27th September Pew Sheet - Wyre Forest West Group of Parishes


27th September Pew Sheet


Bible Readings for today – 16th Sunday after Trinity


Exodus 17.1-7, Psalm 78.1-4,12-16, Philippians 2.1-13, Matthew 21.23-32


Collect for this week


Lord of creation, whose glory is around and within us: open our eyes to your wonders, that we may serve you with reverence and know your peace at our lives’ end; 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.

Amen.


Requests for Prayer


Please continue to pray for all those who are ill, especially Annie Round, Paul Mills, Sylvia Jenkins, Susan Godwin, Edna Mills, Mary McGrath, Pearl Green, Margaret Wright, Polly, Maureen Boswell, Sylvia Perkins, Peter Cotterill, Gladys Bradley and Sandra. We pray for all those suffering with, and affected by, Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Pray for the family and friends of Freddie Kemp, for all those who have recently died, and for all those who mourn.

 

Dear Friends,


Each week, as I write these words, I hope that things will have improved and that I can give you good news of our church buildings being open during the week and that we will be able to have more church services. This week’s news, however, is far from good and any hope of getting back to ‘normal’ seems further away than many of us hoped for.


At the moment our current pattern of Sunday services can remain and funerals are still able to have 30 people present but, weddings are now restricted to 15, and baptisms might possibly be going down to 6 (we are awaiting clarification).


There are many different layers of guidelines and instructions being released from the government, local authorities, district councils, the Church of England and our diocese of Worcester. I can tell you that I’ve never had to keep so up to date with legislation which seems to change every few hours and, in many cases, lacks the precision that we need. If possible, please refer to our website, or Facebook page, about whether a church service is still on or not. If we suddenly have to close, or alter our pattern of services, we will try to notify everyone but those who do not have access to the internet or emails will rely on us notifying them individually. If you know of anyone who will need to be contacted this way, please could you pass on any relevant information.


Before we went into lock-down in March we circulated some prayer resources that could be used at home and the Church of England produced some very nice booklets of prayers and simple services that could be used by individuals. If you would like a copy of any of these now, in case we need to go into some sort of lockdown, then do please let me know and I will get copies to you now whilst we are still to get out and about.


Do please stay as safe as you can and remember that God is watching over us.


With All my Blessings Rev Sallie

 

 Intercessions


As those called by God our Father to work for his kingdom, we come to pray for the Church and the world, saying:


Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


We pray for our leaders and all in positions of authority; especially we pray for the police, the courts and all justice agencies: that they may be strong in leadership, and just and honest in serving their communities…


Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


We pray for decision-makers; especially today for those who work for hospital trusts, social services departments and benefits offices: that they may have wisdom, knowledge and compassion for those whose lives are in their hands…


Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


We pray for religious leaders: that they may be conscientious in prayer and study, and have vision, insight and discernment in leadership and service in their communities…


Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


We pray for those with authority in schools and colleges; for head teachers and principals, governors and teachers: that they may have gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, and work with patience and kindness...


Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


We pray for ourselves as we follow Jesus each day.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

 

And now some thoughts on today’s gospel reading from St Matthew, put together by Peter Stanley and based on a piece written by Tom Wright in his book ‘Matthew for Everyone’ (Copyright Nicholas Thomas Wright 2002, 2004, 2012): -


Asking questions and telling stories are two of the most frequently used techniques employed by all kinds of teachers.


There’s the story of one teacher who infuriated his students by never giving direct answers to their questions. One student lost patience and challenged his teacher “Why do you never answer our questions directly? Why do you always answer our questions by putting questions back to us?’ The teacher replied: ‘What’s wrong with asking questions?’


Jesus used a question backed up by a story to good effect in today’s reading. Tom Wright, in his commentary on our reading, wrote:


‘When the police finally caught up with the man, they took him off to the police station and sat him down. They let him get his breath back and then the questions began. “What were you doing in that street at that time of night? What right did you have to be in that house? Where had you come from? What did you see?”


Of course, the question they really wanted to ask was “Did you commit the murder?”


They didn’t want to ask it yet, because they didn’t want to say the words too soon. If the suspect was not the murderer, but knew something about it, this might give the game away. If he was, a direct question would probably result in his replying “No”. They needed to get him talking to get him either telling the truth or twisting around in so many lies that they’d catch him out sooner or later.


In today’s reading, the question the chief priests really wanted to ask was “So do you think you’re the Messiah?” ……...Why? Because it was the Messiah who would have authority over the Temple. Let’s face it, Jesus had walked in and had behaved as though he owned the place. Here he was, a country boy from Galilee, coming to the big, smart capital. He walked into its holiest shrine, which had been ruled for centuries by the chief priests. And for a moment he took it over. Who do you think you are?..........By what right are you doing these things? Who gives you the right?

Jesus reply was a master stroke. It both put the chief priests on the spot and provided the answer to their question that Jesus could make but didn’t want to give. For if the Jewish leaders truly understood what John the Baptist had been doing, they would know where Jesus got his authority to behave as Messiah in the temple courts.


But Jesus wasn’t finished. He pressed home his advantage with the story of the two sons…… and then just in case they didn’t get the point, he rubbed it in. The son who said “No” and then acted “Yes” stands for prostitutes and tax gatherers whose lifestyle said “No” to God; but when they heard John the Baptist, they changed their minds and their lifestyle (in other words they repented).


The second son, who politely tells his father he will indeed go to work, but then doesn’t, stands for the temple authorities and other leaders. They look as though they are doing God’s will, worshipping and keeping up appearances; but they refused to believe in John’s message, not only about repentance, but about the Messiah who was standing unknown to them in their midst. Not surprisingly, they didn’t like it.


The challenge of this passage for us today is partly this: to make sure we are responding to Jesus, allowing him to confront us at any point where we have been like the second son and saying “Yes” to God while in fact going off in the other direction. That’s important but it’s not the only thing. What we should be asking is this: What should Jesus’ followers be doing today that would challenge the powers of the present world with the news that he is indeed the rightful Lord. What should we be doing that would make people ask, “By what right are you doing that?”, to which the proper reply would be to tell, not now riddles about John the Baptist, but stories about Jesus himself?