Virtual Services

20th Sunday after Trinity – 25th October 2020

Welcome

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

Opening Prayer  

Let us thank God for each other as we share in worship,
as we come to pray and praise.
Let us thank God for the witness of Jesus
and the gift of the Holy Spirit
to inspire and move us.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020. 
Reproduced with permission.

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, the giver of life,
whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church:
by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ
and make us eager to do your will,
that we make share with the whole creation
the joys of eternal life;
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.

Amen

Word

Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica
2 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2
1-8

The greatest commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Whose son is the Messiah?

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?’

‘The son of David,’ they replied.

43 He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”? For he says,

44 ‘“The Lord said to my Lord:
    ‘Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.’”[e]

45 If then David calls him “Lord”, how can he be his son?’ 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 22
34-46

Phil gave us a great opening to 1 Thessalonians last week – and as we continue on this morning we’re really following directly on from where he left off. We’re even following on Paul’s train of thought from the first chapter, picking up the theme of Paul, Silas and Timothy in the midst of the young church in Thessalonica.

As it’s Bible Sunday I would encourage you to follow along too your bible today if you have one with you.

In fact, in passages like this we need to be careful not to read the division of chapter and verse too closely – nor try to force the common pattern of Paul’s letter writing artificially onto the text; in many ways the letter’s introduction in this case runs on to comprise most of the letter.

This passage also has some translational questions, and various methods have been used to handle some apparent oddities. None of these really impact the sense of the text, but rather the order and pattern of ideas. If you’re interested a good start would be to contrast the ESV and NIV rendering of the passages – look at the use of ‘for’, ‘you know’, and the inserted paragraph split of verses 7/8.

Background

In order to understand our reading today we need to circle back to something mentioned last week. Acts 16 and 17 tell us about this missionary trio of Paul, Silas and Timothy in Philippi and Thessalonica. Of note is the treatment of Paul and Silas – their arrest, beating and imprisonment without trial, then release and ushering out of the city because of the uncovering of the Roman citizenship.

Also is the narrative of local Jews in Thessalonica stirring up trouble for the believers. This then developed into rumours being spread about Paul because of their departure under cover of night. The news Paul later received from Timothy after his visit then was that the suffering of the Thessalonian church at the hands of their pagan fellow citizens included a smear campaign against Paul as just another religious charlatan.

Outline
This background then helps us to explain a couple of the characteristics of the text we’re looking at this morning. Verses 1-6 talk about the ministry of Paul and his companions as contrasted against the rumours that were being circulated; namely that they were just purveyors of religion and philosophy, ingratiating themselves with their hearers.

At verse 7, this then switches to a description of what their behaviour was really like. This split can also been seen in the repeated ‘for’ statements of Paul (these are clear in the ESV, not NIV) – following on from Chapter 1: these split the text up as verses 1-2, 3-4, 5-8.

• 1. For… our coming to you was not in vain
o Despite their trouble in Philippi they came boldly to preach the gospel
• 3. For… our appeal
o They came with divine approval
• 5. For… we came
o Not demanding, but as innocents

Of note too is the repeated mention of God, but not Jesus. What Paul is focussed on here is not the message of the Gospel, nor any kind of deep theological treaty, but instead the focus is on God, and what he has done. The repeated ‘you know’ in the passage is an invitation to the Thessalonians to recall the behaviour of Paul and company and recognise that is it God working through Paul.

Passage
This passage starts with the reminder of how they came, after insult and injury, and were emboldened by God to preach again – the church receiving the letter being the self-same evidence that this was not without results.

The heart of Paul’s argument here then breaks into two not/but contrasts – as in, not this, but this. These form the pattern of a recognised philosophical defence, Paul appropriating this method to set out his claims against those attacking the church, in part because of his sudden departure. The truthfulness of the message and integrity of the messenger are at stake.

In verses 3-4 (first not/but structure) Paul sets out that the preaching of him and his companions was not based on error, impure motives or on trickery – but they spoke as those approved by God, not seeking to please people, but him. The message is from God.

It seems appropriate to pause for a moment here and consider that thought. Paul sets out his ministry based on Gods approval. Paul and his companions have been tested by God to be approved and the evidence of that is that they were entrusted to preach the gospel. This language echoes that of Paul to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:15; “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”. Our passage today itself begins with echoes of Isaiah 65 (v23) placing this missionary trio’s work firmly in the eschatological promises of God.

Today is Bible Sunday. A day on which churches celebrate the continuing impact the Bible has on individuals and communities throughout the world. With the understanding of Paul in view, what does that mean for our own handling of the truth, our own relaying of the word and plan of God to people?

To what extent are we approved in the sense that Paul lays out to Timothy? Do we correctly handle the word of truth? On our frontlines do we faithfully relate the word of God, or do we let Church tradition and received wisdom creep in? Do we consciously remind ourselves that we are bearers of Gods message in a plan that was forged in eternity past, or do we get distracted by the work and cares of the here-and-now?

In verses 5-7 (second not/but) Paul speaks to the integrity of the messengers. They did not use flattery, or try to cover up greed, or seek praise from human beings. But they were gentle, like innocents among the Thessalonians.

Paul calls on the witness of God and the church themselves when he says that they did not come with flattery in greed – to cosy up to the church and milk them dry. On the contrary (v9) they worked hard to avoid being a burden. They did not seek any praise, even though Paul could have asserted apostolic authority – on the contrary they were like infants among them.

More than that, and continuing the infant theme, Paul then compares the missionary trio to a nursing mother in the sense that as that idealised mother cares for her child with a deep longing, so too did they share not only the gospel, but their whole lives with the church.

Two questions come crashing out of that thought for me – Could we, could I, ask people to look at our lives as evidence of our approval before God and the trustworthiness of the gospel? The thought scares me to be honest because I know my own heart, and I know the way I behave and fail and fall. Paul’s example is an encouragement to aim higher, to live authentically with complete integrity.

The second question is around our heart for our world and community. Do we look at our community, our work colleagues and our families with the same care that Paul describes with the sudden introduction of the infant and mother metaphor? Do we always feel the father’s heart of love for the difficult, the different and the unlovely. If I look at myself, my heart often seems cold. Certainly not reflective of the love in our gospel reading – all your mind, body soul – as yourself.

Conclusion
Phil commented last week he’d read that if you want to know what Paul believed you would read Romans. If you wanted to know what Paul was like as a person, you would read 1 Thessalonians. As we continue to open up this letter the Paul being revealed is certainly prompting me at least to consider my own witness and heart. I hope this scratching of the surface has been illuminating for you too.

To what extent are we approved in the sense that Paul lays out to Timothy? Do we correctly handle the ‘word of truth’?

Could we, could I, ask people to look at our own lives as evidence of our approval before God and the trustworthiness of the gospel? 

Another question is around our heart for our world and community. Do we look at our community, our work colleagues and our families with the same care that Paul describes with the sudden introduction of the infant and mother metaphor?

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

Lord God, we pray for those who have brought us to faith, who have shown us our love, who have tended to our needs, physical, emotional and spiritual.

A time of silence to pray for specific individuals or be creative.

We pray for those who have put themselves in harm’s way for us and others. We pray for those whose lives have been made harder because they have sought to serve you and help their fellow human beings.

A time of silence to pray for specific individuals or be creative.

We pray for those who selfless acts have caused them distress.

A time of silence to pray for specific individuals or be creative.

We pray for those who have at any cost shared the gospel of Christ.

A time of silence to pray for specific individuals or be creative.

We pray for those imprisoned and tortured for their faith and witness.

A time of silence to pray for specific individuals or be creative.

May they be blessed in abundance with your love and care.
Amen

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.

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.