Sunday Day Worship

Sunday Service Sheet 1st November 2020


Call:  O God, you have called us to power.  But not a power that shouts, rather, a power that invites because this is your power: a power to call all to be with all.  In this power, we find room, we make room, and we are made whole.                                                                               Amen.


Psalms 43


Prayer:  We know that in coming towards you, you came towards us first.  You called us by name, bringing us deeper into you, into community, into love.  We thank you for the gift of this,
and hold our hands humbly, offering you what we have, knowing that you receive what we give even when it is very little.                      Amen.


Hymn:  God when human bonds are broken    StF649/R&S 652

for St Gregory’s, Great is thy faithfulness


We are going to share a version of communion at Stamford in the next few weeks.  The bread and wine will be distributed at the entrance and people will be asked to retain the elements until later in the service.  The difficulty in both settings is to maintain distancing and avoid too many points of touch.  It is interesting to dwell for a while on the theology and practice of sharing at the Lord’s Table at a time of separation.  Our friends at St Andrews and elsewhere have managed to risk assess communion already.  The matter will be discussed at ChristChurch ECC and Church Meetings later in the month.  In addition, please look out for news of exciting events planned for Advent.


We continue to look at Paul’s letters this week and consider how Paul and his companions had supported themselves in Thessalonica, working blamelessly alongside those with whom they shared the good news. Their deeds were consistent with their words. Now the Thessalonians, like Paul, are leading lives worthy of God, whose Word is at work in them.


Roots material suggests, “Micah denounces the rulers of Israel whose false religion proclaims God’s presence while ignoring the needs of God’s people. Like the prophets, Jesus is scathing of leaders who do not practise what they preach, and whose indifference to justice makes a mockery of their piety. And like Jesus, Paul matched his deeds to his words, urging and encouraging the Thessalonians to do likewise.”

Prayer:  We are gathered here today around Word and word.  God, your Word lives: it breathes, it encourages, it pleads.  It urges us towards love and greater love.  As we listen to your Word today, may we hear the words in our hearts that call us towards love of other, self and stranger.  Your Word is an invitation towards an ever-greater hospitality.  And so, we stand, supported in the living Word that always welcomes.


God of justice, Justice is your name. We who call ourselves yours
have often left justice at the door preferring words to action. O God, we have done wrong.  May we pick up justice, and hold it in our hands as we turn back to you.  Support us, O God, in our justice, and in our turning towards justice.

We lift up our hands. We lift up our hearts. Search us, O God, and bring us deeper into the justice of your life-giving Word.  Call us, O God, into knowing more of life your Word is life, so may we find life with each other.  We rejoice in your never-failing invitation to celebrate and engage with your welcome.                                                                          Amen.


Hymn:  Brother sister let me serve you StF 611/ R&S 474


Readings            Micah 3:5 – 12

                             1 Thessalonians 2:9 – 13

                             (Matthew 23:1 – 12)



Micah 3:5-12 can be divided into two sections. The first section is a harsh indictment against prophets (verses 5-8), while the second section (verses 9-12): is a broader condemnation of the rulers, priests, and prophets who have oppressed the innocent. In the first section, Micah lashes out with a specific attack on prophets who preference the wealthy over the poor. Such treatment, according to Micah, typically occurs in the form of delivering messages that please the wealthy and then delivering opposite messages to those who are poor.  Not only does Micah speak out against these prophets, but he also declares punishment. 


Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor ...”  Micah chose to advocate for those who were suffering evils because of the work of leaders. He also chose to criticize the wrong doings of others who were bringing pain to the innocent and in Micah’s case, speaking out was better than remaining silent.


In Thessalonica, Paul's great concern is to maintain the relationship he has forged with the people. To this end, he marshals four proofs that demonstrate he and his companions came as God's messengers and were not seeking their own glory (2:4). In order to do so, he reflects back upon the time he spent there, giving concrete examples of his self-sufficiency, the quality of his actions, the quality of his instruction, and the response that these engendered.


According to Acts 18:3, Paul was an artisan, a "tent-maker," and, as such, was part of an industry whose tools were portable and whose services were needed in just about every major city. The typical day for an artisan began before dawn and went through to dusk. The wages, though meagre, were sufficient to supply food and lodging for the night. The nature of the work is such that, in the case of Paul, it is difficult to imagine when he might have preached other than while working. Thus, those to whom he writes are most likely artisans such as he, for whom the promises of Jesus have proven most attractive. Paul is pointing out that, like them, he worked hard, and did not rely on their wages for his support, which sets him apart from any false philosophers they might have encountered before.


Paul draws attention away from his actions among the entire group to the quality of instruction he provided to each and every one of the Thessalonians and uses the metaphor of fatherhood to demonstrate his point.  While a nurse or mother might take care of the nurturing of children, the father was responsible for the children's moral instruction. Paul points out that the instruction he provided replicates that of the paterfamilias in leading to, quite literally, "walking worthy of God."


The Thessalonians are praised for not only hearing and receiving the 'word', but most especially because the word is at work in them.  How do we know if the 'word' is at work within us? Write Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, it will be manifested by works that are expressions of our faith: a labour of love. Just as God's power is manifested in life-giving ways so, too, the 'word' generates in us both the desire and willingness to engage in life-giving activity. This activity includes not only proclamation of the word, but also the sharing of ourselves and working on behalf of and for the good of the community so that it, too, might incarnate the word of God with us, in power.

Offering:  Jesus of strong words, you were not afraid: calling people you knew to deeper integrity, challenging our ways of seeing ourselves and others.  Give me courage to live well in all the small choices of my day, to hear your voice calling me to the deepest integrity of myself, and the deepest practice of goodness with those I love.                     Amen.


Prayer:  Today, we pray for all who feel isolated.  In their uniqueness, they may also feel alone.  This is most of us, some of the time, but it is some of us most of the time.  God of encounter, may we all turn with love and interest towards those who have been isolated. God of encounter: hear our prayer.                                                              Amen.


The prayers are a little shorter this week, please add your own petitions and conclude after a period of silence with the Lord’s Prayer.


Joy Greenslade offers us the following prayer from Thomas Merton:


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 



Hymn:  What a friend we have in Jesus  Stf 531/R&S 413


Blessing:  God of power and light, you have called us into light and friendship.  Send us, now, into more light, with more of the power of friendship. This love is the love at the heart of all things that you call us friends.  Empower us in this friendship, this power, this glory.  And the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with us always.                                                                                              Amen.

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