A SERVICE OF THE WORD

GREETING

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: 

And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

We are gathered together as the family of God in our Father’s presence to offer praise and thanksgiving to ask forgiveness of our sins to hear and receive God’s Holy Word to pray for the needs of the world and to seek God’s grace that through Jesus Christ our Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit we may give ourselves to God’s service.

Sing with me: ‘This is the day’ with this Youtube video. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE AND FORGIVENESS

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Rejoice, then, even in your distress.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

He called us from our darkness into the light of his day.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Gloria in Excelsis 

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, with God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. 

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. 

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

COLLECT OF THE DAY

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

O God, who alone can bring harmony to the minds of your faithful people: give us grace to love the things you command, and to desire the things you promise; that, amid the uncertain changes of this world, our hearts may be firmly fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

The Collect of the Day is said and all respond, Amen.

READINGS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE 

Lev 16.1-19

The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died. The Lord said to Moses:

Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy seat that is upon the ark, or he will die; for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and shall have the linen undergarments next to his body, fasten the linen sash, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy vestments. He shall bathe his body in water, and then put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall slaughter the bull as a sin offering for himself. He shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of crushed sweet incense, and he shall bring it inside the curtain and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the covenant, or he will die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

He shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the curtain, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which remains with them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one shall be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the sanctuary until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement on its behalf, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on each of the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleanness of the people of Israel.

1 Th 5.1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Mt 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

SERMON

The words of Matthew 6, written after the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple in AD70, yet still differentiated between Jew and Gentile. The way the Gospel of Matthew was written has created great discussion over the centuries – was it written for Jews? Or Gentiles? Or Both?

You’d wonder, wouldn’t you with a derisive comment in the first sentence of our Gospel reading today:

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.”

As one travels further into Matthew, it’s not the Gentiles who are continually derided, but this ends up being the Jewish authorities. Suddenly the Gentiles aren’t so bad. I suggest that the Gentiles in this sentence aren’t just people who aren’t Jews, but also include those who follow Roman pagan religions. Atheists, or non-theistic religions, or poly-theistic religions.

Instead we’re given a gentle and humbling set of words, full of great meaning and to the point. None of the ritual and purist malarkey we see in the reading from Leviticus. In those times, if these rituals weren’t done ‘just so’ then the Lord of Israel, according to the Hebrews, was not pleased. 

I am very thankful that we have a loving and forgiving God. We’re asked to build each other up and encourage one another. We can only do this with a positive framework, with positive mindsets. Anything else decreases that love and encouragement.

The passage from the first letter to the Thessalonians is sobering, especially in the times we’re in. This was the first letter that was written (that we know about), even before the Gospels. Written to house churches in Thessalonica, who met under fear of persecution, the letters would be brought in and someone would read the whole letter.

Paul is to the point, his theology is beginning to evolve, yet his point is that we should obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. Our joy is in Christ, and our praise, our worship should be humble and encouraging. 

Our father in heaven – is heaven a place, geographically, spatially, or is it in our hearts?

Hallowed be your name – We worship and adore you. 

Your kingdom come – where do we want God’s kingdom? Earth? Our hearts? Our communities?

Your will be done – literally? Always? No ifs or buts? Or sometimes?

On earth as it is in heaven – the invite is there to build God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. How exciting and challenging is that?

Give us today our daily bread – physical food or Spiritual food? Or both?

Forgive us our debts – The word ‘debts’ is chosen deliberately. This is nearest the actual meaning, rather than trespasses, which sounds like one trespassing on land. Debts – we so need God’s grace for all those things we have done wrong, either deliberately or by mistake.

As we also have forgiven our debtors – God forgives us, when we forgive others. This is a hard one, make no mistake.

And do not bring us to the time of trial – Who wants to go and stand before the judgement seat?

But rescue us from the evil one – this would appear self-explanatory, but sometimes temptation gets the better of us, and we need rescuing.

We really do have a loving God that only wants the best for us. Sometimes, however, it is really difficult to do what he asks of us – like forgiving someone who has done you a great wrong – whether on purpose or unknowingly. But Jesus doesn’t mince his words here:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” 

The point of forgiveness is not to forgive and happily trust the trespasser again, it is to resolve the conflict in your own heart and move on past the point of hurt.

It took me over 20 years to forgive two people who had caused great pain. Yet, they caused pain out of great brokenness. Unless forgiveness comes into play, there is a danger that the hurt and anger they exhibited would carry on being demonstrated through my actions towards others. Forgiving them allows me to lay their hurt and anger to one side. I could only forgive them by asking our father in heaven, whose name I hallow, to help me. I could then praise God knowing that His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. 

God knows just what we need, and he doesn’t give us empty phrases. The Lord’s Prayer is gentle, humbling, and full of great meaning. Let it be so in your life.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

We believe in one God, the Father, the almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. 

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again In accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

Prayer is offered for the world and its people, for those who suffer and those in need, for the Church and its members. The prayers conclude with one of the following forms of the Lesser Litany and the Lord’s Prayer.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

ACT OF DEDICATION

This is the day that the Lord has made; * let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made; * let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

This is the day that the Lord has made; * let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your holy word: may it be a lantern to our feet, a light upon our paths, and a strength to our lives. Take us and use us to love and serve all people in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Te Deum 

Music to accompany the Te Deum comes from this YouTube video. The words are in Latin, but may help you to reflect. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

We praise you, O God; we acclaim you as Lord. All creation worships you, the Father everlasting. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, the cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might: heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you, the noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you: Father, of majesty unbounded; your true and only Son, worthy of all praise: and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide. You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you took our flesh to set us free you humbly chose the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come to be our judge. Come then Lord and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, And bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.

DISMISSAL

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Alleluia.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.

With thanks to the Chœur de l’abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval. Music licensed to YouTube by [Merlin] IDOL Distribution (on behalf of Studio SM); Concord Music Publishing, and 2 Music Rights Societies. And the Cooseboos.

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