St. Mary's Church

Second Sunday before Lent

Second Sunday before Lent

19 Feb 2022 • General news

Collect:Almighty God, give us reverence for all creation and respect for every person, that we may mirror your likeness in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Post Communion: God our creator, by your gift the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise, and the bread of life at the heart of your Church: may we who have been nourished at your table on earth be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross and enjoy the delights of eternity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Genesis 2. 4b-9, 15-end

4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up?for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground? 7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

18Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.’
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Revelation 4

1I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ 2At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 3And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 5Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 6and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
‘Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.’9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, 11‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.’

Luke 8. 22-25

22One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, 23and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and s

aid to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

 Sermon thoughts 20 Feb 2022

When I first looked at the three readings from today, I was really struggling to see any link between them, and what message it might be that the compilers of the Lectionary actually wanted us to gain from these readings in the run up to Lent.

Our first two reading are from the first book of the Old Testament - part of the story of Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis, and the 4th Chapter from the Book of Revelation - the very last book of the Bible.

The Bible is sometimes described as an account of the relationship between God and his people, starting with a description of the creation of the world, in all its glory, with the beautiful description we didn’t get today of Adam naming the birds and animals, before the creation of Eve and the subsequent betrayal of God’s trust in the eating of forbidden fruit, which led to Adam and Eve leaving the paradise garden of Eden and setting out into the rest of the world, to make a home and to provide themselves with the water, food and shelter needed for life.

Our second reading then shows God in all his glory, on a throne and surrounded by magnificent creatures and twenty four elders who role is simply to worship God.

This set me thinking about our own roles in the world - about what we are born for and what we are granted our lives for.

There is the famous saying that the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes, but I truly hope that life is so much more than that.

From childhood I have believed that each of us was put onto this earth to help make the world a better place, that, if we listen and respond, we each have a vocation, a role in life to worship God and in our own small way to bring others to knowledge of the Lord and faith in Jesus.

Now, I am not saying that any one of us will be called to an amazing, transforming life, perhaps as a missionary like Mother Teresa who left her homeland in Albania to travel to India and to love and care for the people she met there; or to become a well-known speaker or Christian musician; or to be a priest or a lay Reader here in Coventry or elsewhere but each of us does have a purpose, and I believe a God-given role that we can grow into and develop during our lives. Each of our vocations is individual to us, and may well change as we go through life too, so we always need to be open to that call from God to go out and try something new, to take up a different role, or to step out of our comfort zone.

For me, the important thing is to be aware, to find space and time to listen to God, and we may find that he calls to us by name, as he did Adam and Eve, and if we hear that call, to be willing and able to respond to the best of our ability.

I have to say at this point, that Genesis is one of my favourite books of the Bible. Probably written during the exile to Babylon - and certainly not the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures actually written down, I have always appreciated writing that enables me to create the pictures and characters in my head, and the Book of Genesis allows me to do just that. As we read, we can sink into the each of the scenarios and allow God to speak to us, as he did to each of those Characters.

Transporting ourselves now to the end of the New Testament, we find ourselves observing a vision, a vision of heaven, where our LORD has now taken his seat on the throne and around him are those who worship him - sending up in praise endless Alleluias and falling on their knees in worship.

We are very “proper” in the Church of England, we sit or stand, and depending on the layout of our churches, we may kneel in prayer, but falling prostrate on the ground as that reading describes those elders who spend their eternity close to the throne of heaven, is not a usual part of our experience of faith and religious practice. Thinking back, I realised that the only time I remember laying down in prayer and worship (excepting my prayers before sleep) was in the beautiful church within the village of Taize in France. In the church at Taize, there are very few chairs, most people either just sit on the floor, or kneel, but the layout of the building, provides so much space and the amazing sense of the divine immediately made me want to either break out in song, or dissolve into tears. It was at Taize, at the age of 19 that I really felt my faith develop from that of a curious child, who read all the Bible stories and memorised them, to having a real and conscious relationship with God and the enormity of it all, the overwhelming nature of the encounter made me just sink down in amazement and gratitude.

Over the last almost 30 years, I have been fortunate to really feel the presence of our LORD close to me on a few occasions - and if I am honest - there are also those times when I have wandered away from, the path, when the gulf between God and myself seems to wide to bridge, and I have wondered whether I will ever feel that real closeness again, but I have and I did.

There are times when we feel far from God, where there is a dark night in our soul that threatens to overwhelm us, as Saint John of the Cross described it, back in the sixteenth century, but I want to reassure you, if that is your experience at the moment, that it is only temporary and, although it may not be much comfort now, you will find a time in the future, when you can look back and see that God was there, watching on and waiting with you.

What these three readings reminded me was, that wherever we are in life, nearer the beginning or nearer the end, whether in the middle of storm, or gratefully catching our breathe that we have come out the other side, or even in that quiet peaceful place where life meanders along as we want, that our LORD is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and that, if we allow him, he will accompany us through each step of our lives.

Amen.

Intercessions for Second Sunday before Lent–20th February 2022

Holy God, sometimes our lives are so full of worries that we forget how you look after us through every aspect of our lives. When our worries begin to spiral out of control, help us turn them into a conversation with you, confident that you will calm our anxiety and give us hope for the future.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Gracious God, we pray for your church across the world, and the churches in our local community.We ask for your blessing upon our church, and our congregation; strengthen us in our time of interregnum, and help us to trust that you are guiding the process of bringing our new vicar to us.Uplift us as a people, that we may meet the challenges of the interregnum with grace and fortutude.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Mighty God, we pray that your peace and justice may be known across our world. May all lands that suffer violence and injustice find reconciliation and healing. We pray for the peoples of the world and all who offer their services in the leadership of the affairs of the world that they may uphold what is right and good. We pray particularly at this time for peace in all places where there is violence, war and terrorism.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Father God, we thank you for the joy of human love, and for all those among whom we live and work. We pray particularly for loved ones who worry us with their health, or circumstances, or life direction. We pray for those among our friends and families who do not know you, or whose faith has been shaken.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Loving God, we pray for all who bear the burdens of pain, bereavement, worry and depression. We pray for those whose illness stems from anxiety. We pray that they may have an awareness of your presence and an understanding that you are bearing those burdens with them and always working towards their healing and wholeness.We pray especially for…

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

God of Mercy, through your love and mercy you turn the darkness of death into the dawn of new life. Comfort those who grieve in their sorrow and those who are worried about how they will cope on their own and reassure them that you will never leave them to carry the burdens of life unaided.At this time, we remember…

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Everlasting God, we ask you to lead us into the coming week. Help us to believe that you are close by us, keep us from making mistakes and help us never to disappoint you through our words and actions.

Merciful father:

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen