Sunday Worship – 12th July 2020 – 5th Sunday after Trinity

Welcome and Zoom coffee notice

Welcome to worship today. As usual, there is a playlist set up at the top to play the whole service, including hymns. Or you can go down the page and play each video separately, or read the words if you prefer.

If you are reading this before Sunday morning at 11.30am, please join us at our Zoom Coffee. Details available from Revd Liz – see the contact page on the main menu.

YouTube Playlist

Service written out

Opening Hymn:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We have come together in the name of Christ
to offer our praise and thanksgiving,
to hear and receive God’s holy word,
to pray for the needs of the world,
and to seek the forgiveness of our sins,
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may give ourselves to the service of God.

Confession

Keep silence and reflect on the week

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
So let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ,
confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore us to the joy of your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse you from your sins,
and restore you in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Blessed is the Lord,
for he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy
and in our song will we praise our God.

Psalm 65: 8-13

You visit the earth and water it;  
you make it very plenteous.
The river of God is full of water;  
you prepare grain for your people,
for so you provide for the earth.

You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;  
you soften the ground with showers and bless its increase.
You crown the year with your goodness,  
and your paths overflow with plenty.

May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness  
and the hills be girded with joy.
May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep  
and the valleys stand so thick with corn
that they shall laugh and sing.

Reading –

Isaiah 55: 10-13

Hymn –

Gospel reading

Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

Sermon – Revd Stephen Pope

While I was doing my ministry training college year, I bought a copy of the Africa Bible Commentary. Perhaps this was not surprising, as both my sisters and an uncle had been missionaries in Africa as well as two aunts who were missionaries running a school for blind and handicapped children in the country now called Zambia.

This African commentary includes a retelling of today’s gospel reading, the Parable of the Sower, in terms that would be more familiar in rural Zambia, where Bemba is the commonest of the local languages. I enjoyed the fresh look at a very familiar story and I wanted to share it with you.

In Zambian terms the four types of soil described by Jesus translate as:

*Pa lubansa: This is Bemba for the area around the house, or a courtyard, so suggesting a limited area round the house. It will get swept at least once a day, and over time any topsoil will be brushed away, leaving hard earth that is no use for planting. No seeds would germinate, and even if seeds were scattered there, the chickens and other birds would soon find them and eat them.

I wonder if you ever find yourself picturing Bible stories. I found the picture I got of the chickens scratting about eating the seed stuck in my mind much more clearly than any picture of ‘the birds of the air came and ate it up’ has ever done.

Jesus, explaining this part of the parable to his disciples, told them ‘When anyone hears the words of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in the heart’.

How does that happen? One way it happens is when we are in a perpetual hurry – there is no time to stop and be aware of what we are doing, doing to our relationships with ourselves, our neighbour, our planet or God. It’s when we are thinking more of the next task before we have completed what we are doing now. There is no time to reflect as we are doing it. If there is no time to let awareness sink in, it can be snatched away, like chickens do to seeds that haven’t sunk in to the soil.

Carl Jung is quoted as saying ‘Hurry is not OF the devil. Hurry IS the devil.’ There is a lot of truth in that. It is one reason why God created the Sabbath, as the last part of Creation, so people could stop and take stock of what they were doing and look to see in what direction it was taking them – closer to Him, or away from Him.

Six months ago I would have moved to the next point now, but with lockdown, I’ve become aware of something connected to this. There has been a widespread change in how people have been using their time. Some of us have more free time on our hands. Others, such as front line and laboratory workers in the NHS, for example, have had even more hectic lives. I suspect that the rise in the numbers of people watching online services is partly because they have had time to realise they have a hunger for God they hadn’t had time to recognise before. Maybe we could be praying for those people – as well as for the sanity and health of those who are busier than ever.

*Ulupili: This means the side of a hill, a place where there will be a thin scraping of top soil on top of hard rock, and, as in Jesus story, where the seeds can germinate but will not grow much because of a lack of depth for any roots. They look good to start with, but only until the ground dries out.

Have you ever, like me, started something with lots of enthusiasm, only to find the energy petering out and the project is given up long before it’s completed? I wonder how many of these we’ve rediscovered in corners of cupboards or garages in these recent weeks!

*Pa chisonso: This is the area where rubbish is dumped. All sorts of rubbish. It would include stuff the gardeners among us would have put on the compost heap, like remains of mangos and pumpkins. But there would be plenty of non-compostable stuff too.
There, the seeds might start germinating, but it would be alongside strong weeds. As no one ever weeded this area, any good seed that got into this area was unlikely to survive for being crowded out or choked.

Jesus talks of worries and the deceit of wealth as choking up our ability to put God’s word into practice in our lives. One thing they suggest to me is that anxieties and the fear of not having enough to be totally independent of anyone else mean our priorities in life need refocussing – on how God does and will provide for us when we trust Him.

*Ubuluka: This is a freshly prepared garden area. The Bemba do this by burning tree branches and digging in the ash before seeding the ground with millet – their staple crop. Such gardens are often very fruitful and can be so for up to three planting seasons.
Ubuluka can also be translated as ‘Thrive’. I found this a really helpful way of thinking about ‘good soil’, the phrase Jesus used in this context. A ‘good soil’ is one in which seeds will thrive, just as a ‘good relationship’ is one in which all members thrive.

Jesus explains what thriving is in terms of someone who Listens to His (or God’s) words, takes the trouble to understand them, and then ‘produces a crop’ – in other words puts those words into Practice. When we do this, our relationships with Him and with our neighbours will thrive too.

Some people call this ‘Holy Living’ Others may talk about Trusting and Obeying. Others again, Following Jesus. Whatever you call it, this is the way to be fruitful in God’s eyes. Thirtyfold? Sixtyfold? A hundredfold? Whichever. It is all fruitfulness, a gift that will give God great joy as He sees His kingdom growing in numbers and in maturity amongst us – not just in rural Zambia but in rural Yorkshire too.

Affirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Hymn:

Intercessions

Let us pray to God, through whose Word our words are given life.

Father God,
we are glad to know that you are a God who calls forth Songs of Joy.
We ask you so to increase our awareness of your presence day by day
that we may better sense Your joy in our lives,
and so be better able to share it with those we meet and talk to.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Father God,
as our church buildings are starting to open up again,
we ask your blessing on them and those who visit them.
We ask that they do not become places where disease is spread.
May they continue to be places of worship, prayer and blessing to us.
May new visitors find them places where they feel welcome
and free to talk and listen to You.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Father God,
we rejoice that more people have been looking towards You during lockdown.
We pray that they will continue to look towards You as lockdown is is lifted
and work restarts or while they seek new work.
Encourage them, we pray, to continue seeking and learn more of You,
and discover the joys of worship and prayer, and of peace and your abiding love.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Father God,
as the world has changed,
so may we seek until we have found whatever new role you may have for us.
Grant that we do not become so busy
that our relationship with you gets choked by the thorns of overbusyness.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Father God,
we pray for all world leaders, national and local leaders and their advisers
as they wrestle with the problems caused by Coronavirus.
Give them a sense of the true priorities of all the members of the communities they administer that the world community may benefit as a whole.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Father God,
we pray for those grieving for loved ones lost,
be it to Coronavirus or other diseases.
Comfort them and may they know your love for them is ever present.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints,
We commend ourselves and the whole of creation to your unfailing love.
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy for ever.
Amen.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified;
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Father God, you have done so much for us, and we thank you that we can give to you in return. We thank you for the gifts that have been received through standing orders, and for monies put aside to be brought to church in due course. We offer you our financial gifts in gratitude, and ask that you will grant us the joy of seeing your kingdom grow in the coming days. 
Amen.

Hymn:

Blessing and Sending Out

The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,
the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ, Amen.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

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