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The Sixth Sunday of Trinity – 11th July 2021

July 11, 2021

Thank you for joining our online worship including our Holy Communion and a short sermon. Below them are links to a selection of music (traditional,  modern and prayerful). Thanks once again to Stephanie Woollam for prayerfully choosing such a broad range of inspiring sacred music.

Please continue to share your views on our services.

God bless,

Nigel.

 

Welcome to our Holy Communion, led by The Revd. Nigel Tuffnell

 

Our sermon today, from Lindy Ellis

 

Music links (just click on the titles below to be taken to the music hosted by YouTube).

More Traditional:

 
 

More Modern:

 
 
Prayerful
 
 

Sermon Text

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

When we read the service of Morning Prayer, we usually include the Benedictus, which is part of St Luke’s account of the birth of John the Baptist. As a boy, I wonder how often John was told this story and reminded of those last verses that were said by his father:

7 And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, ♦ for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

8 To give his people knowledge of salvation ♦ by the forgiveness of all their sins.

9 In the tender compassion of our God ♦ the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

10 To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, ♦ and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

It was a heavy burden for a young man to carry as he grew up – no wonder he sometimes comes across as rather serious, even severe. While his cousin, Jesus, was enjoying weddings and dinner parties, John went out into the desert, managing to survive on only what he found there. … Now today, in our gospel reading, we have heard St Mark’s account of John’s brutal death.

As a preacher, John never beat about the bush ‑ he always spoke plainly and he spoke the truth to everyone, and as Plato wrote, ‘No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.’ Significantly, he was not afraid to speak the truth to King Herod and his wife.

People love a scandal, particularly when it involves royalty or those in high places – it seems that we continually have such stories in the news today. Imagine then the gossip that must have been stirred up across the area when Herod married Herodias, who was his niece (so it was incest), and who had previously been married to his brother, who was still alive (so it broke Jewish law). John the Baptist publically denounced this behaviour, telling them to their faces that they had sinned against God, and that they needed to repent.

Herodias hated him for this and would have had him killed, but Herod had enough of a Jewish background to respect John as a prophet, although he did have him thrown into prison. There he would listen to John’s words, tortured by them, but unable to stop listening. He recognised and was drawn to John’s holiness, truthfulness, and integrity, even though he had none of these qualities himself.

In today’s gospel we heard how Herodias finally managed to manipulate Herod into killing John in a most gruesome manner. I wonder what all those important guests really thought about it, particularly when they had sobered up the next morning.

Mark likes to juxtapose the stories he tells, giving us more to ponder. If we go back to Mark’s gospel we read, immediately before the story of John’s death, about how Jesus sent the 12 disciples out in pairs to call people to repentance, and immediately after we hear about the disciples’ return. Jesus had advised them to go out to call people to repentance, but to move on rapidly where people did not respond well to their message. They came back elated by their success, but they had learned that their message could antagonise some people.

That has continued to be true ever since, and is still true today. It is certainly a fact that millions of Christians live in places where it is dangerous to be a Christian. Such Christians are often poor, often belong to ethnic and cultural minorities, and often their lives or livelihoods are at risk. Still today many Christians continue to die because of their faith. Above Westminster Abbey’s Great West Door stand ten statues to modern martyrs – Christians who gave up their lives for their beliefs. These martyrs are drawn from every continent and many Christian denominations and represent many others who have also been oppressed, persecuted or killed for their faith.

Few of us here will have experienced anything of that sort – we are more likely to meet indifference, ridicule, or even pity because of our faith, but that can intimidate us from speaking the truth and declaring our faith boldly. I am sure we can all think of moments when, looking back, we wish we had said something, but didn’t. Personally, I frequently feel the need to bring such moments in my own life to God when I admit to him that I have sinned against him and against my neighbour in thought, word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through my own deliberate fault. Yes, I have not only let God down, but also that other person. My love was not strong enough for me to help that other person, just because I was afraid of a little ridicule. Do you remember moments like that? Let us pray:

God of grace, you have called us to be your disciples, in your grace, send us your wisdom and love that we may act and speak with boldness when it is your will. Remembering all Christians who suffer for their faith, God of love, may our hearts reach out in compassion for all who are imprisoned or tortured or separated from family in the cause of what is right and good. Amen

From → Worship

One Comment
  1. Margaret Hilditch permalink

    Thank you, Nigel and Lindy, meg

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