Morning Worship for First Sunday after Trinity
14th June 2020
A video of this service (31 min) is available.
Faithful one, whose word is life: come with saving power to free our praise, inspire our prayer and shape our lives for the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ So let us turn away from sin and turn to the Lord, confessing our sins in penitence and faith. God our Father, we come to you in sorrow for our sins: For turning away from you and ignoring your will for our lives: Father, forgive us: save us and help us. For failing you by what we do, and think and say: Father, forgive us: save us and help us. For letting ourselves be drawn away from you by temptations in the world about us: Father, forgive us: save us and help us. For living as if we were ashamed to belong to your Son: Father, forgive us: save us and help us. May the God of love bring us back to himself, forgive us our sins, and assure us of his eternal love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Reflection by Mac Leonard
The first task this morning is for the ladies among us. I want you to imagine that you are at least in your sixties. Without any explanation you find you’re pregnant. You might scream? Sarah laughed - in disbelief or maybe happiness – we don’t know which! Her world was about to be turned upside down – a ‘new normal’ was on her horizon – her comfort zone was about to be shattered. But as a result Isaac was born and the people of Israel began.
In today’s Gospel Jesus’ followers are sent out to do His work. They’re a really mixed bunch with all sorts of skills, talents and viewpoints. They’re beginning a new thing. They’re being sent to “the lost sheep of Israel” – or to put it another way ‘the established church of their time’ - to challenge the status quo and introduce a ‘new normal’. As a result belief in Jesus began.
We - today’s followers – are not that different. We come from many different backgrounds, we have many different skills, we have many different opinions. And we are facing a new situation. Things are changing – the ‘new normal’ is something we will need to get used to.
When this pandemic is ‘over’ things won’t be the same. As Christ’s disciples we will be faced with new questions: “Why did God send Covid19?” “How can God love us and let this happen?” It’s quite possible we ourselves will be searching for answers to those questions before we can share them with others.
A more positive question is, “What can we learn from all this – and how will that affect our mission?” There’s a horrible word here which is anathema to many – ‘change’ – so I know that some may not like and will disagree with what I’m about to say!
We’ve already experienced major changes. We haven’t met together now since Mothering Sunday and that was for private prayer rather than our usual Holy Communion – that happened the week before on the 15th March – 14 weeks ago – and we’ve survived.
We heard at the Diocesan Synod Zoom Meeting last Saturday that we can’t afford the number of priests we have at the moment. As a Church as a whole we may have to change our Service pattern – we may have to rely on Services which can be led by Lay people with less frequent sacramental worship.
But there are positives – all is not doom and gloom! We have found other ways we can meet – perhaps not as rewarding as face to face but open to many others. Last week Ola’s Goddaughter joined us from Norfolk and others who could not have joined us physically have joined the online Praise Services. We’ve been made aware that we can use more flexible means of meeting which can reach more people.
If social media can assemble the protests we’ve seen in the last weeks just think what we could do to draw in people and to spread the good news of Jesus by using it more.
Don’t get me wrong – ‘or’ is in the middle of ‘boring’ and we’re not looking at one ‘or’ the other – were just exploring new ways to use as well – not as dramatic as those used by the first disciples but new nonetheless.
But take heart - the second part of my talk this morning shines a very positive perspective on everything and brings us reassurance that whatever happens we can have faith in our Lord God.
Paul writes, “Since we have been justified through faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
This was the keystone of the Reformation – and it’s our faith as individuals in what God has done for us - not rituals, ceremonies, priestly or saintly intervention. This is the keystone of our faith – whatever happens, Covid 19 or anything else.
We believe Jesus died so our sins can be forgiven – if we have accepted His forgiveness that means we can be at one with God whatever happens. Because this is so we have peace with God through what Jesus has done for us and so “let us boast in the hope of the glory of God”.
That ‘hope’ has a deeper meaning than we would normally expect: we can ‘hope’ the weather improves but without any certainty. The Christian ‘hope’ is a surety of something which is definite – with sin forgiven we have the certain hope of eternal life with God.
And that leads us forward to meet challenges which face us. Whether it’s by the traditional means which we’re used to or through new initiatives our calling is to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”.
The Holy Spirit is at the moment the ‘refiner’s fire’: He is burning away the dross. The more He burns away the more it might hurt – but at the end we will be better formed to suit His purpose.
“So let us boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but let us also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Then, in the ‘new normal’, we shall be better formed to follow our Lord’s command: “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’”
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. from St Patrick’s Breastplate
God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love, defend us on every side, and guide us in truth and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Prayers taken from Common Worship: Times and Seasons © The Archbishops’ Council 2006