Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity – September 5th 2021

Welcome

Opening Prayer

Father, we come here today from a world
where nothing is certain and nothing is easy.

We come from different backgrounds
with different experiences and
with different worries and concerns

But we come to you with confidence
to offer a little more of our lives to you.

We do not come to worship you because we must
but because we long to.

We do not come because we are worthy
but to give you glory.

We do not come for our benefit
but because you are worthy of all our thanks and praise

Amen

Worship

A Prayer of Confession

God our Father,
long-suffering, full of grace and truth,
you create us from nothing and give us life.
You give your faithful people new life in the water of baptism.
You do not turn your face from us,
nor cast us aside.
We confess that we have sinned
against you and our neighbour.
We have wounded your love and marred your image in us.
Restore us for the sake of your Son,
and bring us to heavenly joy,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Absolution

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse us from our sims
and restore us in his image
to the praise and glory of his name
through Jesus Christ our Lord 

Amen

Word

Favoritism Forbidden

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James
2:1-10, 14-17

So this morning I though we would start with a puzzle – just before I share this, to give a little context, I came across this the Unconscious Bias training that was provided by the Diocese back in May now_ as an aside, then are currently in the process of training the trainer with a view to rolling this out wider across the diocese in the coming months_ I would definitely recommend this to you _but back to our puzzle… I have amended it slightly to make it appropriate for this audience, so hopefully this will still work

 

Which is this:-

  1. Acting on an anonymous phone call, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected thief
  2. They don’t know what he looks like but they know his name is John and that he is inside the house.
  3. The burst in on a carpenter, a lorry driver, a mechanic and a firefighter all playing poker. Without hestiation or communication of any kind they arrest the mechanic.
  4. How do they know they’ve got the right person?

 

Follow up question:

Did you assume that all the people in the room were men?

 

What the training did really well, was to encourage to start thinking about your unconcious thoughts affected the way that you behave or act towards others in differing situations.

 

Why have I started with this? well because this is one of the key themes in James letter which we have just heard. In the first part of the reading the author speaks of there being no sense of favouritism or social standing within the church. It is all to easy to judge one another and in doing so treat people differently. This is illustrated through the use of rich and poor but the author states that the experience of all within the church should be the same, in the words of Tom Wright, “God who sees and loves all alike, wants the church to reflect that generous universal love in how it behaves”[1] The author develops the theme, indicating that it is the rich that are likely to be those who play the system to their own advantage at the expense of the church and the poor as well. To defend against this the author reminds the readers that it is King Jesus who is in charge, and of his royal law _ Love God and to love your neighbour as your self. This was the rule that the readers were living within, and the mercy that God had shown to them was to be shown to others.

 

All too often it is our unconscious bias’ that shape the way we respond to others and so we need to learn to identify these, to challenge these bias within us so that we can think differently and be open to one another and those we have yet to meet. It is about being open and inclusive both here within All Saints but also on our frontlines too.

 

This leads us into the second theme of the passage from James, which is linked to Faith and works, as the author develops this theme, the issue he is tackling is that of ‘hearing the word’ but not allowing this to influence your action. Faith needs to translate into action if it is to make a difference.

 

So how does this impact on our frontlines? 

 

1) There is the prompt, that our faith is to be lived out on our frontlines, in the spaces we inhabit when we are not in this place, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our local communities. We often speak about telling our God stories, in these places, but it is also our actions, the way we interact with others that will also tell their own story.

 

2) Secondly is a prompt, to think about inclusion, what can we do to ensure others are included in what we are involved in, both from an All Saints perspective, but also once again on our frontlines

 

So take a moment to think about the places where you are going to be this week? Will you know the people you interact with or will there be people you don’t know? Ask God whether you see these people as he sees them and allow him to shape your actions this week. Take a risk and see what God does.

[1]    Wright T, Early Christian Letters for Everyone, (SPCK: London, 2011) p.14

So take a moment to think about the places where you are going to be this week? Will you know the people you interact with or will there be people you don’t know? Ask God whether you see these people as he sees them and allow him to shape your actions this week. Take a risk and see what God does.

Witness

Prayer for Today

Almighty God,
who called your Church to bear witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:
help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Blessing and dismissal

Dismissal

God of salvation 
you open the way to life
by offering us unconditional love.
We rejoice in our freedom,
our healing and our hope.
Teach us to be open to others,
to offer welcome and practise inclusion.
In Jesus’ name
Amen
 
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ Amen
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