Morning Service for Trinity 3 2023


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, her precious son Ishmael, dying from thirst, she leaves him in his delirium, not able to watch him die - victims both.  

Morning Service for Trinity 3 2023

HYMN Immortal, invisible God only wise  NEH 377/AMR 372 – St Denis

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

2 Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,

nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;

Thy justice, like mountains high soaring above

Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

3 To all life thou givest–to both great and small;

In all life thou livest, the true life of all;

We blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree,

Then wither and perish—but naught changeth thee.

4 Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,

Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;

All praise we would render; O help us to see

‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

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


We recall our Lord’s command to love and in a moment of silence we confess 

the many ways we fail to keep his command:

Most merciful God, 

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.   Amen

May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin

and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts

   whereby we call you Father:

give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,

that we and all creation may be brought

   to the glorious liberty of the children of God;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen.

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 Father hear the prayer we offer NEH 357/AMR 182 – Sussex

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.

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.


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, her precious son Ishmael, dying from thirst, she leaves him in his delirium, not able to watch him die – victims both.  

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.  But now she and he are nothing, powerless in the face of oppression and injustice.  Abraham’s line will not now be through Ishmael.

But this wasn’t the first time she’d 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 to use only, 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, 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 may 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 memories of long ago promises, and little refreshment for the journey but half hidden wells that we barely can identify.  Yet, and 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 never is silent.

What is Hagar to you?  She is the promise of life when all around seems laden with death; she is the confirmation that even in the wilderness we are never abandoned.

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

HYMN – Alleluia, sing to Jesus NEH 271/AMR 399 – Hyfrydol

1 Alleluia, sing to Jesus,

His the sceptre, his the throne;

Alleluia, his the triumph,

His the victory alone:

Hark the songs of peaceful Sion

Thunder like a mighty flood;

Jesus out of every nation,

Hath redeemed us by his blood.

2 Alleluia, not as orphans

Are we left in sorrow now;

Alleluia, he is near us,

Faith believes, nor questions how;

Though the cloud from sight received him

When the forty days were o’er,

Shall our hearts forget his promise,

‘I am with you evermore’?

3 Alleluia, Bread of Angels,

Thou on earth our food, our stay;

Alleluia, here the sinful

Flee to thee from day to day;

Intercessor, Friend of sinners,

Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,

Where the songs of all the sinless

Sweep across the crystal sea.

4 Alleluia, King eternal,

Thee the Lord of lords we own;

Alleluia, born of Mary,

Earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne:

Thou within the veil hast entered,

Robed in flesh, our great High Priest;

Thou on earth both Priest and Victim

In the Eucharistic Feast.


In your loving kindness, O God, have mercy and hear our prayer.

We pray for our world: In the face of such destructive evil in the world we ask for your guidance, Lord. We pray for the victims of the violence in Sudan and Uganda.

Many have died when boats in India and Greece have capsized. Lord have mercy on all those trapped beneath the sea. We remember too the victims of the brutal attacks in Nottingham.

We pray for the leaders of the nations, may they turn away from corruption and the abuse of power. May those in authority have the courage to defend the good of all. Grant them wisdom and imagination as they face the challenges ahead.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your church, may we be constant in our faith, help us to remain secure in our beliefs when so much of life is fragile and changing. We pray for those who are persecuted for their faith.  We remember in our prayers Charles our king, Justin our Archbishop and all bishops, clergy and laity who minister in your church. We give thanks for the work and support of William, our rector, his family and all who contribute to the ongoing work and life of our three churches. 

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer.

Lord, bless us, our families, our friends and neighbours, may we be watchful and caring in our communities, mindful of the needs of the marginalised and refugees. 

Lord, your gifts are many, help us to use them wisely and share them more fairly. 

We pray for our young, who are facing examinations at this time, help us to value all the many gifts and talents among our children.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for the sick and for the multitude of carers at home and beyond who look after them. May your healing presence bring comfort to troubled hearts and minds. We place our trust in your keeping. Our prayers are asked for anyone suffering at this time, including today Terry Martin, and 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 faith and love those who have died. We pray particularly for John Harrison, a member of the Compton congregation, who was much loved and respected. May he rest in peace. 

Lord comfort and guide all who mourn, especially Joan and her family.

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.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

The Lord God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

the holy and undivided Trinity,

guard you, save you,

and bring you to that heavenly city,

where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen

HYMN – Guide me O thou great redeemer NEH 368 / AMR 296 – Cwm Rhondda

1 Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but thou art mighty,

Hold me with thy powerful hand:

Bread of heaven,

Feed me till I want no more.

2 Open now the crystal fountain

Whence the healing stream doth flow;

Let the fire and cloudy pillar

Lead me all my journey through:

Strong Deliverer,

Be thou still my strength and shield.

3 When I tread the verge of Jordan,

Bid my anxious fears subside;

Death of death, and hell’s Destruction

Land me safe on Canaan’s side:

Songs of praises

I will ever give to thee.

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