All Saints’ Church, Renhold, Bedfordshire, England


Sunday 26th July 2020

Trinity 7



In the name of the Father, and of the Son

And of the Holy Spirit

  Amen



The Greeting


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

  And also with you.



Prayer of Preparation


  Almighty God,

  to whom all hearts are open,

  all desires known,

  and from whom no secrets are hidden:

      cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

      by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

     that we may perfectly love you,

      and worthily magnify your holy name;

      through Christ our Lord.

  Amen.



The Summary of the Law


  Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

  The first commandment is this:

  ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.

  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

  with all your soul, with all your mind,

  and with all your strength.'

  The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'

  There is no other commandment greater than these.

   On these two commandments hang

  all the law and the prophets.

   Amen.  Lord, have mercy.



Confession


The gospel calls us to turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ;

  As we offer ourselves to him in penitence and faith, we renew our confidence and trust in his mercy.


          Most merciful God,

                   Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

                   we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.

                   We have not loved you with our whole heart.

                   We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

                   In your mercy forgive what we have been,

                   help us to amend what we are,

                   and direct what we shall be;

                   that we may do justly,  love mercy,

                   and walk humbly with you, our God.  Amen.


Absolution


  Almighty God,

      who forgives all who truly repent,

      have mercy upon you,

      pardon and deliver you from all your sins,

      confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,

      and keep you in life eternal;

      through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  Amen.

Gloria in Excelsis

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


Collect


Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.     Amen


Readings        


Old Testament Reading                                               Psalm 105


1                O give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; •
                  make known his deeds among the peoples.
2                Sing to him, sing praises, •
                  and tell of all his marvellous works.
3                Rejoice in the praise of his holy name; •
                  let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord.
4                Seek the Lord and his strength; •
                  seek his face continually.
5                Remember the marvels he has done, •
                  his wonders and the judgements of his mouth,
6                O seed of Abraham his servant, •
                  O children of Jacob his chosen.
7                He is the Lord our God; •
                  his judgements are in all the earth.
8                He has always been mindful of his covenant, •
                  the promise that he made for a thousand generations:
9                The covenant he made with Abraham, •
                  the oath that he swore to Isaac,
10              Which he established as a statute for Jacob, •
                  an everlasting covenant for Israel,
11              Saying, ‘To you will I give the land of Canaan •
                  to be the portion of your inheritance.’
45              That they might keep his statutes •
                  and faithfully observe his laws.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever - Amen

 


Gospel Reading                                  Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52


     

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew  Glory to you, O Lord.


He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’


This is the Gospel of the Lord.

  Praise to you O Christ.


Sermon                                                                          Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52


We live in a world full of advertising, sometimes it is obvious, and sometimes it is subtle or drip fed to us, so we bit by bit get the message the provider is offering. It is obvious to us when we see the 30 second films in a section between our TV programmes (the commercial break we used to call it) or if we still go to the cinema, there is a full 20 minutes of these short films showing us the benefits of different products, their desirability and our need to have them. The power of advertising is so relevant in our lives that  In the games cupboard at the vicarage there is even a board game, much like trivial pursuits, which is based solely on advertising through the years; it is a good little game testing our knowledge and showing us how some of the big brands that we see today have grown because of advertising. When we look at these adverts we see the best of the best, the new gadgets and gismos,  stunning new lines in clothing or homeware, or in travel adverts when we see places of beauty in the world, my mind goes straight to an advert I have seen for the holiday destination in the Maldives, where we see this idyllic island paradise, with a small shack/villa built on the end of a jetty that sits above the most amazing turquoise coloured waters. The Stillness, the quiet, the amazing weather, the luxury accommodation, It looks like heaven especially when you see the food and restaurants and swimming pools in the complex.. it looks like heaven, but is a heaven I fear that only the very privileged few will ever experience in their lifetime.


In this morning’s gospel reading Jesus is telling those around him of the kingdom of heaven and I wonder if the crowds that were listening may have been.. well disappointed – Jesus is telling them another story ( a parable) about planting seeds, followed by stories of making bread, ploughing a field and fishing – He does include a story about a wealthy merchant but all the others are as ordinary as a mustard bush. I wonder how we feel listening to this reading today when we hear the kingdom of God is like a Mustard bush and housework? God is often referred to as King or Lord, I can’t remember God being referred to as a farmer or a fisherman or a baker; when we are allowed to sing our hymns of praise we sing of praising God, enthroning him and exalting him in the highest heavens; where was Jesus going with this? I think that Jesus may have needed a few lesson in public relations and advertising if he was trying to sell the kingdom of heaven to them as their first choice in final destination – (on the last day of the football season).. has he scored an “own Goal” here I wonder?

But no as usual he knows what he is doing and he is presenting his message in a way that is relevant to them, in a way which they will be able to understand and a way in which we can relate to today. Jesus is telling stories that are literally “down to earth – they are ordinary stories about ordinary people, a tenant farmer, a house wife and a fisherman which I cannot see as an exalted vision of God’s realm – but that is his point, as Christians we are called to believe in the incarnation, the mystery of the divine and humanity meeting in the person of Jesus. Here Jesus is drawing their attention to the incarnation not being in and with him solely but also throughout the world around him – and around us. He tells them the kingdom of God is like the most common things in human life at that time  - like Jesus himself this everyday world around them and around us, embodies the meeting of the divine and human, if only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

My commentary acknowledges the differences between Jesus Parables and the Greek and Roman fables of around the same time, where Jesus stories have no gods in human disguise or talking animals – his stories were of real-life men and women going about their daily work.

Jesus tells them that God’s kingdom is not somewhere distant and unattainable but is as close as the nearest loaf of bread or a mustard bush (which in first century Judea, there were many of). He is telling them that it is this nearness rather than the threat of eternal agony which is the basis for his call to believe in him and in His Father. You may have noticed that of the five short parables in this reading only one has any mention of judgement, damnation or “the gnashing of teeth”, the others all tell us of the closeness of God in the everyday things and actions around us from the kneading of dough to the ploughing of fields – Jesus is transforming human life not by scaring people but by showing them how heaven is close at hand.


If Jesus had been using an advertising specialist to illustrate the kingdom of God in this morning’s readings I am sure we would have seen one or more of the seven wonders or the world to demonstrate the pure glory and majesty of some of creation, but he doesn’t;  he does not even use the Stately cedar of the Lebanon which would have been local and known to them, he does not even use an olive tree which bears fruit, produces oil, provides leafy shade and when felled produces some of the loveliest grained wood for different products; no he uses a mustard plant – a plant grown from the smallest of seeds and produces what could be described as a second-rate bush at best, no matter how big it grows.

Jesus is telling us how the kingdom of God is for everyone, even for those who seem as insignificant as a mustard seed. The kingdom of God is not the luxury destination open to the haves of this world, but is the place of perfect peace for all including and especially for, the have nots in this world, The Kingdom is not a club for the privileged but is the community of God’s people and is available to everyone.


Is the kingdom of God close to us? Well.. Those of you who have Facebook and are friends with Mrs. S.. would have seen a post this week where we have found and cleared the patio at the vicarage, but alongside that is a photograph of a honey bee on a flower, a dahlia I think.. but those of you who heard the sermon about my gardening prowess last week may doubt this identification! What I do know is that it is the most stunning flower and the bee is just such an amazing creature of creation, not only in its making but in the role it plays in pollinating other plants and maintaining the balance of life. When planting a dry old seed in the ground and then seeing a leaf and stem appear above the ground and that stem even blossoming or producing a fruit of its own. That reminds me – how are the sunflowers we planted in May doing? We can talk about those next month…. Or When we hear that someone is expecting a baby in our excitement we often overlook the wonder of conception, the wonder of this new life beginning, and when that baby is born and draws its first breath it is a miracle of life and an expression of the kingdom of God being among us… I am sure that you can think of many more examples of the kingdom being close by in our lives; Christine and I are away for the next two Sundays and in my time off of the hamster wheel of life, when I am sitting there with a glass of something relaxing, being amongst the wonders of creation, I wonder how many more examples will open up before my eyes as I find time and space for  God and myself  


Do you think the kingdom is close by?  try to find some time and space to relax and open yourself up to God and his world around us and see what you find … It will be interesting to share our thoughts and experiences together sometime in the future when we can meet and spend time together outside of a Sunday service.. Amen


We stand to affirm our faith saying together the words of the creed


Creed

  We believe in one God,

      the Father, the Almighty,

      maker of heaven and earth,

      of all that is, seen and unseen.

      

     We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

 the only Son of God,

     eternally begotten of the Father,

     God from God, Light from Light,

 true God from true God,

     begotten, not made,

 of one being with the Father;

     through him all things were made.

      For us and for our salvation

  he came down from heaven,

     was incarnate from the Holy Spirit

 and the Virgin Mary

      and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

     he suffered death and was buried.

     On the third day he rose again

     in accordance with the Scriptures;

     he ascended into heaven

     and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

     He will come again in glory to judge

 the living and the dead,

     and his kingdom will have no end.

            We believe in the Holy Spirit,

     the Lord, the giver of life,

     who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

     who with the Father and the Son

is worshipped and glorified,

     who has spoken through the prophets.

     We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

     We acknowledge one baptism

 for the forgiveness of sins.

    We look for the resurrection of the dead,

    and the life of the world to come.

      Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


 In Response to Lord, in your mercy

 hear our prayer.


Lord, as you have called us to fulfil your purpose, work in us and through us to do your will. Make us the people you want us to be; guide us to do what you would have us do. We pray for all who are seeking to grow in faith; may we be the companions they need as we journey together on the way through this life, may we explore and proclaim your Gospel together and may we live our lives in your love.. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


We pray for all who are suffering hardship or persecution, all who are in peril or in danger both locally and in your world. As the coronavirus continues to be active locally, nationally and internationally, we pray that our leaders may have the wisdom to discern the best paths forward and that we your people may show patience and understanding in our actions and we always be thinking of those around us. We give thanks for those who dedicate their lives in the service of our neighbours who are in need, those who give so generously of themselves seeking no reward or recognition, we pray this morning for the aid agencies and the aid workers, the first responders in times of trouble

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


We pray for those who have inspired us by their example and supported us in our growth; we pray for all teachers and support workers in our education system; our youth leaders and the leaders of the uniformed organisations for our young people, for scouts, guides; cadet groups; May our young people learn moral responsibilities through their interaction with each other and through playing their part in supporting their communities. May our homes be centres of love, acceptance and welcome; bless our families and our friends, our homes and our communities, that they may grow in goodness and flourish into places of joy, peace, hope and Love  .   Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer


Loving God, we pray for all who struggling with illness at this time. We give thanks for the advances in medical knowledge giving hope for those who live in fear or pain.  We give thanks for the work of those in this country and around the world striving to find medicines and vaccines to help fight this coronavirus, and we celebrate the recent positive steps in their testing programmes. We bring before God those who we know who are ill, giving thanks for all who dedicate their lives to caring for the sick; and we pray for their loved ones who hold them in their hearts. In a few moments of silence, we bring before God those who are ill or need our prayers …. Father surround all who are ill or suffering today with your healing Love.. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


Lord God, welcome into your kingdom those who have served you faithfully and those who have enriched our lives by their goodness, and as we miss their physical presence, we thank you for the gift of their lives and the love we shared. We bring before God those who we know and love who we see no longer …. May they find the fullness of your eternity, be flooded with the light of your love and experience the blessing of your peace. Lord in your mercy:  Hear our prayer


Finally, We pray for selves, bringing our cares, worries, our angers and our joys at this time … Lord may we feel your presence near us and be guided by your holy Spirit within us as we live and work to your praise and glory…


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


The Peace


 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body we are called to peace.

  

  The peace of the Lord be always with you

  and also with you.


Prayer over the Gifts  

  Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness we have this bread to set before you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

It will become for us the bread of life.

                     Blessed be God for ever.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness we have this wine to set before you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

It will become for us the cup of salvation.

                     Blessed be God for ever.


Eucharistic Prayer


 The Lord is here.

  His spirit is with us.

      

     Lift up your hearts.

  We lift them to the Lord.

     

    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

   It is right to give thanks and praise.


It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy, at all times and in all places to give you thanks and praise, holy Father,

heavenly King, almighty and eternal God, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

For he is your living Word; through him you have created all things from the beginning and formed us in your own image.

Through him you have freed us from the slavery of sin,

giving him to be born of a woman and to die upon the cross;

you raised him from the dead and exalted him to your right hand on high. Through him you have sent upon us your holy and life-giving Spirit and made us a people for your own possession.


Therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you and saying:


           Holy, holy, holy Lord,

 God of power and might,

 heaven and earth are full of your glory.

 Hosanna in the highest.

 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

 Hosanna in the highest.

Accept our praises, heavenly Father, through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and as we follow his example and obey his command, grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit these gifts of bread and wine may be to us his body and his blood; who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks; he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.


In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.


Therefore, heavenly Father, we remember his offering of himself made once for all upon the cross; we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; we look for the coming of your kingdom, and with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.

[Great is the mystery of faith:]

     Christ has died:

 Christ is risen:

 Christ will come again.

      

Accept through him, our great high priest, this our sacrifice of thanks and praise, and as we eat and drink these holy gifts in the presence of your divine majesty, renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you, Father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise:

                  Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen.


 The Lord’s Prayer

  As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

  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.


Breaking of Bread


We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.


  Though we are many, we are one body,

      because we all share in one bread.


  Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world

  have mercy on us.

        Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

  have mercy on us.

        Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

  grant us peace.



Giving of Communion


God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people

Jesus Christ is Holy, Jesus Christ is Lord,

 to the glory of God the Father


  We do not presume

      to come to this your table, merciful Lord,

      trusting in our own righteousness,

      but in your manifold and great mercies.

      We are not worthy

      so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.

      But you are the same Lord

      whose nature is always to have mercy.

      Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,

      so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ

      and to drink his blood,

      that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body

      and our souls washed through his most precious blood,

   and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.

      Amen.


Prayer after Communion

Lord God, whose Son is the true vine and the source of life,

ever giving himself that the world may live: may we so receive within ourselves the power of his death and passion that, in his saving cup, we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Amen


  Father of all, we give you thanks and praise,

      that when we were still far off

      you met us in your Son and brought us home.

      Dying and living, he declared your love,

      gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.

      May we who share Christ's body live his risen life;

      we who drink his cup bring life to others;

      we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.

      Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,

      so we and all your children shall be free,

      and the whole earth live to praise your name;

      through Christ our Lord.

      Amen.




Blessing


  The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding;

                      Keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;                     

  and the blessing of God almighty,

  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

  be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Dismissal

  Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

  In the name of Christ.  Amen.


 Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright  The Archbishops’ Council 2000

Common Worship: Times and Seasons material from which is included in this service, is copyright  The Archbishop’s Council 2006

Intercessions based on seasonal material by David Adam, Clouds of Glory  David Adams 1998 SPCK