Sunday 23/8/20

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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:

A Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday After Trinity
Matthew 16: 13 – 20; Romans 12: 1 – 8


It is no secret that I am dreadful with numbers.  In order to come close to a respectable Maths CSE, I had a great deal of help from a friend.  Almost 40 years later, I still remember the look of relief on that friend’s face when I finally understood what she was teaching me.

Jesus must have felt much the same relief when Peter made his great declaration at Ceasera Philippi.  Last week we saw the faith of the Canaanite woman who clearly understood that Jesus is the Messiah, and his ministry, long before the disciples began to understand these things.  Now Jesus has finally found some space to be alone with the disciples.  In the quiet of the imposing cliffs at Cesearea Philippi, Peter made his monumental declaration.  You are the Christthe Messiah. [‘Messiah’ is Hebrew and ‘Christ’ Greek.  Both mean ‘God’s anointed one].

With that statement God breaks in.  It is a moment of transformation; for Peter; for Jesus; for the unformed Christian Church.  From now on, Jesus can teach the disciples what kind of Messiah he is.  Peter’s destiny as the founding member of the Church is sealed.  The foundation stone of the church is laid.

Such transforming moments bring disturbance in their wake.  The disciples lives would never be the same again.  They have given up their livelihoods to follow Jesus.  Now they must face the reality of following a suffering, dying Messiah.  Peter’s purpose in life changes completely.  However hard he tries, (and after the crucifixion he tried very hard), he will never be a fisherman again.  However many mistakes he makes, (and there will be many), he will found the Church.

Most of us won’t be able to pinpoint that time when we said for the first time ‘Jesus is the Messiah’, yet we proclaim with confidence that Jesus is Lord.  A statement which is as transforming and disturbing for us as it was for the disciples. Following Jesus demanded everything of Jesus’ disciples.  It will demand everything of us.

For Paul, being a living sacrifice involved imprisonment, beating and severe opposition.  For Peter, it meant putting aside the Jewish rituals which shaped his life and living as a Gentile, eating foods which he knew to be unclean.  Ultimately Peter faced death by crucifixion.

More recently, Archbishop Oscar Romero, 6 Melanesian brothers and countless others, have become living sacrifices to God by becoming martyrs. For Meryiam Ibriahim, it meant giving birth whilst chained in a Sudanese jail because she refused to deny Jesus.  For Mother Theresa it meant identifying with those who were regarded as worthless.  The list could go on.

Proclaiming Jesus, following him, and offering ourselves a living sacrifices is challenging.  Not just for the early Christians, but for countless Christians today.  

We may not be called to be martyrs.  We may not be called to endure torture for naming the name of Jesus, or even to identify with the outcast.  But we are all called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God.  

The Celtic Christians of the 5th - 8th Centuries CE had 3 definitions of martyrdom.  ‘Red martyrdom’ involved dying for Jesus.  ‘White martyrdom’ meant giving up everything a person knew to follow Jesus.  ‘Green martyrdom’ was unspectacular commitment, discipline, self-control and simplicity lived out in the daily lives of Christians who have been transformed by God’s love. 

‘Green martyrdom’ may not be dramatic, but it is demanding.  Thankfully, we do not walk the way alone.   Jesus has placed us in the body of the Church.  That is both a help and a challenge.  We no longer face the demands of Christian discipleship alone.  There are people around to support and encourage us when the way is tough and to share the load.

It is a challenge because belonging to the body comes involves participation.  We will have weak and strong areas in our lives.  Areas of life where we can support those who are weak, just was we are supported in our own areas of weakness.  

However, the real challenge comes, when God asks us to be active in areas where we don’t feel strong. And God may well do that as he disturbs our lives.  After all, who except God would have chosen Peter, more rocky thank rock, as the founding member of the Church?  


Prayers for 23 August 2020


The Collect for the Eleventh Sunday After Trinity


God of glory,

the end of our searching,

help us to lay aside

all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom,

and to give all that we have

to gain the pearl beyond all price,

through our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Post Communion Prayer for the Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord of all mercy,

we your faithful people have celebrated that one

true sacrifice which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace;

by our communion keep us firm on the foundation of the gospel

and preserve us from all sin;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


Lord we present ourselves, our souls and bodies, to you.

You give us life, you give us love, you give us yourself.

May we give our lives, our love, ourselves to you.

We pray for the unity of your church,

that we may work together for the good of all.

We give thanks for the gifts you have given us;

let us use them to your glory.

We pray that we may all use the gifts of ministry 

you have given to each one of us.

Christ, Son of the living God,

hear us and helps us.


We pray for all people, that their talents and abilities may be used.

Bless each member of the Church in their vocation and work.

We remember all those who have been made redundant 

and are unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

We pray for those who find their work dull and mechanical.

We remember all whose talents are wasted and thwarted.

Christ, Son of the living God,

hear us and help us.

Bless our homes with holiness and hospitality,

with cheerfulness and kindliness,

with generosity and goodness.

We pray for our loved ones, our neighbours and our friends,

the communities to which we belong and the places where we work.

Christ, Son of the living God,

hear us and help us.


We pray for all who suffer through the cruelty of others,

for all who have no confidence in themselves or in the world.

We pray for all who find making relationships difficult.

We remember the lonely, the rejected and the betrayed.

We pray for all who are in trouble, need, sickness or any other adversity…

Christ, Son of the living God,

hear us and help us.


We give thanks for all who have been strengthened by their faith.

We give thanks for all who have died in faith, giving thanks especially for…

Lord, grant us with them a share in your heavenly kingdom.

Christ, Son of the living God,

hear us and help us.


Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.



Lift high the cross

Take my life and let it be

Firmly I believe and truly

All for Jesus, all for Jesus