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St Clement Church Community Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday Service



Good morning and welcome to our service.


Parables – certainly a constant challenge to me. Every time I read one, another question enters my head … ‘Does it?’ ‘Is it?’ ‘Could it be?’

Either the long-ago Jews were far brighter than me (quite possible) or parables really are meant to challenge.

What do you think?


With love to you all



Let us pray:


Holy Lord, everything we need is found in you.

For those of us who come here feeling broken, bring restoration.

For those of us who come here feeling weak, bring strength.

For those of us who come here weeping, bring joy.

For those of us who come here with doubts, bring faith.

For those of us who come here feeling shame, bring freedom.

For those of us who come here feeling burdened, bring rest.

For those of us who come here feeling anxious, bring peace.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,



We say together:

                                                                                                                                Heavenly Father, we gather in your presence today with open hearts

and minds, ready to worship and praise your holy name.

We ask that you bless this time of worship so that we may be uplifted and inspired by your presence.

Fill us with your love and grace, and help us to honour you in all that we do.



Hymn: 473 When morning guilds the skies


Prayer of Penitence


What God has prepared for those who love him, he has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything.

Therefore, let us in penitence open our hearts to the Lord, who has prepared good things for those who love him.


Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought, word, and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault.

We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.


Let us pray our Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity


O God, forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; 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 forever. Amen.  






Isaiah 25. 1 - 9

Philippians 4. 1 - 9


Hymn: 457 The King of Love my Shepherd is


Gospel: Matthew 22. 1 - 14

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. 

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)


Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.                                               Again, he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.”                                 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them.                                                     

The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.     

Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet,”

Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so, the wedding hall was filled with guests.


But, when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless.

Then the king said to his attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 For many are called, but few are chosen.’


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





Weddings – love them or hate them – we all know just how much time, effort, and money goes into organising them. I’m sure you all have memories of certain weddings that either have a special significance or perhaps were so individual that you just can’t forget them!  

The last one I attended was in May – the wedding of a former pupil who insisted I attend or she wouldn’t get married -really? It was the first event I had been to on my own – without Martin – and I knew nobody, bar the bride’s family. A wonderful wedding that I will remember, for a number of reasons.


Well, I don’t know about you, but today’s Gospel reading about a wedding banquet that goes wrong, I find distinctly odd – well, challenging, to say the least.

Fancy turning down a royal invitation – I mean, let’s face it, that is definitely bizarre!

A second invitation when there are descriptions of the fabulous feast to come – who wouldn’t want to come to such a party? Well, the invited don’t … they’re obviously not impressed and they just go back to their everyday lives.

This is unusual behaviour, surely.  O, I forgot, this is a parable.

Then, things go completely haywire – we see that the servants who the king sends out again to announce the party, are seized, abused, and murdered. Why? How have things suddenly got so extreme? And then, the weirdness and violence continue as the king retaliates by going to war against his own people. Enraged by their actions, he unleashes an army … suddenly, the murderers are murdered and a city (presumably the king’s own city) is a pile of smouldering ash. Really?

Rather dramatic, to say the least, but then, unbelievably, we learn that the party is still on. Servants are sent out again to issue invitations to commoners, the folk they meet on the roads. And, someone’s joking – while all this is happening … the feast is being kept warm!

Come on, this is definitely not a realistic story.

Why is it so twisted in its plot, that it is so unbelievable?


Well, Matthew wrote this story and it is an allegory.                                Matthew’s community finds itself in conflict with the synagogue down the street, and this story is a tool for thinking about the meaning of this conflict.

This isn’t a matter of Christians against Jews – that kind of thinking comes later – rather it’s a conflict within Judaism. Matthew and his community see themselves as faithful Jews who have responded to God’s summons to the kingdom banquet offered in honour of God’s Messiah, Jesus. But inexplicably, others reject the great invitation, ignoring or persecuting both the prophets of old, and the new missionaries of this good news.

In Matthew’s world, a burning city would call to mind Jerusalem’s destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD.

So, I’ll accept that – the Jews need stories to illustrate points of teaching --- which is what parables are --- and actually, I find stories quite useful too.

So, is that the end of the story?


When the party is in full swing, the king enters the banquet hall and moves amongst his guests – just what a good host should do, isn’t it? But then, to his dismay, he finds one of them improperly dressed. He asks, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ As the king receives no satisfactory answer, he has the poor chap bound and thrown out … not just outside the hall, but into ‘the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

O come on, of course the poor chap isn’t properly dressed – he’s pulled in off the street at the last minute! This really is too far-fetched.

But, hang on, this is an allegory again and not realism.

Matthew is warning his community against self-satisfaction. This king is no pushover, and if the new guests are beneficiaries of an unexpectedly - generous invitation, they must nevertheless be on guard against the complacency shown by the first invitees. The doors of the kingdom community are thrown wide open, and the invitation extends literally to all. But, once you come in, there are standards, obligations. You can’t go on acting as though you are not at an extraordinary party.

So, what is the problem with this chap? Is he not taking things seriously enough?  Well, no, I don’t think so. His problem is that he is failing ‘to party.’

The kingdom of heaven is a banquet and you’ve got to put on your party clothes and enter into the spirit of it all … the dancing - if there is music, the feasting, all of it. The point is that the invitation is to a feast, and he who doesn’t obey and come appropriately, and therefore festively, declines and spurns the invitation no less than those who are unwilling to obey and appear at all.


Can you see now, why I found today’s reading odd and challenging?  But that’s what parables are for, aren’t they?  To challenge one and really make one think … well, they do, me.                                                                                                        



Affirmation of our faith


Do you believe and trust in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.


Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?


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 to heaven,

He is seated at the right hand of the Father,

And he will come to judge the living and the dead.


Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?


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.



Hymn: 383 Jesu lover of my soul


Our Intercessions by Helen Dunbar


Let us pray to the God who made us and sustains us.


Dear Lord, look with mercy on your Church, with all our faults and failings, missed opportunities and misunderstandings, as we learn to be truly your body on earth.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Dear Lord, we pray for the leaders of nations; for our government that they are able to make difficult decisions that will work for the benefit of the majority.  We pray for fairness for all people and wisdom in how public money should be allocated and spent. Also, help us to do what we can to preserve our planet’s precious resources.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Compassionate God, we pray for your Church here in St Clement and across our country.  We pray for our clergy, for our own much loved Revd Diane and her family, for our Churchwarden and all who serve on the PCC. And all who work in the Church to provide hospitality, visits, flowers and keep our place of worship looking good. Also, for those who assist, serve, read and pray.


We thank you for our families and friends, for all the joy and love they bring us.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Dear Lord, we pray to you for peace and unity in our very troubled world.  In the past week we have seen a long-standing dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas organisation again develop into war and pray that they can somehow find a way to live in peace; to bring an end to the suffering of ordinary people, just trying to live their lives. We pray for the many killed and injured and all the families mourning their loves ones. We remember the ongoing situation in Ukraine where war still rages and pray for the safety of all living in danger and struggling to find food and shelter.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Help us to reach out to all who are in need of compassion and understanding.  We pray for all those coping with stressful situations, whether in the workplace or at home, or in life generally and feeling the world is a dark and dreary place. Dear Lord, surround them with your love in their times of trouble and help them to reach a better place.


We pray for the grace to listen to one another and respond to one another’s needs; we pray for a spirit of co-operation and generosity in our homes and neighbourhoods.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Bless and guide King Charles 111. Bless all the royal family and be their light and guide in all that they are called to be and do in life. Enfold them in your love now and always.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


We pray for the sick in our community; for all those in care homes or in hospital and people in need of special care and we ask your blessings on them. Comfort and heal all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.  Give strength and skill to all doctors, nurses, care workers, volunteers and priests. We think of all those we know and those who have no one to pray for them for: Revd Diane and Ken, May, Terry and Dot, Margaret, Maureen, Pam and David, Brian, Rupert and Linda, Diana, Michael and Patricia, Rob and Alison, Stella, Alison, Callum, Jay, and Andy.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Lord, we pray for those nearing the end of their earthly life and we pray for their loved ones as they mourn their loss, whether recently or as an anniversary is remembered.


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 our risen Lord 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.


Looking for a relevant poem each week is difficult. A ‘bizarre’ wedding is not really the inspiration for a poem.                                                                    Then I came upon this one – nothing to do with a wedding, but it just seemed so right, so relevant to all that is going on all around us, in the church and the world, at this time.


A Parable from Liebig by Eversley 1848


The church bells were ringing, the devil sat singing

On the stump of a rotting old tree;

‘O faith it grows cold, and the creeds they grow old,

And the world is nigh ready for me.’


The bells went on ringing, a spirit came singing,

And smiled as he crumbled the tree;

‘Yon wood does but perish new seedlings to cherish,

And the world is too live yet for thee.’


Prayer of Peace


God has called us to live in peace.


The Peace of the Lord be always with you.


Hymn: 427 O praise ye the Lord




May God’s Word be in your heart.

May God’s Word be on your lips.

May God’s Word be in your touch.

May God’s Word direct your feet.

On this day and all your days to come

may God’s Word be the life you live.

















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