Sunday 28 June Trinity 3

Join us for Morning Worship at 10am on Sunday 28 June. The service will be hosted by Rev’d Melanie with a reflection from Rev’d Helen Durant-Stevensen (see below).

Contact us for information on how to take part.

Collect for Trinity 3

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
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.

Psalm 89: 1 – 4, 14 – 18

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, for ever;
    with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established for ever;
    your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to my servant David:
“I will establish your descendants for ever,
    and build your throne for all generations.”’

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
    who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
16 they exult in your name all day long,
    and extol your righteousness.
17 For you are the glory of their strength;
    by your favour our horn is exalted.
18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,
    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Romans 6: 12 – 23

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 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. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 10: 40 – 42

40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reflection on Roman 6

The Romans passage is a difficult one to understand and may not be the flavour of the month with words like sin, masters, slaves, death. Paul would definitely not be popular with his choice of words- using them all to make his points. If there was a statue of him, it would be pulled down! But we come to a pivotal point with our reading. The word therefore is pivotal. Therefore links what follows with what Paul said earlier. He has established that we are new people in Christ (1-11). Now he establishes what that means in terms of our conduct as Christians. (12-23).

We are all aware of getting wages or a salary for our employment even if we don’t think it is as much as we deserve! Our wages are the end result of our work. This is tangible. It’s something that goes into our hand or our bank account. The passage from Romans is talking about two very different paydays. One pays a wage, and that wage is death. The other does not presume that we can earn anything, and pays us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even if we have chosen the life of grace, we are aware that there is a temptation to let sin rule our bodies. Our bodies provide opportunity for temptation to rule us.  Our physical appetites of hunger, thirst or sex cry out for satisfaction.  The battle is a spiritual one, but it is fought, and won or lost, in the daily decisions we make about how to use our body.

We can be sure that the tempter will tailor the bait especially for us, probing our defences at their weakest point. We should also understand that succumbing to temptation once makes it more difficult to resist the next time. The person who adds to their expense account today will find it even more tempting to embezzle or to adopt questionable accounting practices tomorrow. Sin is a slippery slope. Satan is determined to become our master, and has patience to entice us one small step at a time. Sin always has a cost – for us, for our families, our neighbourhoods, for our planet as a whole.

God gives us the means to resist temptation. We also have the Bible to guide us just as Jesus used Scriptural quotations to counter each of his temptations. Prayer, worship, and other spiritual disciplines are helpful. But it is also important for us to say, “I am a Christian, and I am not going to do that.”

If you have seen the film 12 Years a Slave you will know that it features Solomon Northup who was a free-born African American, kidnapped by two conmen and sold into slavery to work on plantations in Louisiana.  Solomon knew both experiences of being a slave and a free man.

We might expect that a result of freedom for the captive, liberty for the slave is that somehow we are put back in charge of our own lives, masters of our own souls. But that is not Paul’s message. Either sin is master or Jesus is master. We have no freedom to go our own way, but freedom to obey God. We are purchased people, purchased by the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus Christ. Our life, our freedom comes at the cost of his death. Instead of the penalty of death for us, Jesus paid for the consequences of sin with his life. No further payment is required. Eternal life is a free gift. It cannot be earned or bought. Eternal life is given to us as a gift which we can accept or reject.

With Jesus we enter into green pastures, not of self-centred freedom, but of being sheep led by the Good Shepherd. A shepherd who gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; who gently leads those that have young, who knows each sheep by name.  A Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

Whose hand are you in? What is controlling you? Who is your Master?

Rev’d Helen Durant-Stevensen