Call to Worship
In every age, in every place
You call Your people to worship
In every hour of every day
You invite us to rest in You
In this time and place, O God
We worship and rest in You.
Hymn 93- Let us with a gladsome mind
Prayers of Approach and Confession
You, O God, are overflowing with love,
infinite in kindness, and incomparable in glory.
There is no other like you in all our imagining. Your presence breaks into our lives in the beauty of summer and refreshes us like a gentle breeze breath on a still day. You renew us to meet life’s changes and challenges. In this time of worship, we offer thanks in our prayers, praise from our hearts, and honour with our lives,to you, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, this day and every day, now and always.
Wise and patient God, You offer us peace, yet we confess life often feels frustrating and unsettled.
You offer us courage, yet we are resentful when life is challenging. You offer us a mission with meaning and purpose, but we are preoccupied with our own plans and desires. Forgive us, O God,
and draw our attention back to you.
Jesus said, Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Trust that peace and forgiveness are God’s gifts to you this day. Be renewed by the power of the Spirit that moves with you into each new day.
Readings – Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 (Pg 24)
Matthew 11: 16-19, 25- 30 (Pg 976)
Hymn 540- I heard the voice of Jesus say
O God, you took upon yourself the yoke of humanity and the burden of love and did not find it easy: let us learn from you to share the weight of all this aching world, that our souls may be light and our hearts rested, as together we are carried by you, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Who is going to win the men’s title at Wimbledon? Djokovic or the new boy Alcaraz - or even Andy Murray? But some would argue that they are nothing compared to Borg or McEnroe or Nastase.
“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another…” Jesus’ words as he addresses a crowd ring of frustration. ‘What is this generation like?’ It is as if he is throwing up his hands in puzzlement? We’re not really accustomed to hearing Jesus sound like this; that is, wandering into the risky waters of cross-generational criticism. In fact, he sounds here more like us. “But to what will I compare this generation? They spend too much time buried in their Smartphone!” Or, “OK, you are so out-of-touch and old-fashioned! The world is changing! You better catch up!”
“But to what will I compare this generation?” Have you seen the clothes they wear! It’s sloppy and ugly and too revealing! Or Why can’t you old people understand self-expression? My clothes help me be my true self in this world!
“But to what will I compare this generation? These choruses they listen to is so monotonous and repetitive and lacking depth!” Or, “Those old hymns are boring, hard to sing, and old-fashioned!” Choose your topic these days—sacred or secular—and it seems like so many opinions of what’s right and what’s good fall right along generational lines. Heads are shaken in exasperation and—if you’re like me, puzzling over an upgrade on my mobile phone or computer that will drag me kicking and screaming into a new generation—beads of anxious sweat form along the ridge of the brow. We know that new is not necessarily improved…and traditional may not always mean wiser. But the debates rage on, and from this morning’s gospel lesson we see that Jesus is no stranger, either, to the friction that occurs when generations of human beings set their habits and expectations up against one another.
In his case, Jesus is frustrated that the people of his day and age are so unreceptive to the message he and his disciples are preaching, which is at odds with the message they’ve heard for so long from the Pharisees’ sermons and the scribes’ teachings. And it’s not just his message they’ve questioned and rejected. It’s his cousin John’s too. The crowds can’t seem to get their heads around the God who is presented in each of their respective messages. They can’t fathom the kingdom of heaven as it is proclaimed from the lips of these two newcomers. And who can blame them. Neither has a formal synagogue training that we know of. One lives in the desert, eating wild honey and locusts, coming close to civilization from time to time just long enough to dunk people in the Jordan River and publicly criticize the rulers’ morals. The other one hangs out with a bunch of tax collectors and other low-lifes, frequenting banquets and parties. Both seem to go against the status quo, though John is a bit extreme, and Jesus… well, Jesus is radical, wanting to turn things on their head. But he also seems to engage with all those burdened by life.
There were many burdened. So many were ill, physically, mentally. They were oppressed by their Roman rulers. They were deemed unclean by the religious authorities. They were weighed down by the worries of life. The religious leaders, the Pharisees, the scribes, had 600+ rules, which you had to obey. That was their solution. And if you didn’t, God would be angry. So religion became an added burden. But Jesus’ answer was to utter some of the most consoling words in Scripture – ‘Come to me, all you who not just tired, but weary; all who are burdened with the cares of life, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls’.
St. Augustine, a man of supreme intelligence who did not convert to Christian faith until much later in life, once said, “I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful, but I have never read in either of them, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
In the first chapters of Genesis we are told that God rested on the seventh day, and his people were also, radically, to have a day of rest, a sabbath rest. Elijah the prophet was burnt out, exhausted, but on the mountain gained a fresh insight into God’s love and by rest was renewed to carry on God’s work. Rest is important to us all – so we are refreshed to live out the Kingdom values in the world.
Imagine hearing these words. Jesus is saying that holiness is not that difficult, the laws not that complex, that serving God is liberating, not another burden on your back. Yes, people had their problems, just as they have their problems today. A 57 year old suddenly finds they have cancer, a wife or husband of so many years dies. There is rioting in France, there are wars around the globe, so many are struggling to cope with rising bills. Jesus says, come to me… I will give you rest. Now, Christianity is not a religion that promises to take away every struggle or magically fix every difficulty for us; but we have a God who walks beside us in every struggle, a Saviour who takes the weight of our yoke upon himself, who gives us rest. None of the burdens will magically disappear, but God is with us. None of them will be handled, if we try in our own strength; But if we do it together with Christ. His yoke is easy, because he wears it with us. His burden light, because he carries it with us.
Hymn 485- Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Prayers of Dedication, Thanksgiving and Intercession
We see God’s abundance in growing gardens and fresh produce on our tables. We witness need in God’s world when disaster disrupts communities or drought threatens lives. So we give out of gratitude for what we enjoy and compassion for those who are in need deeper than our own.
Eternal God, all good things come from you
and, in our giving, we allow more good to come.
Bless these gifts, and enable us to be blessed as we give, that Your Kingdom will come. Amen.
Eternal One, we praise and magnify Your most holy name as we bring You our prayers knowing You are good to all and that Your compassion is over all creation. We pray today for the riots in France, for those pushed to the edge of French society with little hope, and those who seek to keep disorder in check, that Your promise of peace and flourishing may inspire justice.
We pray today for the people of Palestine and the people of Israel, seemingly locked in patterns of violence, conflict, and hatred. We pray for those who feel unsafe due to conflict and war, for those who yearn for land, statehood, and dignity, for mothers who mourn and orphaned children. We pray that all the people of Your book will learn to love life and each other, and turn away from war and division. Change our politics and policies Most High, that we may proclaim Your coming kingdom.
Lord Jesus, You tell us to come to you in our weariness and find rest. You call us to take Your yoke learn from You our gentle and wise shepherd. We give thanks for the National Health Service, this week celebrating its 75th anniversary in an era of funding cuts and crisis and demoralised staff, with medical staff burnt out as private companies encircle like vultures, seeking to make profit from illness. Raise up, Lord Jesus, leaders who will be honest, policies which will be holistic, that we may not perish from lack of vision, but seek to be whole.
In these long days of summer flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voices of the birds are heard in our land. The trees are in leaf and creation sings to Your glory. And yet these days are too warm, the Earth heats as we fail to revere Her. The seas are poisoned, we rely on fossil fuels, and renege on our commitments to change; there is no health in us. Remind us, dear Lord, that we have but one home, one creation which we have to live in harmony with or face the dreadful consequences of our sin. Change our politics and policies Lord Jesus, that we may proclaim Your coming kingdom.
God of all compassion:
Where people are lonely or isolated, longing for love,
where people are trapped in unhealthy relationships,
where people are grieving the loss of someone beloved: Bring courage and hope, we pray,
God of tender strength:
Where people feel pain in their bodies, in minds or spirits, where illness has eroded hope and where desperation for help fills each day:
Bring healing and hope, we pray.
God in whom we live and move and have our being:
Hear us as in silence we bring the prayers of our hearts.
We give thanks for those who have died in the faith, especially those whose lives shine bright before us in example and encouragement. Grant that we may follow them and come to share the glory of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ. Amen
Hymn 547- What a friend we have in Jesus