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Services

ALL SERVICES AND EVENTS ARE CANCELLED DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS. WE HOPE WE MAY OPEN AGAIN ON 9TH AUGUST

A link to all services in our area which are being streamed can be found on the Diocesan website

For the texts for each Sunday see the relevant notice sheet

Eighth Sunday After Trinity 2nd August 2020.

REFLECTION on MATTHEW 14 verses 13-21

Food - and I don’t mean a cup of tea - forms a central part of the social structure of most cultures. We have a whole host of ideas and preconceptions about food. It can be a sign of welcome, of generosity, of closeness, of love even. It can also express rejection or lack of trust when someone refuses to eat what has been presented to them. I know that at some point in my life I have been guilty of using food in one of these ways. Because of the pandemic we are fully aware of the fact that poverty leads to hunger or to obesity by eating certain foods thereby increasing the dangers of this virus.

Our reading today focuses us on the issue of God’s compassion for his people, how He feeds them and the power with which he does so. Apart from the story of the last week of Jesus’ life, the one of the feeding of the five thousand is the only story and the only miracle, carried out by Jesus, which can be found in all the Gospels. They each have varying amounts of background details regarding place, people and time.  It indicates how important this story was for the earliest Christians as they recounted the life and work of Jesus.

The massive crowd had followed Jesus as they were so fascinated by the miracles he was performing. They couldn’t get enough. Jesus felt compassion for them and ministered to them by his teaching and healing their many sick. At evening the disciples were no doubt tired and hungry themselves and asked Jesus to send the crowd away to find food.  “You feed them” says Jesus. With what? All they had were five loaves and two fish!!

These small so called ‘loaves’ are still eaten by the Jewish people today, they look like pitta bread which you buy in the supermarket. Called barley loaves in John’s gospel, these were what the poor people ate, instead of the much more expensive wheat loaves, and it would take at least three to fill a grown man. The fish would also have been very small, dried or pickled to preserve them for carrying in the hot sun.

Jesus instructs the people to sit. Even in these barren surroundings, Jesus has brought them to an area with suitable seating. Jesus takes the loaves and the fish, gives God thanks, breaks them and distributes it to the disciples to share amongst the seated people.  

When everyone was satisfied - not just that they ate what was put into their hands, but when their bellies were full - the disciples gathered up all that was left, so nothing was lost. What was left filled 12 baskets! People who discount the word of scripture might say “Well the people weren’t really hungry so they were easily filled”. But how do you account for the 12 baskets of scraps left over?

After the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand the people became certain that Jesus was the prophet promised by Moses. Along with all the other miracles, food had come from nowhere after Jesus prayed to God. Just like with Moses, Elijah and Elisha, the quantity of food given by God was more than people could possibly eat.

In the future scriptures, on the night before he dies, Jesus takes the bread, gives God thanks, breaks the bread and shares it in communion with his disciples. In so doing he gave us the example for the Eucharist. The scraps were collected so nothing was lost; nothing was left for scavenging animals to have. This was holy food for the feeding of God’s people. From this teaching also comes our tradition where the minister consumes what is left over after Holy Communion so that nothing of the body and blood of Jesus may be lost.

For us today we have the image of Jesus breaking himself on the cross in order to nourish the whole world. Unlike the disciples we have the knowledge of Jesus as the living water and the food of life. We need to understand that no offering is too small for God. It is easy to look around the world and see all the tragedy and think, “I don’t have much, my little two pounds can’t do anything for the millions starving in Africa.”

Well, when Jesus gave God thanks look what happened to that humble offering. That small offering fed over five thousand people, with 12 full baskets left over. As many people lose their jobs in the pandemic they face hunger, especially children. Foodbanks can barely keep up. Jesus requires us to give what we can out of love for his children.

As members of the family of God and children of the heavenly Father we pray that we may be strengthened by him in all our adversities through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our faith must be grounded in love. Love of Jesus Christ and of our fellow human beings. With that faith and as we pray, we may comprehend a little something of the breadth, length, height and depth of the power of God. We may see his work accomplished in us and in the world, so that we may praise and glorify him for ever and ever.

Amen.

Intercessions 2nd August 2020

Dear Lord. As we offer these prayers once again through the medium of technology, we give thanks and praise that we will soon be able to share our prayers and worship together at St Saviour’s.  We pray for all church congregations everywhere, whether they meet in Your Name physically or, just for the time being, only spiritually.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Creator God, may all that encourages the people of the world in goodness, honesty and compassion be blessed and grow; may all that encourages self-seeking and cruelty, prejudice and deceit wither away. May we learn from one another’s cultures and respect one another’s differences.
We pray for the people of our parish especially for those who feel excluded, exploited or ignored, and that, as God’s people, we may work to build a community as open and generous as God’s love shown to us in our Lord Jesus. As much of our lives are presently defined by the pandemic we ask for your support in encouraging us all to act responsibly and for our government to always work with diligence and integrity.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy God, We pray that you will bring healing in mind, body and spirit to all who are troubled; to lives darkened by any kind of pain, anxiety, distress or grief that the light of Christ will bring comfort, hope and a sense of God’s all-encompassing love.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful God, gather into your eternal kingdom all who have come to the end of this earthly life, and all who mourn for them. We remember all who we love but can no longer see, and thank you for your love and faithfulness to us.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious God, though we are apart, we thank you for this time together in prayer and as we look forward to the week to come, we give thanks for your love and support in all we do.

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


Blessing

I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me.

The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed.

The good news is preached to the poor and blessed are those not offended at me.

The Lord bless us and watch over us, the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us.

The Lord look kindly on us and give us peace.

Amen

Seventh Sunday After Trinity July 26th 2020
Reflection on Matthew Chapter 13 verses 31-33 & 44-46

This is our third week enjoying the pleasure of being taught by Jesus under the well known and loved guise of parables. This week we have a number of them, each one explaining aspects of the kingdom of heaven.

The first parable points out that from the smallest seed that is sown, with such an insignificant beginning, the plant becomes one of the greatest of trees. The number of birds it shelters illustrates the Kingdom of God giving protection to many. We are being shown that God’s kingdom will grow inevitably, to achieve results out of all proportion to its simple beginnings.

The next parable is also about going from small to great. From insignificant beginning to magnificent end. A small amount of yeast, mixed into a much larger amount of flour, works its way through to produce a very large amount of dough. This is God’s kingdom diffusing into the world, having its effect on all humanity. It will even induce good work in those who reject it. The yeast works itself invisibly into the dough. We only know it is happening because we see the dough and then the baking bread rising before our eyes.

It tells us that God’s kingdom will penetrate, influence and transform the world effectively, no matter what humans try to do to stop it. By the power of God’s grace, we have the power of the kingdom.  The power of God’s word in the gospels is able to change people, it is able to change whole regimes in a country and influence relationships between countries.

The next two short parables tell us about the kingdom and finding the treasure that is God’s salvation, made freely available to us. Our salvation is a source of great joy. Jeremiah says “Your words were found, and I ate them, and they became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord God of hosts”.

Jesus tells the disciples that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. The worker was not looking for it but happens to uncover it. Instantly recognising its value, he doesn’t go shouting about it. He doesn’t inform the landowner of his find. He covers it up again then goes and sells all he possesses and buys the field. Now the treasure is entirely his. The ethics of the worker’s actions could be seen as a little suspect here, but the message we are given is about our personal and remarkable discovery of salvation through God’s grace. It tells us how we should feel about it – a sense of total joy.

It says how we should respond – we have to give up everything in sacrifice for this gift from God. Thereafter, what we must have is total commitment to God. We have to grab our salvation with both hands, with all our soul and with all our might.
The next parable is about someone who knows there is a fabulous pearl out there somewhere. He hunts until he finds it and again sells all that he possesses to buy this incredibly expensive pearl. He too is willing to surrender all that he has to gain this valuable goal. This man shows us the incomparable quality of the kingdom of God. With his experience and knowledge, he has searched diligently for his prize. Having found it he is aware that it is worth far more than all his previous wealth.

It’s not a matter of being able to buy one’s way into the kingdom of God but being able to search it out and recognise that it is worth more than all earthly wealth. The major lesson that many have learned from the pain and grief of the coronavirus is to recognise what is most important. As many have dealt with the loss of loved ones, we have appreciated the love and support of those we do have. Rich and poor alike have had to utilise the same strategies to keep safe. Our faith and trust in God have been essential in bringing us through the past months to this point. As we work towards a new future, we will adjust to a realisation of the importance of our families and friends, also our frailties, acknowledging how much we need each other. 

Our faith has been tested but we have looked to a higher power to help us. We have prayed for each other and expressed our love for each other if only over the phone. We are working towards the day when we can gather together to express it all in communal prayer and praise.

Jesus wanted his disciples, and us, to understand that there is nothing more valuable in all the world than possession of the kingdom of God. We are to understand the scriptures, be it the old or the new. In our life in Christ we must use the new to interpret the old. We are to live accordingly and become carriers of the good news. We are today’s disciples of Christ and in Christ. We must not fail.

Amen.

Intercessions for Sunday 26th July 2020

Father, we thank you for all who have helped us to pray and to grasp something of your great love and power. We ask your blessing for all who teach and minister in your name. May our Sunday worship be an overflowing of our daily walk with you and an expression of our deepening love.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we thank you for the beauty and diversity of the created world. We ask for the wisdom to tend it carefully, respecting the natural laws and sharing the resources, listening to the weak as well as the strident, the poor as well as the affluent and powerful.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we thank you for the candour and innocence of the very young, for the joy of friendship, for all with whom we share our daily life, and those we love but seldom meet. We ask for hearts that are skilled in listening, so that we discern and respond to the real agendas and remember that a conversation is a two-way event. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we pray for all those, whether near to us or in distant parts of the world, whose lives are crippled by illness, frailty or damage. Give comfort and reassurance, healing, wholeness and peace.  
We give thanks for all whose love of God and neighbour is worked out in caring for others. We ask your blessing on their efforts. May we too, as we are able, play our part. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we thank you for advances in medical knowledge and the hope of new treatments for many diseases. We pray for workers in medical research and for authorities who have to make vital decisions.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we bring to you all those we have known and loved, who lived among us and now have died. We ask that they may know your mercy and the everlasting peace and joy of heaven. 

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Father, we thank you for your wisdom and truth, your understanding and generosity.  We acknowledge our total dependence on you and praise you for providing us with all we need. 

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

Amen. 

Blessing

Dear God, bless and direct our families with loving kindness.
When they are tired, strengthen them;
When they are worried, sustain them;
When they are bewildered, encourage them;
And in all their fears give them your hope and peace that their lives may be renewed today, tomorrow and for ever. Amen.

Prayers for Children
Christopher Herbert 1993 

 

Reflection 0n Matthew Chapter 13 verses 24 – 30 and 36 – 43
19th July 2020  Sixth Sunday After Trinity

In every town, in every country there are good people, there are bad people and people like you and me who try to be good all the time but I fail miserably. One of the terrible things about fighting wars is that it is impossible to separate the good people from the bad. When a plane drops a bomb, or a rocket is launched into an area where people live, then one can be positive that some elderly or sick person, a child, or even someone who is on your side, is going to be killed or injured.

Now admittedly some evil warmongers deliberately drop bombs and rockets in areas where they know it will kill most innocent people. Some terrorists will hide in areas where innocent people live in the hope that those they are fighting won’t fire on them there. I fully understand why some people feel, in all honesty, they cannot take fighting roles when their country is at war, even though they believe they have the higher moral ground.

Good and bad are jumbled together in this world. You can’t root out all the evil without risking destroying the good at the same time. Jesus is again teaching the people in the form of a parable. In fact, if you read all of this chapter of Matthew’s Gospel in one go, what you get is a series of parables and their explanations.

Last week we had the Sower, today we are still on the farm with the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Some authors suggest this could be the best parable because it is so easy to understand and the pictures that Jesus draws are so real because they are part of the daily life. If you read this parable in some versions of the bible the weeds are called tares.

The weeds, or tares, are thought to be a real plant called darnel. It also the usual long Latin name but I won’t bore you with that. This plant grows extensively in the holy land and is a great pest. The young darnel plants look so much like wheat in its early stages of growth that even the experienced farmer can’t tell the difference. It is not until the head - or ears - of the wheat and the darnel develops that you can safely tell them apart. By which time it’s too late because the roots of the wheat and the darnel have become so intertwined that if you pull the darnel you pull up the wheat as well.

The wise farmer has no choice but to wait till the harvest to pull everything up and then separate them. Even then, care has to be taken because the grains of both plants look the same except that the darnel or tare seeds are a shiny grey colour. So the women sit at long tables and carefully, but swiftly and efficiently, pick out the bad seeds. It is important to pick out the darnel as, if you eat it, it can cause dizziness, sickness, and it is addictive, just like what we call narcotics nowadays. Dangerous stuff indeed!

The idea that an enemy would deliberately sow something so nasty into your field where you have sown your best quality seeds is not just imagination. Sometimes it did happen. To this day in India, one of the worst threats a man can make to his enemy is to say ‘I will sow bad seed in your field’.

The Romans actually had a law against it with the punishment laid down in the law books. Now, not all the people listening to Jesus would have followed the parable, but enough of them would know exactly the issue for the farmer, even if they did not realise the full meaning of what Jesus was saying.

Jesus gives the full explanation to the disciples in the second part of our reading - after he has divided them out from the ordinary people by taking them into the house. Already we see Jesus has separated the wheat out from the weeds. But we need to look a little deeper into the explanation that Jesus gives. There are a number of additional lessons for us to learn in Jesus’ explanation.

Firstly, we need to be aware that there is a hostile power always present in the world seeking and waiting to destroy the good seed. Satan is always there lurking, waiting to destroy us before we can produce fruit in God’s harvest. We must always be on our guard.
Secondly, it shows us how hard it is for us to know who is truly a child of God and who is not. Jesus himself warned us ‘Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven’. One of the many lessons we have all come across at some point in our lives is that someone who we thought appeared to be good was in fact quite bad, and the reverse is also true. We can be far too quick to label people good or bad when we don’t really know them or the facts of the matter. It is often a matter of stereotyping as what we are working from are our own prejudices and bias.

Thirdly, in his explanation, Jesus is warning us to be less quick to judge others. The farmer’s servants wanted to start pulling up the darnel, but they would have pulled up the wheat as well losing most of the crop.

Were they perhaps thinking ‘Well, we’re better offer to do something before he blames us for the weeds and we lose our jobs’? The wise farmer decided to leave judgement until the harvest. We should not judge a person on one action or one short period of goodness, or badness, in their lives. As long as there is life there is time to change for good or evil. We cannot know all there is to know about anyone. We must think long and hard before judging.

Fourthly, Jesus is warning us that judgement will come in the end. In our eyes it may seem slow, or, that it doesn’t come at all. We can all think of people in the past and the present, who have done great wrongs, have caused untold suffering, yet they seem to continue to prosper. Those weeds growing with the wheat have continued to benefit from the fertiliser the farmer put in for the crop, also from the rain and sunshine that God sends. So they continue to flourish taking some of the goodness that should have gone to the wheat. But the day of reckoning will come - if not here on earth in our time, then on the final day of judgement when God will apply the just reward.

As Christians, if God destroyed all those with a bit of evil in their hearts there would be none of us left!! The last lesson for us this morning is that God will do the judging. It’s not up to us. God alone sees what is in all our hearts. God alone can discern the good from the bad and can see the total lifespan of every person in one picture. Therefore, God alone can judge – and he will at the end of days.

What do these lessons hold for us in today’s world? We can think of the many dreadful weeds that infest our world. Wars, hunger, poverty, hatred, disregard for nature and human life, crime and all types of discrimination. Justice and injustice live alongside each other. The effect of Coronavirus on poorer communities is well known and unrelenting, if ignored by some.

Our church is not immune as it is made up of people living in the world. We will always find a mixed community reflecting the shortcomings to be found in the world. We feel we really want to get hold of that weed killer and wipe it all out. As people of faith we can sometimes suggest the most unchristian solutions to the weeds of society. But Jesus says no. What we must do is focus on sowing good seeds, nurturing the crop, encourage others by spreading the gospel of love and redemption.

God’s love is not found in a church full of goody-goodies. God’s love shines out from a church made up of forgiven sinners whom God is trying to turn into better people. Encourage more Christ-like behaviour – yes, the weeding will be done by the angels on judgement day. What we need to do is to grow strong and bountiful wheat that will produce good grain. We need to live a life of generous love, extended in hospitality and filled with God’s grace.

Someone wrote, ”When anyone tackles me saying, “the church is full of hypocrites”, I answer them “yes, come and join us there’s always room for one more”. It’s not just a matter of exterminating the weeds, it’s working hard and praying for God’s grace to be better tomorrow. So, as Jesus warns his disciples, ‘Let anyone with ears listen’.

Amen.


INTERCESSIONS  19TH JULY

Father we thank you for all those who have taught and helped us to pray and to grasp something of your great love, we ask for your blessing for all who teach and minister in your name.   We pray that our worship will be an overflowing of our daily walk with you and an expression of our deepening love

Lord of all creation, teach us your ways

Lord we thank you for the candour and innocence of the young and the joy of friendship for all with whom we share our daily life and those we love but seldom meet.  We ask for hearts that are skilled in listening so that we can respond to the real agendas and remember that conversation is a two-way event

Lord of all creation, teach us your ways

Father we thank you for the advances in medical knowledge for many diseases especially the current virus plaguing our world.   We pray for all who are in medical research for all whose lives are crippled or disadvantaged by illness, frailty or damage, give comfort, reassurance, wholeness and peace

Lord of all creation, teach us your ways

We call to mind Lord all those who we have known and loved, who lived among us and now have died.  We pray for all who made that journey alone and unnoticed.   We ask that they may all know your mercy and the everlasting peace and joy of heaven

Lord of all creation, teach us your ways

Lord with the stress and over-burdened, the over worked and the unemployed we pray for balanced lives, for physical, mental and spiritual health; for patience in times of trouble and direction in times of confusion

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Blessing

My peace, stealing upon you when all is turbulent, something which only My children who trust Me can experience.

The sense of peace is telling you that beyond the storm all must be well; it is the peace which comes to a child who simply clings desperately to Me when life is overwhelming.

My child, circumstances so often seem to say that you ought not to be experiencing calm! But remember that my peace is a unique gift, guarding your heart.

Fr John Woolley

 

Reflection on Matthew 13 verses 1-9 and 18-23
For the 5th Sunday after Trinity 12th July 2020

Before my older grandson discovered computer games, he loved bedtime stories, his favourite were the ones I made up for him. I’m not saying they were very good but, when you are aged 4-5, everything that happened to someone else sounds exciting.

Now Jesus was brilliant at making up stories. He used scenery, objects and common situations to which his audience could relate. The people loved his stories so much on this occasion they gathered in a massive crowd so Jesus had to stand in a boat a little ways off shore in order to tell this one, and not for the only time either.

Today’s story is about the farmer who sowed seeds in the planting season which, for us, is usually early spring. There was no machinery apart from our oxen from last week ploughing the field beforehand. Here we have a lone but experienced farmer with his apron or shallow basket of seeds which he scatters evenly as he walks back and forth in the field.

It has been months since some of us have been able to leave our homes but next time you are able to go into the countryside take a good look at the fields with crops growing in them and you will see that they don’t always grow all over the field. Sometimes, especially around the edges, or if there is a big tree in the field, the crop does not grow at all well there.

From the farmer’s point of view Jesus’ story is about the risk of sowing seeds. The sower knows what type of soil is on his land so he goes about his task with strong hope that, ever-all, he will have a successful harvest. Some of the soil may not be very good but a lot of the seeds should bring a good harvest. Jesus is talking about God and heaven. The four types of soil refer to the four types of persons who hear God’s word, how we listen and respond to what God has said in the bible.

The first seeds fall on the paths running through the fields to enable travellers to pass through. These seeds get trodden on and crushed. They are the people who are indifferent and don’t care what God is saying. If they go to church at all, by the time they leave they allow God’s word to be lost from their memory whilst they are doing more interesting and fun stuff.

The second set of seeds fall on the limestone rock which is prevalent in that part of the world. This limits the amount of soil available for plants to grow. Jesus is referring to people who have their own agendas and who think they have more important things to do with their time. They don’t make time to study the bible so don’t understand what God is saying therefore decide to ignore Him.

The third lot of seeds fall among the weeds, thistles and thorns which were not totally removed when the land was being prepared. In Jesus part of the world they have a weed called wire grass which grows very quickly and chokes out anything that is planted. These seeds are people whose lives are filled with worldly activities. They are so busy making money, watching TV, going to sport matches or partying they just don’t want to hear about God.

The fourth set of seeds fall on good soil and the harvest from them varies from good to abundant. These are people who hear about God and change what they are doing so they can do the things he tells them to do. These persons respond to God’s word. They really want to know how to be good people, to love God and their neighbours. They “hunger and thirst after righteousness”, but even among good people some find it easier than others.
We have to realise that every person has the choice as to whether to listen to God or not. That brings to mind the massive question that non-believers always ask. “If your God is so powerful and all-knowing why does He allow bad things to happen?” The important thing is that God gave us free choice; whether to be good or not.

We can’t force anyone to be good and kind and loving if they don’t want to. We can’t force our knowledge on those who deny climate change. We cannot compel one person to see another as a human being, made by God in His image.

God loves every one of us but he leaves it up to us to decide if and how much we want to love him.

Amen.

Intercessions for Sunday 12th July 2020 – 5th Sunday after Trinity


Everlasting God, we bring our prayers to you, asking that your blessing of love and peace may be known to all people everywhere.  Help us to bear abundant fruit from the seeds of potential that you have planted within us.

We bring before you your church throughout the world, in all its different forms and denominations.  As we start to move forward to meet once again in our Church buildings, we pray that we may do it safely and sensibly and continue to support those who don’t yet feel able to join us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for all areas of the world which are struggling with disease – especially those already ravaged by war, corruption or natural disasters, who are now faced with the traumas of the pandemic.   Please help their leaders to put aside their differences and personal agendas to focus on the welfare of the people.  Dear Lord, bring them your healing care.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Our communities are also trying to gradually emerge from lockdown.  We pray for our children as they look  to enter the holiday period having missed so much schooling, our young adults who see their prospects diminishing day by day, our workers whose jobs are in jeopardy and the business people who fear the loss of their companies. We give grateful thanks to the wonderful people who continue to work so hard to support those in need.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We think of all who are sick at this time; those directly with Covid 19 and those affected indirectly by the interruption or non-seeking of treatments; those who are suffering mentally with anxiety about finances, loneliness, concern for others etc., without even the simple comfort of a hug. Wrap them in your loving care and give strength to all who are caring for them.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving God, we pray for those whose hearts have been saddened by the death of someone close and dear to them, for members of our families who have died and whose anniversary we recall. Help us to experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit within us, and the fellowship of the church family around us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Dear Lord as we start a new week, please guide us and protect us.  Let us be the seed which falls on the good soil and “bring forth good grain”. 

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

BLESSING
Have mercy on us, O God the Almighty,
Jesus Christ Son of the living God.
O Fountain of eternal life.
O Intelligence of mystic life.
O Mediator of God and humanity.
O Promised One of the Church.
O loyal Shepherd of the flock.
O hope of believers.
O Christ crucified,
O eternal judge, have mercy on us,
This day and always.
Amen.

A Celtic Primer


Reflection for 4th Sunday After Trinity 5th July 2020

Matthew Chapter 11 verses 25-30.

Our ability to make a healthy and right relationship with family members and friends forms the basis of many sociological and psychological studies. 

Our Gospel reading this morning speaks to us of the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with God. He calls God his Father and praises God for His wise plan of redemption. “Lord of heaven and earth”, Jesus says, a title that acknowledges the sovereignty of God over the whole universe.

Jesus praises his father because he has hidden “these things” from the wise and the learned and revealed them to children. These “things” as Jesus calls them are the good news of the presence of the kingdom of heaven which requires humble eyes of faith to see God’s hand at work. God has shared the mysteries of knowledge about Himself and His grace in a way that opens them up to the unlearned, the immature and those of faith.

In speaking of the wise and the learned, Jesus was not referring to the academic specialists, many of whom we have today. He was speaking of those who stubbornly refused to repent and learn from Jesus’ teaching, and his works, about the true way to God.

The little children refers to those who innocently - but not in naivety – receive Jesus’ revelations about the Father, and from the Father. Jesus is contrasting those whose pride and feelings of self-sufficiency have caused them to reject his message. Such persons are compared to those whose humility and their recognition of their own neediness, allow them to be open and accepting of God’s care, which Jesus has declared with the arrival of God’s kingdom.

In all his works and his teachings, especially in the use of parables, Jesus will be testing the hearts of the people. Those who respond spiritually will learn even more about God and His kingdom, but those who refuse to listen and repent will have their hearts and ears closed.
It is God’s will that we receive His care as humble and repentant children. We can then acknowledge our weaknesses and need for the love and strength of God. No matter what we think we have gained or achieved in the sight of humans it will not serve or preserve us into eternity. Without God we can do nothing.

Jesus describes his relationship with his Father as quite a unique one. Jesus has this profound consciousness of the relationship because He too is divine. Jesus wants to reveal this knowledge to us so that, through knowing him, we too can know the Father. This gives us the faith to turn to God, through Jesus, in thanks and praise for all that He has given us – not least His only Son. In times of trouble we definitely know that He is there caring for us and carrying us through.

Jesus rounds this off by offering the wonderful gift of resting in his love. There are no more elegant, winsome, nourishing words in all of scripture. What are we being offered? Well God and Jesus His Son are offering us total compassion. Jesus asks us to take his yoke upon ourselves and learn from him. I have read about a legend that Jesus, in his father Joseph’s carpenter shop, made the best yokes in all Galilee. 

The yoke fastened two oxen together so they could work as a team in pulling the heavy plough. Each animal was comfortable as each yoke was tailor made to fit a particular ox. Jesus is telling us to fasten ourselves to himself. In so doing his task for us is shared with him and so made easy. Our burdens will be lighter. He understands that many people are exhausted by the sheer struggle to stay alive. Don’t give up He says; let me share it with you. “Come to me” is still the invitation our Lord extends to each of us. Why do we chase after things that can never satisfy? The pay increase that means working such long hours you don’t have the time to rest and spend it. We need to turn to Jesus in our exhaustion and weariness.

Jesus says he is gentle and humble in heart. With him we will find rest for our souls. I see how hard it is to resist the demands of the 21st century children for the latest electrical gadget or game which will be discarded within a month. I have struggled with seeing little children with their own personal mobile phones. They never go anywhere without an adult relative and they are not allowed to use them in class. What’s the point? All of us long for some meaning that transcends our work, each success, and life itself. Our Lord invites us to find in him the energizing, vital meaning that life with him offers.

That discovery begins when we come to him, acknowledging that we are exhausted and empty from spiritual wanderlust that has taken us to shopping places rather than to a person. Our Lord promises rest for the restless. We are a generation that longs for answers, solutions, neat formulas for success. When life implodes on us as this virus has done, when death robs us of a loved one or disappointment snatches a friendship from our future, when even faith seems weak and answerless, our Lord offers rest for our souls.

Think about it: if you have answers but no rest, what do you have but a string of words? God in Christ offers us a much better gift. But how? I love the story of the footprints in the sand. Of Jesus walking beside me to comfort me, before me to lead me on the right path, behind me to catch me when I stumble, but above all, to pick me up and carry me when the going gets too tough. Amen.

PRAYERS FOR 4th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – 5th July 2020

Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will,  that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Loving Father, we pray for your church throughout the world that it may thrive in times of both hardship and prosperity.  We pray for all those who have leadership roles, clergy and laity, that they may take us forward to achieve your goals and bring your people to fulfil the promises made at their baptism.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we pray for peace in the world; for an end to conflict within and between nations, communities and families.  We pray that violence will be replaced by dialogue in resolving problems.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray all who live in the parish and for our local communities; for community leaders, those who provide our local services and for those who are lonely or anxious, hungry or homeless.  May the help they need find them and bring them relief.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing Lord, we pray for all who are ill in body mind or spirit.  We give thanks for all who care for them, and at this time of pandemic, we pray for all those endeavouring to keep us safe and to halt the spread of the virus.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


We pray for those who have departed this life; those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at this time.  May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
Merciful Father:

 Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessing

There are many things in life we cannot understand,
But we must trust God’s judgement and be guided by his hand.
And all who have God’s blessing can rest safely in his care,
For he promises safe passage on the wings of faith and prayer.
Amen.

        Helen Steiner Rice

View a copy of the weekly service sheet here

First Sunday:

10.00 a.m. Said Communion (when a major church festival there will be a full communion service)

Other Sundays

10.00 a.m. Holy Communion

11.00 a.m. Refreshments in hall

 

Wednesdays 9.30 a.m.

Said Communion - Common Worship order one.

Only the services on the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month will be at St. Saviour's. The services on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Wednesdays will be at St. James's, Thornton.

Thursdays 9.30 a.m.

Morning Prayer