Sunday, Trinity 14


Almighty God, who called your Church to bear witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: help us to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may be drawn to you; through him who was lifted up on the cross, and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, now and for ever.


Almighty God, you search us and know us: may we rely on you in strength and rest on you in weakness, now and in all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion

God our creator, you feed your children with the true manna, the living bread from heaven: let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage until we come to that place where hunger and thirst are no more; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Old Testament

So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’ For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children –

Deuteronomy 4.1–2,6–9


1    Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may rest upon your holy hill?

2    Whoever leads an uncorrupt life
and does the thing that is right;

3    Who speaks the truth from the heart
and bears no deceit on the tongue;

4    Who does no evil to a friend
and pours no scorn on a neighbour;

5    In whose sight the wicked are not esteemed,
but who honours those who fear the Lord.

6    Whoever has sworn to a neighbour
and never goes back on that word;

7    Who does not lend money in hope of gain,
nor takes a bribe against the innocent;

8    Whoever does these things
shall never fall.

Psalm 15


Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.18In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 1.17–27


Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

    “This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’ For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’

Mark 7.1–8,14,15,21–23

Sermon on Sunday, Trinity 14

The Collect for this Sunday is all about mission, the conversion of the world to the way of Christ.

Almighty God, who called your Church to bear witness that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: help us to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may be drawn to you; through him who was lifted up on the cross, and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, now and for ever.

What a noble aim – to bear witness to the Christ! However, is this the one thing the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church fails to do? In its defense, I suppose mission is the most difficult activity the Church undertakes. The way of Christ is as diverse as there are members of the Church, don’t you think? Don’t we all believe we are the true recipients of how a christian should live? Every one of us is a true believer, aren’t we? Each one of us believes he or she is the embodiment of the message of salvation.

Who would not believe themselves to be a proper christian? This is the Church’s hubris, I think. The Church as an institution becomes the monument, not the how, of a person’s life. The Church becomes the building, the hierarchy – anything but the way the faithful people in themselves keep the faith. As such, the Church becomes a thing which does not engage with the world in which it finds itself – a major obstacle to all mission.

Human being loves to objectify in its life. I am not how I live, but I am labelled, I am an object – a gardener to some, a computer nerd to others, a failure to all my teachers, a wonderful son to my parents. I become an object to each of those people, something they can put their hands on, some thing they can place in their world so that I am set there never to move about and cause difficulty.

However, is this really what people are, these mere objects of experience – those things manipulated for one’s own ends? To put it in this context – Am I really only the fellow who appears now and again to lead worship in this place, and disappears into oblivion when not here?

That objectification of people is necessary, however, isn’t it? Don’t we have to say “Hello” with its implied “Good-bye” when we meet people in the street? Perhaps we ask how they are, but we don’t expect anything more than the “Oh, I am fine,” which we normally hear in response to that innocent question. We don’t expect to listen to a long description of the lows and highs of the day so far, do we? Otherwise, would we ever make it to the baker so we can pick up the loaf of bread and get back in time for lunch?

It is precisely this possibility of an unintended, profound conversation with everyone we meet which makes life so very interesting. Instead of the unhearing of the everyday greeting, perhaps we should be listening profoundly so that we can hear under the “Oh, I’m fine” the subtext of what is really happening in the other person’s life. And then engaging with that undercurrent. Perhaps that is the Church’s mission – our very own mission – for life.

I was listening to QI and they were discussing language. The use of “Yea” and “Nay” as emphatic answers to questions was discussed in a very amusing way.

Then came a discussion of how the use of double negatives has become an awful thing. “I can’t get no satisfaction,” is an example.  The logician and the pedants would say the double negative is not to be used. This empirical, logical state of affairs is only a recent phenomenon, with the rise of science and the philosophy of linguistic analytics. One in that group of philosophers, made the remark that two positives don’t make a negative. He said this at a symposium in New York upon which a voice from the back of the room piped up “Yeah, Yeah” to prove the point. So the double negative and double positives do make sense and are real responses to the world.

When we objectify language, as do the linguistic philosophers, we make a mockery of its life, its living, changing quality. Language has to evolve, though we often don’t like the neologisms constantly being introduced, but sometimes we ourselves take up the new words and meanings in our own speech.

But how do we know about this life of language? – By listening. By allowing all of our words to blossom before us.

This is precisely what we have to do in our conversations as well. We have to listen to the double negatives to hear the real meaning behind them – and we have to listen to the double positives and hear whether they actually are assents to a state of affairs or a denial of everything.

When the person we meet says, “All is well,” should we take that as an objective fact? Or do we have to interpret the way it was said? Was there a real joy in the tone, or were the words forced out as a something expected without any intended meaning to them? Does it dismiss us or does it invite us into dialogue with the person whose eyes we gaze into however fleetingly?

This is the missioner’s dilemma. When the evangelist proclaims the gospel of love leading to universal salvation, what do the two positives really mean when they echo back to his or her ears? Does the hearer assent with joy, or are the listeners merely walking on by without any engagement in the dialogue the missioner hopes to open up with them?

We have seen this happen with those people who give out the WatchTower door to door, or less frequently nowadays when the person stands there on the street corner proclaiming their version of the gospel of repentance and acceptance, that gospel of salvation we all believe to be the world’s, not a gospel belonging only to myself.

Mission is the joyful sharing of meaning, neither an assent to anything nor a dissent. Mission is the dialogue every greeting can become. I think that is the reason we pray our collect today – to remind us of our humanity in the person of the Christ. To call to mind the divinity possible in the world through the faith, hope and love the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church espouses in its very real life shared in worship, whether sacramental or not, whether in the eucharist or in morning or evening prayer. From worship we travel forth to engage with everyone we greet. Joyfully we listen to the meaning shared in every conversation on the road to our final home, our ownmost possibility, together.


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