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St Clement Church Community Eleventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday Service



Good morning and welcome to our service.

I am apologising in advance!                                                                             Today’s Gospel reading is in two parts and I could have just taken the second part, (verses 21 – 28) another parable, and left out verses 10 – 20. Maybe I should have, but, those first verses struck a chord.                         How often do we open our mouths before ‘putting our brains into gear?’ How often do we speak without thinking first?                                               Perhaps it is only I who am guilty of such carelessness – if so, I apologise, again!

With love to all



Let us pray;


Father God, thank you for this Sunday.                                                                                 Lord, we come before you first and foremost with hearts of gratitude. You have seen us through another week, and we stand at the threshold of a fresh week full of new beginnings.                                                                       Lord, remind us that it is not solely by going to Sunday service that we worship and come before you; rather, it is through daily communion with you and doing our best to walk in the footsteps of our Lord, your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.




We say together:


Dear Lord and Father, we thank you for your promise that where two or three are gathered, you are there in their midst.                                           Lord, we welcome you amongst us today and celebrate the gift of life that you have lavished on each one of us.                                                                            We ask that you open our ears so that we may hear your voice.                                       Open our minds so that we may receive your eternal wisdom.                                       Open our spirits so that we may know your leading and guidance.                                                 Open our hearts so that we may receive your wonderful love.

We ask this in your name.




Hymn: 394 Let all the world in every corner sing


Prayer of Penitence


Let us say together


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.




Let us pray our Collect for the eleventh Sunday after Trinity


O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises. And be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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.






Isaiah 56. 1, 6 - 8

Romans 11. 1 – 2a, 29 - 32


Hymn: 461 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy


Gospel: Matthew 15. 10 – 28

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

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)


Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’                                                                         Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’                                               He answered, ‘Every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’                                                      But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’                                                                     Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding?                                                           Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.                                                                                

Jesus went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.                                                                 A Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’                                                                                                                                        But he did not answer at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting at us.’                                                            He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’                                                                                                                                                   She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’                                                                                                                                 Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done to you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.


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




 Why do I get all the hard Gospel readings? Well, so it seems to me!

And yes, I could have made things easier and omitted the first part of the Gospel reading – most people do! But, reading it, I realised just how relevant it is to our lives – well, mine, certainly.


First, we have Jesus wrapping up a conversation about what does or does not set a person apart from the common herd. What kicks the conversation off is a complaint from the Pharisees about His disciples – which, of course, is really a complaint about Him. Here’s the problem as the Pharisees see it. Those disciples aren’t sticking to the special rules that are meant to set God’s tribe apart as special people, distinct from the riffraff.

One of the rules is that you wash your hands before you eat. Not that first century Pharisees knew anything about germs. For them, the issue is doing something uncommon, as in over the top, a thing that ‘those people’ don’t do. It’s a matter of sending a signal that you’re better than the standard human herd, more connected to God.

Jesus ‘grinds his teeth in frustration.’ What’s the matter with these people? It’s not a failure to keep superficial rules that spoils a person and makes God ‘wrinkle his nose.’ Instead, it’s that lust, welling up from every sinner’s heart, to put ‘myself’ first; to despise my neighbour instead of loving him or her.

‘But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions …’ Jesus doesn’t pull any punches, does He?

Think about it – it’s not just that saying things without thinking first, can mean that you say unkind things – not always meaning to. It can mean that you agree to things that you shouldn’t, or you refuse to do things that you should.

                                                                                                                                I’m a fictional crime reader – my father and aunt were – but I also watch some factual crime programmes on television. I also worked in one of, what was, Her Majesty’s, now His Majesty’s, prisons. Yes, some people are sadly, evil, some are consistent wrong-doers, but many are people who really do not ‘get their brains into gear’ before they say ‘Yes’ to the idea of doing some crime. They don’t think about the possible consequences of what they agree to do. They don’t think about how it will affect others. Let’s face it, they think they’re going to commit the perfect crime and get away with it. They do not think about ‘what if.’

I could tell you all sorts of stories from the nick … but this isn’t the time or the place!

So, this is the context of the first part of our reading. What we say, agree to, or refuse to do - the bad and the good – come from our hearts, not from pointless rituals.


So, having got all that out of the way, Jesus takes off for Tyre and Sidon, well away from the contentious Pharisees.                                                                        No sooner does Jesus step on their turf, than along comes this woman – this frantic, pushy, ignorant, insistent woman with the ‘crazy’ daughter. She’s as ‘bottom of the barrel’ as it gets. No self-respecting person would waste time with her. You get the feeling that this would be the same in her home village.

What stands out is the way she approaches Jesus. She is shouting, shrieking – not a pleasant sound, and she is not saying ‘Please!’                                   Such women were not treated well in their own villages – they were treated by utter and open contempt, particularly by the men. They were laughed at, as if they were dogs.

Maybe that’s why Jesus responds to her as He does. To show us up, He models our behaviour. He ignores her. When that doesn’t put her off, He makes an excuse for not helping her. When she keeps on begging, He insults her by calling her a dog – an undeserving dog, no less. Only then, when she turns that back on Him – when she says that even the dogs get crumbs that fall from the table – the tune changes completely. And, what this woman gets is the best compliment Jesus could possibly give.                  ‘Great is your faith!’


This woman is one of only three or four people in all the Gospel accounts that Jesus says this too. And, all the others, like her, are people on the outside looking in, as ‘bottom of the barrel’ as it gets.

‘Be it done for you as you ask,’ Jesus says. ‘Your daughter is healed.’

With that, He sends a signal for the ages. He sets up a standard of the faith He so wants to see in each, and every one of us today.

What makes Jesus special – what sets Him apart as uniquely, completely uncommon – is His impossibly high regard for the un-special, the ones at the bottom of the great human heap. Think who those are today!


So here comes Jesus this morning to deal with the sinner that I am and that you are. Because, you see, dealing with sinners – which is to say, lowering Himself to our sinful level to deal with us – that is Jesus’ thing; His extra-special uncommon thing. It’s what sets Him apart as the new definition of what ‘special’ really is: this willingness to get down and dirty for the un-special likes of us.                                                                                       This Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ wants all of us, me and you, to trust Him this morning. To trust that He will do this right now where you and I are concerned. He wants us to trust this honestly, in full awareness of how low He really does need to go to love us where and how we need to be loved. He wants to hear us crying out for help – for the Spirit and the power to combat and drive out the loveless demon that continues to addle our Christian wits, just as it does all baptised people around the world. He wants us to look and sound like that Canaanite woman who will not let herself imagine that Jesus could ever give up on her.

Special – this woman of great faith – and here we sit this morning with vastly more reason than she had to exhibit that faith. We have seen what she hasn’t. We have seen this Christ lower Himself so far, that there He hangs on a cross between two thieves with all the world jeering at Him as He dies. And yet, for their sakes – for the thieves and the mockers alike – die Jesus does. He dies for our sake too.

This morning may we remember the complete sacrifice our Lord made so that we might begin to look like the special person Jesus is. Special people whose ‘special-ness’ has nothing to do with setting ourselves apart from the common herd, but rather with going to where those people are who need love the most, and there to love them genuinely and gladly as Christ continues to love us all.


God grant us all such faith, such remarkable love.





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 crucifies, 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.


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: 205 Christ is made the sure foundation


Our Intercessions by Helen Dunbar


In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father. We pray for the church throughout the world; for justice and peace between and within nations; for political leaders and all in authority; for the communities in which we live; for people who suffer in any way; and for all those on our minds today.  We pray for your church here in St Clement and for everyone that worships here.  We ask for your blessing on everything that we do, as we seek to create a church community that welcomes everyone. We give thanks for all the efforts being made by the PCC to work towards a vision for our Church now and in the future.


Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer


We ask your blessing on our much-loved Rev Di, as she continues her very heavy work schedule and give thanks for the loving support of her husband Ken and her family.


Lord God, we pray for peace and unity in our turbulent and troubled world.  We pray for all world leaders, that they will continue to seek for an end to the suffering and the needless destruction caused by war.  We ask for an end to violence, injustice and inequality, disease, prejudice, poverty, and hopelessness and to bring healing to the world. We continue to pray for those who are refugees and seek safety in another country, despite the dangers of their journey. We pray that an agreement can be reached on how to cope with so many people, in so many situations, in a way that is fair and achievable, and that does not lead refugees and migrants into danger and exploitation. Our heartfelt thoughts go to the people in Hawaii, where on the island of Maui wildfires swept across the island killing at least 96 people and displaced thousands. 


Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer


Dear Lord, over the past weeks we have witnessed the devastating effects of climate change as extreme temperatures enable wildfires to take their toll in many countries. We pray for the governments of these countries as they wrestle with preservation of lives, rescue and recovery, the need for shelter, food and water for all those whose livelihoods and homes have been destroyed. We pray for the rescue workers who operate in harsh and dangerous conditions. Heavenly Father, thank you that you are in control of every single circumstance of life, no matter how difficult, dangerous, or distressing such times may become. Keep our hearts from doubting your word and help us to trust you in all things. Lord in all the storms of life hear us and help us.


Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer


Dear Lord, bless and guide King Charles, Queen Camilla and all the Royal family.


We ask your blessing on all young people; those who will be going on to a new school, heading off to university or starting out in the work place; also, we think of all the students who have just had, or are awaiting exam results, the results of which will determine the path they take. Please help them as they go on their journey and guide them when times are difficult.


Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer


We pray for all who are ill at home or in hospital, for all in emergency surgery or in an emergency unit; for those who have just discovered that they have injuries or illnesses that will change their lives. We pray for the work of all who heal and comfort, all who visit the sick and counsel the distressed. We especially think of Diane and Ken, Terry and Dot, Margaret, Maureen, Pam and David, Brian, Rupert and Linda, Diana, Barrie and Sandra, Michael and Patricia, Rob and Alison, Stella, Alison, Jay, and Andy.


Merciful God, remember the souls of your servants now fallen asleep and for those who are saddened by their passing. Be with the bereaved in their loneliness and give them the faith to look beyond their present troubles to your Son Jesus Christ who died and rose again and who lives forevermore.


We pray for those whose anniversary falls at this time – for Edgar Davey and Martin Davies.


We ask for your forgiveness when we only turn to you in times of trouble and when we forget to thank you for your blessings. Help us to recognise all the wonderful things in your world for which we should be grateful and send us out to the coming week ready to show our gratitude in all that we do and say.


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



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.






FAITH by Lucy O’Brien


What is Faith?

Some ask some answer

But some also fail

To understand the true meaning


Is Faith a feeling? A belief?

Or simply another way of saying hope:

Wanting something that’s out of your control to happen


Faith has many meanings

It means one thing to me

And another to you

But, however you may define it


The word Faith is something we all have

Faith in ourselves, Faith in others

Faith in God.



Prayer of Peace


God has called us to live in peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.                                                                                             


Let us greet one another as a sign of God’s peace.


Hymn: 388 Jesus shall reign where’re the sun




Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
















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