Sunday 5th July 2020

5th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Hymn

CH4 251 I, the Lord of sea and sky

 

1.      I, the Lord of sea and sky,

I have heard my people cry.

All who dwell in dark and sin

My hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night

I will make their darkness bright.

Who will bear my light to them?

Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord.

Is it I Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go Lord,

If you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.

 

2.      I, the Lord of snow and rain,

I have borne my people’s pain.

I have for love of them,

They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,

Give them hearts for love alone.

I will speak my Word to them.

Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord…

 

3.      I, the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame.

I will set a feast for them,

My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide

Till their hearts be satisfied.

I will give my life to them.

Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord…

 

Prayer

Jesus says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened,

And I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.

For I am gentle and humble in heart,

And you will find rest for your souls.”

Father God,

We come today to worship you,

To praise you,

To learn from you.

We approach you now as children,

Sitting at your feet,

Bathed in your love,

Listening to your every word.

Father God,

Forgive us for the times

When our understanding of you is far too small;

When we try to fit you into a box, a space,

That we feel we can cope with.

Help us not be frightened

To let your power loose in our lives.

Forgive us Lord,

And make us whole.

Let’s continue our prayer by praying the words of 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 for give 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

Genesis 24: 34 – 38, 42 – 49, 58 – 67

Matthew 11: 16 – 19, 25 – 30

 

Reflection

Genesis 24: 34 – 38, 42 – 49, 58 – 67

The verses set for this reading tell the outline of the story, the verses missed out in between fill in with more detail, so you could try reading the whole section straight through if you wish to do so.

This passage contains much which relates to the idea of trust in God’s will in general and

allowing others to pursue the course which results from it in particular. This should not be

surprising as the passage recounts events immediately prior to the marriage of Isaac and

Rebekah. From a Christian perspective, marriage must include a trusting relationship with

God. All human relationships need, and can be a means of, accessing God’s grace. Particular

relationships give particular graces, and this is perhaps most clearly demonstrated in the

unique bond of marriage.

A superficial reading of the text could lead to the supposition that this is simply an example

of a put-upon woman (Rebekah) having the course of her life mapped out for her. But,

when seen against the background just outlined, a number of examples are shown of trust

in the will of God and a freely given willingness to conform to it, which allows strong, happy

and fruitful relationships to be maintained. Abraham’s servant asks God for guidance to

find Isaac’s bride, suggesting the precise form this should take and then shows complete

trust in God’s will as the events following his first sighting of Rebekah play out. Rebekah

herself demonstrates admirable willingness to trust in God’s will when she agrees not only

to go with Abraham’s servant, but to go immediately, despite the initial reluctance of her

family, who nonetheless demonstrate a willingness to let her leave by giving her their

blessing. It is also worth noting that in the omitted verses (vv.39-41), Abraham makes it

clear that he expects his servant to follow his instructions in detail because he believes God

intends Isaac to marry within his wider family. If the family refuses to let the proposed

bride return with him he will not be held accountable for this. And so, Abraham demonstrates his trust and is effectively saying ‘God’s will be done’.

 

Matthew 11: 16 – 19, 25 – 30

These two sections from Matthew’s gospel are part of the narrative following Jesus’ teaching on mission. He has just responded to questions from John the Baptist that he sent via his disciples. John had been wondering if Jesus was the expected Messiah, and Jesus answers by listing the acts of healing, preaching, and teaching he has been doing (ch11: 4 – 5). Jesus speaks to the crowd about John’s role as a prophet and then continues with the first section of the passage that we have read this morning. (v 16 – 19) to compare the responses of ‘this generation’ of Israel to both John and Jesus himself.  Neither of them had satisfied popular expectations. John’s ascetic lifestyle had led to accusations that he had a demon, while Jesus’ non- ascetic habits of eating and drinking suggested that he was self-indulgent (Proverbs 23: 20) and his choice of social contacts was highly questionable! The people were difficult to please, neither John, nor Jesus met their expectations. In a manner similar to his response to John’s disciples, Jesus points to his deeds as evidence for his character. (See the personified figure of God’s Wisdom in Proverbs 8).

The second section (vv25 – 30) picks up the narrative where Jesus praises God for hiding the implications of his ministry from those who might ne expected to understand things, and for revealing the importance of Jesus, and the appearance of the Kingdom of Heaven, to those who were not considered wise or sophisticated, namely infants. Remember that in the culture of that day, children were viewed as vulnerable, dependent and socially insignificant; in other words, they were among the weakest and most unimportant in society. These were not the ones who to whom one might think of sending an important message, such as the appearance of the Kingdom of God. Verse 27 makes an important point concerning Christ; here Jesus clearly states his place as a mediator between God and the people.

The last few verses use the metaphor of a yoke. The yoke is a structure, usually made of wood, that fits over the neck or shoulders of animals or humans and is used to make it easier to pull or carry heavy loads. It could be used as picture language for being oppressed (Isaiah 58: 6) or linked to another (Leviticus 26: 13). However, some Jewish writings used it to speak of putting oneself under direction to God’s instructions for life in the Torah (Law) or God’s wisdom; something similar could be seen to be the meaning intended here as Jesus speaks of people learning from him.

  

Prayer

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

Lord, we pray for all in authority,

That they will be dutifully conscious of the weight on their shoulders

And that they will act responsibly for the people they serve.

We pray for them in their personal lives,

That only you can see.

Lord God we lift them before you,

May they find rest in your love.

We pray for our friends and family,

Our colleagues and all who we spend time with.

We pray that as we walk alongside them

You will use us to bring them close to you,

And they will learn of your love.

Lord God we lift them before you,

May they find rest in your love.

We pray for those who are sick,

Those who mourn,

Those who are struggling with daily life,

Those who struggle with addiction,

Those who suffer abuse.

Lord God, we lift them before you,

May they find rest in your love.

Lord God, today we give special thanks

For our NHS, for all those who work in the system,

For those who have continued to work so hard

During this time of the pandemic,

Despite the risk to themselves and their families.

Lord God, we lift them before you,

May they find rest in your love.

We pray for ourselves,

That as we continue to experience lockdown,

As we begin to experience access to public spaces once again,

We may find strength and courage in you,

To show your love and care to others,

To help them recognise

That you are here with us and have not left us alone.

Lord, we bring these prayers in and through the name of Jesus Christ,

Your Son, our Risen Lord and Saviour,

Amen.

 

Hymn

CH4 540 I heard the voice of Jesus say

 

1.      I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘Come unto me and rest;

Lay down thou weary one, lay down

Thy head upon my breast.’

I came to Jesus as I was,

Weary worn and sad;

I found in him a resting place,

And he has made me glad.

 

2.      I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘Behold I freely give

The living water, thirsty one,

Stoop down and drink and live.’

I came to Jesus, and I drank

Of that life-giving stream;

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,

And now I live in him.

 

3.      I herd the voice of Jesus say

‘I am this dark world’s Light,

Look unto me, thy morn shall rise,

And all thy day be bright.’

I looked to Jesus and I found

In him my Star, my Sun,

And in that light of life I’ll walk,

Till travelling days are done.

 

Blessing

Jesus has called us to come to him and blessed us with his richness.

Now he sends us out into his world,

To make sure people see him and listen to him,

Through us

Amen.