Good Friday’ – April 15th 2022

To watch this service on YouTube, please click here:

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To download a copy of this week's order of service, please click here:

22 04 15 Good Friday

The Readings

Isaiah 52. 13 - end of 53

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

 

Hebrews 4. 14 - 16; 5. 7 - 9

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

John 18. 1 - 19. 37

 

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.

So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted,
‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’

We stand.

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,

‘They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.’
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’

Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon

Our practice on Good Friday is to have the extended Gospel reading of Christ's Passion and no sermon.

The Prayers
From Common Worship Times and Seasons. 

For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For grace to seek out those habits of sin which mean spiritual death,
and by prayer and self-discipline to overcome them,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For Christian people,
that through the suffering of disunity
there may grow a rich union in Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who make laws, interpret them, and administer them,
that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who have the courage and honesty to work openly for justice and peace,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those in the darkness and agony of isolation,
that they may find support and encouragement,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who, weighed down with hardship, failure, or sorrow, feel that God is far from them,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
That we, with those who have died in faith,
may find mercy in the day of Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Holy God,

holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

‘Palm Sunday’ – April 10th 2022

To watch this week's service on YouTube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

To download a copy of this week's order of service, please click here:

22 04 10 Palm Sunday Eucharist

The Readings

Isaiah 50. 4 - 9a 

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
   he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.

Luke 22.14 - 23.58

 

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’
He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ [[ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]] When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!’
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’
Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.’ Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’ But they were insistent and said, ‘He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.’
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’

Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon

Our practice on Palm Sunday is to have the extended narrative Gospel reading and no sermon.

The Prayers
From Common Worship Times and Seasons. 

For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For grace to seek out those habits of sin which mean spiritual death,
and by prayer and self-discipline to overcome them,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For Christian people,
that through the suffering of disunity
there may grow a rich union in Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who make laws, interpret them, and administer them,
that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who have the courage and honesty to work openly for justice and peace,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those in the darkness and agony of isolation,
that they may find support and encouragement,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who, weighed down with hardship, failure, or sorrow, feel that God is far from them,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
That we, with those who have died in faith,
may find mercy in the day of Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Holy God,

holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

‘Manna for the World’ – 27th March 2022 – 4rd Sunday of Lent & Mothering Sunday

To download a copy of this week's order of service, please click here:

22 03 27 Fourth Sunday in Lent & Mothering Sunday Eucharist

To watch this week's service on YouTube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

The Readings

Joshua 5.9-12

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

Luke 15.1-3, 11b-end

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Kath, a Reader at St Marys.

It has been my practice, for pretty much as long as I’ve been preaching, to give my sermons titles. For one thing it helps me to find them in the computer files but from the point of view of writing them it also helps me to crystallise the theme and to develop it. Of the two readings we’ve heard today, it was the one from Joshua that spoke to me and I wondered what the concept of manna might mean for us today? I’m also aware that today is Mothering Sunday and I want to mark that too so I’ve been wondering how to combine these two seemingly very different themes. It’s been challenging to say the least.
My working title for this sermon was “Manna for Mamas” which sounds quite catchy but all along something about it just didn’t sit quite right. Much as I want to honour mothers and the role of mothering, particularly on this special day, I also wanted to include everyone else who plays a part in raising and nurturing the next generation because in reality, it is very much a team effort. Even lone parents; and I speak as someone who was a lone parent for a few years, don’t bring up their children single handedly. From family, friends and Godparents to the army of health & social care professionals and teachers and the wider community we all have a part to play. Whether we are directly involved or a little more distanced from it I’m sure we’re all aware that looking after children and bringing them up at whatever age can be demanding, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially and there are times when we need all the help we can get. This brings me to the subject of manna.
In our reading from Joshua we encounter the Israelites as they are for the first time in years eating the produce of land that is now their own and we are told that on that very day, the manna, that had sustained them throughout their years of wandering in the wilderness, ceased. This manna is described as miraculous food provided by God. It appeared each day as a white crystalline substance that the Israelites could gather and eat but they couldn’t store it. They had to rely on God to provide it each day. They had to trust that he would do this to keep them alive and he did so, in spite of their grumbling and ingratitude until they were able to grow their own crops as we have just heard in our story.
When we use the word manna nowadays it tends to be in the context of something good arriving or happening very unexpectedly, in other words when you get just what you need just when you need it. We use the expression “Manna from heaven” and it seems to me that many of these somethings may indeed be gifts from God. The purpose of manna, in whatever form it manifests itself, is to get people through their “difficult” circumstances until they can get to a better place or better times. For each of us those difficult times will be different. For new parents it can be trying to cope with the exhaustion of looking after a baby that doesn’t sleep much or doesn’t feed properly, a bit further on it might be problems with schooling or behaviour, it can be problems with relationships or work or money and for some, later in life, it can be the heartache and problems as roles reverse and we gradually become mothers to our own parents and have to watch them decline. I know there are all too many situations I haven’t been able to include here but God knows what they are and the needs of those concerned and while I can’t pretend that all our prayers will be answered in the ways we would wish, in his own way God does provide for us. He gets us through.
Manna isn’t necessarily exciting, as evidenced by the way the Israelites complained about it, but it is sustaining. It may be in the form of someone looking after baby so we can get some much needed sleep, or someone turning up with a meal when we haven’t had the time or energy or means to cook, or someone giving us a break from caring responsibilities or keeping us company when we’re lonely or scared or grieving, an opportunity to work coming up so that we can better our finances and so on. Helping each other is something that most of us naturally want to do if we can.
The world is always in need of manna but even more so right now and we pray and trust that in some shape or form God will provide it and bring us to better times. Bear in mind, it’s possible that we may have the opportunity to be that much needed manna for someone else or they for us if we let them.
And finally, on this, their special day, let us pray for manna for all mothers and those in mothering roles, especially those who are struggling and suffering.
It seems I did get to “manna for mamas” after all.

The Prayers

Adapted from Common Worship: Times and Seasons

With confidence and trust let us pray to the Father.

Give your Church the courage
to give up her preoccupation with herself
and to give more time to your mission in the world.
We pray for those in leadership that they may serve the needs of the church in the world.
We also pray for those preparing for baptism and confirmation at Easter.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus
bring forgiveness to your people
and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage

to give up war, bitterness and hatred,
and to seek peace.
We pray for the peoples of Ukraine and Russia that peace may be reached and justice found

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus,
once scourged by soldiers,
bear the burden of political and military conflict in our world.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy
in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.
We pray for those we live and work alongside in our city.

May the presence of the risen Jesus,
his body once broken and now made whole,
bring peace and direction as we live with one another.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Give us the courage
to give up our selfishness as we live for others,
and to give time, care and comfort to the sick.
We pray for those know to us who are in need at this time. We offer them to God in the silence.
May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch,
and the light of his presence fill their rooms.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death
and to rejoice with those who have died in faith.
Especially we hold in our hearts those who have shaped our own lives.

May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross,
walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony,
and walk with us and all your Church
through death to the gate of glory.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen. 
Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here, is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council

6th March 2022 – 1st Sunday of Lent

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

The order of service can be found here:

22 03 06 First Sunday in Lent Eucharist

The Readings

Deuteronomy 26.1-11

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, ‘Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.’ When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.’ You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

 

Luke 4.1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.” ’

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you”,
and
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By the Revd Shan Rush, Assistant Priest at St Mark's Broomhill. 

Will be uploaded shortly.

The Prayers
Prepared by Joe.

 

20th February 2022 – 2nd Sunday before Lent

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

The order of service can be found here:

22 02 20 2nd Sunday before Lent Eucharist

The Readings

Revelation 4

After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
‘Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.’
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.’

 

Luke 8.22-25

One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Lizzie I. 

Will be uploaded shortly.

The Prayers
Prepared by Oli G.

Lord of hope, as we experience this unsettled weather, we pray that you be with those who have suffered damage to their homes over the past few days, and that they are able to rebuild quickly and in partnership with one another. Help us to be mindful of climate change and the effects that it has, and will have, on the poorest in our globalised world. We pray that you will help us to work together locally, nationally and internationally to limit the effects of global warming.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of peace, we pray you are with the peoples and communities of eastern europe as political tensions run high and the possibility of bloodshed is present. We pray you will be with the leaders of these nations, helping them to resolve disputes without violence and to seek reconciliation and mutual understanding.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of love, we pray that you are with all those who find refuge in your church. May your loving presence be felt by all who enter sacred spaces kept in your name. We pray that all can feel accepted into our christian community regardless of background, sexual orientation or theology. May you help us to speak out against all those who reject the premise of your all encompassing unconditional love,
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of light, as we look toward the start of Lent next month, help us to reflect on what has felt like a period of lenten living, with restrictions; times of grief, and often anxiety, thus making celebration difficult. Help us to approach this period of fasting with a gentle heart, helping us do what we can but giving ourselves permission to do what we need to make it through the current hardships.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of resurrection, we pray for our community. We pray you will be with those who feel lonely or isolated and for those who are grieving or feel lost. We pray you are with those who cannot currently carry out their livelihoods or are struggling with different ways of working. We pray you will be with community leaders as we rebuild after the pandemic subsides, helping us to make our community a rejuvenated space for healthy living and spiritual growth.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord of joy, as the days get longer and lighter, remind us of your never ending and all-encompassing light. Allow us to open up and empty ourselves in order to be filled with your unconditional love. We thank you for the simple things we can enjoy - the early spring flowers, the cheerful birdsong and our green spaces.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

‘Candlemas Carol Service’ – 30th January 2022 6:30pm – Candlemas

To watch this evenings service at 6:30pm on YouTube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

 

The order of service is available here:

22 01 30 Candlemas Carol service

22 01 30 Candlemas Carol service

The Readings

Hebrews 2.14-end

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

 

Luke 2.22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Sermon
By Lizzie, an ordinand on placement.

To be uploaded later

The Prayers
Prepared by Joe. 

Let us pray to the Father through Christ who is our light and life.

Father, your Christ is acclaimed as the glory of Israel:
look in mercy on your Church, sharing his light.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ in his temple brings judgement on the world:
look in mercy on the nations, who long for his justice.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ, who was rich, for our sakes became poor:
look in mercy on the needy, suffering with him.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is the one in whom faithful servants find their peace:
look in mercy on the departed, that they may see your salvation.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is revealed as the one destined to be rejected:
look in mercy on us who now turn towards his passion.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord God, you kept faith with Simeon and Anna,
and showed them the infant King.
Give us grace to put all our trust in your promises,
and the patience to wait for their fulfilment;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is included here,
is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2006 and published by Church House Publishing.

‘Are we willing to hear?’ – 23rd January 2022 – 3rd Sunday of Epiphany – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

To watch this morning's service on Youtube, please click here:

https://tiny.cc/walkleystmary-youtube

To download the order of service, please click here:

22 01 23 3rd Sunday of Epiphany Eucharist

22 01 23 3rd Sunday of Epiphany Eucharist

The Readings

1 Corinthians 12. 12 - 31a

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

 

Luke 4. 14 - 21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

 

The Sermon
By Kath, Reader at St Mary's

Well here we are on Sunday morning and thankfully, I’ve actually got a sermon to share with you. Initially I set out to write it on Tuesday evening; I like to leave a day or so between a first and final draft if possible so I’m critiquing what I’ve written from a slightly fresher perspective. To begin with, I didn’t foresee any particular difficulties as I’d been mulling over some ideas during the previous few days, so with the electronic communication device fully charged, I settled down to write. And nothing came! I tried several times to focus and compose, but nothing came. I started sentences several times but had to scrub them because they weren’t right. For some reason I couldn’t even bring to mind the ideas I’d been thinking about that had seemed so promising. Eventually, after about three hours I gave it up as a bad job and hoped for better success next time, confident that God would give me the words, as he always has, but being human, it was a bit worrying. Then I remembered something Melanie, our former vicar used to say, “If something feels forced then it’s probably not right”. With that in mind, the following morning I went back to the reading from Luke and just as I was considering ditching it in favour of the one from Corinthians, which has a more obvious message, something made me stay with Luke. As I read, suddenly parts of it started to stand out and I began to realise why my first ideas were not quite working out.

The passage is part of a story I’m familiar with; Jesus returning to his hometown, going to the synagogue and reading out a passage from the prophet Isaiah, but I couldn’t help wondering why our reading stopped in such an odd place; effectively half way through this particular story. Then I realised how this emphasised what Jesus was saying to the congregation after he sat down and perhaps as they looked at him expectantly, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. The question that came to my mind was, how willing were these people to actually hear what he was saying? If we read on we see that at first Jesus is well regarded but as soon as he starts to say something that they don’t like, the people turn on him and probably intend to kill him which is pretty extreme. This set me thinking in a wider context, how willing are any of us to hear when the message or the person delivering it are not to our liking? I’m sure we wouldn’t do them harm, after all we’re reasonable people aren’t we, but there are all too many examples in the news on a daily basis where some people and groups are determined to punish and even kill others with whom they do not see eye to eye. I’ve watched and listened to many programmes where people from different view points are totally unwilling to listen or to hear what each other have to say or to evidence that casts doubt or contradicts what they believe. They are so invested in their belief that they seem almost unable to hear anything that might challenge it. This can happen in relation to just about anything including matters of religious faith, politics, work, money, climate change, relationships and life in general. But what does it achieve? Certainly nothing good or worthwhile and probably a lot that is damaging and diminishing to everyone’s quality of life including their own.

It’s tempting and maybe all too easy to want to occupy the moral or intellectual high ground and to feel angry and frustrated with people when they behave in this way, to see them as ignorant, bigoted, bad or just plain stupid and dig in our own heels but that would put us in danger of being self righteous and judgemental and these are not desirable qualities in anyone. If we’re to make any progress surely we have to be willing to listen to and hear what others have to say in order to understand why they think as they do. Perhaps if we do this, they will pay us the same courtesy and truly listen to us. Instead of getting impatient, look upon taking the time and trouble to hear properly as an opportunity to broaden and deepen our understanding and of finding friends rather than enemies. We may even find ourselves having a change of heart or mind which is a strength not a weakness when it happens for the right reasons. Bear in mind, no one likes being misunderstood and how many disputes and wars start with misunderstandings followed by an unwillingness to listen again to what the other party is trying to say.

When it comes to our faith and our relationship with God, we need to ask ourselves how willing we are to hear when he calls and to find the courage to act upon it. Speaking from my own experience I know that it isn’t always easy or convenient to say yes but it is richly rewarding in many ways, even if our material world may not set much store by these. Similarly with scripture, hearing what it has to say to us often requires effort to go beyond superficial impressions and always requires openness of our hearts and minds but again it is richly rewarding as it can guide us in all aspects of our daily lives. Life and faith are not separate!

Going back to where I started, with my attempts to write this sermon. I’m glad I didn’t just force myself to go on with my first ideas. I’m glad that I took the trouble to hear the message in Luke’s Gospel and change direction because I learned a lot from it. I hope you found it useful too.

The Prayers
Prepared by Joe.

With thankful hearts we bring our prayers to our
heavenly Father.

We pray for the Church of Christ, for Bishop Pete and Bishop
Sophie, our Archbishops Justin and Stephen, all here who lead us
in worship and prayer, and all those whose time and talents are
given to St Mary’s, St John’s and St Mark’s. All of us are part of
the body of Christ; may we all find our particular gifts within the
body, and may we all show love and respect to all part of the
body.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We pray for all those in authority, and those who have influence
in the world, that their power and influence be used
compassionately for the good of all. Bring clarity of thought and
vision to those who make and implement policy. We pray that all
leaders value truth, justice and compassion above personal
power and pleasure. At this time we particularly pray for a
peaceful resolution of the tensions around Ukraine.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We pray for our community here in Walkley, and for the city of
Sheffield, and for our neighbours and friends. As the restrictions
of the last 2 years gradually disappear, help us to remember
those whose health means that they still must take special care.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We pray for the aged and infirm, and those sick in mind, body or
spirit, those that need your grace and blessing. We pray that
God’s power and spirit will strengthen them and bring them the
healing and peace that belong to Christ’s kingdom.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We pray for those currently close to death, and those
accompanying them on this final part of their Earthly journey.
We pray for those who have died, recently and in the past, and
those who mourn. We particularly remember Glenda Burchell,
recently departed and faithful to God, and pray for her family.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

By name, we bring Lenny before you in our prayers.
Finally, Lord, we silently bring before you those special to us, and
also those issues and concerns that we have in our own lives.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Rejoicing in the communion of Mary, Mark, John and of all the
Saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our
life, to God. Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of
your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

‘Who am I?’ – 9th January 2022 – Baptism of Christ

To watch this morning's service on Youtube, please click here:

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To download the order of service, please click here:

22 01 09 Baptism of Christ Eucharist

22 01 09 Baptism of Christ Eucharist

The Readings

Acts 8.14-17

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 10.17-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

The Sermon
By David, Reader at St Mary's

Who am I?

Who am I?

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my name between my seat and the lectern. Nor am I suggesting we play a game of Biblical Guess Who, and yes, such a game does exist.

These words are a song title and quote from the musical Les Misérables. They are sung by the protagonist, Jean Valjean, upon discovering a man has been mistaken for him and arrested in his place. Valjean is at a crossroads and grapples with the decision before him. “If I speak, they are condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.” Should he speak and disrupt the lives of all those who look to him for employment and leadership? Or should he stay silent and allow an innocent man to be imprisoned? I won’t spoil the plot.

In the song he uses both his real name and his prisoner number, 24601. He is caught between identities, his real name, which he cannot use. His prisoner number which has been given to him to dehumanise him and his assumed name, which he has used to shield himself from the law for years. But who is he?

Our Gospel passage this morning centres around Jesus’ identity. In Luke chapter 1 and 2 we have heard at Christmas the story of the birth of Jesus. Chapter 3 opens and the story has moved on, Jesus and John are now both adults. John has proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Those who come to see him wonder if he is the promised Messiah. He makes it clear that another is to come. One who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire rather than water.

In the similar passages in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark Jesus is directly baptised by John himself. Luke is more ambiguous. He doesn’t explicitly state John baptises Jesus. His motives are varied. Luke was writing for a primarily non-Jewish audience and so the exact specifics of the Jewish Messiahs’ interaction with John are less important. But he also doesn’t focus on the baptism itself. It happens, it is recorded, but what takes place next is more important.

Jesus was praying. This is a recurring theme in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus at prayer before a major turning point in his life.

Then the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. A voice came from heaven “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Here we have Jesus’ identity confirmed, God’s Son. Not just confirmation of who Jesus is, also affirmation that he is Beloved and God is pleased with him. This is the affirmation, available to all, which we get at our baptism, again at our confirmation and week by week in worship of God at the Eucharist.

Jesus Baptism is one of three major landmarks in Jesus’ life where he prays and there is divine revelation in response. The others are at the Transfiguration in Luke 9 and in the garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22. At the Transfiguration Moses and Elijah appear in glory and a voice from the cloud says “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” In Gethsemane Jesus prays “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done”. Then an angel appears and gives Jesus strength. Later at his interrogation and trial he will be mockingly asked if he is the Son of God.

At each of these three points there is change in Jesus’ life. At his baptism he moves from his early life, which aside from one instance in the temple we know nothing about, to the beginning of his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Transfigured Jesus’ appearance changes and he moves from one phase of his ministry to another. In Gethsemane he commits to the events of Holy Week.

Each time there is a choice to make or major change in Jesus’ life he is found in prayer. Having been baptised by John, should he move from what we assume was a settled life as a carpenter? Being transfigured and chosen, should he turn his face to Jerusalem? Finding himself in Gethsemane, the last point at which he could reasonably avoid his Passion, should he drink of the cup prepared for him?

We know how this story ends. With each choice Jesus is affirmed in his identity as the Son of God. This affirmation strengthens him to face the path ahead. His decisions are bound up in his identity. We, as children of God, are offered the affirmation that we are Beloved and God is pleased with us. May it strength us for the journey we face.

Returning to where we began, with Jean Valjean, we see the agony of decision making exemplified, as he works through whether he should turn himself in and set free an innocent man. But he doesn’t ask “what should I do?”. He asks, “Who am I?”

 

The Prayers
Prepared by Barbara.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known on
earth, your saving health among all nations ...

We pray for all of those affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
We pray for those countries currently suffering from upsurges of the virus, thinking especially of those
facing the omicron variant: please help them to keep their most vulnerable citizens safe.

We pray for the worldwide success of vaccination campaigns, and that vaccines are made available to all
countries, regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. Please help each of us to give informed reassurance to
those we know who are wary of having the vaccine and to play what part we can in ensuring that the rest of
the world gets vaccinated too.

We pray especially for all workers in direct contact with the public who are at such risk of exposure to the
virus: health care providers, shop workers, bus drivers, schoolteachers and all others similarly exposed.
Please help all of us to protect all of them by continuing to wear masks in public and practice safe social
distancing and by getting vaccinated, if we have not already done so.

We pray also for all those involved in trying to fight the climate crisis Please give all governments the
political courage to resist further use of fossil fuels and to invest in sources of renewable energy instead.
Please help each of us individually to contribute to protecting our planet in any way we can.
We pray for all those affected by war or tyrannical regimes, thinking particularly of people in Kazakhstan
and the Ukraine. Please bring strength and comfort to those affected.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We pray for your Church throughout the world; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who
profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit,
in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life ...

We pray especially for our worshipping community of St. John’s Ranmoor, St. Mark’s Broomhill and St.
Mary’s Walkley as we struggle to cope with the ongoing pandemic. Please help us to feel your presence in a
world turned upside down and to share that presence with others.

We pray that we can continue to worship together in ways that are safe for all of us, whether in person or
online. Please help us to think of each other and let each other know that we care and to remember those
who feel increasingly lonely and unsafe as the world is hit by yet more upsurges and variants of the virus.
Please help us find ways to reach all of our parish, both those who do have access to the internet and those
who do not.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any way afflicted or distressed, in mind, body
or estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good out
of their troubles ...

We pray for all those personally affected by covid, either because they are suffering from it or someone dear
to them is suffering from it. Please bring them healing and future good health.

We pray for all those struggling to get medical treatment that they need, as the omicron epidemic threatens
to overwhelm our NHS. We pray also for all those working in the NHS. Please help us to make their lives
easier, as they struggle to make our lives safer.

In moments of peace and contemplation, we name to you all those known to us who are suffering. Please
care for them and for all those of whose suffering we are unaware.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your
faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints ...

We name to you in our hearts all those known to us both near and far who are suffering the loss of friends
and loved ones, asking that you bring your comfort and healing to them at this time of grief.

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