Sunday, 12th July

Together in Prayer

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall declare you praise!

Psalm 65
1 What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
2 for you answer our prayers.
All of us must come to you.
3 Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
you forgive them all.
4 What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us inside your holy Temple.
5 You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our saviour.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
6 You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
7 You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

Prayer of Preparation
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.

Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom
and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’

Thought for the week: Rev Fred Long
Currently on the bank of the drive at Unlawater House amidst the ivy, shrubs weeds, bushes and trees there is growing an impressive, isolated cluster of wheat. How the original seeds arrived in that location one can only speculate – yet they have taken root and now the stalks stand strong and vertical, supporting full, bright green ears. If the weather continues with a good mixture of rain and sun, this small patch of soil will transform into a fine, golden bounty.

A similar scene could have been witnessed by our Lord, and then used by Him in
ministering to the crowd assembled by the Sea of Galilee – subsequently becoming today for us the Gospel reading. His powerful imagery, however, helps us to use the parable of the growing seeds as a stimulus for our own theological reflection.
Observing the Unlawater wheat has provided me, not only with a subject to write about in this homily, but has given me an opportunity to share additional personal insights, which hopefully we can all share.

Today the Church is rooted in a society which is diverse and variegated – just like the vegetation on the bank at Unlawater. Surrounded by the enormity of social and cultural differences it can appear that we are overshadowed. Yet the Christian life and activities continue to have meaning, being valued and in its quiet and seemingly “insignificant” way, enriching how we live and the many personal lives we touch. Jesus expressed the fact that a single seed can grow and bear fruit, the yield being a hundred, sixty or thirtyfold. We will often have no knowledge of the impact of our presence in the lives of others. All that we can do is thank God, grow and hope for a bountiful harvest. Remember that the seed of God can take root in the most unlikely of places and manner.

The Church normally is identified and given meaning by its building and community worship, but we have, during the pandemic, responded to these unknown and often alarming times, by quietly drawing upon prayer, the Word of God and the support of those around us. As we come out of lockdown, our current experiences should not be forgotten but used as another opportunity to enrich and sustain our faith.
Be joyful, keep the faith and do the small things.

Lord of the harvest,
Make us fruitful in word and deed,
Help us to share liberally the good news
of your salvation,
of your love and welcome.
May we sow in peace,
and look for the harvest,

We pray for hearts and lives
that are closed to your good news,
covered like a path,
we pray for light in the darkness
that your love will break through.

We pray for hearts and lives
who may be like the stony ground,
may they find hope in troubled times,
we pray for healing and wholeness,
may they receive the gift of prayer
that their roots would grow deep into your love.

We pray for hearts and lives
who may be tangled in thorns,
we pray that you would set them free,
turn their focus and vision towards you
and your purpose for them,
strengthen and protect them.

We pray for hearts and lives
who are open to you,
grow their faith and confidence
in you, your power, and your word,
may lives be lived for you,
and remain in you,
may your love come before all else,
that they may bear fruit
and your kingdom would grow.

Open prayer for God’s world, our communities, the church and for our lives.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Collect for General Thanksgiving
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men;
We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful,
and that we shew forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives;
by giving up ourselves to thy service,
and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory,
world without end.

May the God of love refresh us,
renew and restore to us
the joy of his salvation,
that in his power and love
we may live and work
to his praise and glory.