Holy Communion Sunday, 16 August 2020

[The complete Service is contained in one video file. 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 Paul Le Sueur are in the text of the Service here below the video recording.]

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 tenth Sunday after Trinity.

We begin with the Prayer of the Week.

Let us pray.

Prayer of the Week

Wise and gracious God,
you spread a table before us
and nourish your people with the word of life
and the bread from heaven.
In our sharing of these holy gifts,
show us our unity in you
and give us a taste of the life to come.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

Amen

Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
 forgive our foolish ways;
re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
 in deeper reverence praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
 beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
 rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
 O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
 interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
 till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
 the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
 thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
 O still small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
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 56: 1, 6–8

Read by Jill Boynton

Salvation for others

1 This is what the Lord says:
‘Maintain justice
  and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
  and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
  to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
  and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
  and who hold fast to my covenant –
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
  and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
  will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
  a house of prayer for all nations.’
8 The Sovereign Lord declares –
  he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
‘I will gather still others to them
  besides those already gathered.’

NIV®

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

Psalm 67

Sung by Adrian Boynton

God be merciful unto us, and bless us
and show us the light of His countenance
and be merciful unto us,
that Thy way may be known upon earth;
Thy saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise thee, O God;
yea, let all the peoples praise Thee.

O let the nations rejoice and be glad,
for thou shalt judge the Folk righteously
and govern the nations upon earth.

Let the people praise thee, O God;
yea, let all the peoples praise Thee.

Then shall the earth bring forth her increase;
and God, even our own God, shall give us His blessing.
God shall bless us still
and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Worcester Psalter

Matthew 15: 10–20

Read by Adrian Boynton

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.’

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?’

13 He replied, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.’

15 Peter said, ‘Explain the parable to us.’

16 ‘Are you still so dull?’ Jesus asked them. 17 ‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.’

NIV®

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

Sermon

By Revd Paul Le Sueur

The human race is very good at arguments. The Bible’s first story about mankind in Genesis 3 is about an argument. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. In the very next chapter, Genesis 4, Cain and Abel quarrel and it all ends in a horrible murder. And so it has been ever since. We are an argumentative species. Only yesterday we commemorated the end of the biggest argument the world has ever experienced; the end of World War Two.

Not all arguments are about such huge issues as World War Two., which was about the fight against fascism and genocide of the Jews. The argument in today’s Gospel was about something which at first sight seems to be relatively trivial. The Pharisees were outraged because the disciples of Jesus were seen not to have washed their hands before eating! Well! Well! Well!

‘Go and wash your hands,’ was a familiar cry of my mother when I was young, and no doubt my wife often said the same thing to our children, too, before we sat down to a meal.

‘Wash your hands,’ has become something of a mantra of late for young and old alike. For us at this time, it is not only a matter of good hygiene, but potentially a matter of life or death.

But for the Pharisees, the reason was very different. They knew nothing about germs or viruses, although they may have noticed that the poor and unwashed suffered more illnesses than they themselves did. No! For them it was a matter of being pure and clean in the sight of God, and they firmly believed that outward cleanliness was a sure sign of inward purity. There were many times when a ceremonial washing was called for; for example, if you touched a leper or someone who was ill, you became ceremonially unclean, and you needed to undergo a ceremonial washing. Or if you touched a Gentile or many animals that were considered unclean, such as pigs or seafood; you couldn’t go to the synagogue or the temple without a ceremonial wash. Also, women who had undergone childbirth had to undergo a ceremonial cleansing. Echoes of this are still to be found in the Book of Common Prayer, with a ceremony called the ‘Churching of Women’, and when I first began ministry in the ’sixties, I was sometimes asked to use this service before a woman would feel it right to reappear in public.

Ritual and tradition can have a very strong hold over people, and this was certainly so in the time of Jesus. Of course, we still have many traditions, some good, some useful, some a bit weird and irrational. When I led a pilgrimage in Israel a few years ago, we visited many holy sites, and also churches, synagogues and mosques. I was slightly amused that in order not to offend, whether God or pious people, I’m not quite sure, we gentlemen had to doff our hats in churches, put on a hat in synagogues, and go barefoot mosques!

However, with many of the traditions which ruled Jewish life, Jesus had no time at all; and he argued fiercely with the Pharisees about them. The essence of his argument was about what constitutes true purity of heart, and what constitutes inward corruption and hypocrisy. The definition of hypocrisy is, ‘behaviour in which a person pretends to higher standards or belief than is actually the case’. Jesus cites some examples of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy.

Yes! Both here in the Gospel and elsewhere, Jesus really lams into the Pharisees, accusing them of hypocrisy and of being blind leaders of the blind. For Jesus, this was a fundamental issue, and he never shrank from a good argument!

The issue was that the Jews rightly prided themselves on being ‘the Chosen People’. And they were right! God had chosen them out of all the races upon earth to be the people to whom God would reveal his true nature and character. To Moses and the prophets, his holiness, his desire for justice, his mercy towards sinners, his infinite love and his compassion were revealed.

But, and it is a big but; the purpose he revealed himself to the Jews was so that they would be his agents, his missionaries, his envoys to the world. And in this, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, whether Pharisees, Sadducees or Levites failed miserably. They prided themselves on being God’s favourites, a cut above the rest of mankind. They had no sense of mission. Gentiles who were attracted to Judaism were at best …. Godfearers; to be admired in a way, but best kept at arm’s length.

It is only right to say that throughout the history of Judaism, there had been other voices, opposing voices. There were some who saw God’s vision for the whole world to come to a saving knowledge of himself. The books of Ruth and Jonah are examples of this wider vision.

Look again at our Old Testament passage. Isaiah 56, which speaks so strongly of holy foreigners and concludes in verse 7, ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.’ Yes!

my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.’

Look again at Psalm 67, which speaks so powerfully of a hoped-for time when all the world will know God. ‘Let all the peoples praise thee; Let all the nations rejoice and shout in triumph.

That is the Christian mission to the world. That is my mission. That is your mission. That is Cornerstone’s mission.

What may have seemed a trivial argument about hand-washing was actually about something much deeper. It was about purity of heart, without which we cannot serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

How often the Christian Church has failed: arguing among ourselves over petty matters of ritual or tradition, wasting time on non-essentials. How often have we said things which have defiled us? And the mission stalls.

J.B. Phillips wrote a book whose contents I have long admired. Its very title is a constant challenge. Its title is, Your God Is too Small.

Let it challenge us, too. Let it challenge your prejudices. And let Psalm 67 inspire you as a prayer and a vision of what the future could be.

Amen

Choral Response: He that shall endure to the end

He that shall endure to the end shall be saved.

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 Rosemary Kearsey

If we were in the Worship Area at church this morning,
we would be able to see the banner which celebrates our Ecumenical vision
and which members of our congregation worked on
under the creative inspiration and guidance of Patricia Preece.
It reminds us that we are ‘pilgrims together.’
So, remembering this, we pray:

God our creator, as pilgrims together on life’s journey,
we thank you that we do not travel alone.
As we pause together now to survey the landscape of the time ahead
and look back on the path along which we have travelled,
guide our thoughts and prayers
and help us to bring those who need our prayers into sharp focus.

We pray for those who are setting out on a new stage of life’s journey,
with the hope, expectation or anxiety which this brings:

for people beginning a new job, facing redundancy or embarking on retirement;
for people entering into new relationships;
for all young people who face particular challenges in today’s society.

We pray especially for children, young people, teachers and all who work in schools,
as they face the prospect of schools re-opening.
All may well be anxious, as may many parents,
about the impact this may have on the number of new cases of corona virus.

We pray for the staff, that, despite current challenges, they may find their job rewarding
and be able to work together with the students to set them on a course towards fulfilment in their lives.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who have stumbled and fallen as they travel over rough ground,

for people who feel that they may not now be able to complete the journey they had embarked upon;
for people looking for help to get them to their feet,;
for people who are suffering from physical or psychological ill health;
for people who suffer alongside friends and relatives who are ill but feel powerless to help them;
for people who have recently been bereaved;
and for people bereaved some time ago, for whom the pain of loss is still very raw.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray, too, for all people who have visited our church
who might have hoped to speak to a Pastoral Worker,
and for all those who would have left prayers in the basket in the Chapel.
In normal times, we would bring the basket into our Service.
So at this time, we join with these people to ask
that you will hear all their prayers and meet their needs.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We remember all whose journey has taken them to places
where they are separated from those they love:

for asylum seekers;
for refugees and migrants;
for those in prison.

We pray for those whose paths have been blocked by others,
and who may not see a way out of their difficulties:

for those who suffer the ravages of oppression, hunger, war, and any acts of violence
for those who work and pray for peace – peace which sometimes seems as far away as ever
for people who struggle with the racist or homophobic views of other people,
making it difficult for them to live their lives to the full.

We pray for those whose way ahead has been suddenly blocked
by circumstances beyond their control and who have no map to find an alternative route.
As people throughout the world contend with the coronavirus,
we pray for those who are suffering from the disease,
for those who have lost loved ones
and for all whose lives have been disrupted by regulations designed to keep us safe.

But in some parts of the world, other political tension,
natural or man-made disasters override concern about the virus.
We may have been particularly touched by a story
from Beirut, from Belarus, from Yemen, Hong Kong,
Kenya, Greece or Australia,
all of which have been in the news this week.
So we each focus on one place and hold its people before you.

Give them courage to face their difficulties and the leadership and resources they need.
Support the people with the knowledge of your love and care, and give them hope for the future.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who lead or aspire to lead others along part of life’s journey:

For people in positions of responsibility, whose decisions will affect the lives of others,
including our own – give them wisdom and insight.
Guide them as they consider what is best for all members of society.
For the members of our Ecumenical Council at Christ the Cornerstone,
and those planning a safe return to regular worship in the building –
give them a vision of the way forward, to enable us to witness to your love
by serving the people of Milton Keynes.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

And now we pray for ourselves

In a moment of quiet, we reflect on our own needs at this time.

As members of your community, may we feel you close to us,
and seek your guidance as we continue on the path you have set before us.

God our creator, companion and guide,
accept the prayers we offer and stay with us on our journey,
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen

Hymn: We cannot measure how you heal

We cannot measure how you heal
or answer everysufferer’s prayer,
yet we believe your grace responds.
Lord, let you Spirit meet us here
where faith and doubt unite to care.
Your hands, though bloodied on the cross,
survive to hold and heal and warn,
to carry all through death to life
and cradle children yet unborn.

The pain that will not go away,
the guilt that clings from things long past,
the fear of what the future holds,
are present as if meant to last.
But present to is love which tends
the hurt we never hoped to find,
the private agonies inside,
the memories that haunt the mind.

So some have come who need your help
and some have come to make amends,
as hands which shaped and saved the world
are present in the touch of friends
to mend the body, mind and soul,
to disentangle peace from pain
and make your broken people whole.

John L. Bell & Graham Maule, The Iona Community (1989)
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: Come on and celebrate

Come on and celebrate
his gift of love, we will celebrate
the Son of God who loved
us and gave us life.
We’ll shout your praise, O King,
you give us joy nothing else can bring,
we’ll give to you our offering
in celebration praise.

Come on and celebrate,
celebrate,
celebrate and sing,
celebrate and sing to the King.
Come on and celebrate,
celebrate,
celebrate and sing,
celebrate and sing to the King.

Patricia Morgan and Dave Bankhead (1984)
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: Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone (1986)

[Video recordings of all the music in this Service can be viewed by following this link: https://www.cornerstonemk.co.uk/music-videos-for-sunday-16-august/.]