* Photo of the coastline on Orkney taken by Olwen on her sabbatical in 2015.
Transcript of the above service
Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this third Sunday after Trinity. Thank you to Christine Ockenden and Honor Harris who have taken part in this service. The theme of the service is:
Our freedom in Christ
HYMN: And can it be
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
And also with you.
Prayer of Preparation
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.
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.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Against you, you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
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.
Gloria in Excelsis Enjoy this Gloria from an acoustic mass
Gloria (Glory to God) from the Mass of Restoration – Josh Blakesley
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
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.
New Testament Reading: Romans 6:12-23 read by Honor
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
HYMN: How can I keep from singing
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Glory to you O Lord.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:40-42
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
During the summer of 2015 I had a sabbatical. I spent six weeks of it on a kind of prolonged retreat, reading and praying as I drove the campervan all the way up the west coast of Scotland, across the top and then onto Orkney. I still have strong images in my head of the grandeur of the scenery, and the sheer space of wide skies and empty beaches and the quality of light across those seas. There was a sense of being on the edge of the world. As a reminder of the experience I bought myself a pendant. The image is of the seabird flying high about the hills and the sea, being at one with the landscape and it represents an inner freedom.
In this second section of Romans chapter six St Paul is writing about slavery. Slavery is an emotive word. Over the last few weeks, we have watched the statue of a slave trader be tumbled into Bristol Harbour and other statues of people with similar histories be placed in museums. Sadly, that history of capturing people from West Africa and shipping them in the holds of boats in terrible conditions to work in the plantations of the Caribbean is part of the history of this country. And we know the struggle over many years that William Wilberforce and others undertook in order to get slavery abolished. Today the pain of this history has become the representative of the pain of the racial discrimination which is still experienced by many in our society.
Slavery – the very word carries pain. And rightly so. Slavery is about treating other people as a commodity. It is in essence about a loss of personal freedom, one is under the power of another. Capturing and using people from other places as slaves has gone on for thousands of years, and slave trafficking remains one of the scourges of the present day. Here and now.
In Paul’s day, slavery was a cultural norm, slavery was an established feature of the economy and society in the Roman Empire, there were slaves in every substantial household. A slave could hold a responsible and respected position but nevertheless they were still in a bonded relationship. They were not masters or owners, they were slaves. In Romans six, Paul uses the position of an obedient slave to illustrate the before and after of putting our faith in Jesus. Paul is saying, whether we like it or not, we are slaves to what matters to us, we serve what is important in our lives.
In other words, we serve our desires as faithfully as an obedient slave and so what we want becomes our master or our mistress. Without Christ those desires and that which masters us not only take us so often into sin, but simply is a state of sin. A state of being apart from the intentions of God. Ambition, money, sex, power, pleasing ourselves – these are powerful driving forces and we will be driven by them – we are enslaved to sin.
But if our desires change then we will find ourselves oriented in a different way. When we turn our hearts to Jesus, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and desire to know him and follow him then we become enslaved not to sin but to righteousness. We will become mastered by a need to be Christ’s person, by a passion to build his kingdom, by a desire to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus. We will be mastered by a calling to spread the good news of his welcome and his love. We will want to tell of the forgiveness of sins and the grace, that is the unlimited acceptance and forgiveness, that faith in Christ brings. And in the doing of this over time – we will be changed, sanctified as Paul describes it, in other words, made more holy – more Christ-like. Incredibly and amazingly, more like Christ.
The irony of this enslavement is that it is an enslavement which sets us free. This is a bondedness which brings an inner freedom. It brings us a freedom in our spirit because we hold the assurance within us that we belong to Christ and therefore that we are completely accepted by Christ, warts and all. We have the knowledge of his grace for us and that we are freed from sin. This assurance of his love towards us frees our spirit. It can bubble up into rejoicing. In the words of that hymn. ‘How can I keep from singing!’ Praise the Lord, Alleluia! This is a swirling, whirling freedom that leads to a delight in life.
Paul knows we cannot make ourselves righteous, he knows we haven’t the capacity to become holy through our own determination. When talking of us being slaves to righteousness, Paul slips in the reassuring phrase ‘I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.’ We will fail, we have human limitations. We stand where we stand because of grace. Grace is given to us and so we respond in thankfulness and want to serve God. We want to be a slave to righteousness because of what Jesus has done for us. We allow ourselves to be changed. We choose to mature in our faith. To grow in the way of Christ, to grow into Christ.
The reason I wanted to explore this idea of being enslaved – is that during the last three months we have become enslaved in a different way. The people of this country have presented themselves as obedient slaves to the government guidelines in a remarkable way, in particular during the weeks of the strict lockdown. We have been doing what we’re told. The guidelines are now more flexible and to some extent more confusing but most of us are trying to stick by them and choosing to stick by them.
In our enslavement has been our freedom. Freedom from disease, for ourselves and others. I have seen protests in other countries where people have regarded lockdown regulations as an infringement of their personal freedom, but what is that freedom? Is it truly freedom – if it is freedom to catch and spread disease?
And yet there is a point where this enslavement tips into being unhealthy. To some extent we have also become enslaved to fear, to anxiety and to the sense that big brother is watching us for the least transgression of the rules. I think it’s important that we review these feelings. Are we being mastered by fear, are we allowing anxiety to rule us?
This reflection is a fine line to walk – both in the terms of how we begin to function in the world again and also in terms of our faith. In terms of our everyday lives we want to be safe but we also have to find a way to live with a degree of risk. We can limit our lives unnecessarily. We can end up fearing the world and being suspicious of others in a way which limits how we can function in the world.
That’s where faith kicks in. In terms of our faith, the question is where do we put our trust? As Christians we are called to put our trust in God. That is where we find our true freedom, our real freedom. Are we living day by day as though it is in God we trust? Are we willing to be enslaved to righteousness with the same degree of motivation and in the same way as we have been enslaved to government guidance? Not just for the good of our bodies but also for the good of our souls.
Let us pray.
Holy God, in the face of the anxieties which can dominate life, especially those attached to the fear of Covid 19, give us the grace to find where our true freedom lies – in turning to Christ and being committed to follow in his ways. Lead us to find the joy of Christ and the peace of Christ.
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
Offered by Christine Ockenden
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
At the end
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
HYMN: Take my life and let it be
May the God of peace make you perfect and holy,
that you may be kept safe and blameless
in spirit, soul and body,
for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
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.
HYMN: O breath of life come sweeping through us.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
Thanks be to God.
You may like to listen to the group I am they singing their song – “No Longer Slaves” – on the link below. (This couldn’t be embedded in the main service video for copyright reasons.)
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
The account is in the name: Tinwell Parochial Church Council
Sort code: 20-81-20
Account number: 70875244
Tuba Tune – Norman Cocker