children we come across this week that we may trust in you as a child trusts in their parents. Amen.

Revd. Helena Roulston (edited for St. Andrew’s Website by Douglas Jones)

ANTHEM: They that go down to the sea in ships (Herbert Sumsion)

They that go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters; These men see the works of the Lord: and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind ariseth: which lifteth up the waves thereof. They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep: their soul melteth away because of the trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man: and are at their wits’ end. So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivereth them out of their distress. For he maketh the storm to cease: so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad, because they are at rest: and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be. (Ps.107:23-31)

PRAYERS

Let us pray.

Lord God of all creation, we give you thanks for the earth and all its bounty; for the sun and moon, for the tides and seasons, for the rain and the sunshine. As this day moves into night, the new dawn will herald the coming of a special day for us, when we will benefit from the maximum length of daylight of any day in the year, and the fewest hours of darkness. Whether it be the longest day or the shortest, inspire our hearts that we may walk in the light of your shining love at all times, and dispel all the forces of darkness which daily threaten to obscure that light which keeps us on the path you ask us to follow. May our hearts shine brightly, and be a true reflection of your glory, that our faith in you may be a beacon for others, and a safe haven for our own souls. Help us to maintain a child-like outlook on life, and not feel imprisoned by the restrictions that seem to accompany the complexities and responsibilities that growing older seems to generate in our adult lives. Help us travel upon this earthly road smoothly, and when the stormy days are upon us, hold us firmly by the hand and guide us carefully along life’s straight and righteous path, that when the journey finally comes to its end, we may enjoy eternal life in your heavenly Kingdom, where there is no darkness at all. This and all our prayers we offer up to you in the words our Saviour Jesus Christ taught us, saying together:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord, and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger. Guard us in our waking hours and protect us while we sleep, and the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit rest upon us and all those we love, this day and evermore. Amen.

FINAL HYMN – Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us.

ORGAN VOLUNTARY – ‘Little’ Prelude and Fugue in E minor, played by Mateusz Rzewuski at St. Anne’s Church, Warsaw.

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Sunday 13th June 2021 – 3rd Sunday after Pentecost – 2nd after Trinity

WORDS OF WELCOME

Thank you for sharing with us our weekly selection of readings from holy scripture, prayer and music selected for today, the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s reflection has been written and recorded by our friend, the Revd Dr Walter Houston.

OPENING SENTENCES

We believe in One God:

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let us worship the Lord:

In the beauty of holiness.

 

INTROIT HYMN – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation

 

COLLECT

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – Ezekiel 17:22-24

Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. All the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the LORD have spoken; I will accomplish it.

HYMN –  God is in his temple

EPISTLE – 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

GRADUAL PSALM – Psalm 92

Bonum est confiteri

  1. IT IS a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord : and to sing praises unto thy Name, O most Highest;

  2. To tell of thy loving-kindness early in the morning : and of thy truth in the night-season;

  3. Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the lute;: upon a loud instrument, and upon the harp.

  4. For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy works : and I will rejoice in giving praise for the operations of thy hands.

  5. O Lord, how glorious are thy works : thy thoughts are very deep.

  6. An unwise man doth not well consider this : and a fool doth not understand it.

  7. When the ungodly are green as the grass, and when all the workers of wickedness do flourish : then shall they be destroyed for ever; but thou, Lord, art the most Highest for evermore.

  8. For lo, thine enemies, O Lord, lo, thine enemies shall perish : and all the workers of wickedness shall be destroyed.

  9. But mine horn shall be exalted like the horn of an unicorn : for I am anointed with fresh oil.

  10. Mine eye also shall see his lust of mine enemies : and mine ear shall hear his desire of the wicked that arise up against me.

  11. The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree : and shall spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus.

  12. Such as are planted in the house of the Lord : shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.

  13. They also shall bring forth more fruit in their age : and shall be fat and well-liking.

  14. That they may shew how true the Lord my strength is : and that there is no unrighteousness in him.

GLORIA

GOSPEL – Mark 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

HYMN – Love is come again

REFLECTION – Revd Dr Walter Houston

Ezekiel 17:22-24

Mark 4:26–34

I know lots of you are keen gardeners. Suppose you had a plot which you had cleared and sown with, let us say, cornflowers, and they hadn’t come up yet, and you were showing a visitor round, and they said ‘But there’s nothing there’, what would your answer be?

Jesus’ parables of the kingdom are rather like this. They seem to be answers to objections that ‘there’s nothing there’, that Jesus and his disciples amount to nothing if he’s seriously claiming that God’s kingdom is on its way.

The answer is: Suppose you were sowing corn—you can’t see anything to start with, but nevertheless the seed grows and becomes corn. Or again, a mustard seed is tiny, but just wait till it grows. Then, you have to take it seriously.

What does it mean to pray, as we do every day, ‘Thy kingdom come’? The obvious answer is that we always follow it with ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, and that’s what it means. God’s kingdom comes when we do God’s will.

In modern times many people in our church tradition have given that a very concrete meaning. Like many other Christians, I have engaged in political activity for many years as an aspect of my Christian commitment. An older generation of politically active Christians, in the late 19th and early 20th century, would describe their political activity, whether for a party or for a specific campaign, for example against poverty, as ‘working for the kingdom’. Or even ‘bringing in the kingdom’. You don’t hear people talking like that any more. But perhaps some of us still think in that way. Others may think or even speak of missionary or evangelistic activity as working for the kingdom.

That’s the obvious answer to the question ‘What does it mean to pray “Thy kingdom come”’, but it’s not necessarily right. A look at Jesus’ parables may make us stop and think a bit. Jesus doesn’t tell us what the kingdom of God is, but in his parables, he does tell us what it’s like. By the way, ‘kingdom’ is probably not a good translation. It would be better to call it the reign or rule of God. It is not a place, but a situation, when God’s rule over the world, which always exists, is plainly seen and acknowledged.

Take the first parable, the one of the seed growing secretly, as it’s usually called. Not a specially good name—there’s nothing secret about a seed once the shoot has appeared above ground. I would rather call it the parable of the seed growing by itself. Look at what Jesus says: the reign of God is as if a man sowed seed in the ground, then slept and woke up day after day, while the seed shoots and grows without his knowledge. The earth produces fruit of itself. The Greek word used is automate, which gives us our ‘automatic’. Once he has sown the seed, it doesn’t depend on the farmer whether it grows or not, it grows naturally, provided it has sufficient water. The work of growing the seed is not human work, it is something that happens anyway. The two things the farmer does are to sow the seed, and to harvest the crop.

Now, that might not be a good description of modern farming, with all its fertilisers and pesticides, but it is certainly accurate as regards farming in Jesus’ day, and I suspect as regards some of our efforts in the garden.

The point Jesus is making is that however little work we human beings put in, the reign of God will grow. That is its nature. We may not realise that: the seed grows without the farmer’s knowledge, and the earth may look barren enough for several weeks, but eventually it will come through. It’s the same with the reign of God. It will come, whether we do anything about it or not. And the sign that the crop is ripe is the harvest. The farmer gets out his sickle to cut down the crop and gather the corn into his barn. And a whole lot of other sayings in the gospels warn us that that is what we should be prepared for. Are we going to be good grain to be gathered into the barn, or barren shoots or weeds that are gathered only to be burnt? We can’t hasten the coming of God’s kingdom, but we can be prepared for its coming, by doing God’s will and being faithful to Christ’s commands

And the meaning of the parable for us, whatever it meant to Jesus’ original hearers, is to take us down a peg in our arrogance, if we think that the reign of God depends on our busyness. Yes, we must work for people to believe the Gospel, we must work for justice in the world. We must do these things because they are God’s will, because they are right things to do, but we must not make the mistake of thinking that because we are doing them we are bringing in the reign of God. That is entirely in God’s hands.

The other parable, the one about the mustard seed, is making a slightly different point. The point here seems to be the contrast between the tiny seed which is sown, probably by the farmer’s wife in her vegetable garden, and the huge plant that it grows into. There seems to be some poetic exaggeration: the seed of mustard is not actually the smallest of all seeds, and a mustard plant never grows to the size of a tree. But as we shall see, there may be a special point to the last phrase about the birds.

If the previous parable is a warning to us, this one is surely a comfort. Looking at the world, looking at the church, we can easily be disheartened. It doesn’t look as though God’s reign is anywhere near being plainly seen and acknowledged. In the world, we see injustice, poverty, indiscriminate violence. We see jihadis murdering innocents and claiming to be serving God thereby, which does God no honour and blasphemes his reign. We see people bamboozled into living for an endless stream of consumer goods, and working their lives away in order to afford them. We see the very existence of the natural world and ourselves in it threatened by a climate catastrophe that is the result of human activity. We see a church in decline, and faith ridiculed. How can we say that God is in charge, that there is such a thing as the rule of God?

And yet the seeds are there. The Church hasn’t gone away. You are the Church: faithful Christians working for Christ, and working for fairness and for peace and a sustainable world. Here are people, thousands of them, who do not accept that life is about looking after Number One, but have volunteered and worked their socks off for their neighbours, especially the old and ill, during the pandemic. Only seeds, and as we have just seen, these seeds are not the kingdom of God. But throw them into the ground and let the rain of God’s justice fall on them, and the sun of God’s peace shine upon them, and they will grow into a plant big enough for the birds to find their home there.

But that raises again the question, why does the parable end by talking about these great branches big enough for the birds to shelter under? Matthew and Luke, in their versions of the parable, go further—they say that the mustard seed grows into a tree, and the birds of the air come and make their homes in the branches rather than under them. Of course, a mustard plant never becomes a tree, so what is the point of saying this kind of thing?

 

This is where our Old Testament reading from Ezekiel comes in. The end of the parable is harking back to this passage from Ezekiel, and also to one in Daniel with similar imagery. This is true whether as in Mark’s version it speaks of the birds living in the shade of the mustard plant, or whether as in Matthew’s and Luke’s it speaks of it becoming a tree. Ezekiel, in his chapter 17, has just been foretelling the disaster which is to overtake the king of Judah and the royal house and all the nation, using the illustration of a tree which is uprooted and withers and dies.

Then at the end of the chapter come the words we read. They are saying that this is not the end. Israel will be replanted by God, it will grow to be a mighty cedar, ‘and birds of every kind will live there and find shelter in its shade.’ The passage in Daniel helps us to understand what is meant by this. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in Daniel chapter 4, in which he sees a great tree. ‘Wild animals rested in its shade, birds built nests in its branches, and every kind of living being ate its fruit.’ And then he hears the heavenly sentence to cut the tree down. Daniel tells him that the tree he has seen is himself, Nebuchadnezzar. ‘You have grown so great that you reach the sky, and your power extends over the whole world.’

So the animals and birds in all these parables represent the nations of the world. Ezekiel’s prophecy is that Israel will not merely be restored but have power over the nations of the world, who ‘find shelter in its shade.’ So Jesus’ mustard seed grows into a tree to make the point that the reign of God is not just something local or national, as his Jewish hearers might have been tempted to think. The reign of God, when it is fully grown, embraces the whole world and gives shelter to all the nations. This is the triumphant vision of the book of Revelation: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.’

And the point remains that has been made by the first parable, of the seed that grows by itself. All this is the work of God. Our responsibility is to do the will of God in our daily lives and in the life of our community, our nation and our world. This makes the world a better place, but it remains this imperfect world. The transforming power of the reign of God is something else, which we pray for and long for, but we cannot make it happen. It is in the gift of God. As the verses by John Bell remind us:

The Day of the Lord shall come, but now is the time
to subvert earth’s wisdom with Christ’s folly sublime,
by loving the loveless, turning the tide and the cheek,
by walking beneath the cross in step with the weak.

Revd. Dr. Walter Houston

ANTHEM – If we believe that Jesus died (Sir John Goss)

If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4: 14, 18)

PRAYERS

Let us pray to God our Father as we reflect on the fragile state of the world at this time, and the uncertainties which we continue to face concerning the coronavirus pandemic which continues to affect us all in many different ways.

We pray for the leaders of the nations of the world who have been meeting in Cornwall this week, engaged in serious discourse concerning the whole world and its future direction. We pray that they will engage actively to make the world a happier and safer place for everyone, and have the desire and wisdom to reduce the tensions and conflicts which threaten our several societies, always pursuing worthy goals in a spirit of peace, harmony and mutual co-operation.

We give you thanks for the opportunities we have had in recent weeks to enjoy once again an emergence of local and international sporting events in many parts of the world. At the current time we are witnessing a tentative and somewhat restricted programme, but we remain aware that the world is still vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus. Despite our best intentions, we continue to hear of rising numbers of people falling victim to this disease and its variant forms, both at home and abroad, and we renew our prayers for all who are currently affected, and their friends and families, including those in our own faith community. We pray that we may continue to be vigilant and cautious, and not become influenced by the growing tendency of some to dispense prematurely with the precautions which have protected us until now, in a mistaken belief that the dangers may have already passed.

As we remember and affirm our belief that Jesus died and rose again to redeem us from our sins, we pray for the souls of all whose journey of life in this world has reached its end, for whatever reason and by whatever means. We ask that you will guard them and escort them to a place in your eternal kingdom, and comfort their loved ones who are left behind, trying to come to terms with their loss, and who are learning to adjust to a life with only memories that remain. In communion with all the members of your faithful family here on earth, we pray the words our Saviour taught us, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen

FINAL HYMN – For the fruits of His creation (tune: East Acklam)

ORGAN VOLUNTARY – Prelude and Fugue in Eb Op.99 (Camille Saint-Saens) played by Bernhard Hannöver

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Sunday 6th June 2021 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – 1st after Trinity

OPENING SENTENCES

O come, let us worship and fall down:

And kneel before the Lord, our maker,

For God is the King of all the earth:

Let us sing praises unto him with understanding.

WORDS OF WELCOME

We welcome you to our weekly selection of Prayer, Music and Readings from Holy Scripture, which have been chosen according to the Revised Common Lectionary for today, the second Sunday after Pentecost. The reflection for today has kindly been provided by Revd. Canon Adrian Alker, and we begin with the hymn ‘Fill thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise’.

INTROIT HYMN – Fill thou my life, O Lord my God

1 Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,
in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim
thy being and thy ways.

2 Not for the lip of praise alone,
nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
of praise in every part:

3 Praise in the common things of life,
its goings out and in;
praise in each duty and each deed,
however small and mean.

4 Fill every part of me with praise:
let all my being speak
of thee and of thy love, O Lord,
poor though I be and weak.

5 So shall no part of day or night
unblest or common be,
but all my life, in every step,
be fellowship with thee.

COLLECT

O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; 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.

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – 1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only–you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the LORD, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

HYMN: Lord, thy word abideth

1 Lord, thy word abideth,
and our footsteps guideth;
who its truth believeth
light and joy receiveth.

2 When our foes are near us,
then thy word doth cheer us,
word of consolation,
message of salvation.

3 When the storms are o’er us,
and dark clouds before us,
then its light directeth,
and our way protecteth.

4 Who can tell the pleasure,
who recount the treasure
by thy word imparted
to the simple-hearted?

5 Word of mercy, giving
succour to the living;
word of life, supplying
comfort to the dying.

6 O that we discerning
its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear thee,
evermore be near thee!

EPISTLE – 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture–“I believed, and so I spoke” –we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

GRADUAL PSALM – Psalm 138

Confitebor tibi

  1. I WILL give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart : even before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

  2. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, because of thy loving-kindness and truth : for thou hast magnified thy Name and thy word above all things.

  3. When I called upon thee, thou heardest me : and enduedst my soul with much strength.

  4. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord : for they have heard the words of thy mouth.

  5. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord : that great is the glory of the Lord.

  6. For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly : as for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off.

  7. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me : thou shalt stretch forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

  8. The Lord shall make good his loving-kindness toward me : yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands.

GLORIA

GOSPEL – Mark 3:20-35

And the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

HYMN – Who would true valour see

 REFLECTION – Canon Adrian Alker

ANTHEM: O for a closer walk with God (Sir C. V. Stanford)

PRAYERS

Open our eyes and hearts, O Lord, to your holy will, that we may act with love and compassion towards our neighbours, and reflect the love which you have shown toward us. Today we pray especially for the nations and governments of the world, that they may each aim to lead their communities with a spirit of justice and equality, enabling all people to live together in peace and harmony, that they may enjoy a sufficiency of food, clothing and shelter, each according to their needs. We ask that you will seek out the dark places, where the pursuit of power and money has led to corruption, persecution and violence; that the perpetrators may be brought to account, that peace and tranquility may once again prevail, and that your light may be restored. Wherever there is conflict, sow the seeds of harmony; wherever there is sadness, joy; where there is sickness, health; where there is hatred, love; and where there is doubt, faith; that the world may be healed of its divisions, and thrive once again in the spirit of the hands that first created it.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for all the good things that have happened this week; for hands that have helped, for ears that have listened, and for kindnesses shared by word and deed. We are sorry for any opportunities we may have missed to listen, act, touch or impart words of support to one another. Help us to amend any sinful inclinations, and endue us with the wisdom and understanding needed, so that we may be able to discern whatever things are right and holy; and follow the path you have set before us without wandering off, as worthy stewards of your world and faithful soldiers of Christ, in whose name we pray together:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Rest eternal grant unto all who have run their earthly race, and departed this life in your faith and fear. May your perpetual light shine upon them, and may the blessing of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all, this day and evermore. Amen.

HYMN – Stand up, stand up for Jesus

ORGAN VOLUNTARY: Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV542 (J. S. Bach), played by Jonathan Scott on the organ of St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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