Sunday  30th August – 12th Sunday after Trinity 


The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of 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.

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First Reading

Jeremiah 15.15-21

O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.  In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult.  Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.  I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.  Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?  Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.

Therefore thus says the Lord:  If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me.  If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth.  It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.  And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.  I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

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 Gospel

Matthew 16.21-28 

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord!  This must never happen to you.’  But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?  Or what will they give in return for their life?  For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.  Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

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 Post Communion Prayer

God of all mercy,
in this Eucharist you have set aside our sins
and given us your healing:
grant that we who are made whole in Christ
may bring that healing to this broken world,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Reflection – 12th Sunday after Trinity

Trinity 12 – Year A

Last Sunday we heard Peter’s declaration of Jesus as ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’.  Today we hear of Jesus’ foretelling of his death and resurrection.

In this passage, Peter is once again the advocate: last week he received Christ’s affirmation, in this passage he receives Christ’s rebuke. What he seems to be saying is that it is not enough to confess that Jesus is the Christ, we must also understand that his mission involves suffering and death.

So, if Jesus’ mission involves the cross, then those that wish to follow him must also embrace such suffering. The message of the gospel is incomplete without the cross. The disciples recognised Jesus as the Messiah, but their concept of discipleship differed greatly from his own.

Yet, in the time of Jesus, the cross was hated and feared as the most vicious and inhumane form of punishment. It is easy to understand, then, that the disciples hoped that Jesus was speaking metaphorically: what he was saying was truly horrific for their ears. Having been given such authority just shortly before, Peter must have felt obliged to challenge what Jesus had said.

It is Peter’s challenge to Jesus that provokes a clarification of Peter’s authority: his authority works when he speaks from God and not from human wisdom. Peter’s rebuke of the Lord entails his overstepping of the mark as a disciple. Disciples ‘followed’ their teachers, and literally walked behind them as a sign of respect when they walked. So, Jesus turns to confront Peter behind him, and then orders him to get behind, to return to a position of discipleship.

Stronger still is the Lord’s rebuke. When Christ was being tempted in the wilderness, Satan offered him the kingdom without the cross. Peter offers the same temptation, and earns the same title.

It is fair to say that the symbolism of the cross has changed. Crosses are displayed in Churches, in homes, on jewellery and in other places. The cross has lost something of the original significance of its symbolism.

Yet this must not allow us to lessen the profound nature of Jesus’ call. Many people today still die for their faith; many communities still go to great lengths to celebrate the mystery of faith together.

Many people who walk among us, who share our daily lives, remain steadfast in faith despite great suffering. Often this happens silently, but it always reflects a similar truth: that the Christian faith is more profoundly focused when it is seen through the lens of this suffering.

Jesus leaves his followers in no doubt. There are three elements for the disciple: he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ.

For those that first heard these words, to be told to take up one’s cross must have been horrifying. It would have meant carrying the heavy horizontal beam of this instrument of deathly torture in procession through a jeering mob, destined to be fixed to it and remain there for an agonising death. Jesus knew he would suffer this particular martyrdom, and chose it as an analogy for those who follow him.

Throughout our Christian lives, we continually fall short of our commitment to our faith. Yet we must never lose sight of the truth we ought to understand from the start: we are surrendering our lives to Christ.

There’s nowhere to run from God’s love. We, the beloved, may try to hide from God, but he will always be there.  But God never asks us for more than we can give for more than we are.  He calls us to discipleship as we are and invites us to discover the cost of that discipleship.  We may find it very difficult to take up our cross, it is at these times that we find Christ carrying it for us. We may refuse his words, only to find our hearts burning within us, thirsting and pining for him, our true beloved who has already found us.

The disciple acknowledges that Jesus is Lord, and that he demands everything from us, even our very lives. The only way for a person to save their life is if they surrender it in the faith that the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father. Then we will be given a crown of true glory.

Amen