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. Wherever we are, we meet together in God’s presence. We may be scattered and dispersed, but we are still God’s church, called to be a light to the world. Let us worship God together for our service for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost.
Call to Worship
We meet in the name of God, the Holy Trinity of Love who knows our needs, hears our cries, feels our pain and heals our wounds.
God is our light and our salvation May our hearts be open to you, O God, now and always
Hymn 485 – Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Living God, Lord of heaven and earth, you are the promise of eternal life:
you love us for ever, treasuring each of us in our uniqueness from the moment of our creation until we join the whole company of heaven.
Living God, through life you journey with us: our companion in the questioning, the spur to our search for truth, the passion in our indignation, always gently, tenderly, holding us in love.
We come to you, God of love, for with you there is room for everyone, and you are there in all our fears, our anxieties and pain.
Loving God, we confess that we have failed you and ourselves; we have not been what you intend us to be, nor have we been what we want to be:
We would touch the world with goodness,
but instead we chase after our own salvation.
We would care for your creation,
but we squander it with little thought for those still to come.
We would meet the needs of others,
but we find ourselves reluctant to share.
We would stand for truth, but we remain silent in the face of evil.
We would live with love and compassion,
but we take on the values of this world.
We would share our faith joyfully, but we lack courage to trust in you.
We need you, God, if we are to become who you want us to be.
Transform us by the power of your Spirit.
Renew our faith day by day and make it as big as a mustard seed,
full of promise and possibility,
so that we may live with courage and purpose
and see the signs and parables you have for us in the world today.
God’s love for us and for the world is faithful and steadfast.
God is slow to anger and full of mercy and grace.
God breathes new life into us, so that we can start afresh,
thinking new thoughts and making new choices. We are a forgiven people! Thanks be to God!
Readings – Genesis 29:15-28
Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-50
Hymn 527- Lord make us servants of your peace
Weekly Prayer from Arthur and Kathleen
Father God, we are reminded that the kingdom of heaven is like a hidden treasure. Help us to search until we find it so that we can worship You as the one who has given us this life. We ask that You will help us to live it to the full. May we be the friends and neighbours that You want us to be, and help us to spread the warmth of Your love to everyone we meet. Amen
Over this lockdown period, many of us have been developing new talents and discovering new hobbies – baking bread, researching family trees – but I have taken up stamp collecting again, and I find myself on Ebay, bidding for stamps, Egyptian stamps in particular. I see something I like and I make a bid. Needless to say, someone outbids me; should I make a further bid? The seconds are ticking down. But these stamps appeal to me, they tell a story; maybe they are old or have a particular design, but I feel I must have them for my collection and so I bid again, with seconds remaining. If I win, I am delighted to have the stamps in my collection, though, to be honest, it would not be the end of the world if I lost.
But there are those who are determined to spend whatever it takes to buy certain stamps or a particular edition of a book or their dream house or an outfit that will be just right for a particular occasion. Jesus tells a story today about a merchant who comes across a pearl and is ready to sacrifice all that he had in order to buy it.
In fact, in the Gospel today we read five little parables, each explaining what the Kingdom of God is like. Jesus uses every day examples, A tiny mustard seed growing into a large bush; a woman baking bread, a fisherman drawing in his net; someone stumbling over treasure in a field and selling everything to buy the property (which I always felt was a slightly unfair on the owner); and the merchant seeking to buy the pearl of great price, and that is the one I want to concentrate on today.
I think all of us like ‘nice things’. As human beings, we are not content with mediocrity or with second best – we like to aim high and have the best. Admittedly, sometimes money can be a hindrance, but whether it is the clothes we wear or the food we buy, we all like to have something of good quality. So it was with the merchant, who obviously dealt with gemstones and jewels. He was used to dealing with quality gems, but when he saw the pearl, he knew he would never be satisfied until he owned it. Therefore, he sold all his other jewels to raise the money to buy the pearl.
But for Jacob, in our Genesis reading, it was Rachel. He had met her at the well and fallen head over heels in love with her. It was pure Mills and Boon. EXCEPT, in order to marry her, he had to work for her father for 7 years. EXCEPT it turned out to be the tradition that the elder sister must marry first, so Jacob had to work a further 7 years for Rachel. There is some lovely irony here, as Jacob, who had deceived so many, was deceived! But to him marriage to Rachel was worth it, and she remained his favourite wife. Work for the pearl of great price!
In our relationship with God, it is worth pursuing the best and we are called to offer our best. But the best, as the merchant in the parable discovered, comes at a cost, and there is always a cost to discipleship, a cost to loving the unloved and standing up for God’s justice. God calls, and we must follow.
Moses could have remained in Sinai looking after his father -in-law’s sheep, but it would have been second best; instead he was used by God to liberate the Israelites from Pharaoh’s yoke.
Simon Peter could have stayed on his fishing boat and been content, but instead he followed Christ and was instrumental in turning the world upside down.
So many people have followed Christ down the centuries, endured many difficulties, sometimes it hasn’t been easy to be a Christian, but it was all worthwhile, because of the satisfaction is serving God and helping their fellow human beings, because we are in Christ.
We too are called to develop our relationship with God and to live out the kingdom values in the here and now. We are called to know God more clearly, love God more dearly and follow more nearly day by day. We seek out that pearl of great price, because that pearl is the one which makes all the difference.
Hymn 782- Lord of Life, we come to you
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Good and generous God,
we offer you our gifts - of love, of service, and of money. Use these gifts, we pray, that they may sow seeds of hope and bring closer your dream of justice and peace.
Good and generous God,
In Jesus Christ you came to us, promising us life in abundance.
We give you thanks today for the abundant gifts we receive in him:
Assurance of your love day by day;
Hope renewed when things seem bleak;
Peace that comes when we trust ourselves to your eternal keeping.
These are the gifts that matter, O God, so for all the times we experience these gifts we thank you.
Generous God, the world is going through difficult times this summer and so many things have had to be rearranged because of the pandemic.
So we pray for all whose lives seem empty of joy:
Because plans have changed, and friends seem far away.
Because hearts are filled with disappointment and loneliness.
Because they are without work.
Because they face discrimination
Because sorrow and grief rise up each day.
And we think of all who have lost loved ones and pray for all going through difficult times.
We remember before you those who lives are empty of peace and hope:
Because they struggle with illness or disability.
Because they are powerless in the face of violence.
Because old animosities rankle and opportunities for reconciliation are elusive.
Send your dove of peace and promise to create new possibilities for each one.
We pray for all our leaders in government, that they may rule wisely, and we remember all in positions of leadership in Church, that they may live faithfully to their calling .
Good and generous God, fill us with the energy and compassion of your Spirit to reach out to those facing difficult times. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hymn 511- Your hand, O God, has guided
This is still God’s world. May we live in it with faith.
This is still God’s world. May we live in it with hope.
This is still God’s world. May we live in it with love.
May the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, be with all whom you love, wherever they may be, and be with all we are called to love, forevermore. Amen