Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for Fathers Day 21st June 2020

Today is Father’s Day
and the 2nd Sunday after Trinity 21st June 2020.

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Call to worship
The steadfast love of the Lord is good.
God’s mercy is abundant.
Let us draw near to God’s presence.

A gathering prayer.
O Lord, we enter into your steadfast love, asking that you will respond to our prayers; 
we trust in your abundant mercy and ask that you will come to us.
O Lord, make your presence known to us; 
draw near to us; redeem us, set us free; 
for we seek to be your faithful disciples.

A prayer of Confession
We are sorry for the times we get our priorities wrong –
when we do not put you first; 
when we fail to see the needs of our neighbours; 
when we lack the courage and faithfulness of true disciples.
Grant us forgiveness; 
grant us perseverance; 
grant us vision; 
that we may serve you as you desire, 
and play our part in establishing your kingdom.

Psalm 69
7 It is for your sake that I have been insulted
and that I am covered with shame.
8 I am like a stranger to my relatives,
like a foreigner to my family.

9 My devotion to your Temple burns in me like a fire;
the insults which are hurled at you fall on me.
10 I humble myself by fasting,
and people insult me; 

11 I dress myself in clothes of mourning,
and they laugh at me.
12 They talk about me in the streets,
and drunkards make up songs about me.

13 But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord;
answer me, God, at a time you choose.
Answer me because of your great love,
because you keep your promise to save.
14 Save me from sinking in the mud;
keep me safe from my enemies,
safe from the deep water.

15 Don't let the flood come over me;
don't let me drown in the depths
or sink into the grave.
16 Answer me, Lord, in the goodness of your constant love;
in your great compassion turn to me!

17 Don't hide yourself from your servant;
I am in great trouble—answer me now!
18 Come to me and save me;
rescue me from my enemies.

Our bible reading is Matthew 28 verse 16-20
When the going gets tough

24 “No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. 25 So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, the members of the family will be called even worse names!

Whom to Fear

26 “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent. 30 As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!

Confessing and Rejecting Christ

32 “Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven. 33 But those who reject me publicly, I will reject before my Father in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; 36 your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

37 “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. 38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

A Thought for the Day by Revd. Mike Sermon
The value of a life

Today is Father’s Day, when tradition has it that we show appreciation and gratitude for the role of our Father’s.

Realistically this is easier for some of us than others. For some the experience of time spent with our father is not a happy one. In fact we can be quite damaged by the relationship.

But we have another Father, a divine and heavenly Father who offers us something more.

In our bible reading from Matthew’s gospel Jesus is giving value to life. He compares our life to that of a sparrow. Jesus teaches that valuable as that sparrow is, your life and my life is of even greater value.

We are told that God the Father is attentive to the life of a sparrow. God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and as such each life is counted and valued. Yet, you and I are counted and valued even more highly than this. To the extent that even the hairs of our head are numbered. That’s how good God is with numbers.

So our experience with a father may be good, mixed or largely negative. But still, each of us has a divine and heavenly Father who esteems us, who loves us, who values us and who counts us as unique and special.

So today and next time you see one wonder at the life of a sparrow. Recall that each sparrow is valued and counted by its creator, and yet you and I are valued many times more, by God our heavenly Father.

So Jesus words paint a comforting picture, but later in this passage a challenge is thrown out. A challenge about allegiance and loyalty and faith sharing.

In many ways the bible is a promise and a love story addressed by God to his people. In 1 John 4 verse 16 we are told that, “God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them”. But with this comes the imperative to acknowledge and love in return, the lover.

In our bible reading Jesus portrays himself in the roles of an ambassador and advocate, speaking to his heavenly Father on our behalf. But he goes on to say that if anyone rejects him publicly, then he Jesus, will reject them before my Father in heaven.

We can wonder and value Jesus’ selfless love and teaching. We can admire the courage of his self- sacrifice. But if we do not receive and acknowledge him here and now, then he will not receive and acknowledge us in heaven later. That is the deal.

So two things then. Firstly, recognize and receive the Father’s love, and understand your value in the sight of God. Secondly, accept and acknowledge Jesus as your ambassador, advocate and Savior in order that at the end of time he will accept and acknowledge you. In essence, address Jesus as your friend today and share his love, amen.

Let us pray,

Loving God, thank you that you love and value your creation and the whole of life. Thank you that you love and value me, grant me the confidence and courage to share this love.

Revd. Mike Sermon Vicar St Paul’s Blackheath, Priest in Charge St James’ Rounds Green

Will you come and follow me
if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know, 
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, 
will you let my name be known, 
will you let my life be grown
in you, and in me?

Copyright © John L. Bell and Graham Maule 1987 WGRG Iona Community

Our prayers.
We pray for our fathers who have loved and supported us.
We praise you O Lord and give you thanks today.
For our mothers who have cherished and nurtured us.
We praise you O Lord and give you thanks today.
For the children entrusted to our care as parents.
We praise you Lord and give you thanks today.
For our godfathers and mothers and for all who first spoke to us of Jesus, and who have drawn us into the family of our heavenly 
We praise you Lord and give you thanks today.
Help us to live as those who belong to one another and to you, now and always.

For those whose fathers are absent, through desertion, war, or imprisonment:
Lord have mercy.
For those whose fathers are abusive:
Christ have mercy.
For those for whom the word 'Father' is a word of fear:
Lord have mercy.
For those whose fathers have died:
Lord have mercy.
For those who are anxious at the prospect of fatherhood:
Christ have mercy.
For fathers who miss their children desperately:
Lord have mercy.

Loving God,
as a father feeds, nurtures and sustains his children,
so you feed us with the rich food of your heavenly banquet.
Help us who have tasted your goodness
to grow in grace within the household of faith:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A sending out prayer
May the grace of the Father be with you, may the love of the Son enfold you; and may the peace of the Spirit comfort you, today and always.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society
Copyright © John L. Bell and Graham Maule 1987 WGRG Iona Community
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Reproduced with permission.