Ninth Sunday after Trinity – August 1st 2021

Welcome

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm
150:1-6

Opening Prayer

Generous God,
you call us to take our place in your world
and we praise you.

You call us to trust you for our needs today and tomorrow
and we praise you.

You call us to celebrate the diversity of life
and we praise you.

You call us to follow you above all others
and we praise you.

For your faithfulness, your gifts and your love
we praise you – in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Worship

Word

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it[a] says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b]

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians
4:1-16

 

Our reflection this morning continues our wander through the book of Ephesians.

 

Three weeks ago, Ben spoke to us about our Identity and how God has given us a new identity – which is in Christ and how God lavishes his love and grace upon our lives.

 

Chris too, picked up the theme our identity being in Christ and being united with all believers, which in turn leads to living out the values of God’s kingdom in the here and now.

 

And last week, Neil spoke to us about the background and context of this letter to the Ephesians and of the disquiet between between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians and how Christ had destroyed the barriers that existed and this it is in Christ we can be reconciled and united with one another.

 

And so we come to our passage this morning. At this point the letter changes from a description of the theology around Identity,  of who we are in Christ to a more hands on guide of how this works out day to day[1] As Tom Wright describes this ‘Paul takes the readers back to the fundamental instructions for living the Christian life.[2]

 

The opening six verses, first and foremost addresses the issue of unity, Paul begins by urging the church community to live up to their calling, this is not in terms of a vocation that an individual christian may have, but the general invitation that is offered to all, the call of the Gospel, to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, to follow him and to allow him to reign in our lives, again as Wright states “This is the calling to which they must live up. At every moment, in every decision , with every word and action, they are to be aware that the call to follow Jesus the Messiah and give them their complete loyalty takes precedence over everything else”.[3]

 

Paul reminds them to be humble, gentle and patient, accepting each other in love. For me this has echoes of 1 Corinthians 13, the passage that Paul wrote to Church in Corinth, who were in conflict, struggling to get along and Paul tells them that they needed to love as Christ had loved in order to be able to work together and accept each others differences. It is the Holy Spirit that joins them/ us together with peace and then he lists those items that all followers of Jesus have that is:

One body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope.  There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything. (New Century Version)

 

The following six verses speak of the gifts that Christ has given in accordance with his grace, verses 8-10 are quite confusing and the commentators that I looked at, did have varying thoughts, but I am not clear and it does seem a bit of a mystery but the thing to grasp from verses eleven and twelve,  is that the gifts making some:

       Apostles, those who were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection,

       Prophets, those who spoke God’s word to the church to guide and direct, 

       Evangelists, those who annouced that the crucified Christ was risen from the dead,

       Teachers and Pastors, who looked after the new churches and who developed and trained their understanding, [4]

were given not for the benefit of the individual but for the building up of the church, the outcome of which is outlined in the final four verses.

 

In working together, in growing together, in striving to be united we are also to grow in spiritual maturity, The purpose being that together, we become more like Christ, that we continue to invite others to know and follow God, that we have the maturity to weigh and measure what we are told and this involves us all; I love verse 16 “The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love.” (New Century Version) But it contains a huge diversity and inclusion challenge, one to accept one anothers gifts and not to write anyone off, nor make it difficult or prevent them for we all have a role to play.

 

Application

 

This appeal to unity and the outlining of the fundamental basics is a timely reminder especially just after the announcement of the church graft. Now we begin a period of contemplation as we prepare to be united with a team of believers from a different church. It is a time of excitement, of expectation and also a time of getting to know one another, of acknowledging differences in understanding and beliefs we may have but this passage reminds us of those things that we have in common.

 

One body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope.  There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.

 

And so, my prayer for the graft is this that the two parts that will come together will be truly united through the Holy Spirit, that it will not be a case of them and us but that we will indeed become one, where all has their part to play in growing in maturity and serving the community around us.

 

Amen. 

[1]    Martin, R.P, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon, Westminster John Knox Press, 2012. p.46

[2]    Wright, T, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians and Philemon, 2nd Edition,  SPCK, 2004. p.42

[3]    Wright, T, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians and Philemon, p.43

[4]    Wright, T, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians and Philemon, p.49

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Gracious God, fountain of all wisdom,
we pray for all Christian people;
for Bishop Pete and Bishop Sophie, for all Christian leaders,
for those who teach the faith and for all people who believe and trust in our Lord Jesus …
May the word of Christ dwell richly in all our hearts,
and knit us together in the bond of your love.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for the leaders of the nations,
and for those in authority under them …
Give them the gift of your wisdom,
and a right discernment in all things.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for Sheffield and our community in and around Totley… for those who live and work here,
and for those who visit this place …
Speak your word of peace in our midst,
and help us to serve one another as Christ has served us.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for those who do not believe,
and yet who long to know you, the very Word of life …
Open their ears to hear your voice,
and open their hearts to the knowledge
of your love in Christ.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.

We pray for those bowed down with grief,
fear or sickness,
especially …
May your living Word bring comfort and healing
to all those in need.
Hear us.
Hear us, good Lord.



We pray for God’s faithfulness to be known in the world, among our friends , our families  and on our  frontlines.
Faithful God
glorify your name.

In a world of change and hope,
of fear and innovation;
faithful God
glorify your name.

In human rebellion and obedience,
in our searching and in our understanding;
faithful God
glorify your name.

In the common life of our society,
in prosperity and need;
faithful God
glorify your name.

As your Church proclaims your goodness in
words and action;
faithful God
glorify your name.

In our times of joy,
in our days of sorrow;
faithful God
glorify your name.

In our strengths and triumphs,
in our weakness and at our death;
faithful God
glorify your name.

Gracious God hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy for ever.
Amen.

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

 

 

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.

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.

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