Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals

Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals

Please note, that there are changes to the arrangements for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.

Baptisms are now allowed – please contact the Parish Office to make arrangements

Weddings are now allowed, with a maximum of 30 people present – please contact the Parish Office to make arrangements

Funerals are now allowed, with a maximum of 30 people present – please contact the Parish Office to make arrangements

Sunday 19th July Gospel and Sermon (with audio)

Sunday 19th July Gospel and Sermon (with audio)

Sunday 19th July 2020

Matthew 13:24-30. 36-43

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain then the weeds appeared as

well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Then Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the

weeds are the children of the evil one and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Let anyone with ears listen!”

Sermon

Matthew is at it again.  Another parable turned into an allegory, another very restricted reading of a dynamic and challenging parable.  Why does he do it?  What is going on in his community, that he feels the need to interpret Jesus’s words for them in this particular way?  We can surmise as much as we like, and many people have, but this reading of the parable of the wheat and the weeds is particularly judgemental.  Matthew has turned it into a story about the end times, of good and evil, of God’s work being frustrated by a malevolent power who will ultimately be destroyed, when he could have left the parable open and flexible, with questions about the origins of weeds and the power of distraction a-plenty for us to work on.

The definition of a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place.  Weeds are just as much plants as roses, it’s just that they have not been so carefully worked on over the centuries to produce scent or large flowers or food.  In many ways, as any gardener knows, weeds are more successful than lots of the plants that we want to grow – they sprout faster, come into flower faster and can be incredibly effective at spreading their seed for the next generation of weeds to bother the gardener.  Weeds have adapted to human presence, attaching themselves to our clothing or travelling in our cars or trains – in fact the advent of the railways brought a massive spread of weeds across this country, one of the many unintended consequences of progress.

But in Jesus’s parable, these are not random weeds that have made their way into this field of wheat – “good seed” has been planted, that is, carefully selected seed, with all the little weed seeds taken out of it.  No, someone very deliberately sows the weeds, as an act of sabotage, or spite, or both.  Why do that?  There are far more efficient ways of ruining an opponent’s crops – trampling, burning, letting cattle in – all of which deny any form of harvest at all for the suffering farmer.  This way, the farmer just has more work to do to separate out the weeds from the grain.  He still gets his wheat harvest, just with a bit more effort.  And, in practical terms, the farmer also gets a pile of dried weeds to start the village bread oven, so it is even possible to read some benefit into the weeds.  This enemy must have other intentions.  If he is not trying to starve the farmer, or destroy his livelihood, then this enemy must be in the business of frustration and annoyance.  The wheat will grow, the grain will be produced, but not without pain and extra labour.  Echoes there of the fall narrative – where God curses the ground so that Adam’s labour will have to increase and childbirth will be painful.

Now the parable starts to open up.  The kingdom of heaven will not ultimately be destroyed or defeated, but its fulfilment will take more effort than we think.  All sorts of things will get in the way of God’s rule on earth, and we will have to be selective in how we deal with those issues.  Covid 19 is one of those weeds.  It has the capacity to strangle life out of communities, to break down societal cohesion and to render nul all the advances of the previous centuries.  But it is also possible that we will learn to deal with it, to vaccinate against it, to order our lives in a new way that mitigates its effects.  Covid 19 is not the end of the Kingdom of God, nor is it the end of the Church, or our way of life.  It is one of those extra things we will get to grips with, but ultimately it will be thrown on the fire of irrelevancies.

What else, then, could qualify as a weed, or a barrier to the expansion of the Kingdom of God?  Well, how long have you got?!  There are external weeds, like discrimination and prejudice, poverty and exclusion.  There are internal weeds like distraction, laziness, lack of focus.  There are serious weeds, like illness and bereavement, family stresses and workplace hassles.  There are spiritual weeds like doubt or unbendable opinions.  The whole work-family-life balance could be one big weed – or it could be an opportunity to knuckle down, sort out some priorities and enjoy the good things that God has provided for us in this wonderful world.

Your vicar leaving could be viewed as a weed, or as the best thing that could possibly happen to these parishes.  I leave that one with you to assess in the years to come.

The good seed of the Kingdom of Heaven will continue to grow.  Our baptism, our faith, the presence of the Holy Spirit in us cannot be taken away and will bring us to everlasting glory, when everything will make sense and we will learn to value weeds fully.  But may we be given grace to work at either eradicating our weeds, or finding an accommodation with them, or using them for some other valuable purpose, so that God’s great kingdom of love and mercy may fully be realised in his wonderful world.

Sunday service 12th July (with audio)

Sunday service 12th July (with audio)

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Service audio

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn:  As the deer pants for the water 

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              The gospel calls us to turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.  As we offer ourselves to him in penitence and faith, we renew our confidence and trust in his mercy.

              God of mercy, we acknowledge that we are all sinners.  We turn from the wrong that we have thought and said and done, and are mindful of all that we have failed to do.  For the sake of Jesus who died for us, forgive us for all that is past and help us to live each day in the light of Christ our Lord.  Amen.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.            

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

            Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Isaiah 55:10-13

Isiah reading

Thus says the LORD: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Romans 8:1-11

Romans reading

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law – indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Hymn:  Rise and hear!  The Lord is speaking  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU3jv4CQ9A8

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

Glory to you, O Lord.

Matthew 13:1-9. 18-23

Matthew reading

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen! Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for that was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.   Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

Sermon audio

When is a parable not a parable?  When Matthew gets his hands on it.  The story of the sower is possibly the best known of all of Jesus’s parables, but Matthew renders it lumpy and restricted as soon as he puts a limited interpretation on it.  As it stands, the story is dynamic and challenging, open-ended and rich.  After Matthew has asserted meaning for each individual section of the parable, it becomes thin and uni-directional.  The trouble is that having read Matthew’s gloss on the parable of the sower, we can only think of it in his terms – this equals that, each element forever stuck with a particular meaning.  So this morning we are going to free this parable from its Matthean shackles, and let it wander around our consciousness to challenge and to change us.

I am not the best person to talk about the success or otherwise of sowing seed.  I have very poor results from my efforts, and am not that much better at potting on plug plants.  I need my gardening efforts to involve fairly established plants if I am going to have any hope of success.  This is why I am a parish priest and not a market gardener or the owner of a flower shop.  I therefore have every sympathy with Matthew’s sower, who works so hard to grow his crop on unpromising land, only to receive a ¼ return on his efforts.  However, that ¼ return has degrees of success, which may well outweigh the losses the 75% of the land produces.

It gets complicated at this point, as it can move into maths.  Are 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold outcomes greater than the original weight of seed?  Does the sower, from these successful patches of land, come away with food for his family and a profit at market? 

Then we can ask if Jesus is speaking from experience.  Was a 25% return normal for farmers of his day?  Israel is a rocky and dry country.  It is the migratory superhighway for birds travelling north from their winter feeding grounds in Africa, and the timing of their flights coincides with the planting season.  Was this farmer uncousciously providing a useful stop-off for warblers and finches on their journey to their European nesting sites?

And then we could start the blame game.  Why hadn’t the farmer prepared his land better?  Why were there still rocks and stoney sections in his field?  He can’t have been a very efficient farmer, if weeds came up as soon as he planted his seed!  Couldn’t he have roped in the local children as bird scarers?  He deserves everything he gets if he is so lackadaisical in his farming practices.

But what if the outcome of the sowing is actually better than most?  How much interest is being paid to you at the moment on your savings?  Advertisers reckon on a 1% success rate on all flyers put through our letter boxes – they would give their back teeth for a 30 fold return from a quarter of their publicity, let alone 60 or 100 fold.  This is why this parable needs to be kept open, so that it can properly reflect back on us and our world and enable us to scrutinize our plans, our reactions and our efforts.

Matthew wants this parable to be about spreading the Gospel.  He insists that God is the sower, the seed is the God’s word, and the field represents the range of human responses to God’s word.  That is fine, it is a fairly realistic account of the difficulties of speaking to people about God, of the numbers who respond positively to his message and who stick around in the Church.  But what if we change the meaning of the seed to God’s love, or God’s grace, or God’s forgiveness?  What does that say about our God?  It speaks of a reckless generosity, an anticipation of rejection and failure yet also of massive joy in those who do respond.  Would we dare to be as profligate as that?

And what if we change the meaning to prayer?  We become the sower, and our prayers can feel as if they are falling on dry ground, or are snatched away by our daily worries and labours.  Do we concentrate on the 75% failure rate of our intercessions?  Or should we rejoice and find encouragement in the massive return on our successes?

The Church of England has a tag line, “A Christian presence in every community”.  In terms of the parable of the sower, that puts the Church of England in the place of the sower – which means all of us who come together to express that Christian presence in our community.  This raises questions about our effectiveness, our rejection levels, our failures.  How good are we at recognising answers to our corporate prayers?  How can we measure people’s awareness of our presence and appreciation of all that we have to offer?  Should we be counting up our 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold returns in individuals or families, or social influence?  We are in this for the long term, even if your Vicar passes through on a breeze and is then gone again.  Some of you were here when we arrived, many of you have joined since 2004, the Barn & St Luke’s are very different places now than then.  There has been much joy and much sorrow and an awful lot of in between stuff – quiet, faithful lives of witness and service in practical ways, skills revealed and used to the full, a discovery of unused talents that have blossomed for the benefit of others.

What if we applied the sower principle to other areas – politics, education, social welfare, health, even?  Is the principle of generosity and grace a useful starting point in those domains?  Could you take this into your workplace?  And what about family life?  The role of parents is to give, and to give, and to give to their children out of love and care, and that doesn’t stop when those children are in their 30s and 40s!

At heart this parable raises the question: what are we looking for over the long term: net loss or net gain – or more pertinently, what is God looking for over the long term?  Does the shrivelled plant of neglect or the seed eaten by birds or the weed-choked seedling break his heart of love?  Of course it does, but that doesn’t restrict his generosity.  Do the differing levels of response from redeemed humanity cause him concern?  Not at all, he delights in any movement we make towards him, of gratitude or of service.

The parable of the sower is about the generosity of a God who loves and forgives and accepts us day after day, year after year, for all eternity.  May we live our lives as a generous response to that initial generosity, and so be part of that 30 fold, 60 fold and even 100 fold growth of God in others.  Amen.

Prayers – with thanks to Veronica Willoughby

Intercessions audio

Dear Lord, we have all been in lockdown for 13 weeks and every Sunday on Zoom we have been able to see our friends from Church but some we haven’t and we hope that they are all doing well and have escaped the Covid 19 virus, we pray for everyone in our congregation and look forward to seeing them all on the 19th July 2020.  We pray for all churches in this Diocese of Southwark and that they will open again successfully with no threat of closure as a result of financial losses.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Gracious Lord we pray for Father Peter Hart who is to leave with his wife Beverley and take up a new position in Worcester Diocese.  May they enjoy their life there as much as we have enjoyed having them with us.  God bless them both.

Lord in your Mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for His Holiness the Pope, Justin Welby, our Archbishop of Canterbury, Christopher our Bishop of Southwark.  We pray for Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family. 

Dear Lord, Let us pray for the families of those who have died from Covid 19 and all the NHS carers who cared for them devotedly in hospitals and care homes, their wonderful work will never be forgotten and though we are sad now the future is bright if we need care ourselves in the future.  They have really shown their worth. 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those who are to be admitted to communion on 19th July:  Evia Bliss,Theo Corpetti, Annah Kabongo, Louisa Kingston, Effie King, Isabella Mitchell-Fry

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all those who are sick amongst our congregation and all those who care for them: Julia Holboro, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston.  Bring them healing and wholeness we pray.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We remember especially Mary Smith, Revd Canon Graham Foulis Brown, Norma Williams, Gulam Abu Saleh, Eric Ewington and Ted Wheadon who now live with you in heaven and we will not see them again.  Gather them in your loving arms dear Lord and give them words of comfort in their final hours.  Amen.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hymn:  Father of heaven, whose love profound  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M5WBuBKH38

The Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God.  We meet in the name of Christ and share his peace.  The peace of the Lord be always with you.  And also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  God is working his purpose out  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8EcuV1SOFU

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks,

holy Father, almighty and eternal God.  From sunrise to sunset this day is holy, for Christ has risen from the tomb and scattered the darkness of death with light that will not fade.  This day the risen Lord walks with your gathered people, unfolds for us your word, and makes himself known in the breaking of the bread.  And though the night will overtake this day you summon us to live in endless light, the never-ceasing Sabbath of the Lord.  And so, with choirs of angels and with all the heavenly host, we proclaim your glory and join their unending song of praise:

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              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 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.

Blessing

In darkness and in light,

in trouble and in joy,

help us, heavenly Father,

to trust your love,

to serve your purpose,

and to praise your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

and the blessing of God Almighty, +Father, Son & Holy Spirit,

be with you and those you love, today and always.  Amen

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.   In the name of Christ.    Amen.

Hymn:   You shall go out with joy  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unWnWSgoSt0

Mozart Introduction and Fugue in C minor for organ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9WHeha80RA

Barn service date

Barn service date

We are pleased to be able to let you know the times of services at The Barn later this month.  These will be short services of Holy Communion, sadly without hymns but we will have music played during some of the services.  The times are:

Sundays 19th & 25th July:    Communion at the Barn at 9.30am

5th July Sunday Service (with audio)

5th July Sunday Service (with audio)

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

5th July service

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn:  Amazing grace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHNwxzEbSQk

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              Lord God, our maker and our redeemer, this is your world and we are your people: come among us and save us. 

We have wilfully misused your gifts of creation;

Lord, be merciful:  forgive us our sin.

We have seen the ill-treatment of others and have not gone to their aid;

Lord, be merciful:  forgive us our sin.

We have condoned evil and dishonesty and failed to strive for justice;

Lord, be merciful:  forgive us our sin.

We have heard the good news of Christ, but have failed to share it with others;

Lord, be merciful:  forgive us our sin.

We have not loved you with all our heart, nor our neighbours as ourselves;

Lord, be merciful:   forgive us our sin.

              Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, +pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

.            

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:

increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake.  Amen

Zechariah 9: 9-12 

Zechariah reading

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
    and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Romans 7: 15-25

Romans reading

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God

Hymn:  Be still and know that I am God  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtflAXHh-jk

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

Matthew reading

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus said to the disciples, “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.   Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon by Michael Tonkin

5th July sermon

‘A Rebellious Son’

“They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard”.

Lines taken from the book of Deuteronomy chapter 21, words the parents of a rebellious son would have said on taking him to the elders of Israel, and words heard again in our Gospel reading this morning, spoken by Jesus, describing how the crowd following him viewed him, this new prophet.

Jesus had just been speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist, who was now in prison, and what the people’s response and opinion of him had been.  Now though, the crowds following Jesus consider John to be yesterday’s news, “For John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’ ”.  Now they have Jesus, a man who turns water into wine, a man who dines with tax collectors. “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’. 

Jesus is fully aware of the fickleness of the crowd, how they bend like reeds in the wind, one way and then another.  Jesus knows them well, they are like selfish children, who only want to play their own game, and then, only if they can take the main part.  But of course the end result for these poor, cross, dissatisfied children is that they have no one to play with at all, and no idea how or what to play on their own.

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ “

One can sense the exasperation felt by Jesus, whose own relationship with his own Father is one of complete love and mutual understanding.  For, as we hear in the second half of our Gospel reading:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Here is the saddest part, for Jesus came then, as he comes now, not to judge but to forgive, not to demand or expect, but to offer.   “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

But then, as now, we are all so fickle by nature, happy one moment to celebrate our NHS and key workers, only on the next fine day for many to be flocking to the beaches, parks and open spaces, social distancing forgotten, probably putting much past good work at risk.  It is so often not just ourselves that we can put at risk, but those around us, even those not necessarily known personally to us.  Jesus does not demand from us, but that does not mean that his road is always an easy one, or not without some cost.  As with all things in life we cannot just take, or always do just as we want, just playing our own little games to our own rules.  We mostly live in partnerships, in family units and within communities for which we should and must share responsibilities, not just because the law may demand it, or because of the present pandemic, but because our Christian faith and ethos expects it.

As so often in the case with the Apostle Paul, his life and mind appear to be in turmoil!

Paul wrestles with the question of why God gave the Law and what its role had been.

Paul, more than many, having been a Pharisee, knew that it was right to embrace and celebrate the Torah, God’s Law as passed on to the Jews by Moses.  However, due to Adam in the Garden of Eden, humankind was innately sinful, and so the Law as laid down in the Torah, condemns those human sins.

It is only, in fact, by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross that this ‘innate sin’ has been purged and removed from humankind.  As Paul writes, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord,” 

So too, we in our daily lives and relationships, must thank God for giving us His Son and welcoming us all into His love and care, especially during this present time, not only today but always. As the psalmist writes in today’s Psalm 145:

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made”.   Amen.

Prayers – with thanks to Angela Hollingworth

5th July Prayers

Dearest Lord, we give you thanks for life, as we pray for our troubled and ailing world.  We are comforted by your enduring love and long for your presence in times of peace, sickness, danger and death. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for churches throught the world and give thanks for Peter’s ministry and all who support our church, which sadly we miss, but your love in our hearts will always strengthen and sutain us.  Let us pray for our sister churches, for Justin Welby, Pope Francis and Bishop Cleophas of Matabeleland and the Green Park School in Zambia.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen and all those in authority.  Please guide our government to protect and love our people and to respect and care for our global neighbours.  May those in authority be influenced by dreamers rather than schemers.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for families, friends and neighbours.  We pray for those we love, who are near or far.  Let us contunue to give thanks for our NHS and all who work to heal and to save us.  Let us not forget the armed forces, firefighters and police: those who work in supermarkets, pharmacies and schools.  And thank you for those who take our refuse, keep our streets clean and deliver our post.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Please help us to protect all children.  We pray for those who are abused, lost and suffering.  Please guard the elderly who are cut off from families or friends.  Let us pray for those suffering from depression, loneliness, psychiatric and serious medical conditions.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who fear for their jobs.  For our planet – may we all work to heal the damage.  Please may we be reconciled with those with whom we differ.  Grant us widom in our lives.  May we be kinder to each other.  The Torah says that kindness is the highest form of wisdom.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit.  Let us pray for Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Gill Risso-Gil, Luci Mitchell Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter, Kevin Willoughby and Max Weston.  We give thank for those who work to heal and care for them.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Let us pray for those who have died this country and throught the world.  We remember Mary Smith, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams, Eric Ewington, Ted Wheadon, Graham Foulis Brown.  We pray for their families.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In a world that is troubled by sickness and strife, let us enfold ourselves in the words of a beautiful hymn:

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Fill me with life anew

That I may love what thou dost love

And do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me Breath of God,

So shall I never die.

But live with thee the perfect life

Of thine eternity.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hymn:  Alleluia sing to Jesus  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcD8r3UOMrM

The Peace

Christ is our peace. 

              He has reconciled us to God

              in one body by the Cross.

              We meet in his name and share his peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  I heard the voice of Jesus say  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rr_4M5LQLo

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks,

holy Father, almighty and eternal God.  From sunrise to sunset this day is holy, for Christ has risen from the tomb and scattered the darkness of death with light that will not fade.  This day the risen Lord walks with your gathered people, unfolds for us your word, and makes himself known in the breaking of the bread.  And though the night will overtake this day you summon us to live in endless light, the never-ceasing sabbath of the Lord.  And so, with choirs of angels and with all the heavenly host, we proclaim your glory and join their unending song of praise:

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              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 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.

Blessing

The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love, today and always.  Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.   In the name of Christ.    Amen.

Hymn:   Meekness and majesty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tK1hQpacs8

J.S. Bach/M.Dupré Sinfonia Cantata 29 – Olivier Penin, Orgue Ste Clotilde Parishttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKXlzI0pKO4