Led by John Anderson

If you would like to join this service of worship using just the videos playing one after another, you can visit our playlist on YouTube by following the link below:

YouTube playlist for 13th September worship

Welcome and call to worship

Hello and welcome to the Oxford Circuit Service for Sunday 13th September. I’m Rev John Anderson, one of the circuit ministers. Today, our gospel reading leads us to reflect on the often difficult topic of forgiveness. We will also offer prayers that reflect our concern for our planet’s well being, whilst also recognising that this Sunday is designated as Education Sunday. So lots to think about!

We begin with a time to still our hearts and minds, reminding ourselves that wherever we are God is with us.

Song

StF41 Blessed be Your name

Prayer of Confession

Let us confess our sins.

(silence)

Loving God

we have sinned against you

in what we have thought, said and done.

We have not loved you with our whole heart;

we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

We are truly sorry

and turn away from what is wrong.

Forgive us for the sake of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(silence)

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

This is his gracious word:

‘Your sins are forgiven.’

Amen. Thanks be to God.

Reading – Matthew 18:21-35

New Revised Standard Version

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Reading – Romans 14:1-12

New Revised Standard Version

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

So then, each of us will be accountable to God

Reflection

Profession of faith

We belong to the Creator in whose image we are all made.

In God we are breathing, in God we are living, in God we share the

life of all creation.

We belong to Jesus Christ, the true icon of God and of humanity.

In him God is breathing, in him God is living, through him we are

reconciled.

We belong to the Holy Spirit, who gives us new life and strengthens

our faith.

In the Spirit love is breathing, in the Spirit truth is living, the breath

of God always moves us.

We belong to the Holy Trinity, who is one in all and Three-in-One.

In God we are all made, in Christ we are all saved, in the Spirit we

are all united.

(Per Harling)

Prayer for Education Sunday

At the beginning of last week two of my granddaughters got dressed in their respective school uniforms and literally skipped off to ‘proper’ school for the first time. It was a reminder that for many children and young people these weeks in September see the beginning of a new phase of their lives, but begun in the most difficult of circumstances.

So let us pray for them and for those who are responsible for their education.

Loving God, we pray for children and young people going back to school after such a long time and those starting for the first time; may they go with open hearts and open minds. We give thanks for the foundation governors, heads of schools, teachers, assistants and all involved in school as they are prepared for and adapt to new ways of work, remembering that many have been working throughout the lock down.

We pray for young people, either going to college or university foe the fist time, perhaps leaving home. May new discovery’s be made, aspirations raised and dreams nurtured. We ask your blessing of the staff of tertiary institutions, include the teams of chaplains working to support our young people. We pray particularly for Rev Miriam Moul and the members of the chaplaincy team at Oxford Brookes.

And we ask you to give strength and courage to parents of young and old, who may be viewing the coming year with anxiety.

We offer these prayers in the name of Jesus, our Teacher and Lord. Amen.

Prayers of Concern

Let us pray.

We pray in thanksgiving for Mother Earth in whom all life is rooted, Brother Sun whose energy radiates life, Sister Water who nurtures and revives us, and co-creatures with whom we live, and for whom we are called to till and keep this garden.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this Earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the Earth.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, hear our cries of compassion, and heal our world and all creatures. Inspire our hearts with a holy imagination, to rise, freed from the demands to produce and consume to imagine a just, sustainable way of living, where all

have enough, and all may be restored.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

During this Season of Creation, grant us courage to observe a Sabbath for our planet. Strengthen us with the faith to trust in your providence. Inspire us with the creativity to share what we have been given. Teach us to be satisfied with enough. And as we proclaim a Jubilee for the Earth, send your Holy Spirit to renew the face of the ground.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

Creative Spirit

enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

Amen.

(adapted from A prayer for the Earth, Pope Francis, Laudata Si)

Lord’s Prayer

We say together the prayer that Jesus gave us:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Song: God, how can we forgive (StF 613)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuBTuh4CsyE

Blessing

May God who established the dance of creation,

Who marvelled at the lilies of the field,

Who transforms chaos to order,

Lead us to transform our lives and the Church

To reflect God’s glory in creation.

(CTBI Eco-Congregation Programme)

Organ Voluntary

Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 547 (J.S. Bach)

Jos Maters plays the organ of the Martinikerk, Groningen, the Netherlands

https://youtu.be/4qTTLtRPi50