Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those in other places too! This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well and keeping safe. Amazingly this is the 12th Sunday podcast, and we still gather in our homes, gardens (maybe not in this weather) or wherever to have our service for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost.
Back then there were twelve. Here and now there is us.
We are your disciples today and we gather in our own places to worship you
Back then there were but a few. Today we number millions, all over the world.
We are your disciples today and we gather to serve you
Let us worship God
Hymn 127 – O Worship the King (vv 1,6)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession.
Almighty and eternal God, from the depth of mystery you reveal yourself through the wonders of creation. We look at the night sky and are filled with awe. We see the rivers flow and the hedgerow grow and our gardens blossom and praise you. We relish the greening of creation and the intricacy of the butterfly’s wing. Creator God, we worship you and give our thanks.
We come as we are before you, from our different places and backgrounds, but all one in you. We praise you.
We come before you in confession, owning and admitting all within us that draws us away from you. You long for creations restoration and humanity’s safety, where we destroy and demean. You teach us your ways to be, but we prefer our own ways and ignore the havoc that we shape. We have made mistakes. Forgive us.
Hear these words: The Lord our God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Know that your sins are forgiven and be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another
The Lord's Prayer
Prayer of Illumination
Open your holy Word to us, God of comfort and challenge. Let it be a word of life and hope, a word that inspires us and guides us, a word that dances in our hearts and lifts our minds. Amen
Matthew 9:35 -10:10
This is the season of Pentecost, and we sing a hymn of the Spirit. Hymn 593 – She sits like a bird, brooding on the water (vv 1,4)
And now our weekly prayer from Arthur and Kathleen:
Gracious God, we thank you that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. Hear us as we pray and help us not only to remember our Saviour’s words, but to seek by your grace to live by them. As we go into the week ahead may we, like the disciples, "proclaim the good news, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near”. Amen
I have a riddle for you this morning. What has a sole but no body? A tongue but no mouth? Needs heeling, but there’s no wound? Can be any length, but is always a foot? Those reading the podcast may have a better chance of guessing it than those listening in. The answer, of course, is a shoe. And I was thinking about shoes when reading the Gospel lesson for today.
Jesus sends out the 12 disciples on a mission, and in Mark and Luke’s version of the story, they are told to take very little, but they are at least allowed sandals on their feet, but in Matthew’s version which we read today, they are not even allowed sandals. I think, for the disciple’s sake, I prefer Mark and Luke’s version, for the work would have been hard without proper footwear.
The disciples are named, and they are quite a bunch. Some like Peter are well known to us, while others like Thaddeus are maybe just a name. There is Matthew who had been a tax collector, working for the Roman occupiers, and Simon the Canaanite, who was a zealot, fighting these same Romans. A motley crew, but they were disciples, and as disciples they were learning from Jesus. Apprentices watching the Master-Craftsman at work. What was that work? It was in reaching out to the people around, and the end of Chapter 9 gives a summary of how Jesus healed the sick, taught and proclaimed the Kingdom, how he brought something of heaven to earth. But he was conscious that the people were harassed and helpless, like sheep without the shepherd. It was a terrible indictment, for the religious leaders had let down the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalised. That is why Jesus sent out the disciples.
The harvest was ripe, he said, but the labourers are few. It rings a bell these days with fruit and vegetables in the fields in some parts of the country, ripe to be picked, and a ripe harvest cannot wait, but the usual labour from Eastern Europe not so able to come. Maybe the situation will get better as the summer progresses. But in 1st century Palestine, Jesus sends out the twelve, including Judas. They had been learning from Jesus, watching him in action. NOW they had their practical. Like all good apprentices, they had to put their learning into action.
I wonder how they felt. Maybe they were excited. If it were me, I would be panicking, especially with healing the sick and casting out demons. What if it didn’t work! In Zambia, casting out demons was not unusual, and my students were very keen on exorcisms, though I always felt rather inadequate for the task. New College hadn’t taught me this!
There is however, much evil in our world which we still have to tackle. This week in particular we have been conscious that we have still to cast the demons of racism out of our society. The toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol has even ‘knocked off’ coronavirus from the headlines of our newspapers. I think there are a lot of issues there, and there will be many views over the rights and wrongs of taking down statues and replacing street names, but it does highlight our task in the here and now of tackling the demons of racism and of how we treat everyone who is somehow ‘different’. As lockdown eases, we face big questions about how we want to live our lives – whether we go back to how it was or whether we create a new normal – a more jus, more caring, more inclusive society.
The disciples were tasked with proclaiming the Kingdom values of love and justice and peace as emissaries for Jesus.
We have that same task today. The Message says ‘You don’t need much equipment. You are the equipment’, and by living out our lives in love we reach out as ambassadors for Christ to seek to bring hope in our troubled and strange world, to be enemies of apathy, to bring reconciliation and work ever for peace. Amen
Chant - O Lord, hear my prayer
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
You, O God, give us everything that is good, and out of gratitude we give: we give of our time, our love, our presence, we give of our talents, our tears and our treasure, bless our gifts that, through them, You may change our world.
God ever creating, God ever loving,
We turn to you in uncertain times, trusting in your steadfast love.
Wherever people are anxious about the future, overwhelmed by their responsibilities, or worried because of the upheavals the pandemic has caused,
Bring peace and hope, we pray’
God of all compassion,
Where people are lonely or isolated, longing for love;
Where people are trapped in unhealthy or even violent relationships;
Where people are grieving the loss of routines or purpose in their lives or the loss of someone beloved:
Bring courage and hope, we pray
God of tender strength,
Where people feel pain in body or mind or spirit;
Where people seek help or healing,
Where illness has eroded hope and desperation and fatigue fill each day;
Bring healing and hope, we pray
God of trustworthy truth,
Where leaders work to guide the world and their communities to renewed life:
Where professionals discern scientific, medical and economic insights to protect and restore the quality of life after the pandemic:
Where individuals still strive to care for the earth and its vulnerable inhabitants
Bring wisdom and hope, we pray.
Silence for personal prayer
Create in us a renewal of hope, a deepening of trust, a strengthening of faith as we seek to follow you, our Sovereign, Saviour and Sustainer, to whom be glory now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 458 – At the name of Jesus (vv1,2,4)
Father and Mother to us,
Son and Saviour to us
Spirit and encourager to us,
Bless us this day and in the days to come
With bright hope and deep joy,
With willing hearts and open minds.
May we follow you wherever you take us
To glimpse you at work.
May we know you and rejoice. Amen