A Morning Service for Trinity 5

HYMN - Lord thy word abideth - Ravenshaw  NEH 407

1 Lord, thy word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth;
Who its truth believeth,
Light and joy receiveth.

2 When our foes are near us,
Then thy word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
Message of salvation.

3 When the storms are o'er us,
And dark clouds before us,
Then its light directeth,
And our way protecteth.

4 Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure
By thy word imparted
To the simple-hearted?

5 Word of mercy, giving
Succour to the living;
Word of life, supplying
Comfort to the dying.

6 O that we discerning
Its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear thee,
Evermore be near thee!

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
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

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
God the Father forgives us in Christ and heals us by the Holy Spirit.
Let us therefore put away all anger and bitterness, all slander and malice,
and confess our sins to God our redeemer.   cf. Ephesians 4.30,32

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT
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

FIRST READING - Genesis 25.19-34
These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

HYMN Immortal love for ever full - Bishopthorpe  NEH 378

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEs3ArTVu0Q

1 Immortal love for ever full,
For ever flowing free,
For ever shared, for ever whole,
A never-ebbing sea!

2 Our outward lips confess the name,
All other names above;
Love only knoweth whence it came
And comprehendeth love.

3 We may not climb the heavenly steeps
To bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
For him no depths can drown;

4 But warm, sweet, tender, even yet
A present help is he;
And faith has still its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.

5 The healing of his seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain;
We touch him in life's throng and press,
And we are whole again.

6 Through him the first fond prayers are said
Our lips of childhood frame;
The last low whispers of our dead
Are burdened with his name.

7 Alone, O Love ineffable,
Thy saving name is given;
To turn aside from thee is hell,
To walk with thee is heaven.

GOSPEL - Matthew 13.1-9,18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 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 what 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.”

SERMON - Myra Wilkinson
Jesus begins the parable of the sower in both Matthew and Mark’s gospel with the word ‘Listen’.

Listening is the key to understanding, the more we listen, the more we understand. In the verses between the two sections of our gospel reading are the words of Isaiah, ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn – and I would heal them.’ Words that were relevant some 750 years before Christ, during the time Matthew was writing and relevant today. Jesus spoke in parables for those who would listen and understand.  The parable of the sower is a reflection of the mission of the Kingdom of God, of his word and how it is received.  The word of God is delivered to a variety of listeners, the soils. The emphasis is on receiving and the obstacles to acceptance, faith and action.  

There are many who hear the message, but it is immediately forgotten, they focus on other things, they fall by the wayside, not ‘on the way’ with Jesus.  The rocky ground listeners respond with initial enthusiasm, but do not totally accept the word and as soon as times get hard they give up and lose faith. In Jesus’ time these obstacles represented the social and religious leaders and those who could not follow the path that Jesus offered. Others were and are so choked by their overriding concern for wealth and materialism that there is no room for anything spiritual. These barriers to discipleship were no different in Jesus time, when Matthew wrote his gospel and our present time. We perhaps should not be surprised by this as Jesus’ teaching is radical and it is easier to conform to the social context in which people find themselves and the prisms through which they see the world around them.

Only the last of the four examples describes those who welcome the word. They become disciples, develop faith and a living relationship with Jesus, God with us. They listen and pray, and the more they listen the more they grow, develop and understand. For many of us the last period of time has been challenging, with our places of worship closed, our lives changed an element of fear and uncertainty and for many, profound loss. Yet our community has been nourished by innovative ways of worship, of numerous acts of kindness, selfless service, love and compassion.  We not only have to be listeners to God but through prayer respond to each other’s needs.  Jesus was a model of life in a community, a guide who leads us, inspires us and imparts courage, a man of action. We are led, must also lead others. We must continue to show others the values of Jesus’ kingdom on earth, to be a community that others will wish to join.  

The emphasis of the parable has been on receipt of the word, but we in turn as people of God have a role as the sowers. The method used to distribute the seed was ‘broad casting’ and recently the method of broadcasting has been an important part of our lives.  According to several studies, throughout the pandemic the number of people watching, listening and taking part in online worship has significantly increased to 25% of adults and 1 in 20 people accessing on line prayer.  Clearly there is a need for continuing online presence, but how does the church encourage these new listeners to grow and develop. How do we encourage people to join a church community, to provide appropriate nourishment? I am sure all of us wish we had easy solutions.

We are now able to meet each other again in our church buildings, and despite the restrictions share a sense of belonging as we share our worship. Perhaps for many of you the sacred building provides that thin space, the Celtic Christian term for places where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we experience God; for others that may be a mountain top, the power of the sea or our own home...  The teaching of the parable of the sower is a reflection of the kingdom mission here in our time on earth, to listen to God’s word, pray, bear his fruit and in turn broadcast the word to others so that they may also bear fruit.  

HYMN Ye servants of God - Paderborn  NEH 476

1 YE servants of God, your Master proclaim,
And publish abroad his wonderful name:
The name all-victorious of Jesus extol:
His kingdom is glorious, and rules over all.

2 God ruleth on high, almighty to save;
And still he is nigh, his presence we have:
The great congregation his triumph shall sing,
Ascribing salvation to Jesus our King.

3 Salvation to God who sits on the throne!
Let all cry aloud, and honour the Son:
The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,
Fall down on their faces, and worship the Lamb.

4 Then let us adore, and give him his right:
All glory and power, all wisdom and might,
All honour and blessing, with angels above,
And thanks never-ceasing, and infinite love. 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Claire Cooper

Lord, we pray for nations around the world fighting the pandemic and we remember especially those with rapidly increasing numbers of Covid cases – Brazil, South Africa, India and Columbia. Bless medical staff under pressure in these countries, where resources and protective equipment may be in short supply. Support and protect them from the virus as they work. As other countries gradually relax their lockdowns, we pray for the vulnerable who finally get to see loved ones. Many may be anxious – be there at their side, with your strength and compassion to help and reassure them.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Lord, we all appreciated worshipping with others in our churches last Sunday after so many weeks away. We give thanks for William, Warwick, all our church wardens and anyone else who helped to make this happen in a safe environment. Let us pray for those who are still too vulnerable to return and miss the fellowship. We pray that they may feel your presence and that we continue to reach out to those in our Benefice who need our support.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

In these challenging times we recognise that many families may be financially stretched, due to business slowdown, job losses, or ill health. We pray for those in our Benefice that may be struggling and need our support – practically and emotionally.

We remember all the businesses and organisations who have spent much time and money to make themselves ‘Covid safe’ We know many are struggling to retain staff and keep going. Help us to support local businesses and we pray for both employees and employers working in these stressful times. Help them Lord to feel your strength.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for anyone who is sick in mind, body or spirit. We pray especially for those under going treatment for cancer which may have been postponed due to the virus. Lord let them feel your presence during their treatment and lift their spirits during such an anxious time. We remember particularly those who are ill in our Benefice and ask that you support and protect them and their family, friends and carers, remembering especially Jackie, Christopher, Diana, Ray, Lucy and Simon.

We pray for all those who have lost their lives in recent weeks whether to the virus or other illness. We remember the family and friends who have lost loved ones recently and we ask that your presence brings them comfort, strength and hope in their grief.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Lord, there is much that we do not understand,
much that make us feel powerless.
Help us to trust you, to be faithful to you, and to bring our concerns to you, always.
In Jesus’ name.
Merciful Father, 
accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, 

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. 

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive 

those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

BLESSING
May you find in Christ crucified
a guide in times of darkness,
a strength in times of weakness
and the assurance that life is eternal;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.  Amen

HYMN Come ye faithful raise the anthem - Neander  NEH 

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the anthem,
Cleave the skies with shouts of praise;
Sing to him who found the ransom,
Ancient of eternal days,
God eternal, Word incarnate,
Whom the heaven of heaven obeys.

2 Ere he raised the lofty mountains,
Formed the seas, or built the sky,
Love eternal, free, and boundless,
Forced the Lord of life to die,
Lifted up the Prince of princes
On the throne of Calvary.

3 Now on those eternal mountains
Stands the sapphire throne, all bright,
With the ceaseless alleluias
Which they raise, the sons of light;
Sion's people tell his praises,
Victor after hard-won fight.

4 Bring your harps, and bring your incense,
Sweep the string and pour the lay;
Let the earth proclaim his wonders,
King of that celestial day;
He the Lamb once slain is worthy,
Who was dead, and lives for ay.

5 Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One,
One in love, and One in splendour,
While unending ages run. Amen.

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

TO END