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               St Clement Church Community Sunday Service

 

 

Good morning to you all.

A very warm welcome to our service this morning, wherever you may be.

As Autumn draws in and we get ready to ‘batten down the hatches’ for winter, may we always remember those who have no homes and no one to care for them.

With love

Liz

 

Let us pray;

 

Father, we thank you that you have brought each of us safely to this place.

We gladly surrender our lives to you in worship and praise.

As we gather, we remember those who are not with us today – for those who are sick we ask healing, and for those away from us we ask your blessing to be on them.

We ask your Holy Spirit to move freely amongst us - come dwell in each of our hearts.

Equip us, challenge us, comfort us, teach us.

Inspire us as we learn more about your majestic ways.

Father, as we meet now, may we behold your beauty and encounter your grace.

We ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Amen

 

Hymn: 383 Jesu, lover of my soul

 

Our prayer of Penitence

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we are sorry for the things that we have done wrong in our lives.

We ask your forgiveness and now turn from everything which we know is wrong.

Thank you for dying on the cross for us to set us free from our sins.

Please come into our lives and fill us with your Holy Spirit and be with us for ever.

 

Amen

 

                                                                                                                              

Let us pray our Collect for the 18th Sunday after Trinity

 

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the everlasting crown of joy; 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

 

Genesis 2. 18 - 24

Hebrews 1. 1 – 4, 2. 5 - 12

 

Hymn: 374  How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

 

Gospel of Mark 10. 2 - 16

 

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.                 Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)

 

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’                                                                                                                                      He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’                                                                  They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’                                                                                                                                            But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”

“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”                                                                              So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

 

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.                                                  Jesus said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’

 

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.

But, when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter it.’

And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

 

(This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Response: ‘Praise to you, O, Christ’)

 

Reflection

 

What a Gospel reading – where does one even start!

 

Today, we hear Jesus teaching about relationships, marriage and divorce – not easy subjects at any time.

I suppose, in one sense, it’s good to know that Divorce has been an issue going back – back to the time of Jesus, certainly, but it is clear from Jesus’ response, that it goes back even to the time of Moses.

It’s always been a difficult issue. That’s why the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a question about it.                                                                                                       Stick up for marriage and you look as though you’re being judgemental and hard-hearted towards those who have been through the deep trauma of marital breakup. Play down divorce, and you look as though you’re playing around with family life and being untrue to God’s law. You couldn’t win then, and you can’t win now.

 

But here, we need to understand what marriage meant in ancient Jewish culture.

In normal circumstances in the world of Jesus, individuals didn’t get married. Families did. One family offered a male, the other a female. Their wedding stood for the wedding of the larger extended families and symbolised the joining of honour of both families involved. It would be undertaken on political and /or economic concerns.

Marriage had nothing to do with ‘falling in love,’ it was very much a matter of ‘honouring your parents.’ It was very much like the ‘arranged’ marriages that still take place in a number of Asian countries and cultures.

 

Divorce, then, would entail the dissolution of these extended family ties. It represented a challenge to the family of the former wife and would likely result in family feuding.

 

As we have seen in other situations the ancient Jewish culture like many others worked on an honour / shame system. Great emphasis was placed on the honour or shame people’s actions placed upon others. So, when a divorce took place entire families were dishonoured and put to shame. In spite of this, divorce was common and it was a very simple process.

Within the patriarchal culture of the time, women and children had virtually no rights and were considered property. A man could simply write on a piece of paper, ‘She is not my wife and I am not her husband.’ He would then give her the paper and kick her out of the house. A man could divorce his wife on a whim, but a woman could not initiate a divorce.

In today’s reading, Jesus is yet again facing a test set by the Pharisees. They know the law; they don’t need to ask Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife; they are out to trick Him. But, well aware of what they are trying to do, Jesus replies, ‘What did Moses command you?’ – very clever! The Pharisees tell Him what Moses allowed. He never commanded, Moses allowed divorce.

Jesus then goes on to explain why divorce was allowed, but then goes on to explain that God’s intention from the beginning is for two people to be faithful, life-long companions in an intimate, committed relationship that should not be severed. By saying this, Jesus changes the focus of the conversation from divorce to embracing the unity of partners as part of God’s creative design.

 

Now the reading changes – it moves to the scene where Jesus receives the little children. Little children, those perceived as a nuisance, as less than, as those not wanted, those perceived as the least of these – those who represent the most vulnerable in that culture – these are the ones the disciples want to turn away. But Jesus refuses to send them away. Instead, He receives the children, he hugs them and He blesses them. In doing so, Jesus shows that all, all are worthy of God’s love.

 

So, Jesus’ teaching overturns the patriarchal marital relationships and elevates those at the bottom of the social ladder, the women and children. It is about equality – the rights of the most vulnerable.

 

Sadly, human love is often broken love. We are broken people. But, in Jesus, we begin to discover that there are no limits to the love of God.                                  The most important aspect of this passage is this – God is different from us and God’s love has no limits. Our human understanding of love is so often different from God’s love for us. God’s love has no limits. God’s love is always going to challenge us, to broaden our thinking, our understanding and the way we live in relationship to others.

 

God’s desire for people is to live in loving relationship and not brokenness. God’s desire for people is that they have love, compassion, mercy for the needs of ‘the little ones’ whether they be children or poor people or disabled people or those with mental health issues or refugees or those who are sick or abused, or those who are divorced – any who are considered other and the least of these. In so many ways we fail to love because we are broken people. But God loves us limited human beings in a limitless and divine way. When we fail, God forgives and forgives and forgives and loves us as we are.

 

So, today’s ‘awkward’ reading is truly good news. In spite of our failures and limits, God’s love for us is limitless and always faithful. As we come and live in the healing love of Jesus, we find a hope-filled future that always brings a new dawn and transforms our lives.

 

Amen

 

Affirmation of our faith

 

Let us declare our faith in God.

 

We believe in one God

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He is the true and living God                                                                                      worthy to receive glory and honour and power.

He created all things,

by his will they existed and were created.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ;

all things came into being through Him.

He is the image of the invisible God

the firstborn of all creation.

In Him all things in heaven and on earth were created.

He himself is before all things,

and in Him all things hold together.

Being in the form of God, He emptied Himself.                                                         He took the form of a slave, and was born in human likeness.

Being found in human form, He humbled himself

He became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;

He was buried, He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

God also highly exalted Jesus:

he gave the name that is above every name.

God has put things under His feet:

He made Him the head over all things for the Church, which is His body.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again:

through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have died.

As all die in Adam,

so, all will be made alive in Christ.

Thanks be to God

who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.         Amen.

 

Hymn:  277  Bread of the world in mercy broken

 

Intercessions

 

Let us quieten our hearts and minds as we bow our heads and bring our prayers before our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Dear Lord

As autumn draws in with its changing colours, its chilly, misty mornings and nature prepares for winter, we give thanks for the beauty of the county in which we live.

We are fortunate that we live in such a temperate climate, away from earthquakes, volcanoes and other extremes of nature.

May we be true custodians so that generations in the future may also be able to enjoy the wonders of Your creation.

 

We can do nothing on our own, please may we bring all our fears, hopes and endeavours, and lay them before You so that we may know that with Your blessing we may live our lives in Your name.

 

Lord, hear us                                                                                             Lord, graciously hear us

 

Dear Lord, it is too easy to become ‘comfortable’ in all aspects of our lives. Please help us to be aware of the challenges around us and may we be willing to respond to them secure in the knowledge that You will guide us, if we only put our trust in You.

                                                                              

Dear Lord, we pray for those who are ill and in pain, longing to live full lives; for those who are sad and hurt longing for comfort; for those in hospital awaiting treatment and for those convalescing, seeing an end to their suffering. May we always offer gentle support to those in trouble, sensitive encouragement to those in need and strength and support to those in weakness.

 

Lord, we bring before You all those known to us who are in need of special help at this time and we ask Your blessing on all who suffer in body, mind or spirit; may they know that You are with them always and that if they put their trust in You they will be given the strength to face whatever they may be ahead.

 

We especially remember Ken and Diane, Rupert and Linda, Margaret, Brian, Ollie and all those who have no one to remember them.

We also bring before You those who have recently left this life to join You in Your eternal kingdom. We bring before You their families as they face the future without them. May they feel Your love and support in the days ahead.

 

Lord, hear us                                                                                                       Lord, graciously hear us.

 

As we leave this place, may we go out in Jesus’ name and live our lives as He would have us live them. May each small deed that we do in His name help to make this a better world.

 

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

 

Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.   And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

 Amen.

 

 

Innocence  by D.H.Polecheck

 

The innocence of a child,

Upon first opening its eyes,

So new and so fresh,

Unable to believe in evil,

Seeing only the beauty laid out in magnificent vistas before its eyes.

No darkness able to embed itself in this child so pure are its thoughts.

Only light entering unchallenged and nestling inside.

It reaches its tiny cherub-like fists grabs fistfuls of light,

Holding that wondrous light in the palm of its hand, laughing at its perception of beauty.

A light as pure as this child, nothing dark in either it or the child.

A frightening ethereal essence consuming them both, but they were unafraid of this thing, nor was it afraid of them.

The beauty of this child and the light it held was other worldly when it first opened its eyes.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Peace

 

Blessed are the peacemakers:

they shall be called children of God.

We meet in the name of Christ and share His peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.                  Amen

 

 

Hymn: 235 Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go

May Christ make his home in our hearts as we trust in Him.

Our roots will grow down into God’s love and keep us strong.

May we have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

May we experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

Then, we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

Blessing

 

May the Lord bless us and protect us.

May the Lord smile on us and be gracious to us.

May the Lord show us His favour and give us His peace.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page last updated: 1st October 2021 8:14 AM