Online Service for Sunday 14th February 2021

Welcome to the Service for the Sunday before Lent: Also available via YouTube

Online Service for Sunday 14th February 2021

14th February 2021 Sunday Worship

 

Click Here to View Service on YouTube



Welcome

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Grace, Mercy, Peace and Love from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

And also with you



Good morning and welcome to the Sunday Service from St Andrew’s Church Burnham. As we come to worship, let us open our hearts to God our loving creator:

 

Opening Prayer

Almighty God,

To whom all hearts are open

All desires known

And from whom no secrets are hidden

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

By the inspiration of your Holy Spirit

That we may perfectly love you,

And worthily magnify your Holy name

Through Christ our Lord Amen.



The commandments:

When asked which was the greatest commandment Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We know that hard as we try, we often fall short of loving God and loving our neighbour, and this is what we now confess together.

Confession:

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly, love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.



Absolution

May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins,

Heal and strengthen us by his Spirit and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen



Hymn: Brother, sister, let me serve you sung by St Martin’s Voices

1 Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant, too.

2 We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

3 I will hold the Christlight for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

4 I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh, I'll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we've seen this journey through.

5 When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.

6 Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant, too.

Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love



Address

Well, February 14th is remembered as St Valentine’s day, and although nowadays you’d be forgiven for thinking that Valentine was someone invented by the shops to sell cards and romantic gifts, St Valentine’s day was in fact a festival initiated by the Church in honour of a 3rd Century Martyr.

Valentine, so far as we can tell, was a Roman Priest who served during the time of persecution of Christians, under the rule of Emperor Claudius 2nd.

Valentine’s name is synonymous with romance and lovers everywhere, and has kept sentimental poets in business for many a long year. However, Valentine’s story is far from sentimental. He was imprisoned, tortured, beaten, and finally publically beheaded on February 14th, 269. He was later canonised and in 496 Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be the feast day of St Valentine. Pretty gruesome, really. Enough to put you off your romantic Valentine’s day Dinner!

So, you may wonder, how did this grisly story inspire one of the most popular romantic festivals of the year, and is there anything we can learn from Valentine’s story? Well, Valentine ministered to the persecuted Christian and their families, something that didn’t go down well with the authorities. It is also said that Valentine would distribute heart shapes made from parchment, as a symbol and reminder of God’s love to these persecuted Christians. Furthermore, Valentine is said to have defied Emperor Claudius 2nd edict prohibiting anyone in the military to marry, and instead carried out secret wedding ceremonies for the young soldiers.

It was to be these acts of loving service that cost Valentine his life, after a period of torture in prison, where Valentine steadfastly refused to renounce his acts of faith, despite apparently falling in love with the jailor’s daughter, to whom he was ‘her Valentine’ Valentine showed us by his life, just as His Lord Jesus did, that love, as rewarding as it is, is also very costly.

Love is so much more than that delicious feeling that flutters about in our tummy when we encounter our loved ones. Love is huge- all encompassing- and beyond words. Love is the character of God himself, the bible tells us- the most powerful force in the universe.

Love is imprinted in human nature, yet it is also an act of our will. We choose to love. I always tell couples whom I marry that Love requires your will. If that were not so, we wouldn’t need to make vows when we marry, our feelings would just do the work for us. But feelings alone can’t maintain, or demonstrate love.

The passage from Corinthians that we’ve heard this morning, is St Paul’s message not just to the Church in Corinth, but to the whole of the God’s people, for all times, in all places. It’s an attempt to define the height and breadth of love, the characteristics that express that most excellent way of Love. Love that is persistent, steadfast, that doesn’t bear a grudge, which always seeks for, and rejoices in the good. Love that is costly, in that it requires placing other’s needs above our own. To love our neighbour as ourselves in fact- a love that is stimulated especially when we love God with all our hearts and minds- loving His people is then the obvious thing to do, as we see Christ reflected in each one of us.

And Valentine, in the footsteps of his Lord Jesus, demonstrated that love is more than a feeling- love is a decision, to align ourselves with that perfect love shown to us by God, who so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that we would not perish in our brokenness, but instead know eternal life and the love that sustains it. To follow the perfect example of Jesus, who gave Himself willingly for the whole of creation that was groaning in waiting and longing for wholeness. To minister in the strength of The Holy Spirit, who comes as a comforter to all who are in need, and inspires us to bear one another’s burdens.

Valentine loved- loved with all his heart. He comforted God’s people, acted in truth and boldness, delighting in the people he ministered to; giving himself to acts of love that enabled others to live in love; Acts of love that ultimately cost him his life. He lived out a life of loving service.

Now, we know Valentine as the Patron Saint of lovers. But did you know, he is also the Patron Saint of epilepsy and plague, as in his lifetime he also ministered to the sick and was believed to have particular gifts of healing.

As we find ourselves in a time of modern plague in the Coronavirus epidemic, we have indeed been challenged as to how we express love for one another. Yet in this topsy - turvey world of Covid-19 that we find ourselves in, love is expressed once again, by sacrifice. We have sacrificed gathering together in the church building, in order that we might protect one another. Many frontline workers have sacrificed days off in order to be present for others at this time. We have seen NHS staff; nurses, doctors cleaners and admin staff put their lives at risk to provide the medical care so desperately needed at this time. And we have also seen too many of them die as they do so. We have sacrificed so many things we enjoy socially- eating out, theatre, cinema, sports, social groups, holidays; all in an attempt to prevent the horrific death counts that the virus carries in its wake. We have sacrificed precious, precious times with our beloved family; parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, and dear, dear friends, in order to break these chains of viral transmission.

And we are called upon to do all of this with patience, never giving up hope of a better day, always persevering in kindness to one another- and what wonderful acts of kindness we have seen, both within our own community, and further afield.

So I guess that Valentine’s story, is indeed, all about love, And what an encouragement that story can be to us, to truly Love one another, with a love that perseveres and bears all things, especially as we face life in a global pandemic.

Because Love Wins. Love always Wins. Amen.

 

Song: Love Wins



Prayers: Let us Pray:

Lord, because Love is patient,

Help us to bear with one another in love.

Help us to always take time to listen to each other.

Help us to wait patiently for the time we can be together again with our loved ones.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because love is kind

Help us to be thoughtful and generous in word and action

Help us to find ways to meet each other’s needs, and inspire us to random acts of kindness.

Help us to take the time to show your love to one another

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

Help us to be encouraging to one another, to speak kindly to and about each other.

Help us to have the joy to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to have the compassion to weep with those who weep.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because Love does not insist on its own way,

Help us to see all sides of a situation, and to respond for the good and wellbeing of all. Help us to prefer one another’s needs to our own, and to live in peace with everyone, so far as it depends on us.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because Love keeps no record of wrongs,

Help us to keep short accounts with each other, seeking and offering forgiveness at all times, making amends and building a world on love and grace, always remembering that we live in the gracious love, mercy and forgiveness of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because Love always protects and hopes, and always perseveres,

May we act with justice and mercy towards those who are living with oppression and persecution for any reason. May we work towards laws that reflect God’s inclusive love and grace for all.

May we answer the call of all those who are in need. May we feed the hungry, refresh the weary, clothe the stranger, welcome the refugee, befriend the outcast, tend to the sick, and comfort the bereaved. May we see beyond our present situation, and look with hope to the light of Christ’s presence dawning upon us. May we be faithful in prayer, and may our actions always preach the Gospel of love at all times, to all peoples.

Lord, in your Mercy,

Hear our prayer.



Because Love never fails,

We turn our lives over to you once again,

Knowing that you are our strong tower,

Our light in the darkness,

And the hope of all Nations

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers, For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Amen.



The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen



Blessing

May the Loving Creator renew us each day in His Love

May the Gracious Redeemer fill us with His Compassion

May The Gentle Sustained surround us with Hope for the coming days

And the Blessing of God Almighty

Be with us and those we love

Now and forever more Amen

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