Sunday 19th July 2020

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Hymn

Ch4 189

1. Be still,

For the presence of the Lord,

The Holy One is here;

Come bow before him now

With reverence and fear;

In him no sin is found –

We stand on holy ground.

Be still,

For the presence of the Lord,

The holy one is here.

 

2. Be still,

For the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around;

He burns with holy fire,

With splendour he is crowned.

How awesome is the sight –  

Our radiant king of light!

Be still,

For the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around.

 

3. Be still,

For the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place.

He comes to cleanse and heal

To minister his grace.

No work too hard for him –

In grace receive from him.

Be still,

For the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place.

 

Prayer

Lord, we come today,

And we pause to think about your world:

Such a beautiful place.

We want everything to be perfect,

But we accept that it is far from that.

So, we pray, bring us now to learn from you

How to be your presence in the world,

How to create the right environment

And be fruitful for you in all that we do.

Keep us always watchful and prayerful.

Lord, sometimes we are impatient,

Wanting to get in with our own lives,

But we know that our ways are not your ways.

We come to you now,

Rejoicing in the knowledge that you can transform our lives,

And the lives of those around us –

Starting exactly where we are.

Lord, we come to you in humble adoration.

You take us, just as we are, impatient and imperfect,

And give us the chance to prove that

When we place ourselves in your care

We can be the people you want us to be.

Lord, we ask for your forgiveness for our sins,

We bless you, we praise you and we adore you.

Let’s continue our prayer with the words that Jesus taught us…

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, the power, and the glory,

For ever and ever,

Amen.

  

Readings

Isaiah 44: 6 – 8

Matthew 13: 24 – 30, 36 – 43

 

Reflection

Isaiah 44: 6 – 8

This passage declares the greatness and the power of God. Isaiah stresses God’s status as the only true God to a people surrounded by those who worship pantheons of gods, saying: ‘there is no other’. The passage is thought to date from after the exile; things are not as Israel would wish, but God tells them not to be afraid of what will happen, because their God is the ‘rock’. This would remind them of their experiences of God’s provision for them in the wilderness (Exodus 17: 5 – 6) but it was also a common way of speaking of God or gods (Deuteronomy 32: 4, 15, 18, 30 – 31, 37).

 

Matthew 13: 24 – 30, 36 – 43.

In this parable that Jesus is telling the crowds, there are two sorts of seeds sown – the food crop of wheat, and the non-food which are the weeds. The weed is probably darnel, common in wheat fields, which looks similar to wheat until the seed heads form. However, it has deeper roots than wheat; consequently, pulling it up at an early stage risked pulling up the wheat with it. Later, when the separation is easier, the weeds would normally have been gathered and used as fuel, as the story indicated.

The reading then jumps to the disciples asking for an explanation of the parable. Jesus portrays himself as the sower – the Son of Man – (Matthew often records Jesus speaking of himself in this third person way 8:20, 10:23). The seed is ‘the children of the kingdom’ being sown in the field of the world accompanied by the sowing of the children of the evil one. And so, Jesus explains the continuing presence of evil despite he advent of the kingdom – it is the result of ongoing enemy action. However, the story continues to promise the eradication of evil at ‘the end of the age’, which is again portrayed as a time of harvest. This time the angels go to collect sin out of the kingdom in contrast to Matthew 24: 30 – 31 where they gather up the elect. This highlights the need not to press the parable for more information than it is designed to communicate – images mean different things in different parables!

The ‘causes of sin’ (v41) can also be translated as ‘that which causes stumbling’ (Matthew 18: 6 – 9). The ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ motif is found mainly in Matthew (but can be found in Luke 13: 28) as an expression characterising response to a negative end-time judgement. It has been variously suggested to denote anguish, fear or anger.

In these passages we see the power of God and his action in the world. They also testify to the ongoing presence of evil and suffering. Jesus preaches that the kingdom is near and describes situations where the kingdom of God co-exists with other incompatible elements that still cause stumbling. This is a fact of our existence; only at the end of time can we anticipate the eradication of evil and the final fulfilment of the promises of God.

 

Prayer

We bring to God our prayers for the church and the world.

Lord God, we pray for our world and its people.

So many different cultures, colours, languages –

But we are all your children.

All special in our own way.

Whatever our gender, race, colour, or creed,

We all belong to you.

We all need your love.

 

We learn that we may live in harmony with each other,

To recognise that someone even half way round the world,

Is our neighbour in your sight.

Far or near we all belong to you.

We all need your love.

 

With today’s technology we have access to news from afar,

Almost before it happens.

Help us not to become blasé about the situations we see,

But to pray and to care faithfully for all concerned.

In war or peace, we all belong to you.

We all need your love.

 

We pray for each other, and for those near and dear to us:

Protect them, wrap them in your love,

And be with us all in sorrow and in joy.

Near or far, we all belong to you.

We all need your love.

All this we ask and pray in the name of Jesus Christ,

Our loving Lord and Saviour,

Amen.  

 

Hymn

CH4 528

1. Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love;

Where there is injury, your pardon Lord,

And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Oh master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled, as to console:

To be understood, as to understand:

To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

 

2. Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope;

Where there is darkness, only light,

And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh master, grant that I may never seek…

 

3. Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

In giving of ourselves that we receive,

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

 

Blessing

Lord, thank you that we have been able to spend time with you today.

We feel ourselves grow stronger

As we are blessed with your presence.

Send us out to share your love with others,

And bless us as we go,

Amen.