Let’s light a candle to symbolise Christ’s peace & presence with us as we begin our worship
A Call to Worship
God of all time, you made time and you entered time to be with us. Our Lectionary says we are in Ordinary Time, but in many ways these are extraordinary times that we live in and in all things we wait for you. Keep our hearts aflame with the things that please you – mercy, humility, justice. As we turn to worship you, we worship you in time, in spirit and in truth. Amen.
1 Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,
in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim
thy being and thy ways.
2 Not for the lip of praise alone
nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
of praise in every part:
3 Praise in the common things of life,
its goings out and in;
praise in each duty and each deed,
however small and mean.
4 Fill every part of me with praise;
let all my being speak
of thee and of thy love, O Lord,
poor though I be and weak.
5 So shalt thou, gracious Lord, from me
receive the glory due;
and so shall I begin on earth
the song for ever new.
6 So shall no part of day or night
from sacredness be free;
but all my life, in every step,
be fellowship with thee.
Horatius N. Bonar (1808–1889)
Let us give our praise to God as we reflect on his wonderful works.
We praise you, Creator God, for in your mind galaxies were conceived and by your will the universe formed.
We praise you God for your redeeming work in Jesus, your Son, who died for us and was raised again, so that living or dying, we might be with him.
We praise you God for the work of the Holy Spirit, ever at work in the world, in our lives and through your Church, inspiring and empowering us for mission and service. Amen.
Generous God, we give you thanks for natural springs which sustain life; for streams, rivers and reservoirs, deep wells and gathering tanks, and for those who anticipate our needs and ensure our daily supply.
We give you thanks for the hidden springs from which we draw inspiration, for words, images and music which touch us deeply, for those who help us see and hear things differently, giving us new forms of expression and songs to sing.
We give you thanks for living springs which renew our spirits, for insights gained which lead to fresh commitment, for the freedom which forgiveness brings, for fortitude in the face troubles, illness and even loss, for the fruits of steady loving service.
With joy we draw water from the wells of salvation – let us give thanks and call on the name of the Lord.
We ask these prayers in the name of Jesus.
Matthew 25, vv.14-30 The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Well the first half of this month has seen the election for the next President of the United States come and go, unless threatened lawsuits mean otherwise. The contest between a sitting President, Donald Trump, and his challenger, Joe Biden, remind us that for every politician, and it’s true in other walks of life as well, there comes a time when they will be held accountable, called to account for their stewardship.
Today’s Gospel has often been preached on with a focus on using our talents – I remember one sermon which struck home with me when the preacher said, ‘Use it else you’ll lose it!’ The reality is though that it’s not what the story is about. The story is the middle one of a group of three that Matthew has put together and they all look forward to when the bridegroom comes, when the Master, the Son of Man returns, when people need to be ready to give an account….. It’s all part of the build up to Advent where the focus is on the coming of Christ/the return of the King!
Like many I’ve been moved by the actions and words of Marcus Rashford, so much so that I e-mailed my MP about the issue the young footballer was raising again. He’s a very gifted footballer – I’ve seen a match live in which he played and every time he got the ball he looked dangerous and a goal threatened. It’s probably what many will remember him for, but equally eloquent have been his words and actions on the issue of children and food poverty. The Government responded with vouchers for children on free school meals during the summer holidays, but when it came to the recent half-term holidays Parliament voted against a similar response. Happily extra money has now been found so that those children can be helped in the Christmas holidays and I believe in the holidays beyond, for which I’m thankful.
Going back to the recent half-term holidays though, one of the great things that happened was the way in which Marcus Rashford’s words and actions along with the failure of the Government to respond positively triggered a chain reaction in which some councils, catering establishments, individuals, food banks and groups prepared food so that families and children would suffer less. And that and the campaign by Marcus Rashford and many others is perhaps what has triggered the more recent and positive response from the Government.
There are many ways of responding to human need. Donations and prayers are among them. But alongside that advocacy and practical help are needed. The hymn ‘Beauty for Brokenness’ by Graham Kendrick, sums up challenges in today’s world and makes the plea to all – ‘Give us compassion, we pray’. May we continue to respond to the encouragement of the Gospel, the worship song and people like Marcus Rashford.
Prayers of Confession & Intercession
God of compassion, I give you thanks that however much I give you cause, however long I turn away, you never, ever run out of mercy.
When I repeat old ways and fail to learn, you patiently wait for me. When I cause you pain, and even when I hurt others, you continue to forgive me. When my faith burns low and I hold onto doubt, you go on giving me reasons to believe.
God of love, I give you thanks that your mercy never ends and your patience never fails.
Faithful God, I pray that I may be found ready at your coming. May we all be seen as children of the day, and not of the night, encouraging and building up each other, using our talents for the benefit of others and to your glory.
Remember all those who exercise their gifts in government, in commerce and in the building up of society. We pray for those who find at this time their talents cannot be used, through no fault of their own. We remember all those frustrated in their work or in their lives, all those who feel as if their world is collapsing around them.
Remember at this time all who use creative gifts to inspire – musicians, artists, writers and craftspeople. Pray for scientists and research workers, creators and inventors who in their work seek to enrich our human condition.
Pray for the sick, the carers, the healthcare professionals and at this time those who feel that their disabilities have not been adequately provided for. And pray for loved ones and your own needs.
The Lord’s Prayer
1 May the mind of Christ my Saviour
live in me from day to day,
by his love and power controlling
all I do or say.
2 May the word of God dwell richly
in my heart from hour to hour,
so that all may see I triumph
only through his power.
3 May the peace of God my Father
rule my life in everything,
that I may be calm to comfort
sick and sorrowing.
4 May the love of Jesus fill me,
as the waters fill the sea;
him exalting, self forgetting —
this is victory.
5 May I run the race before me,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as I onward go.
Katie Barclay Wilkinson (1859–1928)
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; let the word of God dwell in you, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and those you love, now and for evermore.