Service – Sunday 16th August

Fugue in D minor BWV 554 by JS Bach
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Call to worship
What joy we feel when we are called together to celebrate God’s love.
For God’s love flows through our lives!
This is what it means to be the body of Christ!
this is what it means to be faithful witnesses to God.
Let us rejoice on this day!
Amen

StF 588 – Hymn – I come with joy (St Boltoph)
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I come with joy, a child of God,
forgiven, loved and free,
the life of Jesus to recall,
in love laid down for me.

I come with Christians far and near
to find, as all are fed,
the new community of love
in Christ’s communion bread.

As Christ breaks bread, and bids us share,
each proud division ends.
The love that made us, makes us one,
and strangers now are friends.

The Spirit of the risen Christ,
unseen, but ever near,
is in such friendship better known,
alive among us here.

Together met, together bound
by all that God has done,
we’ll go with joy, to give the world
the love that makes us one.

Brian Wren

Prayers
You are the God who formed us,
The God who knows us,
The God who loves us,
The God who leads us,
The God who feeds us,
The God who saves us,
The God who calls us,
The God who empowers us,
The God who sends us,
The God who blesses us,
The beginning and end of all that we are, and hope to be.
The God who is worthy of our praise.

Confession
Forgive us for the things we have done
and not done.
Forgive us for the things we have said
and not said.
Forgive us for the life we have lived
and not lived.
That we might reflect the image
of the one we profess to follow,
in thought, word and deed,
and in discovering our true selves
draw others into that light.
Amen

Absolution
God has searched our hearts, testing and judging our thoughts,
but through our hope in Christ we are saved.
We have been adopted as children of God
and given freedom and glory.
Our redemption has begun.

Sisters and Brothers, our sins are forgiven;
We are at peace.
Amen

Gospel Reading
Matthew 15 v 10 to 28

StF 685 – Hymn – In Christ there is no east of west (Kilmarnock)
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In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no south or north,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

In him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find:
his service is the golden cord
close-binding humankind.

Join hands, then, all the human race,
whate’er your nation may be;
all children of the living God
are surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north,
all Christlike souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.

John Oxenham

Address
Click here to listen to the Address presented by Rev Mark Barrett

In the passage read today we have two distinct sections that are linked.

The first is where Jesus speaks against the rules of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Jesus is not worried about what we eat, that form of ritualization does not matter to him or to God. It is not about the visible ritual, it is not about doing something that shows to everyone that you are perfect in ritual if in life you are less than kind, just and loving. Ritual does not win over love. It is about the unseen. It is about what is in your heart, and thus your life, your soul. It is about who you are and what you do in the less public times and places of your life, it is about the love of God that is the way you live, move and have your being.

This then spills over into our next section.

The school I taught in was between two council estates, which were somewhat rough like the estate I was brought up on. At the school there was a deputy head in charge of the pastoral side called Sylvia. You noticed Sylvia. She was elegant, like a porcelain figure, always immaculately dressed and spoke with a perfectly clear English accent. Not only was she noticed, but she was good at what she did. Her best weapon was herself. When pupils were brought to her because they had been badly behaved she withered them. The reputation she had though was built upon the times when their parent or parents were called in. If the pupil had used bad language in a class, about a pupil or especially about a member of staff they were on a loser. In front of the parents Sylvia would pick up the report slip, that the member of staff knew to fill in completely, and Sylvia would read the phrases out including all the foul language.

The parent’s response was almost always the same. Their boy or girl were shouted at, shouted at because the parents were upset and embarrassed that their child had made Sylvia say those awful words. The pupils were made to apologise to Sylvia and the member of staff or the other child and were warned severely by their parents.

So, when Jesus says ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs’ we are shocked. We are appalled that Jesus would say this. But does that mean it is alright for others to say such things? On hearing Jesus say it we become aware of how insulting and demeaning that phrase is, but it is what was said by the Jews about the Canaanites. Jesus draws attention to the insulting, derogatory remark by using it and draw to our attention by the myriad of commentaries and sermons that seek to smooth over the words. ‘What would Jesus say’, says a wristband. ‘Well, not that!’ say those afraid to confront what was around then and still pervades society now.

The BBC received 18,600 complaints about the use of the ‘N’ word in a report about a racially motivated attack in Bristol. The reporter was quoting what those in the car had said, but the word was broadcast and not bleeped out. People were rightly offended, the BBC issues an apology, a late one, but an apology.

While we may be shocked, this is the type of language that people of colour, that asylum seekers and immigrants hear regularly. What do we do? What are we to do? Speak out and speak back.

As a man I am not qualified to speak about the difficulties of childbirth, I have no comprehension of it. In the same way as white people, we have no comprehension of what pain, damage and fear these racial slurs, comments and insults cause to our brothers and sisters. We have no idea of the constancy of oppression by language.

Jesus spoke to the crowd about what the Pharisees were worried about, what and how the people would be eating. Jesus then highlighted to the crowd that what was dangerous was what came out of the mouth, from the heart, from within. Jesus highlights his point by using words that come out of the mouths of many Jews about the Canaanites. Are we more shocked that Jesus used those words to highlight a problem or that words like that are still being used? It should be the latter.

StF 565 – Hymn – Only by grace
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Only by grace can we enter,
only by grace can we stand;
not by our human endeavour,
but by the blood of the Lamb.
Into your presence you call us,
you call us to come.
Into your presence you draw us,
and now by your grace we come,
now by your grace we come.

Lord, if you mark our transgressions,
who would stand?
Thanks to your grace we are cleansed
by the blood of the Lamb.
Lord, if you mark our transgressions,
who would stand?
Thanks to your grace we are cleansed
by the blood of the Lamb.

Only by grace can we enter,
only by grace can we stand;
not by our human endeavour,
but by the blood of the Lamb.
Into your presence you call us,
you call us to come.
Into your presence you draw us,
and now by your grace we come,
now by your grace we come.

Gerrit Gustafson

Our Intercessions
O Christ our Lord,
as the Canaanite woman brought her daughter’s need to you,
overcoming stigma and rejection to do so,
confident of your healing in her life,
we bring the needs of others in prayer:

Those for whom pain is a constant companion
Those who daily live with chronic illness or ill-health
Those who struggle with the confusion and distress of mental illness
Those who care for and treat people who are ill and sometimes have agonising decisions to face
Those for whom treatment is not available or affordable
And for ourselves in our own weakness

To all your children everywhere,
Lord Jesus Christ,
bring healing,
bring peace.
Amen

The 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.
Amen

StF 409 – Hymn – Let us build a house
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Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where prophets speak,
and words are strong and true,
where all God’s children dare to seek
to dream God’s reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness
and as symbol of God’s grace;
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found
in water, wine and wheat:
a banquet hall on holy ground
where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus,
is revealed in time and space;
as we share in Christ the feast that frees us:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach
beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach,
and live the Word they’ve known.
Here the outcast and the stranger
bear the image of God’s face;
let us bring an end to fear and danger:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Let us a build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed
as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

Marty Haugen (b. 1950)

A prayer of blessing
May God the Father prepare your journey,
May Jesus the Son guide your footsteps,
May the Holy Spirit of Life strengthen your body,
The Three in One watch over you,
on every road that you may follow.
Amen

Scherzo by Eugene Gigout
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