Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity – September 25th 2021

Welcome

Opening Prayer

God of our days and years,
we set this time apart for you.
Form us in the likeness of Christ
so that our lives may glorify you.
Amen.
Let us pray together .
Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful people,
and kindle in us the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Worship

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

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.


May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Let us declare our faith
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Word

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

James
5:13-20

The letter of James to Christian communities promotes the moral principal of integrity that emphasises and enables building one another up.  For James faith is not something you profess. It also requires you to show you believe in Jesus by acting accordingly. Faith is not reciting the creed it is acting in faith, demonstrating trust in the Lord. Knowing that you will fall flat on your face if Jesus Christ does not catch you. That is faith.

 As citizens of Gods Kingdom, we should want to obey God more than anything else so we do need to understand what God expects from us. If you are someone who likes being given a set of specific instructions to follow, a kind of “how to list” for living as a Christian then the letter of James is a great document.

However, the problem for me is that James reinforces   my own weakness. Despite my best efforts all too frequently I fall short. I wonder how many other Christians can identify with that frustration of the desire to do and be what God wants and the failure to fully achieve it.

 The letter is filled with attitudes and actions that should not  be found in Christian Communities; We are to refrain from Complaining, Jealousy, selfish ambition, judging others, favouritism, slander, malicious gossip, stretching the truth, ignoring the needs of the less fortunate, building up wealth for ourselves alone, loving the ways of the world.  If it was not for today’s final section of the letter instead of building us up reading James could easily leave a lot of people downhearted filled with that sense of frustration and failure.

Perhaps it would be better if instead of reading this letter as a series of commands  we  regard  the letter as a description of what the ideal Christian community behaves like. For James, God should be active in the life of  Christians and a well-balanced, mutually -concerned church family would  naturally hold the attitudes and exhibit the sort of relationships that James espouses 

On a Sunday morning each and every one of James points is perfectly acceptable to us, but what happens to our attitudes and behaviour on Monday or Tuesday when we are outside the church building and active in the world.? How quickly do we find ourselves stumbling over one or more of the behaviours we intended to reject?

The reality is that obedience to God cannot be done in our own strength. We cannot be the person God wants us to be on our own, only the work of God in our lives through the Holy Spirit can achieve in us what God desires. If we truly want to change our hearts, we must appeal to God admitting we need His help. That appeal to God comes through prayer. So, James closes his letter in the same way as he opened it with an overriding instruction to pray. God wants to be involved in our lives and prayer is the way God becomes active in our lives.

I must be honest and admit that I have not always been and probably still am not as committed to prayer as I should be.  But when it comes to being an ambassador for Christ and the Kingdom of God outside this place, I have experienced that I accomplish nothing when God is not involved. Prayer is the essential ingredient for a fruitful Christian life. When the disciples asked Jesus to tell them how to pray, he replied “When you pray”, he didn’t say if you pray, for what good is knowing how to pray if you don’t do it. Indeed  The Lord’s prayer has at the outset a statement acknowledging our desire for God’s Kingdom to be realised and God’s will to be done. James opened In  his letter by urging individuals and congregations whose faith  is in God alone  to forego  selfish prayers but   to  pray instead for the wisdom they need to grow as Christians. For James, prayer should be our natural response to life. Hence  James declares that in every and any circumstance  we need to turn to God and acknowledge our reliance upon Him.

Unfortunately, In difficult times in our personal lives or when we experience hardship in spreading the gospel , instead of relying on God all too  often  we can forget about Him and descend into  moaning about our problems. Feeling like giving up which can even result in seriously doubting God and  thinking that we know the best way forward ,  believing we  are capable of  going  it alone. James tells us that when we are suffering such trials we should turn to God and pray seeking to receive God’s comfort, wisdom and help to patiently endure for as long as is necessary. Turning to God demonstrates our reliance on Him to uphold us through the particular storm of life we are facing. Talking to God doesn’t always feel easy. But remember there are no special words, just share what’s on your mind, be honest with God. If your frustrated or angry  say so. If you’re struggling with something or someone, tell God and then give Him the space to respond. God doesn’t promise to take all our troubles away from us, but he does promise to give us his joy and peace (John 15:11) He also promises to cause all things to work for good to those who love Him (romans 8:28). Our prayers will help us to get our actions and attitudes in step with His will and His desires.

Sadly, when everything is going well in our lives. We can also forget about God. We can become smug giving ourselves the credit for our good fortune.  James reminds us that we should respond to God’s goodness in song announcing our thankfulness for His abundant blessings and acknowledging that God is the source for the good things that happen in our lives.

In a well-balanced mutually caring church family when someone is ill we are normally encouraged to pray for each other.  However, James advises a person who is so ill that they cannot come to church to ask the people in the church family with the most faith to visit them and pray. Such prayers take time, they are not a quick ritual or routine event. It is not the prayers or the people praying that heals a person, it’s God who heals and physical healing is a gift from Him. But because sooner or later our bodies must pass away, I do not regard these verses as promising the physical healing of every sickness in response to prayer, healing comes in many forms.

Many commentators agree that James is not just speaking of physical sickness, he is also concerned with spiritual weakness. In verse 16 James is encouraging those who have a spiritual weakness, or possibly have been stung by something in his letter and recognise that they need help to conquer that particular area to call upon those who are strong in the faith to pray for them. If talking to God is difficult, how do you feel about talking to a fellow Christian about your shortcomings.? When I was preparing this talk I seemed to be hearing on the radio and television all sorts of people, politicians addressing parliament, celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment speaking in documentaries or news programs. All of them were suffering or had suffered for a long time from addiction be that alcohol, drugs, or gambling, mental anguish be that eating disorders, depression or post-traumatic stress. Each one of them spoke about how having the unconditional support of those closest to them and knowing that their behaviour had been forgiven by these people was the greatest help to them in coming to terms with their difficulties, even acknowledging that it was the first step in overcoming their difficulties. It seemed to me that these non-believers were demonstrating something that James regarded as characteristic of a Christian community. For James if Christians are to build each other up in a loving community The more fully we can trust others with even our painful failings, the more readily we can share with them in the forgiveness that will release us from the power our failings hold over us and so begin to make that change to our attitudes and actions.

We may be intimidated by the prospect of praying with and for another Christian. We may think I’m not spiritual enough, I’m not righteous enough, but the power of prayer isn’t based upon the righteousness of the person praying. We don’t pray in our name; we pray in the name of Jesus and he is truly a righteous man and he can and will accomplish much.

 

Prayer is the essential ingredient for a fruitful Christian life and prayer should be our response to life and we all know the life of All Saints is going to change. The grafting together of ourselves with Christians from Christ Church Endcliffe whose faith in God will see them leave their homes to come and live inTotley.  We should not expect them to simply fall into line with our way of doing things and they will not expect us just to follow their ways. Together We will need forge a new way forward. This bonding together of two sets of Christians will necessitate different relationships, different teams, and a resharing of our beliefs all intended to renew and rejuvenate All Saints releasing a fresh church family empowered to share freely together in mission and so make God’s love known in Totley. We are fooling ourselves if we think we will achieve anything through our own efforts and abilities. Without prayer we will accomplish nothing because without prayer God will not be involved. Without our individual and cooperate prayers God’s wisdom and guidance for the future relationships and life of the new worshiping community will not be received. Without that help from God how can we hope to achieve anything.

The Methodist minister Samuel Chadwick said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”

If we want God to be active in this place, we need to acknowledge our reliance on him and petition Him with copious amounts of prayer over the coming months seeking his wisdom regarding the part each of us has to play in the future of All Saints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witness

The Eucharistic Prayer

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.

As our Saviour taught us so we pray:

The Lords Prayer

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.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Giving of Communion

The president says one of these invitations to communion

God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.

Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Prayer after Communion

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.

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