Online Worship Archive

Welcome to the online service of worship for The Fourteenth Sunday After Trinity 2020   

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Sunday Services of Public Worship: 10.00am
Worship Online from 8.00am Every Sunday

Sunday 13 September 2020


Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity 



Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.

In heaven at his manor I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth

Of thieves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, & died.

George Herbert




 Welcome Revd Helen Alexander 

Good morning to the members and friends of the congregation of Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church and welcome to all who are joining in this worship online for the 14th Sunday after Trinity.

There’s a rowan tree outside my window that I love in all seasons, from its thin-branched starkness in winter to the pale sprouting of its leaves in the spring, to its feathery green branches laden with bright red berries as it is now, on the cusp of its autumnal surrender when the leaves will become golden and will fall, leaving the tree with its early winter fruit hanging there for the birds. I carry all these seasons of the tree’s life in my mind, yet I’m acutely aware of the pleasure of seeing it as it is now.

Our lives are made up of continuous moments of now that quickly pass, yet just as continuously offer us the gift and opportunity of the present moment, no doubt sometimes to be endured but just as possibly to be savoured with gratitude for providence and grace, especially perhaps in this Season of Creation.

I invite you now to join me in a short period of silence in preparation for worship.

Scripture Sentences

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul…..
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases….
4 who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Let us pray

Let it be, good Lord, as if we have wings like a bird, so that we may soar in spirit to find sanctuary in the assurance of your eternal love and mercy. Hear us as in the presence of your grace, we review the week that has passed. For things gone wrong in it through our fault, our ignorance or folly, grant us concern that is genuine, the ability to take responsibility and the grace to make amends. For memories that make us uneasy, fretful or afraid, grant us courage to face them with calm and a sense of perspective. For former stabilities that may now seem shaky and unreliable, help us to discover the strength we have within us, that which can surprise us from unexpected sources and to claim the strength we find in you, our rock and our redeemer.  For lovely things that have happened, restoring our spirits, our hope and our faith, receive the thanksgiving of our hearts, and help us to contribute to the betterment of our neighbours and the world. And for the week that lies ahead, and whatever we may anticipate of good or ill, help us to be open to grace, to kindness, to laughter and surprise, that even in difficulty we may see beyond that which lies immediately before us and know that whatever befalls us, we are held in the eternal embrace of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.    

The Collect  - Said by all

Almighty God, who has called your church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you, help us so to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Children’s Address  Hillary Leslie

Good morning everyone! It’s really nice to be with you this morning, sharing time together, even though we are apart. I hope you’re continuing to enjoy your time at school and are happy to have some of your other activities back again!

Last week we had our first service back in the church building and it was lovely to see some familiar faces in person! I know there are many families and people of all ages in our church community continuing to tune into the online services from home, and I want you to know just how important you are to our church, even when we aren’t all able to gather together in our church building right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how even when we are apart from each other, the presence of God is with each and every one of us, and that presence brings us together as a church community. A church community is sometimes called a church family, because we are asked to love, serve and care for each other, just as we are asked to do the same with our family members. Some of us might have family members who live in other countries and we aren’t always able to see each other in person – but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a family. Sometimes, like right now, we aren’t always able to join together with our church family in person – but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a church family.

There’s a song we sing in church that starts out like this: ‘the church is wherever God’s people are praising.’ I think this song is a really happy one to think about right now, because it reminds us that the church is more than just the beautiful building we use on Sundays.

The church is made up of people, who are followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, who worship God, and share God’s love with friends and strangers. If you’ll remember from a few months ago, Helen reminded us that the people are the most important part of any church family, whether we can go to the building or not on Sunday mornings.

So whether we’re sitting in a pew in the church building, cuddling up on the couch in our pyjamas with a glass of orange juice, going for a walk and listening to the online recordings, or listening in the car as we take a day trip to the countryside– no matter where we are and tuning into the service, God is with us, and we are gathered together as one family of God’s people.

This morning we are going to be singing a song called ‘Singing we gladly worship the Lord together,’ and as you join in, I want you to think about all of the friends you miss from church that you’d normally get to see and sing with on Sunday mornings. Remember them in your hearts and minds. And remember that God’s presence is with you, and with your friends, too; we are all together in mind, heart, spirit and song!

Let’s close our eyes and pray:

Dear God,
Even though we are apart,
Let us remember that we are a family
Who love you, and love each other
And we are together in heart,
In mind,
In spirit,
And in song.
Be with those who are sad are lonely today
And remind them how much they are loved.
In Jesus name, Amen.


HYMN 257  Singing, we gladly worship the Lord together   Vienen Con Alegria 

 Refrain sung twice:

Singing, we gladly worship the Lord together.
Singing, we gladly worship the Lord.
Those who are travelling the road of life
sow seeds of peace and love.

Come, bringing hope into a world of fear,
a world which is burdened down with dread,
a world which is yearning for a greater love
but needs to be shown the true way.

Come, bringing joyfully in both your hands
some kindling to light the path of peace,
some hope that there is a more human world
where justice and truth will be born.

Whenever hatefulness and violence
are banished for ever from our hearts,
then will the world believe the day is near
when sadness and pain shall find their end.

Guatemalan traditional
English version by Christine Carson (b.1965) and John L. Bell (b.1949)
Words and Music: (c) Christine Carson and Wild Goose Resource Group, The Iona Community
Played by Kate Pearson
Sung by Julie Morrice







Reading  Romans 14: 1 - 12      NRSVA      George Ross



Reading  St Matthew 18: 21 - 35     NRSVA      Kay McIntosh DCS


21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29 Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’


Reflection   Revd Helen Alexander

Recently I watched the televised re-run of the film Invictus, first released a decade ago. It’s the story of the rise of South Africa’s almost entirely white Springbok Rugby Team from obscurity to victory against the odds in the 1995 World Cup. Realising that rugby was the focus that could bring his still bitterly divided nation together, Nelson Mandela, the country’s newly elected President, channelled his exceptional combination of intelligence, determination, wiliness and personal charm on both black and white sporting representatives of South Africa in order to achieve his aim. 

In one memorable moment early in the film, Afrikaner bodyguards of the former President de Klerk report for duty to the new team charged with protecting Mandela. The black members are horrified and their leader goes straight to the new President, exclaiming that these very men probably targeted them under the old regime. Mandela acknowledges this, yet quietly and firmly insists that unification of the country begins in his office, and that his staff must learn to put differences behind them and co-operate with one another.

I thought of this in relation to this morning’s text in St Matthew’s Gospel when Peter is told he must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven. This may be a deliberate reversal of Lamech’s song of multiple revenge that’s recorded in the Book of Genesis: “if Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (1) Matthew’s Jesus’ point may be that revenge must be overturned by an equal force of forgiveness.

If anyone had reason to seek revenge for decades of mistreatment and abuse endured by himself, his family and his people in apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela had. Yet in reversing this very natural human urge for redress in his own soul, he transformed the soul of much of his country.  His hard-won spirit of forgiveness, forged over decades of suffering and maltreatment in prison on Robben Island, gave him the credibility he needed to influence his people black and white, and led to his becoming one of the towering figures of the 20th Century. This might give us cause for hope, for though Mandela is no longer with us, his example continues to inspire. Who knows where the next leader of his calibre might be waiting in the wings? God knows the world needs one.

For Christian people the figure of Jesus Christ exemplifies unlimited forgiveness, particularly in the love that we believe flowed from the cross. Tomorrow, 14th September, many branches of the church will mark Holy Cross Day: a commemoration that reaches back well over a millennium in Christian history. Fashions in interpretation of Christ’s cross come and go, but the outstretched arms of the dying Jesus have power to draw believer and unbeliever alike, for this enduring symbol of grace and mercy speaks wordlessly and with extraordinary power to the depths of the human spirit.

Through the cross we are invited to step beyond the relatively ordinary in human affairs to the extraordinary absence of vengefulness and the presence of limitless forgiveness. Few, if any of us might expect ever to live even a bit like this. We may not even want to.   Much easier to understand and sometimes to identify with, for example, is the sight and sound of people who’ve been wronged emerging from a court room, sometimes expressing satisfaction at a verdict, at other times acute rage that the verdict hasn’t gone far enough for them. But a rare heartfelt declaration of forgiveness after a horrific trial may stay in the memory long after we hear it, prompting us to ask ourselves if we could possibly ever imagine saying that.

Lately we’ve been painfully reminded of those who suffer abuse because of their culture, heritage and the colour of their skin as they’ve erupted with the pent-up anger of generations. Might we try to identify with them, though our situation may be different, even as we may lament the consequences of that anger? It never does us any harm, and possibly much good to try to put ourselves in others’ shoes, especially if those shoes are very different to our own.  In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant that we heard this morning, it was the refusal of the servant to identify with his fellow servant’s situation that occasioned the righteous wrath of the king. 

Commenting further on the parable, the former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway asks: “Is there some kind of universal awareness emerging here that by any calculus of revenge we would all deserve punishment for something, because we are all enmeshed in the web of collective guilt that history has spun round humanity?” (2) A thought for our times, perhaps. While Holloway’s words don’t provide an answer for today’s societal difficulties, they invite us to open our minds to the truth of our common human condition, and thus perhaps to the capacity for grace. We do not live to ourselves” wrote St Paul to the church in Rome. Quite so: we live in relation to other people if not to God, and our communal as well as our personal health depends on this.

What’s evident, I think, is that forgiveness is rarely achievable just because we think it might be healthy, like eating our greens, or because the Bible or any other authority might encourage or even instruct us in that direction. Mostly, forgiveness remains a matter of the will: to be exercised or resisted.  Rarely does it reflect fluffy feelings; rather a serious, often costly decision. This goes for injustices like those experienced by Nelson Mandela and his people as well as for the comparatively lesser hurts that any of us might endure at one time or another. 

The other day an elderly friend told me that long ago she had said to someone: “I’ll never forgive you.” The immense wrong she received very early in her life had lasting consequences for the rest of it. What did she think about these words now, I asked? She wasn’t sure. They had been her truth then and in an important sense had sustained her over many years. Yet she could see that faith, and indeed life itself offered her a wider vision.

It’s crucial to honour experience, especially when it has included that which is appalling. If and when it becomes possible to look beyond to a wider vision, however, among other things we may come to understand the part the exercise of power plays in the gift or refusal of forgiveness. This power may be the only means of retaining a sense of self in the midst of horror. Perhaps that’s why it can be so difficult to give up. To nurse our wrath like Tam O’Shanter’s long suffering wife (3) is to exercise power. Yet keeping wrathful power warm by endlessly ruminating over this or that offence large or small, sometimes over years, in the end may prove more damaging to the ruminator than to the one ruminated upon. Forgiveness is a form of giving in which the forgiver is as much the recipient of grace as the one who is forgiven.

Most of us long to live freely and creatively rather than destructively. Taking seriously the call to forgiveness and the hospitality of spirit this entails though difficult and at times apparently impossible may, if we achieve even a vestige of it, surprise and delight us as much as winning the World Cup surprised and delighted South Africa twenty five years ago - and counting.

  1. Genesis 4. 23 – 24
  2. Richard Holloway On Forgiveness: How can we Forgive the Unforgivable? Canongate Books Ltd 2002 P72
  3. Robert Burns Tam O’Shanter





Choral Anthem   Locus Iste, Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)  
Played by Kate Pearson - Sung by the Chamber Group   


Thanksgiving and Intercession   Revd Helen Alexander

I invite you to think of a natural place of beauty that you know and love: a garden, a coastline, a mountain, woodland, a loch: give thanks for this place now, for all it means to you as pleasure, sanctuary, restoration; and give thanks too for the plain simple reality of it – that it is there not only for you – but that it exists, as the world exists not just for us but as a glory in itself.

And I invite you to pledge to honour that place and to honour the earth, that the wrong that’s been done to nature’s glory may be redeemed; not by God in heaven in some hoped for future, but now by his people on earth.

We remember the fires raging in California and pray for its land and its people. We pray for all whose coastline homes are threatened by erosion; for those who live in fear of flood, drought, of earthquake and of volcanic power. We think of the indigenous people of the earth, so skilled in living in partnership with nature and we give thanks for their knowledge and example, praying for humility to learn from them.

For all the peoples of the earth we make our prayer, remembering the millions who struggle with misery and hardship: migrants from the burnt-out camp in Greece, those sailing in treacherous seas, those who have made it to Europe and wait in hope. We pray for the people of India threatened with a surge in the coronavirus, and for the whole world living with its threat.

We pray for this country, rich in resources yet often times poor in spirit, and on the brink of great change in direction. We remember those from Britain and Europe charged with negotiations for our departure from the European Union, seeking integrity in our leaders and respect for the rule of law.

We remember politicians throughout the world; peacekeepers and peacemakers as well as those who wage war. We pray for the people of Belarus and their government, the United States of America, and for all places that do not make headlines yet struggle with division and discontent.  

We pray for those we love; those who may be beside us now or eternally near to our hearts. We pray for our neighbours and the communities we represent. We think of those we may know who are lonely, sad, ill, worried about the future or regretful of the past. We pray for those struggling to deal with loss, or living with its threat, and we commit all and ourselves in relation to them to God’s blessing and care; giving thanks for all whom we have committed to God’s care in death in the Communion of Saints through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


HYMN 392    When I survey the wondrous cross   Rockingham

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See! from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down;
did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748)
Played by kate Pearson
Sung by Walter Thomson



BENEDICTION Revd Helen Alexander

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you
And the blessing of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all.


AMEN Children


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Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church,
18 West Mayfield,

0131 667 1522 / 0780 801 1234

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Scottish Charity Number: SC000785


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    Meister Eckhart

  • The purpose of our life is God's glory. However lowly a life is, that is what makes it great.
    Oscar Romero

  • Faith may justify bigotry or fanaticism, as Church history tragically witnesses. It needs a safeguard. If it is not animated as it were by the greatest of the theological virtues (love), faith can become defective.
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