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Intercessions for 16th Sunday after Trinity (Proper 22 ) Year A – 5 October 2014

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The Collect

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; 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.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Exodus 20.1-4,7-9,12-20

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the  Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the  Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.’

Psalm 19

Refrain: The commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

The heavens are telling the glory of God *and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. One day pours out its song to another *and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language * and their voices are not heard, Yet their sound has gone out into all lands *and their words to the ends of the world.
In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, * that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again, * and there is nothing hidden from its heat. R
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; * the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart; * the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; * the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, * sweeter also than honey, dripping from the honeycomb.
By them also is your servant taught * and in keeping them there is great reward. R
Who can tell how often they offend? * O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me; * so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, * O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Refrain: The commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.

 

Second Reading: Philippians 3.4b-14

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.33-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’ When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.


Prayers of Intercession

Lord, may the words we speak, the words we write and the thoughts we think all be acceptable to you, O God of our salvation.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we know how you yearn and strive to bring harmony out of the discord that threatens our Church. So fill us all with your wisdom, and so move with the wind of your presence among the landscapes and structures that comprise the Body of Christ here on earth that Christian people throughout the world may reflect the wonder of the universe, in the glory of your transfigured Son, at one with you in the cost of creating.

Lord, may the love that moves the stars stir in the depths of our hearts: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, the stars in the heavens chant your glory, pulsing their praise across aeons of space. From the radiance of a summer dawn to the sunset of a winter evening, from the darkest of mountain nights to the stillness of moonlit seas, your creation’s praise is never silent, all this without speech or language. Help us to understand that we, too, do not always need a voice to enable you to hear us. Inscribe your commandments on our souls, we pray, and incline our hearts to keep your laws, with all joy and peace in believing.

Lord, may the love that moves the stars stir in the depths of our hearts: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, help us to work together for the common good with those we live amongst. As we find ourselves walking alongside those who hear a different drummer and walk to a different beat, help us to adjust our pace to theirs, so that we may become synchronised to walk in step. If we find others who delight in leadership for its own sake, let us press on towards our common goal. If the way seems a struggle, and obstacles never-ending, we pray for your strength to continue upwards along the road.

Lord, may the love that moves the stars stir in the depths of our hearts: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord of all worlds, look in love upon your people. Pour the healing of your compassion on a world that is wounded. Send us out in search of the lost, to comfort the afflicted, to bind up the broken and to free those trapped under the rubble of their fallen dreams. *

Lord, may the love that moves the stars stir in the depths of our hearts: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, be near to those who are dying and make yourself known to them. Give them your peace and take away their fears. Rise in our hearts this day, enfold us in the brightness of your love and bear us at the last to heaven’s horizon; for your love’s sake.

Lord, may the love that moves the stars stir in the depths of our hearts: in your mercy, hear our prayer

*Based on a prayer by Sheila Cassidy

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA .Some material  included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000. Collect (16th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

 

 

Thought for the week: am I pointing towards God? – Taylor Carey

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Throughout his writing life, one painting hung above the desk of the famous theologian Karl Barth. It was Matthias Grünewald’s Crucifixion, which, in its original form, made up part of the great Isenheim Altarpiece built for a monastery in Alsace. The Crucifixion is a shocking and intensely moving masterpiece. Christ’s body is pitted with lacerations and sores. His fingers are splayed in agony, whilst his ribbed chest heaves against the onslaught of his violent demise. It is impossible to contemplate Grünewald’s masterpiece without absorbing a crucial message: here is a God who speaks to the suffering, because here is a God who suffers.

But there is more to the Crucifixion than mere morbidity. Standing beneath the Cross, pointing towards his Master, is the figure of John the Baptist. This is clearly anachronistic, since John was executed, upon the orders of Herod, in 29 AD. Yet Grünewald isn’t making an historical mistake; on the contrary, Karl Barth, for one, took the interaction between Jesus and John in this painting as deeply symbolic of the basic model for Christian life, witness, and worship.

Behind the figure of John are the words given to the Baptist in the Fourth Gospel: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). For Barth, this disclosed an essential truth about the vocation of the Church. Christians must become ‘signs’ that point to God. We must be that ‘pointing hand’ which directs everything beyond ourselves, to the One who has already turned towards us. Only when it does this is the Church fulfilling its purpose and mission. In a quite different context, this idea can be found amongst the sayings of the Desert Fathers of fourth-century Egypt, who maintained that ‘Our life and death are with our neighbour’. Our lives must be liberated from the constraints of our own ego, to be made into signs that, like the Baptist’s pointing hand, lead our gaze to God.

But this is not just a God ‘above’, a God who is distant from earthly woe. Our gazing at God brings us into the deepest reality of this world, since that is where God is to be found, in stillness, silence, and prayer. Far from forgetting the troubles, injustices, and joys we face on a daily basis, by becoming a pointing hand, we bring a little of God’s freedom into them, and we inhabit them in a radically new way.

This week, many will participate in a prayer vigil for Gaza. Our prayers for all those in that region, whose plight can be so easily forgotten, are not simply naïve requests for a convenient celestial solution. Rather, they are responses to an urgency of suffering, made by women and men who seek to place themselves as an interface between a dire need and the constant activity of a loving and creative God. The Christian who prays about Gaza seeks to make themselves into a sign, or a pointing hand, in order to bring about a transformation of humanity, and to bring something of God’s creative freedom to bear upon situations of tragedy. They seek, in the words of a well-known prayer, to be made into ‘instruments’ of God’s peace. This undoubtedly involves facing up to the terrible depths of human sin and error, but, as Grünewald’s suffering Christ shows us, these are depths already endured and overcome by God’s love.

So, are we living up to the Baptist’s model as ‘pointers’ to God? Do we, in our daily lives, stand before the Cross, and commit ourselves to dispossession and embrace? Christ’s body might be ugly and distressing – more so with every death and bereavement in Gaza – because this is a body totally transparent to the reality and suffering of the world. And yet, like Grünewald’s masterpiece, it is also surely beautiful, because it speaks of hope, and of God’s presence here and now. And so it speaks of a world of peace, of swords beaten into ploughshares, and the Church at last singing the very music of God.


Editor’s Note

I find this piece by  Taylor very moving, as I expect our readers will too. As a footnote I add a picture of the Crucifixion hanging above Barth’s modest desk.170px-Karl_Barth_Desk

 

 

Intercessions for 15th Sunday after Trinity Year A (Proper 21) 28 September 2014

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The Collect

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; 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.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Exodus 17.1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Psalm 78.1-4,12-16

Hear my teaching, O my people; * incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; * I will pour forth mysteries from of old,
Such as we have heard and known, * which our forebears have told us.
We will not hide from their children, but will recount to generations to come, * the praises of the Lord and his power and the wonderful works he has done.
For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears, * in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through; * he made the waters stand still in a heap.
He led them with a cloud by day * and all the night through with a blaze of fire.
He split the hard rocks in the wilderness * and gave them drink as from the great deep.
He brought streams out of the rock * and made water gush out like rivers.

Second Reading: Philippians 2.1-13

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.23-32

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin,” we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’


One of the lessons I draw from today’s readings is that our leaders (Moses, Philip and our present episcopate) can only take us so far – ultimately we must work out our own salvation. Jane Williams says we need to learn to be obedient to God, nothing else. And we have Christ as our pattern. The RSCM offers: ‘It is so easy to say all the right things, to look as if we have it right, but the really big question is whether we do the things we say. The Pharisees talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. The prostitutes and tax collectors, on the other hand, had no talk but through real repentance had learnt how to walk. How does our walk measure up to our talk?’

Prayers of Intercession

Lord our God, to you we lift our hearts; in you we trust.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we thank you for your work in us and in your whole Body of Christ here on earth. We thank you that at times you work through us, and that when needed you will work in spite of us. You take the threads of our lives and weave them into grace, each part in its place, stronger for being woven with warp and weft than the individual threads could ever be.  Lord the artist, paint us into beauty. Lord the sculptor, shape our souls. Lord our maker, make us whole. *

Lord, shape our lives to be beautiful for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, teach us to know when we have enough. If in greed we ask too much of you, or in fear we ask too little, measure out for us daily the bread and water that we need and no more. Where thorns encroach and thistles threaten, give us a farmer’s wisdom to plant good seed, and to know what to uproot. As deep as we have dug before, you are deeper. As wide as we have wandered, you are wider. You are the glow at the edge of everything.

Lord, shape our lives to be beautiful for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, your world is full of independent satellites united in your orbit: help us to connect and communicate, and save us from collision. Your world is a jungle of people,  a garden growing human fruit. Help us, Lord, to know and to love the people that you have planted.

Lord, shape our lives to be beautiful for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, where the oppressed hunger for hope, let justice roll. Where the abandoned struggle against bitterness, and long for love, may healing rise. If hope is at times hard to hold onto, you are still our God. If dreams are dashed and desires are delayed, you are still our God. Still us, O God, to know you, bolster our courage, and find us a purpose which is worth the pain.

Lord, shape our lives to be beautiful for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we pray for all those whom we loved that you have taken to yourself.  May they, with all the saints, have rest in that place where there is no pain or grief, but life eternal.

Lord, shape our lives to be beautiful for you: in your mercy, hear our prayer

*Based on ‘Twitturgies’ by Gerard Kelly

Copyright acknowledgement:Collect (15th after Trinity) © 1980, 1986 Mowbray, a Cassell Imprint: Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000

 

Intercessions for the Feast of St Matthew 21 September 2014

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‘The evangelist Matthew inspired by an angel’ by Rembrandt c 1661

The Collect

O almighty God, whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax-collector to be an apostle and evangelist: give us grace to forsake the selfish pursuit of gain and the possessive love of riches that we may follow in the way of your Son Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Proverbs 3.13-18

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding,  for her income is better than silver,  and her revenue better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels,  and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness,  and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;  those who hold her fast are called happy.

Psalm 119.65-72 9 Teth

You have dealt graciously with your servant, *according to your word, O Lord.
O teach me true understanding and knowledge, * for I have trusted in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, * but now I keep your word.
You are gracious and do good; * O Lord, teach me your statutes. R
The proud have smeared me with lies, * but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
Their heart has become gross with fat, * but my delight is in your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, * that I may learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is dearer to me * than a hoard of gold and silver. R

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4.1-6

Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 9.9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

Prayers of Intercession

The RSCM comments on today’s readings: ‘What a surprise! The last person you would expect to find in Jesus’ company, Matthew the tax-collector. Everyone knew that tax collectors were thieves and liars, sinners of the first order. Jesus was not only eating with one, he had invited Matthew to be one of his closest friends. ‘

 

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, we thank you that, in making the tax collector Matthew one of your apostles, you showed that you believed even someone  such as he was worthy to be called into life with you. We are like empty seashells on a sandy shore and, for us, you are the sea. The sweeping wave rides up the shore, and overflows each shell with crystalline water. There is no glory to the shell, we give the glory to the glorious sea.  Sweep over us, your shells, we pray; we yield to the purpose of your  will. Sweep up, O conquering waves, and purify, and with your fullness fill.

Lord, give us true understanding for we have put our faith in your word: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, at times we can feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of human need and the constant demands on our compassion in the global village which our world has become. At times we feel we cannot achieve much, and it is true that we cannot touch every area of need. But let us not fail altogether because we cannot solve all the ills of mankind. We can take time and trouble to find out what other Christians are doing in our world, and be ready to respond. Then we can light a candle by our concern, our prayers and by giving what we can of our time and our talents for the healing of your world.

Lord, give us true understanding for we have put our faith in your word: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, we journey on, fortified by you and one another. Knowing that we are accepted as we are, we can the more readily accept and forgive others. We have received your gracious and truthful presence, far more enriching than all the wealth of the world. May it bind us together with our companions, putting misunderstandings right, restoring love between us so that, whatever our differences of outlook or temperament we grow steadily closer on our pilgrimage together.

Lord, give us true understanding for we have put our faith in your word: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, give us to know in our hearts that all things intermingle for good to those that love you.* Though the pain and the suffering and the darkness all remain distinct, and the good may seem powerless against that reality, when they all intermingle they form a pattern. The darkness doesn’t become less dark, but the pattern which the light makes upon it contains the meaning which makes the darkness endurable. **

Lord, give us true understanding for we have put our faith in your word: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we bring before you all those whom we love and who are no longer at the mercy of time or decay. Free of the limitations of this life, they are now in your presence for ever.

Lord, give us true understanding for we have put our faith in your word: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

*Romans 8.28

**’Absolute Truths’ by Susan Howatch, quoted by Mary Batchelor in ‘Journey of the Spirit’ , p.128.


Copyright acknowledgement: Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council Collect (Matthew) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Intercessions for Holy Cross Day 14 September 2014

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The Collect

Almighty God, who in the passion of your blessed Son made an instrument of painful death to be for us the means of life and peace: grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer for his sake; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Numbers 21.4-9

The Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Psalm 22.23-28

Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *O seed of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor; neither has he hidden his face from them; *but when they cried to him he heard them.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; *I will perform my vows in the presence of those that fear you.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; * those who seek the Lord shall praise him; their hearts shall live for ever.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, * and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s * and he rules over the nations.

Second Reading:  Philippians 2.6-11

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel Reading: John 3.13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus: ‘No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’


 

Unfortunately, the link to the online ‘look here’ version of A Handbook for Preachers on the Common Worship Lectionary seems to have disappeared, and it is too long to reproduce in full here. If you have your own copy, I recommend you to read pages 424-425, which expound on the readings. On the first reading, from the Book of Numbers, they say:

This strange story is taken up in John 3 as a sort of blueprint, an early sketch of the cross of Christ. The obvious point of comparison is that both the bronze serpent and the crucified Christ were raised up on a stake…Perhaps there is a deeper likeness… the antidote against the snakes’ venom is actually a copy of the source of the trouble. The serpent was an unclean creature for the Jews, and in the creation story it represents the evil and deceit at large in the world. So Moses’ bronze serpent is a picture of eveil, identified with the cause of the very suffering it heals. This corresponds to the biblical description of Jesus, as sent ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin’. Degraded by the humiliation and misery of the cross…he draws the poison of sin and death. Lifted up to die, he lifts his people to into eternal life.

Prayers of Intercession

 Visual Liturgy offers the following by Bishop Michael Perham.

Let us pray to the Father through his Son,
who suffered on the cross for the world’s redemption.
Fill with your Spirit Christ’s broken body, the Church …
Give to Christian people everywhere a deep longing
to take up the cross and to understand its mysterious glory.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.

Bless those who lead the Church’s worship …
In the preaching of the word
and the celebration of the sacraments,
draw your people close to you.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.

Give your grace to those who preach your word to the nations …
Help us to witness to the faith we have received
by our words and in our deeds,
and daily conform us more and more to Christ,
that we may glory in his cross.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.

Look in your mercy upon the world you loved so much
that you sent your Son to suffer and to die …
Strengthen those who work to share
the reconciliation won at such a cost upon the cross.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.

Bring healing by the wounds of Christ
to all who are weighed down by pain and injustice …
Help the lonely and the betrayed, the suffering and the dying,
to find strength in the companionship of Jesus,
and in his passion to know their salvation.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.

Welcome into paradise all who have left this world in
your friendship …
According to your promises,
bring them with all your saints
to share in the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection.
By the Saviour’s cross and passion,
Lord, save us and help us.


Alleluia, alleluia.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, you raised up your Son on and through the Cross. Help us to understand the Cross also as a metaphor for your Church: from the four corners of the earth, it draws us all to meet you at the centre. Though each part of it may be different, yet it forms a unified whole. And you have shown us how the gallows on which your son died can become for us the tree of life. Lord, for our sake you took the form of a slave: may we too pour out our love with extravagance, that our lives may be fragrant with you.

Lord, give us the strength to take up our own crosses to follow you: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, in winter your trees provide bare tracery against a flawless sky; then promise of Spring, bursting into leaf; fullness of flower at summer’s height; flowers, fruit and then fulfilment in the autumn fire. Symbol of life and death and resurrection, endlessly repeated, growing to completion. Standing deep-rooted, moving with the wind, offering shelter and strength to all who come, embodying ageless wisdom. Here let us rest and let the silence give us timeless space to grow and to be. 1

Lord, give us the strength to take up our own crosses to follow you: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

O God of the cross, let not our hearts be hardened against the concerns of others. Keep us passionate through our wrestling with your ways so that we are able to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship or support any friend in order to share the mystery of your great love, known to us through the face of your son.

Lord, give us the strength to take up our own crosses to follow you: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, your son was called ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’. You raised him up,  on and through the Cross, that many might find healing and wholeness through him.  We pray for the understanding and confidence to place our suffering unreservedly in your hands and the faith to believe that love and light can be shed on the darkness in our world when it is transfigured by your skilled and loving touch.

Lord, give us the strength to take up our own crosses to follow you: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, you raised up your Son on and through the Cross that we your people might be lifted into eternal life with you . We commend to you all those whom we love and who are now with you in communion with all your saints. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Lord, give us the strength to take up our own crosses to follow you: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

1 Inspired by ‘Trees’ by Ann Lewin, from ‘Watching for the Kingfisher
Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA. Intercessions (Holy Cross Day) © Michael Perham Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2002

Intercessions for Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Year A (Proper 18): 7 September 2014

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The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which 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 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.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Exodus 12.1-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 149

Refrain: Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth.

Alleluia.
O sing to the Lord a new song; * sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in their maker; * let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance; *  let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord has pleasure in his people * and adorns the poor with salvation. R
Let the faithful be joyful in glory; * let them rejoice in their ranks,
With the praises of God in their mouths * and a two-edged sword in their hands;
To execute vengeance on the nations * and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains * and their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the judgement decreed; * such honour have all his faithful servants.
Alleluia.

Refrain: Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth.

 

Second Reading: Romans 13.8-14

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 18.15-20

Jesus spoke to his disciples. ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


 

The RSCM has this comment on the gospel:

What do we do with problems? Ignore them? Pretend they haven’t happened? Or maybe get it out of all proportion, distorting everything?Jesus here gives clear guidelines for dealing with serious disruption and sin in our communities. It mustn’t be ignored, but neither is it to be allowed to grow and destory everything. We are to address it carefully, personally, and appropriately, and without fear, able to call on others within the church if necessary. Like any good functional family, the church needs to have clear boundaries.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, we thank-you for this [ancient] place of prayer, for the faith that has blossomed here, and the worship offered in all seasons. We thank you for enabling us to be part of this worshipping community. And we rejoice in being part of the Christian world, where the sun never sets on prayers ascending, as day succeeds night and night succeeds day, even unto the end of the age. Amen.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, when we see fissures appearing in the very structure of our Church, help us to draw on the shared history and collective memory of worship together over two millennia. May these memories revitalise our life together, encouraging us to add our own perceptions as we shape our liturgy for the future. Together let us climb the Hill of Difficulty, sure in the promise that the Celestial City awaits us at the peak, even though it may remain hidden in mist from below: the journey itself sharpens our longing for you.

Glorious and redeeming God, give us hearts to praise you all our days: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, bless those who resist the temptations of power; bless those who cause no harm. Bless those who seek to reconcile; bless those who themselves form a bridge for unlikely meetings. Bless those who repent their oppression; bless those who have been harmed, but show their oppressors mercy. In the reconciliation that is based on repentance and mercy, in the healing that has held and enfolded the pain, Lord, we add our voices to your music: Alleluia! Alleluia!

Glorious and redeeming God, give us hearts to praise you all our days: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, you are immortal, invisible, utterly beyond our imagining. But you are also imprinted within us, moving amongst us and constantly opening our eyes and ears to the wonders that lie all around us. Such a wonder is human friendship, encounters with others which both make us aware of our own solitude and help us escape from it. Others with whom we can fall silent without feeling uncomfortable, and to whom we can unburden ourselves without embarrassment.

Glorious and redeeming God, give us hearts to praise you all our days: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord, when we suffer physical or mental pain, we know that we cannot always ask you to remove the pain. We do not understand the reason for pain in this world, and the knowledge of the existence of suffering is itself painful. But throughout our sojourn in the vale of tears, help us to help you, and to defend your dwelling place inside us to the last.

Glorious and redeeming God, give us hearts to praise you all our days: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we thank you for the saints of all ages, for those who, in times of darkness, kept burning the lamp of faith; for the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it; and for those we knew and loved, who have passed from this earthly fellolwship into the fuller light of life with you.

Glorious and redeeming God, give us hearts to praise you all our days: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The intercessions this week are inspired by the reading of ‘The Collage of God‘ by Mark Oakley, which I have much enjoyed.


 

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000. Collect (12th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

“The Collage Of God” by Mark Oakley

collage of god
Wow! Just wow…
In relation to our conversation about Christianity and the rules, someone from the Wychwood Circle Community  very helpfully linked to this piece in the Huffington Post by Mark Oakley about his book. I have ordered it straight away, but meanwhile, here is the opening of his article. I suggest you visit the page to read the whole piece and perhaps also buy the book and we can discuss it here.

Broadly speaking, Christian people fall into two types: resolvers and deepeners. Resolvers are keen to clarify and solidify doctrinal and ethical matters. They like systems of thought, information, prose, full-stops. They often speak of their conclusions being somehow “revealed,” either through their reading of the Bible or the teaching authority of the Church they belong to.

Deepeners, on the other hand, distrust systems and jigsaws of the mind where everything fits together nicely. They prefer poetry to prose, intimation to information, and feel that full-stops need turning into commas because, with God, everything is as yet unfinished. Deepeners will talk of divine revelation but feel more comfortable with God-talk that takes human experience seriously and which is as unafraid to reason as it is unashamed to adore. For these, the mystery of God should be deepened by our God-thoughts, not resolved, and revelation cannot be monopolised by the interpretations of religion.

A healthy Church will undoubtedly need a good conversation between these two types always on the go. Individual Christians probably have a similar dialogue going on in themselves from time to time. At the end of the day, however, they can usually identify which of these two approaches they feel more drawn to.

My book, “The Collage of God,” is written for deepeners. Ever since my experience working in a hospital chaplaincy as part of my ministerial training, I have had to admit to myself that neat and tidy theologies just don’t add up for me. The only way I can make any sense of faith is to see it not as a system but as a collage. By which I mean it is a life-long collecting of fragments, epiphanies, hints and guesses, lit and shadowed — all slowly pieced together into something that often feels painfully senseless close up but which, taking a step or two back, can appear with some surprise to have an integrity and beauty to it. Faith is therefore a beach-combing enterprise and the shores we walk along include the Scriptures, the Christian tradition, relationships, beauty, justice and imagination. The pieces of the collage are placed with truthfulness, prayer and, where possible, a playful delight in the gifts that are being placed into our hands. The pieces don’t all fit neatly with each other but that’s OK. One of the best collages of faith we have is the Bible, where many images and memories jostle together to stir up our response.

Wikipedia has the following:

His initiative of having a series of sermons which explored plays that were currently showing in London, to which the actors and production team of each play came and took part in conversation, is an example of the way Oakley tries to open a dialogue between people of faith and the work of the artistic community. A lecture given by him in Westminster Abbey and Keble College, Oxford in 2002 argued that the Church in its search to be relevant was ironically becoming too secular for the British public and that it should be the deeper human resonances that the Church seeks to identify, explore and dialogue with.[3] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wrote in 2004 that Oakley’s thinking and approach is in the tradition of Westcott.[4] A more recent article by Oakley in the Church Times, entitled “An Issue! An Issue! We all Fall Down”[5] argues for the renewal of theological generosity in the Anglican spirit. In 2010, the former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, wrote a poem dedicated to Oakley entitled “In Winter” and said of him that: “It’s extremely unusual to meet anyone who isn’t a specialist who has such a subtle feeling for language as he does”. Motion has since added that he believes Oakley to be “the best sermoniser I’ve ever heard. And he’s funny, and he knows a lot, and he’s lived”.

Mark Oakley is also the author of ‘Readings for Weddings‘, an anthology of poetry and prose. And his book, The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry is being re-published next February by Canterbury Press. 

Meanwhile, here is Canon Oakley talking about ‘The Collage of God’ recently at St Paul’s, where he is Chancellor:

Can You Be An Anarchist Christian?

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What does it mean to be a Christian? After sixty-five years of trying to be one, I thought I had got the general idea. In particular, I thought I had got what it meant to be a member of the Church of England. I had thought that the point of Anglicanism is that you don’t need to be a theologian to be one. For those who think like me, Jesus offered an executive summary:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12.29-31 KJV

For all these years, I had taken it as read that the Church of England encompasses such a wide spectrum of theology and ecclesiology that, whereas all would presumably go along with this ‘rule’, any further detailed prescription would result in schism. After all, we have always teased priests that buttons could be left undone on cassocks to indicate which of the Thirty Nine Articles caused them problems. And it is apparently even possible to be an atheist priest, though I am not advocating this.

And then the diocese in which I happen to live decides to impose a few rules on the rest of us.

Strategic Priorities

Under God, delighting in His grace and rooted in the Diocesan rule of life, we will be a Diocese in which:

  1. We grow authentic disciples, going out as individuals passionately, confidently and courageously sharing their faith, and coming together as creative church communities of prayer and worship that live out Kingdom values.
  2. We re-imagine the Church intentionally connecting and engaging with our local communities in culturally relevant ways. We will rejoice in the richness of the “mixed economy” of all ministry and proactively promote vibrant parochial and breathtaking pioneering ministries amongst ‘missing’ generations, eg children, young people, under 35s.
  3. We are agents of social transformation using our influence as a Diocese to transform public and personal life. We will demonstrate loving faith at work in local communities and across the globe bringing healing, restoration and reconciliation, eg through education, social enterprise, health care, spiritual care teams.
  4. We belong together in Christ, practicing sacrificial living and good stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us. We will combine radical generosity, care and capacity building with a clear focus on directing finance into the mission of Jesus. Sharing and multiplying local good practice, using people, buildings and other resources wisely, we will seek to boldly prune, plant and invest in building for the Kingdom.

All right, it is the spelling and style of the above which offends me as much as anything else. If someone targets advertising at you which is illiterate, do you not simply dismiss it?

But the chilling part of this document – apart from the fact that it has a whole page to itself on the diocesan website – is the expression ‘Diocesan rule of life’. What on earth is this? Not in my name, at least. I gather it is based on the Benedictine Rule, a splendid document. However, I am not a Benedictine. Nor do I aspire to be one. And if I did, it would be my own business, emphatically not that of the diocese. I might choose to be a Franciscan, Ignatian, Augustinian, Thomistic…., by what right does the diocese I happen to live in aspire to dictate the characteristics of my spirituality?

I find it disconcerting, to say the least, that my bishop and I have completely different understandings of what it means to be a member of the Church of England. But a shepherd’s crook is meant to guide the sheep, not to be a set of handcuffs supplemented by a prod. I am pretty sure that the bishop cannot impose his rule of life on me, not in this sceptred isle, this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

So I reassert my life as a pew-sitting Anglican in the parish of my choice, free to classify myself as a liberal catholic if I choose.

And then my friend, and occasional sparring partner, Peter Ould, puts a teasing message on his Facebook page:

 

Steps to break through a liberal’s theological nonsense.

1) Ask the question “Do you want to live a life that is surrendered to the will of God for you?”
2) Ask the question “Do you think it’s unfair that God would permit you to have a sexual desire you shouldn’t act out on?”
3) Repeat asking questions 1 and 2 until the penny clicks.

 

I try this for several days. The penny does not click. I think my problem is that Peter assumes that if you are a Christian you will have to answer his first question in the affirmative. Whereas my answer is more like ‘sometimes, yes, sometimes no’.

But for me, this is the wrong question about the nature of my relationship with God. Perhaps because I am a cradle Anglican, even my confirmation was an affirmation of everything that had gone before and a hope for things to come rather than any road to Tarsus.  I know there are ten commandments and thirty-nine articles and many other suggestions for our lives, but I do not wake up in the morning filled with a desire to learn and obey all the rules. It is rather like good manners and etiquette. If you understand that good manners is consideration of other people, you do not need the rules of etiquette, they flow from the understanding of the general principle.

For me, Christianity is like that. It matters not whether you know or care about the finer points of theology – so long as you love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your might, and your neighbour as yourself, all else flows from this. Or, as Jesus put it, ‘On this hang all the law and the prophets’  (Matthew 22.40).

There are many hymns which make the same point. What about ‘Immortal love’?

Immortal love, forever full,
Forever flowing free,
Forever shared, forever whole,
A never ebbing sea!

Our outward lips confess the name
All other names above;
Love only knoweth whence it came,
And comprehendeth love.

Blow, winds of God, awake and blow
The mists of earth away:
Shine out, O Light divine, and show
How wide and far we stray…

But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
A present help is He;
And faith still has its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.

The healing of His seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain;
We touch Him in life’s throng and press,
And we are whole again.

Through Him the first fond prayers are said
Our lips of childhood frame,
The last low whispers of our dead
Are burdened with His Name.

O Lord and Master of us all,
Whate’er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.

The letter fails, the systems fall,
And every symbol wanes;
The Spirit over brooding all,
Eternal Love remains.

Intercessions for Eleventh Sunday after Trinity Year A (Proper 17): 31 August 2014

Mercy_and_Truth_are_Met_Together,_Righteousness_and_Peace_Have_Kissed_Each_Other,_object_1_(Butlin_463)

‘Mercy and Truth are Met Together, Righteousness and Peace Have Kissed Each Other’ William Blake c. 1803

The Collect

O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

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 for ever, and this my title for all generations.’

Psalm 105.1-6,23-26,45b

O give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; * make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises, *and tell of all his marvellous works.
Rejoice in the praise of his holy name; * let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord and his strength; * seek his face continually.
Remember the marvels he has done, * his wonders and the judgements of his mouth,
O seed of Abraham his servant, * O children of Jacob his chosen.
Then Israel came into Egypt; * Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
And the Lord made his people exceedingly fruitful; * he made them too many for their adversaries,
Whose heart he turned, so that they hated his people * and dealt craftily with his servants.
Then sent he Moses his servant * and Aaron whom he had chosen.
That they might keep his statutes * and faithfully observe his laws. Alleluia.

Second Reading:  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.

Gospel Reading: 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.’

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

Prayers of Intercession

Lord immortal, and infinite and beyond all our imagining, we pray to you now, knowing that you are also closer to us than our heads to our hearts.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, you are ruler of the infinite spaces, and yet out of your limitless love you chose to be bound to the earth and all its people within the limits of body and time. But we make your love too narrow with false limits of our own. Help us to look above the pettiness of our vision and focus instead on the cosmic dance that you have promised for those who are members of the Body of Christ. Fill our hearts, we pray, with the desire to fix on whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure and whatsoever things are lovely, through your son, our Saviour.

Lord, help us to live in harmony with one another: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, may your Church help to bring peace and reconciliation in this world. At times such peace seems a distant dream, and we know we cannot be peace makers relying on human strength alone. So many problems in our world seem incapable of resolution, as warring factions circle around each other in a dance they seem condemned to repeat for all eternity. But yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory and, through your strength and mercy, we ask for a measure  of your grace.

Lord, help us to live in harmony with one another: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, when we feel the desire to withdraw into our own little worlds, set our hearts on fire with love of you so that we may see your face in the eyes of those we live amongst. Help us to be open to sharing our lives, and all the blessings that you have given us, with each other. For such human contact can be a real blessing and may even lead to our being ‘surprised by joy’.

Lord, help us to live in harmony with one another: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, when we ask you to deliver us from evil, we pray not so much for mercy  in granting us success in our undertakings, as finding the grasp of your hand in our failures. Not so much to be sheltered from all dangers as to be fearless in facing them. Not so much for the removal of all pain as for the hearts to conquer it. And we pray for the peace that comes with acceptance, as we seek a haven under the shadow of your wings.

Lord, help us to live in harmony with one another: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, we pray for all those who are now at peace and free from pain and fear as they rest in your kingdom in the company of all your saints.

Lord, help us to live in harmony with one another: in your mercy, hear our prayer

 

Copyright acknowledgement: Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Collect (11th after Trinity) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Intercessions for the Feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle (Year A) 24 August 2014

 

Saint Bartholomew by Anthony Van Dyck
Saint Bartholomew by Anthony Van Dyck

 

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your word: grant that your Church may love that word which he believed and may faithfully preach and receive the same; 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.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Isaiah 43.8-13

Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! Let all the nations gather together, and let the peoples assemble. Who among them declared this, and foretold to us the former things? Let them bring their witnesses to justify them, and let them hear and say, ‘It is true.’ You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, says the Lord. I am God, and also henceforth I am He; there is no one who can deliver from my hand; I work and who can hinder it?

Psalm 145.1-7

I will exalt you, O God my King, *and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you * and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; * his greatness is beyond all searching out.
One generation shall praise your works to another * and declare your mighty acts.
They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, *and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, * and I will also tell of your greatness.
They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness * and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Second Reading: Acts 5.12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

Gospel Reading: Luke 22.24-30

A dispute also arose among the twelve as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’


 

Prayers of Intercession

Lord God, we ask you now to show us the places where love, and hope, and faith, are needed, and to use us to bring them there.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, teach us again in your Church how to be your servants today. Teach us to do your will and walk in your way with humility, care, and true joy. In the crowded agenda of the work of the Church, beset on all sides by meetings without number, let us not lose sight of your truth. Give us the lifeline of your Spirit, an injection of hope. Replenish us with your vision. Renew us with hope of transformative action. Renew us with a sense of your purpose.

 Lord, give us grace to be your hands and feet: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

For the greening of the woodland, for the grains of the harvest, for the fruits in their season, we give you thanks. Lord of all good gifts, we thank you for the trustworthiness of so many people in their repeated tasks for the common good. We touch a mystery unsearchable and wonderful, the marvel of the everyday. And you, Lord, are constant and faithful, abundant in steadfast love, passionate and limitless in the giving of yourself to us and all the world, partners as we are in your covenant of creation.

 Lord, give us grace to be your hands and feet: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The local community

Lord, help the older generation to learn from the young, and the younger generation not to be blind to the wisdom of the old. May the young be given the space and love in which to grow and to thrive. May their energy and their enthusiasm bring joy to the old. May the young never lose their curiosity about everything on our planet. May our old be recognised as the taproot of our society, which has had the time to explore deeply the soil from which we spring. May they be enabled to use their accumulated wisdom to encourage and inspire the young.

 Lord, give us grace to be your hands and feet: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶Those who suffer

Lord fill us, we pray, with the love that heals, the love that forgives, the love that longs to be given away. Give us the love that grows, that we may in turn grow in love. And give us the understanding and the love truly to feel the suffering of others.   Breath of God, be our life this day; be our compassion. Breath of God, flow where there is hurt and hatred. Breath of God, flow into all places of distress and darkness, of despair and desolation. Breath of God, flow where life is coming to an end; flow into the kingdom of death. Breath of God, flow into us, through us, as grace, as love, as Spirit, as life.

 Lord, give us grace to be your hands and feet: in your mercy, hear our prayer.

¶The communion of saints

For some of your children, Lord, the day you gave on earth is ended. We pray for those that have gone before us, that they may rest in peace and rise to greet a new dawn in which they are united with you.

 Lord, while we are on earth give us grace to be your hands and your feet: in your mercy, hear our prayer.


 

Church House Intercessions

Encouraged by our fellowship with all the saints,   let us make our prayers to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, your Son called men and women to leave the past behind them and to follow him as his disciples in the way of the cross. Look with mercy upon those whom he calls today, marks with the cross  and makes his disciples within the Church …
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son told his disciples not to be afraid and at Easter breathed on them his gift of peace. Look with mercy upon the world into which he sent them out, and give it that peace for which it longs …
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son formed around him a company who were no longer servants but friends, and he called all those who obeyed him his brother and sister and mother. Look with mercy upon our families and our friends and upon the communities in which we share …
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son sent out disciples to preach and heal the sick. Look with mercy on all those who yearn to hear the good news of salvation, and renew among your people the gifts of healing …
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Your Son promised to those who followed him that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and would share the banquet of the kingdom. According to your promise, look with mercy on those who have walked with Christ in this life and now have passed through death …
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.


Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Luke 22.24-30 © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA. Intercessions (Apostles & Evangelists 1) © Michael Perham. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000. Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council Collect (Bartholomew) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)


Today is also  the Tenth Sunday after Trinity and Proper 16, but Visual Liturgy says that the Feast of St Bartholomew is not normally displaced. As you see above, you also have the choice of Church House’s intercessions or the ones I have suggested…

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