Morning Worship for Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

6th September 2020

A video of this service (29 min) is available.

O Lord, open our lips and our mouth shall proclaim your praise. Give us the joy of your saving help and sustain us with your life-giving Spirit.

Confession

Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against him. Let us then renounce our wilfulness and ask his mercy by confessing our sins in penitence and faith. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen. The almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon and forgiveness of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Collect

Almighty God, you search us and know us: may we rely on you in strength and rest on you in weakness, now and in all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading:
Ezekiel 33: 7-11
Gospel Reading:
Matthew 18: 15-20

Reflection by Mac Leonard

“I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything …..” (Matthew 18:19)

‘If’ is one of ‘those’ words – ‘if only’, ‘if in fact’, ‘if possible’ - and it starts with ‘I’. ‘If’ all too often means “I wish”, “I don’t think so”, “I don’t agree”.

‘If’ and ‘agree’? How are do those two word fit easily in the same sentence? The latest world news shows we are living in a time when ‘agree’ is not the ‘in’ word ….

Since the death of George Floyd on 25th May there have been even more deaths in America and elsewhere as the struggle for racial equality continues. As Trump and Biden spend the next months fighting for power we can expect disagreement. And whilst we can give thanks our political parties did try to work together when Covid exploded it looks like the truce is now beginning to dissolve.

This is nothing new – history records disagreement between nations and within nations since records began. And before we say this is all down to ‘Godlessness’ if we look at God’s Old Testament family we find there’s been disagreement from the very beginning! “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” “Esau bore a grudge against Jacob and said to himself, ‘I will kill my brother Jacob.’” And the story continued with Joseph and his brothers - “His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.”

The disagreement continued in God’s New Testament family. There was disagreement amongst Jesus’ disciples – “Jesus began to question them, ‘What were you discussing?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.”

The early church leaders also disagreed – “When Cephas (that’s Peter) came to Antioch, I (that’s Paul) opposed him to his face, because … he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.” And there was disagreement and controversy in the early church itself. “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” And Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them”. To the church in Phillipi Paul writes, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” And to the church in Corinth, “I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.”

Sadly, that disagreement continued with divisions in the Church through history, and still exists today with arguments over gender in ordination and relationships to mention just two divisive issues.

So how can we be positive? Whilst in this morning’s Gospel Jesus gives us a step-by-step guide to conflict resolution which can be useful in a ‘formal’ situation, in day-to-day of disagreement there is a much less formal way. Jesus says, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” And as He is with us Ultimate Love stands between us - all we need to do is recognise that. There will be occasions when we disagree with each other – in that respect the Christian family is no different to the one we live with - but Jesus wants us to work together despite our differences because we have an eternal purpose – to make His Kingdom known – to introduce others to His love – to bring Him glory and extend His Kingdom in this world. This must be our priority and will not happen if we constantly judge whether others are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ –Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” This will lead to conflict. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We must put aside our own opinions and follow Jesus commands in order to extend his Kingdom. One of Jesus’ last commands was “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Let’s concentrate on that rather than on what might divide us.

Creed

Let us affirm together our common faith in Jesus Christ. Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist? I believe and trust in Him. Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again? I believe and trust in Him. Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world? I believe and trust in Him. This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayers

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Blessing

God’s light guide you, God’s hand support you, God’s love surround you; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.