A Morning Service for the last Sunday after Trinity

HYMN - Thou whose almighty word - NEH466 - Moscow

1 THOU whose almighty word

Chaos and darkness heard,

And took their flight;

Hear us, we humbly pray,

And where the gospel day

Sheds not its glorious ray

Let there be light.

2 Thou who didst come to bring

On thy redeeming wing

Healing and sight,

Health to the sick in mind,

Sight to the inly blind,

O now to all mankind

Let there be light.

3 Spirit of truth and love,

Life-giving, holy Dove,

Speed forth thy flight;

Move on the water's face,

Bearing the lamp of grace,

And in earth's darkest place

Let there be light.

4 Blessèd and holy Three,

Glorious Trinity,

Wisdom, Love, Might,

Boundless as ocean's tide

Rolling in fullest pride,

Through the world far and wide

Let there be light.


PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
God the Father forgives us in Christ and heals us by the Holy Spirit.

Let us therefore put away all anger and bitterness, all slander and malice,

and confess our sins to God our redeemer.   cf. Ephesians 4.30,32

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,

we have sinned against you

and against our neighbour,

through our own fault,

in thought, and word, and deed,

and in what we have left undone.

We are truly sorry

and repent of all our sins.

For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,

forgive us all that is past;

and grant that we may serve you in newness of life

to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT

Blessed Lord,

who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

help us so to hear them,

to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them

that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,

we may embrace and for ever hold fast

   the hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen


FIRST READING - Deuteronomy 34.1-12

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the LORD’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

HYMN - Blest are the pure in heart - NEH 341 - Franconia

1 Blest are the pure in heart,

For they shall see our God,

The secret of the Lord is theirs,

Their soul is Christ's abode.

2 The Lord, who left the heavens

Our life and peace to bring,

To dwell in lowliness with men,

Their pattern and their King;

3 Still to the lowly soul

He doth himself impart,

And for his dwelling and his throne

Chooseth the pure in heart.

4 Lord, we thy presence seek;

May ours this blessing be;

Give us a pure and lowly heart,

A temple meet for thee.

GOSPEL - Luke 18.9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

SERMON

Prayer is the ultimate practising of one’s faith – it honours God with an acknowledgement of, not only his presence, but his concern, his involvement with our lives. Prayer is the most natural of things to many people, but the most awkward and difficult to many more. It is something that can cause a great deal of guilt, or just a shrug of the shoulders. 

Prayer is communication, it’s bringing oneself into the very presence of the Almighty – or rather, it’s a moment of acceptance that we are in the presence of the Almighty every moment. In prayer we do nothing more than turn to face someone who has been sitting alongside us all the while. But communication is effort, it’s an effort to talk to, sometimes even to just be with, our fellow human beings; so to talk to God, to be consciously in the presence of God must be an appallingly difficult thing – or at least a very worrying thing. 

Or is it? Surely it’s most difficult to be with strangers, people who don’t know you, don’t understand you, people whose respect you feel you have to earn. To be with friends and family who know you, who accept you, who even love you, warts and all, is the easiest of things. If we see God in this way, as someone who knows us better than we know ourselves, understands us better than we can ever hope to understand ourselves, and yet still can accept us and love us, cherish us and embrace us, then surely to be consciously in his presence is no effort at all. It’s all a question of mind set – the problems lie within us.

The Gospel reading for today is one of the most visual and memorable of the parables. I for one can clearly recall a picture in my sister’s bible of a rather portly Pharisee proudly declaring his worth at the front of the temple, while this ever so humble tax collector beat his breast at the back. Maybe it is this parable that’s responsible for the popularity of the seats at the back of the church. I would say that where you sit is no indication of humility of heart. But of course the story is more important than that, it is a warning against the greatest risk of religion. Making God in our own image and using that image of God to reinforce and confirm our own bigotries and prejudices, our own self-satisfaction and self-righteousness. The Pharisee had done all the right things, more than, he had fulfilled everything, even including giving a tenth of his income, but all he had done was to buy self-satisfaction. He had bought himself a picture of a happy smiling god, patting him on the head and saying well done. He could neither see the truth in himself nor the truth in God. He isn’t interested in a relationship with God, just an admiring audience.

And that’s the key to prayer. If anyone wants to know how to pray it is just this – honest communication with God, leading to an honest relationship with him. What form that communication takes isn’t really relevant, whether it be in lots of words, in lists of intercessions, in silent thought, in deep contemplation, in expert meditation, whether it be at night, just before sleep closes in, kneeling like Christopher Robin, or sitting in an empty church at lunch time, whether it be using a formal order of service, carefully being led through adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication, or whether it be a rambling opening of your heart to all your hopes and fears, needs and wants, sorrows and sins. It just doesn’t matter, with practice and experiment you’ll find the best way for you, the important thing is to give God time, a chance to find a way to reach you, through all the words and noisy silence, to find a way that you are able to hear, to perceive, the God who is always present – ‘closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet’.

‘Pray as you can and do not try to pray as you can’t. Take yourself as you can find yourself; start from that.’   Dom John Chapman (1865-1933)

‘God gives prayer to the man who prays.’   John Climacus (AD 570-649)

HYMN - Father of heaven whose love profound - NEH 358 - Rievaulx

1 Father of heaven, whose love profound

A ransom for our souls hath found,

Before thy throne we sinners bend:

To us thy pardoning love extend.

2 Almighty Son, incarnate Word,

Our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord,

Before thy throne we sinners bend:

To us thy saving grace extend.

3 Eternal Spirit, by whose breath

The soul is raised from sin and death,

Before thy throne we sinners bend:

To us thy quickening power extend.

4 Thrice Holy! Father, Spirit, Son,

Mysterious Godhead, Three in One,

Before thy throne we sinners bend:

Grace, pardon, life to us extend.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Edna Bloomfield

Loving Heavenly Father, we come to pray and meet with you.  Hear our prayers in Christ’s Name, and our praise, though muted now, in this present time, offered to you with humble love.  Hear our prayers for this world in these hard, testing times.  We thank you that you are a God of healing and compassionate love.  We pray for all who are suffering, both from this virus and other conditions.  Heal and comfort them in their need.  Give strength to the nurses, doctors and medical teams, as they fight this battle.  We pray for the scientists and all working to provide vaccines and treatments.  We thank you for them all.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for the Christian Church, for our Archbishops, bishops and clergy, and your blessings on the new Archbishop of York in his ministry.  In this benefice we pray for William our Rector and for all those who lead services.  Thank you for our Churchwardens, and all they do to keep our churches open safely.  Bless your faithful people in these parishes and keep us safe, strong and well; ready to show your love and peace to all we see.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word, the Bible; for the words of the ancient prophets and their wisdom which inspires us today, and those who provide Bibles for the world.  As we read the Bible, help us to understand it, and take it into our hearts.  This world needs your words more than ever, so be with all who share them across the Earth.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for our families and friends; keep them safe from harm.  Be close to those separated from loved ones, and the young, elderly and frail.  Help us to be always patient and kind, both with our loved ones and all we see.  We remember all who are alone, with no one to love and care for them.  Comfort therewith your peace and love.  We pray for our country at this time of uncertainty and confusion.  Give wisdom and guidance to those who lead; help them to make decisions for the wellbeing of all people.

Lord in your mercy , hear our prayer

Father, we ask you to touch our lives with grace and renew our faith by your Holy Spirit.  May your love deepen our trust in you and remove our fear.  May your mercy hold us when we are weak, and your grace sustain us.  May your truth fill our minds and give us wisdom.  May your Holy Spirit empower us to serve you.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
As our Saviour 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, 

and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

BLESSING
The power of God be about you,
the love of Christ enfold you,
the joy of the Spirit be within you;
and the blessing of God Almighty, 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.  Amen

HYMN - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty - NEH440 - Hast du Denn Jesu

1 PRAISE to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;

O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:

Come ye who hear,

Brothers and sisters draw near,

Praise him in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,

Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:

Hast thou not seen

All that is needful hath been

Granted in what he ordaineth?

3 Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work, and defend thee;

Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;

Ponder anew

All the Almighty can do,

He who with love doth befriend thee.

6 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!

All that hath life and breath come now with praises before him!

Let the Amen

Sound from his people again:

Gladly for ay we adore him.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen