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Rectors Notes

Notes 30th August 2020
Matthew 16v21-28


Hymn The Servant King (From heav’n you came, helpless babe) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rh4xEvMVQQ

Bible Reading Matthew 16v21-28

Prayer Grant, O God, that in the written word, and through the spoken word, we may behold the living Word, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We know the letters ‘PTO’ mean ‘please turn over’ for there is more information to be communicated. If you don’t turn over you’ll miss information and not know the full message. Today’s gospel reading could be titled ‘The PTO Message’ with three letters meaning purpose, temptation & obedience. For Jesus is revealing something very important to his disciples and to His followers who would come after him.

The phrase ‘from that time on’ (v21) marks a turning point in Jesus’ teaching with his disciples. Jesus reveals to them that in the days ahead ‘he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law.’ He then makes a startling revelation to them, as well as suffering his resurrection would take place after three days! From the disciples response we see they didn’t grasp Jesus’ purpose for they had their own preconceived notions what he should and shouldn’t do.

Last year at the Annual Easter Vestry I explained what the bible shows us is God’s purpose for his church – to be a ‘WELL’ church. This means the church is to focus its time and talents on Worshipping, Evangelising, Loving & Learning. This year we have been doing that;

Worshipping – As well as regular services we have added two Praise evening services that were very well attended. The Family Service has provided us with an opportunity to have our young people involved and the hotdogs & burgers after the service brings the young and old together. Thank you to Erin, Lauren and the choir for leading our worship and singing some great anthems throughout the year. Also thank you to Mr Harry Caskey for faithfully leading and preaching at our services and to all to those who read lessons and prayers.

Evangelising has often been a ministry church members have felt uncomfortable about. Yet, the highlight for me this year was the Alpha course in the autumn. The meals, video talks and discussion groups refreshed and strengthened the belief in the Christian faith for those who attended. A deliberate focus of  KFC (Kids For Christ) & Youth Fellowship was to help them grow in their sense of belonging to our church and personally believing in the Christian faith.

Loving others as Christ loves us makes the church different from all other organisations. The ladies in the church continued each month to make scones & traybakes for the staff to show our appreciation for all they do for our young people. Also in November there was a fantastic turnout at the Big Breakfast and from the donations we were able to further support our local school with £1,000 to buy much needed technology and books. The pastoral team continued to care for the housebound and along with the catering team provided an Easter afternoon tea and a Harvest lunch at for some senior members. With 14 bereavements this year the funeral refreshments have been greatly appreciated by many grieving families. This year also saw the restart of junior badminton, this allowed young people to meet and learn the game.

Learning is a lifelong activity. After Christmas parishioners had the opportunity to attend a midweek IJM (International Justice Mission) study and a Network Course (discovering your gifts and place in the church). It was an opportunity to challenge ourselves and to grow in knowledge of the Christian faith.
Praying is the strength of the church. Our monthly prayer meeting provide an opportunity to bring our concerns to God, to ask for His kingdom to come and to listen for His voice.

In serving one another, a person’s faith and friendships grow. Special thank you to my two and half churchwardens (Louise Kennedy, Russell Kennedy and his wife Sylvia) for their devotion to duty. Thank you to our Glebewardens & select vestry who looked after our furnishing, fabrics and finance to a very high standard. Also thank you who served us in keeping the church grounds & graveyard, those who cleaned the church/hall each week and those who decorated our church for Harvest, Christmas and Easter. To everyone working behind the scenes leading the different ministries thank you.

Going back to today’s passage, we learn another important lesson in the Christian faith. Peter, Jesus’ friend and devoted follower had eloquently proclaimed Jesus true identity (16v16) now sought to prevent him from the suffering he prophesied (v22). But Jesus had to suffer, die and rise again otherwise Peter would have died under the burden of his sins!

Here we learn it can be a temptation for us to want to avoid suffering for doing God’s will. Sometimes remaining faithful to God’s calling will involve pain! This is an uncomfortable message but a very important one. Often the most significant moments of growth in your Christian life will come when you say no to the temptation to seek the easy way.

What temptations might need to avoid? In the midst of the present pandemic it could be tempting for some people to feel that all is doom and gloom. Also, in our present day culture there is a tendency to avoid responsibility at all costs. Sometimes people can even look for excuses not to follow God’s purpose for them to serve others using their gifts and talents.  

When Jesus uses the image ‘taking up their crosses to follow them’ (v24), the disciples know what he meant. For crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution and a condemned criminal had to carry his cross through the streets to a place of execution. Following Jesus meant an obedient commitment, no matter what the circumstances, there would be no turning back! So what should we, St Mary’s church, be obedient in pursuing in the year ahead?

(1) In inviting and encouraging our family/friends to worship with us at 9am & 10.30am services Let us be intentional in gathering the church flock back together.
(2) I have found many conversations I have these days seem to start or finish with the same topic, Covid-19! As Christians we are influenced mainly from the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. Whilst there are many concerns today let us be communicating to others God is a rock & refuge, brings peace, a source of new life & contentment and your cause of hope for the future.
(3) Loving one another through these strange and bewildering times will mean sticking with people and being patient, listening and being kind to others.
(4) Learning can seem a daunting prospective but in Christian discipleship is it liberating. We’ll start studying the book ‘Just like Jesus’ on Wednesday nights 7-8pm next month. The dates and information will be on the Facebook page.
(5) Pray for people’s health especially mental health. May people fill their minds with the good news of God’s salvation, assurance and praise.
(6) Serving is a form of leadership. It is an example to others and bringing glory to God and builds up his church. Thank you to Mrs Maxine West, the rector’s warden and to Mr Ivan Doherty, the people’s church warden, Mr Russell Kennedy, the rector’s glebewarden, Mr Garry Anderson, the people’s glebewarden and for the Select Vestry commitment to serve us this year.

Collect (The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity): Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire, or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask save through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Loving God we recognise our responsibility to encourage and uphold one another and to live together in peace and love. We also recognise our needs and our human weaknesses and come to you now with our prayers and petitions. (Short Silence) Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Everlasting God, we thank you for our church leaders; we ask Bishop Andrew will know joy in his walk with you. We pray too for our relationship with the local churches and give thanks for friendships we enjoy with them.  We pray for all who preach your word, inspire, lead and grow us as disciples as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world.
(Short Silence) Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for our world leaders, for the Royal Family and for Heads of State in Europe, The Commonwealth and for the United Nations. We also pray for our national and community leaders and those in public office dealing with difficult situations especially those involved with the serious problems associated with the Pandemic
(Short Silence) Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, we pray for our children and grandchildren who are returning back to school, colleges and universities to continue their education.  We especially pray that all places of education will find ways of making teaching and learning safe as well as effective in such strange and difficult times.  Help all students in their daily lessons; give them the wisdom to listen and learn and to keep safe.  Help their teachers and give them patience and knowledge to teach well and help them all as together they learn the lessons of life. (Short Silence)
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, we pray for all who we know who are housebound and in nursing homes; those in hospitals, in recovery and rehabilitation. We thank you for our local hospitals, health centres and clinics and for all those working in sheltered accommodation and care homes.
(Short Silence)(add names of those requesting prayer) Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, we remember with thanksgiving those who have ‘passed into glory’ and for those who are bereaved by their passing. Help us to be sympathetic, caring and loving with the bereaved and always ready to help practically and to listen sincerely in their time of greatest need.  (Short Silence to remember those known personally to you) Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Holy God, we thank you that your wisdom not only enlightens us but transforms and guides us as we go from this time of worship and into our daily walk through life with you. Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Lord’s Prayer: 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

Blessing: To God, who by the power at work within us, is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or thing, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen

Hymn Will you come and follow me  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiXnbOORTAU

 
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