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.
Our Eucharist service was well supported last week and it was lovely to share communion together albeit in ‘one kind.’ This Sunday will be a Eucharist service, next Sunday will be a lay-led Service of the Word.
Thankfully the new Covid ruling of only 6 people being able to meet together does not apply to places of worship, so our church life is able to continue, though we are waiting to hear if church meetings such as our APCM will be allowed to go ahead.
Please continue to keep yourselves safe when you go out and about and may Christ’s love sustain you always.
Much love to you all,
Rev Di and family xx
Let us pray;
Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand and in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our prayers of Penitence
As we celebrate the grace and goodness of God, we remember our failings and weaknesses:
When we have lived by our own strength, and not by the power of your resurrection. In your mercy, forgive us and help us.
When we have lived by the light of our own eyes, as faithless and not believing. In your mercy, forgive us and help us.
When we have lived for this earthly life alone, and doubted our home in heaven. In your mercy, forgive us and help us.
May Almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins and failings, and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray our Collect for the 14th Sunday after Trinity
God of constant mercy, who sent your Son to save us: remind us of your goodness, increase your grace within us, that our thankfulness may grow, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (18. 21-35)
(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord.’)
Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.
So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt.
When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
(This is the Gospel of the Lord. Response: ‘Praise to you, O, Christ’)
As you know, Ken and I work within the realms of animal rescue, Wilson the rabbit being our latest resident. (His photo is at the bottom of this service…..) But thankfully it’s not often we experience the actual rescue of the animal or witness the conditions or abuse the poor thing has endured, which is just as well, because there is absolutely no excuse for animal cruelty and I know I would really struggle with beginning to forgive the person or people involved.
I have to do my best to remember that whatever the circumstance, forgiveness is the essence of Christian love, it’s the courage to absorb a despicable situation without being consumed by a blood-lust for revenge. But let’s not get confused. Forgiveness isn’t a get out of jail free card for doers of evil. Civil justice should be enforced, not eliminated, by Christian love.
We can choose to spend our lives obsessed with settling scores with people that upset us, or instead, choose to forgive, "seven times seventy". The choice is ours. We can live in love or we can live in hate. Both are transforming forces. We become what we value and love, or we can risk becoming the evil we obsess upon.
We can’t fake forgiveness though, it's a hard road. We have to work on it, pray about it, and to commit to it, even when our instincts repeatedly keep rejecting it. It’s a long painful process, not an instant solution.
But we have no option. We aren’t being advised to forgive by the animal charity we may work for, or our therapist or doctor for the sake of our health. We’re being commanded to forgive by our Lord and Saviour. And lest there be any room for confusion, our loving, forgiving God puts it plainly, we can forget about our own forgiveness, unless each of us forgives our brother or sister from the heart.
The gospel story today begins with Peter asking Jesus how many times he ought to forgive someone. I’ve asked that question, haven’t you? Someone does something bad, then apologises and of course we forgive them. The second time, we forgive them. The third time, we’re not so sure.
A family member dents the car, and we tell them it’s okay, through gritted teeth maybe, but when they do it again, it’s not so okay.
I once accidentally, at a roundabout, hit the police car in front of me with my double decker bus - twice. Apparently, to my surprise, the police driver’s limit of forgiveness was once!
So Peter asks Jesus what the limit for forgiveness ought to be. The prevailing practice for Jews in those days was three times, so Peter thought he was being generous with seven. But Jesus astounds him. “Not seven times, Peter; but seventy times seven.” And before you do the maths, Jesus wasn’t setting the bar at 490. Jesus was saying “there’s no limit to our forgiveness.”
Then Jesus tells Peter a parable of a master who was owed 10,000 talents by one of his employees. As was typical, when the slave couldn’t pay, he was ordered to prison, but he had a family, so pleaded with his master for patience. And the master let him go; in fact, he didn’t offer him patience, he forgave the entire debt.
Then that same slave ran into a fellow slave who owed him 100 dinari and demanded payment. When the man pleaded for patience, the first slave had him thrown into prison. Astounding, isn’t it? That one who had just been forgiven much, refused the same gesture and forgave little.
The first slave owed 10,000 talents; in today’s economy, that debt would be around 25 million pounds. Yet he refuses to forgive a fellow slave the debt of 100 dinari; today’s equivalent of about 50 pounds.
Well…word got back to the master, who said to the first slave. “I forgave you this great debt, and you wouldn’t forgive even a small one? Off to prison with you!”
And Jesus concludes the parable by saying “So shall my heavenly father also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Those seem like harsh words from Jesus…that even though we have been forgiven our sin by Christ’s death on the cross, each one of us will be held accountable for our sins if we don’t forgive one another.
C.S. Lewis once said; “Everybody thinks forgiveness is a good idea until they have something serious to forgive.”
That’s true. We suffer alongside the victims of the brutality we see happening in this world, we all have personal stories to tell, on a lesser scale maybe, but no less hurtful.
Hearts have been broken by unkind words or deeds, but if we cannot or will not forgive; that will be our story for years, for decades, for generations, and we’ll carry that burden with us through our living.
Like a heavy suitcase, we’ll drag it through life.
The Greek word for forgiveness means; “to send away” or, quite literally; “to let go.” That suggests, and I believe it, that forgiveness is a choice. It isn’t something that simply happens over time. Forgiveness is a conscious decision on the part of the offended person to let it go.
There may never be a reconciliation between the parties, the person we choose to forgive may not ever know that we have done so; they may not even be living any more. But we will know. We will feel the weight lifted from our shoulders when we choose not to carry it around anymore. Remember, we don’t forgive them for their benefit; we forgive them for our own.
People say that the Christian faith is identified by its generosity, that the hallmark of a Christian is kindness and compassion.
But I think the thing that sets us apart from every other faith, every other religion, and every other belief system is that we have the capacity to forgive others because we have been so generously forgiven.
We know what it’s like to be set free from our sins. And God gives us the ability to grant the same to others. It’s not easy letting go of the past, but it gives us the opportunity to move joyfully into the future. So let it go and 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 Daphne Hawkins
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have made it possible that this morning we are united in your divine presence. Some of our community are in our own homes and others in our beloved St Clements church. This gift of love and support has given us strength in these dark weeks and months of pandemic.
We pray for our church worldwide with so many challenges and so few priests to reach out to all people. We pray for all church leaders, give them strength and hope at this time, we pray for Reverend Diane who has brought faith love and hope to our congregation and the wider community. We pray for everyone who has worked so hard to make it possible for our church to open its doors at this difficult time.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
We pray that all world leaders will look with compassion on the suffering of so many people. The pandemic has overshadowed all the other atrocities in our world. May our leaders open their eyes to natural disasters, countless refuges, the homeless, the cruelty, the injustices and hopelessness of so many broken lives.
Dear Lord please help us all to work for peace where all peoples will be free to walk, talk or worship without fear of recrimination, secure in your world of peace beauty and love
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
Lord you know the problems we face at this time, a contagious illness like we have never experienced before. May we all be aware that over the next few weeks we need to be even more careful in our movements and prevention of the spread of the disease as life returns to some form of normality.
We pray for Elizabeth our Queen and her family who face their own problems at this time.
We pray for all our front line workers, risking their health each day, providing care and support keeping us well, safe, and providing our everyday needs and services.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
We pray for the sick be it in body mind or spirit at this time, our dear father Harold, Liz, and Martin, John and Pip. This morning we especially hold Maureen in our thoughts and prayers, as her dear husband Jack passed away suddenly on Monday. We also pray for those with no one to care or pray for them.
May all in need at this time know they are not alone for you are always there, your loving healing hands to comfort and bring everlasting love.
We pray you will welcome the souls of all who have recently slipped away from this earthly life and we trust Jack into your hands at rest and in peace and we remember our loved ones whose anniversary falls at this time, those we love but see no more.
We thank you for the memories we hold on to their words and deeds that live on in our hearts, until we are together once more.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
Today we thank you for the warmth of your love, the comfort of your presence. The strength and ability you have given us to survive the challenges we have had to face these past months. The guiding light that sustains our daily lives
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Andrews and St Clements and the blessed Virgin Mary, together with our loving and supporting community, we commend ourselves and all faiths and creeds who strive for peace to your unfailing love. 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.
We are the body of Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body. Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and build up our common life. May the peace of God be always with us. Amen.
May God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love, defend us on every side and guide us in truth and peace. And may the presence of God watch over us, the power of God protect us, those whom we love, and may we never forget that wherever we are, God is with us always.
Our latest resident: Wilson