Sun 27/9/20

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Service, sermon, readings, prayers & hymns.

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at:
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at:
The Prayer Book Society have not updated their website to reflect that limited public worship is now taking place in some churches, but their website appears to continue to offer a wide range of services from the Book of Common Prayer available at:

The Cross Country Parishes
A Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 21: 23 – 32 

As a teenager and young man, my brother was always quite derogatory of anyone or anything to do with southern Britain.  

Then he fell in love with a girl whose parent’s lived in the New Forest.  He began to spend more and more of his spare time with Helen and her family.  Finally, Helen got a job at Southampton University and John realised that if they were going to share their lives, he would have to move south. Despite all odds, he changed his mind when there was something important at stake.  

This morning’s is about a change of mind, God, it seems, encourages us to change our mind, choosing his direction and priorities in our lives rather than our own.  Where God is concerned a change of mind is a sign of strength.

The highpoint of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life is fast approaching.  Jesus has already ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey, cheered by the crowds.  He has cleansed the Temple, and come to the attention of the religious authorities.  Now the Jewish leaders challenge the authority on which Jesus is acting.  Unfortunately, in responding to Jesus’ question about the baptism of John, they undermine their own authority.

The Jewish leaders problem.  They seem to understand that John the Baptist’s ministry was from heaven.  But if they say that they will condemn themselves because they did not respond to John’s call.  Instead they save face by saying they don’t know where John’s authority came from, and doing so lose credibility.

Jesus’ earthly ministry is coming to an end.  He wants to give opportunity for the Jewish religious leaders to change their minds and follow him.  And so he tells them a story about two sons.

It reminds us of another of Jesus’ stories about two sons. As in the parable of the Prodigal Son, one son is awkward and rebellious; the other loyal and industrious.  There the similarity between the two stories more or less ends.

In today’s parable, both sons change their mind.  Against all expectation, the awkward, rebellious son turns up for work on the farm.  Meanwhile, the loyal, industrious son breaks his promise, failing to turn up for work.

The sons in the parable are not unusual.  People don’t always behave as we expect them too.  Certainly the Jewish Leaders did not respond as we might expect to the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus.

We might expect the religious people to respond to John the Baptist or to Jesus, but, largely, they did not.  Instead, it those we least expect; the prostitutes, the tax collectors and the outcasts of society who respond favourably and begin to walk with God.

Jesus, it seems, asked the religious leaders a question about John the Baptist’s ministry not to be awkward, but to give them one final opportunity to change their minds.  

Jesus wanted the religious leaders to be strong; to change their minds and follow him.  Some already had..  It was Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two members of the Jewish ruling council, who gave Jesus a decent burial at great risk to their own safety.  Far from displaying weakness, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus’s change of mind showed great strength and courage.  But it was a choice they made for themselves. Jesus did not force them into it.

It is the same for us.  Each of us has to make our own decisions, deciding for ourselves that we want to turn away from their own priorities and turn instead to God.  It is a decision which requires strength and courage, but it is the decision God most wants us to make.  The Prophet, Ezekiel, tells us whoever makes that decision will receive a new heart, a new spirit and new life from God.  The fullness of life which Jesus promises to everyone who chooses to follow him.

This is the choice which Jesus was giving the Jewish leaders a last opportunity to make.  Through the parable of the two sons, it is the choice God asks us to make.  There is no time like now to make that change.

Like Joseph and Arimathea and Nicodemus, our change of mind will be a sign of strength and courage.  Especially if we choose to put God’s priorities ahead of our own.

S Anne Lawson



The Collect for the Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord of creation,

whose glory is around and within us:

open our eyes to your wonders

that we may serve you with reverence

and know your peace to our lives’ end,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


The Post-Communion Prayer for the Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty God, 

you have taught us through your Son

that love is the fulfilling of the law:

grant that we may love you with our whole heart

and our neighbours as ourselves;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayers of Intercession

God has called us;

as we gather in his name let us bring to him our prayers,

which come from our love and concern.

Lord, we thank you for all the help and encouragement

we are given from the Church – 

from its worship, teaching and fellowship;

from its faithfulness in prayer.

Bless and further all loving ministry

in word and sacrament throughout the world Church’

inspire us all to want your will and to do it.

O God, work in us:

inspiring both will and deed.

Lord, we pray for the world,

where the misery and tragedy of wrong choices

grieves your heart of love.

Let there be wisdom and compassion

in all negotiations and decisions;

let there be humility in leadership

and responsibility for right action shared by all.

O God, work in us:

inspiring both will and deed.

Lord, we bring to you the joys and worries,

the frustrations and accomplishments of this week

in the lives we have met and shared.

As we pray, let your light shine into all these lives

for fresh directing and lasting good.

O God, work in us;

inspiring both will and deed.

Lord, we bring to you those we know

who are ill or suffering in any way.

Give them healing, restore them

in body, mind and spirit,

and provide them with your indwelling.

O God, work in us;

inspiring both will and deed.

Lord, we remember in your presence

all who have died,

and particularly those we have known and loved.

Thank you for them,

and thank you for your promise

of eternal life and peace.

May we comfort one another through your love.

O God, work in us:

inspiring both will and deed.

Lord, we thank you for your offer

of life in all its abundance;

may we accept it with joy every day of our lofe.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


At the name of Jesus

May the mind of Christ my Saviour

Meekness and majesty

O Jesus I have promised