Morning Service for Trinity 12

HYMN - Father hear the prayer we offer - Sussex - NEH 357 / MP 132

1 Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.

2 Not for ever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be;
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.

3 Not for ever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.

4 Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.

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

Almighty and everlasting God, 
who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, 
and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; 
Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; 
forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, 
and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, 
but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.


FIRST READING - Exodus 3.1-15

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”

God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

EPISTLE - Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


HYMN - El Shaddai - H&S 25 / MP 119

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age you’re still the same,
by the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, Erkamka na Adonai,
We will praise and lift you high, El-Shaddai.

1.Through your love and through the ram,
you saved the son of Abraham.
Through the power of your hand,
turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
you were the God who really sees,
and by your might,
you set your children free.

Chorus

2. Through the years you made it clear,2. 
that the time of Christ was near,
though the people couldn’t see
what Messiah ought to be.
Though your word contained the plan,
they just could not understand.
Your most awesome work was done
through the frailty of your Son.

Chorus

GOSPEL - Matthew 16.21-28

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

SERMON

 “From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem.”

 “So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.“ 

So here we are at one of those Charlton Heston moments. A page in the Bible which shouts out “Hollywood “. Moses at the burning bush. You could call it a defining moment.  In its telling there is deep genius. It reveals and it hides, it intrigues and it mystifies. And it is for today. 

Moses says to God, “if I come to the Israelites and say to them, “the God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “what is his name?” What shall I say to them?”

The Israelites have forgotten who their God is, and if that is so then they are a godless people, and what is worse they are a godless people in dire need. They are oppressed, brutally oppressed, and because they have no God they have no hope, and without hope they are doomed. All Moses has to give them is their God, but their God will bring them hope, and hope will give them life, life as a people and life as individuals.

But first there is a bit of a problem - Moses needs to know how to present this God who has chosen him to be his messenger, and we all know how important presentation is. So he asks - what is the name of the God of the burning bush.  The answer he got comes in three parts. Reversing the order, the third part, “thus you shall say to the Israelites, “the Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”, This is a reminder of not only tribal forbears, but faithful bearers of the promise, the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, this God is not new to this family. But that is not all, hidden in the banal English word, “lord”, is the most sacred word, or rather most sacred collection of letters, in the whole 66 books of the Bible. 

In Hebrew they are YHWH - Yode Hey Vav Hey. Known as the tetragammaton. They are sometimes pronounced Yahweh, or Jehovah, but no one knows how it was pronounced, because for hundreds of years no Israelite would ever speak it, instead they would just say “lord”.  And of course no one knows what it means.

The second part, “thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” The only credentials that Moses has or needs is the fact that he has been sent - but putting faith in that will always be a problem.

And so to the first part, the riddle answer to Moses question. “I am who I am.”  Or to be more precise ehyeh asher ehyeh.  And that is not a straight answer in anyone’s language. And yes you’ve guessed it, it’s not translatable. “I am who I am” is one possible translation, and it is certainly mysterious enough, even philosophically pleasing, which should cause us to be suspicious, the Hebrew people were not by and large interested in philosophical conundrums, and this narrative has more purpose in it than that.  No, I believe that the answer is more useful to Moses than that. 

If we put God’s answer back into the context of the whole incident, then we notice the recurrent phrase “I will be there”.  And you might not be surprised to hear that ehyeh asher ehyeh can be translated as “I will be there as I will be there”.  

By this definition God defines his very identity by his willingness to be present.  God will not leave his people to their anguish, he will not let them be extinguished, but most of all he will not let them be alone.  And so we have finally come to it, this all powerful transcendent God, this creator of the universe, is defined most profoundly as “I will be there.”

I know that there is at least one person who counts the number of new and original things I have to say - as opposed to the things I repeat using different words - and my score is lamentable low.  And this is certainly nothing new - I’ve said it all before - but it is important, because I have seen what a lived, day by day, hour by hour, awareness of the presence of God can do for people.  It does transform lives, and situations, it enhances every joy, and makes possible the simply unbearable.  It’s not magic, it’s not, in the usual meaning of the word, miraculous, but it can achieve miraculous things.  It’s not easy to do, it doesn’t come naturally at first, but it always makes a difference.  Try it and see what remembering that God is by your side will do for you.

The presence of God transforms all life, changes the context from the finite to the infinite, turns life from the meaningless to the glorious.

It helped Moses free a people from slavery, it enabled Jesus to walk to his death in Jerusalem, and it was why Paul could exhort his people to “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer,” and to say “bless those who persecute you” and “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

HYMN - Take up thy cross, the Saviour said - Breslau - NEH 76 / AMR 333

1 Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,
If thou wouldst my disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me.

2 Take up thy cross; let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart, and nerve thine arm.

4 Take up thy cross then in his strength,
And calmly every danger brave;
'Twill guide thee to a better home,
And lead to victory o'er the grave.

5 Take up thy cross, and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only he who bears the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

6 To thee, great Lord, the One in Three,
All praise for evermore ascend;
O grant us in our home to see
The heavenly life that knows no end.

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 - Lindsay Dolphin 

Lord God, you are the father of all people and we come before you today with our prayers knowing that you will hear us, help us and guide us. Let us pray for the Church and the needs of the world and let us thank God for his goodness.

We pray for our benefice, for our rector William and all who work within our church community. And we give thanks that many of us are now able to meet safely for a weekly service in our churches. We are so grateful for the huge effort around the benefice to make this happen. 

Lord, help us all in your Church to understand what it really means to love and serve you. At times of testing, strengthen us, at the end of our energy, revive us and teach us through it all the glory of your world.

Lord in your mercy……hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for all children returning to school next week. Help them and their families to cope with any fears and anxiety that they may have. Where the children will have some normality return to their lives let us not forget the many people whose lives are still severely restricted through vulnerability, anxiety or financial worries.

Give us all the courage to cope with these difficult times and give strength to those leading us through and those trying to find ways around the pandemic. Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours; that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

Lord in your mercy…..hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit; give 

them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation. We remember all those still suffering from the effects of Covid 19 and all their carers and health professionals.Let us pray for all those known to us who are in special need.

Lord in your mercy…….hear our prayer.

And we remember those who have died, that they may rest in the eternal peace of your presence, their burdens laid down and their suffering ended.

Merciful Father, 

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


THE PEACE

The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you

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 - Jesu, lover of my soul - Aberystwyth - NEH383 / MP372

1 Jesu, Lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.

2 Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of thy wing.

3 *Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in thee I find:
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.

4 Plenteous grace with thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound,
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of thee,
Spring thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen