Sunday 6th Sept 2020

On this page 
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: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
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: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1



A Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity
Romans 13: 8 – end


I know I am not alone in being grateful to the neighbours who added my grocery order to theirs for delivery and braved the supermarkets, market and shops to make sure I had all the food and medications I needed during lockdown.  These were more than practical actions; they were very real expressions of God’s loving care.  Something I was very aware of, whether my neighbours realised they were expressing God’s love or not.

Today we hear Jesus’ familiar words again: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’… but they don’t come from the lips of Jesus.  Instead, they come through the pen of Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome.

Paul was probably writing his letter to the Church in Rome around 57 CE.  Mark’s Gospel, the first to be written, was probably not written until somewhere between 60 CE and 80 CE.  In the letter to the Romans, we see Paul spreading the words of Jesus around the expanding Christian world before the Good News of Jesus was recorded in the Gospels.  

As we read Paul’s teaching on Jesus’ most important commandment we can see that if all the first Christians knew of Jesus was that he gave his followers with the commandment to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ they had plenty to work on as they discovered what it meant to be a Christian.  Especially with Paul as their guide.

Someone once said :  “Men and women are able creatures; we have made over 32 million laws and haven’t yet improved on the Ten Commandments.”.  We are very well able to make a prolific number of laws, all of them infinitely inferior to God’s law.  The vast majority of negative; preventing us from doing this that and the other.

It is a sad comment that so many people (many of them outside of the Church) understand Christianity as a restrictive ethical code which forbids the followers of Jesus from doing so much.

Yet Jesus’ most important command, far from being restrictive is liberating.  Far from preventing his followers from doing something, it sets them free to do very practical things for their neighbour.

You know as well as I do that neither Jesus nor Paul were thinking of the people that live next door to us when they spoke of being a ‘neighbour’.  Many of us have known Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan from childhood, and learned that everyone is our neighbour… but how can we possibly love everyone in the world?

This is where we need the help which Paul provides in his letter to the Church in Rome.  Loving our neighbour is not a commandment to love the whole world.  Such a broad commandment would mean nothing.  Neither is loving our neighbour about vague, warm, fuzzy feelings.

Loving our neighbour is about practical action, worked out amongst the people with whom we share our lives.  The people in the wider community around us, and yes, those people around the world that the Holy Spirit prompts us to care for in prayer and action.  Actions like donating food to the foodbank; collecting a prescription or picking up shopping for those who are self-isolating; helping a local family out of debt, as one of the churches in the benefice did recently; welcoming refugees as another church in the benefice has done, or supporting an organisation which does; making donations of money, or knitted items to an overseas aid organisation… 

This is what loving our neighbour looks like.  Not attempting the impossible, but helping one person that God brings into our path.

And there something else to notice about Jesus’ greatest commandment.  It is in two parts.  The first is to love our neighbour.  The second is to love our neighbour as ourselves… which can be more of a challenge than we think.  Thankfully, Paul helps us to understand what this means too.  And this too has a thoroughly practical implication.  

We can only love our neighbour through practical action which is within our resources.  Trying to serve people in ways which are beyond our resources may be loving our neighbour, but it is not loving ourselves.

Paul’s very practical explanation of Jesus’ greatest commandment is extremely helpful.  Far from being moral instruction, Paul’s teaching is extremely practical.

And there is one more thing we need to note about Paul’s teaching on Jesus’ greatest commandment.  It is set in the light of Jesus’ return.  Our duty to love our neighbour is urgent.  The time to help is now.  If Jesus returns today, tomorrow will be too late; we will have been caught napping and get left behind.

The time for practical acts of love towards our neighbour is now.  This is how we fulfil the law of Christ and become prepared to meet Him whenever he returns.  

Amen.

S Anne Lawson
2 September 2020


Prayers for 6 September 2020


The Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty God,

who called your Church to bear witness

that you were in Christ

reconciling the world to yourself;

help us to proclaim the good news of your love,

that all who hear it may be drawn to you;

through him who was lifted up on the cross

and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Post Communion Prayer for the Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity

God our creator,

you feed your children with the true manna,

the living bread from heaven;

let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage

until we come to that place

where hunger and thirst are no more;

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.


Almighty God, our heavenly Father,

you promised through your Son Jesus Christ

to hear us when we pray in faith.


Strengthen Mark and Keith our Bishops and all your church in the service of Christ,

that those who confess your name may be united in your truth,

live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Lord, in your mercy

hear our prayer.


Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority;

and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace;

that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.

We pray especially for those in authority as they seek to support those who have been hard-hit by the economic challenges following the pandemic, that they may be treated with mercy and justice.

Lord, in your mercy

hear our prayer.


Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours,

that we may serve Christ in on another, and love as he loves us.

We pray that we might be open to seeing ways in which we can reach out 

to love our neighbour, wherever they may be.

Lord in your mercy

hear our prayer.


Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit….;

give them courage and hope in their troubles;

and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Lord, in your mercy

hear our prayer.


Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ….;

according to your promises, 

grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy

hear our prayer.


Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints,

we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.


Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Hymns

As we are gathered https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCdD5Ouq-2Q

Colours of day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJPsSr8a8SA

Love is his word https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85v2rwmfZyc

Soldiers of Christ arise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGV7c4U2lCE