St Clement Church Community Sunday Service
Good morning to you all as we celebrate our Sunday service, whether in your own home or our church building.
This Sunday in church we will be celebrating a Eucharist service of the Festival of Michael and All Angels.
Liz will be leading a Service of the Word next Sunday as duty calls me elsewhere. Our APCM was held in church on Tuesday, and during our worship on Sunday 11th October I shall, on behalf of our Archdeacon, be swearing Liz in as Churchwarden.
The colder weather of Autumn and Winter is approaching, please look after yourselves, and keep safe when, or if, you have to go out and about.
May Christ’s love sustain you always.
Much love to you all,
Rev Di and family xx
Let us pray;
Father in heaven, the angels sing by day and night of your glory: may we also, with the whole company of heaven worship you, sing your praise and exalt you for ever.
Our prayers of Penitence
As we bow humbly before God we remember how our lives are often marred by impurity and insincerity. Let us confess our failings in penitence and faith:
When we try to present a good image rather than to stand up for what is right…….
Lord, have mercy.
When we seek to please others rather than speak the truth…….
Christ, have mercy.
When we honour God with our lips, but not by our actions……..
Lord, have mercy.
May Almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save fallen humanity, bring us his pardon and peace, now and for ever. Amen.
Let us pray our Collect for Michaelmas
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and mortals in a wonderful order: Grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven, so, at your command, may they help and defend us on earth; 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.
Our Reading is taken from the Gospel of John (1.47-51)
(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’
Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’
Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’
Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’
Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’
And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’
(This is the Gospel of the Lord. Response: ‘Praise to you, O, Christ’)
The Feast of St Michael and All Angels, otherwise known as Michaelmas Day, is on Tuesday the 29th though I expect it will slip by completely unnoticed by most people.
And I think our modern neglect of what was once a major festival is a pity, so I’m giving it a little forward attention this morning…..
Ironically, Michaelmas is still observed in the secular world, especially in agriculture, as a Quarter Day for the termination of leases and the payment of rents. It also survives in the law courts, and in some universities and schools as the name of the autumn term.
Yet its position in the Christian year looks precarious.
Nevertheless, I hope that the Church calendar still retains the Feast of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the whole heavenly host, not as a historical oddity or a concession to a fairy story, but as a statement of an essential part of our faith.
I like to think of Michaelmas as a festival which insists on the reality of the spiritual world of God, because without God and the things of the spirit, we humans would alone become the measure of all things.
We would each become the limit of our horizons; the walls of our life locking us into ourselves, into our ‘self’. And isn’t that a description of hell, to be absorbed and obsessed by ‘self’, and nothing but ourselves, for ever and ever?
Michaelmas reminds us that we are created for more than this, that we are spiritual beings as well as earthly ones; and that there is a constant traffic between heaven and earth.
Michaelmas is a glorious testimony to our stake in eternity, but it also teaches us some vital lessons in the conduct of our life on earth.
There’s warning against the deadly sin of pride, the sin which brought some of the angels down from the heights of heaven, and which can still plunge us into separation from the love of God.
There’s the glorious example which the holy angels provide of utter obedience to the Lord’s command, and of perpetual service to his will.
Michaelmas also throws down a thrilling challenge to the waging of spiritual warfare in both high and low places, which is the true vocation of all us soldiers and servants of the Crucified One.
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. They didn’t sit quietly in a corner of the high heavenly places, having a committee meeting perhaps, or keeping themselves to themselves while the powers of evil raged unchecked.
The mystery of that war in heaven may for the time being defeat our human understanding, but one thing is clear; that self-same war continues in the low places on earth, and there’s surely a need for the Church, in every place, to be in the front line of the battle against evil, the battle to save the souls of all humanity.
Michaelmas is a time to remember that the Church is failing in its duty when it isn’t fighting against evil in all its forms, and there’s a fatal temptation for Christians, and not least for the clergy, to shrink from this fight.
It’s so much easier to choose the way of inoffensive quietness and appeasement. We all love to be loved. But our Lord came to bring a sword on earth, and he’s placed that sword in the hands of his Church.
Of course it’s not the sword of violence and aggression, but the sword of righteousness and truth, of justice and freedom.
And the paradox in a world of war and conflict is that there can be no real peace, unless that sword is wielded with courage.
Fear of the world’s hatred, or anxiety for its own popularity, should not deter the Church (and that means us) from using that sword: in awareness our own shortcomings of course, but nevertheless using that sword as we stand up for what is right, true and just, to fight for God, and the things of God.
And do we fight in our own strength? No. We rely instead on the grace of God, knowing that the unlimited powers of the spiritual world are at our disposal.
Our country is in turmoil at the moment, Covid has certainly highlighted this. Our leaders are offering all sorts of visions for the future, but, speaking personally, I think most of them are lacking in essential detail.
I hope that’s not a sign of my creeping cynicism about the whole political process, for the enemies of democracy certainly delight on that kind of disillusion.
But my suspicion is that real vision has been largely replaced by sets of competing programmes all about what is best for our economy, rather than concentrating for the time being on pouring the financial support needed towards Covid19 vaccination research.
For example, what on earth was that; ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ initiative all about??
It wasted a small fortune and just literally encouraged the greed of folk to grab a bargain, at the same time as spreading the virus.
Now we’re all being told if we go out for a meal or a drink, to be gone by 10pm. Well, sorry, I for one didn’t realise that the virus only comes out after 10pm, how stupid am I……
Oh, and if you want a wedding to take place, make it a shotgun one, because numbers for folk attending a wedding is now down to 15, but there’s no limit on the privileged that like to go hunting and shooting wild birds and animals such as foxes, stags and badgers……..So, Bride, Groom, unlimited guests, shotgun, a couple of dead grouse, yup, we’re good to go…….
And in the thick of it all, while people worldwide are still dying of the virus by the thousand, what is that; ‘take a knee’ stuff all about??
All lives matter, and we cannot rewrite history.
I could rant on for ever, because I want more out of all of this.
The Gospel wants more out of all this. Christianity demands a society that pulls together and does what is right for the common good. A strong society that protects the little ones, and by that I mean the poor, the elderly, the vulnerable, as well as the children.
As an aside; the subject of children was the mainstay of the conversations during the Diocesan Roadshow I attended during the week by Zoom. 2 hours of my life that I will never get back……
Thankfully, about ¾ of the way through, Rev Alan Bashforth spared me from having to cut my throat with a blunt spoon, when he vocalised after the presentations that we minister in different contexts and all church communities matter, not just those who cater for large numbers of children and young people. Thank you Alan.
Anyway, back to the plot……..
If we want the evil of this world to be conquered, if we want a vaccination for Covid to be found, if we want to live in a safe world built on the foundations of God’s love, justice, righteousness and truth, remembering Michaelmas is so important.
It’s a festival that lifts us up from any fatal obsession with ourselves which spells such certain death to the soul.
It enables us to catch a glimpse of the realities which the great Christian visionaries have seen.
It encourages us to resolve not to cease from mental fight, nor let the sword sleep in our hand, until we have built Jerusalem – not just in England’s green and pleasant land, but in every part of God’s world.
And for that, thanks be to God. Amen.
Affirmation of our faith
Let us declare our faith in God.
We believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist.
We believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again.
We believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world.
This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Our Intercessions this week are written by Liz Davies
Let us pray:
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, as we feared, the Coronavirus pandemic IS spreading quickly, yet again.It is hard to believe that so many do not believe in its seriousness. May each, and everyone of us accept responsibility for ensuring that we wash our hands, wear a mask and socially distance to not only ensure our own safety but also the safety of those around us. The danger is very real. Please help us to be aware at all times of the need to take precautions..
Lord Hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
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 may be ahead. We especially remember Father Harold, Esther, Helen and anyone known to each of us.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us
Lord, we bring before You all those who have left this life to join You in Your eternal kingdom – we remember Jack and Rod. We bring before You Maureen and Charlotte 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
Dear Lord, as we face the coming week, may we do all things in Your name and live our lives as You would have us live them, so ensuring that each small deed we do in Your name makes 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.
Hear again the song of the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace.’ May the peace of God be always with us. Amen.
May God keep us in the fellowship of his saints,
May Christ protect us by the ministry of the angels,
May The Spirit make us holy in God’s service,
And may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, those whom we love, and remain with us always.