Arise O God and rule the earth
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.
sung by Dougie Byers
O God, you make known your mighty power
in your merciful compassion:
increase your mercy towards us;
that we, being eager for your promises,
may inherit the treasures of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
world without end. Amen
Isaiah 5: 1-7 read by Ron Beagrie
The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard
I will sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded rotten grapes.
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield rotten grapes?
And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a wasteland;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are his cherished garden;
he expected justice
but saw bloodshed;
but heard a cry!
Hebrews 11:29-12:2 read by Peter Boreham
The Faith of Other Israelite Heroes
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
The Example of Jesus
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
LUKE 12: 49-56 read by Rev Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 12 beginning at verse 49
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already ablaze! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!
Jesus the Cause of Division
Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather
division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Interpreting the Time
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain,’ and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
One of the many pleasures I really enjoy is relaxing on an evening and watching a good film. Over the years I have seen quite a few films but there are always some films that stay with you and stand out for you. One such film for me is Dead Poet’s Society, starring Robin Williams as an unorthodox English teacher, called John Keating in an all- male elite prep boarding school, called Welton Academy. On the first day of classes the male students are surprised by the unorthodox teaching methods of their new English teacher John Keating. It begins by the teacher bringing all the students out of class into the entranceway in front of the glass display cases, filled with trophies, footballs and team pictures. He asks the class to peruse these faces from the past. He then says- You have walked past them and I don’t think that you have really looked at them. They are not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts, full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they were destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen, those boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. The boys lean in and Keating hovers over a student’s shoulder whispering in a gruff voice ‘carpe.’ The student looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face. Hear it says the teacher? Carpe? Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys, make your lives extraordinary.
Carpe diem is a phrase from the film that we now use in everyday speech seize the day- implying make your lives extraordinary. In many ways this is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is communicating to us. He has us peruse the faces of those great heroes of the faith, who have gone before us, who he would claim are not so different looking from us, you like us had similar dreams and aspirations, you like us struggled and wrestled with their faith and as we lean in to hear the legacy from that great cloud of witnesses the writer reminds us that we are to be inspired by them and like them we are to seize the day- make our lives extraordinary. Carpe diem!
I remember doing cross country running many years ago now in our school sport’s day- it was a long distance and the terrain was quite mixed- some parts straight forward – others hilly and uneven, and you were out there competing with others and for some stretches you could be running on your own but then came the home stretch when you came back into the stadium and the parents and crowds were cheering you on. Your legs were tired and heavy and almost packing up on you but somehow the cheers of the crowd spurring you on, gave you an added impetus and from somewhere came this spurt of energy and strength to dash to the finishing line. The crowd and cheers made all the difference. You hear great Olympic and Commonwealth champions say what a difference the crowd made to their performance or Wimbledon champions saying that the cheering and encouragement from the crowd helped enormously. So too our faith journey- it is a bit like a long- distance cross country run or race. We run in faith not alone through all the difficult and harsh terrain but are spurred on and encouraged by a great cloud of witnesses/ great people of old like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David but also those more current for me William Wilberforce, man of great passion and perseverance, by Hudson Taylor, by George Muller, by Amy Carmichael, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Wesley, Corrie ten boom, by Eric Liddell and so many more! Who are your great cloud of witnesses that are there encouraging and inspiring you Mother Teresa, Isaac Watts, John Newton, William Carey, or William Booth or Billy Graham? We do better when we are inspired and encouraged. The heroes of faith the great cloud of witnesses surround us all with encouragement and enthusiasm, willing us to what they did and to finish the course in fine style.
What must we do to finish in fine style and to complete the race with efficiency and success. The writer of Hebrews helps with this, as he continues to use imagery from sport. We are to throw off the weights and the sin that so easily entangles us. We must get rid of any heavy weights that are slowing us down.
Athletes sometimes train with heavy packs on their backs to build up strength and energy against the time when, for the actual race, they run with no extra weight at all. But far too many of us try to run the Christian race with heavy packs- we carry all kinds of baggage, various forms of worry and anxiety that consume us and slow us down. Each person weight that slows them down might be different from yours- for some it is the love of money – it is the single danger to their spiritual growth and health and could prevent them finishing the Christian race in fine style. For others it is a careless thought life-browsing websites that we shouldn’t, filling their minds with unhealthy material- we need to throw that off says the writer in Hebrews. For others it is lack of discipline- Christian living is careless- they are easily distracted, their prayer life is sporadic and the reading of scripture erratic. They don’t intend to drift in their faith journey and get distracted on the way. Time just drifts away- maybe too much on face-book, too much time on digital games, too much time watching or doing sport, or too much in the pub or restaurant. Maybe the lack of discipline is because they are obsessing about their house, or their idyllic garden or their children or their grandchildren who have almost become kind of idols to them. Lovely gardens and spending time with grandchildren are good things to do but they mustn’t distract us from persevering in the journey of life – with the result that we find ourselves drifting from worship and prayer. For some they struggle in the spiritual race not so much with lack of discipline as with an apathy and indifference- it has all become routine, dull and tedious, and they need to throw off this apathy and find again their first love and passion in God and in his amazing love.
So, our faith journey is a long -distance run which we are to complete in fine style. We are surrounded by a fabulous cloud of witnesses who encourage us and spur us on and we are to throw off anything that will slow us down in our spiritual race. The next point to note is that this race is a long haul and we need patience. There are also some runners who prefer a short sprint, some of them faced with a 10k run will go too fast at the start of the race and then be exhausted after two or 3k. Sadly many of us will know Christians like that: keen and eager in their early days, they run out of steam by the time they reach mature adulthood and by the time they have reached middle age or older they have either lost all energy for active Christian living or are frantically trying to recapture the zip and sparkle of a now inappropriate teenage-style faith. What the Hebrews writer is looking for is someone who steadily runs the race and completes it.
Do you remember the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona? If you do you will surely remember this story- it is about Derek Redmond who began the 400 m semi- finals at the Olympics with confidence. I remember he said thinking- I am going to win this race. The gun goes and he said- I had a really good start. Then he heard a pop. Early in the race his hamstring and his dreams give way as he fell to the track holding his hurt leg. As he laid on the track he remembered that he was in the Olympics which is what had made him get up and start to hobble to finish line. Derek said: I thought- you know what? I am going to finish this race. It might be the last race I ever run so I am going to finish it. That was when he heard a familiar voice next to him- it was his father, who came down from the stands to be at his son’s side and who said to him- look you have nothing to prove. You’re a champion to us. We’ll do this together and Derek Redmond completed the race with perseverance with his head held high and his pride intact. He finished the race despite everything- he persevered. The writer of Hebrews is saying persevere in this race. Have endurance- finish the race!
Finally finish the race that God has marked out for you. Don’t look at other people’s lives and they are having it better or easier than you- the grass always looks greener on the other side- but it isn’t they have their own issues and weights to contend with. Instead run your own race- with the gifts that God has given you- finish that race well, finish that race with patience and perseverance and finish it in fine style with your head high. Do not compare and contrast yourself with other people on the spiritual race or journey- it is your own faith and special path that matter. Run your own particular faith race with perseverance, reach the finish line in fine style and be inspired and encouraged by your cloud of witness who are there for you, encouraging and spurring you on.
As Winston Churchill said: never give in, never give in, never, never, never! And as the apostle Paul said: be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 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.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with us Lord on our journey of faith,
both as individuals and as the Church of God;
open our eyes to the truths
you long for us to understand
and equip us to run the race
you have particularly marked out for us.
Help us to throw off those weights that entangle us
and to discard those weights that make our spiritual race difficult.
May that great cloud of witnesses inspire us,
and encourage us to persevere,
to finish the spiritual race in fine style.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with us, Lord down the streets
of our cities, towns and villages,
and keep us conscious of your abiding presence.
Meet all those who are curious about their faith,
be near to those who are searching in faith for you
redirect those who are drifting in their faith
and becoming apathetic.
Renew their first love and passion in you.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with us Lord in our life journeys,
When we fall -pick us up,
When we struggle- support us
When we are at the point of giving up- sustain and equip us.
May you deepen our faith and confidence in you,
and as we reflect on our lives,
may we rejoice in your hand
supporting and encouraging us.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with our leaders in power and authority
give them wisdom and understanding
to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you.
Walk with other countries in difficulty
and hardship at this time,
we think especially of Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Afghanistan,
and ask for generosity in forgiveness
and a willingness to work together to shape a secure future.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with us Lord through the times of loss,
those times of suffering and pain,
alerting us to one another’s needs
and in providing for us
in whatever ways are best for us.
In the quiet we lift to you people in need known to us.
For those we have named we ask that
your strength and abiding presence be felt.
Help us all to trust you through the dark times:
breathe new life and hope
into those who are close to despair.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Walk with us Lord through the valley of death
may our love and prayers support those
who walk that journey today.
Draw close to them and welcome them
into the joy of heaven.
Walk with all those for whom today or this month
is an anniversary of the death of a loved one.
Strengthen our trust in you.
Lord, we thank you for walking with us,
wherever we travel,
and for being our constant and faithful companion.
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.