Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for the 10th Sunday after Trinity 23rd August 2020

Today the 10th Sunday after Trinity 23rd August 2020.

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

Call to worship

Father God
as we come together here today
build us together as your Church
one family, one body and one purpose
together in this place.
Amen.

A prayer of approach.

Lord, do we really believe that we are in the presence of the Son of the Living God?
Still our hearts now
so that we may truly appreciate who you are.
As we hear these words of power
we bow down before you and praise you.
Amen.

A prayer of Confession

Lord, thank you that you are always ready to forgive me
when I trust you enough to confess my sins to you,
even when I feel I don’t deserve it.
Be merciful to me, O God.

Forgive me for the times when
just because someone else’s story is different from mine
I don’t always want to believe it.
Forgive me for the times I only live my story
not seeing the bigger picture.
Be merciful to me, O God.

Forgive me for the times
I see you as less than the Son of God
and my whole outlook on life
needs a good dose of your love and understanding.
Be merciful to me, O God.
Amen.


Psalm 138
A Prayer of Thanksgiving

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
I sing praise to you before the gods

2 I face your holy Temple,
and praise your name
because of your constant love and faithfulness,
because you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme.

3 You answered me when I called to you;
with your strength you strengthened me.

4 All the kings in the world will praise you, Lord,
because they have heard your promises.

5 They will sing about what you have done
and about your great glory.

6 Even though you are so high above,
you care for the lowly,
and the proud cannot hide from you.


7 When I am surrounded by troubles,
you keep me safe.
You oppose my angry enemies
and save me by your power.

8 You will do everything you have promised;
Lord, your love is eternal.
Complete the work that you have begun.


Our bible reading is Matthew 16. Verses 13-20
Peter's Declaration about Jesus

13 Jesus went to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi, where he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 “Some say John the Baptist,” they answered. “Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.”

15 “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 “Good for you, Simon son of John!” answered Jesus. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. 18 And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


A Thought for the Day by Revd. Mike Sermon
Who do you say I am?

Who am I?

I am a writer born in the sixteenth century.

I am English.

I was born in Stratford upon Avon.

I am William Shakespeare, writer and playwright.

Who am I?

I am an itinerant teacher born two thousand years ago.

I am Jewish.

I was born in Bethlehem.

I am Jesus, Messiah.

Our name and our identity are crucial to our self- understanding and the way in which other people relate to and understand us.

I wonder how long it took you to recognize that the first name that I was looking for was William Shakespeare.

Identity, simply the revelation of a name reveals so much. For William Shakespeare our mind may run on to think of plays, Hamlet, King Leah, Romeo and Juliette and quotations from them, “to be or not to be that is the question”. A revelation of identity invites us to enter into a new world of understanding and it conveys much more than we can either imagine or quantify. A name opens up a pathway to knowledge and understanding taking us to places and conclusions that we have not met before. Here there begins a journey of endeavour, exploration and excitement to a fuller understanding of ourselves and of our world.

Peter’s declaration about Jesus is one of those pivotal moments in the whole of the bible. It is a turning point. Here Peter uses the word Messiah to describe Jesus which according to a dictionary definition means

“the expected deliverer and ruler of the Jewish people whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament; Christ, regarded by Christians as this; a liberator of oppressed people”.

One word, one apparently simple word, and yet a word with layers upon layers of meaning that takes us deep into our history and our hopes for the future.

This definition tells us that the Messiah was not unexpected. The Old Testament prophet Micah (chapter 5 verse 2) tells us

“Bethlehem, from you shall come forth a ruler”. Whilst the prophet Isaiah (chapter 9 verses 2 and 6) tells us

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, ‘Wonderful Counsellor,’ ‘Mighty God,’ Eternal Father,’ ‘Prince of Peace.’”

Identity, simply the revelation of a name reveals so much. For Jesus our mind may run on to think of symbols and sacraments such as a cross, a Eucharist or a Baptism and statements such as “The Lord is here His Spirit is with us.” Peter’s declaration of a name and a title for Jesus invites and demands a response.

We can choose to begin a journey of endeavour and exploration with the Jesus “the Messiah the Son of the living God,” a movement towards liberation and freedom or we can vote against change and stay as we are. Outright rejection, or sitting on the fence is a decision to stay put and to stick with what we have. Acceptance means taking a pathway that leads to liberation and freedom and an expanded life away a from the restricted, shackled place that we formerly occupied. The image of Jesus as a liberator is powerful, because this liberation enables us to love God, to love our neighbours and to love ourselves in ways that have never been possible before. Here we enter into an understanding that God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them (1John chapter 4 verse 16). This is true liberation.

A final thought. We are sometimes told that religion and politics do not mix. That they are to be separated and to be kept separate.

But the context of this passage says something rather different. Here we find Jesus a long way north in the city of Caesarea Philippi a seat of Roman political power and a place where Caesar is proclaimed to be God.

And here, Jesus chooses pointedly, to ask a political question about his identity

“who do people say the Son of Man is?”

What a provocative, challenging, radical, revolutionary question to ask in this place of power. And what a revelation it is to find where true power lies.

In this world we are all called to account as individuals, as politicians, as authorities and organisations wielding power, for the decisions and actions that we take. The values and principles that we find within the word Messiah, reveal to us how far we have strayed from the pathway that was originally intended for us. The good news, always, is that we do not need to stay on the wrong pathway, there is always a way back, for that in the end is the nature of God’s love for each and every person. Amen.

If you wish to begin a journey of endeavour and exploration with the Jesus, please get in touch we would love to hear from you.

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


Hymn

O worship the Lord
in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before him,
his glory proclaim;
with gold of obedience
and incense of lowliness,
kneel and adore him:
the Lord is his name.

Fear not to enter
his courts in the slenderness
of the poor wealth
thou wouldst reckon as thine:
truth in its beauty,
and love in its tenderness,
these are the off’rings
to lay on his shrine.

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875)


Our prayers.

We pray for people who struggle with their faith:
through self-doubt,
through difficult circumstances,
through bad things happening,
through being led astray,
by wanting fame and fortune.
We trust you, Lord, to answer our prayers.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Your will be done, O Lord.

We pray for people who feel in the dark,
locked in a situation where they can find no answer,
that they might come to understand that you are the key to everything they need.
We trust you, Lord, to answer our prayers.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Your will be done, O Lord.

We pray for ourselves:
when we are in difficult situations,
when we try to unlock doors that aren’t ours to unlock,
when we don’t focus on the kingdom,
when we don’t share our story.
We trust you, Lord, to answer our prayers.
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Your will be done, O Lord.


A sending out prayer

Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone he was the Messiah. We go out now, hearts so full of amazement and joy, that we can’t help but share the good news. Go with us, good Lord, and help us to tell everyone who will listen. Amen.

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
 John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875)
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