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Sunday 19th July 2020- Trinity 6

posted 17 Jul 2020, 06:47 by Church Office   [ updated 19 Jul 2020, 06:49 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 19th July 2020

Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Our Gospel reading today follows on from last week’s parable about the Sower who went out to sow, with another farming image.  This week the sower is the Son of Man, the field is the world, and the good seed is not the Word of God, but the children of the kingdom.  And there are weeds in this field.  The image of judgment with weeping and gnashing of teeth at the end of time is hard to bear – most of us prefer to focus on God’s grace, giving us time in this life to turn to him and be joined with the righteous.  Our first reading from the Wisdom of Solomon reassures us of God’s love and care for all people, judging with mildness, and governing with forbearance, and giving us good hope, “because you give repentance for sins”.

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) This week all about taking the wrong turn and turning back and finding a better way, ‘forgive us our trespassers’. We all make mistakes and God still loves us. So, because God understands how we all make mistakes we should be understanding of others and let them turn away from those mistakes and start again. We shall start with sheaves of newspapers so we can lay a path across our kitchen floors and then when we realise one way is wrong, we must change direction. Trespassers are people making false steps - we need to change our turns and not get cross when other people make false steps!!! You will need to bring newspaper and maybe some colouring pens/pencils.  Join us here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716, you’ll need the password which can be found in our newsletter. To subscribe please go to our homepage to subscribe.

Readings

Wisdom of Solomon 12:13,16-19

13 There is not any god besides you, Lord,

whose care is for all people,
to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly;
16 For your strength is the source of righteousness,
and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.
17 For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power,
and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it.
18 Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance you govern us;
for you have power to act whenever you choose.

19 Through such works you have taught your people
that the righteous must be kind,
and you have filled your children with good hope,
because you give repentance for sins.

 

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24 Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 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?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 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.’”

36 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.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

 

Sermon

Observant members of the congregation may have noticed that, both this week and last week, the verses chosen for our Gospel readings from Matthew 13 leave a gap – if you’re following in your Bibles, you’ll have seen that we skipped 8 verses last week, and 5 verses today. Some of today’s missing verses will be included in next week’s Gospel reading.  A writer of a collection of meditations on Matthew suggests that the verses between the parable and the explanation in both passages provide an intentional space for the words of the parable to rest, before we hear the explanation that Jesus gives to his disciples.  Similarly, the seeds sown in today’s parable need to rest in the ground until it is the right time for the harvest: “Like seeds in the soil … parables need to rest in our souls for some time and grow before we can become fully conscious of their meaning.”  Those who devise the Lectionary readings for each Sunday, however, haven’t given us this pause – we jump straight from the parable to the explanation.

I have been blessed over this past week to have time to reflect, having been away for a break in the Isle of Wight. While there, I walked by fields ripe for harvest – barley, rather than wheat - and there was no sign of any enemy having sowed weeds among them, though at the edge of some fields I spotted bindweed curling itself around a few stalks.  I would have been like the slaves in this story, wanting to pull out the bindweed in the way I uproot it from my flower beds – but so often when I do that, I damage the plant the bindweed has attached itself to.  If I had pulled at the bindweed in the field, I would probably have uprooted the barley with it.

This parable is partly about patience – the slaves are told to let both wheat and weeds “grow together until the harvest”.  And it is also about judgment – the judgement of the slaves who want to uproot the weeds straight away, and the judgement at harvest time, when the weeds will be collected first, to be burned, while the wheat will be gathered into the barn. 

Why does the ‘householder’, the ‘master’, tell the impatient slaves to wait?  Is it just that they might damage some of the good crop?  Or is it about waiting patiently to see what might happen?

The crowd listening to Jesus would have known themselves to be the chosen people, precious in the sight of God. They would have identified themselves with the good seed growing to yield a full crop, waiting to be gathered into the safety of the farmer’s barn at the end of time.  They may have seen the weeds as those, like tax collectors, who cooperated with the occupying Romans – or perhaps the Zealots who wanted to create an uprising against the Romans, which would have been violently quashed with many deaths.

By the time Matthew was writing, the early Christians would have seen themselves as the good seed, and the weeds would be those who had not chosen to follow Jesus.  ?

Maybe all of us have parts of good seed and weed within us – all creation comes from God, but we are all capable of being led astray.  God does not intervene in every detail of our lives to stop things going wrong, as we know only too well.  But he does give us time for repentance and redemption.  God is patient and wise – he will judge us, but he loves us, and knows we are not perfect. 

Look back at our first reading today, from the Wisdom of Solomon: the writer knows God cares for all people, He does not judge unjustly, He is the source of righteousness, “your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all”, “you judge with mildness” and “you have filled your children with good hope, because you give repentance for sins.”  This is not a vengeful unforgiving God – this is the God we see in Jesus, who loves all people, and the parable is about waiting patiently. 

However, we cannot avoid the sad fact that there is evil in our world.  The weeds in the story may represent those who will have time for repentance, but not all will choose that.  The end of the story, and Jesus’ explanation, is uncompromising.  It is not for us to judge - that is for God.

We can all see evil thoughts and actions around us – horrendous things that human beings are capable of doing to each other.  The current positive focus on #blacklivesmatter has come from the recognition of the injustice over centuries in the way white human beings have treated their fellow human beings of colour.  That example is helpful here, I think, because it is a sign of hope that things will change. We have to ensure that change does happen - we need action, not just words – but we can see that it is possible, and we can hope that racial prejudice is an evil that can be overcome.

At the time of Jesus the people would have been familiar with passages from the book of Daniel, which referred to an end time when there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  We might not like the reference to the furnace – preaching on the threat of hell fire and destruction has been horrendously damaging to many in the past – but it is equally dangerous to portray God as some kind of loving indulgent grandparent who lets the children get away with all sorts of wickedness. 

The field in the story is NOW – the kingdom is HERE.  We are part of it.  Jesus came and lived and died to bring us into the kingdom.  It is still working towards perfection – if we are the wheat (imperfect, maybe, but still good enough, we hope, to be gathered into the barn at the harvest), then we need to be aware of the risks of the weeds that are around us, and the damage they can do.  If we had heard the New Testament reading for today from Romans chapter 8, we would have heard, verse 22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now…” We are still part of the growth in the field – the end time has not yet come for us.  So let us restrain ourselves from judging others, live in harmony with those around us, and work to resist all that is evil in the world as we seek to share God’s love and peace with all.

The words of this morning’s contemporary Collect again:  Creator God, you made us all in your image: may we discern you in all that we see, and serve you in all that we do, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Prayers

Faithful God,
you care for us with compassion and firmness,
urging us to grow in love for you.
Through Christ,
may we hear more deeply
your call to be rooted in your way. Amen.


Prayers of Intercessions

Dear Lord,

Let us listen to your words in our hearts. Let us recognise that we have to make choices in life.

Do we wish to work hard so we can be the good seed, even when that way is difficult,

or do we take the easy road? Help us to listen and do your will.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the church.

We know that the church too, has to work hard to ensure that it cares for all people. The church has to repent of the ways it has failed to grow and show your love fully.

Help it to treat all equally, to welcome the stranger, and to protect the innocent. Guide your church to lead as you would wish.

Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the world

Help our leaders recognise that they must build a different more equal world, that it is crucial that they recognise that they must change and seek the common good.

We also pray for the farmers of the world and the wondrous cycle of nature. Help us to work to keep the world as you have given it to us.  Forgive us for taking without giving; reaping without sowing. Help us to use our gifts for the good of your creation.

Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

 

We pray for our community.

God who calls us to loose the bonds of injustice, we pray today for our neighbours. We give thanks for the community we share, and for the opportunities we have to help one another.

We pray for your guidance to find a better way forward, to recognise that to try and address the inequalities all around us, we have to work harder. Let us learn anew to share our bread with the hungry, and use our talents to help others.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the sick

We pray today for those among us who most need thy healing. We pray for all who are sick, in mind, body, or spirit, and those caring for them. In our own community, we pray for those dear to us: 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, Joshua Clark, Ann Kodz, and Coe Dudding.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

O Lord, we pray for those gone before us who followed your call to share their light with the world. We pray for those who have recently died, remembering especially David Clarke, Edna Downes and Eileen Maybin, and their families and loved ones who grieve their loss.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Lord, in your mercy,   hear our prayer.

 

Lord as we start a new week, let us be mindful of your wish, that we may be the good seed that grows to do your work.

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

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Church Office,
17 Jul 2020, 06:48
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Church Office,
18 Jul 2020, 06:13