Virtual Services

14th Sunday after Trinity – 13th September 2020

Welcome

       Grace, mercy and peace
       from God our Father
       and the Lord Jesus Christ
       be with you
      and also with you

 

Worship

Confession

God our Father,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins.
For turning away from you,
and ignoring your will for our lives;

Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For behaving just as we wish,
without thinking of you;

Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For failing you by what we do,
and think and say;

Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you
by temptations in the world about us;

Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For living as if we were ashamed
to belong to your Son;

Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

 

Absolution

May the God of love
bring us back to himself,
forgive us our sins,
and assure us of his eternal love
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Collect – The prayer for today

God, our judge and saviour,
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation which is given
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Word

The weak and the strong
14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?[a] Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

‘“As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“Every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.”’[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans
14:1-12

The parable of the unmerciful servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’

22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

28 ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

29 ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”

30 ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

Matthew
18:21-35

Its hard to know where to start today. As I wrote this it had just been announced that we can now only meet socially in groups of 6. But again as I was writing it was clarified that that this did not mean the closure of churches. So thre was a little doubt in my mind whether we would be here or not but at least for now some of us are.

But even if we are back its still not going to be normal for quite some time
The face masks, the one way system, the lack of singing – its church, but not as we know it. And Some of us still need or prefer to be at home. . For now though , whether we are in the building, at home, or somewhere else we all take comfort in the fact that wherever we are we are still All Saints Totley – we are still performing collective worship as indeed we have been these last months. Just because we have not been physically here we have still worshipped and prayed together and continue to do so.

One good thing that will carry on from our online services is that we agreed we should keep the talks shorter – as they have been online so I know that you will all be grateful for that!
This morning I’ve chosen to talk about the Epistle reading from the lectionary – Romans 14 v1 to 12 and this is a passage that really struck a chord with me as it is all about judging other people and in particular the way they do church And this resonates with me– both because I sometimes struggle with the differences between denominations (I work in a Catholic school and sometimes some of the practices there wind me up) and because judging in general is something I try desperately not to do but find myself doing it quite often. Passing comment on others is after all a bit of a human sport – another one of our standard failings I think.

So In this passage Paul is writing to the Romans at a time when Christianity is beginning to reach many different types of people. On the one hand there were those used to Religion and the practicing of a law based faith – the Jews particularly were used to living by many rules ( and following them to the letter) whereas Gentiles were not. Also some had converted from Pagan based beliefs and so again came from different belief sets, and perhaps showed their faith in different ways. Paul is addressing the fact that different people can and do worship God differently and can, and do, believe that some things should be avoided or done in a certain way.

Before I go on any further its important to put what Paul says in this Chapter in the context of the rest of his letter and more importantly what he has taked about prior to this. Paul essentially has been talking about how we should love one another. Back in Chapter 12 he told us that Love should be a serving love – that we are given gifts to use in the service of others, and that love must be Real – it must be genuine. Then in Chapter 13 Paul explains that Love must be universal – we must love everyone – no exceptions.
So as we come to Chapter 14 Paul addresses the thorny issue of how we are to deal with those who worship differently to us or hold slightly different beliefs to us – that we must be tolerant of other people’s views. Paul tells us straight off in Verse 1 – “Accept the one whose faith is weak without quarrelling over disputable matters”.

By the way when I say “those who hold slightly different beliefs to us” I don’t mean the fundamental stuff like whether you belief in Jesus or not, I mean those that have slightly different beliefs, a classic example of course would be the drinking of alcohol … Some denominations frown on alcohol completely whereas we in the Church of England probably work better in the pub! – Certainly pub based meetings are much more enjoyable and they feel more productive even if they really are not. However there are plenty of denominations that have a different view entirely on alcohol. I knew a youth worker once who although he was plenty old enough to drink dare not even have a glass of wine with his meal in the town where he worked for fear of the disapproval if he was seen by anyone in his church.

And this is what Paul means in V1 – “Disputable Matters” as he terms them, are the things which are not explicitly defined in the bible or can be argued one way or the other. The Bible does not tells us HOW to worship God, but it does tell us in what spirit we should worship and that is the essence of this part of Pauls letter. If we are doing what we do in faith (ie in the right way) then we should not be judged by others who are also doing their best to worship in faith. Only God can judge whether the way we excerscise our faith is right in these “disputable matters”. Paul gives us an example – V2 “One persons faith allows them to eat anything, another only eats vegetables” He says in V3 quite clearly that the one who eats everything must not treat the other with contempt nor should the one who doesnt eat meat judge the one who does. He uses the master and servant analogy we know well to explain our relationship with God: he explains that we are all servants and only the Master can judge his Servants.

This idea of not condemning others for what they ate was actually a real problem in the early church – Jews for example didn’t eat Pork and other meats had to be kosher so a converted Jew had problems eating meat, Then in Rome as in other places most meat was offered to idols by the butchers that prepared it so some said that if you ate that meat it was just as if you worshipped that idol whereas some Chrisitans just ate it because they knew that the idols didn’t exist in the first place. As with most things there was the liberal view, that it was perfectly allright to eat the meat and the stricter viewpoint that said it was wrong. And of course wherever there are two or more viewpoints arguments occur.

We are not talking here about big stuff – we are pretty clear that we are commanded not to Murder and we are even clearer that Jesus has explained to us that the Spirit of the Law means we should not harm someone – here we are talking about procedural stuff as well as personal stuff that can be interpreted one way or another, much of which doesn’t affect anyone else. BUT we are still often liable to look at that person and say “OO that’s wrong” We might even say “Well I wouldn’t do it that way” in that sly “I’m not judging, but I am judging” kind of way. And although we are not talking big stuff we are talking about things that have the power to divide us if we let them.
By and large the Church of England bumps along just fine but it contains people with such a broad slection of viewpoints that these differences are often very apparent and if we are honest the way we handle those differences doesn’t always suggest to people in the wider community that we Christians all love each other.

And churches themselves often fall towards the legalistic view of things and either make or imply artificial standards . Ray Stedman, the great American evangelist, suggested that this has given rise to a tremendous distortion of Christianity in the eyes of the world – the idea that Christianity is a “do not do” something religion – a “Don’t” religion. He suggested that this distorts the true freedom that is the message of the Gospel and can leave us with the sense that Christianity is just a set of rules to be followed.
Paul leaves us in no doubt that changing others is not our responsibility v4 “Who are you to judge someone elses servant? To his own master he stands or falls, and he will stand for the Lord is able to make him stand”

Paul is saying more than that its none of our business he is also saying that the Lord can straighten out this person if he needs it “The Lord Is able to make him stand” ie if he isn’t doing so great God alone will help him. The Mesasge translates this as “If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learnt, God can handle that without your help”

Next, Paul reminds us in v5-8 that God knows every heart and he sees what we can’t – God knows if what we do or say is sincere and meant in the right spirit . He reminds us that whether we choose to consider a certain day special or choose to eat or fast in a certain way as long as a person has an honest conviction through prayer and scripture (rather than just doing something out of tradition)that it is the right thing to do God will see that. In V7-8 Paul reminds us that our relationship with one another is more important than our lifestyle – basically he is saying there whether we live or dies is not the important thing – the important thing is that we belong to the Lord – we are not servants of each other, we are brothers and sisters, we are only servants of God and only he has the right to change us.

In the last part of todays passage V9 onwards reminds us that Christ alone has the ability to judge us so Paul says stop trying to take his place – why do you try to play Christ in the Church? Why do you think you can judge – say what is right and how others should be behave. The others are your brothers and Sisters and we must all equally stand before God to be judged.
Paul’s advice is simple. Stop playing God – stop trying to do what only Christ can do, stop judging what others do. Sooner or later we will all be judged but that does not give us the right to judge others now , in this life.

Its really easy to miss the real faith of somone because we are too busy noticing the little things they do that we wouldn’t do like that – its probably just as much a problem among Christians now as it was back then in the early Roman Church.
At the end of the day the fact that we shouldn’t judge in any respect is pretty clear . Jesus told us not to as it says in Matthew 7:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

Some questions for you to ponder in your households; on your own, or with a distanced neighbour;
remembering to remain were you are
• How do we welcome those with differences in our work, schools, families and community?
• What can we do we to welcome all in this space with the current restrictions we need to operate in?

Witness

Statement of Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

All   We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.

We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Prayers

We remain as we are facing the front raising one or both hands

– Give thanks for being back in this space and for our
church family. Pray for those not with us but are worshipping alongside us.

We turn into the centre and notice our differences with palms facing one another

– We pray for all those who differ from ourselves, in gender, race, belief, accessibility. Teach us to learn and accept all, Give us courage to stand up and support one another, Give us patience to sit and be, Help us to listen to one an-other’s stories

We turn and face the door reaching out our hands


– We pray for our community in Totley, our places of work, our schools, our shops, our gathering places, Pray that each place may have wisdom in their responses to the guidance and rules around Covid-19. Pray that we might reveal Gods presence in those places, in the way that we look after and interact with others. We pray for those we know who are struggling and for those whom God knows are struggling.

We sit with our hands open

– We pray for ourselves for the emotions and feelings we have, for our fears and concerns, for our passions and joys. We pray that you will continue to reveal your love for each of us and your continued calling on our lives. Help us to let go of anything that prevents us from being the people God knows us to be.

Amen

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord be with you
All   and also with you.

(or)

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.
All   We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All   It is right to give thanks and praise.

Almighty God, good Father to us all,
your face is turned towards your world.
In love you gave us Jesus your Son
to rescue us from sin and death.
Your Word goes out to call us home
to the city where angels sing your praise.
We join with them in heaven’s song:

All Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.]

Father of all, we give you thanks for every gift that comes from heaven.

To the darkness Jesus came as your light.
With signs of faith and words of hope
he touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean.

This is his story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

The crowds came out to see your Son,
yet at the end they turned on him.
On the night he was betrayed
he came to table with his friends
to celebrate the freedom of your people.

This is his story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus blessed you, Father, for the food;
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
This is my body, given for you all.
Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;
he took the cup, gave it and said:
This is my blood, shed for you all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.

This is our story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Therefore, Father, with this bread and this cup
we celebrate the cross
on which he died to set us free.
Defying death he rose again
and is alive with you to plead for us and all the world.

This is our story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Send your Spirit on us now
that by these gifts we may feed on Christ
with opened eyes and hearts on fire.

May we and all who share this food
offer ourselves to live for you
and be welcomed at your feast in heaven
where all creation worships you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

All Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Breaking of the Bread

The president breaks the consecrated bread.

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.

All Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Giving of Communion

God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.

All Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Prayer after Communion

All Almighty God,
we thank you for feeding us
with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer you our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory.
Amen.

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Blessing and Dismissal

May the Father from whom every family
in earth and heaven receives its name
strengthen you with his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always
Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church

There are also the sermons available from the Bishop’s senior staff here: https://www.sheffield.anglican.org/video-sermons.