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Sunday 12th July 2020- Trinity 5

posted 10 Jul 2020, 08:36 by Church Office   [ updated 12 Jul 2020, 06:59 by CHS Info ]

You can download the order of service here, and a printable version of the readings, sermon and prayers can be downloaded here

Sunday 12th July 2020

Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Pram Service (8am) Story, song, prayers and activities to make our littlest members feel welcome. Head over to the Children and Youth tab to see this week’s service.

Sunday School (9:30am) Next up is ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. All good things come from the Lord, the sun, sea, the sky, and even the sand between our toes!  Let's revel in it by creating our own wonders of abundance all around us - but especially our food - and some thought for those whose food doesn't flow so readily. We’ll be drawing pictures of food and making food collages. You can download a picture of Mr McGregor gardening from Peter Rabbit to use for your drawings here.  You will need to bring paper, colouring pens/pencils, you may want to use paint or pastels for your art. This week you’ll also need to bring glue, odd bits of fabric to cut, dried pasta, lentils or beans to stick on your food picture.  Join us here:, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus now starts to teach the crowds who flock to him (numbers are so great that he gets in a boat to teach from there) in the form of parables. The first - the parable of the sower - illuminates the whole genre. Jesus’s words are “the seed”, which will grow only if his hearers are receptive and responsive. Isaiah also emphasises the creative, transforming quality of the divine Word. God declares that, after he has sent his Word out into the world, 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”. Just as for Jesus’ original audience, this is an invitation to us. Can we open ourselves to God, so that through our actions in the world, we may yield an abundant harvest of inclusive grace and love in the world?


Isaiah 55:10-13 

10 For 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,
11 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.

12 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.
13 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.


Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

13 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!”

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 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. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 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. 22 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. 23 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.”



I came across something rather wonderful, reading around the texts for this week. It is this: “Here’s a rule of thumb that I use for reading Jesus’ parables: if I interpret it in such a way that there is nothing surprising or even shocking about it, it’s time to go back and read it again.” This shook me right out of the totally misplaced sense of familiarity, and comfort - because parables like today’s remind me of being in church as a small child - which was my first response to this text. If I interpret it in such a way that there is nothing surprising or even shocking about it, it’s time to go back and read it again. There are worse rules of thumb to live by.

In today’s gospel Jesus is talking about words, and hearing them. The seeds sown, of course, are the gospel that is proclaimed. We speak (no pun intended) about the Word made flesh. The Greek word logos means creating, mediating, inspiring. Logos is the word used by John when he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. In the creation myth God speaks, and the world comes into being. It is striking that the parable of the sower starts with one particular word, a sentence in its own right, a non-negotiable demand: “Listen!” So how could I listen again to this so familiar parable, and be surprised? I said that I remember this parable from having been taken to church as a small child, and I suppose that must influence how I respond to it: the path / stony ground / among the thorns / fertile earth is analogous to people, and - this is the bit that is quite child-like - people fall into one of those categories. End of story. Thinking about it as an adult, it occurs to me that it is much less clear cut. In the space of just a few hours I feel I can be attentive, open and receptive and also completely oblivious, entirely missing the point of something right in front of me. That is what it is to be human, after all. Happily, I can critique things a little more acutely now than I could when I was in Sunday School. So, I can ask why would the farmer let seed fall anywhere but into the right soil in the first place? Jesus’ original hearers would immediately have understood something that might pass us by - farmers in first century Palestine would barely have been eking out a living from the land, they would certainly not have had seeds to spare. It would have been unthinkable to be so cavalier about where you sowed the precious resources you had. If you carefully sowed every seed you had in good soil and then reaped a twofold harvest that would be a very good year. But the farmer in this parable is totally careless and yet the harvest is more than abundant: a harvest of thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what he sowed.

Pope Benedict XVI says that the parables were not written into the Gospels “... to convey some sort of abstract knowledge that does not concern us profoundly.” In each one, the hearer “must enter into the movement of the parable and journey along with it … the parables are ultimately an expression of God’s hiddenness i n the world and of the fact that knowledge of God always lays claim to the whole person”

And if the farmer represents God … that would mean that people, mixed up, fragile, inconsistent as we are, capable of being like the path, and like stony ground, and like thorns - and like good soil, too, almost all at once - that would mean that God does indeed lay claim to the whole person. The ways in which we are stony and thorny are equally loved, and loveable, as much as any other aspect of the self. And of course, what follows from that is another question: what if the farmer is the Church? We had better be very sure to be equally inclusive. It is not for us to decide what kind of people are like good soil, as it were.

Here is something else that I read this week that is pertinent: if what you get out of the bible is that God hates all the same people you do, you're in trouble. I also love this phrase which Benedict uses - “an expression of God’s hiddenness in the world”. At the moment I am reading The Mirror and the Light, the final part of Hilary Mantel’s astonishing trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell. Mantel writes about pages of Tyndale’s printed gospels being smuggled into England: “In Antwerp they slide the printed sheets of the gospels between the folds of bales of cloth, where they hide, white against white. Warm, nestled, God whispers within each bundle; his word sails the sea, is unloaded in eastern ports, travels to London in a cart.” This is another phrase that I love - “God whispers” from within the folds of cloth. Like the seed in the earth, enveloped, nurtured, growing. May we be the place where the abundant, inclusive love of God is nurtured.



Through dreams and visions, O God,
you broaden the horizon and hope of your people,
that they may discover the meaning of your covenant,
even in the midst of trial and exile.
Increase the number of those who believe in your word
so that all people may joyfully respond to your call
and share in your promises. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord God, you know our wants and needs, even before we express them; but even so we bring our hopes, fears, wants, and needs before you today in prayer.

Father, the seeds of your kingdom are forever being sown into our lives and our world, but don’t always take root. We pray that we are, and continue to be receptive and responsive to the transforming qualities of your divine word

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those who are threatened by persecution and violence because of their Christian faith…may they be strengthened by their faith in Jesus Christ and our solidarity with them. And we offer prayers that our own church here in Clapham can draw strength from you, although we are unable to be together in person, that when and where possible we may be reunited in prayer at the Church of the Holy Spirit  

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer


Father, the world seems to be in such turmoil and fear, stability and normality seem such a long way off.  Grant the leaders of our country and the world perseverance to stand strong in the face of the current adversity and offer love and protection to all those they represent...

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer


We pray for our families and friends, our colleagues and our neighbours.  We pray for those that are suffering hardship and adversity in these uncertain times, and we pray that you grant peace to those who are worried and fearful. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer


Father, we bring to you all who are sick, and all those who are caring for them. We pray especially for Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte, Jo Harvey and Joshua Clark.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer


We pray for those who have recently died and all those who have started their final journey to be with you. May they find love and comfort in their final resting place.

 We also pray for all whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one - be with them in their sorrow and grief

 Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

Grant that, as his death has recalled us to life, so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;

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


Church Office,
10 Jul 2020, 08:36
Church Office,
10 Jul 2020, 15:01
Church Office,
10 Jul 2020, 09:19