16th Sunday after Trinity

An audio recording of Holy Communion, including a sermon

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.

Carol Holdsworth
Carol Holdsworth 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.


O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
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 Carol Holdsworth. 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 17:1–7 and Matthew 21:23–32

Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Trinity

I’m still alive! You may know I had an accident on my bicycle last Saturday… going too fast for a corner and I ended up in hospital. All my own fault and no one to blame. No broken bones: only a few bumps and bruises and a couple of stitches. I’m healing quickly but using the car for a week until my wrist feels stronger. As I sat beside the road, mentally working out whether I was broken or not, I had an image in my mind of a bright white angel returning to heaven with bruised wings, having wrapped them around me as I tumbled over the handlebars. It isn’t the first time I’ve felt protected.

However, not long ago I sat with the body of a motorcyclist who had come off his bike and died instantly. I prayed for him and his family. What is the difference between those of us who feel lucky and live to give thanks to God, and those of us who pick up the pieces after an accident and mourn the loss of a loved one?

As individuals and as a community we are dealing with personal loss and the loss of people we know and love within our circles of family and friends. I’m honoured to be with some of those families sometimes. To pray for them, and to assure them that our Churches’ pray for them. Even today, we are remembering precious people who were so close to us, and who have now gone to be with God – to dwell with God Almighty in a dwelling place that has been made for us especially. Jesus comes to take us to himself.

I’m often asked whether people who don’t go to church will go to heaven. Jesus has some comfort for those who don’t meet the standards of religious behaviour and religious observance.

To the elders of the church and to the priests, he says: “the prostitutes and the tax-collectors will enter before you”. Tax-collectors were not HMRC, they were those who collected taxes for Rome and added their own perks on the top – dishonesty, bribery, theft – taking from those who have no power to say no. What about Prostitutes? I’m not talking about the movie ‘Pretty Woman’. I’m talking about those from whom society has taken everything, left with nothing, they have only the bodies they stand up in to sell – and they wouldn’t be for sale if there wasn’t a market. Dishonest toll collectors and dispossessed women.

Jesus says they’re going to heaven so I’m not arguing!

God’s frustration with Israel – the people he set apart for himself – is going to be something we deal with for quite a while as we listen to the Exodus from the wilderness of Sin into the promised land.

The people God saved at the expense of the blood of the Egyptians turn out to have ‘menu-envy’, looking back to the good things they had to eat in Egypt and complaining… they have so much and yet they complain. Priests and Elders come forward to help keep the people of Israel on the straight and narrow.

So when we come to the Elders and the Priests that Jesus is talking about, these are the very people whose role in the community is to bring people to God, they devote their lives to it, they are determined that never again will the people of Israel sin and transgress God’s commandments – and Jesus says to them “you’re not helping”.

What? The priests are getting in the way?

Where do we find the “prostitutes and sinners”, but out on the streets: dealing drugs, touting for sex, stealing the catalytic convertors from the undersides of cars and vans. How on earth (or maybe more appropriately) how in heaven, will they be first in the queue?

The clue is in the parable of disobedience.

One child says, “get lost pops, I’m outta here…” and yet returns and does the Father’s will.

The second says, “absolutely, of course, yes… I will do your will”, but doesn’t.

Who has done the will of the Father? “The first” replied the Priests… condemning themselves. The call to salvation is the call to repentance, and this is the opportunity that we offer when we stretch out our hands to those who are lost, in the way Jesus stretches out his arms upon the cross.

As we seek to grow in the knowledge and love of God, we are seeking to answer the call God has placed on our lives, to learn what it means to be a Christian today, this day, now… to focus on what God is saying to us today. If we are to survive as a Church here in this village, in this community, we must grow. To grow we must be invitational and ask the question, “Who is Jesus inviting to his table?” As we seek to grow, as a Church, and as we pray about it, God will bring to us all whom he is saving. We are likely to find those who are in need of repentance turn up: those who are today’s sinners and are going to become tomorrow’s saints.

We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves and as God trusts us with his new children, it is by understanding the depth of God’s love for us that we will have the strength to open our arms and welcome them in. The impact is as important as the distinction between those who do God’s will, and those who say they will, but don’t.

The first shall be last… and the last shall be first


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

Almighty God,
you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law:
grant that we may love you with our whole heart
and our neighbours as ourselves;
through 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)

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