Virtual Services

All Saints Day – 1st November 2020

Welcome

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

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

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

Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 

1 Thessalonians 2
9-13

If you were here last week, or indeed listened to Chris’ talk online, you may recall that he spoke about Paul caring for the young church in Thessalonica as a mother and he left us with two questions – do we have the same heart for God that Paul did and do we have the same heart for our community that he did?

Our reading today continues those themes.  Now it would be easy to look at this passage quite superficially and see Paul as boasting about himself, about showing just how good and wonderful and righteous he is.  In fact, it could be seen as quite irritating.

But Paul is being very deliberate about this.  Not only has he previously asked them to recall how and why he, Timothy and Silas came to share the gospel but that it came from the standpoint of love.  In verse 8 we read, “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves because you have become very dear to us”.

He then asks them to remember that he did not lay any financial burden on them.  On the contrary he says “we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God”

We know from passages in Act and Corinthians that Paul was a tent maker.  It was normal Jewish practice for every boy to learn a trade, and this was obviously the one that Paul learnt when he was young.  And when he was called by God to proclaim the good news, the tools of that trade would have been easily transportable.  Making tents was hard physical work – sewing the leather together with an awl or weaving goats’ hair to make fabric with the resultant tents being very heavy.  Paul says he worked night and day and it could therefore be assumed that he would carry on this work late into the night to ensure that the work was completed on time which would give him time during the day to share the gospel.

However, it should be noted that Paul wasn’t against financial support – in fact he defends the practice in 1 Timothy and again in 1 Corinthians where it says ‘”we did not use this right but we bear all things that we may cause no hindrance to the good news of Christ”  So Paul chose to be financially self-sufficient (or to use our current term  in self-supporting ministry)  so that no accusations could be laid against him that he was ‘in it for the money’  The Message translation is even bolder as it says “God knows we weren’t freeloaders”

Working in this manner would have also given Paul numerous opportunities to meet with people during the course of his work.  He would probably have had to rent a work room, so would have had a landlord, the room probably opened up onto the street to allow air to circulate and passers-by would have stopped and of course there would have been customers.  So, Paul could not only minister to those people who were already in the nascent church but also to others whom he met – to those on his frontline.  And it would have made a huge impression – here was someone travelling with what he professed to be good news but was not demanding money or dreaming up schemes to fleece people as many of the travelling charlatans would have behaved– he was an honest, hardworking, God loving and people loving person who was prepared to share his life with the gathering of believers, to share the good news of Jesus and expect nothing in return.

In verse 10 he reminds the church just how ‘pure, upright and blameless’ was his conduct and that of his companions.  Again, this was not boasting but a reminder that they literally walked the walk not just talked the talk.  It is a powerful reminder that the way we behave has as much, if not more, of a bearing as to whether people will believe us when we share the gospel than just what we say. 

 

Tom Wright quotes a preacher he heard who read an old poem in a church he visited (author unknown) who sums this up:

“I’d rather see a sermon that hear one, any day;
I’d rather one would walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil, more willing than the ear
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.”

Paul’s aim is to encourage the believers in Thessalonica to stive to have the same attitude as himself i.e. to live their lives the way that God wanted them to and to reflect his glory.

For anyone new to the faith that is not always easy to do so.  For those who have been Christians a long time it is also not always easy to do. For those for whom being a Christian was completely anathema to the culture around them it would have been even harder.  And then, as now in some places of the world, there was a risk in professing their faith. 

 It is also easy to forget sometimes that this was a very young church, and although we don’t know exactly how old, it is likely that this gathering of believers had been in existence for no more than a year, possible two at the most.  There was no New Testament, there were no books or study guides, there weren’t even experienced leaders.  And yet the members of this young church had been so profoundly changed by hearing the truth of the gospel that not only did it survive in a pagan and hedonistic society but we read in Chapter 1 that, in spite of their persecution, they became an example to believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

And so we come to verses 11 and 12 which I think are the crux of the passage – let me read them again

“As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory”

‘As you know’ –
Chis commented on this last week – and the letter is peppered with this statement.  Paul again reminds me them that they can measure what he is saying against their own personal experience of his behaviour and attitude towards them.  It is not a case of ‘do as I say’ but ‘do as I do’.  Nor is it self-aggrandisement but more of being self-aware.  Paul’s letter and what he says would hardly have had an impact if they did not recognise the character of the man who was writing to them.  Basically, if his words hadn’t matched his actions then the letter would have been ignored and could, potentially, have led to the demise of the church.

“we dealt with each of you like a father with his children”
Paul used the imagery of a mother in the passage we looked at last week.  This passage uses that of a father to show how he cares for the community.  This is a nurturing, caring, encouraging model of parenthood.  And Paul points out that when he was with them, he ‘dealt with each of you’.  He saw them as individuals – as precious people loved by God who together created this community.

“urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God”
Different translations use alternative words for these e.g. exhort, comfort and implore  But the gist is the same – Paul is so concerned for the believers that he is yearning for them to follow his example and lead the life that God wants for them.  But he is only too aware of the issues and difficulties that can face any Christian and does what he can to encourage them to continue, to support and comfort them when things go wrong and life is difficult.  Like a parent will urge and encourage a young child to do something when they don’t want to, or think it will be too hard, or have hit a brick wall Paul does the same with the Christians in Thessalonica in other words, to motivate them.

And the purpose of this?  To “lead a life worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and  glory”. 
Wow – that is some charge.  And perhaps it can be overwhelming.  Can I really say that I am living a life worthy of God – or can any of us for that matter?  But the thing is God knows our hearts, God can see if we desire this, even if we get it wrong, God has given us his Holy Spirit and he has promised never to leave us.  And yes, there are difficulties, there will be many times when we stumble and get it wrong but God as our father will be there to encourage us, to comfort us and to walk along side us.  And we can also be there for each other, as Paul was for the church is Thessalonica; to encourage, to urge, to comfort and persuade..

So, before we listen to our next song, let’s have a couple of moments to consider the following three things:

  • Do our actions reflect our words?
  • Who or what encourages, urges or persuades you to be more Christ-like?
  • How might you encourage others this week, both in their faith journey but also in the challenges the life can bring, especially at this time? Could you ring someone, put a note or card in the post or leave some flowers just to let someone know that God cares for them.

Witness

Prayers

We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.

You sent your Son to bring good news to the poor,

sight to the blind,

freedom to captives

and salvation to your people:

anoint us with your Spirit;

rouse us to work in his name.

Father, by your Spirit

bring in your kingdom.

 

Send us to bring help to the poor

and freedom to the oppressed.

Father, by your Spirit

bring in your kingdom.

 

Send us to tell the world

the good news of your healing love.

Father, by your Spirit

bring in your kingdom.

 

Send us to those who mourn,

to bring joy and gladness instead of grief.

Father, by your Spirit

bring in your kingdom.

 

Send us to proclaim that the time is here

for you to save your people.

Father, by your Spirit

bring in your kingdom.

 

Lord of the Church,

hear our prayer,

and make us one in mind and heart

to serve you in Christ our Lord. Amen.

(c) Common Worship Times and Seasons

 

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.

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.