Here am I, the servant of the Lord’ – 6th September 2020 – The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Order of Service

Here you will fine an order of service for this mornings Eucharist in PDF format:

20 09 06 Order of Service

Here is a link to the YouTube channel where the service will live streamed:

The Order of Service

Here you will fine an order of service for this mornings Eucharist in Word format:

20 09 06 Order of Service

The Readings

Isaiah 61.10-end

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.


Luke 1.46-55

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’


Scripture Quotations are from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Sermon
By the Revd Sue Hammersley, Vicar of St Mark's Broomhill.

A day of celebration?

It is such a privilege to be with you this morning as we take a tentative step back towards being together in this sacred space again.

I know it’s not the same, but it’s good to gather together today (and for those reading this sermon, I hope it feels good to know that there are members of the congregation meeting together in the building again).

I don’t know how this virus has affected each of you but in so many ways we are all living with profound (and subtle) change, and the lack of clarity about how long this might go on for adds to the tension.  I hope that each of you is keeping well and accepting the support of others when it is offered, as well as offering help where you can.  It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as a phone call or a postcard, keep in touch and let’s make the most of the contact we can have with each other.

Today is an important day in the life of St Mary’s for another reason too.  Today is your patronal festival - a day to celebrate Mary, the mother of Jesus.  You mark this day on the Sunday closest to the day chosen by the church as her date of birth (September 8) and using the readings for the day which the church sets aside as her commemoration, August 15.

What an appropriate day to come back into the building.  Not simply because it is your patronal festival but also because of the role Mary plays in our faith story.

When we think of Mary we remember how God broke into her life, quite probably before she was ready.  This reminds me that God is always present, always active in our lives – even when we are not willing to respond.

My faith is incarnational: the God of heaven is present on earth; so I am on a mission to bring Mary back to earth too.

We believe that she was a young girl and unmarried – the stigma of being pregnant would surely have meant that any woman old enough to give this their full consideration would have refused.  But Mary, we believe, said yes.  She allowed God to turn her world upside down…

We are living through a time of confusion and uncertainty.  How does Mary’s story speak into our lives today?


A manifesto for hope…

Not only does Mary say yes but she is filled with a sense of confidence in the God who can do extraordinary things.

Her song of praise is quite remarkable…

I am sure that you will know this text very well but it never ceases to speak to me.

This young woman has such a vivid sense that the God of heaven is present on earth.

She can see how God turns everything on its head: upsets the balance of power; feeds the hungry from the store cupboards of those who have plenty; honouring the covenant made with our ancestors.  This pandemic has revealed such inequality in our world – even the simplest of instructions to wash our hands requires clean water, but being told to stay at home assumes that home is a safe place.  Here in the UK, here in Sheffield, here in Walkley there will be many people for whom home is not a safe place.  The church must find its voice, as Mary did, yes to sing God’s praise but also to call out injustice, to name inequality and to offer a different model of community, based on God’s kingdom values of love and justice.

Mary, a young uneducated girl, can see that she has been blessed.  Echoing the words in Isaiah, her whole being praises God…

As the earth brings forth its shoots, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Righteousness and praise belong together.

Whatever difficulties we may face in life I hope that we can hear Mary’s voice of praise, singing to a God who is utterly present, utterly grounded in our humanity, calling us to respond to an invitation to believe in life in all its fullness.  When Mary sings her song of praise her life has just been turned upside down.  She may not be living through a pandemic but her life is full of uncertainty.  But she knows that God is at work within her.

If we have just a fraction of Mary’s faith just think what we could do…


Prophetic action…

As the people called to say yes to God, in this place, at this time, how can we help each other listen to God calling us to life in the midst of the chaos and disruption that we face today? How can we ensure that righteousness and praise belong together?  How can we use our faith to make hope visible in our world today?

When Mary met Anna and Simeon in the Temple she was told that her heart would be pierced.  We know that Mary suffered in ways we can hardly imagine, unable to prevent her son from experiencing pain, rejection and death.  She couldn’t protect him but she showed us a way through the difficult paths we tread, a way which always trusted the God who had brought her life, a way that led her through the valley of the shadow of death to a new landscape of resurrection hope.

Behold, I am doing a new thing, God says.  Can you not perceive it?

In every time, in every place, God is inviting us to bring hope to life.  We can be sure that it will disrupt our plans, make us question the things we have taken for granted, see the world differently, but if we have eyes to see and ears to listen, hearts willing to be softened and lives open to change then we, like Mary, might allow God to plant hope deep within us; we, like Mary might see the possibilities for that hope to grow in the lives of those around us and we, like Mary, might be willing to suffer the pain of living through our fear because we know that God will never abandon us, that God is always part of a bigger picture.


From generation to generation

Here at St Mary’s you are facing enormous challenges.

The church is being called to respond, with faith, to a new way of revealing God’s presence in our midst.  A new way of being the church on the road.  Now is the time and you are the people.

St Mark’s and St John’s are faced with different but similar challenges and we are committed to working together to explore imaginative ways of being church, new possibilities for serving our communities, different patterns of ministry, not because there’s anything wrong with what we’ve done before but because God is always doing new things, God is always breaking into our reality and bringing hope alive, God is always asking preposterous things of us and hoping that, like Mary, we might just say…  yes?


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 Canon Sophie, all here who lead us in worship and prayer, and all those whose time and talents are given to St Mary’s.  As we gather together again for the first time in several months, we especially thank all those who have worked tirelessly to bring us together in worship whilst we have been separated.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

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 an implement policy. We pray that you offer all of us discernment at this time, so we can make sensible and sound decisions based on truth and sound judgement.  Recalling this morning’s reading, we pray indeed that “the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

We pray for our community here in Walkley, and for the city of Sheffield, and for our neighbours and friends.  At this time we pray for school children, students and the staff of our schools, colleges and universities as they also come back together for a new academic year in difficult circumstances.  We also pray for those whose livelihood as been affected by the pandemic.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for those we know who are worried and troubled especially at this time of continuing uncertainty.  We pray for those whose health and livelihoods have been affected by Covid-19, and those who have ongoing health or emotional problems where treatments are still only partially available.

We pray for the aged and infirm, and those sick in mind, body or spirit, those that need your grace and blessing. Be with them at this time, Lord, and give them peace and strength.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

We pray for those close to death at this time, 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 especially pray for those who have died without the comfort of their family around them, and those who felt fear and felt alone in their last moments.  We pray that they were comforted by your presence, Lord, and that you give strength and love to all those close to death and caring for the dying at this time.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

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, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Rejoicing in the communion of Mary 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.