A service from St. Arvan's Parish Church, Chepstow, exploring the theme of "Faith and Transformation" based on the lives of Peter and Paul.
Readings: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8; 17-18. Matthew 16: 13-19.
Preacher: Fr. Michael Gollop. Cantemus Chamber Choir, Wales. Musical Director: Huw Williams. Organist: Peter King. Cello: Kathryn Price.
Producer: Karen Walker.
Faith and Transformation
PLEASE NOTE: This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events
O/A from R4 Con
BBC Radio 4. Faith and Transformation” is the theme for Sunday Worship which comes live from the parish church of St. Arvans, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire. The leader is Fr. Mark Zorab. The service is introduced by the preacher Fr. Michael Gollop, and begins with the hymn “Christ is the King, O friends rejoice”
ITEM 1 HYMN CHOIR/CONG/ORGAN DUR:
ITEM 2 INTRODUCTION FR. MICHAEL GOLLOP
Welcome to the parish of St Arvans. We are a small community at the lower end of the Wye Valley. There’s been a Christian community and a Church on this site since well before the ninth century; tradition says our patron saint was a Celtic hermit who lived and gave witness to Christ here on the banks of the River Wye.
As we gather for worship this morning our hearts go out to the people of South Africa, keeping vigil for Nelson Mandela.
Today we celebrate the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, apostles of Christ, sent to proclaim the Good News, without whose witness we wouldn’t be here today; Peter, chosen by the Lord to be the leader of the flock, the rock, on whose confession of faith the Church is established; Paul chosen to take the Gospel to the ends of the known world; both of whom, by giving their lives for their master, made the supreme act of love and faith to the person of the Risen Christ.
We pray that, aided by their prayers and their example of holiness, we too, with courage and faith, may follow the Lord in all that we say and do and are.
ITEM 3 COLLECT FR. MARK ZORAB
Let us pray.
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul
glorified you in their death as in their life:
grant that your Church, inspired by their teaching and example,
and made one by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation,
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
ITEM 4 LINK INTO ANTHEM FR. MARK
The Anthem by Mendelssohn takes up the theme:
“How lovely are the messengers that preach us the gospel of peace! To all the nations is gone forth the sound of their words.”
ITEM 5 ANTHEM: CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
How lovely are the Messengers.
ITEM 6 READING 1
A reading attributed to St. Paul in the second letter to Timothy, chapter 4 beginning at Verse 6. [4; 6 - 8; 17 - 18]
As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Reader/ This is the Word of the Lord
Response / Thanks be to God
ITEM 7 LINK FR. MARK
Based on an ancient monastic text from Ireland, the hymn, Be Thou my Vision, speaks of a wholehearted commitment to God.
ITEM 8 HYMN CHOIR/CONG/ORGAN DUR:
Be Thou My Vision
ITEM 9. GOSPEL READING FR. MARK
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 16 beginning at verse 13.
[16. 13 - 19]
R/ Glory to you, O Lord
When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord:
R/ Praise be to thee, O Christ.
ITEM 10 ADDRESS PART 1 FR. MICHAEL
A question lies at the very heart of today’s celebration – a question directed to all of us. Questions can be difficult to cope with, they challenge us, they stretch us and sometimes force us to deal with things we would rather not contemplate.
The answers, too, can be surprising.
I remember a few years ago while taking part in a parish mission having to introduce a group of Franciscans to a local school assembly. I made the mistake of asking the crowd of children – who do you think these people are?
‘Monks’ came back the answer and then I made the fatal error – ‘well…. maybe, but what sort of monks. ‘Chipmunks’ came an anonymous voice from the back of the hall. It broke the ice certainly, but I’m not sure we quite recovered our equilibrium, or the head teacher from his embarrassment. It wasn’t the answer we had been expecting – and not in a good way.
Quite unlike the response Peter gives to Jesus when in the Gospel reading the apostles are asked the most challenging question of all. Jesus begins by making a general enquiry about what people are saying about him and after receiving an answer puts them on the spot by asking them ‘yes, but who do you say that I am? One can imagine each of them looking around at one another – What do I say? What do I think?
And it’s Peter, in some ways the most unlikely candidate, who comes out with the profound answer – it comes from the heart ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.Peter, the impulsive fisherman, rash to the point of recklessness, slow to catch on, someone who learns the lessons of faith, like most of us do, the hard way, produces the confession of faith which Jesus was looking for but hardly expects.
So too, Paul, called to be an apostle by a dramatic vision of the Risen Christ is also perhaps an unlikely candidate. An intellectual, a scholar, someone driven by his understanding of the religious tradition to be a persecutor of the infant Christian Church. Yet, his experience is in many ways similar; while travelling on the road to Damascus, he is thrown to the ground by a vision of the Risen Christ, who demands of him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” His response is to dedicate his whole life to the service of the one who calls him. The Lord’s voice is asking the same question as he asked Peter; “So, who do you say that I am”
And it’s clear that in response to the answer of both men, the Lord tells them who they are. Simon becomes Peter, the Rock, the leader of the apostles; Saul becomes Paul, the bringer of the Gospel message to the nations of the world.
Who do you say that I am? It’s the one vital question addressed to us all. We celebrate these two Saints today – together - despite their differences in gifts and temperament. – because in their varying ways the Church is founded on their response. They witnessed to their Lord tirelessly, unceasingly, until they were both called to give their lives as martyrs in the same city, the imperial city of Rome,
probably within a year of one another.
But there’s much more to this apostolic double-act even than a matter of geography. The Church needs both Peter and Paul. Like Peter we need to hold on to what Christ taught, and how the apostles themselves, our human link to the Risen Lord, understood what he did, that he was God incarnate and that his coming among us is of supreme importance for our understanding of God himself and of ourselves as human beings.
And like Paul, we have to emphasise that the Church exists for the proclamation of the faith; that the Church’s task is always to go out to the various cultures and societies of the world and proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection fearlessly and boldly. We need Peter and we need Paul as reminders to us all of the Church’s two-fold task - to hand on authentically what was received from the Lord and the need to preach and teach and convert and not to be afraid. We need their example and their prayers in all the challenges Christians have to face in today’s world.
We need Peter & Paul to set before us the breath-taking reality that Jesus of Nazareth, is truly the Son of the Living God; and that he has established a community of friends who are, by their communion with him, adopted sons and daughters of God. We are all called into this living personal friendship with Christ.
ITEM 11 ANTHEM: CHOIR / ORGAN
Ralph Vaughan Williams: ‘The Call’
ITEM 12 ADDRESS Part 2 FR. MICHAEL
A setting of George Herbert’s The Call from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The lives of both Peter and Paul were utterly transformed by their encounter with Jesus. They were both called, both “converted” and this conversion, as it does for all of us, continues throughout their lives as part of their growth in knowledge of God and their service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both were transformed by a personal encounter with the living Lord.
I suppose we could say that St Paul’s experience falls more neatly into what we might call these days the category of a ‘conversion experience’ – sudden dramatic, life-changing.
I know of a friend who, while working abroad in South America, went into the office very early one morning and in the stillness before the beginning of the working day had an encounter with the living God so profound that it changed his life for ever. My own experience is that, having rejected the faith as a teenager, through a series of chance meetings and loaned books, I came to a similar realisation of the reality of God while clearing snow on a cold and brilliantly starlit night. Everything fell into place.
But people come to Christ in different ways – for some of us it can be dramatic, earth-shattering, instantly transforming, but the call can also come through a life lived in the company of the Risen Lord, gradually, hesitatingly, stumblingly, - as the grace of God, and the need for his mercy and forgiveness become part of who we are.
The two Apostles we celebrate today handed on the faith that has been lived down the centuries and across the nations. This is the same faith that we try to live each day. Yet however we come to hear that essential question – who do you say that I am? - we are called to a constant and ongoing conversion of mind and heart.
It would be easy to say that we know the answer, or even that the question isn’t directed at us at all, because of the clear witness of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. But Christ never really asks us for a ready-made answer, for a formula, however tried and tested, which is not also part of who we are; he asks us what we ourselves believe about him.
The Italian saint, Philip Neri said that he was converted to Christ, not just once but every morning of every day and that has to be true for all of us who live in friendship with Christ.
Who do you say that I am……?
ITEM 13 ANTHEM: CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
Stanford: Justorum Animae
ITEM 14 BACKLINK FR. MICHAEL
Stanford’s Justorum Animae:
‘The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and the torment of death shall not touch them.’
ITEM 15 INTERCESSIONS FR. MICHAEL
The Lord Jesus built his Church on the faith of the Apostles. United with them, in fidelity to the Gospel's teaching and way of life, we now present our needs to God our heavenly Father.
READER FR. MARK
For all bishops and those who share with them in the apostolic ministry, for all Christian leaders, that they may share the faith and zeal of Ss Peter and Paul and lead us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to increased understanding and unity
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
For all who, like the apostles, are persecuted for their belief in today’s world, and for each of us, that we may be faithful when we are ridiculed or insulted for practicing our faith, we pray to
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
For the poor and the oppressed, and those who live in war-torn parts of the world, especially for the people of Syria & Egypt.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
"For the people of South Africa as they pray for (their critically ill) former President Mandela, and for his family, that his legacy may continue to be honoured; and for us all, that we may follow his example in seeking both truth and reconciliation in our own hearts and in our lives...... "
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
For all the sick, the dying, and all the departed, that through the intercession of the apostles, they may experience the light of the Gospel
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
Joining our prayers with Mary the Mother of God, the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul and all God’s holy ones, we bring our own concerns to the Father... And as we do so we listen to a meditation on the need to respond to the love of God by Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels…… entitled in Hebrew, Adonai S’fatai.
‘Eternal God open my lips. That my mouth may declare Your glory."
ITEM 16 MUSIC : CELLO / ORGAN ADONAI DUR:
ITEM 17 LINK/LORD’S PRAYER FR. MARK / ALL
Following our Lord's teaching, let us say with faith and trust
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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 trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
ITEM 19 LINK: FR. MARK
Our final hymn tells of the communion of saints; in Christ, a fellowship not bound by space or time. Ye Holy Angels Bright.
ITEM 20 HYMN CHOIR/CONG/ORGAN DUR:
Ye Holy Angels bright,
ITEM 21 LONG (SOLEMN) BLESSING FR. MICHAEL
The Lord has set you firm within his Church,
which he built upon the rock of Peter's faith.
May he bless you with a faith that never wavers. Amen.
The Lord has given you knowledge of the faith
through the labours and preaching of Saint Paul.
May his example inspire you to lead others to Christ
by the manner of your life. Amen.
May the keys of Peter, and the words of Paul,
their undying witness and their prayers,
lead you to the joy of that eternal home
which Peter gained by his cross, and Paul by the sword. Amen.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. AMEN
SHORT BLESSING FR. MICHAEL
God give you grace to share the inheritance of his Saints in glory;
and the blessing + of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
ITEM 22 ORGAN PLAYOUT PETER KING DUR:
Sunday Worship came from the parish church of St. Arvans, Chepstow in Monmouthshire. The service was led by Fr. Mark Zorab and the preacher was Fr. Michael Gollop. The Cellist was Kathryn Price. The Cantemus Chamber Choir, Wales was directed by Huw Williams and the Organist was Peter King. The producer was Karen Walker. Next week’s Sunday Worship comes live from the Chapel of Eton College and explores the themes of faith, celebration, loss and suffering in the poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins....
And just a reminder that BBC Radio 2’s Young Chorister of the Year competition is currently welcoming entries – full details can be found on the Radio 2 website.