Michelangelo, ‘The Prophet Jeremiah’, Fresco, The Sistine Chapel, 1512

Dear Friends (Click for audio)

If my calculations are correct, under normal conditions we would be having Mattins at our 10.00am service this coming Sunday morning, in which case the first reading would be from the Old Testament (or, to be politically correct, the ‘Hebrew Scriptures’).  We would therefore be hearing the passage from Jeremiah 28:5-9, in which the prophet addresses the assembled company, who are still in the city of Jerusalem (ie the ‘remnant’ who had not been exiled to Babylon), and expresses the hope that all the vessels of the house of the Lord, taken by their captors to Babylon, would one day be returned to their proper place.  The libretto of William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast graphically describes their desecration at the hands of the Babylonian ruler.

Although we have not been physically uprooted like the Israelites in Jeremiah’s day, we may currently be feeling deprived and exiled from our usual worship in church, where we would expect to be fed by the sacrament of Holy Communion from our customary vessels, which for the duration lie unused in the vestry safe.  The need to worship together in this way is integral to the Christian life, and, of course, we feel this ‘exile’ more keenly when it is enforced upon us, even when this is for the best of reasons.

I believe, however, that when we are once more allowed to conduct public worship in our cherished church here at St Mary’s we shall appreciate it all the more.  It’s the sort of response that pundits describe as ‘visceral’, ie not so much an intellectual appreciation but rather a ‘gut feeling’ which resonates with our deepest needs.

It is my hope and prayer that when, eventually, this time comes to an end, we shall be able to look back and see our present deprivation for what it is – a deep-seated need for the sacraments which feed not only our minds (sometimes we can intellectualize too much) but also our ‘inward parts’ and hearts, where the most profound feelings of love and compassion reside.

Fr Stephen

Collect for the Second Sunday after Trinity (Click for audio)
Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Romans 6.1b-11 (Click for audio)

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?

By no means!
How can we who died to sin go on living in it?

Do you not know
that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We know that our old self was crucified with him
so that the body of sin might be destroyed,
and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

For whoever has died is freed from sin.

But if we have died with Christ,
we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead,
will never die again;
death no longer has dominion over him.

The death he died, he died to sin, once for all;
but the life he lives, he lives to God.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin
and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Matthew 10.24-39 (Click for audio)

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus summoned the twelve
and sent them out with the following instructions;

"A disciple is not above the teacher,
nor a slave above the master;

it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher,
and the slave like the master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul,
how much more will they malign those of his household!

"So have no fear of them;
for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered,
and nothing secret that will not become known.

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light;
and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not fear those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul;
rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
unperceived by your Father.

And even the hairs of your head are all counted.

So do not be afraid;
you are of more value than many sparrows.

"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others,
I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;

but whoever denies me before others,
I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

and one's foes will be members of one's own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me
is not worthy of me;
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me
is not worthy of me;

and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me
is not worthy of me.

Those who find their life will lose it,
 and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.