Rev Olwen Woolcock

Twelfth after Trinity – 30th August 2020

Twelfth after Trinity – 30th August 2020

Twelfth after Trinity – 30th August 2020

About the featured Image:
Artist: Penny Warden. ‘Jesus is given his cross.’. Penny Warden is a contemporary British Artist known for her distinctive, expressive style.

Station number 2 from The Stations of the Cross in Blackburn Cathedral. The Stations of the Cross called The Journey consist of 15 six foot high  oil paintings which hang permanently in Blackburn Cathedral. They form a walking route to follow the way of Christ on his final journey.


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

Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. Thank you to Sinclair Rogers and Chris Barrett for reading and leading intercessions. The theme of the service is: God who went to the cross.

HYMN: When Morning Gilds the Skies

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
The sun of righteousness has dawned
with healing in his wings.
Let us come to the light of Christ,
confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

Confession
Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess we have failed you as did your first disciples.
We ask for your mercy and your help.

Our selfishness betrays you:
Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy.

We fail to share the pain of your suffering:
Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy.

We run away from those who abuse you:
Lord, forgive us.
Christ have mercy.

We are afraid of being known to belong to you:
Lord, forgive us.
Christ 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 from the Mass of God’s Mercy
[The Gloria 1.29 – 4.03 only]

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of 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

Reading: Romans 12: 9-end
Read by Sinclair Rogers

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 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.’ 20 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.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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

HYMN: Lord Jesus Christ


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

Matthew 16:21-28

21 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. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ 23 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.’

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 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?

27 ‘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. 28 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.’

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

Sermon

‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ Matthew 16:24

The reading from Matthew that we have listened to this morning is the follow-on passage from last week. The incident in the reading, the well-known standoff between Jesus and Peter,  takes place just a few minutes after the moment we heard about last week when Peter has his epiphany moment  and realises the incredible truth that Jesus, the teacher and healer whom they are following around Judea is truly the Messiah, and Peter names him the Son of the living God.

Jesus has walked with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi away from the crowds. Ray and I have been to Caesarea Philippi – when we were on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land in 2009. When we went, it was an attractive and rather deserted spot near to the Golan heights. In Jesus’s day it was a Roman city and a place of shrines and temples, particularly dedicated to the Roman god Pan. The city was improved by Phillip the Tetrarch in about 3BC and was used as an administrative centre and he named it Caesarea in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus.

In other words, it was a Roman place with Roman gods and indeed Caesar was considered to be a god too. When we went there, it was the first time that I appreciated the significance of this being the place where Jesus was recognised and named as the Messiah, the one who comes from God. It is the juxtaposition. Against a backdrop of temples and shrines, and where it is ostensibly Caesar who is ruler – we are invited to recognise with Peter – who is really the Lord.   

But then, in the next breath, we are invited to reflect on what that really means. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar and not Pan, but his lordship does not look like that which might have been expected from the popular Roman idea of a god, nor does it look like the contemporary Jewish idea of the nature of the Messiah.  Jesus begins to explain to the disciples what will happen to him, and how his true identity is going to lead to direct conflict with the Jewish elders and that he will suffer.  Peter, after his moment of insight thinks he knows better. But then suddenly, after having been affirmed for his understanding, he finds himself on the back foot and incredibly named as Satan – the one who can lead astray.   

Peter had been sold an idea – he believed that the Messiah that God would send would sort out the problems of Israel. A Messiah to lead the people of God, undermine and overcome the Roman oppressors and that all would be well.

Jesus rejects this false image of what it means to be the Messiah and he rejects Peter’s words. It’s a stark painful denial for Peter, and becomes a personal one. His preconceived ideas of what it meant for Jesus to be the messiah are blown apart as Jesus explains the Messiah will be rejected by the religious establishment and put to death. Peter finds himself standing in opposition to the purpose of Jesus and not within it.

We can get the wrong idea about Jesus too. It’s easy for the gospel to be presented as a holiday brochure, all sand and sea and sun. A glossy package – God will look after you, heal you, provide for all your needs in abundance. Your problems will end when you believe in Jesus, you will be happy when you come to faith. Follow Jesus and all will be well. It’s a great holiday.

But Jesus says ‘If you want to become my followers you must deny yourselves and take up your cross and follow me.’ This is altogether a tougher picture. Deny yourselves. Jesus is not talking about my new diet – denying myself cake and biscuits. Jesus is talking about when we put what we want and who we are first and top of our agenda. We’re all innately selfish, we think about number one. We want our own way and we want our own needs met. And we succumb to our own weaknesses.

To deny yourself is to start consciously and deliberately not giving in to every desire, and not breaking rules or laws to suit yourself. Not blaming others when things go wrong, not being resentful when something takes you some time and trouble. Not judging other people. Deny those things in yourself. Don’t hold onto position or status.

Deny yourself – and think about putting yourself out for others – even for folk you get impatient with. What does it feel like to meet their needs, however small and irritating? Can you allow other people to do things their way? Can you or I give away money and time? Can we give away our own importance and make space for others?

In tandem with this gospel passage we have been listening to chapter twelve of St Paul’s letter to the Romans. This is St Paul’s very down-to- earth and practical take on how to live the Christian life. Last week he wrote about the way in which we are transformed and our values and outlook are changed when we become followers of Jesus. Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, he writes. And in the passage that we read today he writes in detail what it means to have a transformed mind and to deny oneself and serve others. Here are some highlights:

Out do one another in showing honour.
Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
Bless those who persecute you. Bless those and do not curse them.
If your enemies are hungry feed them, if they are thirsty give them something to drink.
Do not be haughty, associate with the lowly.
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil by doing good.

This is the hidden bit of the picture. Following Jesus is about being less than rather than more than. And that’s hard – It’s a hard, sacrificial calling and not an easy ticket to heaven.  It means living a life which goes against the grain and stands in contrast to the values and customs of the rest of the world. You’re likely to get a bit of stick for it. To follow Jesus may take you to some very sacrificial places indeed. History is full of Christians who have followed Jesus to right to the cross and lost their lives for their faith.

It’s those who lose their lives that will save them – says Jesus. For some it means a life literally lost for his sake. But for most of us it means living lives selflessly and faithfully and with integrity, walking in the way of God’s will – and actually, that’s when finally, the promises of the attractive gospel holiday package hold good. For lives lived that way are already a part of the divine – the promise that holds true is that it is they, the selfless, who will enter the eternal kingdom of God. Those who lose their life for my sake will find it. It is a new life and a new purpose – but perhaps different to the one you were expecting.

Let us pray

Gracious God. Give us the courage and the desire to follow Jesus faithfully, each of us discovering what it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross. Keep us focussed and faithful. In Jesus’s name.

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 Chris Barrett

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

HYMN Man of sorrows

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 Lift high the cross

Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen.


Voluntary in A Major  – William Selby


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

One thought on “Twelfth after Trinity – 30th August 2020

  1. Steve and Honor

    A meaningful and challenging sermon, Olwen, more thoughts and guidance from which we will l try to influence our lives. Thanks also to Chris for thoughtful devotions.

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