Twelfth Sunday in Trinity

This week we welcome Rev Joop Albers who leads us in worship for a Said Eucharist. Here is the online written service if you are unable to join us in church.

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,

Old Testament Lesson: Jeremiah 15: 15-21
New Testament Lesson: Romans 12: 9-end

The Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 21-end

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. Amen  

The theme for today is Self denial.

Self denial is not something to not to look forward to. The theme is not popular with preachers either. In team ministry, for instance, nearly everybody looks in a different direction, hoping that one of the other colleagues is volunteering to preach on this topic.

This word Self denial is central in the Gospel reading for today. When you go through the text it feels like a stumbling block. We rather like to avoid talking… and preaching about this word.Many of us hate to be confronted with problems and like to walk away. An example of this in these days can be seen in discussions on Covid 19. People in leadership positions seemed to have denied the problems in the beginning. Ignoring the problem became more popular among many. This sort of denial is now also noticeable on social media, in protests in major cities all over the world.

What people usually say is that they want to decide themselves, they do not want to hand over the right of making their own choices. Others only want to obey rules and regulations, under the thread of a fine. It seems that a legal base is a requisite for their obedience. Being autonomous is a good thing. It is good to make your decisions, but… one has to accept the responsibilities that go along. And also to be aware of the effects of our so called autonomous decision on others.

In the neighbourhood where we live, just around the corner, there were two garden-parties on consecutive days. Each party had at least 25 people. These parties bring risks along to those attending these parties. However, nobody seemed to be bothered.

I do what I want, I can make my own decision, and nobody can stop me in doing so. That’s how some people act. Luckily most of us behave more responsibly.

However, this is in contrast to the self denial that is mentioned in St Matthew’s gospel when he writes about what Jesus told his disciples.

Some of us, if not many, will have memories of a strict church, a strict school or a strict government.

I do know of visits by church representatives to member families of the church. The representatives told the parishioners what to do and what not to do. In certain cases people were called to appear in front of the church council. These meetings were held in order to challenge people to come to the altar on the next Sunday. Those days of strict elders and dominees or pastors are gone by, except for a few churches in the so called Bible Belt.

Being autonomous also implies responsibilities. But we leave this for the moment.

Self denial. Does this mean that you have to hate yourself? Does this mean that you have to consider yourself to be useless?

That wouldn’t be in line with our faith, not in line with the Gospel of Good news for all of us. We are created in the image of God. Saying no to yourself also means saying no to your creator. We may experience life as a gift. We also live with the knowledge that we are loved and valued by the Lord; Each and every one of us.

If that is the case, what does self denial mean for us?

To explain what self denial means, Jesus tells his disciples that he is on his way to Jerusalem. Realising what he says it becomes clear what self denial means for him. Take up your cross. Be willing to accept the consequences of your choices. Taking up your cross means that you are prepared to do the will of God. The journey of suffering is not chosen by God. Wants to do his will, not my will but yours, says Jesus. Following the will of God can ultimately mean suffering.

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

The sufferings of Jesus are the consequence of his choice to live and proclaim the love of God. This implies to be standing by people in need, people in difficult times.

Jesus shows us that he is faithful to himself and is thereby a true follower till the very end.  Your will shall be done and not mine. In the past, people understood that God demands blood. The bishops Tom Wright (Durham) and Rowan Williams (Canterbury), in their publications, contradict this completely. They turn these words around into a loving God who is not revengeful anymore. Our God is a loving God. The suffering itself must not be glorified. We see this happening in Muslim circles, where martyrs are awarded in heaven with many virgins.  This is clearly seen from the perspective of a male. That is not what Christians believe. Taking up you cross – not someone else’s – means carrying responsibility for what you do and what you neglected to do. Taking up your cross is meeting the purpose of your life, in the way you believe, in the way you shape your life.This involves making choices. Indeed some choices aren’t easy to take.

You and I are individuals, but at the same time we are part of a greater entity, part of our family, part of the neighbourhood, part of the church, part of …… By taking part, by being connected with other people, we become real people. The Jewish philosopher Levinas expresses this by saying: In the face of others we become truly human. To expand on that we become real people in the face of the afflicted. In other words, we are called to be caring people, despite the costs.

As I said earlier, we must be prepared to take up our cross and stand by the afflicted. We are called to follow Jesus in his footsteps, in the way he lived his life.

Not everything that you are confronted with in your life is your own choice, neither is it what you longed for. But in many cases you have to take up responsibility. This is not always easy. It is worth saying that you mustn’t put your own interest first. It also asks you to be open to others and offer them a listening ear and not reject the beliefs of others. That is what Jesus lived out as he engaged with many of a different walk of life. I want to end with words from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

Rejoice in hope, with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another, do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly, do not claim the be wiser than you are.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, Amen

Intercessions for Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Year A – 30th August 2020

Loving God we recognise our responsibility to encourage and uphold one another and to live together in peace and love. We also recognise our needs and our human weaknesses and come to you now with our prayers and petitions.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Everlasting God, we thank you for our church leaders; locally in our Chaplaincy, those locums helping us, and throughout the Anglican Communion. We pray too for our relationship with The Old Catholic Church and give thanks for being allowed to use their premises for our worship. We pray for all who preach your word, inspire, lead and grow us as disciples as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for our world leaders; for the Royal Families of Great Britain and The Netherlands; for Heads of State in Europe, The Commonwealth and for the United Nations.

We also pray for our national and community leaders and those in public office dealing with difficult situations especially those involved with the serious problems associated with the Pandemic

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, we pray for our children and grandchildren who are returning back to school, colleges and universities to continue their education. We especially pray that all places of education will find ways of making teaching and learning safe as well as effective in such strange and difficult times. Help all students in their daily lessons; give them the wisdom to listen and learn and to keep safe. Help their teachers and give them patience and knowledge to teach well and help them all as together they learn the lessons of life.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God, we ask for your wisdom to discern your wishes and direction in our lives and ask for your help to discern how to deal with others in our daily lives; those we live and work with; those we meet in shops and supermarkets; those with whom we share our roads and those who serve us in cafes and restaurants. May we never be a “stumbling block” to those we meet in our daily lives and to always follow the social distancing rules.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, we pray for all who we know who are housebound and in nursing homes; those in hospitals, in recovery and rehabilitation. We thank you for our local hospitals, health centres and clinics and for all those working in sheltered accommodation and care homes.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, we pray for all those departed this life and for those who are bereaved by their passing. Help us to be sympathetic, caring and loving with the bereaved and always ready to help practically and to pray diligently in their time of greatest need.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Holy God, we thank you that your wisdom not only enlightens us but transforms and guides us as we go from this place of worship and into our daily walk through life with you.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Anthem: Salvator Munid by Thomas TallisHymn: NEH 431 – O Thou who camest from above

The Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.