Sunday 16/8/20

On this page 
Service, sermon, readings, prayers & hymns.

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship is led by Revd Dr Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Welsh Methodist Synod
9.00 am  The Church of England Service looks at Wisdom in the Psalms and comes from Mucknell Abbey near Worcester.  Available at:
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:

A Sermon for the Tenth Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 15: 21 – 28

Some years ago, I was on a retreat led by the Bishop of Manchester.  During one session, he asked us to talk to each other about what we thought was the greatest sin of our society.  Everyone on the retreat concluded it was consumerism.  Ever the prophet, Bishop David suggested it was the sin of welcoming only those who are like us.

6 or 7 years later, a brief glance at our society tells us that is all too true.  The suspicion of those from other countries, even when we desperately need them to pick our strawberries and care for the sick; suggestions of institutional racism and the Black Lives Matter Movement tells us Bishop David was, sadly, all too right.  But what to do about it?

Surprisingly a rather strange incident between a Canaanite woman and Jesus 2,000 years ago might be able to help us, as we continue to search for the answer to the question: ‘What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?’ 

On the surface, this incident seems to suggest it is ok to reject those who are not like us.   After all, Jesus, a Jew, apparently rejects this woman because she is not Jewish.  We are rightly shocked, but all is not as it seems.  

To understand what is happening, we need to grasp something of God’s view of time.  Our understanding of time is fairly simple.  We understand time began before we did and continues after we have gone.  Time begins at A and progresses in a straight line until it arrives at Z.

God is not constrained by time as we are.  If God wants the future to break into the present, he can make that happen.  This is what we see in the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

Whilst he was on earth, Jesus was locked into our time frames.  He had a very specific ministry to carry out in that time.  That ministry was not to heal every sick person he met.  It was to show the Jewish people that the Kingdom of God is beginning to appear. 

For now, the Canaanite woman and her daughter’s needs are not part of Jesus’ ministry.  After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus they will be.  Unless, God allows the future to break into the present.  

We need to look more closely.  First at the disciples.  They are just beginning to understand that Jesus is God’s anointed King; the Messiah.  They have yet to understand that this will involve the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  They cannot start to understand that after the Resurrection and Pentecost they will bring Messiah’s blessing to the non- Jewish world.  

Into the disciples inadequate understanding about Jesus and his ministry comes the Canaanite woman.  Her understanding is streets ahead of the disciples. She already knows who Jesus is and what he has come to do.  Her exceptional insight allows the future to break into the present.

The woman knows that she has no right to receive the blessing of the Messiah.  She is also knows that one day the Gentiles will share in the blessing.  

The woman is so certain of this, she doesn’t even mind being described as a dog; a deeply abusive term in first century Palestine where dogs were wild, scavenging pests.  Jews regularly referred to their Gentile neighbours as dogs, yet this woman turns the term around to define her faith.

And what a great faith it was.   She has arrived at the reality of Easter and Pentecost before the disciples have started to understand Good Friday must happen.  In the insight and understanding of a Canaanite woman the future has broken into the present.  Her astonishing faith allows God to work in his way and in his time, making eventhe future a present reality.

It is a faith which has been demonstrated by Christians down the ages, for example, when William Wilberforce and others worked to abolish the slave trade.  Many people were recognising the slave trade had to come to an end… but not yet.  

Wilberforce and his colleagues believed that action under girded with prayer could end the slave trade now.  Their faith, their prayer and their action allowed the future to break into the present.  The slave trade was abolished more quickly than was humanly possible, although hidden forms of slavery continue around the world in other forms.

This and many other problems in the world around us continue to overwhelm us, but we are not powerless to change what we see.  If we both pray and act, our faith can bring an end to some of the problems we face, and bring the future into our own present.  It is the combination of action and prayer which allow God to bring the future into the present.

What other prayer and action do we need to undertake to bring the future into the present so that the intractable, besetting problems of our world can be resolved?  


S Anne Lawson

13 August 2020

The Collect for the Sixth Sunday After Trinity

Lord of heaven and earth,

as Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer,

give us patience and courage never to lose hope,

but always to bring our prayers before you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Post Communion Prayer

God of our pilgrimage,

you have willed that the gate of mercy

should stand open for those who trust in you:

look upon us with your favour

that we who follow the path of your will

may never wander from the way of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,

let us pray to the Father.

For the peace of the whole world,

for the welfare of the Holy Church of God,

and for the unity of all,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For Mark and Keith our Bishops,

for all the leaders of our sister Churches,

and for all clergy and people,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For Elizabeth our Queen,

for the leaders of the nations,

and for all in authority,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.

For the communities in which we live,

for every city, town or village,

and for all the people who live within them,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.

For good weather,

and for abundant harvests for all to share,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy,

For those who travel by land, air, or water,

for the sick and the suffering [for the people of Lebanon; Syria and Yemen and all those around the world affected in anyway by the Coronavirus Pandemic]

for prisoners and captives,

and for their safety, health and salvation,

let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For our deliverance from all affliction, strife and need,

and for the absolution of our sins and offences,

let us pray to the Lord,

Lord, have mercy.


all who have gone before us in faith,

and in communion with all the saints,

we commit ourselves, one another, 

and our whole life to Christ our God.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.



All hail the power of Jesus’ name

Christ’s is the world in which we move

Jesus Christ is waiting, waiting in the streets

In Christ there is no east or west