The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those listening in other places too! You are very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together for our service for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
The seed is sown and the crop is grown.
Come, Lord, strengthen us as we grow in you.
The rain hydrates and the sun radiates.
Come, Lord, quench our thirst in the warmth of your love.
The land is tilled and the flour milled.
Come, Lord, refine us by your Spirit.
Come let us worship the Living God as the seed of the Word is sown here with us today.
Hymn 739 – The Church’s one foundation
Prayers of Approach and Confession
Almighty God, You are the light of the minds that know you,
you are the strength of those who serve you,
you are the rest of those who seek you.
God in whom we live and move and have our being,
In worship we come and pause in your presence--
to rest from our work and responsibilities,
to rest from our play and distractions,
to rest from our fears and concerns.
Receive our love and attention in this time of worship
so that we enjoy your attention to our lives in this world you love.
Merciful God, we often appear to be choked by greed and selfishness We confess that we indulge ourselves and ignore the needs of others. We are quick to protect what we believe is our own and forget to share the bounty you have so generously provided for us. We have ignored the opportunities for bringing the love you have shown to our neighbours and those in need. Forgive us, we pray. In your mercy, give us wisdom to walk in your ways, the will to seek things that truly matter, and the grace to renew relationships with you and with one another.
St. Paul reminds us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the power of sin and death. We are forgiven, so let us live our lives, forgiving one another. Amen
Readings – Genesis 25: 19-34
Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23
Hymn 623 Here in this place, new light is streaming
Weekly Prayer by Arthur and Kathleen:
Everlasting God, we bring our prayers to you, Lord of all nations, asking that your blessing of love and peace may be known to all people everywhere. Creator God, we are your chosen stewards of this beautiful world; you provide us with seed and soil to sow. Help us to bear abundant fruit from the seeds of potential that you have planted within us. Amen
Margaret Rustad from Yetholm was recently awarded first prize in the Guild competition for her story ‘The Journey’. It told of a woman Suzanne travelling to Australia to see her terminally ill sister. It is a story of sisters coming together and sharing stories from the past, cementing their close relationship, even though they had lived so far apart for 50 years and preparing themselves for the sister’s final journey, that of dying.
This lockdown period has made us reflect upon the important things of life. And family would be right at the top. Most families are good at keeping in touch, others less so. Occasionally at funerals I have, however, been saddened when it becomes apparent that families have lost touch and only realise too late the importance of the family bond.
Some families are of course dysfunctional. That is not a modern thing: one of the best examples of a dysfunctional family is the one we read about this morning in Genesis – Isaac, Rebekah and their twin sons, and today we focus on the boys. Twins are usually very close, with a special bond and fierce devotion to each other but in this case Esau and Jacob were rivals, competing even in their mother’s womb. Physically they were different, with Esau hairy and red-haired, while Jacob was smooth-skinned. Their personalities were different too. Esau liked the outdoor life. He was a hunter and was strong. Jacob, on the other hand, used his brain, though often in ways to trick people. He would deceive his blind father later in the next chapter, but in our story today he famously persuades his brother to sell his birthright for a plate of lentil soup. We instinctively feel sorry for Esau, though I suppose it was ultimately his choice, and he chose the soup over his birthright, which involved being head of the family and inheriting all of the property. Jacob was a second son, even if by only a few minutes. He was an underdog, struggling to make his way in life and using the means at his disposal, namely his brains, to do so. But he sowed the seeds of rivalry and of deceit, and that would grow into division and enmity and which only would be resolved far later in life. We have to watch what we sow.
In our Gospel reading we read the well-known parable of the Sower. I think the farmers in this area would be more professional about how they sowed their seed. The farmer Jesus talked about was quite extravagant, indeed reckless, broadcasting the seed, so that they fell anywhere and everywhere. While some of the precious seed fell on good soil, so much seemed to be wasted, falling on stony ground, on the path and among thorns.
Jesus was describing how the seed, the Word of God, was good, but people received it differently. Some were just not interested; others receptive to a point, but there were so many other distractions, so the seed didn’t grow; but others let it take root within them.
We have just published the summer edition of the ‘Cheviot’ and distribute it to every home in the parish. In some homes it might go straight into the bin (hopefully the recycling one!), but we hope that for most people they will gain something from it, that something will encourage or comfort or challenge; that some good seed may be planted.
I mentioned the sower broadcasting the seed, and of course that is the word we use in media for television or radio broadcasts which reach out to everyone. It can be a force for real good, but also it could be used for propaganda. Horrendous as the Covid 19 pandemic has been, it could have been far worse without the media keeping us informed and for social media keeping us in touch, but not all social media is good, and hate messages have caused confusion and the vulnerable abused. We have to be careful with the seeds that we plant.
As we reflect on the sower, let us consider the words we say, the actions we perform. May they be good seeds. We plant, but it is God who brings forth the harvest. Amen
Prayer of Dedication and Intercession
Generous God, we bring the gifts we have to offer to you, seeds of goodness you planted in our lives which have flourished. Bless and multiply them. Help us to choose wisely how they can best serve your purposes in our church and in your world. Amen.
God of wanton grace and extravagant love,
you formed the earth to be a place of joy and abundance for all your creatures.
For food in all its variety and the people who grow it, transport it, and market it, we give you thanks.
These days of pandemic have shown us how much we depend on others.
We pray for those who do not have enough food,
and for those whose agricultural supply is at risk
through extreme weather, uncertain prices and social upheaval.
Help us care for the earth and its fruitfulness
And for each other in our common need of its fruits.
We pray for farmers, who work night and day, to bring produce from the land: who can feel isolated and stressed, and whose future can be insecure. We also think of farmers in countries affected by drought or flood or locust, seeking to grow their crops.
We pray for children who do not have the nurture they need in early years, and for parents who cannot provide what they did not know. God of love, make up every deficit of love, we pray, and enable us to be co-workers in this field.
In an age when not just seeds are broadcast, but images and sounds, news and opinions, helpful information and cruel lies, we give thanks for all the good and vital connections, that social media has made possible, and pray for those who have been harmed by something with so much potential for good.
We pray for young people concerned already about the future of the planet, who must now be wondering even more, what sort of life lies ahead for them and their children; and for older people, forced to question all that they thought was secure. May we find our security and our hope in you, whose love is in all, and for all, and available always in plentiful supply.
Loving God, we lay before you now our personal concerns in this time of silence:
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer. Amen
Hymn 543 – Christ be our light
Benediction 787 – May the Lord, Mighty God (Aaronic Blessing)
Let us say the grace together: May the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen
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