A Shorter Communion Service for Trinity 14

HYMN - Come let us join our cheerful songs - Nativity - NEH 349

Come, let us join our cheerful songs

With angels round the throne.

Ten thousand, thousand are their tongues,

But all their joys are one.

“Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry,

“To be exalted thus!”

“Worthy the Lamb,” our hearts reply,

“For He was slain for us!”

Jesus is worthy to receive

Honour and power divine;

And blessings more than we can give,

Be, Lord, forever Thine.

Let all creation join in one,

To bless the sacred name

Of Him who sits upon the throne,

And to adore the Lamb.

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 God,

whose only Son has opened for us

a new and living way into your presence:

give us pure hearts and steadfast wills

to worship you in spirit and in truth;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen


FIRST READING - Exodus 14.19-31

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

HYMN - Dear Lord and father and mankind - Repton - NEH 353

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways;

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,

Beside the Syrian sea,

The gracious calling of the Lord,

Let us, like them, without a word,

Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm.

GOSPEL - Matthew 18.21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

SERMON

The lectionary readings today are all about freedom – freedom from various kinds of oppression.  

Moses leads his people to the shores of the Reed Sea and they must decide whether to trust themselves to this God who has offered liberation and a new life or stay in their past of secure enslavement.  And their only guarantee is that this God is called “ehyeh asher ehyeh” I will be there as I will be there.  His presence is what’s secure,nothing else.  

The gospel is also about liberation from oppression, the oppression of the past, all that clings to us in the form of regret and hurt and old grudges . 

The Gospel tells us that we ought to forgive those who have injured us. We know that, we've been told time and time again that we must forgive, indeed we feel guilty that we don't forgive more readily, that we find it so difficult to give up old wounds and cherished hurts. But we still find it so difficult.  Jesus tells Peter straight that he must forgive limitless numbers of times but its the parable that really makes the point.

The first servant has been let off a simply enormous debt. 10,000 talents represents something like 150,000 years of pay for a labourer - this servant owed the equivalent of the national debt of Belgium! He could never hope to pay off such a debt, and yet when the debt is forgiven we hear of no rejoicing, not even a thank you. He is aware of his Lord's power to hurt him, yet he unaware of the wonderful thing that he's done for him, he has treated his own forgiveness, his own liberty, as cheap. And because he hasn't valued the forgiveness that was given to him it doesn't occur to him to see it as requiring any response from him at all. He is free to insist on justice, the payment of the debt - though he is only free because his lord ignored his own right to justice and instead freely gave mercy. The king knew himself to be free to forgive the debt, the first slave showed that he was still enslaved by his failure to act as someone who is free, free to forgive.

It is into this freedom that we were baptised - into a faith of renewed forgiveness, a faith that liberates from the past, that releases people from whatever enslaves them and liberates them to live anew, again and again.  Such liberation is not an easy thing to feel. It’s one thing to accept it intellectually, quite another to feel it emotionally. Which is why we come here, week by week to hear the words of forgiveness pronounced, to take part in a meal which symbolises our acceptance by God, and our acceptance of him and the freedom he offers.

The final chilling verse makes it clear that forgiveness is a matter of the 'heart', a transformation of the inner disposition of the recipient. This isn’t about the administration of society, the regulation of civil justice – its about the heart.  Such a story must come to us forcibly whenever we lay claim to ‘justice’. Surely when we come before God we shalln’t be looking for justice but mercy.  Surely we must all learn to see ourselves as forgiven debtors living with and among fellow debtors. To be forgiven means to give up the power game of playing innocent versus guilty, to join a fellowship of forgiven sinners.

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 - Mary Hinton

We pray for our world, all too frequently a troubled one, with dire problems exacerbated by Covid 19.

Lord, grant to the leaders of all nation’s wisdom and integrity. May they seek the ways of justice and of peace.

We keep in our prayers those whose lives have been overshadowed by natural disasters, accidents and acts of violence. Remembering particularly, victims of knife crime and shootings, the migrants on Lesbos, victims of the wildfires in America and those held hostage or imprisoned unjustly.

Lord we give thanks for all those who work in healthcare systems and emergency and rescue services across the world.

Lord in your mercy……hear our prayer

We pray for the church. Lord you are among us even when we are few in number gathered in your name. In these difficult and unsettling times help us to come to terms with the changes we encounter.

We pray for Justin, our Archbishop, Tim, our Bishop, and all those who minister in your church. Lord bless and guide William our Rector and his family and all who help and sustain the ministry in our Benefice.

Lord in your mercy………hear our prayer.

We pray for our local community, for our families, friends and neighbours. We give thanks for the community network which is enabling people to keep in touch and provide help where it is needed. We keep in our prayers all those whose lives and circumstances have changed because of Covid 19, and all those who are returning to work, school, college and university.

We pray for all the children involved in the bus crash in Wellhouse Lane on Thursday.

Lord in your mercy……hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for all who are sick and for those who care for them. Lord pour out your healing presence on all who are ill. We remember those who are in hospital, care homes or hospices. Lord be with those who feel isolated because of the restrictions on visiting.

In a moment of quiet we remember those known to us personally.

Lord in your mercy…..hear our prayer.

Lord, hear us as we remember with love and thanksgiving all who have died. We pray especially for Jackie Shipster and Jane Hazlett. May they rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them. Lord comfort, guide and support their families and friends who mourn.

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

HYMN - I heard the voice of Jesus say - Kingsfold - NEH 376

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 and worn and sad;

I found in Him a resting place,

And He has made me glad.

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.

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 that light of life I’ll walk,

Till traveling days are done.

The Preparation of the Table

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,

the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;

for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.

All things come from you, 

and of your own do we give you.

Eucharistic Prayer H 

The Lord is here.

His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;

in your love you made us for yourself.

When we turned away

you did not reject us,

but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children

and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life

that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross

and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,

at supper with his friends

he took bread, and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to them, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,

he gave you thanks, and said:

Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;

do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,

send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine

may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts

make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world

we offer you this sacrifice of praise

and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

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.

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.,

Though we are many, we are one body, 

because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, lamb of God: have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us

Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.

All you who hunger and thirst 

for a better life,

for a deeper faith

for a better world,

here is the bread of life;

feed on it with gratitude.

[Please come to the table to receive the bread, respecting the necessary distance.]

Post Communion PRAYER

Lord God, the source of truth and love,

keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,

united in prayer and the breaking of bread,

and one in joy and simplicity of heart,

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God,

we thank you for feeding us 

with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.

Through him we offer you our souls and bodies

to be a living sacrifice.

Send us out in the power of your Spirit

to live and work to your praise and glory. 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 - Ye holy angles bright - Darwall’s 148th - NEH 475

Ye holy angels bright, 

who wait at God's right hand, 

or through the realms of light 

fly at your Lord's command, 

assist our song, 

for else the theme 

too high doth seem 

for mortal tongue.

Ye blessèd souls at rest, 

who ran this earthly race 

and now, from sin released, 

behold your Saviour's face, 

his praises sound, 

as in his sight 

with sweet delight 

ye do abound.

Ye saints, who toil below, 

adore your heavenly King, 

and onward as ye go 

some joyful anthem sing; 

take what he gives 

and praise him still, 

through good or ill, 

who ever lives!

My soul, bear thou thy part, 

triumph in God above: 

and with a well-tuned heart 

sing thou the songs of love! 

Let all thy days 

till life shall end, 

whate'er he send, 

be filled with praise!

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen