Written Service The Third Sunday after Trinity

This Third Sunday after Trinity, we welcome Rev Robert Frede to lead us in worship.

We come from scattered lives to meet with God. Let us recognise his presence with us.

Silence is kept.

As God’s people we have gathered:

Let us worship him together.

Sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name: proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous deeds among all peoples.

Jeremiah 28: 5-9
Romans 6: 12-end
Matthew 10: 40-end

Sermon from Rev Robert Frede:

“The wages of sin is death.”

Pulled out of the context of the majestic letter to the church in Rome, this short statement sounds ominous; we have all sinned, according to the same letter. If we read this standing by itself, we might conclude that there is no hope for us.

Or we begin to justify ourselves. We try to imagine what we’ve done that deserves the death penalty, and can’t come up with anything – and so we choose to ignore this statement, assuming it’s for someone else.

Part of the truth is that Paul is writing to someone else. This letter was written to a specific church, in the first century, by someone who probably never imagined that Christians in a far-distant place and time would be reading his words and looking for good news in them.

Another part of the truth is that we owe the author the respect of reading his words with attention to the context in which they were written. Paul did not write “the wages of sin is death,” and never say anything else. These words appear in the context of a whole piece of writing, in which Paul writes a thorough examination of his theology of grace, to a church he has never visited.

A third part of the truth is that Christians have, for centuries, affirmed the work of the Holy Spirit in this letter, and therefore, we believe that it has good news in it for us.

If we treat this letter with care, looking at its original context and reading the whole case Paul is making, we don’t need to avoid the parts that make us uncomfortable and skim the “good parts” off the top. In Paul’s writing, the concept of “sin” is tied closely to his sense of the general state of human life for two categories of people: those who have tried to live under the Law of Moses – that is, his own people – and those who have worshipped other gods. Both these groups have the opportunity to affirm instead the hope of new life, embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This letter is written to people who have more experience with worshipping other gods, or worshipping no god at all, before hearing the good news of Jesus. To them, Paul writes that those who choose to follow their appetites wherever they may lead are engaged in sin; those who choose to die to their old ways and be born anew are accepting the free gift of God, the grace that changes everything.

To those who have spent years sitting in the pews of the church, this might sound like old news. God’s gift of Jesus and the life-changing power of grace that comes to us through him is basic stuff. It is basic; but more than that, it’s fundamental, meaning it’s a concept on which we build the life of faith, the practices that feed us, and the self-examination that challenges us. We are never free from the need to look closely at the lives we are living right now, to see if we are choosing behaviours that lead to death.

Most of us feel fairly well-insulated from the kind of sins that we imagine require punishment. The pews of our churches are full of nice people, even good people, with good intentions and the occasional brilliant program to love and serve our neighbours. The consequences of many of our actions are actually life-giving, flowing from our sense of God’s grace and its availability to everyone.

Perhaps, though, we are operating with too narrow a definition of “sin” and “death.” If you kill someone, you have sinned, and the consequences of your actions may well be literal, physical death for you, as a punishment, depending on where you live. But there is death, too, when a life is lived without regard for God’s deep love for oneself, for others, and for creation itself. “Death” isn’t just punishment for sin; it’s a way of being in the world that contributes to diminishment of life for others.

We are called to careful examination of our entire range of behaviours. There is more than one way to do harm. In our time, one of the simplest ways to do harm is simply to fail to pay attention. Where do your clothes come from? How far did your food travel before it reached you? Are you aware of where your water comes from? Whose labour is involved? How is the planet affected by your choices? Do you cut people off when you’re driving? How do you treat your money? These are all choices with real consequences for the earth and for other people.

If we behave as though our entire stay on earth is an opportunity to purchase and consume and make money, we have missed the point entirely. If we assume that our desires take precedence over the needs of other people, other countries, or other species, we have failed completely to understand God’s love and grace.

But perhaps far more important in this entire discussion is the second half of Paul’s sentence: “the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” We are not just talking about living a moral life in order to avoid punishment. We are talking about two completely contrasting ways of living: there’s a life that has only negative consequences, because there are only selfish and negative behaviours, with no purpose or moral compass; and there’s a life shining with possibility, a life of growth and movement, a life that touches other lives with joy – because of the presence in that life of God’s grace. This is the life God wants for each one of us. God’s grace is available in everyone’s life; our choices invite grace in, or keep grace on the outside.

Paul is working up to his comprehensive statements about God’s grace and love, coming up in Chapter 8. He wants to be clear at this point that his readers understand the basic need we all have for grace; it’s part of the basic design.

Paul says, “Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” This is far more glorious than merely avoiding the commission of sins in order to avoid the negative consequences! Paul says that we can be much more than sin-avoiders, people afraid to make any choice lest it prove to be the wrong one; we can be righteousness-enactors, agents for God’s agenda of grace and love. We can do the things that Jesus did, because we have access to God’s Spirit. We can feed people. We can bring healing to people whose lives have been turned upside down because of personal tragedy or natural disasters. We can teach. We can make the earth greener, our neighbourhoods safer; we can welcome the stranger and nurture our children. We can do these things by presenting ourselves to God, trusting that God’s grace is sufficient to begin and continue the work of resurrection in us.

We always have a choice about where we will put our energy and allegiance. If we make no choice except to sit in front of the television, that’s still a choice. The glory of God’s grace and love is that whatever choices we make, we are given an opportunity every day to imagine God’s kingdom, enact God’s love, and do everything in our power to bring God’s grace into every day, into every choice we make, for the good of the world God loves beyond imagining.



Wonderous are the beauties and mysteries of nature that surround us. We give thanks for the cycle of the seasons with all the changes of light and temperature they may bring. Gracious Heavenly Father we come before you again with our intercessions beseeching you to inspire our hearts that we may pray for those things which are both appropriate and necessary to meet the needs and hopes of others as well as for ourselves.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for the victims of the present pandemic, for their families and loved ones, as well as for the courageous members of the medical and care professions who treat and support them. Grant inspiration and skill to all who work to bring restoration of health and the development of new technologies for prevention and cure.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Look mercifully upon attempts to rescue and rebuild shattered economies.  Grant that governments may do all in their power to help restore the employment opportunities of their citizens and the means to feed and house individuals and families. We also pray for all whose economic lives have been destroyed through no fault of their own.  Let them never be without hope and grant that the community spirit which has seen such a resurgence in this time of crisis may enfold and succour them in their troubles.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Lord we seek your blessing on our diocesan bishops, their clergy and staff. We give you thanks for our host congregation, its priest, Robert, and the visiting priests who have cared for us during the interregnum years. Guide us as we continue to seek a permanent chaplain and help us to grow in understanding of the administrative and employment conditions which can be supported by our chaplaincy and which will attract suitable candidates.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

In our scripture readings today we are confronted with an early example of fake news and its consequences in the time of the prophet Jeremiah. Lord, grant us the wisdom of a discerning mind that can separate truth from presumption. Through the challenges laid out in the New Testament readings help us to reflect deeply within our hearts, and to orient our lives according to the values and precepts of our faith.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

For members of our chaplaincy and especially the sick and infirm we pray to you for comfort and healing, both physical and spiritual. We ask for a tangible sense of your presence alongside care and restoration of health.

(At this time we bring before you the particular needs for healing of ……      )

We also commend to your eternal keeping those who have departed this life in your faith.

(remembering ………).

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

As we close, let us take a few moments of quiet reflection to bring before you our most urgent personal needs and concerns.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers which we offer in the name of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Anthem – Give us the wings of faith
Hymn: The Church’s one foundation


May God the Father, who created you in love, guard you and protect you.
God the Son who redeemed you in love,
lead you and guide you,

God the Holy Spirit, who fills you with love, equip you and empower you
to share the good news of the Kingdom. And the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.