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A Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter

Sunday Service at Home

Sermon by Rev Preb Rosie Austin for Sunday 25 July

A transcript of this sermon can be found below

Shirwell Mission Community

A Service of the Word for use as Morning Prayer

The Greeting: 


O Lord, open our lips 

And our mouths shall proclaim your praise.

Give us the joy of your saving help

And sustain us with your life-giving Spirit.


We have come together in the name of Christ to offer our praise and thanksgiving, 

to hear and receive God’s holy word, to pray for the needs of the world,

and to seek the forgiveness of our sins, 

that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may give ourselves to the service of God.


A Psalm or  Song (see the song sheet)


The Prayers of Penitence:


Jesus says, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ So let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ, confessing our sins in penitence and faith.


Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.

We are sorry and repent. Have mercy on us according to your love.

Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin. 

Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.


May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Bible Reading.           ending with  “This is the word of the Lord   Thanks be to God




The Apostles Creed 


I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,                                                       

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,                                                                

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

Intercessions:                               (These, or other prayers, may be prayed)


We pray for the church in all the world…

… that as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we might bring glory to Jesus by bringing peace, reconciliation, kindness and healing in Jesus’ name. Amen


We pray for the needs of the world around us:

  We pray for peace amongst nations and peoples…

  We pray for food to reach the hungry, and for better sharing of resources…

  We pray for medical aid to reach the sick, and for those who work in healthcare…

  We pray for employment for those in need, and relief for those in debt…

  We pray for safety for those at risk, and help for the most vulnerable…

  We pray for vaccines to reach all peoples, and for compassion in our time… 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


   We pray for all those who are known to us who are unwell - we name them as we place them into the hands of our Lord Jesus now……

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son

        our Saviour Jesus Christ.        Amen.


The Collect prayer 

Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn and no strength known but the strength of love: so guide and inspire the work of those who seek your kingdom that all your people may know your love which casts out fear and know the fellowship revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


The Lord’s prayer 


Gathering our prayers and praises into one, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray


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. 

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen


A Psalm  or  Song (see the song sheet)


Dismissal & Blessing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                            Romans 15 v 13


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen  2 Cor 13 v 14

                  Copyright notes:     Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England. © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.

Sermon based on the readings for James the Apostle, 

Matthew 20:20-28, Acts 11:27 – 12:2 (Revd. Preb. Rosie Austin) 25.7.21


Today we are in Saint James Arlington as we celebrate the feast of Saint James either today or tomorrow if that’s your tradition.


Actually, a confession. Because after some research we found that this church is dedicated to Saint James the Less not Saint James the Great, the Apostle. But, still, this place has some things to say which may relate to our gospel text which I will come to later.


We know a fair bit about James. We know that he, alongside his brother John, was called from his fishing boat by Jesus to follow him. They left without delay. We know that he was one of just three witnesses to the transfiguration. We know he and his brother had a joint nickname, the ‘Sons of Thunder’. Did they have a temper on them, perhaps? And we know too from the passage from Acts 12 that James died a violent death at the hands of King Herod.


It’s interesting that James has this traditional name or title. ‘The Great’, especially in light of the gospel reading from today because that’s exactly what the mother of James and John asks for her sons. Greatness. 


She comes to Jesus and asks that her sons James and John be granted the right to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in his kingdom. She asks for status for them, for power, for favouritism, asking to be placed above their fellow disciples. It might have been the mother who approaches Jesus but it’s James and John who Jesus addresses in his reply and are most likely the ones behind the question.


“You do not know what you are asking“, Jesus replies.

Jesus asks them if they really understand the cost of following him but more to the point what it really means to follow him. Because following Jesus is not about power and status and respectability. It’s about seeking first the welfare of others. To be a servant as Jesus was. Not to be seeking out greatness and fame – but to live out the command to love others as we love ourselves. 


If Jesus was seeking status and favour – he would have mixed with the rich and powerful. He would have headed to the places where he could be seen – rather than seeking out the quiet places. He would have healed those who might provided favours back.  Of course that is not the Jesus we come to know in the Gospels. 


Last week in our Gospel reading we hear how Jesus had compasssion on all those who came to him, and even when seeking a place of quietness and solitude – he had compassion on those who got in the way of that. He sat with the blind, the leper, the tax collector, the outcast. His journey to the cross shows how he treated all the people that he met and how he put their needs first. He treated the weakest with the same respect as the greatest in society. 


For those of you who may today have heard the passage from John 6 as your gospel reading today, we hear how Jesus accepts the gift of the small boy to make a difference to many. 


Jesus’s journey to the cross is not a journey to greatness – but to each on of us whoever we are. The creed from Philippians 2 reminds us:  


5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6who, being in very natureGod,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness….


What does it mean to be great in our world today? Maybe it’s about being wealthy or famous? What might it mean for the church to be ‘successful’ in the eyes of the world? 


This church started small, but was extended by its wealthy local family to be far larger than it ever needed to be to seat its small rural population. Perhaps it was made grand to honour the agricultural workers and servants who would have filled its pews – or perhaps it was made grand for the purposes of status. But today, volunteers from this place with a very small parish population carefully tend and maintain it for the sake of the many visitors who come to it, for those who want to have a quiet space to pray or reflect, and for those within their parish who want it to continue as a place of worship and community. There are many more churches across this Diocese serving in similar ways, and I want to encourage you today. This is servanthood, and we are so grateful for your time and energy. 


Small churches may not look grand or seem successful in some eyes – but what counts is service. That forms an important strand of our Diocesan vision. Alongside growing in prayer and making new disciples, we as church are called – in whatever way we can – to serve the people of Devon (and beyond) with joy. 


What might it mean to be called to service in this time of loosening of Covid restrictions, even with increasing numbers of infections and many people still vulnerable? The masks that many of us have grown tired of wearing are in a sense a visible sign of looking out for others. I know that not everyone can wear them – but if we can, then it’s a good way of looking out for neighbour as well as stranger. 


As we gradually return to worshipping together in person – let’s continue to put first those who are anxious, those who are more vulnerable, and our young people who are not yet fully vaccinated. Let’s seek the welfare of the poorest nations in seeking a generous roll out of vaccines across the world. Let’s take climate change seriously – if not for our own sake – but for that of those who will suffer most from its consequences.


What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? Perhaps James came, step by step, to discover what it really meant to be a follower of Jesus, rather than a seeker of greatness? What does it mean for us to follow Jesus today in his way of service for the world we live in? 


Let’s pray:


Lord God – we hold ourselves before you now in humility. Forgive for times we have sought our own greatness – or failed to put other first. Help us to learn what it means to follow in your way. Amen.