Virtual Services

19th Sunday after Trinity – 18th October 2020

Welcome

Welcome to our service of morning prayer  however you are taking part

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace

Notices: Just a reminder if you are in church to follow the one way system and please don’t congregate near the entrances. Also remember the rule of 6 for meeting outdoors.  

Words of preparation.

We have come together in the name of Christ
To offer our praise and thanksgiving
To hear and receive God’s holy word,
To pray for the needs of the world,
And to seek the forgiveness of our sins,
 that by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may give ourselves to the service of God.

All: We come from scattered lives to meet with God.

Let us recognize his presence with us.

Silence is kept.

As God’s people we have gathered:

let us worship him together. 

Worship

Confession

Jesus said “before you offer your gift, go and be reconciled” . As sisters and brothers in God’s family’
We come together to ask our Father for forgiveness

We have not always worshipped God, our creator.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We have not always followed Christ, our Saviour.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We have not always trusted in the Spirit, our guide.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
You made us to be one family,
yet we have divided humanity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
You were born a Jew to reconcile all people,
yet we have brought disharmony amongst races.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
You rejoice in our differences,
yet we make them a cause of enmity.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you
our lack of care for the world you have given us.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you
our selfishness in not sharing the earth’s bounty fairly.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We confess to you
our failure to protect resources for others.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you our selfishness and lack of love:
fill us with your Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you our fear and failure in sharing our faith:
fill us with your Spirit.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We confess to you our stubbornness and lack of trust:
fill us with your Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May God who loved the world so much
That he sent his Son to be our Saviour
forgive us our sins
and make us holy to serve him in the world,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

And now we are going to sing silently a song that although an old one, says exactly what we as Chrisitans want for our world.

Words of Thanks and praise.

Father, you gave up your Son for us all.
You give us all things with him;
you call us, justify us, glorify us.
Father in heaven
we give you thanks and praise.
Jesus Christ died, was raised to life,
and pleads for us at your right hand.
Who can separate us from your love?
Father in heaven
we give you thanks and praise.
For your sake we face death all day long.
In your world we face trouble and hardship,
persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and death.
Father in heaven
we give you thanks and praise.
But nothing separates us from your love:
neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any heavenly powers,
neither the world above nor the world below:
nothing in all creation can separate us
from your love in Jesus Christ.
Father in heaven
we give you thanks and praise.
In all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loves us,
and has freed us from our sins
and made us a kingdom and priests
to serve you for ever,
with all the company of heaven, saying:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
cf Romans 8.23–39

Word

1 Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you.

Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ faith

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1
1-10

I’ve got to be honest…On first glance I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of this passage.  Pauls letters always have some really good stuff to talk about in them but this bit didn’t immediately give me that.  I mean, this is the opening bit – the polite bit you might write in any letter before you get to the nitty gritty – the “How are you, hope the family is OK” And I can’t stray too far past this bit or I will tread on the toes of those that follow.

But my first impressions are usually wrong – maybe there is a bit more to the passage than I first thought…

First some facts on 1 Thessalonians..

Its one of the oldest books in the New Testament – estimated to have been written  around 50AD, so only 18 years or so after Jesus died (only Galations and James may be very slightly older) – Its one of the earliest images we have of the early church

Its one of the shortest books in the new Testament – 79 verses – only takes about half an hour to read

Its also one of the easiest books to understand.  Paul writes to the Thessalonians in a very clear, easy to understand way – he doesn’t spend any time on complicated theology – like he does in his letter to the Romans – its just a short letter to a young church.

And it’s a practical letter – As we will see in the next few weeks, Paul deals with a wide range of truth – true conversion, integrity, compassion, suffering, prayer and many other topics  This makes this letter a great one to direct new Christians to – easy to read with an easy message by a man who was himself converted by the risen Jesus  – who had first hand experience of Jesus himself.

 

So a bit of background – we know about the founding of the church in Thessalonica from Acts 17. Thessalonica was an important seaport in ancient Greece – it had an excellent harbour and stood at the crossroards of a road system that connected Rome to Asia, so it was a strategic town and one a lot of people passed through.  It was home to Greeks, Romans and Jews but most of its inhabitatnts were pagan.   Paul arrived there during his second missionary journey and preached for a while until he was forced to leave town after some of the local Jews stirred up trouble.

Paul left behind a small congregation of mostly converted gentiles and went to Athens from where he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see how the new church was doing while Paul himself went on to Corinth.

Timothy eventually reported back that the young church was surviving but was under intense pressure to give in.  Certain rumours against Paul were also being spread as he had left in such a  hurry.  There were also clearly some moral and doctrinal issues in the church so Paul waned to go back, since he couldn’t he wrote the letter that we have started looking at today.

One book I looked at suggested that if you want to know what Paul was like read his letters – If you want to know what he believed read Romans, if you want to know what he was like as a person read 1 Thessalonians.

 

So lets have a look at what he says..

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul starts by letting this young church know that they are remembered and always in their prayers – and that God has been working through this new church  – they should be in no doubt that God has been moving among their new church.

Paul moves on to talk about the Thessalonians conversion and in doing so he talks about how conversion happens – the two parts that are required, First God chooses us and then we have to choose to choose God – we have to answer when he calls.  Paul tells the Thessalonians “We know brothers and Sisters, loved by God, that he has chosen you” Salvation of course comes from God – it starts with Gods choice of us – not the other way around.  But also acceptance is required from us humans in order to be saved  – Paul recounts here how “our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the the Holy spirit and deep conviction”  So the Thessalonians heard the word and believed – but they heard it because the Word was preached with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Paul makes sure it is the Holy Spirit tahts get the credit for this.

And thats a really great reminder to any one of us that stands up here each week.  It’s the Holy Spirit thats takes ordinary words and makes them speak to us – If you get anything out of what I say today its because the Spirt is there for you translating my rambllings into something meaningful.

Paul then goes on to talk about the evidence of the Thessalonians conversion – he helps us understand what we should look for  – he gives 3 things that relate to how you respond to the Word of God…

Firstly – Receiving the Word:

V6 – “you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” The Thessalonians couldn’t be stopped, even by heavy persecution.  Its like how we see people becoming Christians in some of the most persecuted places on earth – it still happens because true conversion means nothing gets in the way, you want to follow Christ whatever.

Secondly – Living the Word

V7 – “And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” – They began living like converted, changed people -and remember that Thessolonia was this crossroads of travellers and trade – news of anything that happened here would spread quickly – so they were a great advert for faith

Thirdly – they didn’t just live differently – they shouted about their faith loudly as well… v8 “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.” As they began to talk loudly about their own faith news travelled far and wide that something was happening.

Paul has summed up conversion brilliantly – first you hear and believe Gods Word, then you change the way you live , then you shout about it.  Are we converted in that sense I wonder?

In our last 2 verses this morning Paul answers the question of HOW does this happen? – These two verses have been called “the tenses of Christian life” They describe the past, present and future of those who have been converted.

V9 tells us that the Thessalonians had changed… for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols  – These people had worshipped idols and now had turned to God – sometimes we say they had repented, they had clearly moved from their past of worshipping false Gods to the present where they worship the one true God.

Paul finishes this section with a note about the future for the Thessalonians  v10 … wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. This is our future, the future for all Christians – that Jesus will come – that there will be a second coming. 

So was this just an intro to a letter or did it have some good stuff in? Well, as always I was wrong.

Here’s the stuff we would have missed if this bit had been skipped over:

  1. Conversion is an Act of God that starts with his choice of me.
  2. That choice becomes real in our lives by people who speak the truth with the help of the Holy Spirit
  3. Conversion is about change – radical change which comes from hearing and acting on the word of God
  4. Conversion leads us to a life of service to God and of patient waiting for Jesus to return.

So well worth looking at after all!

In this first part of the letter to the Thessalonians Paul has managed to cram in so much encouragement and he talks specifically about how the they have changed and what conversion has meant to them.  My question for you this week is to consider how Paul would start a letter to the Church in Totley?

Witness

Prayers

We pray for our world

A World where despite all our advances sickness, poverty and famine are still common. We pray especially for all nations fighting Corona virus, many of which already have big problems,  and all those people affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic.  We also pray for areas of conflict such as Nagorno Karabach and Afghanistan  that you would help bring peace.

Lord in your Mercy – Hear our prayer

 

We pray for those who are sick or in need

Lord we ask you to be with all those we know who are unwell at this time, comfort and heal them and wrap your loving arms around them.  Be with all those in need whether physical, mental or financial and help us to see that need and react as you want us to.

 

Lord in your mercy – Hear our Prayer

We pray for the Church

Lord we know our church isn’t perfect – either here in Totley, in Sheffield or even in the World.  We ask your forgiveness for the times we have not represented you as we should and we ask for your guidance in building a better church for you.  Closer to home we thank you for the service of all those who work to make church happen here in Totley and our Diocese and we pray especially for the new PCC and Wardens as a new session begins.

 

Lord in your Mercy – Hear our Prayer

 

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves

We pray that the conversion that Paul spoke about in his letters would be obvious in us and to those around us.  That we would be examples of Christs love for the world and that we would be useful to the Holy Spirit in enabling Christs work to happen here.  We also ask that you would give us the strength and courage to fight for you even when things around us make it hard.  Lord we know you are constant – that your love for us doesn’t change, even when everything else around us does, helps us to be worthy of that love.  

Merciful Father
Accept these prayers for the sake of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ

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

Closing prayers

God, you are everything to us,
giving us life,
filling us with love,
and setting us free from sin
that we might live in you.
Accept the work of our hands,
take our lives,
give us your peace
and renew us in the service of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

We say the Grace together

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all,
now and evermore.
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.