Sunday Reflections

28th June 2020

4th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Hymns

CH4 694

1.      Brother, sister let me serve you

Let me be as Christ to you;

Pray that I may have the grace

To let you be my servant too.

 

2.      We are pilgrims on a journey

And companions on the road;

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load.

 

3.      I will hold the Christ-light for you

In the night-time of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you,

Speak the peace you long to hear.

 

4.      I will weep when you are weeping;

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you;

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we’ve seen this journey through.

 

5.      When we sing to God in heaven

We hall find such harmony,

Born of all we’ve known together

Of Christ’s love and agony.

 

6.      Brother, sister, let me serve you,

Let me be as Christ to you;

Pray that I may have the grace

To let you be my servant too.

 

Prayer

Loving Lord God,

We are Your creation,

and in our turning to You we trust You with our lives,

believing that with Your presence

our world can be transformed to offer signs of the kingdom of heaven.

Comforter draw near,

for You have waited and watched,

as we have stumbled through the tasks of life.

Our ears have not been open to the sound of Your gentleness,

and so, with frustration and anger

we have turned on those we love and cherish,

and brought hurt and division to life.

Our eyes have not noticed the beauty of our surroundings,

and in resentment of being restrained from living,

we have played our part in the changing pattern of creation,

forgetting to steward all You have made.

In prayer we remember You invite us

to choose between the path of darkness and the path of light,

and, laying our sorrow and failure on the ground

we long for Your forgiveness to call us towards life with You.

We wait to be reshaped by the fire of Your Holy Spirit,

as new vigour spurs us to walk with You.

 

Silence

 

God’s gift of eternal life has been given in Jesus Christ,

who offers us forgiveness from our sins,

and welcomes us to the way of holiness.

Let’s continue our prayer with the words of the Lord’s Prayer…

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

They 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 22: 1 – 14

Matthew 10: 40 – 42

 

Reflection

The passage from Genesis tells the story of the testing of Abraham through God’s request to sacrifice his son, Isaac. It is a story bereft of detail. It is perhaps made all the more sinister because of the lack of detail. It is dramatic because there is no drama. John Gibson (The Daily Study Bible – Genesis) describes it as Hebrew storytelling at its best, full of unbearable tension and suspense. To our ears God’s request is shocking. The logic of requesting a child’s life to demonstrate loyalty does not fit with the God of love we encounter in the Gospels. Commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary says, “we leave the story relieved that we got out in one piece.” It also suggests that there are two questions that need to be answered in interpreting the story of testing. How is Abraham tested? And where? In answering the first we discover that Abraham acts on his fear (awe) of God, prepared to follow the divine command even when he could not see the logic. It is a passage where we see Abraham forget self, completely surrendering all possessions, his whole self, everything, to God – trusting solely on grace. The closing verse of the text tells us where the testing took place - on the mountain of the Lord. This can help us to understanding the text as being about worship. We should not ignore the potential sacrifice of Isaac, but we can reframe our focus towards the actions and intentions of Abraham in response to God’s request of him. This perhaps opens us up to an understanding of what is expected of us when we are drawn towards worship. We should be prepared to lay aside our most precious possessions, committing our whole being to the presence of God. It is an opportunity to trust and rely on God’s grace and intention for us.

 

Matthew 10: 40 - 42

This is a short reading – just three verses – and so this is perhaps a time to read the whole of a chapter, rather than just the few verses we have looked at this morning. Here is an example of the need to have an awareness of all that has happened before the instructions that we find within the three verses set aside for today’s reading. Chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel is the mission of the twelve disciples during Jesus’s life. In contrast to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus places the disciples in pairs. They are given instruction on the message that they are to take to the communities. It is not an easy message, but they are also offered the gifts that will allow them to bring healing within communities. Jesus encourages them to embrace the places where they are made welcome, and to shake the dust from their feet where they are not welcome. The world Jesus sends them to with the message is not an easy world. It is a world where people wage war against one another, and their encounters will sometimes have them fleeing for refuge. There is no equipment for the task, other than the clothes they stand up in, for they are to rely on the kindness of others. This last section of the chapter moves from being addressed to the disciples, and instead is an instruction for those who might welcome disciples. Those who arrive at the door, or into our lives, bringing the presence of Christ are to be offered hospitality. Offering hospitality brings us into the community of Christ, allowing us to become prophet and disciple, and inviting us to participate in the mission.

 

Prayer

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

Loving Lord God,

We pray for the world,

for the nations,

For the leaders,

For the people and the places

that are still experiencing war,

that are experiencing famine and drought,

that experience poverty on a daily basis.

Lord, may the leaders of the nations

Tend to the need of the people for whom they have responsibility.

As we mark armed forces day this weekend,

We give thanks for our armed forces,

For all those who have served,

For those who continue to serve,

For the care and commitment that they give

As they continue to support our country and the people who live here.

We pray for those who are sick and suffering,

Those who mourn the loss of a loved one,

Those who remain separated from loved ones through lockdown,

Those who struggle with loneliness and isolation.

We give thanks for all those who continue to work so hard

To keep us safe and well during the corona virus pandemic.

We pray for our congregations and our communities,

That we may continue to support each other,

Through prayer and action.

Loving Lord, bless us we pray,

As we continue to serve you day by day,

All this we pray in, and through, Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Hymn

CH4 516

We are marching in the light of God

We are marching in the light of God.

We are marching in the light of God,

We are marching in the light of God.

We are marching,

O – o

We are marching in the light of God.

We are marching

O – o

We are marching in the light of God.  

 

Repeat – or sing it in Xhosa if you like –

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’.

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos,

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos.

Siyahamba,

O – o

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen kwenkhos,

Siyahamba,

O – o

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen kwenkhos.