Sunday, 26th July

Together in Prayer

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


The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.


Silence


As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
Amen.


Preparing our hearts
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.
Amen.


Reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’


He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’


Thought for the week: Rev Brian Brobyn
Today, Jesus continues to describe the kingdom of heaven, the way we talk about God and the way God is at work in this world. And, his words are rather surprising. He does not describe a kingdom that is far off in the distance, in some exalted place up there or somewhere out there. No, he describes the reign of God by using analogies that are literally very down to earth – a mustard seed, some yeast, a thief and a merchant. In his stories, he uses examples of an annoying seed and a corrupt agent. He describes qualities that seem hidden, and he uses some rather corrupt characters in the process.

The parable of the mustard seed is one of the best known of Jesus’ stories. Mustard seeds are so small they are almost weightless. They can easily go unnoticed. They can lie hidden and undetected in a large sack of other seeds. I can imagine an unsuspecting farmer unwittingly sowing a mustard seed in his field as he is sowing wheat. Mustard is actually a wild weed. It is something farmers would try to get out of the field because, once it is sown, it is hard to get rid of. Jesus uses the example of a bothersome weed that grows from a small, hidden seed but, when germinated, becomes a huge bush that tends to take over the field.

Jesus is describing the way God is at work in this world. And, he compares it to a minuscule, annoying seed that can hardly be seen, but grows
and is transformed into a life-giving tree as it becomes a leafy haven where the birds can make their nests. In this little parable, unnoticed beginnings of the work in the kingdom of God are contrasted with great, even surprising results. Have we been looking for God in all the wrong places?

Then, Jesus goes on and uses another example – yeast or leaven. Yeast was an unwanted agent. It is also something women would attempt to get rid of when cleaning their homes in preparation for Passover. In Jewish tradition, yeast was a symbol of corruption and impurity. It was considered evil and unclean. However, in Jesus’ parable, we find out that yeast becomes the agent of miraculous growth of God’s kingdom and it permeates every part of the dough. Like a woman who spoils the flour with yeast, God is fermenting the kingdom of heaven within the world, within our communities, and within each one of us. That kingdom permeates all of creation and it has transforming power in this world.

In light of these stories, do we have eyes to see God’s reign hidden in everyday life? Are we able to trust God’s transforming presence and love in the midst of everyday life? Or, are we too often looking for God in all the wrong places? The kingdom of God is still under construction and we are still under construction. But, that kingdom is growing. The good news is that God so loves the world that God is continually at work in our lives and in the world, in order to draw us, in love, closer and closer to God’s self and to each other.

What do you think of the scripture reading? If you’re with others, maybe discuss the passage and include anything that inspires you or raises any questions for you.


Collect for the seventh Sunday after Trinity
Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.


Intercessions
Lord, as you have called us to fulfil your purpose,
work in us and through us to do your will,
Make us the people you want us to be.
Guide us to do what you would have us do.
We pray for all who are seeking to grow in faith,
for all seeking faith, for those hungry for your love,
Lord, your will be done
Your kingdom come in and through us


We pray for all who are suffering hardship,
persecution, for any in danger.
We pray for our world, for nations in crisis,
for families affected by the pandemic,
through bereavement, ill-health,
loss of income and security.
Strengthen all who seek to bring your kingdom
in everyday life, through peace and justice,
Lord, your will be done
Your kingdom come in and through us


We give thanks for those who have shaped us,
those who have been good examples,
and taught us and inspired us in your way,
we pray for your church,
your heavenly family here on the earth,
may we be a beacon of hope,
shine light that overcomes darkness,
and your hands and feet,
with family, neighbours and our wider community,
Lord, your will be done
Your kingdom come in and through us


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.
Amen.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever you may go.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.
Amen.