Rev Olwen Woolcock

Second Sunday before Advent – 15th November 2020

Second Sunday before Advent – 15th November 2020

Second Sunday before Advent  – 15th November 2020
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Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this second Sunday before Advent. Thank you to Christine Ockenden for taking part in this service. In the church year, these weeks before Advent are known as the Kingdom season. The focus is on the nature of Christ’s kingship and the nature of his kingdom.
The theme for this service is: preparing for the return of the King.
  
HYMN Glorious things of thee are spoken.


In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
And also with you.

Prayer of Preparation

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Prayers of Penitence
Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
So let us turn away from sin and turn to Christ,
confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Make me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy spirit from me.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
An absolution follows
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gloria in Excelsis
We join in with this gloria sung as a hymn


The Collect
Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Amen

New Testament Reading

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.


This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.


HYMN: From heaven you came helpless babe

Gospel Reading
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Glory to you O Lord.

Matthew 25:14-30

14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26 But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

The parable of the talents  – Entrust

There is a carved wooden sculpture sited on the banks of Derwent Water in the Lake District called Entrust. The sculpture is a carving of two hands cupped together – as though holding something precious. It is weathered by the elements.  It was carved by a Welsh sculptor John Merrill and was commissioned by the National Trust to mark the centenary of the National Trust’s first ever Land Purchase, 108 acres on the western shore of Derwent Water in 1902. Think of the Land and property the National Trust now oversees on behalf of us all. Entrust.

Entrust is the word which lies at the core of the parable we have just heard from Matthew’s gospel. The parable of the talents. The servants are entrusted with the Master’s property while he is away. The question is – how will they exercise their responsibility? The first two servants double the sum which has been entrusted to them but the focus of the story is on the third servant who plays it safe and who does nothing but bury the talent which he has been given and digs it up again when the master returns and offers it back to him. The disturbing challenge of the parable is why that’s not a good enough response to the responsibility that he’s been given.

A talent at that time – was an amount of money – and a substantial amount. 5 talents are not £5 or even £5,000 – but more like £500,000 – in the story the servants are being given real responsibility and a real opportunity. This is a precious trust.  They are being invited to share in and make the most of the wealth of their master. We know the word talent to mean being gifted or having a particular ability and this story is the origin of where the word we use today comes from – because in the story each servant was given the ‘talents’ according to their ability.

Talent is a word which is all over our televisions – Strictly Come Dancing is back and then there’s the Voice, X Factor, and of course Britain’s got talent – and who hasn’t sat there on a Saturday night and passed their own judgement on the contestants! – but the point about the parable is that all three of the servants have ability and that are all three are given opportunity…  All have ability, all have opportunity, all are entrusted with the treasure of the master.

This is another of the parables that Jesus tells about a time of waiting, a time of watchfulness. This story follows on from the story about the bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom to come to the wedding feast – this week the master is away on a journey – but the point is that the bridegroom will come, the master will return. These parables are towards the end of Matthew’s gospel – the story is heading towards Jesus’ arrest and execution and Jesus is preparing his disciples for the waiting time – the time when he will have gone from them – but he also spelling out for them that there will be a time of judgement, a time when he will return, an end time. A time to settle accounts. The challenge is – how will the disciples live as they wait? What will they do with what they have been given – what has been entrusted to them?

Two thousand years later we are still in the waiting time.  The in – between time. The time between Jesus coming and Jesus coming again. We are the servants in the parable – that is us – who have made a decision of faith, who belong to the church, who worship God and who own Jesus as our Saviour.  And as God’s children we all have ability. God gives abilities and talents to all his people. There is no one in his creation whom he has left out. There is no such thing as a talentless person.

And like the servants we have been entrusted with property – the property of God – which is the good news of the coming of Jesus Christ and all that means: his grace, his forgiveness, his redemption, his love, his peace. This is a big deal – this is the whole point of the church – that the church holds in trust, on behalf of God – the knowledge of Jesus – what it means to know him and be in relationship with him, to understand and believe what he did for us and the joy that knowledge holds.

In overview – the Church holds the story of the relationship between God and creation and humanity and the saving power of Christ. It holds it in its holy scripture, the word of God. It holds it in its tradition – the ways it functions and worships, and it holds that story of God in experience, the personal experience of believers and the witness of Christians across the centuries – that ongoing family of God which we were speaking about on All Saints.

Individually and together we are given talents, the riches of our faith and our abilities to make the most of it before the master returns.

The point about this gospel story is the challenge. The parable of the talents is a challenge – a challenge to go beyond playing it safe – and take some risks. A challenge to recognise our giftedness and offer it to God. It is a challenge to go beyond doing jobs which we know how to do and which we might having been doing a long time and to wonder whether God can use us in a different way – could we get stuck into something new.  Have we got abilities and capacity which the church needs and which we are able to offer but it hasn’t occurred to us to do so?  The challenge for us is what we do with what God has entrusted to us – the treasure of our Master which has been shared with us – and how we exercise the responsibility that God has given us.

There may be people who feel God is calling them in a particular way or who would like to do something new or different to serve God.  The pandemic means that many of us are restricted in what we would like to be doing. However, because of the pandemic there may be new opportunities to serve God and one another at this time which you hadn’t explored before.  

 The servant who played it safe was judged wanting and, in the end, condemned.    The safe option was not safe. The seemingly careful approach was inadequate. There is no multiplication, no fruit without risk – risk for the kingdom, let us ask how we can take risks for God and pass on what he has entrusted to us. 

The Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us with confidence present our prayers and supplications to the throne of grace.
We pray for all those in positions of power,
that they may govern with wisdom and integrity,
serving the needs of their people. We especially pray for the United States as it resolves the presidential election.
May your reign come;
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church, the sign of your reign,
that it may extend your welcome to people of every race and background. We pray that we will use the riches that have entrusted to us to serve your people and build your kingdom
May your kingdom come;
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for Christians of every denomination,
that together we may come to understand
the royal priesthood you bestowed on us in baptism.
May your dominion come;
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for those whose commitment to truth
brings them into conflict with earthly powers,
that they may have the courage to endure.
We pray for those who use their talents to work for justice, for peace, for the wellbeing of peoples and the planet, for a right balance in the use of the earth’s resources.
May your rule come;
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for our community of faith, that attentive to your word
we may always worship in spirit and in truth. We pray for the day when we will be able to worship together again.
May your reign come;
Lord, hear our prayer.

Loving God,
you have taught us that the power of the heart
is greater than the power of wealth and might.
Hear us as we pray for the fulfilment of your reign.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our King;
to him be glory and power for ever.
Amen.

HYMN:  Take my life and let it be

The Peace
To crown all things there must be love,
to bind all together and complete the whole.
Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.
The peace of the Lord be always with you. And also with you.Although we’re apart let us hold one another in the peace of Christ in a moment of prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.  
Amen

The Blessing
Christ our King make you faithful and strong to do his will,
that you may reign with him in glory;
and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

HYMN: In Christ alone, my hope is found


Dismissal
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
Thanks be to God.


BACS Details for St Mary’s, Ketton
Barclays Bank Stamford
The account is in the name of Ketton Parochial Church Council
Sort code 20-81-20
Account number 60547522

BACS Details for All Saints, Tinwell
Barclays Bank
The account is in the name: Tinwell Parochial Church Council
Sort code: 20-81-20
Account number: 70875244




John Rutter – Toccata in Seven


* Feature image at the start of the blog

The sculpture called ‘Entrust’ is by sculptor John Merrill and is situated in Brandelhow Park.

This sculpture of cupped hands commemorates the centenary of the National Trust’s first ever land purchase in the Lake District, 108 acres of the Brandlehow estate.

2 thoughts on “Second Sunday before Advent – 15th November 2020

  1. Keith and Janet

    Thank you Olwen and Christine for another thoughtful service . Pleased to see you are both progressing well .

  2. Chris & Sara Barrett

    Thank you Olwen, Christine and of course Ray, for our online worship this week. Thank you for bringing worship into our homes, we look forward to being back together in St Mary’s very soon.

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