3rd September 2023 10.30am – Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

The Readings

Romans 12.9-end

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 16.21-end

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
The Cross and Self-Denial
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

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
By Revd Sue Hammersley.

The church has set aside the weeks approaching Harvest as
Creationtide, a time for us to be mindful of the beauty of our
world, the damage we have already caused and the legacy
we leave behind for future generations. It is an opportunity
to reflect on how we might live more simply that others may
simply live.

Some of us are making enormous changes to our lifestyle to
reduce our impact on God’s wonderful world and people in
countries where the devastating effects are being
experienced most profoundly. Others of us are struggling
not to be overwhelmed.

Why does this matter to us as Christians? Because our
relationship with the world in which we live is part of the
outworking of our spiritual life. Understanding God as
Creator is woven through our scriptures and our liturgy. We
see God’s hand at work in the very fabric of the earth, in the
diversity of life forms and in the call to humanity to be
careful stewards.

As we see all kinds of species becoming extinct because of
the behaviour of the human race we come face to face with
the concept of sin – across the world we are becoming
separated from God’s call to us to care.

This morning’s readings don’t directly refer to our
responsibility for the planet, but there is much we can learn
from the encounter between Jesus and Peter.
Jesus is looking ahead to the time when he must suffer, die
and be raised. Looking at the future in this way is deeply
distressing for Peter and he tries to stop Jesus from speaking
in this way, “This must never happen to you!”
Jesus is angry with Peter because he doesn’t understand the
significance of what he is telling them. He utters those
much-quoted words, “Get behind me Satan!”

Jesus could not have been calling Peter, Satan. Peter was
the rock on whom he built the church… Peter was to
become one of the leaders of those first followers of the

But Peter needed to be more open to what Jesus was
teaching him. Peter’s understanding needed to be re-
formed, re-shaped, turned around, again and again. Jesus is
trying to tell his disciples about what is going to happen and
Peter thinks he knows better.

When we hear scientists telling us that the future of our
whole planet is at risk, we can’t take it in… It can’t be as bad
as all that, we are tempted to say.

In the Gospels “Satan” is described as the tempter (Mark
1.7-17; Matthew 3.13-4.6; Luke 3.34-4.6) the voice which
tries to tell us that there’s an easier way than God’s Way.

We don’t have to listen to God’s Word, we don’t have to do
the right thing because round the back there’s an easier path
which means we don’t have to face up to reality, we don’t
have to take responsibility.

This morning’s Gospel passage reminds us that Jesus doesn’t
always tell us what we wanted to hear. His voice can
unsettle, discomfort, turn us upside down… He calls us to
the life-giving path but that is often not the easiest route.
And it is life-giving for whole communities of people, it might
not be immediately clear how it is life-giving for me.
But just as Jesus predicted his death he also foretold his
resurrection. As people who are called to follow Jesus’ Way
we are not to be overwhelmed by despair; this does not
enable us to spread good news, to be people of hope, to
believe that in God all things are possible… We need to
recognise the voice of the tempter who is leading us away
from God’s beautiful Way and say, “Get behind me”.
The tempter is the stumbling block, the voice which says:
you are powerless, there’s nothing you can do, it’s too late,
all is doomed… Jesus says, attend to divine things and you
will find the life which is stronger than death.

Many climate campaigners recognise that change is not
motivated by fear but by hope. They encourage us to begin
by spending more time in the natural world, looking through
a window or going for a walk, noticing the changing seasons
and appreciating where our food comes from.

Yesterday’s Horticultural Show celebrated locally grown
produce. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t here but it was an
opportunity to celebrate the abundance of nature and it is
good that this is done here at church.
In Romans, Paul says,

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Jesus’ friends understood what it felt like to be heading
towards a catastrophe, but as we focus on that which is of
God, the source and fulfilment of life, abundant, fruitful life
for all, we are more able to make the small changes in our
own lives, to campaign for the larger changes in society and
to call for a greater corporate responsibility to protect this
beautiful and fragile earth, not just for humankind but for
every kind of living thing.

[Our] God, you with the Maker’s eye
can tell if all that’s feared is real;
and see if life is more than what
we suffer, dread, despise and feel.
If some by faith no longer stand
nor hear the truth your voice intones,
stretch out your hand and help your folk,
from stumbling blocks to stepping stones.

Iona Community,
Love from Below



The Prayers
Prepared by Catherine

God who brings life to the Church, we pray that we may serve you and others with love, patience, hope and perseverance. Help us to live in harmony with one another.  Give strength and comfort to anyone worldwide whose profession of faith puts them in physical danger.  Help us to stand up for what is right and to hate what is evil, that all might flourish.
God of life
Hear our prayer
God who brings life to our world, we pray for all rebuilding their lives following disasters.  We remember the victims of Hurricane Idalia, and of the wildfires in Canada, Hawaii, and many places in Southern Europe.  We ask that their basic needs for food and shelter are met whilst they rebuild more permanently.  We pray too for those whose lives have been upturned by wars and coups, asking for your peace.
God of life
Hear our prayer
God who brings life to learning, we pray for our schools and colleges.  We ask that new schoolchildren and students may settle in easily.  We pray for staff and children facing additional hurdles this term due to unsafe buildings.
And we remember those worldwide who struggle to get an education for many different reasons, thinking especially of girls and women in Afghanistan.
God of life
Hear our prayer
God who brings life to community, we pray for our city and neighbourhood, giving thanks this weekend for the enjoyable produce show.
We pray for those who struggle to buy healthy fruit and vegetables for their families and for the work of all Sheffield’s foodbanks.
God of life
Hear our prayer
God who brings life and healing, we pray for those who are unwell, lonely, bereaved or in any kind of need.  Give them comfort, strength and peace and open our hearts to help as we can.  In a few moments’ quite we remember [...and] those known particularly to us.
God of life
Hear our prayer
God who brings everlasting life, we remember those who have died.  We
think of the victims of the fire in Johannesburg.  In a few moments’ quiet we remember [...and] all known to us who have passed into your eternal kingdom.
God of life
Hear our prayer
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is used here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000