November 19th 2023 Kingdom Season 3, Second Sunday before Advent
Many of you know that I spent Sunday to Wednesday evening in London last week for the November meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod as a voluntary chaplain. Most will also have heard by now, that the prayers of blessing for people in same sex relationships were approved on Wednesday evening by the very narrowest of margins after a gruelling three days of debate in which both the best and the worst of human characteristics were exhibited. On the one hand were many who, in appealing to the inerrancy and supremacy of the scriptures and their literal interpretation became ever more angry as one blocking motion or amendment after another was voted down, on the basis that only their interpretations of the scriptures are valid; and anyone disagreeing with them will quite literally go to hell.
On the other hand, many appealed to the ‘three-legged stool’ of scripture, reason, and tradition to argue that the bishops had not been bold enough, and that the blessings as constituted, fall far short of the ‘radical new inclusion’ we had been promised back in February. Many shared painful stories of exclusion, discrimination and abuse they had experienced within their churches on account of their sexuality, and how the prayers on offer are little more than crumbs under the table until full marriage equality in the Church is attained.
Many absented themselves from the Holy Communion service presided over by Archbishop Justin because of his ‘betrayal’ of scripture, while still fewer attended other opportunities for prayer and worship throughout the week. On one occasion, only five of us attended a lunchtime communion service (three of us chaplains!), and even one of the others attending refused communion from the woman bishop who presided because he did not recognise women’s ministry in the Church. The bishop of London movingly recounted how many of her own clergy have barred their communion tables to her because of her support for the prayers of blessing, but with incredibly good grace, reminded them that her table and her welcome was still open to them.
Martin Luther King said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it does eventually bend toward justice. The process of change is painfully slow, and the talents, gifts, and ministries of so many continue to be rejected or ignored. But the Holy Spirit will not be thwarted and change IS happening!
Collect and Readings for Sunday the 19th of November 2023.
Heavenly Lord, You long for the world’s salvation:
Stir us from apathy, restrain us from excess,
and revive in us new hope, that all creation will one day be healed,
In Jesus Christ our Lord.
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-end
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is at hand;
the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests...
At that time, I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the
people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts,
‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do harm.’
Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.
Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them; and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Please pray for:
The talents of all those in our congregations to be released. For a fresh vision for our churches and congregations. For Charlotte, Derry, Owen, the choir, and all who lead our worship as they prepare for our Advent & Christmas services.
This Week’s Events
Monday (Edmund, King of the East Angles, martyr, 870)
Bell ringing at 7.30pm in St Laurence. Contact Jan for more information on 07835 461361.
Zoom In Morning Prayer on Tuesday at 9am. Meeting ID: 748 9970 4493
Password: Trinity or contact Didier on [email protected]
Daytime Bible Study Group contact Paula on 07803 942 687 for more information.
Evening House-group contact Jo on 07803 942 687 for more information.
Wednesday (Cecilia, martyr at Rome, c.230)
Morning Coffee from 10.00-11.45 in the St Laurence Room.
Midweek Holy Communion on Wednesday at 12 noon in St Laurence Church.
(Clement, Bishop of Rome, martyr, c.100)
Junior Choir at 6.30 pm followed by full Choir Practice at 7.30pm. Do contact Derry on [email protected] if you would like to join in this term.
Saturday (Catherine of Alexandria C4th, Isaac Watts, hymn writer, 1748)
30th November, Winslow Christmas Fayre, St Laurence Room/Square.
3rd December, Faithfully LGBTQI+ MK Eucharist, 3pm St Laurence Church.
3rd December, Advent Carol Service, 6pm St Laurence Church.
Please telephone 07305 271 148 or email [email protected]