A Service for Trinity1

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HYMN - O thou who camest from above - Hereford

1 O thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart!

2 There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

3 Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
to work, and speak, and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up the gift in me.

4 Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat;
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.

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
O God,

the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

INTRODUCTION TO OLD TESTAMENT READING

Abraham and Sarah’s story has gone through many ups and downs since they first heard God's promise that Abraham would be the father of a nation and a blessing to all mankind. It has been the story of the heroic and the cowardly, a story of faith and disbelief. Abraham may have responded to God's call to up sticks and move south, but since then he's lived more by his own wits than any reliance on a promise by God. In the previous chapter Abraham himself has laughed at the idea of Sarah and him conceiving a child, now it’s Sarah's turn. And why not? The writer of the story wants us to understand just how ridiculous this idea is, he is not trying to say that Abraham and Sarah were superhuman, he is not trying to say that they simply believed and it was so. He is trying to say that they are just like you and me, expecting things to follow their normal reasonable pattern and for the world to remain consistent - women in their nineties do not have babies. They, like us believe their God to exist, they are not without faith, Abraham has heard his voice, even trusted his fate to the bidding of that voice, but men and women of their age just don't have babies.


FIRST READING - Genesis 18.1-15

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

HYMN Oft in danger, oft in woe - University College

1 OFT in danger, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go;
Bear the toil, maintain the strife,
Strengthened with the Bread of Life.

2 Onward, Christians, onward go,
Join the war, and face the foe;
Will ye flee in danger's hour?
Know ye not your Captain's power?

3 Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad;
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Victory soon shall tune your song.

4 Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall every tear be dry;
Let not fears your course impede,
Great your strength, if great your need.

5 Onward then in battle move;
More than conquerors ye shall prove;
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.

 

GOSPEL - Matthew 28.16-20
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

 

SERMON

"Is anything impossible for God?” 

Surely that’s the question. Was it impossible for Jesus’ disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons"? Was it impossible for Abraham at over 100 and Sarah in her nineties to have a son?

It is easy to say that anything is possible for God - easy to say but hard to believe, and perhaps harder to live with. Because such a faith has deep consequences, both for us and for God. If nothing is impossible for us, then why are things as they are? If nothing is impossible for God then why does he let things be as they are? 

Our Old Testament passage this week contains, to my mind, one of the greatest images in the Old Testament and a work of pure genius. It characterises the bearers of God’s speech to Abraham as a community of three messengers. They begin as three men and as the story is told become the LORD, YHWH. They become the voice of God.

But the text is critical of their faithlessness, as it will be of the Hebrew tribes in the desert, and the kings that follow David. The measure of the man, or the woman, is the measure of their faith - even blind faith, to trust in God and his way.

The lectionary passage from St Matthew's Gospel this morning included the summoning of the 12 and the giving to them of authority and incredible power and responsibility. For what they will be able to do is no less, not one mite less than what Jesus himself can do. And they are warned that in sharing the authority and the power of Jesus they will also share in his fate. The passage is remarkable because Matthew must have written it long after it was apparent that the disciples, on the whole, could not heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, or cast out demons - at least not outside the pages of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. So why quote this promise which seems to have come to nothing?

Perhaps because Matthew understood that that was what Jesus had intended, because Jesus had assumed that the community he left behind would be able to do more not less than him. Not the miracle of supernatural powers given to an individual that defy the nature of things; but the miracle of what a community can do with a common aim and a compassionate purpose, working within the nature of things. 

The experience of the early Church, and the reason for its growth, was not in actual fact based on the miracles performed by its members, but on their faith and commitment to one another and the Jesus they followed. They healed body, mind and spirit, not through the extraordinary, but through the ordinary power of love, of care, and sacrifice. Their miracle was that of the nurse not the conjuror. It was said that in plague ridden Rome the Christians cared for their neighbours when they became ill, whether Christian or Pagan, and whatever their race and whatever the cost to themselves. The miracles of Jesus, were, after all, miracles of healing and feeding - miracles of love and compassion.

And what in the end formed the disparate tribes of the Hebrews into a nation was not the birth of a baby to a ninety year old, but the acceptance of a common identity united by the worship of the same God and faith in the laws ascribed to his name. What grew from that was a series of communities, living together, suffering together and periodically emigrating together.

What will prosper and grow the Christian community is not its ancient buildings and wonderful liturgy, not its institutions and the pomp of its ceremony, not its missions and choruses, but its ability to foster communities committed to following Jesus, hearing his teaching and understanding his life - spending itself in miracles of love and compassion.

 

ANTHEM    Ubi Caritas - Maurice Duruflé sung by Octarium

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Where charity and love are, God is there.

Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Christ's love has gathered us into one.

Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.

Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.

Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

 

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 - Vera Oldham
Let us pray.
On this first Sunday after Trinity we have come before you, Lord, to offer our praise and our prayers. You are God the creator, Christ the Saviour of the world, the Spirit of truth and love. One god, eternal Trinity, be near to us, today and every day.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your church throughout the world.  We pray for all those who because of this pandemic are separated and isolated and are unable to worship you together. Give them all the reassurance that you are with them so that they may experience your peace.

We pray for all bishops and clergy at this time, and especially for the team here in our Benefice who are working so hard to maintain strong and meaningful links with the all the congregations and who are constantly searching for new and innovative ideas to keep us altogether.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray today for the health and well-being of our nation, for Elizabeth, our Queen and for all those who are guiding our nation at this difficult time and working hard to shape our national policies.

We pray for our doctors, nurses, and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health. 

As some people return to work and as some businesses begin to open up again, we pray for all who are concerned about their job security and livelihoods and for all those who are anxious and worried as they take these first tentative steps towards normality.

 We pray for our schools, for the staff and the children, some already back in school, and those still uncertain when they will be returning to their classrooms.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord we ask for your blessing on our local community, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship, where all are known and cared for: As we emerge from lockdown let us not forget that some people are still very much confined to their homes. 

We pray for all who are sad, anxious, lonely, and afraid, and for those who are still isolated and housebound. Help us all to remain alert to their needs, and to care for them in their vulnerability.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we remember and pray for all who are affected by coronavirus through illness, isolation, or anxiety, and ask that they may find relief and recovery:

We pray too for the vulnerable, the seriously ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace, remembering especially those on our Benefice prayer list and those known to us personally.

We remember those who have died or who have lost a loved one recently and who may be isolated with no one to comfort them. We pray that you are there at their side, Lord, and that they may feel your loving presence.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, in these trouble times, help us to remember that you created all people in your image, without exception. 

Open our eyes to see the dignity, beauty, and worth of every human being. 

Open our minds to understand that all your children are brothers and sisters in the same human family. 

Help us to avoid racist attitudes, behaviours, and speech which demean others. 

Help us to hear the words of those who have suffered racial discrimination, and to listen to their appeals for change.

Help us to build bridges, to forgive and be forgiven, and to establish peace
and equality for all in our communities.

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 He who would valiant be - Monks Gate

1 He who would valiant be
'Gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy
Follow the Master.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

2 Who so beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound--
His strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might,
Though he with giants fight:
He will make good his right
To be a pilgrim.

3 Since, Lord, thou dost defend
Us with thy Spirit,
We know we at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away!
I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.

TO END

The Lord bless you and keep you · Rutter - AV Cantori, Buenos Aires

Dame Janet Baker; "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"; Rückert-Lieder; Gustav Mahler

I am lost to the world
with which I used to waste so much time,
It has heard nothing from me for so long
that it may very well believe that I am dead!
It is of no consequence to me
Whether it thinks me dead;

I cannot deny it,
for I really am dead to the world.
I am dead to the world's tumult,
And I rest in a quiet realm!
I live alone in my heaven,
In my love and in my song.