SUNDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2022

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE

Commit your way to the Lord and trust in him. 

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

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.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love. We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

SILENCE

God our Father,
we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Sue Turner

COLLECT

Hear the prayers of your people, O Lord: 
that we, who are weighed down by our sins, 
may be delivered for the glory of your name; 
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,  
who lives and reigns with you,  
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,  
one God, world without end.  Amen 

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING:
Genesis 45:3-11,15 
read by Kay Solaja

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 

You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 

And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. 

SILENCE

SECOND READING
1 Corinthians 15.35-38, 42-50 
read by Billy Dewar-Riddick

The Resurrection Body 

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 

So, it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 

But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.  What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Luke 6: 27-38
read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 6 beginning at verse 27

Glory to Christ our Saviour

Love for Enemies 

“But I say to you that listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. 

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.[a] Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 

Judging Others 

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” 

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

There was an elderly lady who had been a churchgoer all her life, but who hadn’t spoken to her only sister for the last 40 years. I can’t remember what had happened between the two of them, only that this lady entirely blamed her sister for the trouble and forty years later, was still waiting for her sister to apologise. The two of them never met again, and both died with their differences unreconciled.
It seems such a sad loss of the love and companionship which family members can bring, yet it’s a very common story. There are many families where one member of the family is not talking to another member, or where the entire family is at loggerheads. And that’s just in families. In the wider world, neighbours or friends fall out often over something trivial and never make it up, because each blames the other and neither will make the first move.

And of course, it’s well known that in churches people who take offence very often simply walk out and never attend that church again. For some people that’s a pattern in their lives. They attend church, they’re offended and they leave, so they attend a different church and in due course the same thing happens all over again and again. Forgiveness does not feature in their actions.

Forgiveness isn’t easy either to give or to receive, even over the most trivial offence. It’s much easier to deny all culpability and to walk away in high dudgeon than it is to face the problem. It requires considerable humility to be able to even begin to see that both parties might be partially responsible, let alone to apologise. And it requires considerable sensitivity to begin to understand what it might feel like from the other person’s point of view.

In today’s Old Testament reading from Genesis, we see how Joseph forgives his brothers. Forgiveness for Joseph was no mean feat. Remember how his brothers had treated him. They had sold him into slavery out of jealousy and anger. Joseph’s life from that point took a nose dive into captivity and hardship. He worked briefly in Potiphar’s residence as a servant but was wrongfully imprisoned because he shunned Potiphar’s wife. He spent many years in prison forgotten and abandoned, until Pharoah needed a dream interpreted and he was not only remembered but needed. From that moment when he interpreted Pharoah’s dream, Joseph life was turned around and he rose into the higher echelons of Pharoah’s government and was made governor over the country prior to and during the dreadful famine. It was the famine that brought his brothers in the first instance to Egypt.

Seeing his brothers again must have brought, as we see a little in this passage, and more so in the earlier chapters, a whole range of emotions to the surface for Joseph. Did he consider revenge after all these years, did he bear grudges, did he want to make his brothers suffer- I suppose he could have experienced all of these feelings for he is human after all. It is worth noting that there is nothing wrong in feeling these emotions, certainly David the Psalmist did, but the key factor and this is very important is that we decide not to act upon them, but instead we choose the path of forgiveness, no matter how hard that path is.

Jesus reminds us of the importance of forgiveness, when Peter asks him. How many times should I forgive my brother?” “Seven times?” “No,” said Jesus. “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” That’s a tall order. Real forgiveness is a gift from God and it doesn’t come easy. Insults and injuries and offences damage pride, and only those who are able to face the pain of wounded pride are really able to forgive. And only those who dare to begin to approach those dark, hidden corners of their inner being, are able to face the pain of wounded pride.
It’s a difficult business, forgiveness. It’s much easier to totally blame somebody else for all problems than it is to accept that I myself might bear some responsibility. And taking that first step of approaching the other party, whether I’m the offender or offended against, is very difficult indeed.

Sometimes people are forced into forgiveness, but that usually takes a major, earth-shattering event, like a sudden death or a life-threatening illness. That sort of event changes priorities, and wounded pride is suddenly seen for what it really is.
Yet forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith, and without it Christianity is just a hollow sham. “Forgive us our sins,” we say to God, “as we forgive those who sin against us.” Forgive us Lord, in the same measure that we forgive other people.

Forgiveness over trivial offences which haven’t caused much hurt, is difficult enough. But is it even possible to forgive a really serious offence? And should we really go on and on forgiving those who commit serious sins against us?
Imagine being the parent of a young child, who disappeared and whose body was never found. Even if they are found again, would you ever be able to forgive the abductor? And should you forgive the abductor?

Perhaps you have watched the film, “A Time to Kill”. The title is taken from the Bible, from the OT book of Ecclesiastes, and is the story of a father whose ten-year old daughter was brutally raped, partially strangled, flung over a bridge and left for dead on the rocks below. Since the rapists boasted about their exploits, everyone in the tiny community knew their identity. The father of the little girl took a shotgun and killed those rapists. And the jury found him “not guilty” of murder, because there was such a strong feeling that he was justified in his actions.
Forgiveness may be possible and desirable when the injury is slight, but can it be either possible or desirable when the injury is unspeakably brutal, is evil and is, for instance, against a child? Jesus placed no limits on forgiveness. He repeated again and again that forgiveness is always essential for those who wish to remain close to God. The problem with lack of forgiveness is that it causes a hard, intractable knot inside the inner being of the person who is unable to forgive, a knot that even God cannot penetrate.

But that hard knot doesn’t remain static. Like a malignancy, it slowly grows and spreads and poisons the soul, so that God is squeezed out and the coldness and the hardness and the evil take over. The effect of lack of forgiveness on a whole nation can be seen very clearly in Northern Ireland or in other parts of the world.
The treatment for lack of forgiveness is simple, but never easy. Like lancing a deep-rooted boil without anaesthetic, it’s very painful. It can mean suffering the depths of humiliation, because at the very least it means swallowing pride. It seems to me that forgiveness for serious offences lies solely in God’s hands. Most mere mortals would probably be incapable of forgiving, for example, a child molester or a murderer. But inasmuch as we are unable to forgive, so to that extent we are cut off from God and are slowly poisoned by insidious evil within ourselves.

Perhaps the way forward is to ask God for the gift of forgiveness, then to try to open up all parts of our inner being to God. It will undoubtedly be a painful process and probably a long process, but the one who eventually is able to forgive will be the winner.
Forgiveness is tied up with understanding. Once I begin to understand the reasons for another’s actions, I can begin to forgive them for those actions. God understands everything about all of us. He knows what’s happened to us in the past. He knows why we act the way we do, and therefore He can and does fully and completely forgive us, whatever the sin.

Joseph chose forgiveness with his brothers. Joseph had changed over the years and grown in spiritual maturity through his experiences. He recognises very strongly God’s hand in it all for good. He mentions several times God’s hand in shaping and fashioning his life for he says:” God sent me before you to preserve a remnant on earth”; “God made me a father to Pharoah”; “God sent me to preserve life”; “God has made me Lord of all Egypt.” God works all things for good for those who love him and Joseph could testify to this truth. His awareness of God’s hand in his life, and his heart of love for God, all helped him to reach out in forgiveness to his brothers. Forgiveness freed him from all bitterness and resentment and opened up the possibility of a new family life. Not only had Joseph been shaped and fashioned by what had transpired between him and his brothers but his brothers too had changed for the better. Neither would have known this change and newness if they had not reached out to one another in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is what as Christians we are commanded to do. If we fail to forgive, it has an effect on the other person, but nothing like the effect it has on us. If we really want inner, spiritual health and an increasing ability to love, then we must learn to forgive in all circumstances, seventy times seven and take a leaf out of Joseph’s book and forgive those who have hurt and offended us. Amen

THE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of peace and reconciliation,
when conflicts threaten to disrupt our fellowship
in the church community,
deal with our frustrations and anger,
and give us the grace to forgive.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of all understanding and patience,
when the baggage we carry from the past
interferes with our capacity to cope with the present,
heal the damage from our memories
and transform our experiences for good.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of diversity and unity,
when the differences in cultures
block our understanding of one another
and obstruct the peace process
broaden our vision to discern the common ground.
We pray particularly for Ukraine and Russia
asking for peace through diplomacy and negotiation
and pray that no war or fighting will take place.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of transformation and love,
when the layers of resentment and bitterness
have taken hold
and turned to rock
dissolve them with the gift of your mercy and forgiveness.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of all compassion,
open our hearts to those who are struggling,
like the homeless and all without
sufficient means to sustain themselves.
As prices soar and the cost of living rises,
grant our government an awareness
of the burdens and needs of their people.
Help us all to look out for one another
and support in whatever way we can.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of all hope,
you hear the cries of those in distress.
Pour out your healing love on all who seek you
bring light in their darkness,
and joy to their sorrow.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of all faithfulness and truth,
your love and your promises
hold us in life and in death.
Remember all those who have died
and keep the departed faithful forever
in our loving embrace.
May the heavenly city be their home.

May we love one another
as you have loved us

God of all wisdom and grace,
we acknowledge both the challenge and value
in loving our enemies and in seeking forgiveness.

Give us courage to forgive and be forgiven,
and help us to emulate,
the extraordinary love you showed us in Jesus.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those+
who sin against us.
Do not bring us
to the time of trial+
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.

BLESSING

Christ the Son of God gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN

DISMISSAL

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

Donations

You can donate to St John’s by credit or debit card by following these links.

St John’s Bellringers on Border Life video

Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

Facebook

St John's Church

3 days 12 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, Pentecost Day, 19th May, when the choir of St John's

St John's Church

1 week 1 day ago

Sunday 12th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Contemporary Service is at 6pm on 12th

St John's Church

2 weeks 1 day ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW this Sunday, 5th May, at 6pm, where the choir of St John's Church will

St John's Church

2 weeks 1 day ago

Sunday 5th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 8:00am & 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Choral evensong is at 6pm