The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those listening in other places too! You are all 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 7th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
We gather in the presence of God;
We gather to worship and praise.
We gather in joy and expectancy;
We gather in beauty and wonder.
Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening;
Speak your Word of life to us, O God.
Hymn 147 – All creatures of our God and King (1,4,7)
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Creator God, in you we live and move and have our being:
You alone have been our help and guide through good times and bad.
You alone give us the strength we need to face the challenges around us.
You alone can give rest for our bodies and souls.
To you we turn and in your presence we find the peace and comfort we long for.
Fill us with your Spirit in this time of worship;
Open our minds and hearts,
so that we may see as you see, love as you love,
and follow your ways for the sake of Christ our Lord.
God who sees and knows our inmost thoughts and our thoughtless actions, we confess how blind we are to our own faults, but how harsh in judging others; how swift we are to take for gain, yet slow to give to others; how proud we are of our own success, yet grudging in our praise of others.
Forgive who we have been, amend who we are, and direct who we shall be
For the sake of Christ, our Lord.
My friends, remember that God is slow to be angry and quick to forgive; kind and gracious to all. Know that your sins are forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ, and forgive those who have sinned against you.
Reading – Genesis 28: 10-19a
Matthew 13: 24-30
Hymn 268 – O God of Bethel (1,3,5)
Here is our weekly prayer from Arthur and Kathleen: May the love of our good and generous God guide and protect us; May the hope of the gospel sustain us and bring us joy; When we are lost or lonely; when the road ahead seems hard, or when the darkness gathers, May the light and peace of Christ be ours. Amen
Remember the days when we could go to the theatre or cinema or to a concert and have no thought about keeping 2 metres apart? It seems long ago, a different world. Well, I remember being very excited seeing a play at the Lyceum in Edinburgh. It had very good reviews, so I was all set to enjoy the evening. The theatre was filling up with people all dressed for the occasion, but then I noticed a youngish woman come in, just in jeans and a big baggy jumper with holes in it, and by her side was a girl, obviously still at primary school -I would have thought too young to appreciate the play. And did they not sit down bang in front of me! I thought, the girl will be bored and fidgeting all through the performance. Now behind me was sitting a nice family with teenage boys, nicely dressed – perhaps they were studying the play at school. What a contrast, I thought.
The play began, and to my surprise, the young girl was rapt, her eyes fixed at the stage. But behind me, there were sweeties being passed along, the wrappers crinkling, and that went on through the entire first half, along with whispers and comments.
I had a disturbed performance, but the bother came from behind, from the ‘nice’ family, and not from in front.
You would think I would have learned by now, but no. We rush in and judge people - because of how they dress or the accents they have or the kind of cars they drive or, these days, whether they are wearing a mask or not, but very often we get it completely wrong.
Jesus told the parable this morning about the wheat and the tares. A farmer planted a field of wheat, but someone with a grudge came by night and planted weeds in it too, so wheat and weeds grew up together. I know there are a lot of keen gardeners in the congregation, who would instinctively want to get in there and pull up the weeds; it is a natural reaction. But in the parable the farmer says to wait until everything has grown and only then will it be separated. The final judgement belongs to God, and it is for God to separate the wheat from the weeds.
The weeds in the story were apparently very like wheat, especially to begin with. It was hard to distinguish them, and so an overenthusiastic person might well pull out the wheat, as well as the weed. I well know that I have done that in my garden.
But we do the same when we judge others. We are telling God, ‘I am going to pull up the weeds’, but our assumptions and first impressions can get us into a pickle, as we don’t know the full story. Jacob is a case in point. He was a nasty individual. Obviously one of the ‘weeds’. But God had a purpose for Jacob; in our story this morning he was given a vision of a ladder to the skies and even a new name. He had potential to change. Yes, he still, like all of us, got some things wrong, like showing his favouritism later to Joseph with his multicoloured coat, but he had potential to change.
The parable is talking about patience. It shows God as patient, waiting till the crops had grown and encourages us to have that same godly patience, rather than jumping in to judge and criticise before we know the full story. Remember the parable of the fig tree – it was useless, not bearing any fruit, and the workers wanted to cut it down, but the owner gave it yet another year. God always gives us the second chance.
And the parable is also talking about us and how God judges with clemency, giving each one of us the opportunity to change and to grow. We are all a mixture of wheat and weed, of holiness and selfishness, saint and sinner. but God doesn’t give up on us. God wants us ever to grow more Christlike caring for our neighbour and standing up for justice and so produce a rich harvest. Amen
Chorus 791 – Open your eyes
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, we offer you what we have. Bless these gifts with your love so that their goodness will overflow to meet the needs of those who cry out to you and to us.
God who is full of kindness and love,
hear our prayers for the world, for one another, and for ourselves:
We pray for this congregation and for the church around the world: that we may be faithful and courageous in the face of all challenges that arise day by day;
For mercy, justice, understanding, and peace in relationships between nations; that in this time of anxiety about the future there will still be generosity for all in need.
For those who work in fields and forests, in mines and offices, in hospitals, schools and shops; and for those who cannot find work: that as the economy is reorganized, all who do work will be fairly treated and those seeking work will not lose hope.
For all those in danger and need: for the sick and the dying, the poor and the oppressed, for those standing up against injustice, and for all still at risk from COVID-19.
For those who are closest to us, for friendships that have stood the test of many years, and for those who love us enough to tell us the truth about ourselves: that they may know our love and appreciation.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayers. Amen
Hymn 229 – We plough the fields and scatter
Sending God who sows and God who reaps,
God who allows growth even in the hard places,
God who waits patiently for the right time,
send us out now into the fields of your world
to plant hope amidst the weeds and seeds of life.
And may we learn to scatter love wisely
till you gather us in once more.
And may the blessing of Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, be with you all, forevermore. Amen