Sunday 11th October – 18th Sunday after Trinity 


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

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
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.

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First Reading

Philippians 4.1-9

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.  I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

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 Gospel

Matthew 22.1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables, saying:  ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited:  Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.”   But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them.  The king was enraged.  He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.”

Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.  But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?”  And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   For many are called, but few are chosen.’

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 Post Communion Prayer

We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:
for here we receive you,
here the memory of your passion is renewed,
here our minds are filled with grace,
and here a pledge of future glory is given,
when we shall feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever.

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Reflection – Trinity 18

One of the issues that surrounds any wedding is who to invite.  In some cases, this has been made simpler at the present time because with a limit of fifteen, it is pretty much close family only.  I lament for couples not being able to invite wider family and friends, but that is how things are at the moment.  The old problem of not being able to sit uncle George who drones on about how he was underwater basket-weaving champion of east Anglia, in 1967, next to cousin Vera who has heard this twenty three times before, disappears.

But a wedding is not simply a personal matter between two people. There are dimensions that go beyond the couple. For Christians, when two people commit themselves to each other in marriage, they show in a powerful way something of the original unity of the human race, the unity we are all called to build up.  In the Common Worship marriage service it states that:  Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty, which all should uphold and honour.  It enriches society and strengthens community.  Indeed, there is a promise made by those present that they the families and friends of Peregrine and Petunia, will support and uphold them in their marriage now and in the years to come.

Our world, though, is divided in so many ways: between rich and poor, between people of different nations and creeds and races, and because of enmity and antagonism. We have a certain tendency towards separation, but to give way to this is to lose sight that we all share a common humanity and we all share in a common story.

In the 17th century the Christian poet John Donne famously expressed this with great power in one of his meditations:  “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

For Donne, the bell tolls, the bell laments, because when someone dies a separation has taken place; not a separation through deliberate withdrawal, but a profound separation that can only be overcome by the love of God, since only God can overcome death.

So two people binding themselves together in marriage is an act that works against our tendency to separate from each other, an act that works towards reconstituting the original unity of the human race. In the context of the parable of the wedding feast, to refuse to come to the wedding is to choose a life of separation over a life where we endeavour to create unity. It is a refusal to take the opportunity offered to us by the occasion where two people unite themselves together. It is a refusal to work to strengthen that unity.

There is so much about us that calls us to unity. It’s certainly not restricted to wedding invitations! Modern technology offers many opportunities to reach out to one another. We now have the famous Zoom meeting or Skype or Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.  The flipside is that more and more people suffer loneliness despite the internet and social media, despite levels of health care and social services far greater than what our ancestors had.

In the parable of the wedding feast, the king stands for God the Father, and the son of the king stands for Jesus Christ, who is the bridegroom.  Here Christ, like a bridegroom entering into marriage, is restoring our original unity, overcoming what separates us. He is the source of true unity.

And so who would want to say no to that wedding invitation? Well, let’s put it like this. Every time we respond to Christ’s call in our daily lives we say yes to the wedding invitation. It might not involve a big feast or dancing. But it always involves something to be celebrated.

Amen