Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

13th Sunday after Trinity

29 Aug 2021, midnight

Readings: Deuteronomy 4v1-2&6-9; Psalm 15; James 1v17-end; Mark 7v1-8, 14-15 & 21-23.

Let us pray: God be in our heads and in our understanding. God be in our eyes and in our looking. God be in our mouths and in our speaking. God be in our hearts and in our thinking. God be at our end and at our departing. Sarum Primer (1527)

A Word from Lucy:

The prayer for the day asks God to help the Church to bear witness and proclaim the good news of God’s love, so that all who hear it will be drawn to God.

This challenges us to consider what we are to bear witness to? This is important because, in the gospel, Jesus takes on the Pharisees because they are practicing human traditions and peddling them as God’s commandments. For the Pharisees believed that they would be spiritually defiled if they did not follow a series of complex rituals before eating. Jesus knew the Pharisees were not only in error but also trapped by the traditions that had been handed down to them. So, Jesus made sure that they knew that it was their own evil intentions and uncontrolled evil behaviour that defiled them rather than failure to carry out human traditions. In Deuteronomy, Moses instructs the people to keep God’s commandments and teach them to their children’s children. This means that, as we bear witness, we must heed Jesus’ teaching and make sure that what we teach is truly what God commands and not simply pass on our human traditions.

For as James says in his letter, the motivation for every generous, kind and loving deed comes from God and flawless religion is all about: caring for those in distress and steering clear of the immorality of the world. James warns that anything less than this is a false and worthless religion; and James urges all people to stop just hearing the word of God and to become a people who act on it. For, in this way, James says that we shall learn to be modest and God’s word will grow and flourish within us; making us able to learn how to listen before speaking; and, how to keep control of our tempers; and how to rid ourselves of our immoral ways; and learn the ways of God and the perfect law that brings liberty and blessings.

Now, as we strive to draw others to God, we need to take due care because, as the post-communion prayer tells us, we need to be a people who feed and nourish our children with the spiritual teachings that will truly equip them for a life of pilgrimage. For as the psalm says, all who are drawn to God are people: who avoid corrupt behaviour, who do not deceive others pr take bribes or do evil, who are not disrespectful towards others and do not look up to those who do evil. The psalm also says that these are the people who will never fall from God and can be relied on: to do the right thing, to speak the truth, to keep their promises, to lend without charging interest and to honour all people who respect God.

I believe that we are being called to listen to what God wants of us and to take action in line with God’s will as we bear witness and proclaim the good news of God’s love. As we move forward, we need to heed Jesus’ warning about false teachings and take action to pursue what James describes as unblemished religion. For, that way, everyone who is drawn to God will be fed and watered on spiritual teachings that will equip them for a life of pilgrimage – the journey we make from being sinners to being a people saved by Jesus who are welcome to enter into eternal life.

Let us pray: Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen. (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)

Lords’ prayer: 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

The Grace: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. AMEN

Thank you for joining us today.