Newsletter 4 October 2020

Sunday Letter

Benefice of Padstow & Trevone,

St. Merryn, & St Issey with Little Petherick

During this extraordinary time, we thought our congregations might appreciate an emailed letter with the prayers and readings for the Sunday and a short devotional piece, as a way of keeping us together and sharing any thoughts we may have.

Sunday October 4th – Seventeenth Sunday

after Trinity (Proper 22)

Collect

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
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. Amen.

Readings

First Reading             Isaiah 5:1-7

This poetic passage likens Israel to a vineyard which, despite being well tended, produces poor fruit. It foresees judgement upon Israel for its lack of justice and righteousness.

Second Reading       Philippians 3:4b-14

Paul warns against false teachers who boast of their Jewish heritage and wish to impose circumcision and law-keeping upon Gentile Christians. He encourages the Philippians to have confidence only in Christ.

Gospel                        St. Matthew 21:33-end

Since Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he has been on a collision course with the Jewish leaders. In this reading, his strong criticism further infuriates them.

“Reflection”

Two shocks awaited me in June 1961 when I arrived at my theological college for the first time: the first was to be told that my first exam, which had to be passed before I could be ordained, would be in six weeks’ time and would be on The Philosophy of Religion, a subject I had never studied before, and the second was to learn that I had five days to write “an exposition of Isaiah 5.1-7” – our first reading this Sunday. I had to confess that I was not sure what an “exposition” was; it turned out to be an explanation of the passage that was “more devotional than a commentary, and more technical than a sermon.” I supposed I achieved both tasks because, 59 years later, here I am ordained, and preparing once again to say something about Isaiah 5.1-7.

As a student I was told that I should start my sermons where my hearers were and talk about things with which they would be familiar. Isaiah could be certain that all his hearers would know about vineyards. They were very common throughout the Middle East and most people would understand how they were cultivated: the ground cleared and dug, the vines planted, a watch tower for security, a wine press for treading out the grapes; all this, says the speaker in these verses, I have done, but to no avail. Instead of the choice grapes I expected I get only wild grapes, small and bitter and no use for wine making, so I shall destroy the vineyard, I shall break down its fence so that the wild animals can trample it down, I shall not prune or hoe it so that thorns and briers can grow over it.

So far Isaiah’s hearers may have listened with moderate interest – a disappointed grape grower letting off steam – but then the whole passage is lifted to another plane “I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it” – this is no mortal speaking, these are the words of the Lord himself, and the hearers realise that this parable – for such it is – is directed to them, the people of Israel and Judah, where God “expected justice, but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but heard a cry of distress.”

Sadly, how often has God been disappointed with the fruits not just of Israel but of all humanity, where too often there has bloodshed instead of justice, distress instead of righteousness. Jesus, of course, would have been very familiar with this passage and it was no doubt in his mind when told the people the parable in our Gospel reading today, but here the vineyard is a more sinister place; it is not only the vines who disappoint, but those who have the care of the vineyard, who turn out to be not just thieves but murderers. Again there is bloodshed instead of justice and distress instead of righteousness. Those who heard that parable were well aware that they were the people Jesus was speaking about and they wanted to silence him, but his time was not yet. We must ask ourselves, however, if the things Isaiah deplored still exist in our time, would our age treat Jesus any better if he came again in the flesh than the “chief priest and Pharisees” did in theirs?

Post Communion Prayer

Lord, we pray that your grace
may always precede and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

SUGGESTIONS FOR PRAYER

Workers in health and social care and emergency services, local GPs and all keyworkers.

Our Benefice and all its communities

Those losing jobs, or facing financial difficulty

Those with mental health problems

Schools-teachers, children and parents

Colleges and students

Church – worldwide, Diocese and Benefice

World – peace, equality and justice for all

            – those affected by Coronavirus

Suffering – all who are sick, anxious, lonely

– refugees and all who are homeless

Radio4   8.10am   Sunday Worship

Online video services:

www.churchofengland.org 

www.trurocathedral.org 

            (Video Recorded Services page)   

www.kerdh.co.uk for readings, prayers & reflections.

Facebook pages:

United Benefice of Padstow, St Merryn St Issey

St Columb Minor & St. Colan Parish Churches

United Benefice of West Kerrier

Wednesday Morning Prayer 9.00am by Zoom

Email Revd Fiona for link   giorlaf@outlook.com

PRAYERS FOR THIS TIME

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy

in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us

from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray to Almighty God,

who alone makes us dwell in safety.

For all who are affected by coronavirus,

through illness or isolation or anxiety,

that they may find relief and recovery …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies that they may make wise decisions, and that all people will be considerate of others …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers,

that through their skill and insights

many will be restored to health …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For a blessing on our homes and families, and our local communities, that all who still need help will be known and cared for …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We commend ourselves,

and all for whom we pray,

to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

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