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Sunday 21st Service (with audio) | Barn Church Kew

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

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

              and also with you.

Hymn:  Praise my soul the king of heaven  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx1eMwlDFb8

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

         Brothers and sisters, as we prepare to celebrate, let us call to mind our sins.

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
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.

Let us pray

              O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments we may please you both in will and deed through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 20: 7-13

Jeremiah reading

You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
    you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
    everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
    proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
    insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
    “Terror on every side!
    Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
    are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
    then we will prevail over him
    and take our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
    their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
    and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord!
    Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy

    From the hands of the wicked.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Romans 6: 1-11

Romans reading

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Hymn:  There are hundreds of sparrows  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHg_0VPgBQI

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 

Glory to you, O Lord.

Matthew 10: 24-39

Matthew reading

Jesus said to his disciples, “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.  34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

 Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon – Richard Austen

Sermon

It is widely held by Biblical scholars that, while Matthew’s Gospel is the first which we find in the New Testament, it was actually written down about fifty years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. In the verses we have heard today, Matthew appears to collect together a number of related sayings of Jesus having to do with committed discipleship in the face of conflict.

Much of this passage is about persecution and suffering for being a follower of Christ.

Ever since Christianity came to these shores, and certainly since the arrival of St Augustine in 597, Christianity has been the norm, the mainstream in England, right up until recently.

Christians were not maligned for their faith here. Nobody threatened their lives. Being a Christian did not require cross-bearing, it was just the thing to do and in some eras you were persecuted if you were not, at least nominally, a Christian. There was persecution elsewhere in the World, there still is, but here in England life has always been relatively easy for Christians.

But even here things are changing, we are no longer the norm really. Just after Easter I read a circular from the local Council. In it it said that “Holy week and Passover are over and we approach the Holy Month of Ramadan”. No mention of Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar and Christianity was clearly just another religion. It seemed that, to the writer, Easter was perhaps just about bunnies and chocolate and not worth mentioning and maybe not even a religious festival at all. Our biggest challenges are probably going to be overcoming such ignorance, more than anything else.

The media delights in portraying Christianity in a negative light, but would not dare to make fun of other religions. It ignores the church’s good work, but delights in reporting its misdeeds.  I have often wondered why this might be and I have a few thoughts. A lot of people who mock Christianity come from Christian backgrounds and traditions. They have decided they are far too sophisticated to believe all this nonsense and wonder how intelligent people like us could possibly do so. So we are fair game for ridicule.  And it is safe to knock our faith, while it is not safe to knock others. But equally it is perhaps almost patronising to people of other faiths, almost treating them as if they are less sophisticated and need humouring when those who would mock us appear to treat them with deference. This actually dishonours other faiths as well as ours. No faith should be dishonoured.  But people of my generation who have rejected Christianity do mostly know something about it. It is the succeeding generations who have not been taught about it by their non believing parents, who I worry about. To them Christianity, if it even crosses their radar, really is just another religion. It is all rather sad.

So perhaps we might be nearing the time when we will find our faith to be a mystery to many people and difficult to witness to. In the future some of the difficulties and challenges which Jesus speaks about in this Gospel passage might become more real to western Christians, just as they are to so many of our brothers and sisters throughout much of the World. Christians might learn again what it means to suffer with Christ—to bear a cross—to be persecuted—to find families divided over issues of faith—to suffer abuse and ridicule.

Just as Jesus faced opposition and, ultimately, the cross, so Jesus’ disciples will face persecution. And he meant us as well as those in say Pakistan or Vietnam or Indonesia or China and many other places.

So, what should we do? Well we are not to tiptoe around the truth in the fear of inviting mockery or persecution. We should not be silent. We should wear our faith with pride. God loves us and God will protect us and has a place waiting for us with him in Heaven. We should proclaim our faith from the rooftops as Jesus tells us to do.

Moving on, many Christians today tend to think of God’s love rather than God’s judgment. However, this passage and many others like it make it clear that God will reward the faithful and punish the unfaithful. Perhaps in some ways we have lost our sense of awe in God’s presence. It is important, however, to fear and respect God for he has ultimate authority over everything. He is our Lord and friend, but he is not our mate. He is compassionate and full of love, but he must be treated with reverence and respect. And he demands that we do not deny him, that we stand up for him. If we acknowledge Jesus before other people, Jesus will acknowledge us before the Father in heaven. However, if we deny Jesus before other people, he will deny us before the Father. It is a bit like a courtroom with Jesus in the role of potential Barrister. If Jesus is our Barrister, we cannot lose. If Jesus declines to take on our defence, we cannot win. Thus, our actions in this life have eternal consequences, because Jesus is watching us and assessing us. It is not all a free lunch, it involves commitment and respect and a public witness of allegiance to him, even in the face of opposition or even persecution.

Jesus requires us to take up our cross and follow him. It is not an easy command to follow. But many have done so over the centuries and many have sacrificed much for Jesus – even lost their lives, or their livelihoods, their freedom, their families. But they are the ones who have found their lives, their salvation and their joy. The sacrifices we need to make are probably not quite so dramatic.  But we do need to follow their example, loving, serving, honouring our Lord in whatever way we can and never, ever denying him. Hallelujah!

Prayers – with thanks to Liz & Alex Coulson

Prayers

Let us pray for the Church, for worshippers of the Lord Jesus Christ, for followers of other faiths, for those who are beginning their journey in faith, and for those for whom religion is not a part of their daily lives. 

We pray for Father Peter and the wonderful support network of St Luke’s and The Barn, we pray for everyone who helps deliver these services physically and digitally and we pray for the entire community that says hello in the street, gives a passing nod or wave.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for understanding, learning and knowledge to accept new lessons and to comprehend that which we have not before. We pray for compassion and for the willingness to change and we give praise to the Lord to help us in this never-ending journey. Grant us the ability, not to judge, but to listen and then to act in God’s name to help heal society and to welcome all of our neighbours, all of God’s children, near and far.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for families and children across the country who, especially during lockdown without the regular provision of free school meals, struggle to put food on the table. We give thanks to those that provide support to these families; we pray for those who contribute with time and energy, through donations, and through love and compassion.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Grant us the power to acknowledge our past and change our future. We pray for the Black community in our country, in the United States and across the world. Black Lives Matter and we pray for those that have suffered and died at the hands of police brutality and all forms of racism. Help us to learn and guide us towards an educated understanding and real empathy for those who have and who continue to suffer, in a way it is so hard for many of us to comprehend.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Let us give thanks for all of our emergency services, care givers, and essential workers that keep us going through good times and bad. Let us pray for those that care for others and let us pray for the sick, we pray especially today for Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Gill Risso-Gill, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard,  

Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby, andMax Weston.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those that mourn, and may God grant them the ever-lasting strength of faith and courage. Let us pray especially for those in our community that have died, we remember today Mary Smith, John Axell, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, Rex Thorne, Gulam Abu Saleh, and Barbara Edwards.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord, grant us the serenity to find and create happiness in ourselves, and those around us. We ask for the strength to share the love of God to bring us all closer together in understanding and fellowship.

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

Hymn:  O for a heart to praise my God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MWRgPxwtMs

The Peace

Christ is our peace. 

              He has reconciled us to God

              in one body by the Cross.

              We meet in his name and share his peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  Now is eternal life  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPMEuyMLVrI

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              And now we give you thanks, most gracious God, holy and undivided Trinity:

because your have given us the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ,

that we may grow into your likeness and be changed from glory to glory.  Therefore with angels

and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we sing for ever of your glory.

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              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.

Blessing

       The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love, today and always.  Amen.

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

Hymn:   God is love, his the care  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjju_BKA1PE

J.S. Bach – CHORALE PRELUDE BWV 625: “Christ lag in Todesbanden”