Morning Prayer on Sunday 9 August 2020  

Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Welcome

 

O Lord, open our lips

All   and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

1    Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

2    Bless the Lord you heavens:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

3    Bless the Lord you angels of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

4    Bless the Lord all people on earth:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

5    O people of God bless the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

6    Bless the Lord you priests of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

7    Bless the Lord you servants of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

8    Bless the Lord all you of upright spirit:  ♦

bless the Lord you that are holy and humble in heart.

The Song of the Three 35-37, 60-65

 

 All   Bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:  ♦

        sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

This opening prayer is said

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;

let us pray with one heart and mind.

 

Silence is kept.

 

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence, O God,

set our hearts on fire with love for you;

now and for ever.

All   Amen.

Preparation

Confession

 

All   Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned

in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy

forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are,

and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly,

love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God.

Amen.

Absolution

 

May almighty God have mercy on us,

forgive us our sins,

and bring us to everlasting life,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

The Word of God  

 

Psalm 85

1    Lord, you were gracious to your land;  ♦

you restored the fortunes of Jacob.

 

2    You forgave the offence of your people  ♦

and covered all their sins.

 

3    You laid aside all your fury  ♦

and turned from your wrathful indignation.

 

4    Restore us again, O God our Saviour,  ♦

and let your anger cease from us.

 

5    Will you be displeased with us for ever?  ♦

Will you stretch out your wrath from one generation to another?

 

6    Will you not give us life again,  ♦

that your people may rejoice in you?

 

7    Show us your mercy, O Lord,  ♦

and grant us your salvation.

 

8    I will listen to what the Lord God will say,  ♦

for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,

    that they turn not again to folly.

 

9    Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,  ♦

that his glory may dwell in our land.

 

10  Mercy and truth are met together,  ♦

righteousness and peace have kissed each other;

 

11  Truth shall spring up from the earth  ♦

and righteousness look down from heaven.

 

12  The Lord will indeed give all that is good,  ♦

and our land will yield its increase.

 

13  Righteousness shall go before him  ♦

and direct his steps in the way.

 

 All   Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

Readings

​1Kings 19: 9-18

 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”  Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.  Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.  Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.  Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Romans 10: 5-15

  

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.”  But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)  “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say?

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.  For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?  And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

A Song of David

All  Splendour and majesty are yours, O God;
you are exalted as head over all.

1 Blessed are you, God of Israel, for ever and ever, ♦
for yours is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour and the majesty.

2 Everything in heaven and on earth is yours; ♦
yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
and you are exalted as head over all.

3 Riches and honour come from you ♦
and you rule over all.

4 In your hand are power and might; ♦
yours it is to give power and strength to all.

5 And now we give you thanks, our God, ♦
and praise your glorious name.

6 For all things come from you, ♦
and of your own have we given you.

1 Chronicles 29.10b-13, 14b

 

All  Splendour and majesty are yours, O God;
you are exalted as head over all.

Gospel Reading

 

Matthew 14. 22-33

 

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Responsory

 

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.

All   And Christ shall give you light.

 

You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.

All   Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.

 

Set your minds on things that are above,

not on things that are on the earth.

All   And Christ shall give you light.

 

When Christ our life appears

you will appear with him in glory.

All   Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,

and Christ shall give you light.

from Colossians 3

The Benedictus (The Song of Zechariah) 

 

All   You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour,

born of the house of your servant David.

 

1    Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,  ♦

     who has come to his people and set them free.

2    He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,  ♦

born of the house of his servant David.

3    Through his holy prophets God promised of old  ♦

to save us from our enemies,  from the hands of all that hate us,

4    To show mercy to our ancestors,  ♦

and to remember his holy covenant.

5    This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:  ♦

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

6    Free to worship him without fear,  ♦

holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.

7    And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,  ♦

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

8    To give his people knowledge of salvation  ♦

by the forgiveness of all their sins.

9    In the tender compassion of our God  ♦

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

10  To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,  ♦

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1.68-79

All   Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

 

All   You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour,

born of the house of your servant David.

Prayers

 

Let us pray to God the Father who has reconciled all things to himself in Christ.

For peace among the nations that God may rid the world of violence

and let the people grow in justice and harmony.

We pray for the Middle East, the people of Lebanon, Syria, the Yemen, Iraq and Iran.

That the hearts of our leaders will dwell on justice across the generations, and they will help restore of the family of mankind.

We pray especially for international cooperation in the response to climate change and health care.

Lord, in your mercy;      hear our prayer.

Acknowledging our dependence on each other, we pray for those who serve in public life in our society that they may serve the common good. We pray that we will honour and support them.

Lord, in your mercy;      hear our prayer.

For Christian people everywhere that we may joyfully proclaim and live our faith in Jesus Christ.  We pray for this benefice, our retired and faithful clergy, for the good leadership of Bishop Rose, for the work of the PCC meeting soon, and for whoever is to become our next incumbent.

Lord, in your mercy;      hear our prayer.

For those who suffer from hunger, sickness or loneliness that the presence of Christ may bring health and wholeness. We pray for those known to us, and whose names are included on our prayer boards. We pray too for carers and medical personnel during this difficult time.

 

Lord, in your mercy;      hear our prayer.

We pray that you will bring us and all your saints to glory everlasting. And so we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray to the mercy and protection of God

 

Amen

Silence may be kept.

 

The Collect of the day

 

Almighty God,

who sent your Holy Spirit

to be the life and light of your Church:

open our hearts to the riches of your grace,

that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit

in love and joy and peace;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

All   Amen.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

 

All   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

Sermon 9th August 2020

Mark Taylor

 

Trinity 9.     Related readings:       1Kings19: 9-18, Psalm 85, Romans 15: 5-15, Matthew 14:22-33

 

Our reading from 1Kings 19 needs a bit of context.  We are transported to the 9th century BC where the Hebrew people are torn between assimilation into the local Canaanite culture or holding to the distinctive monotheism at the heart of Judaism, later Christianity and Islam.  Ahab, king of the northern kingdom of Israel married Jezebel, a Phoenician from Sidon. They were polytheistic and worshiped respectively the Canaanite deity Ba'al, a male god who commanded the weather and seasons,  and his consort  Asherah,  a female fertility figure honoured in sacred groves and trees. 

Elijah was not the only prophet to speak out against them. Others had been assassinated for their beliefs and some hidden away by a faithful palace worker, Obadiah.  Our story has taken us through drought and famine (failure of both Ba'al and Asherah, you might say) and the contest between the  prophets of Ba'al and Elijah. In the latter, the prophets of Ba'al were unable to call down fire on their alters and became reduced to an impotent frenzy. Elijah got a direct lightning strike to set fire to his alter and sacrifice.  Game over for polytheism? Sadly not.

In our reading Elijah knew that Jezebel had put a price on his head and he fled to Horeb, the mountain where, long before, Moses met God and received the commandments.  Here, alone and sheltering in a cave he despaired of his life and his apparent failure.  There had been no conversion of the royal family, the nation was in as much trouble as before. 

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"

He is told to stand on the mountain and the Lord will pass by.  He is then confronted by all the terrifying natural events that one might associate with an angry Ba'al-like deity; wind, fire earthquake.  And God was in none of these.  Then a profound silence, a timeless encounter.  Elijah is being listened to by the living God who invites him to pour out his despair. 

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"

-----------------------

The story of the Lord walking on the water was initially recorded by Mark, and replicated in John.  Matthew embellished it with a unique vignette about Peter.  Jesus like Elijah faced persecution, in this case at the hand of Herod, and retreated alone to a mountain to pray.  Wanting nothing to do with the clamour for political acclaim, he dismissed the crowd and sent the disciples off across the lake in their boat.   A decoy?

The weather deteriorated over night with an adverse wind, nothing untoward for professional fishermen.   The disciple's terror was not the sea-state (unlike the story in Matt 8:23-7, Luke 8: 22-25) but because they thought they were seeing a ghost. Did this mean Jesus had been killed?   The all encompassing message of Matthews gospel is "Emmanuel," "God is with us", here it is re-emphasised. The Lord immediately reassured them,   "It is I, do not be afraid".  Peter questions  "If it is you...command ..."  This future leader of the church echoed the wording of the devil's temptation in Matt 4:3. Either he did not fully recognise Jesus, or recognised but did not fully trust Him.  It was the latter, and Peter had to be rescued.

 A boat full of disciples in heavy weather is a metaphor for the early church, and it is not surprising that Matthew writing for a persecuted church at the end of the 1st century made much of this story. The nave in our medieval church buildings is so called as it represents a ship. We the congregation are the crew-like disciples. We too struggle with doubts and yet are reassured that the Lord is very much alive and with us for the voyage.  In His presence the wind and waves, opposition and struggle, are seen in a different way. However bad it looks we are not going to sink, much as Elijah was unharmed by the marvels and terrors of the natural world. Instead we are accompanied, reassured and listened to.  To listen well to someone requires a deep stillness, a welcoming, accepting, reconciling silence that provides space and invites the other to speak.   Is that a characteristic of our church community today?

----------------

Today, terrors of nature are heaped upon human kind.  Climate change, mass extinction of species, and a pandemic generate loud, confused, and anxiety ridden voices.    No doubt the ancients would have seen such events as divine displeasure.    Far from imagining the hand of a Ba'al-like deity behind these calamities we need to own up to the fact that much of what is happening is down to human activity. Our activity.  Our relationship with our Creator and the creation has become distorted.   It is with renewed spirit that the church is opening ways for those broken relations to be acknowledged and healed.  From the Pope's 2015 encyclical Laudato Si ' "On care for our common home" to local initiatives by our Cornerstone community of Little Chart, the call and the response to change is underway.  However, well intended actions will not heal the planet unless they are driven by a change of heart and mind.  Here the church has a special task within our society.  That is to find space for the deep reconciling silence that Elijah experienced that invites us to pour out our concerns, our powerlessness, our complicity and failure.  To listen and be listened to.  "What are you doing here ...?"   The Psalm set for today contains it;

I will listen to what the Lord God will say

for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful

that they turn not again to folly

 

The Conclusion

 

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil,

and keep us in eternal life.

All   Amen.

 

Let us bless the Lord.

All   Thanks be to God.

Common Worship: Daily Prayer, material from which is included here,

is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2005 and published by  Church House Publishing.

Note that the creed is omitted from this order of service as an adaptation for internet congregations