Service for Sunday 10 July 2011
Year A. Pentecost 10 . Genesis 25:19-34, Psalm 119:105-112; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-0, 18-23. Green. Holy Communion.
Call to Worship
A seed is planted in the earth
the sun warms it
the rain waters it
the soil protects it
and a new plant grows...
God's word is planted in our lives
God's love warms it,
Jesus' leading nurtures it,
The Spirit protects it,
And faith makes it grow....
Hymn Together in Song 135 All things bright and beautiful
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of Creation,
of each new morning,
we give you thanks for your works,
for your goodness.
We give you thanks for sunshine and rain,
day and night,
the cycle of weeks and of seasons.
We give you thanks for each new morning of our lives,
for all your works within us,
for your goodness to us,
for the sunshine of joy, the rain of tears,
for days of hope and nights of despair,
for the cycles of growth and seasons of our lives.
We thank you for your presence with us by your Spirit,
for encouragement, and nurture,
for strength in our weakness,
for home in our fear,
for your promise when we despair.
We confess that we do not always live as your people.
When we should be growing, and bearing good fruit for you,
we wither, and refuse to bear.
When we should be stretching,
reaching beyond ourselves,
out to others in your world,
we draw back, we close in ourselves
and choose ourselves ahead of others.
We deny you by our words, by our acts, by our thoughts.
Forgive us, we pray, teach us to grow in grace,
to welcome your gifts,
and to share them with others.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
….our sins are forgiven
Thanks be to God!
Kids' time: Lindy
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Hymn Together in Song 130 We plough the fields and scatter
We're very aware of waste now. Every home has a recycling bin. Shopping centres are starting to get recycling bins for bottles and cans. We're urged to turn off our standby power. People have compost bins or worm farms for their kitchen waste (and those of us who don't have them can feel guilty about not having them.) Even garbage dumps are now waste transfer stations, where as much as possible is recycled instead of simply buried. We have spent years rationing water, and recycling the washing water, having shorter showers, and all sorts of other things.
Waste is a bad thing. We know that don't we? We don't deliberately wast money or resources or time or anything. We're aware of the value of everything.
But look at the sower in the parable!
With great abandon he throws the seed everywhere: on the path, on the rocks, in the thorn bushes, as well as on the good soil.
His planting stock can't come for free, whether he's bought it or he's not sold it out of the previous year's harvest, it is worth something. Everyone knows seed isn't about to grow on paths or rocks! You and I know that, the professional whose livelihood depends on it surely knows it.
This is extravagant and wasteful! None of us would bother planting on the path – we know what birds are like, and we know nothing's going to grow where it would be walked over anyway.
So why the waste? Why go through the disappointment of seeing all that didn't grow?
Well, it wasn't necessary that it wouldn't grow. It was highly likely that it wouldn't grow. But sometimes plants will grow under the strangest of conditions... like the plant that seems to be thriving, while growing outside the sheer face of a cliff, like the wildflower which clings obstinately to life, growing in a crack in the path.
It was likely that all the plants on the path, on the rocks, in among the thorns wouldn't grow – but there was a slight possibility they might. Some plants grow and thrive in spite of their circumstances.
The seed in the story, Jesus tells us, is the Word of God. It's spread freely, all over the place, in the most unlikely situations, in places you'd never think it should be. Sure it's spread in a lot of places it's unlikely to grow. But it's still worth spreading it – because it only has the chance to be that tenacious plant that survives against all odds, if the seed has been placed there in the first place.
If you've tried to tell a friend, neighbour or relative about what your faith means to you, and they've reacted as if you were speaking a different language, you might wonder why you bother. You don't get anywhere at all. It just doesn't sink in, they completely miss the point. Why bother sowing seeds on the path, they'll never take root? Yet the sower did.. Perhaps a seed on the path could grow despite its circumstances...
If you've ever put work into leading someone in faith, nurturing them as they seem to be growing, and then seen them give us as soon as they've had a problem that wasn't “fixed” the instant they prayed about it, or as soon as they realised Christian commitment isn't always easy, you might wonder, why bother? Why bother if people have no depth in their lives and in their faith, if they have no personal strength? Why bother sowing seeds on the rocks, when you know they won't last the distance? Yet the sower did.... Perhaps a seed on the rocks could grow in spite of its circumstances....
If you had spent years teaching Sunday School or RE, and had spent years and years seeing young people leave the church, you might wonder, why bother? They show some signs of faith, then decide to do what all the other people their age are doing, or they get so caught up in study and career there's no time for faith... So why bother? Why bother throwing seeds among the thorns? The sower did. It was just possible, a seed among the thorns could grow, in spite of its circumstances.
We'd all like to sow seed in the good soil. We'd all be great evangelists, if people were always going to listen attentively, with respect, and grow into a strong faith as a result.
But have you ever noticed that nothing in the Gospel is ever as neat and tidy as we'd like it. The sower just goes out and chucks the seed around everywhere, as if there was an endless supply of the stuff. It's spread everywhere, no matter whether the ground is worthy of it or not. The sower doesn't even stop to say, does this piece of ground deserve the seed? Is it going to do anything useful or constructive with it?
He spreads the seed everywhere, and then leaves it. He doesn't blame himself or the soil in the cases where it doesn't grow. He doesn't let it worry him, and he doesn't lose sleep over it. The only responsibility he takes is to spread the seed. Everything else happens without his participation.
Why bother? God's reign in this world, and in the next, isn't just available to those most likely to accept it. It's not just available to those who are deserving of it. Jesus came for all people, for everyone. The only limiting factor was how people respond to him. So the word of God is not a secret to be hoarded among the privileged few. It's a glorious, abundant gift to be shared as widely as possible. Because plants have been known to grow in the most unlikely places; and the most unlikely people have been known to have their lives completely changed.
Prayers of the People
God of Love,
We pray for your world,
a world which you have always loved,
but which has not always accepted your love.
We pray those your word is reaching out to,
Those who are hardened, like the path, and can't hear or accept your word,
Those who are shallow, like the stony ground, and try to respond, but can't cope long-term,
Those who are caught up in other things, like the thorny ground, who are tangled up in problems and worries, and don't have the time or energy to deal with your word.
And for Those who accept your word and respond to it joyfully, completely.
We pray for all of those who spread the word of your love,
Who give their time and their effort out of love for you and others,
Who are sometimes dejected and defeated because they don't see a response,
Who share your love with others, but sometimes wonder if they are achieving anything at all.
Loving God, we pray for this world which you love,
For all its people, who you reach out to,
For your word, as it goes out to them.
We pray that your word will bring peace, hope and joy,
that your word will take root and grow.
Prayers from newsletter.
Hymn Together in Song 526 Lord Jesus Christ
The service of Holy Communion (from Uniting in Worship p.163&f)
Hymn Together in Song 599Take my life and let it be