Sunday 27th September 2020

17th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Call to Worship

The psalmist wrote

“show me your ways O Lord,

And teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth and teach me.”

Let us also seek the way and the truth of God.

 

Hymn

CH4 356 

1.      Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity,

In perfect harmony – the man who is God:

Lord of eternity, dwells in humanity,

Kneels in humility and washes our feet.

Oh, what a mystery – meekness and majesty:

Bow down and worship, for this is your God,

This is your God!

 

2.      Father’s pure radiance, perfect in innocence,

Yet learns obedience to death on a cross:

Suffering to give us life, conquering through sacrifice –

And, as they crucify, prays, ‘Father, forgive’.

Oh, what a mystery –

 

3.      Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible,

Love indestructible, in frailty appears:

Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly.

Lifts our humanity to the heights of his throne.

Oh, what a mystery –

 

Prayer

Great and generous God,

Into the mix of humanity,

With friends and neighbours,

Visitors and strangers,

Together we join to worship you,

O Lord our God.

Generous and loving God, who turns no one away,

Welcome each one of us now

In this time of worship,

And embrace us in your being.

We come also to ask for your forgiveness:

We sometimes think that the more we have

The happier we will be,

Forgive us Lord.

We sometimes look the other way,

Ignoring those who need our help,

Forgive us Lord,

Sometimes we refuse a helping hand to those in need,

Sometimes we want to go our way and not yours,

Forgive us Lord.

Lord, in this moment, in this space,

Forgive us we pray,

Renew us from within and set us free,

From all that binds us and holds us back,

Set us free to be the people that you would have us be.

Let’s continue our prayer by praying 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 for give 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,

Forever and ever,

Amen.

  

Readings

Philippians 2: 1 – 13

Matthew 21: 23 – 32

 

Reflection

Philippians 2: 1 – 13

Paul is encouraging the Philippians and he does so here using, what seems to be an early Christian poem or hymn – verses 6 – 11. It has two stanzas. The first is about humility, the second about exultation. And it clearly and explicitly identifies Jesus with God. He had the nature of God’ – verse 6 – but also distinct from God who ‘raised him to the highest place above’ – verse 9. ‘Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ – verse 11.

Paul explains that living faith like it matters means willing to be completely humiliated – stripping off your own former identity and being cast down to the lowest social class – which in this context is slavery. Status was everything in the Roman world, but Paul says that it counts for nothing with God. And he ends, not with a call to repentance, but with a call to ‘keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your own salvation’. Here Paul is writing to the whole of the church in Philippi – and of course there is an individual aspect to it, but this is also about a community working out their salvation with each person playing their individual part in that collective story.  

If Paul’s letters are about community, why are we sometimes so reluctant to engage with them in this way, instead preferring to use them instead to signal only personal morality issues? But remember also that in respect of each of Paul’s letters we only know part of the story, as we never hear from those to whom he was writing – and even some of Paul’s side of the story is missing.

 

Matthew 21: 23 – 32

Jesus tells the story of the two sons whilst he is in the Temple in front of the religious elite. It is rather like someone going into Westminster Abbey or Methodist Central Hall or the General Assembly and confronting the leadership. We might wonder what sort of reception they would get! The religious leaders ask Jesus questions to justify their position Jesus responds with questions of his own. He tells the story of the two sons and then asks, ‘which son?’ The son who goes on to do what his father asks or the other one? And he reminds them of the ministry of John the Baptist and how ordinary people responded to that. To compare the Pharisees with tax collectors would have been a great insult to a group who had put great emphasis and much effort into carrying out every aspect, down to the last minute details, of the Law of Moses. But that is not the test of rightness or righteousness – we do the ‘right thing’ when we respect and live according to Kingdom values. And this matters much more than defending our social position and status.

 

Prayer

We bring to God our prayers for the Church and for the world.

So often we want to pray for others,

But very often it is difficult to know how or where to begin,

Issues weigh on our hearts,

But sometimes they feel too big to tackle,

And so, we thank you God,

That you listen to us, and know what we mean,

However feeble our thoughts and words may be.

So, we bring in this moment,

Those images, places, names and faces,

That come into our minds throughout the day,

The e people we see on the street,

The situations we see in the media,

Those who live in poverty,

Those who are afraid or ashamed,

Those who are lonely,

Those who mourn,

Those who are sick.

Loving Lord,

We bring all these people and places before you,

In our prayers now,

And ask that you will keep them safe in your care.

May we be willing workers,

To help them know that you r love in in their lives.

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

Our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

Hymn

CH4 458

1.      At the name of Jesus

Every knee shall bow,

Every tongue confess him

King of glory now;

‘tis the Father’s pleasure,

We should call him Lord,

Who from the beginning

Was the mighty Word.

 

2.      Brothers, sisters, name him

With love strong as death,

But with awe and wonder

And with bated breath!

He is God the Saviour,

He is Christ the Lord,

Ever to be worshipped,

Trusted, and adored.

 

3.      In your hearts enthrone him;

There, let him subdue

All that is not holy,

All that is not true:

Let his grace support you

In temptations hour,

Let his will enfold you

In its light and power.

 

4.      In his Father’s glory

Christ shall come again,

Angel hosts proclaiming

His return to reign.

For all wreaths of empire

Meet upon his brow,

And our hearts confess him

King of glory now.

   

Blessing

As we leave our worship time,

May we go Lord God,

To meet the needs of others

And share the love we have from you.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us, today and forever,

Amen.