Sunday 5/7/20

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Sermon, readings, prayers & hymns.

8.00pm Bishop Keith has called for us to pray for the Diocese and for the World every Sunday evening by lighting a candle. 

On line, TV & Radio  

8.10am BBC Radio 4 a Christian Service.

Chester Cathedral. Stream - Chester Cathedral

The Prayer Book Society has links to numerous on line services

A sermon for the 4th Sunday After Trinity

Romans 7: 15 – 25a; Matthew 11: 16 – 19, 25

I suspect that those who read the bible lessons in churches across the parishes are probably breathing a sigh of relief that they have been let off the hook.   The reading from Romans is a challenging one to read with meaning.  At first sight, the opening verses of the Romans reading is nonsensical.  Whatever is Paul on about?
Take another look and we see that Paul is stating the obvious about human nature.  Most human beings want to do the right thing most of the time.  A lot of the time they not only intend to do the right thing, but achieve it.  Then there are the times when the intention is good and somehow it just goes wrong.  Sometimes despite every effort being put into making a good intention a reality, for no apparent reason it goes wrong, not infrequently going from bad to worse.
This is the human condition that Paul ponders in the reading from Romans.  And he finds an answer.  Human beings, however good natured, well-intentioned and well-meaning are fundamentally flawed.  Affected by the sin which has been unavoidable ever since it all went wrong in the Garden of Eden.
Paul’s thought process is easier to follow in The Message; a modern translation of the Bible: “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it.”
When we are honest with ourselves, Paul’s challenge is no different to the situation we find ourselves in.  So what is the solution?  For Paul, a good Jew by birth, soaked in Jewish scripture and teaching from birth, trained by the very best teacher around, the solution was to be found in God’s Law.  Here were God’s rules for living. Except that once he encountered Jesus Paul discovered that it wasn’t.  Here’s his experience in Romans 7 from The Message translation of the Bible: “I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 
So, is there any hope for Paul? Any help for us when we find ourselves in the situation Paul finds himself in?  Thankfully for Paul and for us, there is, as Paul discovered: “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
To find out how Jesus helps us we need to look at the reading from Matthew 11.  Here we hear Jesus’ invitation to ‘Come’.  This is where most of our experiences will differ from Paul’s experience.  Jesus did not so much invite Paul to ‘come’ as command him to ‘come’ when he appeared so dramatically to him on the Damascus Road.  
For most, perhaps all of us, the invitation will have been far less dramatic.  It may have been so gentle we barely heard it: ‘“Are you tired? Worn out? … Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.”.  (Matthew 11: 25 The Message).  Jesus never forces anyone to follow him.  He invites them, most of the time very gently.  
We should not let gentleness blind us to the dramatic difference accepting it will make to us.  Paul was worn out by religion.  Sadly, so often we are too.  So often, we find ourselves thinking that if we keep doing a particular job in the church or in the community, even when we no-longer enjoy it and it has become a burden, if we keep doing it, Jesus will love us just that little bit more.  We will impress God just that extra bit.  Our place will be secure in Heaven if only we can keep gritting our teeth and carrying on.
From Jesus’ perspective, nothing could be further from the truth.  He wants his children to serve him with joy.  Unlike the heavy burden of the Jewish Law, following Jesus should leave us free.  Jesus offers us real rest and opportunity to learn from him how to do that: “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 29 – 30 The Message).
For all the frustrations and limitations of lockdown, for some people at least, it has provided opportunity for real rest and reflection.  For some who continue to self-isolate or to be shielded, there is more time still not just for the frustrations, but for rest and reflection.  As lockdown eases and we begin to find our way back into our churches, we need to hear again not just Jesus’ invitation to ‘Come’, but also his offer to teach us “to live freely and lightly.”.

S Anne Lawson
1 July 2020


The Collect for the Fourth Sunday After Trinity

O God, the protector of all who trust in you;
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy;
increase and multiply upon us your mercy,
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

The Post Communion Prayer for the Fourth Sunday After Trinity

Eternal God,
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  

Prayers of Intercession

Our loving God is here, attentive to his children.
Let us pray to him now.

Father we pray that your Church
may always be open to receive your love;
keep us swept clear of pomposity,
complacency or self-righteousness;
let us come humbly and simply into your presence 
and wait on you, knowing our dependence on you,
and rejoicing in it.
As you have called us:
Lord, we come to you.

Father, we pray for all world leaders
and their governments;
for the strength of authority
comes not through force and domination
but through co-operation and mutual respect;
we pray for greater consideration
of the needs of one another and of our planet,
and a desire to right past wrongs and injustices.
As you have called us:
Lord, we come to you.

Father, we pray for a growing maturity
in our thinking and our loving
that enables us to be childlike;
we pray for healing from all the damage
that prevents us from growing up;
we pray that the children in our churches
may be helped to grow strong,
and we thank you for all we learn from them.
As you have called us:
Lord, we come to you.

Father, we pray for all who cry out for rest and relief,
all who are carrying terrible burdens
that weigh them down,
all whose poverty denies them the chance of healing,
all whose wealth denies the
the chance of knowing their need of you.
As you have called us:
Lord, we come to you.

Father, we give you thanks for all those who have died recently,
both those well-known to us
and those dying unknown and unnoticed
all over the world.
As you have called us:
Lord, we come to you.

Father, we thank you for your gentleness and humility,
which puts our pride and vanity to shame.
Teach us to trust more and more in your truth,
discarding what the world considers essential
and rejoicing in your freedom.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Other Prayers

Prayers of Lament

Lord, you hide your face
 when we trust in ourselves;
 strip us of false security
 and re-clothe us in your praise,
 that we may know you
 as the one who raises us from death,
 as you raised your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Lord Jesus Christ
 when fear and anxiety besiege us
 and hope is veiled in grief,
 hold us in your wounded hands
 and make your face shine on us again,
 for you are our Lord and God. 

Prayers of Thanksgiving

As we sing of your love, O Lord,
 anoint us with the Spirit’s seal,
 that we may praise your faithfulness
 and proclaim your truth from age to age;
 through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Faithful Lord,
 whose steadfast love never ceases
 and whose mercies never come to an end:
 grant us the grace to trust you
 and to receive the gifts of your love,
 new every morning,
 in Jesus Christ our Lord. 


How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

I heard the voice of Jesus say come unto me and rest

Jesu lover of my soul

I cannot tell why he whom angels worship i cannot tell why he whom angels worship