Services: Sermons and Prayers

Candlemas- Sunday 29th January – Collect, Readings, Sermon & Prayers
Collect:
Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
Readings:
Hebrews 2: 14 – end
14 Since the children, as he calls them, are people of flesh and blood, Jesus himself became like them and
shared their human nature. He did this so that through his death he might destroy the Devil, who has the power
over death, 15 and in this way set free those who were slaves all their lives because of their fear of death. 16
For it is clear that it is not the angels that he helps. Instead, he helps the descendants of Abraham. 17 This
means that he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order to be their faithful and merciful
High Priest in his service to God, so that the people’s sins would be forgiven. 18And now he can help those
who are tempted, because he himself was tempted and suffered.
Luke 2: 22 – 40
22 The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses
commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the
Lord: “Every firstborn male is to be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of
doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord. 25 At that time there was a man named
Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy
Spirit was with him 26 and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised
Messiah. 27 Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the
Temple to do for him what the Law required, 28 Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God: 29
“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. 30 With my own eyes I
have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: 32 A light to reveal your
will to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at the
things Simeon said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by
God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will
speak against 35 and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own
heart.” 36-37 There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.
She had been married for only seven years and was now 84 years old. She never left the Temple; day and
night she worshipped God, fasting and praying. 38 That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God
and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free. 39 When Joseph and Mary
had finished doing all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their home town of Nazareth in
Galilee. 40 The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him

Sermon
Lord, as we give thanks for your coming, allow our ears, eyes and hearts be open to
do your will and share in your joy, love and peace. Amen.
I hope I am not the only one that talks about when I was a child,…. (dot, dot, dot). I
have also had the conversation many times over, how quick does a little child grow
up these days. Well, our Bible readings over the past few weeks mirror these
feelings. Very quickly from Christmas to Epiphany we went from a tiny baby to Jesus
early days in ministry as a 30 year old adult. However today, we look back to Jesus’
early days – as we hear the last story in our Bible of Jesus as a small child.
I also wonder – Have you ever waited for something? Waited for a really long time for
something you were really excited for; something you really wanted? Have you ever
waited so long and so hard for something that you almost missed it when it finally
arrived? Perhaps the anticipation had led to impossible fantasies so that the real
thing almost slipped under your radar. Or perhaps you waited for so long that your
attention drifted just at the moment you needed to be alert.
Today marks the end of our Christmas and Epiphany season, as our Gospel reading
today shares with us Jesus’ presentation in the Temple. Now, remembering that
Mary and Joseph were both Jewish, Jesus is presented in the temple following
Jewish law, and this law is still followed today in many Jewish communities. The
presentation of Jesus marks 40 days after Jesus birth, during these 40 days Mary
has been unable to worship in the temple as giving birth is considered to make you
unclean, so at this presentation, Mary goes to the temple to be made clean through
prayer, and Jesus is presented as a thanksgiving to God. As they entered the
temple, they came bearing two turtle doves that they would offer at the altar in
exchange for the birth of their Son. But when they went into the temple, something
amazing happened.
There was a man called Simeon and a lady called Anna. Both of these people
attended the temple every day to pray because they were waiting to see the
Messiah. We don’t know how long they had been waiting. Yet, the Bible tells us that
the Holy Spirit promised it would happen before Simeon died and we know he was
an old man.
Now both Simeon and Anna were spiritual people, they spent a lot of the time in the
temple praying, they knew who God was, they were both filled with the Holy Spirit
and God’s presence. Yet they still prayed that God would send a messenger to help
restore the land in which they lived in, and that they had hope of salvation and
eternal life. So as Mary and Joseph entered the temple with their son Jesus, who
had been given by God, something special happened. At this time we must
remember that the rumour of Jesus being born was still going around and some
people would still not have heard of the news, and many laughed it off and didn’t
believe. But upon entering the temple Simeon felt something within himself. He knew
that this baby was different to many before him and that this baby was from God.
Simeon takes the child and he bursts into song. His song sounds like the song of
someone who had been waiting a long time – someone who had been filled with
anticipation and is now filled with long-awaited joy as he takes the infant Jesus into
his arms and knows him to be the one he has been waiting for. He declares….
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon was joined by Anna, and they both declared that Jesus was special and was
sent by God, the one that was proclaimed about. They declared that Jesus was the
light of the world. Which brings us to todays Candlemas theme.
Candlemas is, not coincidentally, also roughly half-way between the winter solstice
and the spring equinox – it’s the point at which we begin to turn from the cold and
dark of winter towards the promise of spring. Old wisdom tells us that the weather on
Candlemas predicts the season to come – we call it Groundhog Day. Whatever you
call it, today is the day when the end of winter is enough of a possibility that we can
begin to anticipate spring – an experience that is perhaps less profound in this year’s
winter but nonetheless.
So, on this seasonal pivot day, we turn not simply from cradle to cross but from
cradle through cross to the empty tomb, already visible, albeit dimly through the
darkness still to come. Following Jesus is not just about Christmas; not just about
Good Friday. Following Jesus is also about the hope and freedom of Easter.
Readings today that give us the chance to reflect on Jesus journey that was to come.
Since Jesus presentation within the temple, Candlemas has been celebrated as a
reminder of Jesus coming and his importance not just to Simeon and Anna but to all
the nations, both of the time and the generations to come, including us today, and
those who will come after.
Simeon and Anna were already faithful people, and they were filled with God’s spirit.
But they needed to be reminded about the physical presence of God – and this was
given as a response to their prayers and following Malachi’s proclamation. Malachi
proclaimed that the Lord’s messenger would be sent to restore, teach faith and bring
salvation, Simeon and Anna prayed for it to happen and at Christmas we remember
God did just that in the form of Jesus. As we, as a church, prepare to journey from
Christmas into ordinary time, Lent and Easter we will be reminded about Jesus
journey and his restoration and that giving of salvation. Today we are all filled with
the Holy Spirit but like Simeon and Anna we also sometimes need the reassurance
of the physical presence of God and we can in the symbolism of the candles that we
have mentioned and are here. So if you have times when you feel lost, or far away
from Jesus, or just want to give thanks I invite you to light a candle as a symbolism
of Jesus not just being there for Simeon and Anna, but a light for the whole world.
Amen

Prayers

Let us pray in the power of the Holy Spirit who guides Loving Lord, as we recall the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and the beginnings of a life of love and service to all men and women, we open our hearts and minds to Him and bring our cares and worries for your world and your people.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Our world is marked out by greed and selfishness and by the inhumanity which is so much part of our lives and those of every body around us. Help us learn how to put the needs of others more firmly before our own. May those who exercise power and authority in our communities use it wisely, and may we, and they, serve the Lord with gladness.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

The world into which Jesus was born was like our own, divided by war and pestilence. We remember countries, known and unknown where fighting is part and parcel of daily life. We ask for peace in those places and that we may be peacemakers wherever we can.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray in the quietness of our minds for all known to us who we know have need of You.
We continue to pray for John Paul, Jean Richardson, Jack Davenport and my brother David.
Those who are sick, in hospital, those who are badly affected by the present financial trouble, those who are lonely or depressed, those who have no family help. Bless them and them comfort and assurance, and help.
Give your grace and strength to all whose life is built round caring for others.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Lord, we put before you our own prayers and thanksgiving.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Merciful Father.
Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

 

3rd Sunday after Epiphany- Sunday 22nd January – Collect & Readings

Collect:

Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles
the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your mighty power;
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
Readings:

1 Corinthians 1: 10 – 18
10 By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my brothers and sisters, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose. 11 For some people from Chloe’s family have told me quite plainly, my friends, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ”. 13 Christ has been divided into groups! Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptized as Paul’s disciples? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 No one can say, then, that you were baptized as my disciples. 16 (Oh yes, I also baptized Stephanas and his family; but I can’t remember whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power. Christ the Power and the Wisdom of God 18 For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.
Matthew 4: 12 – 23
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went away to Galilee. 13He did not stay in Nazareth, but went to live in Capernaum, a town by Lake Galilee, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was done to make what the prophet Isaiah had said come true: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, on the road to the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee, land of the Gentiles! 16 The people who live in darkness will see a great light. On those who live in the dark land of death the light will shine.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach his message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!”
(Mk 1.16–20; Lk 5.1–11)
18 As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers who were fishermen, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, catching fish in the lake with a net. 19Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.” 20 At once they left their nets and went with him. 21 He went on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat with their father Zebedee, getting their nets ready. Jesus called them, 22 and at once they left the boat and their father, and went with him. 23 Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom, and healing people who had all kinds of disease and sickness.

Sermon

Lord, as we give thanks for your coming, allow our ears, eyes and hearts be open to do your will and share in your joy, love and peace. Amen.

You may be a little surprised with what I am going to share with you today, because I don’t usually use the pulpit to do so. However, as I was preparing my sermon on Thursday afternoon, the reading, the research, the feelings kept going to one message.

What I usually don’t share in the pulpit is the big church news. This week the House of Bishops announced on Wednesday their proposal to Synod on the Same Sex Marriage debate. In Steven Cottrell’s blur about the news he summaries –
“Under the proposals, same-sex couples would still not be able to get married in a Church of England church but could have a service in which there would be prayers of dedication, thanksgiving or for God’s blessing on the couple in Church following a civil marriage or partnership.”

Also – “There will be a commitment to produce new pastoral guidance in relation to the discernment of vocation, replacing the 1991 statement “Issues in Human Sexuality”, to which all clergy currently are asked to assent.” Currently same sex couples in church leadership have to promise to be celibate.

The fine details will be published in reports both before and after February Synod. Archbishop Steven notes “Alongside the published report the bishops of the Church of England will be publishing a letter in which they apologise to LGBTQI+ people.”
As the news broke on Wednesday morning, I was with a group of Anglican people from across the UK on a vision day. And part of that conversation, purely coincidental, was that there are a wide range of responses to the news. From hurt, anger, to numbness, questions about where next, to rejoicing and celebration. One feeling didn’t fit one side of the mast – All these feeling felt by, those were against, those who had not deep opinion, and those who were for.

With this on my mind, and then reading the readings what stood out was the division across the church and Paul’s message for us to remember who was at the centre, to remember that we are called for being us, individuals created by God, and to the world – Fulfilment. Jesus did this to fulfil what John had proclaimed about.

Corinth in the first century was reported to be a busy, loud and exciting place. It was a place of wealth due to its trading and as a result had also attracted people of many religions and races. A Jewish writer Philo, records there being a flourishing of Jewish community, yet alongside other temples, Gods and Goddesses of Greek culture were also being worshipped. Corinth has become a place of diversity, competitiveness and a multicultural society. Paul at times supported a bit of Christian infighting, especially when the truth was at stake. But here in Corinth, he was being clear that the Gospel needs to be recalled. Paul asks – Whose death brought you salvation, whose name do you accept the baptism that leads to new life? Is it about teacher or God – in other words who are you really listening and responding too.
Jane Williams in her commentary today states “Paul knows very well that the gospel of Christ is rubbing against the grain, not just for Corinthians, but for most of us. The competitive instinct, that instinct to dominate, the instinct to define our own value by denying somebody else’s is so basic”. Even today the competition to shout out who’s Bible interpretation if the best is present. Yet Paul reminds us, it is the cross that is God’s way in the world, and the demonstration of his power. “The power to accept, create, recreate and save is so, stunningly different from, anything we understand as power that it is barely recognisable”

Jesus ministry today start’ with that recognition of a ministry to fulfil what has been preached before him – but what does it mean to be fulfilled in ministry I wonder. I am unsure if I have the correct answer, or my response is only part of a bigger picture. Many of the feelings that I mentioned at the start is how I felt on Wednesday. Come Thursday morning, while presiding over communion, I was asking myself what my role within the church is, is it still the right place for me – but the words and actions in our Gospel of those first disciples reminded me – We are each called for who we are? and in that that church is full of amazing people who are different in physical being, emotions, thoughts, and the list can go on. But each are called by God to follow and to be. A reminder also, that Jesus didn’t just come and then die on the cross to save one or two, he came to save all who were to believe and all who choose to follow, regardless of similarities or difference.
I know this deep down and often proclaim it through my sermons, but when put to the test it is often good to be reminded and look at it afresh. – I would be surprised if the bishops looked at the lectionary to decide their meeting date and to share their consultation – so something significant in hearing these words today. But in my reminder and reflection there was this sense of fulfilment.

By that I mean being fulfilled by remembering that I am part of a bigger picture. A picture that is varied, of mixed opinions, or mixed practises, and that is not just in traditions or on views of same sex marriages. This is something that as people of the church we need acknowledge and accept. Because the fulfilment is that Jesus came and called each one of us to walk side by side for who we are.
The disciples when called were not given fame, fortune or success. However, there are offered a mission, a chance to attract others, a chance to walk alongside. These disciples started a chain that still grows today, despite many wrong turns and shameful misunderstanding. As a church we continue to preach the endless interpretation of God’s word, a God who loves us and saves us. Now for me, that is fulfilment.
Amen

Prayers

Let us pray to the Father through Christ our light and life
[Father,]
your Christ is acclaimed as the glory of Israel: look in mercy on your Church, sharing his light____
Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercy.
[Father,]
your Christ in the Temple brings judgement on the world: look in mercy on the nations who long for his justice___
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
[Father,]
your Christ, who was rich, for our sake became poor: look in mercy on all who are in need and those suffer with them.
We spend a few moments in silence naming before God, those who are ill, especially, John Paul, Jean Richardson and Jack Davenport,
We also put before God our own concerns__
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
[Father,]
your Christ is the one whom faithful servants find their peace: we pray to you Father, all those who mourn for the loss of a loved one, look in mercy on the whole Church, which glories in your salvation.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
[Father,]
your Christ is the one destined for rejection:
look in mercy on us as we turn towards his passion.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Merciful Father
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son
our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen.