Sunday 2nd August 2020 – 8th Sunday after Trinity

While our video-editor is away, we have a text and hymn only version of our local service. If you would prefer a video service, here is a link to the national Church of England service, which goes live at 9am on Sunday mornings.

Welcome

Welcome to our online service this Sunday. As Revd Liz is having a well earned break for a few weeks, we are not able to put our normal service with video clips of those taking part, as well as having the printed to follow. Today we will simply have the words of the service plus links to our hymns.

You may read the words of the service silently or out loud as you wish. If there are two or more of you, you might consider reading the Psalm antiphonally ie two people or groups reading one set of light or dark print lines alternately.

When we come to the Lord’s Prayer, it may be said in any alternative version or language you prefer.

At ‘After Church’ time, 11.30 there will be our usual Virtual Coffee by Zoom. Revd Stephen will be hosting it and you will find the link details for joining us on our Byland churches notice sheet. Any problems with getting on to Zoom please phone me – my phone number should be on the notice sheet too.

Opening Hymn – God is our strength and refuge

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 145: 8-9, 15-22

8    The Lord is gracious and merciful, 
long-suffering and of great goodness.

9    The Lord is loving to everyone  
and his mercy is over all his creatures.

15  The Lord upholds all those who fall  
and lifts up all those who are bowed down.

16  The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
and you give them their food in due season.

17  You open wide your hand  
and fill all things living with plenty.

18  The Lord is righteous in all his ways  
and loving in all his works.

19  The Lord is near to those who call upon him, 
to all who call upon him faithfully.

20  He fulfils the desire of those who fear him;  
he hears their cry and saves them.

21  The Lord watches over those who love him,  
but all the wicked shall he destroy.

22  My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,  
and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Old Testament Reading – Isaiah 55: 1-5

1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendour.”

Hymn – Through all the changing scenes of life

Gospel reading Matthew 14: 13-21

Context: Jesus has just been told of the death of John the Baptist on the orders of Herod
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.  14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said.  19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Sermon – Revd Stephen Pope

Today’s gospel reading will be very familiar to most if not not all of you – the story known as the ‘Feeding of the five thousand’. It is often used to teach or remind us how Jesus had compassion on a hungry crowd , a large hungry crowd. Matthew tells of 5,000 men, adding that there were women and children too, so it may well have been a few thousand more in total.

It can be told as the story of a miracle, or a story of Jesus’ compassion; it can also be told of how the generosity of a boy with a packed lunch of five loaves and two fish was miraculously transformed into enough food for over 5,000 people (and 12 baskets full of left-overs) and of how God can use what we may think of as our own small talents to do great things if we offer them to His service.

This way, it can also be looked as as being particularly relevant to us and to our churches in today’s situation. Let me explain.

In the gospel reading, you probably noticed that I mentioned the context of this story. John the Baptist had just been killed, beheaded on the orders of Herod as a favour to somebody else. Death is always at least a bit of a shock, and the closer you are to a person the more adjustment it takes. John was a relative of Jesus, and had baptised him at the start of Jesus public ministry.

Jesus wanted some quiet space, away from the crowds, to adjust to this shock. He set off by boat privately, but was seen, and the crowds followed by land.

Despite His own needs, Jesus had compassion on those who found him. He healed those who were sick. As the day drew on, the disciples, on the surface, out of compassion for the crowds, but possibly for Jesus as well, suggested sending the crowds away in time to gets to local shops for food before they closed.

However, Jesus wants to teach them something. “They don’t need to go away,” says Jesus, “You give them something to eat.”

Five small bread rolls and two dried sardines makes up the sum total of the food they have tracked down. It’s not much. Anyway, the disciples are told to bring the bread and fish to Jesus, and to tell the crowd to sit down.

Jesus gives thanks and the disciples distribute the food. 5000+ people served by 12 disciples means each disciples serving 400 plus people each. I think the people must have done a fair amount of passing the food, otherwise it would have been night by the time they were finished. For at the end, everyone has had a satisfying amount to eat and the disciples have time to pick up the leftovers.

So what is the link between that story and our churches today?

*Jesus was suffering a bereavement.

When lockdown started, our churches were locked up – we were bereaved, for weeks, in that we lost access to our regular places of worship, and contact with our church community except by phone or computer.

*Jesus became aware that a large crowd had come chasing after him because they needed him to heal.

Just a few weeks into lockdown, reports were coming in that, with the widespread take off of online services, a lot of people without regular church connections were watching them. I would think that some of those watching were people who would have been interested in church but were put off. Put off by the thought of going into a strange building, unfamiliar people, and the risk of feeling embarrassed by getting things wrong. I would also think that others would have been people furloughed from work who, with time on their hands, were becoming aware that there was more to life than working, eating, watching telly, sleeping and bringing up children; they discovered there was a spiritual side to them that they then wanted to explore.

For me, that was a picture of a large UNSEEN crowd that was gathered electronically, aware they needed something from Jesus.

*Jesus said to the disciples “You feed them”.

We, in the church wanted to do something, but we felt strongly disadvantaged. We did what we could to make a start. We could all pray, and I hope we all did and we still are. Many too were and still are involved with networking, to make sure no one was being neglected, and everyone was able to get food delivered where necessary. I know those who were on their own appreciated contact even if only by phone calls and the time for a bit of a natter at times.

Now easing of lockdown is under way, varying in its speed according to local circumstances. And, hallelujah, we are being allowed back into our church buildings at limited times and for limited service times and still necessitating social distancing. What we can do more to help those who are searching for God looks a very daunting challenge?

Then I was also challenged by reading a commentary on this passage by Jane Williams, the wife of Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, and a theologian in her own right. ‘“You feed them”is only daunting if you don’t trust in the generosity of God’, she wrote.

Do you remember the Old Testament reading from Isaiah 55.

That first , wonderfully paradoxical first verse –

Come, all you who are thirsty,come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milkwithout money and without cost.

Come, buy….without money and without cost. What an offer!!

How can we look to the generosity of God in our situation? Here are three suggestions to get us started.

For some of us it might be in being generous in our time spent listening to God. I know there’s many an occasion when I’ve spent more time asking God about something that I’ve spent quietly listening afterwards to get a sense of what his reply is. I put it like that because the answer isn’t always in words – sometimes it can be as a picture, a memory, a feeling of some sort which might not be possible to put into words. I have also known about it happening through a dream. It doesn’t need to be in church. Out walking, in a quiet room – even over a coffee, as you might while having a conversation with a friend. If a conversation develops, I found making notes helpful – God will understand – God is very practical in these things, I have discovered. It is also important to do what you have been told to do already before expecting any next step to be revealed.

It is also worthwhile remembering to review how generous we are being in our financial giving to God. As I am sure our Church treasurers would like me to emphasise. What we can give will vary according to how our financial circumstances change, and while sometimes it will be less, at other times it could be more.

Some of us may be good at listening to and hearing from God, but need encouraging to be generous in sharing with others what we have heard from God. This might be in sharing more of our faith story. It might be sharing thoughts God gives us as to how the church might respond differently and more attractively to our current situation, then sharing our impressions with their churchwarden, or Liz or myself. I have known of church members coming together and only finding the full picture when different groups shared their different impressions of what God wanted. This won’t be possible in large groups yet, but any sharing can often stimulate or encourage others to pray and listen and share in turn.

After all, it would be good if we had a clearer picture of how God wants us to work together as individuals and as churches by the time our interregnum starts in December.

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 – O Thou who camest from above

Intercessions

Generous God
As we thank you for the many times we have seen your generosity in our lives,
We ask that you will increase our generosity towards You and towards our neighbours.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God
So many of us live in community where looking out for our neighbours is commonplace
and increased at the start of lockdown,
We pray that with the easing of lockdown, our increased neighbourliness may not be lost
but continue to be a source of blessing to all
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God,
We pray for those neighbourhoods and communities
where the spirit of generosity towards each other has been lost
or has never developed.
We ask that you send them such ministers and new residents as will inspire them
towards your ideals of love and generosity
that those living there already will find you and discover your redeeming love for themselves.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God,
We pray for our nation and our political leaders and ask that they will be guided by love for all our citizens in their decision making.
We pray too for our new Archbishop and all ministers and clergy spreading the good news of your kingdom and seeking to build up your church, despite the physical difficulties of the varying degrees of lockdown. Help us too, to play our part, cheerfully and peaceably as best we can.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God,
We pray for all world leaders, that they would be inspired to think of the world community as well as their own countries, the poor as well as the rich and those struggling as well as the self-sufficient.
May they see the advantages of generosity in their policy making.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God,
We pray for the worlds health workers. We thank you for those who have been so generous with their time and energy an love. We ask that they will receive the support they need, as they seek to support those with illnesses who need their support.
We pray too for those who are ill and struggling….

Take a moment to bring before God those you know of who are ill, those working to care for them, those near death, and those mourning the death of loved ones.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Generous God,
We have asked lot of you today, knowing that you are a generous God and thankful for it.
Now, 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 and generosity for ever.
Amen.

The Collect here is the alternative collect for today, used because it fits better with today’s theme than the one you will find in the Notice Sheet. Either may be used in your daily prayers this week should you wish to do so.

The Collect

Lord God,
your Son left the riches of heaven
and became poor for our sake:
when we prosper save us from pride,
when we are needy save us from despair,
that we may trust in you alone;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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, in your generosity you have given us so much. In gratitude we have offered what we can. We thank you for the gifts that have been received electronically, and for monies put aside to be brought to church in due course. We ask that through them we will see your kingdom grow in our hearts, our families, our benefice and our land to the glory of your name.
Amen.

Hymn – O Breath of life come sweeping through us

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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