Rev Olwen Woolcock

Tenth Sunday after Trinity 16th August 2020

Tenth Sunday after Trinity 16th August 2020

Tenth Sunday after Trinity 16th August 2020

Feature Image: A moment from the dance show ‘Message in a Bottle’ produced by Kate Prince with dancers from ZooNation dance company. Set to the music of Sting it tells the story of three displaced people after a village is attacked.  A Sadlers Wells production .

Click the play button to view the service. The transcript of the service is below.

Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this Tenth Sunday after Trinity. Thank you to Diana Dunsford for leading the intercessions.  The theme of the service is: Message in a Bottle – What’s inside of us? 

HYMN: At the name of Jesus

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
My brothers and sisters,
as we prepare to celebrate the presence of Christ
in word and sacrament,
let us call to mind and confess our sins.

Confession
You raise the dead to life in the Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You bring pardon and peace to the broken in heart.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

You make one by your Spirit the torn and divided.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

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.

Glory to God
Enjoy this different way of giving glory to God: Christ is the world’s light

The Collect
Let your merciful ears, O Lord,
be open to the prayers of your humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions
make them to ask such things as shall please you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen

New Testament Reading

Romans 11: 1-2, 29-32

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. 

29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

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

HYMN: Purify my heart

Gospel Reading

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

Matthew 15: 10 – 28

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:  it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”  Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”  He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”  But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”  Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?  Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.  For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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

Sermon
Message in a Bottle – What’s inside of us?

One of the most moving programmes I have watched in the last few days was one of the Imagine documentaries which followed the making of a dance work called ‘Message in a Bottle’ set to music by Sting. It’s the story of what happens to a family who become refugees and it was based upon a video record that one sixteen-year-old Syrian girl called Raina made of her journey to flee Syria after her home town became a warzone, destroyed and also under the threat of Isis. The video posts are moving, Raina has courage and humour as well as fear.

One of the most moving moments is the recording that she made in a small dinghy. Fifty-two people including small children were forced into a boat designed for fifteen. She films on her phone this overflowing boat where the water is starting to come in and people are very frightened and at the same time, she describes how five smugglers carrying guns ordered them onto the boat – and how in the face of those guns there was no way they could remonstrate or argue or go back. Eventually she reached Austria and was offered asylum there.

This personable and accomplished young woman who spoke excellent English was moved to see the emotions and conflicts of her story taken into dance – in order to take a message into the world. The message in a bottle. The dance opened up the pain and struggle of ordinary families living ordinary lives whose lives are massively disrupted by events beyond their control and showed the strength of what it means to be family. It made it possible to get inside the skin and the hearts of displaced people who are often regarded as ‘other’. Those who are labelled boat people or refugees and somehow blamed for their plight.

The woman who encounters Jesus in the district of Tyre and Sidon is labelled as other. She is a Canaanite, a gentile and what is more she is a woman, and she, a gentile woman is approaching a Jewish Rabbi – Jesus. This is not on. Jesus’ disciples want him to send her away – she is seen as a nuisance and at first, Jesus ignores her. And while we might think that Jesus would automatically see beyond those cultural and religious barriers, in this story we see that he too, sees this woman as other, as beyond his ministry and concern.  When she persists in her pleas for him to heal her daughter, Jesus’ response is that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel – that is the Jewish people – and when she continues to ask for his help – he replies that it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs. That is labelling her as other in a big way.  

This is a problematic story in the gospels because we don’t want to see Jesus talking in this way or responding in this way. I preach week on week about the way in which Jesus accepts people but on this occasion his acceptance wasn’t automatic. It was through the conversation that they had that Jesus was brought to accept this woman and to grant her request but it wasn’t his starting point. He came to see the woman in a different way and adapted his response. And I think this story is included in the gospels because this story, alongside others (he heals the centurion’s servant, he gives new hope to the Samaritan woman) opens up Jesus’ ministry. Not only did Jesus come to understand the woman differently but also the nature of his calling – this incident reveals that he has come not only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel but to the other too – the gentile and the gentile woman. 

What Jesus comes to see in his encounter with this woman is her heart. Her love and fear for her daughter drives her in her persistence in approaching him. She is desperate. A desperation we all understand when it comes to those we love. She doesn’t stop pleading. And when he makes that remark, that it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs, her response is that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table. She doesn’t walk away offended, she will take the crumbs, anything, for her daughter to be well – and she clearly believes that it is Jesus who can heal her daughter. This is what Jesus sees in her heart – her passion, and her love and her faith.

And this is what matters. Because, as we heard, this story of Jesus’s encounter with the Canaanite woman follows on from Jesus’ argument with some pharisees when they criticised him and his followers for not keeping all the Jewish cleansing rituals before eating.  And Jesus, in his turn, had criticised the Pharisees for the way in which they bind people by the letter of the law. Jesus offends the pharisees and goes on to describe them to his disciples as blind guides leading the blind.  And as when Jesus unpacks this incident with his disciples, he says to them – ‘do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.’

The point is that when these two stories are taken together – it is what comes out of the heart that matters. What matters in what is inside of a person and what comes out. Jesus stands within his cultural and religious heritage and is critical of those who are its leaders. In his opinion they have lost their religious way. Jesus then encounters this woman who comes from outside his heritage and yet as he speaks with her, he finds something very different in her heart. There is a real humility in her approach, she is willing to accept even the crumbs, in noticeable contrast to the self – righteousness of the pharisees. In the end Jesus says to her, ‘‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.’’

What the ‘Message in a Bottle’ dance show sets out to reveal to its audience is what is in the heart of those who flee their homes – which is the love and the fear they have for their families and a simple desire to live safely.  It shows how that love drives them to take risks and leads them sometimes into fearsome danger. The message in the bottle – is to look beyond the way we label people as other. That is what these gospel stories are about too.

To look beyond the outside appearance and the cultural and religious barriers and see what is truly in the heart of another person. It may be something that is very easy to identify with. It may be something very humbling. It may have a lot to teach us about a relationship with God and walking in faith. And it should cause us to reflect upon what is in our hearts and what comes out of us.

Let us pray.

Holy God, this is an old lesson that we need to learn again and again, not to label people as other but to seek to understand them. Give us open and compassionate hearts as we live out our faith in loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves.   Amen

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 led by Diana Dunsford

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

HYMN Beauty for brokenness.

The Peace
We are all one in Christ Jesus.
We belong to him through faith,
heirs of the promise of the Spirit of peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.

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
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

HYMN: Love divine

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


Bach BWV 559  Prelude and Fugue in F major


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

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