Service notes Sunday 16th August

10th Sunday after Trinity                                                                           Bromwich Road Mission                                                                                        16 August 2020                                                                                                                                           

 

Welcome​https://youtu.be/6FQ0Snsuk-Y

 

A warm welcome to our service to those here in the chapel of Bromwich Road Mission and those who will worship from home using this service.

It is, as it always it, my privilege to be leading this act of worship here and preaching and I convey to you the prayers and good wishes from St Hilda’s Church Warley Woods. In these strange and challenging days it is as important as ever that we pray for other places of worship and people of faith.   Tonight we think a little bit about inclusion and the Kingdom of God.

We begin our time together in prayer, knowing that whether we are in church or at home, the Holy Spirit joins us all together:

Gathering Prayer

Faithful God,

As we gather in different spaces,
each a precious part of your family.
Meet us as we worship,
Assure us of your love,
And renew our hope in You.
Amen.

 

A reading from Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”  Amen

Hymn 1 Amazing Grace by John Newton

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT0JvdAkTNU

 

Gospel Reading:​

Matthew 15: 1-28 https://youtu.be/pYcdVFyu4OM

The faith of a Canaanite woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’

24 He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’

25 The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said.

26 He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’

27 ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’

28 Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment. Amen

 

Sermon​

Someone once said that “Inclusion is a right, not a special privilege for the select few.”

There has been much in the history of the church about who’s in and who’s out when it comes to a particular situation and context. For example: there is a question about who can be included in receiving Communion – everyone, or just those who have been baptized and confirmed?  Who can get married in church?  Only a women to a man, or should two same-sex people be included?  Going back a few hundred years there were questions about who would be included in life after death?  Only those who practised their faith in a particular way, or all who professed themselves Christians?  Or how about other faiths, or those with no faith?  Who is in and who is out?  It’s a struggle isn’t it?

On a non-theological, but very practical level, we have all seen and experienced something of the “who can come in, who can’t” situation.  We can’t come into church or some shops without masks, but leeway is given to some.  There are migrants trying to cross the English channel from France - but the UK authorities have said, you can’t come in.  And many young people are worried about their predicted exam results in case a bad result precludes them from studying the courses they intended to. 

Well the Gospel reading today gives us a story where this question of inclusion and exclusion comes before Jesus himself.  And even he struggled with it.  So if Jesus wasn’t sure at first, we need not be too hard on ourselves when we come to think about the questions we are being asked.

Jesus’ mission was to announce the message of the arrival of the Kingdom of God to the people of Israel. He did this through teaching and healing.  Israel was the chosen people of God, and the role of the Messiah was to fulfil the Jewish law and so if God’s new law was to come into the world, then it had to come to and through Israel first.  So when Jesus and the disciples meet a women from Canaan, who asks to be part of this new law – in the form of healing for her daughter – they are faced with the question we started with – is she, a women from Canaan, the people condemned by God for its struggles against Israel, to be included in God’s mission or not?

Jesus’ problem here was that if the people from Israel were not the first to hear the message of God’s new kingdom, that if he had simply begun an indiscriminate mission to the wider world, before God’s promise had unfolded, he would have made God out to be a liar.  

So he gives this response “It is not right to take the children’s bread (the message) and toss it to the dogs” a title given by Jews to the Gentiles.  We of course only have the words and not the tone.  Did Jesus say this in a sharp, harsh and derogatory manner of a Jew focussed on delivering the message only to the Jews?  Or did he say it out of his dry sense of humour and with an ironic smile on his face, perhaps deliberately voicing the prejudice of the disciples and therefore offering the women the opportunity for her wonderful, witty and sharp response?  What do you think? 

Whichever it was, Jesus saw in her a great faith,  She genuinely believes he can heal her daughter; she addresses him as Son of David – a messianic title which even the disciples were struggling to fully acknowledge, and she sees a future when the message that is first addressed to Israel will one day come done to the whole world.  Indeed St Matthews’ Gospel ends with Jesus’ famous words “Go and make disciples of all nations…”

The Psalm I read at the start, talks about the inclusivity of God’s kingdom.   

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.

Originally it may have been written with the image of the Jewish Temple in mind, but we have learned today from the Canaanite women that what was thought of as God’s Kingdom at one time is only a prelude to God’s ultimate vision of everyone and everything being included and dwelling within it.  Maybe we do have to actually dosomething to be ‘in’ – have faith, show compassion, experience love or something else, I don’t know.  But what we shouldn’t ever do is to claim and assume that someone is out - is excluded. 

I don’t think inclusion into God’s kingdom is necessarily a “right” but it certainly isn’t only for the “select few”.  Our job as a church is to be the forerunner of the Kingdom and therefore do everything we can to include everyone who comes to us in need or otherwise, and not to judge but welcome.   Therein lies the example, humility and greatness of Jesus.  Amen

 

Hymn 2:​To God to be the Glory by Frances van Alstne

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD_9P9DB4pw

 

Intercessory Prayer https://youtu.be/VdqxDaU9p9A

 

For the many peoples of the Church and in the world, let us pray to the Lord.

 

Make the Church be open to the needs of all who come, never forgetting that the good news of salvation is for all people.  Give to us the grace to help those who come in need, and to help feed them with the bread of life.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer

Heal the wounds of suspicion that divided nations and races.  Give to those in authority compassion to hear the cry of those who come to seek help in their distress and not send them away without relief.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer

Make us alert to the needs that are around us, more willing to share the great benefits that we have received in body, mind and Spirit.  Bless the families in this community and bring hope to those who are in trouble.  We think today off all students having received their exam results.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer

We pray for sick children, for their parents and for those who work for their care and healing.  We remember all suffering with Covid and those with long term illness.  May they all be brought to a full and joyful life.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer

We give thanks for the departed who, having trusted in you for healing and sustenance in this world, will enter into the fullness of joy.  May we follow them in the faith that does not falter until all is revealed.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.


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

 

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in Heaven

hallowed by thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

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

 

Hymn 3:​Great is thy faithfulness T.O. Chrisholm

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTKIqmdfHSk

 

Blessing​ https://youtu.be/2eyJ9FL5il0

The love of the Lord Jesus

draw us to himself,

the power of the Lord Jesus

strengthen us in his service,

the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always.  Amen 

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