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  • Cleckheaton Methodist

Worship led by James High




Worship at Cleckheaton on 28th March 2021


Call to Worship:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Isaiah 50:4a The Message


Prayer

The Collect for this day:

God of all redeeming grace,

In your great love you gave us your only son

To die for the sins of the whole world;

Help us by your Holy Spirit

To worship you with reverence,

And to enter, with joy into

The celebration of those mighty acts

Whereby you bring us to life and immortality;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen


Hymn:

As we gather may your spirit work within us



Let us pray:

For the sin that has made us slow to learn from Christ,

the formality and selfishness of our prayers,

our neglect of fellowship and means of grace,

the difficulties we place in the path of an outsider,

our hesitating witness for Christ,

and our reluctance to accept your limitless love:

Lord, have mercy,

Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has made us unwilling to overcome evil with good,

tolerant of injustice,

quick to condemn and slow to understand the drives of others,

selfishly slow in sharing your love with others;

reluctant to accept your limitless love:

Lord, have mercy,

Lord, forgive.

Silence

Almighty God is conscious that we are travellers,

Needing shelter and food and drink;

He bids us to tell others where we find these things,

Where we find community, where we share bread and wine,

And so, he writes off those records,

He refreshes us, and calls to the servants

to prepare a great celebration of welcome, a feast, wassail and song and music.

Lord, your limitless love redeems us, empowers our love, causes us to rejoice.


Reading:

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants Luke 20:9-19


9 He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. 10 When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.” 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’

When they heard this, they said, ‘Heaven forbid!’ 17 But he looked at them and said, ‘What then does this text mean:

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone*”?

*Some manuscripts read “the keystone”

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’

19 When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.


Reflection on this reading:

The background to this story sets it in Holy Week, after the triumphal entry and the clearing of the Temple. Jesus sets the pace and direction of events: they are to lead to his trial and execution.

The parable is founded on the story/prophecy which Isaiah provided against Israel in Isa. 5:1-7, which devout Jews would have known.

It is a stinging rebuke against the Judean Establishment, and the Jewish Establishment of Jesus’ day supported the continuity of purpose that the old, pre-Conquest Establishment carried for them.

No wonder they plotted to kill him.

The following poem brings the Establishment’s rejection of God’s call for repentance straight into recent history:


Indifference

by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy

When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree, They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary; They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep, For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap. When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by, They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die; For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain, They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through;


We have always thought we understood that cry: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It has fired and fuelled Christian passion for the last two thousand years.

Just in my lifetime it has been understood in a different way: in one of the myriad latter-day rain-drenched “Birminghams” René Girard pieced together why it has a deeper meaning than just draving – hammering – nails through flesh bones and wood.

Girard’s meme of victimhood shows that the innocent sacrifice to appease our anger is only a temporary respite. It has to be repeated again and again, forever, because communal unrest is a given in human society. Girard’s call to us is to accept the sacrifice of Christ once and for all as being that communal act which makes decent people ashamed of themselves, gives us the power to accept that the kingdom of God is founded on the principles of the Three Commands. That the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, through the Beatitudes to the two houses differently founded, is what God desires for his creation.

That cry: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” calls us – you and me – to choose.

Do we want to live among the dark satanic mills or in the kingdom of the New Jerusalem?

Indifference or passion – which?


Silence


Prayers of Intercession:


We pray: in faith we pray to God, who is more ready to hear than we are to ask.

We pray for the whole Church of God,

that, rejoicing in our richness and variety, we may seek peace and unity

and be constantly renewed for mission and service

Lord, thanks be that you hear our prayer.

We pray for the churches of our Circuit and District, especially after the decisions taken in the recent Synod, that rejoicing in the common heritage of being a “broad church”, we may strengthen each other and be built up in love.

Lord, thanks be that you hear our prayer.

We pray for the life of the world, that rejoicing in our common humanity,

We may reject the ways of war and conflict and the ways of perpetual sacrifice,

And work together for justice and peace.

Lord, thanks be that you hear our prayer.

Let us rejoice in the communion of saints,

That, strengthened by their example,

We may follow the Way of Christ and live to God’s glory.

Lord, thanks be that you hear our prayer.

Give us wisdom to know your will, that we not hasten into acting on our will.

Stiffen our resolve to do your will.

May our words declare your love and may our compassion give substance to our words:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen


Hymn 564

O Thou who camest from above


Blessing

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