It is with great sadness that we learnt on Thursday of the death of our sovereign HM Queen Elizabeth II.
These words of scripture sum up the marvellous 70 year reign of the queen.
“Well done my good and faithful servant”
A prayer on the death of HM Queen Elizabeth from the Scottish Episcopal Church
Almighty and eternal God,
you uphold and govern all things
both in heaven and on earth,
and by your grace alone
kings and queens do reign.
We thank you for all the blessings
which you have bestowed upon us
through our late sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth, whom you have called from this life.
We thank you for the wisdom of her guidance and her love of peace,
for the care and devotion with which she served her people,
for the example of her gracious life.
We pray that you would fill our hearts
with gratitude for all these good things,
and give us grace that we may use the memory of them
as a perpetual call to live
according to your will,
for the good of all the world, and the glory of your great name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
A PRAYER OF CONFIDENCE
Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: Shed forth upon your faithful servant, Queen Elizabeth, the bright beams of your light and heavenly comfort; And grant that she, and we with her, may at length enter into the joys of your eternal kingdom; Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen
Let us also pray for King Charles III and the Queen Consort, that they may be granted wisdom and understanding.
Is there any who is wise and who seeks after God?
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
COLLECT FOR PURITY
to whom all hearts be 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.
God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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 sung by Dougie Byers
Guide your Church, O Lord, with your perpetual mercy:
and since without your aid we lose our way,
draw us always by your help, away from harm
and steer us towards salvation;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
FIRST READING JEREMIAH 4: 11-12, 22-28 read by David Kerr
At that time, it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
“For my people are foolish;
they do not know me;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil
but do not know how to do good.”
I looked on the earth, and it was complete chaos,
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end.
Because of this the earth shall mourn
and the heavens above grow black,
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.
SECOND READING 1 TIMOTHY 1: 12-17 read by Gill Swales
Gratitude for Mercy
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.
But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience as an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
GOSPEL READING Luke 15: 1-10 read by Reverend Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 15 beginning at verse 1
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So, he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Do you remember the outcry earlier this year in March when P&O Ferries dismissed 800 members of its shipping staff, primarily from the Port of Dover, but also from Kingston upon Hull, Liverpool and Cairnryan. The decision was greeted with much criticism from both sides of the political divide, particularly as a result of the speed and immediacy of the crews’ termination notices, which in some cases consisted of a video call or text message, terminating their employment “with immediate effect.” This mass sacking created a furore about the way in which P&O and multi- international companies simply cut their work force without any consideration for the individuals they are letting go. For them it is about profits and losses rather than about the value and welfare of the individual.
This where Jesus’ parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin come in. What is at stake in both parables is the value and welfare of the individual, something that seems alien to some of the multi -national companies’ way of thinking and something that is also alien to the Pharisees’ way of thinking. In the opening of our scripture reading, the Pharisees have no real regard for the value or welfare of certain groups of people. They do not value publicans or sinners and accuse Jesus of having table fellowship with them.
To understand what Jesus was doing in eating with publicans and sinners. It is important to realise that in the East today, as in the past, a noble man may feed any number of lesser needy persons, as a sign of his generosity, but he does not eat with them. However, when guests are received, the one receiving the guests eats with them. The meal is a special sign of acceptance. The host affirms this by showering his guests with a long series of compliments to which the guests must respond. The guest can respond either by invoking the honour of God on the noble host or by affirming that they, too have received honour by being in the host’s presence. So, to invite a man for a meal was an honour. It was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness. In short, sharing a table meant sharing life.
The Pharisees regarded Jesus as someone who shared his life with publicans and sinners. Certainly, for Jesus to host sinners would have been a serious offense to the Pharisees more so than merely eating with them informally or accepting their invitation. Thus, as a host or guest, it is little wonder that Jesus’ table fellowship offended the cultural and theological sensitivities of the Pharisees.
However, Jesus challenges the Pharisees’ perspective on publicans and sinners. Jesus does not normally defend himself against criticisms made by the Pharisees but this accusation hits out at the very heart of his ministry and message. Certainly. Jesus spares no punches. Did you notice that Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep begins with a shock to the sensitivities of the Pharisees? He refers to them as shepherds. In the Old Testament shepherds were highly respected. Moses was accepted as a shepherd. Kings were referred to by Ezekiel as shepherds and God in Psalm 23 was thought of as a Shepherd. Thus, in the Old Testament the figure of the shepherd was a noble symbol. However, by contrast, the flesh and blood shepherds of first century Palestine, who were wandering around after their sheep, were regarded clearly as unclean. For the Pharisee, a “sinner” was either an immoral person who did not keep the law or a person engaged in one of the proscribed trades, among which was herding sheep. For us it is difficult to see how Rabbis managed to revere the shepherd of the Old Testament and despise the shepherd who herded the neighbour’s sheep, but this seems to have been the case.
The Pharisees who believed shepherds were unclean would naturally be offended if addressed as one of them, but this is exactly what Jesus does- “Which of you having a hundred sheep would..?” This beginning can be understood as an indirect and very powerful attack on the Pharisaic attitudes towards proscribed professions. So, Jesus certainly would not have endeared himself to the Pharisees by referring to them as shepherds.
Another cultural factor that needs consideration is the way shepherding worked! The average family may have 5 to 15 animals. A number of families get together to hire a shepherd. Anyone owning a hundred sheep would most definitely hire a shepherd. The shepherd may own some of the animals and be from one of the families. In the case of a hundred sheep the shepherd is probably not the sole owner but rather holds those sheep in their charge.
What we see in this parable is how seriously the shepherd takes his responsibility of holding the sheep in his charge. He goes to great effort and trouble in searching for the lost sheep. Both parables illustrate the endless effort or trouble people will take to recover lost property, and their deep satisfaction when they succeed. The inference is that the publicans and sinners really belong to God, despite all the appearances to the contrary, and God himself wants them back and will take trouble to win them back to himself. The characteristic feature of these two parables is not so much the joy over the repentant sinner as the divine love that goes out to seek the lost.
What is also interesting is the use of the numbers ten and hundred, for they are symbols of wholeness. This parable is looking at the value and importance of wholeness. Ten and hundred are symbolic numbers of completeness, fullness, and wholeness. We all need this wholeness, physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically and spiritually. This wholeness is found only in our return from our lost ways to Christ. We are made whole in Christ alone.
To achieve this wholeness Christ in his divine love will search for us. This is the primary theme of the parables. In the lost coin the woman looks earnestly for her coin, which might have been on her veil as part of her dowry, although most scholars suggest it was part of a necklace. As you can imagine to lose one coin from the necklace damages the whole. The woman sweeps and sweeps until she finds it. The very use of a woman in an illustration would be a moral decision on Jesus’ part. Jesus is again rejecting the Pharisaic attitudes to people in society.
Two aspects of the imagery in the lost sheep are intensified in the parable of the lost coin. First the relative value of the lost item is intensified. It is now one in ten, not one in hundred. Second the place of the search for the lost is more narrowly focussed. It is now the confines of a house, not the wide wilderness. Thus, the assurance is intensified that no matter how lost you are, where near or far, God, as he searches for you, will find you, if you want to be found, because we are of infinite value to God.
People get lost every year, indeed thousands of people vanish literally in Britain every year. But people also get lost in many other ways. People addicted to drugs and alcohol who cannot settle down; people who cannot hold down a job or complete a course of studies, people who are unable to maintain a stable relationship- all of these can be said to be lost. It is very difficult to find them. What is so frustrating is that they are not far away, they are lost in our midst, even in our families, and the task of the shepherd there is not so much to find them as to help them find themselves.
People also get lost morally and spiritually. Such people are without a compass or anchor. Some of those lost may be a result of their own errors, but many more are lost because they have no guides, no one to take interest in them. Every Christian ought to show an active concern for the lost.
Jesus set us the example – he didn’t wait for the lost sheep to return; he goes looking for it. In associating with sinners Jesus was not condoning their situation, rather he was showing them a better way. But he could not do this without associating with them and being sympathetic towards them. You will never improve people by shunning them. In acting in the way, he did Jesus showed love and compassion towards them. So, he provided the kind of presence in which people felt accepted and loved, and in that atmosphere, they are able to respond and change. That was Jesus’ philosophy.
It was that philosophy that brought about the conversion of Paul. Paul was sought out by Jesus and he never forgot the fact that he was an enemy of Christ, who was accepted as Christ’s servant, apostle and friend. Paul realised the extent of God’s love for him. Paul saw how much he mattered to God.
This great love is there for us all. We are precious in God’s sight. He calls us his beloved and he delights in us. If you are here this morning, feeling down and unloved, take heart God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. He knows you intimately, and yes despite all your warts, he still loves you. His love for you knows no bounds. You do not need to fear: it is not a fickle love but his love is faithful and steadfast. You matter to him. You are part of his family, his beloved child and when we go missing, he goes looking for you and draws you back to himself. You are never out of his sight or reach, for he is your constant refuge, help and companion. Today, remember you matter to God, you are precious, you are his beloved and he delights in you. As you cross paths with other people today, remember that they too matter and that they are loved by God. We are to love the lost, and where possible we are to reach out lovingly and graciously to them. Amen.
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 substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of 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.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He 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.
God of all love, you have shown in Jesus your love for us,
so, we entrust to you now our cares and concerns.
God of all truth, we come before you
with our faltering faith
with our doubts and anxieties,
with any delusions we might have
and ask that you will strengthen us in the truth
and rekindle within us your love and gentleness.
Open our eyes Lord
and direct us in the truth
God of all wisdom,
we pray for our government
and for our new prime minster,
asking that you may guide them
to govern with truth and wisdom.
May you steer them away
from any delusions of importance or greatness,
and guide them to look out and provide
for all that are struggling in our society
especially the weak and vulnerable.
Open our eyes Lord
and direct us in the truth
God of all love, we lift to you those
whose homes and families
have been crushed by flooding and disaster.
We pray especially for families in Pakistan
struggling after the recent floodings
and ask that you may grant them the support
and resolve required to rebuild their lives.
We remember too the war in Ukraine.
We pray for the cessation of hostilities
and the return of peace and stability.
Open our eyes Lord
and direct us in the truth
God of all compassion,
we lift to you those who are frail or weak.
We remember those who are ill in hospitals,
and those who are weary in nursing homes,
may you bring them your comfort, strength and healing.
We pray especially for those with cancer that your presence, your touch
and strength will be with them
in the days of treatment ahead.
Be with all who are undergoing surgery
and may you guide the surgeons
so that the operations will be successful.
Be close to all in their time of recuperation.
Open our eyes Lord
and direct us in the truth
God of all faithfulness and hope, we pray for all
who are under stress or strain at this time,
we ask that they may experience
your faithful presence and love.
Give them coping skills and mechanisms
that they may know your peace and solace.
Open our eyes Lord
and direct us in the truth
God, the Good Shepherd, we praise you
for your constant faithfulness to us.
You know our deepest thoughts
and our desire for a close and deep relationship with you.
May we not stray from the fold
but rest in your unfailing love for us.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together
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.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
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 the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.