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St Clement Church First Sunday after Trinity Community Service


Good morning

This week we are thinking about ‘rules,’ and how accepting or questioning we are, or should be, about them.

Do you ever stop and think about the ‘why’ of a rule, its validity to us in 2024?

How well do you know the rules – well enough to know how to break them properly?

With love to you all



Let us pray


Lord of all, as we gather to worship You, we ask for hearts open to Your presence. Fill this place with Your Spirit and our souls with Your peace. Let every song, prayer and word spoken glorify You and draw us closer in communion with You and each other.



We say together


This is your day

and we shall praise you!

This is your day

and we shall declare your name!

This is your day

and we shall worship

a risen Saviour and King.



Hymn: 495 God is working his purpose out



Prayer of Penitence


Lord God, we have sinned against you;                                                                              we have done evil in your sight.

We are sorry and repent.

Have mercy on us according to your love.

Wah away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.

Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Collect for First Sunday after Trinity


O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments we may please you  both in will and deed; 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.





Deuteronomy 5. 12 – 15

2 Corinthians 4. 5 – 12


Hymn: 239 Lord of all hopefulness


Gospel: Mark 2. 23 – 3. 6

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord’)


One sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.

The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’

And he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’

Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’


Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand.

They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’

The he said to the Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?

But they were silent.

He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’

He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against Jesus, how to destroy him.


(This is the Gospel of the Lord.    Praise to you, O Christ.)




Have you ever felt that some rules and regulations are taken to extreme? Somehow, the ‘spirit’ of them has been totally lost, and now they’re so rigid and uncompromising that they’re there for the sake of having rules, rather than for any real benefit.


I had a headteacher who, looking back, hated ‘Yes’ people, whether they were teachers, pupils, or whoever.  I well remember the ‘grilling’ I received when I questioned the validity of a particular school rule and wouldn’t it be better to scrap it or at least change it. Her reply, ‘I don’t agree with you, but you have argued your case well so, we will try it.’ It worked! If you could argue your case, and back it up with ‘good evidence,’ (sounds like GCSE or A level English papers, doesn’t it) she would not only listen, but would be prepared to ‘give something a go’ even if she didn’t necessarily agree with it, or you!                          !                                                                                                       She was a very strong but enlightened lady.


There is a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”


The problem with rules is that so often we become dogmatic about them – enforcing rules unthinkingly and drawing boundaries readily - we so quickly lose sight of the original intent of important core ideas. We focus entirely on the ‘what’ to the exclusion of the ‘why.’

Of course, rules (by which I also mean laws and traditions) are often very useful and sometimes very necessary. Most of them exist for a reason, and plenty of those reasons were, (and perhaps still are) perfectly good. But ultimately, rules are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. So, when we accept a rule without question, when we fail to delve into the original intent behind it and understand its ‘spirit’ as well as its ‘letter,’ we run the risk of becoming mindless servants to the rule without comprehending the beneficial purpose it was meant to embody.


Let’s be honest, many rules, laws or traditions have been in place for centuries or even millennia and they are no longer useful – or worse, they have become hindrances to our personal or collective betterment. So, it is crucial to recognise this and to amend or abandon those rules as necessary. But in order to recognise that necessity we have to be willing to push back against rules on a regular basis.

‘To learn rules’ means not just knowing them with a surface level of understanding but a deeper comprehension with regards to intent and effects. Once we attain that kind of insight, we are in a place to confidently break the rules when necessary.


Religion is an obvious source of rules for many people, but also provides excellent illustrations of when and why to break them.

Today’s Gospel reading is a prime example.

The laws of the Sabbath were given to ensure that its followers had a day of rest and reflection on which to nourish their souls. It was intended to help people not to burden them. The Pharisees could argue that Jesus and his disciples were violating the letter of the law against ‘harvesting’ on the Sabbath, but any reasonable person would recognise that they were far from violating the law’s spirit or true purpose. But, as so often happens, ideals such as those that inspired the Sabbath laws eventually become fossilized – quite literally, as the original ‘organic matter’ dissolves away, to be replaced by rigid stone. It seems that given enough time, any religious idea, no matter how radical or ingenious it may have been when it first appeared, will harden into unyielding dogma.


The Buddha’s ‘raft parable’ is a wonderful illustration of the idea that we must look beyond the calcified exterior of a rule or law or dogma and seek its true purpose.


A man on a journey comes to a large body of water that cannot be safely swum, nor is there a bridge of any kind nearby. But the man must reach the other side, where he may find safety and comfort. So, he builds himself a raft of wood and reeds on which he is able to paddle safely over to the other shore. Upon reaching the other side, he thinks to himself, ‘This raft was of great help to me. With its aid I have crossed safely to the other side … It would be good if I carry this raft on my head or on my back wherever I go.’

The Buddha asks his students if such a decision is prudent, to which they reply, ‘No!’ - obviously the raft has served its purpose and can be left behind. ‘In the same manner,’ says Buddha, ‘I have taught a doctrine similar to a raft; it is for crossing over, not for carrying.’


The teachings of Jesus (as well as those of Buddha and other religious sages) are meant to be of practical use; their goal is to carry people to safety, happiness, and wisdom.

By mindlessly adhering to rules, religious or otherwise, we fail to grasp the greater truths they were (and perhaps still are) pointed toward.


Another Buddhist story describes a mentor admonishing his pupils by saying, ‘My teachings are like my finger pointing to the moon; do not mistake my finger for the moon!’ Good rules – those worth following because they make our lives and societies better – always point to something greater, some inspiring ideal or cautionary wisdom.


In all areas of life, we fall victim to the ease – moral and intellectual – that rules can provide, but in taking them for granted we are neglecting a duty (to know not just what a rule does but why it exists) and foregoing an opportunity to consider other options and potentially find a better idea.

 The greatest religious teachers, scientific thinkers and artistic geniuses throughout history have been those who have persistently questioned established rules, leaving behind those that failed to stand up to rigorous scrutiny, and creating instead something more truthful.  


So, what about us? Do we follow rules just because they’re there, or do we learn the rules so we know how to break them?



Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ


Christ died for our sins

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he was buried;

he was raised to life on the third day

in accordance with the Scriptures;                                                                               

afterwards he appeared to his followers,

and to all the apostles:

this we have received,

and this we believe.



Hymn: 456 Teach me my God and King


Intercessions by Helen Dunbar


Let us pray for the Father through the Son and in the power of the Spirit.


We pray for the Church throughout the world; for all political leaders, that we may have justice and peace between and within nations; for all people holding positions of power, that they may be guided by you Lord, and make decisions that benefit all and not just a few. We pray for all who worship in this church, and for all people who live in the surrounding area.


Lord, in your mercy; hear our prayer


Lord, you have commanded us to love one another, give us grace also to fulfil this commandment. We ask you to help us as we go about our daily lives to be gentle, thoughtful,l and forgiving to all whom we meet and live amongst. Thank you for our friends and we ask you to help us keep these friendships in good repair; we thank you for the unselfish loving kindness which our friends have shown us, sharing our laughter in times of happiness, and standing beside us in times of trouble. Help us also to be good friends in our turn.


Lord, in your mercy; hear our prayer


Dear Lord, we know that we are all part of the problems that the world faces, and we know that wherever there is resentment between people there will be tension. We pray that those who lead us here in this country will do their utmost to solve issues with other nations of the world in a peaceful way, and intervene in the world’s conflicts with forethought and common sense. We pray for all victims, many of them children, injured and killed in the fighting in Gaza. We remember the ongoing war in Ukraine and all the suffering it brings to innocent people.


Lord, in your mercy; hear our prayer


We pray for King Charles and Queen Camilla and all members of the royal family; Lord, please help and guide them in all they do.


We ask your blessing on our clergy, Archbishop Justin, for Bishop Hugh our suffragan bishop; for our much-loved Reverend Di and her family, as she continues her busy work load in the parish and beyond.


We pray for our children and young people as they near the end of another academic year. For primary school children now looking forward to their sports day and doing fun things. For students who are now beginning important examinations at school and university and those starting new lives in the world of work. Help us through our Christian life to create a society where young and old, gifted and less able feel valued and proud to be part of society.


Lord, in your mercy; hear our prayer


We pray for all animals and birds, for our beloved pets who give such joy and love to us.


We pray for all who are ill, either at home or in hospital and we give thanks for all the doctors and nurses, health care professionals and family carers who look after them. We especially think of those known to us: Reverend Diane and Ken, May, Susan, Lauren, Linda, Barrie and Sandra, Pam and David, Terry and Dot, Margaret, Maureen, Alison and Rob, Jan, Anita and Stephen, Michael and Patricia, Jeremy, Stella, Alison, William, Callum and Elaine, Jay, Andy, Ann and all who have no one to pray for them.


Lord, your love reaches beyond the grave and so we bring before you those whose earthly life is now at an end. Receive their souls into your kingdom. We pray that they may rest in peace and rise in glory.


Our thoughts go to all those whose anniversary falls at this time and we pray for Liz Hitchens, Stella Lawry, Glenys Tall and Arthur Rowe.


Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer


And so Heavenly Father, wherever nature’s beauty or the daily miracles around help us to see your hand at work, we thank you for the grace to live and enjoy it to the full.


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


 Gathering our prayers and praise into one, let us pray with confidence as our risen Lord has 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


Rules by Edward Hester


I will be pure

I will be good

I will not be misunderstood.


I know the law

I know the rules

‘Cause being bad is just not cool.


I know if I obey the rules

I’ll get the best grades in my school

If not, I’ll fear that I’m the fool.


Now I’m at work

And I’m the boss.

I make the rules, my workers must.


There’s power here

To keep me safe

Cause rules and laws prevent all change.


But wait a moment;

Something’s wrong!                                                                                                    These rules don’t keep us going strong!


What if rules

Are wrong themselves?

They’ll hold back Wrong, and Right as well.


Why can’t we all

Think for ourselves

Instead of following lead sheep’s bells.


The only rules

And laws for me

Are those of God and Liberty!


The Peace


Jesus said: ‘Love one another.

As I have loved you, so are you to love one another.’


The Peace of the Lord be always with you.   


Hymn: 372 He who would valiant be




May the strength of God sustain us;

may the power of God preserve us;

may the hands of God protect us;

may the way of God direct us;

may the love of God go with us this day and for ever.

The Lord bless us and keep us





















Page last updated: Friday 31st May 2024 9:04 AM
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