simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal

Weekly Bible Notes and Worship Resources

Ordinary 22 Year A

God saw all he made and it was goodIntroduction

Being a follower of Jesus has rewards, there is no doubt that there can be no greater promise made by Jesus than his assurance that we are loved by God for ever, even beyond death. But Jesus wants his followers to know that the realisation of this love brings with it responsibility. In our relationships we know that we cannot take somebody for granted just because they love us. Indeed a real relationship should mean total commitment and a willingness to give everything to the one we love. So it is that Jesus tells his disciples they must be totally committed to him. It is no good professing dedication and being half hearted. This meant that his disciples would have to be prepared to openly stand up for Jesus and be prepared to take consequences. At the time that meant the probability of persecution and quite possibly death.

How deep is our commitment ?  Would you be prepared to give everything for Jesus ?

Opening Verses of Scripture    Psalm 105

Praise the LORD and pray in his name! Tell everyone what he has done. Sing praises to the LORD! Tell about his miracles. Celebrate and worship his holy name with all your heart.

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. CW

First Bible Reading  Exodus 3: 1-15

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the LORD said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”: This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.’ NRSV

Second Reading  Romans Chapter 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NRSV

Gospel Reading Matthew Chapter 16:21-28

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’ NRSV 

Post Communion Sentence

God of all mercy, in this eucharist you have set aside our sins and given us your healing: grant that we who are made whole in Christ may bring that healing to this broken world, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. CW


The disciples clearly had a flawed understanding of what was in store for Jesus, they also completely misunderstood what was in store for themselves! Accepting the invitation to follow Jesus was not going to be a path a greater glory, power or riches. When the mother of James and John had a quiet word with Jesus to promote the interests of her boys, she did not have in mind that being close to Jesus would mean them hanging on a cross! Sadly somewhere along the line wires were crossed and the disciples just couldn’t help but think that following the one who could turn water into wine would end up in some kind of fantastic future. They were right of course the future was fantastic, but not the one which they had planned.

It wasn’t for the want of Jesus trying to correct this misunderstanding, he kept telling them that his was a way of servanthood, of caring and looking after the downtrodden, the message just didn’t get through. So today Jesus is at his most explicit, a verbal banging of the disciples heads together. Jesus makes blatantly clear that his reward for doing everything exactly as God wanted would be for him to be killed. This death would not come at the hands of some deranged assassin, his death would be decided by the very religious leaders who were custodians of the true faith of Abraham. Moreover Jesus tells them that if they want to follow him then they will have to die too!

This was a hard lesson to learn and it is almost too much for the human mind to take in; that the God whom all Israel worshipped would take flesh and be arrested and killed by the leaders of those who claimed to worship him. Then those who had faithfully followed Jesus would lose their lives also. You can understand how the disciples would have disbelief having followed Jesus and seen his powers. How could it possibly end badly for the one who fed thousands, who spoke to creation and calmed the waves and who raised the dead ? There is also a sense in us that good will triumph over evil, the obedience to God will mean that all will turn out right. In a sense that is true but it doesn’t mean that the good comes without death first. I think of Oscar Romero whose statue we have recently installed in the Cathedral at St Albans. His faithful ministry could not have been cut more cruelly short than to be murdered whilst celebrating the mass. His ministry is now legendary, yet his most powerful contribution to the cause of justice came through how own death.

You and I are not of course great saints like Oscar Romero, yet Jesus is just as explicit to us today in terms of what is expected of us. If you want to follow then you have to be prepared to give everything. We will never know whether our willingness to give our lives will ever be tested but we are tested in other ways every single day of our lives. To what extent do we ‘go with the flow’ or are we prepared to stand up for the ethics of the kingdom expected of those who follow the king Jesus? It is the small things which we sometimes find the hardest but these count more than we can know. We know that Jesus would not talk with his friends when somebody was lonely on the other side of the room, he would not treat people differently because of their social status, birth or background. His behaviour in ordinary daily affairs demonstrated that he was truly extraordinary.

Jesus came offering something which the world had never seen before, what Peter and disciples hoped for was simply more of the same, but in a greater measure for themselves. They wanted things like jobs, and to take back power from the Roman forces of occupation. Jesus came bringing something completely different and this took some time for them to learn and to change. Our challenge as disciples is also to hold out the vision of something radically different. Ours is the vision of a way of living which Paul describes in our reading today from Romans. It is characterised by genuine love even to those who are enemies, expressed in caring for them and giving to them. This way of life is more concerned with the needs of others than ourselves, to the extent that when they weep we weep also, when they are happy we are happy too. It is not as dramatic as ending up on a cross but it takes a daily commitment and a lifetime of prayer. Charles Royden


Being a Christian is hard work because it demands that we try and live in a way which is not natural for humans. If you watch most animals or very small children they show us what we are at our core. If an animal is hurt it lashes out at anyone who gets too close. If food is scarce then the strongest will grab from the weak. If a small child wants something it will automatically make a grab for it. The Bible, and most particularly the teachings of Jesus, show us a way of being which can help us transcend these baser instincts. It is an optimistic view of human nature that shows that the powerful can be willing to give way to the more fragile; that the hungry should be fed; that all creation has value in the eyes of God. It is a truly exciting creed and we must not lose sight of all that it has done to civilise the culture in which we now live. But Christian values are not easy to maintain, because even the best all humans have the possibility of being selfish somewhere at our core. At the very worst, humans can be vicious on a scale unknown in the animal kingdom, at our best we can attain wonderful generosity and self-sacrifice. Rev Dr Joan Crossley

Christianity had no tradition of impressive buildings at the time Constantine became Emperor in the fourth century.  This changed with Constantine, who lavished many favours upon the Christian faith, including some great buildings and opulent homes. Said St. Jerome at the time:  "Parchments are died purple, gold is melted into lettering, manuscripts are dressed up in jewels, while Christ lies at the door naked and dying."



  1. Praise the Lord, his glories show
  2. I am not skilled to understand
  3. Jesus invites his saints
  4. We are called to be God’s people

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead


Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,
if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.


Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the men and women of faith, who down the centuries have taught us how to be your children. We give you thanks for the inspiration of their lives and ask that we may grow to be worthy of joining the company of the saints in Heaven. Amen

My Father, how blind and deaf I am – to miss your voice as you speak within my own being! You call to me in my restlessness and discontent, You guide me by my own confusion….out of myself into you. Keep me faithful while I grope my way along – as one who searches blindly along a wall – until I understand that there is a door… always open. And the door is you. Amen (Julian of Norwich)

Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and truth: through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever Amen. O blessed Jesus,

immortal and victorious,
by the sorrow you suffered when all the powers of your heart failed you,
have mercy on us and help us
in our days of darkness
and in our hours of weakness,
that we do not lose hold of you
either in this life, or in the life of the world to come; and this we ask for your own name's sake. AmenSt Bridget of Sweden, 1303-1373

God the Father, eternally mysterious, we worship you. God the Son, eternally responding, we bless you. God the Holy Spirit, eternally witnessing, we adore you. Holy and glorious Trinity, three persons and one God, we magnify you, now and for ever. Amen. Nestorian Liturgy, 5th century

Additional Material

Family service talk


In 1972 Donny Osmond had a solo hit with the Paul Anka song ‘Puppy Love.’ He was 15 years old and the words expressed the torment of a teenager surrounded by older people who failed to appreciate the intensity of adolescent love. 

And they called it puppy love, 
Oh, I guess they'll never know 
How a young heart really feels, 
And why I love her so

At Caesarea Philippi, the Apostle Peter had a kind of ‘puppy love’ when he acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus was proud of Peter and said that the confession he made would be like a solid rock foundation upon which to build the church. However things were soon to go wrong. 

Peter misunderstood Jesus because he imagined that since Jesus was the Son of God, he would have power and authority on earth. Instead Jesus went on to describe the route he would take to death on the cross. Peter was appalled and told Jesus that it must never happen. Peter had realised who Jesus was, but he could not come to terms with the fact that this meant life would actually get harder! 

In a few short paragraphs of the Gospel of Matthew, Peter went from being a rock to a stumbling block. Peter had a dream of what being the Messiah meant, he wanted Jesus to go to Jerusalem to sort out those in political, economic, and religious power. Jesus tells him that instead he will go and suffer and die. 

Peter has to move rapidly from an enthusiastic, but immature appreciation of who Jesus is, to a grown up and realistic understanding of the cost of real love. Perhaps Peter felt like Donny in the second verse of the song, 

‘And they called it puppy love, 
Just because we're in our teens, 
Tell them all it isn't fair, 
To take away my only dream.’

It was not fair, but the dream which Peter had lasted only a very short time, quite suddenly Jesus demanded that he grew up and understood the price of love. Most of us can grow gradually in our Christian understanding, over many years, but that was not a luxury afforded to Peter.

 Of course there are Christians who find maturity in their faith very difficult to come to terms with. Some churches encourage the belief that love of God will be rewarded with sparkling good health, happy and harmonious relationships and comfortable affluence. This is ‘puppy love Christianity,’ but as we learn about what being a true Christian means we understand that it is no more believable than the tooth fairy.

There is a difficult balance to be struck here. In the Book of Revelation the Church in Ephesus is criticised for having lost its first love. Christians must be aware of the possibility of their love of God going off the boil and becoming stale, like an old married couple with a dead marriage who take each other for granted. But the words of Jesus to Peter remind us that we must also have a love and appreciation of God which moves beyond adolescent ‘puppy love.’ The Apostle Paul put this very clearly in chapter 13 of his first letter to the Corinthians. He wrote "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways."

When we move beyond the initial rush of ‘puppy love’ we recognise that with real love there is a cost. It is tempting to worship a Jesus who is surrounded by uplifting worship songs, who makes us better when we are poorly and blesses us with good relationships and prosperity. But just like Peter in our story today, we have to put childish ways behind us and recognise that real love is not about good times and the Christian feel good factor.

In the song Donny calls out for his love to be taken seriously 

’Someone, help me, help me, help me please, 
Is the answer up above? 
How can I, how can I tell them, 
This is not a puppy love’ 

Jesus provides Peter and the disciples with a sure fire way for them to prove their true love. Jesus tells them, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’

Peter was to find that ‘grown up love’ was costly and he trusted Christ through many difficulties which were to follow him in his life. This might sound rather depressing, it would be so much nicer to believe that Jesus was like a fairy godmother who would make everything better. But the Christian faith is for not a fairy tale for children and it is reassuring to know that when things are hard it is not because Jesus doesn’t love us anymore. The good news is that generations of Christians have found that when they walk through the storms of life, Jesus walks with them and they are never alone.  Charles Royden


Exodus 3: 1-15
We would be amazed to see a bush on fire, but to Moses it would not have been so unusual; it happens in dry areas where you get lightning strikes.
On this occasion Moses takes a second look at the familiar and has a decisive encounter with God. Perhaps we should look for this too: an ‘ordinary’ service or conversation could change our lives!
5 points to ponder
1 God called Moses by name. He knows us.
2 God knew the situation of the Israelites. He knows ours too.
3 God has plans for the people. He has plans for us.
4 God told Moses; “So now go”. He calls us to follow him.
5 God said “I will be with you”. He promises to be with us.

There are echoes of Matthew 28: 18-20.
Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We know that existence is not the same as living. The difference is a bit like that between black and white and colour T.V. You see the same sort of picture - but there really is no comparison! In our gospel reading from Matthew 16 Jesus gives his recipe for life as distinct from existence.
William Barclay makes three points:
1 The person who ‘plays for safety’ loves life. Life becomes a soft thing when it might have been an adventure; a selfish thing when it might have been radiant with service.
2 The person who risks all - and maybe looks as if he has lost all - for Christ, finds life.
3 We cannot get life back again. In every decision we are making ourselves a certain kind of person - building up a certain kind of character. It is possible to gain all we have set our hearts on only to discover that we have missed the most important things of all.
As the hymn says “Love, so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all” Richard Ledger



I always feel really sorry for Peter when Jesus bites his head off as he does in this passage. Naturally Peter can’t bear the warning that the beloved Lord Jesus might be abused and killed – no friend would relish the idea. I think that Jesus’ sharp words to his friend suggest that Jesus also felt the strain of the approaching crisis. Jesus knew what was very likely to come. He accepted suffering, he was willing to sacrifice himself, but it doesn’t mean that he was looking forward to pain and death. It is helpful for us to recognise that Jesus was not someone who was tired of this earthly life or who despised it. All we know of Jesus suggests that he had a healthy enjoyment of the things that make our lives valuable: love, warmth, the pleasures of companionship. In the final part of the passage, Jesus was reminding his followers that they were caught up in a spiritual struggle between good and evil. Anyone who wasn’t willing to accept the reality of that war, who did not accept that some of the Christians might die, was betraying the cause of good. Peter, by desiring a peaceful and quiet life, was playing into the hands of the opposition, the forces of evil and complacency. The passage starts off by being extremely grim, speaking of death and the battle against evil, but it finishes triumphantly, promising the brave, the faithful and the self-sacrificial a reward in the reality beyond this life. Christians must always remind themselves that sweet though this world seems, the one to come, where we will live in the presence of God, will be infinitely sweeter.

This last year I have taken up two new sports. The first is Body Combat, which is a series of moves related to boxing. You sometimes have a target, a punch bag, but usually you mime thumping someone, and you can choose the imaginary face on the receiving end of the punches. It is really good fun and you work off a lot of calories and quite a lot of aggression! But once you have learnt the moves, managed not to fall over and learned to move in time with the music, then that is it. You just keep doing it.
The second, Pilates invented in the 1930s by a bloke called Joseph Pilates, doesn’t at seem to be very difficult. You spend most of your time lying on a mat pulling in your stomach., But in fact it is a very subtle system, which draws on the concept of us all having core stability muscles. Just pulling in your stomach, stabilising as you do so, while you wave and arm or a leg, gives you a powerful workout and makes you stronger. Having done both sports for over a year, I now know that it is Pilates, the one, which is the most demanding of your mind, the one that is most difficult, which is most rewarding.

It seems to me that it is a pretty good comparison with the practise of the Christian faith. Those who reject it as being boring do so because they know only the most basic aspects of the faith, and so dismiss it. How can this possibly be? How can anyone think that Christianity is simplistic and boring? This is the faith that has kept the deepest of thinkers and theologians debating for the last two thousand years! This is the belief system that has inspired its believers to campaign for social justice, to abandon slavery; and to work for peace! This is the faith that has inspired its believers to make some of the greatest art, some of the most wonderful architecture, sublime poetry that the world has ever seen! How can it be boring?

I will tell you why outsiders have this false perception. There are two main reasons:one is that often Christians teach the faith in a bored and boring way. I have heard preachers make Jesus sound tedious. And I have heard the faith reduced to a dull set of little rules, like those pinned up on the walls of an uncomfortable B & B. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Secondly outsiders must feel inspired because they see that Christianity works! That it changes the lives of those who believe and live the way of the Lord Jesus. If it doesn’t make its followers happier, better, lovelier souls, and then how can it attract more people to the faith?

I get so infuriated when perfectly nice people tell me how limited Christianity is, as a world faith, compared to the inner spirituality of Buddhism? Have they nor troubled to read Christian mystic writers? Have they not read the scriptures?

I also feel very annoyed when serious intelligent people dismiss Christianity as being for hypocrites and Sunday souls. Yes, they exist, yes we have all met them, we know from reading the papers about cruel Christians, abusive or violent Christians, people who are a disappointment to themselves and a blight on the faith. But you can’t write off a whole faith on the basis of some poor examples. Here in the epistle to the Romans which we have read this morning you get a recipe for nothing less than a revolution in the way that humans relate to one another. It gives an exciting blueprint for a new emotional order: one in which hatred, enmity and violence is met with love and patience. It is a demand, written by Paul that Jesus’ followers launch a life-long personal campaign to uphold what is good. How can taking part in the cosmic battle be written off as dull? I believe that every beautiful, loving act, every gesture of self-sacrifice and generosity is nothing less than a brick in the wall of the Kingdom of God. Another blow for good in the perpetual battle against evil. This isn’t something that you can write off as being simple. We are going to fail, as we take part in the war against evil, of course we are, but we must keep on trying with all the effort that we can muster.

As with anything else worth doing, the more you know about it, the more your practise your faith, the more challenging and rewarding it gets. If you use a further analogy, if you once sat down at a piano and played a few bars then it would sound pretty bad, and you might feel frustrated and feel it wasn’t worth doing. If you put yourself to the trouble to practise, then it would sound better and you would want to know more, get to a higher level.
So it is with the spiritual life founded by Jesus: the more you examine and study and pray, the more you long to know. The challenge for us as a church is two fold: The first is mostly for those who preach and teach within the two churches, whether as lay or ordained, whether we teach children or adults: we must make sure that we do the Christian faith justice. We must make sure that the word of God is presented in an interesting and relevant way, unpacking its richness and profundity.

Secondly, and this is a challenge for all of us: it must be obvious from the way we speak and act, that our lives are enriched by this Gospel. Look at yourself hard and ask, am I proclaiming God in the way I behave? And if that isn’t the case then it may be a cue for you to reassess and work harder. We all need to do this all the time, we need to go deeper, pray harder. We build the Kingdom not with outward show, not with rituals or festivals, but from the inside out, with prayer and love. Those who want to know what value the Christian faith has should be able to see the outwards signs of that rich inner reality. Amen.   Rev Dr Joan Crossley


Peter the rock became the Stumbling Block (Greek: skandalon).  Even worse, he becomes Satan. Satan is that which seeks to deflect us from the way of God and that is what Peter is doing trying to deflect Jesus from his God-given path to the cross. 

Just as Satan tried to persuade Jesus to take the easy way (turn these stones into bread -- make a spectacular display of yourself -- bow down before me and I will give you the world), so now Peter calls Jesus to abandon the narrow, rough road that leads to the cross for a wide, smooth road that leads elsewhere. 

It is the devil who loves human greatness; God despises it.


  1. Ye holy angels bright  
  2. After confession Abba father
  3. Because your love is better than life  
  4. For I’m building a people of power  
  5. Lord thy word abideth
  6. Through all the changing scenes of life
  7. I’ll go in the strength of the Lord
  8. He’s got the whole world
  9. Just as I am (Tune Saffron Walden )
  10. The Church’s one foundation
  11. O Lord my God when I with awesome wonder
  12. Soldiers of Christ arise (Tune St Ethelwald )


Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Redeemer God, you heard the cry of your people and sent Moses your servant to lead them out of slavery. Free us from the tyranny of sin and death and, by the leading of your spirit, brings us to our promised land, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.