Sunday Eucharist prayers, readings and reflections are available below.
TRINITY XIII SUNDAY 6 SEPTEMBER
Today's sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start.
Almighty God, who called your Church to bear witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself; help us to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may be drawn to you; through him who was lifted up on the cross, and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20.
We pray for the unity of the church and that her mission is not hindered by dissension.
Bring agreement amongst nations and bless and guide those who lead us.
May there be reconciliation where there is tension and argument amongst communities and within our families.
We pray for the sick and especially Mary Maxwell, Paul Evans,Gerald Lewis and Adrian Lewis.
May the dead find peace amongst the great company of the blessed in heaven.
Listen and Learn
Very little irritated or annoyed me during the months from March until now, complying with restrictions during the pandemic. As there were no concerts, plays, films or restaurants, or churches to go to, I saw no reason to leave Hampstead Square; certainly not for exercise.
The little that did annoy or irritate me was the plethora of news conferences and the running commentary on the pandemic where invariably and repetitiously answers were given to questions not asked and any answers which inadvertently slipped out were not listened to if they did not conform to the prejudice of the interlocutor. I sometimes found myself shouting at the television or wireless, “Listen to the answer.”
But listening is not always easy. Priests have to be good listeners. You cannot afford to doze off or lose concentration in the confessional. But for many of us listening is not always easy. We can too often grasp the wrong end of the stick and we hear what we want to hear not what is being said to us.
Jesus speaks to us today in the Gospel about listening. We have an obligation to listen to one another, to listen to the voice of the community, to listen to the voice which speaks with authority. We need to listen so that we can learn. It is not without significance that the Gospel reading about listening follows the New Testament Reading from S. Paul’s Letter to the Romans which is about the commandments. How many times have we heard the commandments read? How many times have we listened to what they say? We can hear well enough, but we cannot always listen well enough.
If we are attentive to the word of God and to the words that Jesus speaks to us in the Scriptures, to the words of the Church in her teaching office, if we listen to the promptings of our heart and our conscience we will learn about ourselves, about our needs, about our strengths and weaknesses and we will learn about others.
If we heeded what Jesus told us in the Gospel this morning and listened to S. Paul we would have learned the great lesson that we need to learn and which does not stale with repetition that “you must love your neighbour as yourself” – love your neighbour as you would want to be loved. Respect others as you would want to be respected. Listen to others as you would want them to listen. Speak to others as you would want them to speak to you. Do to others as you would want them to do to you. Respect will breed respect.
Were we to have heard the Old Testament Reading this morning we would have headed the prophet Ezekiel warning of the consequences if we do not listen, if we do not heed what is said to us, if we do not take the advice that is good for us, if we do not hear what God is saying to us. “If … you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin.” It is a hard saying but we know well enough that it is usually the hard truths that are told to us in love that we find the most difficult to take, the hardest to bear. But truth spoken in love cannot harm or hurt us. It can change us. It can alter us. It can challenge us but it cannot hurt us.
The Psalmist says the same things: “O that today you would listen to his voice. Harden not your hearts.” We can too easily close our hearts, close our minds and stop our ears to the voice that will save us and put us on the right path. But let us also remember that the voice is not always like that of the commandments telling us what not to do: the voice is also one of encouragement, of helping and guidance. We all need encouragement, the kind word, the affirmation of our friends, the appreciation of our efforts. Perhaps we are too easily critical in our relationships. But Jesus reminds us that we live and operate in the context of love, the love that he showed for us. His love was unconditional and his love was universal, all-embracing and he showed it to us most dramatically in throwing out his arms wide on the cross; and he shows it to us now as we approach his abiding presence in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Let us listen as he says to us “This is my Body … this is my Blood.”
Christ Church, Hampstead 2020