A Service for Trinity 2

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HYMN - King of Glory, king of peace - Gwalchmai

1. King of glory, King of peace,
I will love thee;
And that love may never cease,
I will move thee.
Thou hast granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou hast spared me.

2. Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing thee,
And the cream of all my heart
I will bring thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
Thou didst clear me;
And alone, when they replied,
Thou didst hear me.

3. Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise thee;
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort
To enrol thee:
E'en eternity's too short
To extol thee

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
You made us to be one family,
yet we have divided humanity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You were born a Jew to reconcile all peoples,
yet we have brought disharmony amongst the races.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
You rejoice in our differences,
yet we make them a cause of enmity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

God, the Father of mercies, 
has reconciled the world to himself
through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ,
not counting our trespasses against us,
but sending his Holy Spirit 
to shed abroad his love among us.
By the ministry of reconciliation 
entrusted by Christ to his Church,
receive his pardon and peace
to stand before him in his strength alone,
this day and evermore.  Amen.

THE COLLECT
Lord, you have taught us

that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

INTRODUCTION TO O T READING

We continue the story of Abraham and Sarah. Sarah has now given birth to Isaac, meaning laughter; but there is nothing to laugh about in the Abrahamic household. Sarah wants to make sure that Isaac doesn’t have to share his inheritance with Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, Sarah’s maid. What was Abraham doing having a son with Sarah’s maid? That was Sarah’s idea, in case she remained childless. Of course, no one asked Hagar what she thought of the plan - strains of the Handmaid’s Tale, I am afraid to say.

FIRST READING - Genesis 21.8-21

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

HYMN I heard the voice of Jesus say - Kingsfold

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, and worn, and sad;
I found in him a 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 that light of life I’ll walk
Till traveling days are done.

GOSPEL - Matthew 10.24-39
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

SERMON

Hagar - what does she mean to you?  Does she mean anything to you?  

We saw her this morning - in the dry and empty desert in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.  There she was with her precious son Ishmael, dying from thirst, she leaves him in his delirium, not able to watch him die - victims both. Ishmael means, God hears, now no more than a sick joke. 

Victims of a jealous mother, victims of a society that made a slave less than a human being, victims of a man who had used a slave to produce a son when it suited him, and now sacrificed her to his need for a quiet life.  Victims too, and much more worryingly, of a God who had agreed to her removal, agreed to this moment of utter despair.  

They were forced out - thrown out - all security gone, all safety and protection lifted, left to face the dangers of the wilderness.  Hagar was an Egyptian, she was very far from home now, there are no relatives to provide a roof, no friends to share some bread with - she’s all alone with her son, half-staved and totally dehydrated - but her only thoughts are for her son.  Despair has overtaken her and now all she can see is death, she has no future, she has no hope, soon she will have no son.  The Bible contains some pretty pitiful scenes, but this is as bad as it gets.  

It’s worth remembering at this point what Hagar’s status is.  She’s an Egyptian, she has no part in any Promised Land, she’s a slave, she has no rights, no choices, no possibilities, she stands on the edge of the destiny of God’s people, a watcher on the side lines - a bit-part player whose played their part.  

Until Abraham’s proper wife, Sarah, gave birth to Isaac, Hagar was the mother of Abraham’s only son and heir, Ishmael. She had been given to Abraham to secure for him a child, the son of God’s promise being rather late in showing up. But now she and Ishmael are nothing, powerless in the face of oppression and injustice.  Abraham’s line will not now be through Ishmael. There are some frightening echoes for our time here. And when one realises that Ishmael became known as the father of the Arab people, and that this story is remembered each year by some two and a half million people at the Hadj in Mecca each year, then this story has more force and resonance than almost any other in the Hebrew Bible.

This wasn’t the first time Hagar had been forced out into the desert because of Sarah’s jealousy.  The first time she was persuaded to go back by the ubiquitous angel of the Lord, generally recognised as a euphemism for God himself, promising her that her descendants would be too numerous to count. Her response was to give God a name, the only person in the whole Bible to name God.  The name she gives him is for her alone to use, no one else ever does - it is El-Ro(ee) - ‘The God who sees me’.

But now that is far in the past - the God who saw her then seems very far away now, as does his promise to her then, that all would be well.  Everything that had given her hope in the past was just that, in the past.  So long ago, and yet… and yet she is seen once again, and she hears, once again.  ‘Do not be afraid’.  Her despair is lifted and she can see clearly again, she sees the water that was always there, the means of survival and the hope of a future…. There all the time, only despair had blinded her, and kept her from believing in the comfort freely given - the resources for the journey openly offered - the promises of grace always remembered.

Hagar’s wilderness prefigured many wilderness journeys to come - the wilderness of the Exodus, the wilderness of Babylon - the interminable ups and downs of a people in a dangerous world.  It works for a people, it works for an individual. Sometimes there is little comfort, but the memory of long ago promises, and little refreshment for the journey, but half-hidden wells that we barely can identify.  

Yet, to those who will remember them, the promises still ring true - I will never leave you - to those who look with hope, living water still flows to refresh and revive - to those with ears to hear, the still small voice is never silent.

So what does Hagar mean to you?  To me she is the promise of life when all around seems laden with death; the confirmation that even in the wilderness we are never abandoned, the witness that God hears, and God sees - humanity, not race, or nation, or gender, or sexuality - just humanity in need.

ANTHEM    El Shaddai sung by Jess Bauer

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 - Sheila Forbes
Lord of  hope, we offer up thanks for the blessings of this week: the rain so needed by all who work the soil;  the opening of our churches for individual pray after co-operation within the benefice; the research which could help in the recovery of  those patients in need of specialised medical support as their bodies fight  the coronavirus. For these signs of hope and all the personal blessings we have received this week, we are truly thankful.

Lord in your mercy……. Hear our Prayer

Lord of justice, we have witnessed, via the media, protesters marching because they see barriers put up against people of colour. We pray that this nation works to recognises when it is marginalising groups of its citizens and that we, as individuals, honestly acknowledge any unconscious racism. May we reflect that image of Patrick Hutchinson, a black man carrying a white man who was in danger: an image which reflects your kingdom, Lord, where we are all the same colour – the colour of our common humanity.  The colours of your creation.

Lord in your mercy……. Hear our Prayer

Lord who welcomed children to your side. We pray for all the families where young ones and teenagers are not receiving the teaching they need in a structured routine. Guide those in authority towards the path which will bring pupils safely back to their teachers and the familiar security of their friends in the playground.  We give thanks for the schools in our benefice where head teachers and their staff have remained at their post through term time and holidays, and ask that you sustain them in their work and commitment.  

Lord in your mercy……. Hear our Prayer

Lord of healing, we pray for all who are unwell. We bring before you those ill with the virus, those waiting for treatment and in pain and anyone struggling with mental illness. We ask for your healing. May all who suffer hear your voice and sense your touch as you bring ease and a settling of anxiety.  We bring before you those in our lives for whom we are anxious and in this benefice Catherine, Jackie and her family, Lucy, Diane, Ray and Christopher.

Lord in your mercy……. Hear our Prayer

Lord of eternity, hear us as we pray in faith and love for those who have come to the end of their earthly life, and the bereaved whose lives feel empty. Give comfort to all who grieve and everlasting peace to all who rest in your love.

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
May you find in Christ crucified
a guide in times of darkness,
a strength in times of weakness
and the assurance that life is eternal;
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

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.

TO END

Look at the world - John Rutter