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.
At the moment our services in church will be the same as our Sunday community service as emailed round to everyone, so please bring your copy with you if attending.
On Sunday 6th September I hope to take our first Eucharist service in church since ‘lockdown.’ But don’t worry, folk at home will receive our usual community Service of the Word.
It’s good to see our church building ‘coming back to life, last Sunday I met with two couples after our service who are planning their weddings, and this Sunday I shall be meeting a couple who would like to have their baby baptised at St Clement.
Please continue to keep yourselves safe when you go out and about, and don’t forget your masks if you are joining us in church as wearing masks for attending worship was mandatory from August 8th.
Much love and may Christ’s love sustain you always.
Rev Di and family xx
Let us pray;
God of glory, the end of our searching, help us to lay aside that which prevents us from seeking your kingdom, and to give all that we have to gain the pearl beyond price, through our Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our prayers of Penitence
God calls us to account for the stewardship of our lives…..
Lord, we confess we have not always used our time and gifts wisely, creatively and unselfishly: Forgive us for misusing or wasting them. Lord, have mercy.
Lord, we have not always lived in your light, or reflected it into the world’s darkness: Forgive us for being set in our ways or complacent. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, we have sometimes ended the day in anger or hurt:
Forgive us for being unrepentant or unforgiving.
Lord, have mercy.
May our almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon and forgiveness of all our failings, time for amendment of our lives and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us pray our Collect for the 11th Sunday after Trinity
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity; mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 16.13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’
And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Who is Jesus?
That’s the question Christians to this day are all still trying to answer adequately, as were the disciples in our Gospel passage.
I used to know the answer, when I was about 7. I could tell you without any hesitation whatsoever the truth about Jesus: Jesus was tall.
From my 7 year old perspective, this was the defining feature of Jesus, who, according to my Sunday school teacher, in the story of Zacchaeus, could see over everyone’s head to notice the tax collector up in the Sycamore tree, and was tall enough help him down.
After hearing that story I knew that Jesus was tall, and from my 7 year old view of the world, being tall was enough to be the hero of the story. There was no doubt about it in my mind; I believed it.
By the time I reached high school I’d left all that stuff about Jesus being tall behind. Being very mature by then, of course, I knew that there was much more to the answer of who was Jesus than just physical appearance.
I learnt in R.E lessons that Jesus was; Emmanuel; Mighty God; Prince of Peace. But I didn’t think too much about what all that meant, from my 12-year-old perspective all these things were words and concepts beyond my understanding, offered as a nice little salvation formula told to us by the school chaplain.
But the question seemed to get even more and more complicated as the years went by. Who is Jesus?
The disciples were certainly put on the spot the day Jesus put the question to them, Matthew tells us that Jesus took his disciples into the region of Caesarea-Philippi, one of the most beautiful areas of Galilee, up high on a hill overlooking the Jordan River, where he asked them; ‘Who are people saying that I am?’
But meaning, as most commentators would tell you, that Jesus wasn’t so much interested in that, as he was in what his disciples were thinking. After all, they’d be the ones left behind to carry on his message, and it would ease the process, as it were, if they could sum up who Jesus was.
The disciples had trouble answering the question, and they stumbled around a bit, reporting what they’d heard, but of course Jesus knew he hadn’t yet heard the real answer.
It’s a good thing, then, that he rephrased the question saying; ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Because, word on the street aside, that’s what really matters, isn’t it? And this was when Peter made his now famous confession; ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Result! Jesus must have thought!
Because at the end of the day, Jesus wants to know, who am I. To you?
As the years went by, my ideas about Jesus changed yet again.
They changed when I met a nun at St Anne D’Auray Convent in Brittany called Sister Francoise, who invited me one evening to go with her to a nearby town where she helped look after a group of women who lived in a shelter for the homeless. These women were battered by abuse and poverty, and lived lives that were totally void of hope.
‘Where is Jesus in all this, who is he?’ I asked Sister Francoise, and she replied; ‘Jesus is God in human form. Did you know Christianity is the only major world religion in which God comes to earth and feels what it’s like to be human?’
Sister Francoise is a woman who has devoted her entire life to serving the poor because she believes so much in Jesus, and when she said that it all made sense to me. When I looked at her sacrifice and the women who were desperately searching for hope, it all made sense.
Right then I knew who Jesus was: Jesus was God in human form, one who had felt what it was like to be hungry and homeless, to face pain and uncertainty, to know sorrow and fear and grief, all of the things that are big parts of human living.
Jesus Christ lived the human experience, and by that he knows what it’s like to be me and you. Our answer to the question may keep growing and changing, but that’s okay, that’s what believing is about, remembering that the word ‘believe’ means; ‘to give your heart to’—to take a risk.
But on this day, when we remember what it is we believe about Jesus, we want to ask the same question Jesus did to Peter: Not “who is Jesus?” but “who is Jesus to us?”
Living our lives working to answer this question is the very essence of why we gather every Sunday, either in the church building or at home, to worship God, expressed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
We can’t explain who he is completely, and none of us would ever explain it the same way.
But we do know this: there’s a power in Jesus Christ that calls us to live our lives in such a way that flies in the face of secular convention.
Such power was evident in St Clement Church some three years ago now, when we gathered for a baby’s funeral.
I just stood at the front and said the words, and in the same way, accompanied the family to the baby’s graveside, because I admit, I was totally drained by then. Not only because of the huge funeral service I’d taken that same morning at St Agnes, but also because of supporting the baby’s fractured family through the previous three weeks.
So I stood at the front and said the words necessary, but it was members of our church community who, by their actions demonstrated the love of Jesus far more than I ever could have on my own.
From doorkeeper to hospitality, by their supporting presence they walked with the baby’s family through every minute of the time they’d been dreading since his death.
And a miracle occurred that day. Over the funeral tea so lovingly prepared, and by looking at the sunflowers and colours they’d so tentively asked for, the baby’s fractured family became whole.
Relationships were mended and restored, past hurt and pain forgiven, so much so that they didn’t want to leave the church building, they marveled themselves at what had happened.
The baby’s name was ‘Raphael’ which means; ‘healer.’
Perhaps therefore he was given by God to the family to do that task, and given to us, so, as they said their farewells to him in our beloved church, I would realise that I’d never again have to ask the question; ‘Who is Jesus?’ Because I see his face, and his love in action, in our community.
May God Bless you all. 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. Amen.
Our Intercessions this week are written by Helen Dunbar
The Church is the Body of Christ, built on strong rock of faith and energised by the living Breath of God. Gathered as the Church of God, members of the Body of Christ, let us pray together.
Fill your Church, O Lord, with life and energy, spiritual health and vitality. May we grow more like you; may we exercise your loving, minister with your tenderness, serve with your humility and co-operate with your vision.
Fill your world, O Lord, with wonder at creation, recognition of our mutual human responsibility, desire for reforming what is at fault, and hope in the possibilities of living at peace with God and with one another.
Dear Lord bless us in our daily work and bless those who work with us, as we start to get involved in our Church life after the isolation of the past few months.
We bring to mind some of the many things happening in our world; at home our thoughts go to all the many anxious students who have been awaiting exam results over the past couple of weeks and the stress caused to them by poor decision-making in government. Grant your blessings on them that they may have bright and fulfilling futures ahead of them and are able to attain their hopes and dreams.
Dear Lord, you created us to be stewards of your creation, but we have chopped down forests, polluted the air, poisoned the rivers and seas, destroyed the places where animals live and then pursued them to extinction. Help us to change our ways so that we can look after the world, and to make it the way you want it to be.
We pray for all people who live in countries where there is conflict and unrest; we pray for the people of Belarus, as they protest on the streets unhappy with the results of what they see as a rigged and corrupt election.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer
We ask God’s blessing on our clergy, on Archbishop Justin and our own Bishop Philip and Suffragan Bishop Hugh, for our much loved Diane and her family and the church life here at St Clement.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer
We pray for our Queen, as she takes her annual holiday at Balmoral.
We pray for the homeless and those living in crowded conditions, those living alone and isolated; for the hungry and malnourished and some of these situations being brought about by loss of work and illness due to the pandemic. May your love, working through us, reach those in desperate need and give them new hope.
We bring before you those who are in pain or distress; and all whom society prefers to ignore; may your love nourish and heal, accept and restore.
In a moment of silence we pray in our hearts for those we know who are in any kind of need.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer
Dear God, we pray for the ill, especially for John Hurst and his family.
We pray for the lonely and distressed, including those tormented by fear arising from the global pandemic. We pray for healing and wholeness in their lives and we pray for ourselves. Help us to bring love, joy and hope, to those who live in despair and give help to all those treating the effects of Covid and those working to find a cure.
We pray for the dying and those who love them; we pray for those who have completed this life and have made the journey through death. We pray for the work of those who comfort the bereaved.
We remember those whose anniversary falls at this time, and from our anniversary book we pray for: Edgar Davey and Ian Scott Tilsley.
Fill our hearts, O Lord, with thankfulness and praise as we recall your faithfulness and live in your 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.
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.