You crown the year with your goodness, O Lord.



Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


Almighty God
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.


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 Sue St Joseph


O Lord, in your mercy:
grant to your faithful people pardon and peace;
that they may be cleansed from all their sins,
and serve you with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen

Joel 2.23–32
read by Gill Swales

O children of Zion, be glad,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army that I sent against you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

God’s Spirit Poured Out

Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days I will pour out my spirit.

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

2 Timothy 4.6–8, 16–18
read by Amie Byers

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.


Luke 18.9–14
read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 18 beginning at verse 9

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord


The great Florentine preacher of the fifteenth century, Savonarola, one day saw an elderly woman worshipping at the statue of the Virgin Mary which stood in his city’s great cathedral. On the following day, he noticed the same woman again on her knees before the Blessed Mother. With great interest Savonarola observed that day after day, she came and did homage. Look how she reverences the Virgin Mother, Savonarola whispered to one of his fellow priests. Don’t be deceived by what you see, the priest responded. Many years ago, an artist was commissioned to create a statue for the cathedral. As he sought a young woman to pose as the model for his sculpture, he found one who seemed to be the perfect subject. She was young, serene, beautiful and had a mystical quality to her face. The image of that woman inspired his stature of Mary. The woman who now worships the statue is the same one who served as its model years ago. Shortly after the statue was put in place, she began to visit it and has continued to worship there religiously ever since. She is worshipping herself.

Self-worship is none other than pride. Pride is perhaps the deadliest of the seven deadly sins. The Oxford Dictionary defines pride as an “unduly high opinion of one’s own qualities, merits, that is, an arrogant bearing.” In other words, pride is self-love that says, “I’m better than you.” You see pride in others when someone makes a boast of his or her accomplishments as though you are expected to pay homage. They think that they are a cut above everybody else and so more important than everybody else.

This deluded sense of importance can be seen on one occasion when Muhammad Ali, who coined the phrase “I am the best” was aboard an outward flight. Ali had just won another boxing title and was full of his own greatness. He was on the plane and he refused to fasten his seat belt. The stewardess came up to him and asked him to do so but he said, “Superman didn’t need a seat belt.” She looked at him and said, “Superman didn’t need a plane.” Well, simply put pride is this assumption that we are somehow better than other people, that we are more important than others.

This pride we see best in ourselves, when we become irritated at someone who has corrected us, and we hear ourselves saying, “Who does he or she think they are to correct me- that’s pride. Or when we are offended because we don’t get the kind of recognition that we think we deserve — that’s pride. Or when we feel a sense of self-importance and expect special privileges and entitlements and are offended when we do not receive them. That’s pride!

Of course, not all pride is bad. It’s good to take pride in our churches, our schools, our communities, and even in ourselves. That is, pride is good when we are striving to make life better for everyone. Pride as self-worth is important and necessary because it lets us see ourselves as having gifts that can make life better for everyone around us. But it is the sin of pride that damages; and pride becomes a sin when we talk and act in a way that says, “I’m better than you.” That kind of pride is a sin. In a manner of speaking, pride is like the tyres on your car. The tyres don’t function right if they are under-inflated or over-inflated. Neither way is good for the tyre. Like car tyres, it is important for us not to be under-inflated or over-inflated in our opinion about ourselves. But unfortunately, while many people suffer from low self-esteem, most people have the tendency to over-inflate themselves.

This sense of over-inflation is seen in the Pharisee in our Gospel reading. Here we find the Pharisee all puffed up, full of his own self -importance and a highly charged ego. He stands confidently in the temple away from the other worshippers. The Pharisee’s reasons for standing apart can be easily understood. He considers himself righteous and indeed despises others as we see from his description of them. If he brushes against the tax collector, he believes that he would be classed unclean. His state of cleanliness is too important. It must not be compromised for any reason. Physical isolation would be a statement. The Pharisee has a sense of superiority and is very proud of his righteousness.

He says to himself, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. Although he begins by thanking God, this seems a perfunctory opening of blatant self- promotion, rather than a true realisation of indebtedness. It is merely polite protocol, something that proper praying should include. If there is any gratitude, it is only appreciation for supplying superiority, making him “not like other men.”

Although the Pharisee may be addressing God, he is really talking to himself. His prayer is heard because the Jews prayed aloud. Notice that the word “I” pronoun is repeated four times. He is the centre of his own prayer. The pharisee’s recital of his virtues highlights his excessive ego focus. He compliments himself on his over- the- top- perfection. He goes well beyond what the law prescribes, fasting and tithing more than required. In his mind his zealous practice makes him special and separate from the riff raff.

The Pharisee congratulates himself on his spiritual and moral health. He had kept the law perfectly. He is bursting with pride. Pride is somehow this deep inner part of us that always has the desire to be better than others. It germinates in the swamps of comparison and competition. C.S. Lewis once said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people, and of course as long as you are looking down, you cannot find God because God is always above you.” Why this need to compare? How often have you heard people compare themselves in pride and say “I may not be the best person in the world, but I’m better than those hypocrites.”

Comparing ourselves with those around us is not the way ahead. That was the mistake the Pharisee made. That contributed to his self- delusion and self- grandeur. The Pharisee majors on negative obedience. The Pharisee confronts himself with all the sins he had not committed, like robbery, adultery. This is always good for the peace of the conscience, because of course negative obedience is a smoke- screen behind which we conceal the many sins we have committed. Furthermore, the Pharisee majors on legalistic obedience. He lists all the unnecessary good works which he really did not need to do like fasting twice a week when once a year was suffice. This is a classic method of guilt avoidance. By accumulating a record of this kind of superfluous piety you can deceive yourself into thinking that you are compensating for any real sins you have committed. It is quite illogical. It is like going to the magistrate and saying yes, I did drive at 100 km down the high street but unlike some people I have never parked on a yellow line or in a disabled parking spot. Surely you can take that into consideration. It doesn’t work like that.

It doesn’t work like that in the church either. Some people take great pride in the fact that they don’t smoke or drink, or that they are perfectionists and workaholics in their careers. Some people try to purge their conscience a bit like Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare by trying to clean furiously the house. And of course, there are endless numbers of religious people, who salve their conscience by being present in church, giving money to charity, saying prayers and so on. All such activity like the Pharisee can be driven by the desire to avoid guilt and by the motivation to look good. The key question we all need to ask ourselves is “What is really our desire when we worship and when we pray? What is the motivation that lies behind our coming to church- is it rightly so to meet with God, to strength our relationship with him, to allow him to cleanse us, free us from our guilt through his great mercy and love.

It was this cry for mercy that made the prayer of the tax- collector real. It was not so much the word itself that made the prayer sincere but rather the heart felt need and desire for cleansing and healing. His prayer was a prayer of humility. Humility is the only antidote to pride. Humility ought to be at the heart of the Christian life. What do I mean by humility?

Humility comes when you know who you are. It is when you are secure in your own skin-it is when you know that you are a child of God. It is when you acknowledge that you are created in the image of God. It is the realisation that you are not God. There’s something inside of us that would like to displace God and take God’s place. Bertrand Russell said, “Every man would like to be God if it were possible – some find it difficult to admit the impossibility. Some find it difficult to embrace humility as a friend.

Humility comes from the word ‘humus,’ meaning down to earth. Down to earth people know they have something in common with all of the people in the world. Down to earth people understand that they are part of the human race. Down to earth people know that on a given day and a given moment they are not any better than anybody else. Humility is the key in our approach to God and others. Humility opens the door to God’s mercy and love. It is our attitude that matters in prayer. Prayer is not about right techniques, right body positions, right songs and right words, it is about the desires and motivations of the heart. Why are you here this morning- will your prayer be heard – will you go away justified and at peace with God? May we echo the tax collectors prayer -Lord be merciful to me I am a sinner. 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.


Lord Jesus, you taught your disciples to pray.
Teach us to pray aright
that we might hear your whisper
and do your will.
Remove all sense of pride in prayer and song
and enable us to worship
you in spirit and in truth.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you showed respect and regard
for all people, irrespective of culture, gender, race, or nationality.
Cleanse us of all prejudice and disdain
that we might love others
and treat others as you demonstrated for us.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you instructed us to pray for our leaders.
We lift to you all our world leaders,
asking that you will bestow them
with your wisdom, grace and vision.
We think of the United Kingdom
with all the political chaos and economic uncertainty.
We ask that the leaders will let go
of their hunger for power and control
and will tend to the needs of all people
frightened by the cost of living and energy crises.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you called all things into being
and you entrusted creation to our stewardship.
Help us Lord to conserve energy,
and find better ways of heating
that climate change could be arrested
and our land better cared for.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you have a heart of love and compassion,
especially for those who are struggling in life,
with physical illness, mental health issues,
emotional upset or spiritual barrenness.
Draw close to all who cry to you
and may you bring your healing touch and peace.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you call us to live
peaceably with one another.
Heal any hurt and upset
that has been caused by a break down in relationships.
In countries where hostilities and war rage
bring your leaders to the table to negotiate
and through diplomacy restore peace and stability.

Lord of truth and wisdom

Guide us in your ways.

Lord Jesus, you lived a life of holiness
and you encourage us to walk
in your ways and share your purposes.
We pray for your Holy Spirit
to equip us to imbibe your pattern
of service and love.

Merciful Father accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
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.