14th Sunday after Trinity

Worship at your own convenience: Welcome back to our online service of Holy Communion, which takes about 30 minutes. Click play and just listen, or read along. Either way, God invites you into His rest, His Sabbath. Come and find peace in prayer, and be blessed. Where ever we are today; online, offline or meeting in person… God gathers us together in the name of Jesus Christ.

In order to help with the setting at home, find somewhere unlikely to experience interruptions for the next 30 minutes. Light a candle, or a set a small lamp on a stand, something that brings to mind the idea of light shining in the world.

You may want to get a small piece of bread for later in the service… In St Bartholomew’s (9:15am) and St James (11:15am) we will be receiving communion in one kind only. At home, taking a small piece of bread and giving thanks to God for his goodness, eating it and knowing that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God is perfectly acceptable. Eat: knowing that even in the wilderness, God fed his chosen people by sending manna from heaven.

Jo Fielding
Jo Fielding reads the Bible for us today

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord be with you
and also with you


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.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Amen. Lord, have mercy

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life. Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

We say together…
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.

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.

Gloria in Excelsis

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.


Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Bible is read for us today by Joanna Fielding. If you would like to read along they are here following this link, or you may prefer a different version in your own Bible: Exodus 14:19-31 and Matthew 18:21-35

Sermon for the 14th Sunday after Trinity

May the words of my mouth, and the thoughts and meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable you, O Lord.

Our two Bible readings today make stunning reading. Stunning in the sense that they stop me in my tracks and challenge me to think again about God, about wrath, about love and about forgiveness. The fundamental question that is being addressed in these bits of Scripture is, who do you think God is?

Are you God? Pharaoh thought he was God. The unforgiving person in the New Testament exercised God-like absolute power over his debtor. Have you ever felt like calling down the wrath of God on someone who has hurt you?

The escape from Egypt story reads as though it was a live news report, or documentary of the events as they unfolded… “We come live now from the banks of the Red Sea… there seems to be some sort of electrical storm between the Egyptian Army and the Hebrews. Wait – what’s happening? I can’t believe this… Moses has stretched out his hand and the sea is being literally blown away by storm force winds which have come from nowhere… Let’s go back to the studio for analysis and comment.”

These blockbuster stories from Hebrew Scripture are the stories that Israel tells to remind them who they are, who God is, where they came from and where they’re going. We sometimes get hung up on the action – the gore – and overlook the message that is carried by the action.

Firstly there is Pharaoh setting himself up as God over the Hebrews and over the people of Egypt too – over his armies and over a structured society in which the Egyptians are told that their woes are due to the Hebrews – and not as might make more sense, the oppression of Pharaoh himself.

God is liberating the Hebrews from the false-God Pharaoh. God is also liberating the Egyptians from the false-God Pharaoh. There is no doubt at the end of this episode that Pharaoh is NOT God.

In a world of brute force and violence. Where men fought with men, where women and children were collateral damage in war, not even counted in the numbers of people. Where slavery, injustice and human wrath were normal – how does God get heard? Violent times and violent stories. When Israel tells the story of how God, the one true God saved them, their stories were as much for asserting their place in a violent world as they were a retelling of the events. God saved them. And they defend their sovereignty with an intimidating tale of their God. Fear is a powerful tool in a fallen world.

Jesus was born and lived during the Roman Empire. When Israel seems to have fallen from God’s grace: conquered and returned to slavery in all but name. Where is Moses now? Where are the prophets and leaders of Israel who will declare God’s wrath over the new Egypt?

Into the scene, comes Jesus and our Gospel reading:

Peter comes to Jesus with a question, ‘how many times must I forgive those who have hurt me?’ Not how many times can I be forgiven for those things that I have done wrong, no, the question Peter asks is, “Someone has done me wrong Jesus. When can I legitimately stop forgiving them? Seven times?”

To which Jesus replies… and I paraphrase: ‘Peter, you remember the wrath of God? How much have you got to be forgiven? At what point would you like God to say, enough! Peter, I’ve forgiven you this many times, but no more: this time I will allow the waters to close above your head. I will toss you into the sea of sin to perish.’

Who knows the depth of their sins, their debts, their trespasses? The neighbours we have sinned against in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. Who knows how much each of us needs to be forgiven by others.

And what does Jesus say to Peter… no Peter, not seven times. Seventy seven times… take the number you had, and compare it to the ridiculous number I’ve given you. This is how much God loves you. The forgiveness that you are offered by God is ridiculously generous. Now. Go and do likewise.

Jesus puts an end to the culture of an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth. Jesus invites us into the liberation of debts, sins, and trespasses forgiven.

But I hear, what about the eternal torture promised by Jesus to every person who does not forgive their brother or sister from their heart? Here is a warning against the misuse of power – of assuming the authority of God for your own ends. Humans don’t make good Gods. The Old Testament story reminds us of what happened to the false God Pharaoh and those who followed him.

But the example of Jesus? There on the cross – with the whole of humanity’s injustice pinned against him. “Father. Forgive them.”

Is God wrath? Is God love?
Probably. Yes.

But how do we know God? Through the complete and graceful forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

You are forgiven. Go and do likewise. Amen.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Prayers of Intercession

If it will help, light a candle to represent our prayers, to shine a light in the world: a light of hope and not despair. A light to witness before God that we know we are not alone, those we love are not alone, and that we know God is with them.

You can light a virtual candle here on the Church of England website

We pray for growth in our Christian faith: in the knowledge and love of God, and that we will be drawn in to a closer relationship with God today. We pray for growth in our Church, for more people to be liberated by the love of God and to come to Church for God’s glory.

We hold before God the very real worries we have for those who are ill, with whatever condition, in mind body or spirit. We give thanks for all those who have dedicated themselves to helping others, and we remember those who we love but no longer see. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Peace

Although many of us are gathered in our homes
this physical distance is no distance to God
We may be apart, but we are gathered together and the Lord said:
‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name,’
there am I in the midst of them.’
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you

The Eucharist

Home Communion

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.

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, saying:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Lord’s Prayer

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.

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.

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.
Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

If you would like to eat a little bread at this point; reflect on the everlasting love of God, in Christ Jesus

Post Communion Prayer

Lord God, the source of truth and love,
keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
united in prayer and the breaking of bread,
and one in joy and simplicity of heart,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God,
we thank you for feeding us
with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer you our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory.

The Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

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

© The Archbishops’ Council (2000) Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) (including the Psalter as published with Common Worship)

One comment

Comments are closed.