Morning Service for Trinity 7 2023


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.

Morning Service for Trinity 7 2023

HYMN Teach me, my God and king NEH 456 – Sandys

1 TEACH me, my God and King,

In all things thee to see;

And what I do in anything

To do it as for thee!

2 A man that looks on glass,

On it may stay his eye;

Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,

And then the heaven espy.

3 All may of thee partake;

Nothing can be so mean,

Which, with this tincture, ‘for thy sake’,

Will not grow bright and clean.

4 A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine;

Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine.

5 This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.

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


We recall our Lord’s command to love and in a moment of silence we confess 

the many ways we fail to keep his command:

Most merciful God, 

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.   Amen

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


Lord of all power and might,

the author and giver of all good things:

graft in our hearts the love of your name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and of your great mercy keep us in the same;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,  Amen.

FIRST READING – Genesis 28.10-19

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 O God of Bethel, by whose hand NEH 416 – Martyrdom

1 O God of Bethel, by whose hand

Thy people still are fed,

Who through this weary pilgrimage

Hast all our fathers led:

2 Our vows, our prayers, we now present

Before thy throne of grace;

God of our fathers, be the God

Of their succeeding race.

3 Through each perplexing path of life

Our wandering footsteps guide;

Give us each day our daily bread,

And raiment fit provide.

4 O spread thy covering wings around,

Till all our wanderings cease,

And at our Father’s loved abode

Our souls arrive in peace.

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!


“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-dollar 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 then yes, you are wasting your time, if you are looking to feel fire-proof and made exempt from the laws of chance, physics and biology, like some teenage male behind the wheel of an XR3, then emphatically YES, you are 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 sermon not topical, 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.

Whether God is real to you or not might be rather academic, God doesn’t need our belief – but it is a question of what we need, and what we allow our lives, and our world, to be driven by.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that was going on inside him. He said, “My son, it is between 2 wolves.” The first wolf is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority & superiority, lies, false pride, and ego… The second wolf is good: joy, peace, love hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith…” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins? The old Cherokee simply replied, ” The one I feed.”

Stories like that of Jacob feed the second wolf, finding the God who is with you, who will keep you and will bring you home, feeds the second wolf.  Which wolf will you feed?

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

HYMN Faithful shepherd feed me NEH 282/AMR 415 – Pastor pastorum

1 Faithful Shepherd, feed me

In the pastures green;

Faithful Shepherd, lead me

Where thy steps are seen.

2 Hold me fast, and guide me

In the narrow way;

So, with thee beside me,

I shall never stray.

3 Daily bring me nearer

To the heavenly shore;

May my faith grow clearer,

May I love thee more.

4 Hallow every pleasure,

Every gift and pain;

Be thyself my treasure,

Though none else I gain.

5 Day by day prepare me

As thou seest best,

Then let angels bear me

To thy promised rest.


Let us draw near to God our father and our mother and pour out the concerns we have for our world, our church and those we know to be in need.

With the media encircling us with images of global conflict, presenting us with the dark shadow of aggressors and the suffering of the victims, we pray for the human spirit of caring to suppress and smother the need to dominate. Bring those leaders who are feel driven to wage war back to the best in the human creation. The best which reflects the compassion and understanding  you have, our God,  for each one of us. We remember especially Ukraine and Sudan…….

Lord in your mercy…… hear our prayer

It is the time of so much promise as the word HOLIDAYS takes over the lives of families with children. Pictures and promises are sold, but not always delivered. We think of those caught up in the heat in southern Europe, of those dealing with weeks of childcare now schools are closed and the families for whom any holiday is beyond their budget. We pray for the weather that makes life easier and the support which helping hands offer, lifting spirits and bring a feeling of joy. 

Lord in your mercy…… hear our prayer

Your church has always faced challenges , but sometimes we can feel overwhelmed. We bring to you our earnest prayers for this benefice with each church staring into a different possible abyss: be it money, numbers or officers to carry out the complex duties of running a church in the 21st century. We know that our prayers are heard and we ask for the energy and spiritual fortitude to see a way that leads onwards. We give thanks also for all those who dedicate time to our churches from those acts of support, offering coffee, arranging flowers, polishing brass and wielding a hoover, to the challenge of dealing with the utility companies, fund-raising and for our treasurers,  wrestling with the banks . 

Lord in your mercy…… hear our prayer

We pray for the people whom we know to be dealing with ill health, in pain or bewildered by the onset of dementia. We ask that you extend your loving hands to reassure and gently remind them that we are never alone.

In this benefice we bring before you……

And we think of Chris Carter whose memorial service was on Friday, and those precious to us who have died. We remember them with love and with gratitude for all they gave us and so remembering,  commend them to your eternal rest and unchanging affection 

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.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

The Lord God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

the holy and undivided Trinity,

guard you, save you, and bring you to that heavenly city,

where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen

HYMN – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty  NEH 440/AMR 382 – Hast du Denn Jesu

1 PRAISE to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;

O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:

Come ye who hear,

Brothers and sisters draw near,

Praise him in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,

Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:

Hast thou not seen

All that is needful hath been

Granted in what he ordaineth?

3 Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work, and defend thee;

Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;

Ponder anew

All the Almighty can do,

He who with love doth befriend thee.

4 *Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,

Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,

Biddeth them cease,

Turneth their fury to peace,

Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

5 *Praise to the Lord, who when darkness of sin is abounding,

Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,

Sheddeth his light,

Chaseth the horrors of night,

Saints with his mercy surrounding.

6 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!

All that hath life and breath come now with praises before him!

Let the Amen

Sound from his people again:

Gladly for ay we adore him.

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