A Morning Service for Trinity 6

HYMN - Jesus where’er thy people meet - St Sepulchre NEH 390

1 Jesus, where'er thy people meet,

There they behold thy mercy-seat;

Where'er they seek thee, thou art found,

And every place is hallowed ground.

2 For thou, within no walls confined,

Inhabitest the humble mind;

Such ever bring thee where they come,

And going, take thee to their home.

3 Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few,

Thy former mercies here renew;

Here to our waiting hearts proclaim

The sweetness of thy saving name.

4 Here may we prove the power of prayer,

To strengthen faith and sweeten care;

To teach our faint desires to rise,

And bring all heaven before our eyes.

5 Lord, we are few, but thou art near;

Nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;

O rend the heavens, come quickly down,

And make a thousand hearts thine own!

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
Merciful God,

you have prepared for those who love you

such good things as pass our understanding:

pour into our hearts such love toward you

that we, loving you in all things and above all things,

may obtain your promises,

which exceed all that we can desire;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen


FIRST READING - Genesis 28.10-20

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

HYMN Jesu the very thought of thee - St Botolph  NEH 385

1 Jesus, the very thought of thee

With sweetness fills my breast;

But sweeter far thy face to see,

And in thy presence rest.

2 Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,

Nor can the memory find,

A sweeter sound than thy blest name,

O Saviour of mankind!

3 O hope of every contrite heart,

O joy of all the meek,

To those who fall, how kind thou art!

How good to those who seek!

4 But what to those who find? Ah, this

Nor tongue nor pen can show;

The love of Jesus, what it is

None but his loved ones know.

5 Jesu, our only joy be thou,

As thou our prize wilt be;

Jesus, be thou our glory now,

And through eternity.

GOSPEL - Matthew 13.24-30,36-43
He put before them 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 he 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

“Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!”

Is God real to you? Have you been introduced to him? That’s a daft question I know – you’re sitting in church aren’t you, how could you have avoided God? Well if you were listening to this morning’s reading form Genesis, from the saga of Jacob, it’s not such a daft question. Jacob was brought up in a godly household, his father was always praying, he even sends him off on this journey with a prayer, and yet here he is shocked to find God standing right beside him. This God of family talk, the God at the other end of the conversation called prayer – the end that doesn’t seem to say too much – the God taken for granted. But there he is.

Jacob, devious, tricky, conniving Jacob has fled his brother Esau's righteous anger and run for his life. He has never prayed, he has never turned to God for help. And he doesn't do so now, but there amidst his hopelessness, there in the stony ground under an open sky he dreams of God speaking to him.

And the words God speaks are extraordinary – they don’t dwell on the shameful past, they look to a different future. They begin with a promise of the Land, and a whole nation of descendants. But the promise doesn’t end there. A further three-fold promise is given to this man on the run. 

First God says, “I am with you” – the promise of his presence which God will make again and again to his troubled people, the promise which will be echoed in the life of Jesus as his last words “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” The second promise is, “I will keep you.” Like the shepherd of old, keeping his flock, watching, guarding, protecting it. The third promise is “I will bring you home” – what the exile needs to hear most, that there will be a return. These are words that everyone in Jacob’s position wants to hear, needs to hear; words which echo through the history of Israel. 

But are they words created by the need? Are they a delusion, a mirage to the thirsty man? Is this vision of God just a bit of subconscious wish-fulfilment?

Jacob was convinced, so convinced that he renamed the place Bêt El – the House of God, and set up a sacred stone, and promised to fund the place with a tenth of all that he ever earned. Of course, it all works out for Jacob, it would be a strange Bible story if it didn’t. But is the wonderful vision of a providing God any use to us? We know people a darned sight nicer than Jacob whose story didn’t end so well. I think this is the $64,000 question. If God is our hope, are we wasting our time, or is he with us, will he keep us, will he bring us home? 

Like a good theologian I guess my answer is yes and no. If you are looking for God to place a force field all around you to protect you from the world, to make you exempt from the laws of chance, physics and biology, then I fear you may well be wasting your time. But if you are looking for a life lived in the company of God, life lived with deeper resources than your own, resources that make you try that bit harder, journey that bit further, persist that bit longer – then No, you are not wasting you time. You will find your hope in God. He will be with you, keep you, and bring you home.

Jacob begins his journey from Bethel bound to the God he met in a dream, hoping for bread and clothing and a way back; what he gets in the end is beyond what he could have hoped for, something beyond what he deserved – the forgiveness of his brother; the forgiveness of Esau. 

The world may have changed a great deal from the days of those who first told the story of Jacob and Esau, but we still need such stories – stories of God found, sinners redeemed and people reconciled. The troubles of our time are not too much religion, but too much bad religion of any brand that ignores such ancient truth and thinks that life can be remade through hated and a strange piety of violence. Jacob’s vision was of a God who promised that all the peoples of the world would be blessed through him. And lest you think this story is not relevant to the world today - Esau married a daughter of Ishmael, the symbolic father of the Arabs, and he himself was said to have fathered the Edomites – perpetual enemies of Israel – the vision was the reconciling of nations and peoples.

HYMN Let all mortal flesh keep silence - Picardy NEH 295

1 Let all mortal flesh keep silence

And with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly-minded,

For with blessing in his hand

Christ our God to earth descendeth,

Our full homage to demand.

2 King of kings, yet born of Mary,

As of old on earth he stood,

Lord of lords, in human vesture,

In the body and the blood:

He will give to all the faithful

His own self for heavenly food.

3 Rank on rank the host of heaven

Spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of light descendeth

From the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish

As the darkness clears away.

4 At his feet the six-winged seraph;

Cherubim with sleepless eye,

Veil their faces to the Presence,

As with ceaseless voice they cry,

Alleluya, Alleluya,

Alleluya, Lord most high!

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 - Lindsay Dolphin

Lord God, you are the father of all people and we come before you

today with our prayers knowing that you will hear us, help us and

guide us. Let us pray for the Church and the needs of the world and 

let us thank God for his goodness.

We pray for our benefice, for our rector William and all who work 

within our church community. And we give thanks that many of us 

are now able to meet for a weekly service in our churches. We are so

grateful for the huge effort around the benefice to make this happen.

Strengthen all your Church in the service of Christ; that those who 

confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your 

love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Lord in your mercy……hear our prayer.

Lord, despite being given some freedom to go out and enjoy a meal 

or go to the shops, we must not forget the many people who can still 

not leave their homes either through self-isolating, through fear or 

because of financial restraints. 

Give us the courage to cope with these difficult times and give 

strength to those leading us through and those trying to find ways 

around the pandemic.

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours;

that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

Lord in your mercy…..hear our prayer.

We pray for those in pain or distress caused by Covid 19 or other 

illnesses and for all who are called to alleviate suffering, to treat 

disease and to hold the Light of Christ for all in darkness and sorrow. 

Let us pray for all those known to us who are in special need.

In this Benefice we pray particularly for Daphne Canning, Ray Hills, 

Christopher Brown, Diana Axford, Lucy Saunders, Nancy and Bob 

Emmerson, Jackie Shipster, Joanne Foxley and Simon Davis.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit; give 

them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of  your salvation.

Lord in your mercy…….hear our prayer.

And we remember those who died in faith, particularly those who died 

without family around them because of Covid 19. We commend them, 

Lord, to your safe keeping.

 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 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun - Truro NEH 388 

1 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun

Does his successive journeys run;

His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2 People and realms of every tongue

Dwell on his love with sweetest song,

And infant voices shall proclaim

Their early blessings on his name.

3 Blessings abound where'er he reigns;

The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;

The weary find eternal rest,

And all the sons of want are blest.

4 Let every creature rise and bring

Peculiar honours to our King;

Angels descend with songs again,

And earth repeat the long Amen.

 

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen