This week’s Worship

Sunday 29th August 2021 13th Sunday after Trinity (5th Sunday)
            9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston

9:30 am      Family Worship, Mawdesley
11:00 am      Holy Communion, Bretherton

Wednesday   10:00 am      Holy Communion (Croston)

** Friday 9am Morning Prayer at Mawdesley **
** cancelled until further notice **

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Feelings can run high where much-loved traditions are involved, especially in church, where some find any sort of change very difficult, whilst others are keen to develop our worship and our buildings.  It is no wonder then that we so often defer these difficult decisions!   But for a moment let us look to the bible to see if it can help us to see the wood for the trees… or the church for the pews!

Today we return to Mark’s Gospel where Jesus confronts “the tradition of the elders”, it’s about rules that have been handed down from previous generations.  Ritual washing before meals was one of many rules that Jesus and his disciples were criticised for breaking. They also ate with people who the Pharisees considered sinners, and broke some of the strict rules about working on the Sabbath: the hungry disciples plucked ears of corn and Jesus healed people on the Sabbath.
Jesus quotes from Isaiah, insisting that true worship of God comes from the heart, not obedience to “human precepts” of this kind.
To illustrate the point, he addresses the specific criticism of his disciples for eating without washing their hands.  The Pharisees would hold that this renders the food they eat (and the disciples themselves) defiled, unclean, and therefore far from God.
Jesus teaches that nothing external can separate us from God, only the disposition of our own hearts.  And if we truly honour God in our hearts, not just with an outward show of adherence to traditional rituals, it will transform our behaviour to others.
We aren’t honouring God if we indulge in the evil things he lists: from murder, theft and sexual exploitation to greed and envy and pride.
Jesus clearly didn’t dismiss all Jewish traditions: his last evening with his disciples was spent observing the Passover.  His point is that such traditions must not be for show, but should reflect an inner relationship with God.  He accuses his listeners of elevating human tradition above the commandment of God.  Later in this Gospel, and elsewhere, he spells out the commandment, greater than all others, and to which all others can be reduced: love God with all your heart, and if that’s difficult he helps us out by giving us the second great commandment “Love your neighbour as yourself”.   These two are inextricably linked, they are like twos sides of the same coin; for if we truly love God, our hearts will be full of love for our neighbours, too, and this love will spill over into our actions towards them.

In our difficult decisions about tradition, we need to ask if we are honouring God only with our lips, and teaching human precepts, or whether our actions stem from a heart devoted to God.
Do some of our comfortable and familiar traditions make it difficult for others to know and love God, in today’s world?
Many traditions have lapsed during the history of Christianity.
Bitter disputes in the early Church surrounded those very food rules which Jesus questioned. Later, there emerged a tradition for male, celibate clergy, following the Reformation, the tradition of celibacy died out in Protestant churches and in the Church of England which is a reformed Catholic Church, where we are now blessed with Women Priests and Bishops.  In each case, change will have been painful for some.

There is an important place for tradition, as long as we know why we follow it and it still serves its original purpose in glorifying God.  And although service books change, and clerical attire varies, although pews have come and (in some places!) gone, some things will never alter.   The Eucharist is a tradition handed down from Jesus himself through generations of Christians, to remind us of something that does not change: God’s unfailing love.
It is our internal attitudes that are important and how they impact on what we say and do, which should show: our love for God and for our neighbours.

With love & prayers.

Michael (Rector)

Tel: 01772 600548 mobile:07960309005, email: revmwoods@gmail.com

 

Sunday 5th September 2021 14th Sunday after Trinity (1st Sunday)
            8:00 am      BCP Holy Communion, Mawdesley
9:00 am      Family Worship, Bretherton
9:15 am      Holy Communion, Croston

11:00 am      Holy Communion, Mawdesley

Facebook & YouTube Online Worship
An Act of Worship from Blackburn Cathedral will be available every Sunday from 9am.  You can view this on the Cathedral YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4GsctW6SLc or on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BlackburnCathedral
This week’s Church of England online worship comes from
St. Christopher’s Church, Hanwell is led by Rev Suzanne Vernon-Yorke you can watch the service from 9am Sunday.
https://www.facebook.com/thechurchofengland

Thank you to everyone who responded so well with donations following the urgent appeal this week in Croston for the clothing for Afghan Children, it has been delivered to the collection point in Wigan at the Storehouse Project.

Please do continue to support the Food Bank
You can leave donations in our Churches in Croston & Bretherton on Wed. & Sun. from 10 to 4pm, or on Sunday at the service in Mawdesley.
Despite the feeling that we are beginning to live ‘normally’, many families are even more stressed as:
furlough is coming to an end…
some firms are laying-off staff… or not re-opening…
the ‘extra’ £20 per week on Universal Credit is finishing soon…
utility companies are raising prices…
If you are able, please continue to support this worthy enterprise.

The Graveyard Inspection in Croston for 2021 has taken place.
If you have any questions please contact Revd Michael (600548).

Walking Football team
We would like to try and put a couple of church walking football teams together, men and women’s in Croston – just a bit of social fun If you are interested please email Lizmbrown@outlook.com

Croston dates for your diary
The tickets for Music in the Woods on Sept. 4th have almost sold out, please contact Diane Marston or Kathryn McCann to check if any are still available.  Price is £15 per adult accompanied children free.    Cash or cheque at the time please.

We are planning another Harvest supper on October 2nd in the Old School.  Hotpot, dessert, live music and great company.  All for only £10.  Please let Diane or Kathryn know if you would like to join us.

The Christmas tree festival is pencilled in for Nov. 27th / 28th with the Christmas markets being on the following Sunday.

Baptisms
We are contacting people on the waiting list for baptisms as new dates are now available from the end of Sept. through to the end of Nov. We apologise for the delay.
Please email: revmwoods@gmail.com for further details.

Faith reference cards for school applications
Whilst Covid 19 restrictions remain in place across our churches, as they have done since the start of this pandemic we will treat all requests for a faith reference as full attendance.  If you would like a Faith reference card please email the rector, hopefully these can then be used from next week after the 1st September.

 


The Collect
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.
                                                                                                           Amen

First Reading
As they enter the Promised Land, the people of Israel are urged to keep the commandments of God diligently and to make them known to their descendants.
Deuteronomy 4.1-2,6-9
Moses spoke to the people; he said: 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.

Second Reading
James encourages his readers to allow the word of God to bear fruit in their lives; to be doers of the word and not merely hearers.
James 1.17-27
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.   In 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.

The Gospel
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for being more concerned with outward purity than the heart; he emphasises that the impurity which defiles a person starts in the heart.
Mark 7.1-8,14-15,21-23
 When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, 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.”’
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.’

Prayer after 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.                                         Amen

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