Weekly Church Service – Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost: 13 September 2020


Sentence

If you, O Lord, should note what we do wrong, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. Ps 130:3-4


Collect

O God,

you call your Church to witness

that in Christ we are reconciled to you:

help us so to proclaim the good news of your love

that all who hear it may turn to you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Exodus 14:19-31
  • Psalm 114
  • Romans 14:1-14
  • Matthew 18:21-35

next week

  • Exodus 16:2-15
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
  • Philippians 1
  • Matthew 20:1-16

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 15 Matthew 18:21-35

The parable of the unforgiving debtor: “Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives one another from your heart.”

The cutting edge of Jesus’ teaching on love is that nothing is unforgivable, nor should there be limits to forgiveness.  

It is ironic that Peter should ask the question about forgiveness that introduces the parable of the merciless steward, since Peter himself will be so generously forgiven by Jesus for his denial of Jesus on Good Friday. It was common rabbinical teaching that one must forgive another three times; the fourth time, the offender was not to be forgiven. Perhaps Peter was anticipating Jesus’ response to his question by suggesting seven rather than the conventional three times; but Jesus responds there should be no limit to the number of times we must be ready to forgive those who wrong us (“seventy times seven times”), just as there is no limit to the Father’s forgiveness of us.  

As the king in the parable withdraws his forgiveness of his servant because of the servant’s failure to forgive another, so will God withdraw his forgiveness of the unforgiving and merciless among us. God’s forgiveness is not entirely unconditional: if we do not share it, we will lose it. What is going on within our own heart? Is it rigid or open? Is it full of resentment or compassion? 

To forgive as God forgives means to intentionally act to purge the wrong that exists between us and those who harm us, to take the first, second and last steps toward bridging divisions, to work to mend broken relationships and to welcome and accept the forgiven back into our lives. It also means recognising those times when this is not possible because the other party is not willing to budge.    

Forgiveness requires empathy, the ability to place ourselves in the place of the other to see the situation from their perspective. To realise the reconciling peace of Jesus begins with overcoming our own anger and discontent at the injustice waged against us and focusing our attention, instead, on the person who has wronged us. Is there something I’ve missed? Is there something I could do differently? Do I have the humility to face the hurt I have inflicted on others as a result of my insensitivity and self-centredness?  

Before our merciful Father in heaven, every one of us is an insolvent debtor – but the great mystery of our faith is God continues to love us, continues to call us back to him, continues to seek not retribution but reconciliation with us. All God asks of us is that we forgive one another as he forgives us, to help one another back up when we stumble just as God lifts us back up.

The Risen Christ calls us to seek reconciliation that transforms and re-creates: forgiveness that is joyfully offered and humbly but confidently sought; forgiveness that transforms the estranged and separated into family and community; forgiveness that overcomes our own anger at the injustice waged against us and focuses on healing the relationship with the person who wronged us and broke that relationship. Christ-like reconciliation also means possessing the humility to face the hurt we have inflicted on others as a result of our insensitivity and self-centredness.

© Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 15

You can read the Pew Sheet here

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Weekly Church Service – Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost: 6 September 2020


Sentence

‘Where two or three are gathered in my name,’ says the Lord, ‘I am there among them.’ Matthew 18:20  


Collect

Go before us, O Lord,

and further us with your continual help,

that in all our works,

begun, continued, and ended in you,

we may glorify your holy name,

and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the 

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Exodus 12:1-14
  • Psalm 149
  • Romans 13:1-10
  • Matthew 18:10-20

next week

  • Exodus 14:19-31
  • Psalm 114
  • Romans 14:1-14
  • Matthew 18:21-35

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 14 Matthew 18:10-20

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone … If he does not listen, take two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church …“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is a collection of Jesus’ sayings on the practical challenges facing the Christian community, including status-seeking, scandal, division, and the topic of today’s reading conflict.

Today’s Gospel reading sounds more like regulations devised by an ecclesiastical committee than a discourse by Jesus (this chapter has been called the “church-order discourse” of Jesus). But the real point of Jesus’ exhortation is that we must never tolerate any breech of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community. At each stage of the process – personal discussion, discussion before witnesses, discussion before the whole community – the goal is to win the erring Christian back to the community (the three-step process of reconciliation outlined by Jesus here corresponds to the procedure of the Qumran community).

Jesus’ exhortation closes with a promise of God’s presence in the midst of every community, regardless of size, bound together by faith.

Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel not to tolerate the dysfunction in our lives or allow our judgements and disappointments to isolate us from others, but to confront those problems, misunderstandings and issues that divide us, grieve us, embitter us.  

Today’s Gospel outlines a process of reconciliation among divided members of a community. Jesus calls his hearers to seek honesty and sincerity in all relationships, to put aside self-interest, anger and wounded pride, and take the first step in healing the rifts that destroy the sense of love that binds family and friends, church and community – the love of Christ is the “debt” that binds us to one another.

In the “rules” and “procedures” for bringing sinners back to the community he lays out in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to build communities that are inclusive, not exclusive: to bring the lost back, not out of pride or zealousness, but out of “the debt that binds us to love one another.”

Today’s exhortation by Jesus is designed to help us create and maintain households of love and forgiveness and communities of reconciliation and peace, where even the smallest and youngest and least able to contribute are as welcomed and honoured as we would welcome and honour Christ himself.  Christ promises that whenever we gather in his name, he is in our midst. Sometimes it requires an extra sharp and focused vision of faith to realise and recognize Christ with us, but he is always there. Christ’s presence should move us, inspire us, transform us into a community of disciples and witnesses of his resurrection.  © Connections/MediaWorks   

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 14

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-14-A

Weekly Church Service – Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost: 30 August 2020


Sentence

If you want to become a disciple of Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him.  Matthew 16:24-25 


Collect

O God,

whose Son has shown the way of the cross

to be the way of life:

transform and renew our minds

that we may not be conformed to this world

but may offer ourselves wholly to you as a living

sacrifice through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy 

Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Exodus 3:1-15
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Matthew 16:21-28

next week

  • Exodus 12:1-14
  • Psalm 149
  • Romans 13:1-10
  • Matthew 18:10-20

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 13 Matthew 16:21-28

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Peter’s confession of faith (last Sunday’s Gospel) begins a new phase of Matthew’s Gospel.  As he makes his way to Jerusalem, Jesus’ teachings will now be addressed primarily to his disciples on the events and work that awaits them in Jerusalem – and beyond.

The hostility between Jesus and the leaders of Judaism is about to reach the crisis stage.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims unambiguously that his mission as the Messiah includes suffering and death.  Peter is sharply rebuked by Jesus for his seemingly innocent remark that Jesus should be spared such a fate, but Jesus sees Peter’s refusal to accept such a possibility as a “satanic” attempt to deflect the Messiah from his mission of redemption.  To avoid suffering and hardship in order to opt for the easy and safe course is purely human thinking, an obstacle to experiencing the life of the Spirit. Authentic discipleship involves taking on the cross and “denying oneself” – disowning ourselves as the centre of our existence and realizing that God is the object and purpose of our lives.

Jesus asks his disciples to detach from the ephemeral and shallow in order to attach to the lasting, fulfilling things of God: compassion, reconciliation, justice.  

The cross that Jesus asks his followers to take up is not a cross that cedes to crucifixion but a cross that is the means to resurrection.  In embracing Jesus’ spirit of humble servanthood and compassion, we take up his cross, not out of a sense of self-loathing or pessimism, but out of a sense of conviction and hope that the demands of the cross will result in the life and love of the Easter promise.

It’s a natural and understandable reaction to avoid whatever is unpleasant, uncomfortable, stressful, hurtful.  In today’s Gospel, Peter simply wants to protect Jesus from the suffering that awaits — but Jesus sharply rebukes Peter for trying to diminish or skirt the cross because it is difficult.  To take up one’s cross is not a “battle” of good over evil but a means for bringing God’s promise of resurrection into our lives and the loves of those we love.   Christ urges us to “lose” that part of our life that is centred in ephemeral, perishable things so that we may “gain” lives grounded in the love of God: to lose our anger, our disappointment, our need for control in order to find meaning and purpose in doing for others and contributing to the common good.  In “dying” to ourselves we become something greater; in letting go of the temporary and the fleeting we become richer; in the suffering we endure we become stronger, in the failures we experience we become wiser.     © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

No sermon recorded today.

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-13-A

Weekly Church Service – Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost: 23 August 2020


Sentence

Jesus said to them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.’ Matthew 16:15-16 


Collect

O God, fount of all wisdom,

in the humble witness of the apostle Peter

you have shown the foundation of our faith:

give us the light of your Spirit,

that, recognising in Jesus of Nazareth

the Son of the living God,

we may be living stones

for the building up of your holy Church;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Exodus 1:8-2:10
  • Psalm 124
  • Romans 12:1-8
  • Matthew 16:13-20

next week

  • Exodus 3:1-15
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Matthew 16:21-28

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 12 Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus said to his disciples, “Who do you say I am?”  
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church . . . ”


In Matthew’s Gospel, Peter’s confession of faith is a turning point in the ministry of Jesus.  Jesus will now concentrate on preparing his disciples to take on the teaching ministry and leadership of the Church he will establish.

The scene of today’s Gospel, Caesarea Philippi, was the site of temples dedicated to no less than 14 different pagan gods, ranging from the Syrian god Baal to Pan, the Greek god of nature.  In the middle of the city was a great white temple built by Herod and dedicated to the “divinity” of Caesar (hence the name of the city).  In the midst of this marketplace of gods and temples, Jesus first indicates his plans and hopes for his church.

Jesus “sets up” Peter’s declaration of faith by asking his disciples what people are saying about him.  Many believed that Jesus is the reincarnation of John the Baptizer or the long-awaited return of the prophets Elijah or Jeremiah (Malachi 4: 5-6), whose return would signal the restoration of Israel.  Simon Peter, however, has been given the gift of faith (“flesh and blood has not revealed this to you”) and unequivocally states that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus blesses Simon with the new name of “rock” (Kepha in Aramaic,Petros in Greek), indicating that his faith will be the foundation for Jesus’ new Church.  Peter is entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven (an image drawn from Isaiah 22: 15-25, today’s first reading) and the mission to bring sins to consciousness and to proclaim to sinners the love and forgiveness of God.

The question Jesus poses to Peter and his disciples is asked of us every minute of every day.  Every decision we make is ultimately a response to the question, Who do you say I am?  Our love for family and friends, our dedication to the cause of justice, our commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards, our taking the first step toward reconciliation and forgiveness, our simplest acts of kindness and charity declare most accurately and effectively our belief in the Gospel Jesus as the Messiah and Redeemer.

Peter is the first of the disciples to grasp the divinity of Christ.  On the faith of Peter “the rock” Christ establishes his Church.  Peter becomes, then, the first stone in the foundation of the Church.  We who are baptized into the faith handed down to us by Peter and the apostles become stones of Christ’s new church; the faith we live and the hope we cherish in the empty tomb of Easter are the foundation of the Church of the Risen One.

The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” are entrusted by Christ not just to the institutional Church but to each one of us.  Christ has given every one of us a “key” to the kingdom: the means to “unlock” the presence of God in our world by our own efforts, however small and hidden, to realize God’s love in our midst.  Our “keys” may be patience and understanding, a talent or skill we possess that we can use to unlock a door or open a pathway enabling us and those we love and care about realize the kingdom of heaven here and now. © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

No sermon recorded today.

You can read the Pew Sheet here

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Weekly Church Service – Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost: 16 August 2020


Sentence

Thus says the Lord, ‘Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.’  Isaiah 56:1 


Collect

God of freedom,

you have broken the tyranny of sin

and sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts:

give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your 

service, that all people may know the glorious

liberty of the children of God;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 45:1-15
  • Psalm 133
  • Romans 11:13-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

next week

  • Exodus 1:8-2:10
  • Psalm 124
  • Romans 12:1-8
  • Matthew 16:13-20

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 11 Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus cures the Canaanite woman: “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs from their tables of their masters.”

The story of the Canaanite woman was a marker for the Christians of the predominately Gentile Christian communities.  Jesus’ healing of the daughter of the persistent Canaanite mother became a prophetic model for the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians.  The woman is not only a Gentile but also a descendent of the Canaanites, one of Israel’s oldest and most despised enemies.  Despite Jesus’ rebuff of her (equating Gentiles with “dogs,” as Jews referred to anyone who was not a Jew), the woman has the presence of mind to point out that “even dogs are given crumbs and scraps from their masters’ tables.”  She displays both great faith in Jesus (addressing him by the Messianic title of “Son of David”) and great love for her daughter (subjecting herself to possible ridicule and recrimination for approaching Jesus) that should inspire both Jew and Gentile — and Christian.

Jesus does not see in the Canaanite woman an old enemy; he sees, in her great compassion and love for her sick daughter, a loving mother; he sees, in her courage to come forward in the face of imminent rejection and denunciation, a woman of great faith.  

The Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel seeks what we all seek: to be acknowledged as good, to be respected as a child of God, to be welcomed as a sister and brother to all.  

In honouring the goodness and love of the Canaanite mother (who, as a Canaanite, is despised by Jesus’ hearers), Jesus opens up our perspectives and illuminates our vision, enabling us to see one another as God sees us.  

Most of us would consider ourselves fair-minded and unbiased, neither bigots nor racists; but if we’re honest, we would probably recognise times we have treated people as if they were “a little less human” because they did not possess some quality or ingredient we consider imperative.  We underestimate people because they are somehow different; we treat them as inferiors because they don’t quite measure up to what we think they should or should not be.  God does not measure his people by our standards but welcomes all who seek him in faith. Pope Francis often speaks of reaching out to those on the boundaries or “peripheries,” to those who are driven to the margins and edges of society by poverty, violence and illness.  In Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, we begin to recognize those divisions and chasms between us and others and to go the peripheries and cross those boundaries that are obstacles to realizing God’s kingdom of justice and peace in this time and place of ours. 

© Connections/MediaWorks                                                                  

Sermon

No sermon recorded today

You can read the Pew Sheet here

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Weekly Church Service – Tenth Sunday After Pentecost: 9 August 2020


Sentence

They cried out in fear, but Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’    Matthew 14:26-27  


Collect

Mighty God and ruler of all creation,

give new strength to our faith,

that we may recognise your presence

even when all hope seems lost.

Help us to face all trials with serenity

as we walk with Christ through the stormy seas 

of life and come at last to your eternal peace.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22
  • Romans 10:4-15
  • Matthew 14:22-36

next week

  • Genesis 45:1-15
  • Psalm 133
  • Romans 11:13-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 10 Matthew 14:22-36

When the disciples saw [Jesus] walking on the sea they were terrified . . . When [Peter] saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

In Matthew’s Gospel, the storm at Gennesaret and Peter’s walking on the water immediately follows the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.  The depth of Peter’s love for Jesus is not matched by a depth of faith; but Jesus, nonetheless, raises the sinking disciple up from the waters of fear and death.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus intentionally withdraws from his friends and followers to be alone; but such times are not for “chilling” or “vegging” but for attentive, focused prayer, to be in touch with the rhythm and movement of God. God calls us to our own out-of-the-way places, our own quiet “mountains” to be fully aware of God’s presence in our lives and hearts.

What happens to Peter in today’s Gospel, happens to all of us at one time or another:  We panic.  We don’t trust ourselves to know what the right thing is or our ability to do it.  But, somehow, God reaches out and catches us — if we’re willing to put aside our fears and try to do as Jesus would do, trusting in God’s grace to realize that good. 

Jesus promises that in every storm that batters us his hand is extended to us in the hand of those we love and trust; he also calls us to grasp the Peters in our midst who struggle not to be overwhelmed by the waves of fear, doubt and alienation that often threaten to drown all of us.

                                                                                   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

No sermon recorded today

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-10-A

Weekly Church Service – Ninth Sunday After Pentecost: 2 August 2020


Sentence

The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth. He fulfils the desire of all that fear him, hears their cry, and saves them.  Psalm 145:18-19 


Collect

O God, giver of life and health,

whose Son Jesus Christ has called us

to hunger and thirst for justice:

refresh us with your grace,

that we may not be weary in well-doing,

for the sake of him who meets all our needs,

Jesus Christ our Saviour;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 32:22-31
  • Psalm 17:1-7, 16
  • Romans 9:1-8, (9-16)
  • Matthew 14:13-21

next week

  • Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22
  • Romans 10:4-15
  • Matthew 14:22-36

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 9 Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself … Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

The multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four Gospels.  The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this wonder as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom of God.  This miracle also has strong roots in the First Testament: For the peoples of both the First and New Testament, the image of a great banquet was an important visualization of the reign of God: the gifts of the land were unmistakable signs of their God’s great Providence; the Messiah’s coming was often portrayed as a great banquet with choice food and wines; the miracle of the loaves and fishes is a clear affirmation in God’s providence.  Just as the merciful God feeds the wandering Israelites with manna in the desert, Jesus, “his heart moved with pity,” feeds the crowds who have come to hear him.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus acts out of his great compassion on the crowds.  First, he challenges the disciples to give what they have – five loaves and two fish.  Then he performs the four-fold action that prefigures the Eucharist: Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread and fish to the assembled multitude, making of them a community of the Lord’s banquet.

Given the many demands on our time and the expectations of work and school, we need to make time for that “out of that way”: quiet deserts and sacred time where and when we can escape the clamour of the marketplace and the tyranny of our calendars to experience the peace of being alone with God, to listen to the voice of God in the quiet of our hearts, to know the joy of doing simple, humble things for others.   

More astounding than Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is Jesus’ transforming them into a community, a community who becomes one in their need, one in the bread they share, one in the love of Christ who has brought them together.  Christ calls us to become a Eucharistic people: to become the Eucharist we have received.  

We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place by imitating the four “Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus: to take humbly and generously from what we have been given by God, to bless by offering it to others in God’s love, to break from our own needs and interests for the sake of others, to give with joy-filled gratitude to the God who has blessed us with so much

The bread of the Eucharist, which we share together in charity and faith, is a prelude to the great banquet of the next world to which our loving Father invites us.

The “fragments” that disciples gather are not to be lost; they are part of the miracle.  We are all part of the body of Christ: there are no useless scraps, no wasted fragments: every one of us is a child of God, part of the body of Christ that is blessed, broken and shared at this table.  We are only whole when every piece, ever fragment, is gathered.    © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 9

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-9-A

Weekly Church Service – Eighth Sunday After Pentecost: 26 July 2020


Sentence

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.           Romans 8:38-39   


Collect

O God, the fount of wisdom,

you have revealed to us in Christ the hidden

treasure and the pearl of great price:

grant us your Spirit’s gift of discernment,

that, in the midst of the things of this world,

we may learn to value the priceless worth of your 

kingdom, and be ready to renounce all else

for the sake of the precious gift your offer.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 29:15-28
  • Psalm 105:1-11
  • Romans 8:26-39
  • Matthew 13:44-58

next week

  • Genesis 32:22-31
  • Psalm 17:1-7, 16
  • Romans 9:1-8, (9-16)
  • Matthew 14:13-21

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 8 Matthew 13:44-58

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells what he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells what he has and buys it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down and put what is good into buckets . . . ”

The first two parables in today’s Gospel – the parables of the buried treasure and the pearl – are lessons in the total attachment to Christ and detachmentfrom the things of the world demanded of the disciple in order to make the reign of God a reality.  

The parable of the dragnet is similar in theme to last week’s parable of the wheat and weeds.  Again, Matthew makes the point that the kingdom of God is neither an instant happening nor a static event, but a dynamic movement toward completion and fulfilment which Jesus set into motion.

The “treasures” and “pearls” of lasting value are the things of God: the love of family and friends, the support of community, the sense of fulfilment from serving and giving for the sake of others.  In order to attain such treasure, we must take the risk of the speculator and “sell off” our own interests, ambitions and agendas in order to free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of the compassion, love and reconciliation of God.

The Gospel “pearl” of great price transcends logic, efficiency, and self-interest; and the Gospel “treasure” is the joy and wholeness one experiences in imitating the humble compassion and forgiveness of Christ.   

In the parable of the dragnet, Jesus calls us to embrace the vision of God that seeks out the good and nurturing, the right and just in all things amid the “junk” of life.   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 8

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-8-A

Weekly Church Service – Seventh Sunday After Pentecost: 19 July 2020


Sentence

You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 


Collect

Saving God,

in Jesus Christ you opened for us

a new and living way into your presence:

give us pure hearts and constant wills

to worship you in spirit and in truth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 28:10-19a
  • Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-43

next week

  • Genesis 29:15-28
  • Psalm 105:1-11
  • Romans 8:26-39
  • Matthew 13:44-58

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 7 Matthew 13:24-43

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat … “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed … the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants …“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

Matthew’s Gospel has been called the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” containing some 51 references to the kingdom or reign of God. Three of Jesus’ “kingdom” parables make up today’s Gospel:

The parable of the wheat and the weeds:  God’s kingdom will be “harvested” from among the good that exists side-by-side with the bad. Palestinian farmers were plagued by tares – weeds that were very difficult to distinguish from good grain. The two would often grow together and become so intertwined that it was impossible to separate them without ripping both weed and plant from the ground. Jesus teaches his impatient followers that the Lord of the harvest is more concerned with the growth of the wheat than with the elimination of the weeds. The time for separation and burning will come in God’s own time; our concern should be that of our own faithfulness.

The parable of the mustard seed: The smallest and humblest are enabled by the Holy Spirit to do great things in the kingdom of God. From small and humble beginnings, God’s kingdom will grow.

The parable of the yeast: A small amount of yeast mixed with three measures of flour can make enough bread to feed over a hundred. In the same way, God’s reign is a powerful albeit unseen force.

   
Matthew’s Gospel was written some 50 years after Jesus’ death and 15 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. By this time, it is clear to the community of Christians that Jesus is not going to be accepted by all of Israel as the Messiah. In citing these parables, the writer of Matthew encouraged the largely Jewish Christian community to see itself as the legitimate heir to God’s promises to Israel. They were the “good wheat” existing side by side with the “weeds” that would destroy it, the small mustard seed that would give rise to the great and mighty tree of the Church, the small amount of yeast that would become bread for the world.

“The wheat and weeds”: We often approach religion as a deadly serious business; we lose the spirit of joy and the sense of hope that are part of the promise of the Risen Christ. We become so concerned about pulling out the weeds that we forget to harvest the grain; we become so focused on the evil and abuses that surround us and “threaten” us that we fail to realize and celebrate the healing and life-giving presence of God in our very midst; we become so intent in upbraiding and punishing sinners that our own lives become mired in gloom and despair. The task of judging sinners belongs to God; to us belongs the work of compassion and reconciliation.

When we hear Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds, we first think of good people (the wheat) and bad people (the weeds) coexisting in an imperfect world until the coming of God’s kingdom. But every individual possesses something of both the “good” wheat and “evil” weed. Every one of us possesses the ability to do compassionate and just things out of love — but there exists within us the same ability to do destructive things out of selfishness and greed. Discipleship recognizes that struggle existing within each one of us but also embraces the hope that, in seeking to imitate Christ’s spirit of loving servanthood, we may be “wheat” for a world that is often choking in “weeds.”   

“Mustard seed”: All of us, at some time, are called to be “mustard seeds,” to do the small, thankless things that are necessary to bring a sense of wholeness and fulfillment to our homes and communities. From such “mustard seeds” is yielded a great harvest of peace and reconciliation.

“Yeast”: In baptism, we accept God’s call to be “yeast,” to be the bread of compassion, justice and forgiveness to a world which is desperately hungry in its despair and hopelessness.                   © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 7

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-7-A

Weekly Church Service – Sixth Sunday After Pentecost: 12 July 2020


Sentence

The words you have spoken are spirit and life, O Lord; you have the words of eternal life.    John 6:63, 68 


Collect

Bountiful God,

we thank you for planting in us the seed of your

word: by your Holy Spirit, help us to receive it

with joy, and to live according to it,

that we may grow in faith and hope and love,

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings

  • Genesis 25:19-34
  • Psalm 119:105-112
  • Romans 8:1-11
  • Matthew 13:1-23

next week

  • Genesis 28:10-19a
  • Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-43

A Thought to Ponder

Pentecost 6 Matthew 13:1-23

The parable of the sower: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear . . .“The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel is the evangelist’s collection of Jesus’ parables.  The word “parable” comes from the Greek word parabole, which means putting two things side by side in order to confront or compare them.  And that is exactly how Jesus uses parables:  He places a simile from life or nature against the abstract idea of the reign of God.  The comparison challenges the hearer to consider ideas and possibilities greater and larger than those to which they might be accustomed.  

Jesus’ hearers expected God’s kingdom to be the restoration of Israel to great political and economic power; the Messiah would be a great warrior-king who would lead Israel to this triumph.  Jesus’ parables subtly and delicately led people, without crushing or disillusioning them, to rethink their concept of God’s kingdom.

In Palestine, sowing was done before the ploughing.  Seed was not carefully or precisely placed in the ground.  The farmer scattered the seed in all directions, knowing that, even though much will be wasted, enough will be sown in good earth to ensure a harvest nonetheless.  The parable of the sower (which appears in all three synoptic gospels) teaches that the seed’s fruitfulness (God’s word) depends on the soil’s openness (the willingness of the human heart to embrace it).

The parable of the sower challenges us to see how deeply the word of God has taken root in our lives, how central God is to the very fabric of our day-to-day existence.  

Christ invites his followers to embrace the faith of the sower: to trust and believe that our simplest acts of kindness and forgiveness, our humblest offer of help to anyone in need, our giving of only a few minutes to listen to the plight of another soul may be the seeds that fall “on good soil” and yields an abundant harvest.

Jesus challenges us in the parable of the sower to be both sower and seed: to sow seeds of encouragement, joy and reconciliation regardless of the “ground” on which it is scattered, and to imitate the seed’s total giving of self that becomes the harvest of Gospel justice and mercy.       

                                                                                    © Connections/MediaWorks

Sermon

  •     Pentecost 6

You can read the Pew Sheet here

Pentecost-6-A

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