Readings & Prayers for the 2nd Sunday before Advent

The Talents by Eugène Burnand (30 August 1850 – 4 February 1921)

Worship from Wells Cathedral will be streamed at 10am and available afterwards on catch-up.


Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Psalm 90
1Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
2Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the earth and the world were formed,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3You turn us back to dust and say:
‘Turn back, O children of earth.’
4For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday,
which passes like a watch in the night.
5You sweep them away like a dream;
they fade away suddenly like the grass.
6In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
7For we consume away in your displeasure;
we are afraid at your wrathful indignation.
8You have set our misdeeds before you
and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

A Reading from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians ch. 5 verses 1 – 11
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.

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew chapter 25
verses 14 – 30
‘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.”

A Reflection from Fr Guy
The parable in today’s gospel has always puzzled and troubled me. But I am
not alone. We read in the Gospels that the disciples often asked Jesus what they
meant. The parables are important because Jesus used them extensively to teach
his followers, so we, too, should engage with them and not be surprised if they
disrupt our own view of what they may mean for us today. The parable in today’s
Gospel is one that should be read with a health warning, because it is so easy to
interpret in one specific way rather than opening our minds to what the Kingdom
of God is like. In many parables it is tempting to equate the master with God, but
Matthew invites us to regard the master as Jesus. If we do so, everything we
think we understand is thrown into doubt. Neither Jesus nor his Father can be the
hard slave-master who demands unjust practices for profit from his servants. So,
when that interpretation falters, we are forced to focus our gaze elsewhere. The
generosity of gifts is startling. A talent is a vast sum of money and the master
gives this freely to his servants, though in different amounts. There is also the
gift of time, allowing the servants to live faithfully until their master returns. Our
culture, which places so much value on things happening immediately struggles
with waiting. There is also the question of what motivates the servants to react in
the way they did. Did they recognise an invitation to share in the joy of their
master, to share his generosity, and to be faithful to follow their master and do
what was required of them? Their reward is to be given even greater
responsibilities. But the third servant would appear to be gripped by fear. What is
holding him back? What has life thrown at him that he reacts in such a way? We
can’t know, but in ‘playing safe’ he secures his own downfall. Contrary to what
some might think and say, this parable does not justify a gospel of economic
prosperity. Instead it challenges believers to emulate their Master by using all
that God has given them for the sake of the kingdom. Money under the mattress
does not keep pace with inflation and loses its value in real terms. Those who try
to ‘preserve’ ways of doing theology or worship or ministry unchanged are left
with devalued currency. Faith is given to be developed, spiritual understanding to
be deepened, sacrificial service to be extended, opportunities for witness to be
seized. For us today, what does faithfulness look like in a time of waiting, during
lockdown and worldwide pandemic? Faithfulness is reflecting the ministry of
Jesus, by being generous in what we say and do with neighbour and stranger. We
may think that we don’t have much to offer. We, too, may be held back by fear.
But if we can be generous, all our acts of love will go a long way to build God’s
Kingdom in this place. A phone call to someone living alone, an offer to help
with shopping, a brief chat as we pass others in the street: they seem such little
things, and yet we know from being on the receiving end of such kindness that
they make all the difference in these constrained times. And they inspire us, too,
to share the joy we have received. Now there’s a return for investment! The
parable we have encountered in Matthew’s Gospel today is challenging. Better to
be shaken, than remain unstirred members of God’s Kingdom in Midsomer

Intercessions by Hilary
Let us have clean hearts ready inside us for the Lord Jesus, so that He will be
glad to come in, gratefully accepting the hospitality of those worlds, our hearts:
He whose glory and power will endure throughout the ages.
Father God, we pray for the church at this time of uncertainty. We miss being
together as one to worship you in our lovely church and we thank you for the
technology which allows us to reach out to each other and connect as much as we
can. As we pray in our individual homes – around the country and around the
world – we are united as one family and we lift up our hearts together in prayer.
We pray for those needing to make decisions in order to care for others and for
those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving God, we bring into your presence the bewilderment and uncertainty
engulfing our world. We pray for all who are anxious and whose worries threaten
to overwhelm them. We pray for those who have been made redundant, for
employers whose businesses have not survived this long shutdown and all facing
financial difficulties. We pray for those whose health or mental health is
threatened. We pray for struggling families, the isolated and the lonely. Calm our
fears Lord and give us hope during this pandemic, we ask this not only for
ourselves but for all people.

In our cycle of prayer, we pray especially for the residents of: Phillis Hill, Harts
Paddock & Hallam Close.

Ever present God, be with us in our isolation, be close to us in our distancing, be
healing in our sickness, be joy in our sadness, be light in our darkness, be
wisdom in our confusion, be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar. We give
heartfelt thanks for the NHS, carers and key workers. We pray for schools,
universities and nurseries, shop workers and all who are trying to keep us living
as normal lives as possible. Bless their work Lord and sustain them in their daily
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Lord, comfort all who are sick. Look with compassion on those who
are directly affected by Coronavirus and bring your blessing to them and their
families. We also pray for the sick in our own parish…
Rachael Macfarlane, Miranda Cooper, Rose Stenner, Paul & Margaret Knott,
Irene Leet, Gerrard Monks, Trevor Bell, Fr Roy Boots, Nicholas Hambleton,
Betty Chiplin, Ethan Horwood, John Lewis, Patricia Flagg, Pat Gilham, Bishop
Peter Hancock, Vince Marriot.
Give us all a spirit of love and compassion in this time of need, and for all who
are sick, isolated and afraid, embrace them with the assurance of your peace and
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who have died and their families who mourn them. We hold in
our prayers those who have gone before us and we remember this week:-
(M) Frances Foster (T) Timothy Carter, Colin Tozer (W) Eugenia Arayan,
Alfred Smith (T) Irene Pridden, John Wills, Mary Eaton, Peggy Hazleton (F)
Winifred Hurley, Bessie Bush, Frederick Brooks, Dorothy James (S) and Phyllis
Swift Loving Father, We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,
in the joy of eternal life.
“ I wait for the Lord with all my soul, I hope for the fulfilment of his word”
Merciful father, accept these prayers for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The good news is that Guy’s licensing is now planned to take place on Thursday
the 10th December. Sadly because of Covid restrictions still applying the
ceremony is by invitation only.

Chris and Ralph Plummer have written to us to say ‘Thank You’ for the
‘Welcome to Your New Home’ messages and gifts they have received from us.
They hope to see us again soon.
During lock down Fr Guy will open the church for silent prayer on Tuesdays
and Saturdays 10am – 12 Noon

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