Sunday 11th October 2020

19th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Call to worship

Rejoice in the Lord always

Again, I say Rejoice!

 

Hymn

CH4 540

1.      I heard the voice of Jesus say

‘come unto me and rest’,

Lay down thou weary one, lay down,

Thy head upon my breast.

I came to Jesus as I was,

Weary, worn and sad,

I found in him and resting place,

And he has made me glad.

 

2.      I heard the voice of Jesus say

‘Behold I freely give

The living water, thirsty one,

Stoop down and drink and live.’

I came to Jesus, and I drank

Of that life-giving stream.

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,

And now I live in him.

 

3.      I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘I am this dark world’s Light,

Look unto me, thy morn shall rise

And all thy day be bright’.

I looked to Jesus, and I found

In him, my Star my Sun;

And in the light of life I’ll walk,

Till travelling days are done.

 

Prayer

Lord God, faithful and loving,

We do not always feel like rejoicing.

Even as we come to worship you

Our minds are sometimes distracted and elsewhere,

Weighed down by the burdens s of our lives.

Help us, in this moment, to find it within our hearts

To rejoice in the constant and loving care

That you continue to show us.

Lord God, we never know what the future holds

Of where life will take us next.

We never know what is just around the corner,

And what the outcomes will be.

But we do know that whatever follows on from this moment,

You are here with us, by our side, above and beneath us,

Entwining your life with ours, surpassing all our human understanding.

In this moment, bless us and awaken us to your presence.

Lord God, so often we give up,

If something goes wrong, or doesn’t go our way,

So often we are overwhelmed by our own problems,

That we forget to look out for others.

So often we are consumed with negatives and endings

That we lose sight of the positives and the beginnings.

Lord God, forgive us for our self-centredness,

Our blindness and our deafness,

And reawaken your Spirit within us we pray.

We continue our prayer by praying the words of the Lord’s Prayer…

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 debts as we forgive our debtors.

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.

 

Readings

Philippians 4: 1 – 9  

Matthew 22: 1 – 14

 

Reflection

Philippians 4: 1 – 9

Paul is preparing to sign off his letter. He is writing from prison – we are not sure where Paul is or his exact circumstances, but it is possible that he knew the Philippians would not see or hear from him again. 

As our focus turns to spiritual formation, two women – Euodia and Syntyche (pronounced Sun – tu – ke) are named as co-workers. We know nothing about these two women other than there is a disagreement between them that threatens the unity of the whole community. Yet Paul manages to commend both apostles, despite the dispute. How can relationships be healed? Paul urges a ‘faithful companion’ to help them sort out the problem. The verses that follow suggest a way of being and behaving designed to minimise such quarrels. In a sense they are a spiritual exercise, designed to focus the mind on ways that drive out bad thoughts and create positive feelings towards others. Do not stoke up your anxiety; pray about things instead. Let your mind think about good, beautiful, honourable things. God’s peace will then come to you, to guard your hearts and minds in Christ. Note that the hearts in the ancient world was the centre of the will – the stomach was the centre of the emotions – so the peace of God is not there to make you feel better but to help you do the right thing.  Difficulties are not to be ignored, for God will have the final word; while the world will polarise, scare, and highlight negativity, God will supply all needs, with all things done through Christ. Being “right” will not protect us, only grace can dissipate anger, despair, outrage and frustration. Stepping back, listening deeply through our prayer, and allowing the peace of God to guard our hearts will bring us peace. Paul may be imprisoned, but his heart is free in faith.

 

Matthew 22: 1 – 14

This week the setting shifts from a vineyard to a wedding banquet given by a king, for his son. There is a similar parable in Luke 14:15ff, which is slightly more agreeable in its telling. After some modification of the guest list, the message becomes that we are all invited, but it would be important to consider which audience Jesus was seeking to reach, as the murder and mayhem is somewhat unpalatable for us today. Here Jesus directly confronts the religious leaders of the day who are challenging His authority. Remember that Jesus had already cleansed the temple on Monday, and the cross is looming on Friday. During this in-between time, religious chiefs continue to work in the context of Roman rule. Protection of the priestly economy and the temple system is balanced against the holiness of sacrifice. Herod, the puppet king of Judea, is certainly under Roman patronage. Yet the two groups, while mostly at odds with each other, are mutually dependent in order to maintain the status quo. No wonder the banquet descends into such chaos. The challenge to the king in the parable comes from the solitary man who is passively defiant by not wearing the usual wedding clothing. This singles him out for abusive treatment, and as the violence escalates, the king’s world falls into disorder. Is it possible that this man is the suffering servant that Isaiah writes about? And not wearing his wedding clothes, but his shroud, prepared for the tomb? Just how different should the realm of human living be?

 

Prayer

Lord God, we come now, not to pray for ourselves,

But for each other –

For those we know and those we do not,

For situations we understand,

And for those we do not.

The news tells us of the traumas and heartache across the world,

And we try to grasp the intensity of it all.

Bless O Lord, all involved in the hurting and the healing.

We hear of death, and dying, and grieving and weeping…

We hear of pain, scaring and disfigurement…

We hear of anguish and confusion…

We hear of those in need of help,

And those who struggle to find it…

We hear of the grieving and the sorrowful…

We hear of the lost and the alone…

And we know, Lord, that there are many others

Known only to you.

Bless them Lord, in their hurting and their healing,

And bless us, we pray,

As we seek to play our part in sharing your love with others.

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

Amen.

 

CH4 511

1.      Your hand, O God, has guided

Your flock from age to age;

The wondrous take Is written

Full clear, on every page;

Your people owned your goodness,

And we their deed record,

And both of this bear witness,

One Church, one faith, one Lord.

 

2.      Your heralds brought glad tidings

To greatest as to least;

They summoned all who hastened

To share the great King’s feast.

And this was all their teaching,

In every deed and word,

To all alike proclaiming

One Church, ne faith, one Lord.

 

3.      Through many a day of darkness,

Through many a scene of strife,

The faithful few fought bravely

To guard the nation’s life.

Their Gospel of redemption,

Sin pardoned, life restored,

Was all in this enfolded

One Church, one faith, one Lord.

 

4.      Your merc will not fail us,

Nor leave your work undone,

With your right hand to help us,

Your victory shall be won;

By mortals and by angels

Your name shall be adored,

And this shall be their anthem:

One Church, one faith, one Lord.

 

Blessing