Music suggestions

  • ‘Tu es Petrus’ Gillian Weir on the organ of Hedvig Eleonora Kyrk in Stockholm.

    Based on words of Jesus to Peter “You are Peter; and on this rock I will build my Church.” 

  • Greater Love by John Ireland, sung by the choir of St. Anne’s Cathedral Belfast. 

    Remembering today the lives of Saints Peter and Paul, towering figures of the early Church, both martyred in Rome in the first century. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lays down his life for his friends.” 



FIRST READING (click to expand)

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill[a] his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Genesis comment

The story as told here has Abraham at its centre, he appears as the hero and presents the ultimate patriarchal world view.


Abraham is presented as faithful to agree to sacrifice something so important as his son, because his son was a gift and that means his son belongs to him. Isaac is Abrahams possession – and later the ram.


Sarah is nowhere in this story – it is hard to believe she would have agreed.


Abraham has already sent away another child into hostile land where he saved from immanent death by God.


However much we are set up to be sympathetic, Abraham’s behaviour is grotesque


He would have been informed by the culture he had left behind in Ur – where we know, like all Mesopotamia, child sacrifice occurred to appease gods by buying them of –and  doing deals.


Here that understanding of appeasement is changed to showing faith  it is argued child sacrifice demonstrates a loyalty to God .


It turns out it is not needed, a substitute is found: The poor ram. We pardon Abraham with a sigh of relief – but he goes on to kill, to take life and call it right. Look carefully – because sacrifice is important and loaded term


We don’t want Abraham to kill Isaac.

We are shocked he would consider it.

Some of us are shocked he murdered a ram to please God


It is shockingly foolish misunderstanding of God and of love.

The sacrifice of a child is not sane  – it demonstrates  that for Abraham Isaac is his possession to use to maximise his self interest.  Betrayal of natural care and affection is twisted in Abraham to mean faithfulness.


Perhaps we do the same? In the cv19 crisis children’s well being has been sacrificed.


On the internet porn and violence – take an horrendous toll of vulnerable children’s wellbeing – their whole life is sacrificed on a holocaust of societies  moral ambivalence.


We can see now a society that puts shopping and commerce ahead of education and happiness.


We build houses with no green spaces, we fail to provide funds for children’s wellbeing.

Even local trusts set up for the benefit of children refusing them the help they need.


Rising suicide numbers, rising numbers of children with poor mental health. Rising misery. We know all this. We cant say we don’t.



The delivery of free school lunches (the sad unwholesome remnant of cooked and nutritionally balanced school meals, free milk and free vitamins) –  has been compromised  and left for individual schools to organise. But how can  they ensure sure children were fed at least once a day?  – It is safe to say some of the very most vulnerable children around us are hungry – and we know children have been without professional support or oversight even before the pandemic.


Children may not be up chimneys – well not in the Uk – but they are trafficked for sex here in every county in every area. Our society measures the sacrifice children must make against the cost benefit to grown-ups (time, money, taxes).


Little ones in the UK have massively curtailed freedoms except where they can be exploited advertising for peer acceptance (the right shoes/ hair ties pencil case, digital games, phone) and junk food.


Then there are the other children tied up for holocaust – North Korea for example where a child born out of wedlock is ineligible for inoculations and food supplements.


Jesus message in the Gospel today is clear: Be compassionate love and look after children. Learn from them.


This Genesis story has two messages,

one; God is Good and

two; Abraham was a righteous man.


The first is true, God is Good. The second might be describing a very different truth; Abraham was a fool – he misunderstands God to be like him and  he fails to act with compassion. Abraham closes his heart in a misguided attempt to get closer to God. Abraham is an elitist patriarch.


Jesus will teach God is “dad” not patriarch.

One has power and ownership and overriding self-interest – the other is full of love.


Abraham was foolish– but then as we look around this society and our world –  there are fools ugly-doing everywhere. And God is crying out….stop….look at the children.

PSALM (click to expand)

Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 [or 89:8-18]

R Truly the Lord is our shield.
My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord:
with my mouth will I proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations.
I will declare that your love is established for ever;
you have set your faithfulness as firm as the heavens. R

For you said: “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
‘“Your seed will I establish for ever
and build up your throne for all generations.’” R

Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph:
they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.
In your name they rejoice all the day long
and are exalted in your righteousness. R

For you are the glory of their strength,
and in your favour you lift up our heads.
Truly the Lord is our shield,
the Holy One of Israel is our king. R

SECOND READING (click to expand)

Romans 6:12-end

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.

Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GOSPEL (click to expand)

Matthew 10:40-end

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said to the twelve: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”