Holy Communion for Sunday, 23 August 2020

[The complete Service is contained in one video file. Most of the Prelude is included at the beginning of the Service video recording and the Postlude has its own video file, at the bottom of this post. The words of the Service, hymns, readings and intercessions are all included in the video of the Service. The words of the Sermon by Revd George Mwaura are in the text of the Service here below the video recording.]

Prelude: Organ Sonata no. 3 (2nd movement)
by Paul Hindemith (1940)

Led by Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

Welcome

Welcome in the name of Christ.
God’s mercy, grace and peace be with you.

Good morning, Living Stones, and welcome to our Holy Communion Service on the eleventh Sunday after Trinity.

We begin, as always, with the Prayer of the Week.

Let us pray.

Prayer of the Week

Living God, we thank you for calling us to be your people.
Each and every one and not just some people.
We are truly blessed that the One who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven
is the One who has the key to our hearts.
Thank you for the privilege of being part of the amazing story of faith
that sustained our ancestors.
We thank you, for we know our future and place is with you
through the Messiah, your Son and our Lord.

Amen

Hymn: Through all the changing scenes of life

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me,
with me exalt his name;
when in distress to him I called,
he to my rescue came.

The host of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all
who on his succour trust.

O make but trial of his love,
experience will decide
how blest are they, and only they,
who in his truth confide!

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight,
your wants shall be his care.

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
the God whom we adore,
be glory, as it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

Nahum Tate (1652–1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659–1726)
CCL31580

Gathering Prayer

Jesus said: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Welcome to the house of God.
We have come from all the corners of the earth.

Welcome to the hospitality of God.
We come as we are; we bring our life, our stories, our journey.

Welcome, brothers and sisters.
We are the rainbow people of God.

Welcome, chosen people.
May God our companion bind us in his love.

Amen

The Confession

Forgive us for the things we have done and have not done.
Forgive us for the things we have said and have not said.
Forgive us for the life we have lived and not lived.
Beloved God, help us to reflect the image
of the one we profess to follow
in thought, word and deed,
and in discovering our true self
draw others into that light.

Amen

The Word of the Lord

Isaiah 51: 1–6

Everlasting salvation for Zion

1 ‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
  and who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were cut
  and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father,
  and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
  and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion
  and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
  her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
  thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

4 ‘Listen to me, my people;
  hear me, my nation:
instruction will go out from me;
  my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily,
  my salvation is on the way,
  and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
  and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
  look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
  the earth will wear out like a garment
  and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last for ever,
  my righteousness will never fail.

NIV®

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Matthew 16: 13–20

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’

14 They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

15 ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’

16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

17 Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

NIV®

This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.

Sermon

By Revd George Mwaura

Quiz time!

Mysterious God, speak to us your words of wisdom and help us to fully grasp
who you are and how we fit into your purpose of this creation, through Jesus our Lord.

Amen

Now, the story is told of a rich man who wanted to do something good for someone in his community.
And so he spent a few days walking around his neighbourhood,
and he noted that the village carpenter lived in an old slanting shack that was threatening to collapse.
So, he hired him to build a house.
He said to him, ‘I want you to build a house for an incredibly special person.
I want you to use only the finest building materials, hire the best workers and spare no expense at all.
I am going away on a business trip for a month and I would like to see the house finished when I return.’

The carpenter saw this as a great opportunity to make some extra money.
So, he bought substandard building materials and hired unqualified workers to help with the work,
paying them as little as he could.
He covered their mistakes with paint and plaster and cut corners at every opportunity.
When the rich man returned from his trip,
the carpenter brought him the keys to the house and said,
‘I followed your instructions and built the house just as you told me to.’
‘Oh, I am so glad you did that,’ the rich man said, ‘because the special person I wanted the house for is you.
It is my gift to you, and your family.’

Ha!

Perhaps one of the most difficult factors of Christian living is that we never know how, where or when God will act.
We do not know exactly how God might help us, regardless of the time we spend in prayer.
The God we worship and serve is a God who constantly surprises us.
And this inability to predict God’s movements can be very frustrating at times.

Our Gospel reading this morning looks at one aspect of this issue.
It deals with the problem of getting what we want, only to discover that it is not exactly what we thought it would be.
Let me summarize the story:
For many months Jesus had been traveling through the countryside,
healing the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching in parables,
and proclaiming the good news of the love of God for all God’s children.
Multitudes followed him everywhere.
But in spite of his apparent popularity, we get a sense that Jesus was troubled about something.
He knew that he was not exactly the kind of Messiah the people wanted and expected him to be.
The very people he had come to save totally misunderstood his purpose in coming.

That is not surprising, it is not uncommon even today. People see things differently all the time.
For example, three people – a minister, an geologist, and a farmer –
were visiting the Grand Canyon in America for the first time.
The minister exclaimed, ‘Truly this is one of the glories of God!’
The geologist commented, ‘What a wonder of nature this is!’
And the farmer said, ‘Can you imagine trying to find a lost  sheep in there, it’s so vast?’
People see things differently.
The Messianic hope of those in the Jewish community was that the Chosen One
would re-establish the supremacy of Israel among the great nations
in a violent and vengeful manner by overthrowing the Romans.
But before this happened, the prophet Elijah would return to announce the coming of the Chosen One.

So, now, Jesus had to communicate to his disciples and others
that what he was offering was something completely different from what they expected.
Jesus’ followers did not and could not understand that to be the Messiah
he would have to suffer and ultimately die.
And so, one day, Jesus invited his disciples to sit and rest awhile on a quiet hillside in Philippi Caesarea.
Maybe around a campfire in the evening, Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’
Now most likely the disciples were careful in giving their answer.
They did not want to mention any of the bad things they must have heard folks say about Jesus.
Instead they responded positively.
Well, Lord, some people say you are the ghost of John the Baptist,
and some even say that you are the reincarnation of Elijah himself, the greatest prophet in our history.
But Jesus pressed them further: ‘OK, OK, I get that, that’s what people say; but tell me, who do you say I am?
Who do you say I am, yourself?’
An awkward silence must have followed as the disciples exchanged nervous glances,
looked down at their feet or off into the distance, as if searching for an answer.
They had no problem at all reporting what other people were saying about who Jesus was,
but when it came to expressing their own innermost understanding of who he was, they were silent.

Step in good old Peter, breaking the silence: ‘Rabbi, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.’
’Bravo, Peter!’ I wonder if Peter really knew what he was going to say before he said it.
He was awfully impetuous, you know.
And I wonder if he understood the full meaning of the statement: ‘Messiah, Son of the Living God’.
Now, if I stopped here for a bit and asked you, who do you say that Jesus is, how would you respond?
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Some of you might agree with Peter: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Others might echo the words of Thomas: Jesus is my Lord and my God.
Still, some of you might say, Jesus is the best friend they ever had.
Who do you say Jesus is?

Yes, Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, the second person of the Trinity, our Lord and Saviour,
but what do these titles mean to us today?

You see, quite often, adults like to complicate things.
But children, unlike us, have a wonderful ability for deeply religious concepts in very simple language.
Listen to some of their questions about God, Jesus, and religion in general:
‘Will my dog go to heaven when she dies?’
‘If Jesus is up in heaven, how can he be here with us at the same time?’
‘My Grandpa never went to church with us before he died. Is he in heaven now?’
‘If heaven is up in the sky, how come the astronauts have not seen it?’
I wonder, how would you answer such questions of these children?

But we grownups , too, have questions of faith too.
Many of us talk about the questions we want to ask God if and when we get to heaven.
Example: If you really love the world, God, how would you allow Covid-19
to create such a mess in our world, including shutting down your churches?
What was the point of the explosion in Beirut?
Why are there accidents that kill thousands of people and injure thousands more?
Why do innocent Children die?
Why did I lose my job?
I have no doubt you have your own set of questions.

A young woman lost her husband in a car accident,
her teenage son was arrested for drug abuse
and she was diagnosed with cancer in the same month.
Now, driving home from the hospital, she saw a car in front of her with a sticker that read: ‘Jesus is the answer.’
And she could not stop asking herself: answer to what? –
My loneliness, my inadequacy as a parent, or my fear of dying from cancer?
Exactly what is Jesus the answer to?
And if Jesus is the answer, then why are all these bad things happening to me?
I am a good practising Christian. ‘Why, why God?’ she asked.

You see, sometimes in our zeal to be messengers of the good news, we answer a little too quickly.
We do not want anyone to know that we are not sure what we mean when we say that
Jesus is the Son of the Living God, or that Jesus is the answer.
We would not want anyone to think that our faith is anything less than strong and secure.
As people of God, we feel that we need to know all the answers to questions of faith,
when in reality we have trouble answering the one question that Jesus asks his disciples of every age:
‘Who do you say that I am?’

And so, when questions of faith come up, we are tempted to give a short reply
like Jesus is the answer, then change the subject as quickly as we can.
If we say more than that, someone might realise that we do not have all the answers.
Who do you say that Jesus is?
The gift of faith places the confession on our lips. I’ll repeat that again:
The gift of faith places the confession on our lips, Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
But every day we must struggle to understand exactly what that means
when we are faced with the difficult questions of life and faith.
When these questions arise in your life – and take my word they will – God does not expect you to have all the answers.
We can confess our faith, and I certainly encourage you to do that.
But sometimes it is also okay to admit and say, ‘I just don’t know the answer to that.’
‘I do not completely understand how God works.‘
’I am searching for answers, just like you.’
Be honest and remember what the apostle Paul tell us:
For now, we see through a glass, dimly, but one day, one day we will understand fully what it means
to confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Until that day, we must continue our daily journey of faith, taking one shaky step at a time.
And we must not be afraid to ask questions or to admit that we do not have all the answers.
You know what? We do not even know all the questions, and I praise God for that.

Amen

An Affirmation of Faith

We believe in the Creator:
the maker of all things.

We believe in the Son:
the redeemer of our broken world.

We believe in the Spirit:
The sacred wind that binds all things together in the family of God.

Creator Father, beloved Son and living Spirit.

Amen

Intercessions

By Cheryl Montgomery

Lord, through all the ages you have assured us of your love and faithfulness:
that if we call you will answer, that if we trust in you we will find deliverance.
We come to you confidently in prayer, knowing that you will never abandon your creation.

In the quiet of late summer, we pray for everyone who can find time and space
for respite, for rest, for refreshment.
Look after people on holiday, taking a break from routine, especially those we know.
Bless them with calm days and peaceful vistas
so their return to work or school or caring is met with eager anticipation.

We give thanks for our staff and volunteers who ensure the Cornerstone message
of faith in the city can still be seen and heard.
Inspire them with imagination and skill to keep our digital doors accessible and open to all.
We pray for people charged with preparing for society
where new ways of being sociable will be with us long enough to make us all different:
a society where distance and separation are polite conduct.
Help them prepare schools and churches to be places of welcome, constrained but not discarded.
Lord, we trust in you to hasten the day when we can sing again.

We pray for fearful people:
afraid to go out, afraid of others’ carelessness, afraid of neighbours in the street.
Banish their fear with trust in you.
We pray for people fearful of an uncertain future:
threats of eviction, joblessness, abuse, abandonment.
Banish their fear with hope and hands-on help from people who can provide it.
We pray for the now unseen poor:
people with poverty of means who need the food bank;
people with poverty of spirit who need us to remember the prayers in the basket;
people of poverty who trust us to care for them all.
Bless us with eyes to see, ears to hear and our compassion with practicality.

We pray for members of our congregation whose lifeline, for many, is found in a mobile phone.
We give thanks for our Ecumenical vision of a doing church:
people of faith living in unity, drawn from all the far-flung corners of the earth.
We trust in your promise to see us through hardship.
May we all contribute gladly of our many gifts
to guide our action and sustain our common life.

We look forward to the week ahead
as an opportunity for service, a chance for blessing, a time for inclusion.
Give us grace to live in the light of salvation,
declaring with Peter, ‘You are our Messiah. ’ In you, Christ, we place our trust.

Amen

Hymn: Brother, sister, let me serve you

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Richard Gillard (b. 1953)
CCL31580

The Peace

Jesus says,

‘Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid.’

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Offering

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9: 6–7

Thank you

To everyone who is continuing to pay us regularly through the Parish Giving Scheme.
To everyone who is continuing to pay us regularly by bankers’ order.
To people in the envelope scheme who are putting their money aside every week ready to bring in when we re-open.
To members of the envelope scheme who have already sent cheques and on-line donations.

Thank you

Holy Communion

The Thanksgiving

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become our spiritual drink.

Blessed be God for ever.

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.

Eucharistic Prayer

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

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.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Amen

Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Take this bread:

Share this wine.

In these Christ comes to us with love from God.
The gifts of God for the people of God.

Amen

Hymn: Lord Jesus Christ

 Lord Jesus Christ,
you have come to us,
you are one with us,
Mary’s Son;
cleansing our souls from all their sin,
pouring you love and goodness in;
Jesus, our love for you we sing,
living Lord.

 Lord Jesus Christ,
now and every day,
teach us how to pray,
Son of God.
You have commanded us to do
this in remembrance, Lord, of you:
into our lives your power breaks through,
living Lord.

 Lord Jesus Christ,
you have come to us,
born as one of us,
Mary’s Son.
Led out to die on Calvary,
risen from death to set us free,
living Lord Jesus, help us see,
you are Lord.

 Lord Jesus Christ,
I would come to you,
live my life for you,
Son of God.
All your commands I know are true,
your many gifts will make me new,
into my life your power breaks through,
living Lord.

Patrick Appleford (1924–2018)
CCL31580

The Blessing

Thank you for joining us this morning.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace.

And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father,
the Son
and the Holy Spirit
be among you
and remain with you
today and always.

Amen

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

Amen

Postlude: Alamanda ‘Bruynsmedelijn’ variations
by Samuel Scheidt (1640)

[Video recordings of all the music prepared for this Service can be viewed by following this link: https://www.cornerstonemk.co.uk/music-videos-for-sunday-23-august-2020/.]