This is the service for 15 November 2020, the day when St James’ Church is due to reopen for a (restricted) Sunday service at 10:00am. This is the virtual version for you.
Lectionary Scriptures, Prayers, Audio Sermon and Musical Selection are all below for you.
This weeks’ scriptures are: Judges 4:1-7 & Psalm 123; and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 & Matthew 25:14-30. The Matthew text is the basis of Geoff’s sermon.
Judges 4:1-7 (New International Version)
4 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.
3 Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
for we have endured no end of contempt.
4 We have endured no end
of ridicule from the arrogant,
of contempt from the proud.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Day of the Lord
5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
How long, Lord, will you hide yourself from sight? Remember how fleeting is our life. Psalm 89: 46-47
God of all time and space, you were with your people of old. You are with us now. You have promised to be with us until the end of time. We give you thanks, that in your presence we are not alone. Your love has held us. Your grace has infiltrated our lives, never letting us go. Your hope leads us on, encouraging us to find you in ever new and ever surprising ways.
We confess that sometimes we lose faith and trust. We look at our lives and our world and don’t like what we see. We are impatient, ungrateful and angry. There doesn’t seem to be a clear plan. Our ideas come unstuck and we question if there is any purpose to anything.
In this time of worship, remind us of your promise never to leave us or forsake us. Help us to trust your promise that you will be with us. Teach us again about the power your love. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen
Prayers of Intercession
Loving Lord, we give what we have. We bring who we are, knowing that it can never be perfect and never enough. Yet we bring our talents. The gifts you have given us; the people you have made us, knowing that You accept us and love us.
Use our lives and our living to build your people. Use your people to build a better world. Use this world to show the beauty of life with you. When we get complacent or downhearted teach us to count our blessings. When we count our blessings, teach us to pray for those who need your blessing.
Today we pray for those held in prison. We pray for changed hearts for those who need to give up hate and hurt. We pray for justice for those held for their opposition to wrongful abuse of power. We pray for new love where guilt and anger has soured relationships. We pray for those who work in prison. We give thanks for their commitment to making things better. We give thanks for their dedication to carrying out thankless and difficult jobs. We give thanks for the skilful use of talents to rebuild shattered lives.
We pray for those who make decisions about how we use prison. Bless those entrusted with decisions about justice and how it is enacted. We pray for politicians, advisors, judges, and lawyers. We ask a blessing on community and charity workers striving to improve lives on the margins. We pray for the media that they might ask questions about how our communities do justice and not seek vengeance and incite hatred. We pray for ourselves, that we might seek justice and pursue it. We pray in the name of Jesus, our Saviour, who taught us to pray together…..
The Lord’s Prayer
My Jesus, My Saviour was written in 1993 by Darlene Zschech, a singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker. I find this a very moving worship song which expresses such a deep love for our living Lord and a desire to serve him every day of our lives with grateful hearts.