Sunday, 5th July

Together in Prayer

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall declare you praise!
Blessed are you, creator of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your dawn renews the face of the earth
bringing light and life to all creation,
may we rejoice in this day you have made;
as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Prayers of Penitence
Loving Father,
with open arms you welcome us home,
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, by your cross you defeated sin,
forgive us, and mend our hearts,
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Holy Spirit, come,
fill us with your life,
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Receiving God’s Love
May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.

Collect for the fourth Sunday after Trinity
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reading: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Thought for the week
There was an ancient custom in the Hebrew tradition that allowed parents to take
rebellious sons to the community elders and accuse them of being ‘a glutton and
drunkard.’ The son would be tried by the elders, and if found to be rebellious and leading others astray, they would be punished, even stoned to death!

In our reading today we see the community accusing Jesus of such an offense. They’ve had enough, they don’t want to change, they want to be rid of Jesus, despite the miracles, the teaching, the growing followers. And yet, Jesus claims that they are the ones behaving like rebellious children, moaning and wanting all the attention!

The lectionary misses the verses where Jesus warns of the judgment they will receive. But we quickly learn that he is not condemning them, he is inviting them to come, to know rest, to let go of burdens and receive peace with God.

These past months have forced us to live in different ways, to find new rhythms of life and worship. And, as society continues to awaken, it would be easy to fall back into old, familiar rhythms. Some of those will be welcome, but I wonder how we can form life outside of lockdown with rhythms of rest?

In the Message version, this is the key phrase in the passage. Jesus invites us, ‘come to me,’ he says, ‘get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’

The unforced rhythms of grace! What a beautiful thought? So much of our news is filled with people rushing back to the beaches and the shops, and the government wants to ‘build, build, build.’ I’m not sure that’s the prevailing desire of the people, but it would be easy for us to rush back into the frenzied way of life that consumes more than it can produce or afford. In such a world, a world looking for ‘recovery’, the church can shine a light of hope by practising a life-style that is settled, grounded on hope-fuelled rhythms of grace and rest. Of course, rest does not always mean being inactive. Elizabeth Clark once told me that a yoke is placed on two cows so that one will teach the other how to walk the field properly. The yoke allows the two to work as one, in harmony and in rhythm with one another.

And so, in rest and in work, Jesus invites to live and walk with him, to be fastened to him, to let him guide every step, to accept his way, knowing that whatever he requires of us, it won’t be ill-fitting or burdensome. As we move into a time of prayer, spend a couple of minutes in quiet, and focus on Jesus’ words, as he says to you ‘come to me,’ and take time to respond to his call.

Lord, we pray for you world,
Giving thanks for its beauty,
Giving thanks for glimpses of your glory,
and signs of your kingdom.
We pray, give us your heart,
that we may see with your eyes,
that our hearts may ache over the things that hurt yours
May we seek justice,
Love mercy
And walk humbly with you, our God.
Lord, we come to you,
For you alone can make us whole.

Loving Father,
we pray for our nation and the lifting of lockdown restrictions,
we pray for safety, and common sense,
we pray for communities to be strengthened,
for selfless action,
and that those who suffer will not be forgotten.
Lord, we come to you,
For you alone can make us whole.

We lift to you the weary and heavy laden,
Those whose life is jaded, for the depressed and despairing,
Those who struggle to cope.
We pray for them, and for ourselves,
We pray for the grace that comes with your unconditional welcome,
That hearts and minds will brighten,
For burdens to be lifted in your loving presence,
That our homes will be places of peace,
For faith, hope and love to grow,
And for your kingdom to come.
Lord, we come to you,
For you alone can make us whole.

Open prayer

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.

From where we now are
to where you need us,
Jesus, now lead us on.
From the security of what we know
to the adventure of what you will reveal,
Jesus, now lead us on.
To refashion the fabric of this world
until your kingdom comes,
Jesus, now lead us on.

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.