5th Sunday after Trinity

We believe in an accessible church, a safe church, a place where we can worship without fear, and we know that we’re not perfect but we are trying to improve. Holy Communion in the Churches of St James and St Bartholomew are only in their second week, after the Government’s easing of restrictions on public gatherings. We continue to offer services in person, online and offline. If you know someone who would like a printed copy of the service delivered to their home please let the Vicar, Graeme, know.

The experiment of offering a recording of Holy Communion to follow along with at home, continues here. In order to help with the setting at home, find somewhere unlikely to experience interruptions for the next 30 minutes. Light a candle, or a set a small lamp on a stand, something that brings to mind the idea of light shining in the world. If you have a Bible, find the readings for today… they are available on this website here or you may prefer a different version in your own Bible: Genesis 25:19–34 and Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

You may want to get a small piece of bread for later in the service… In St James’ (11:15am) and St Bartholomew’s (9:15am) we will be receiving communion in one kind only. At home, taking a small piece of bread and giving thanks to God for his goodness, eating it and knowing that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God is perfectly acceptable. Eat: knowing that even in the wilderness, God fed his chosen people by sending manna from heaven.

Today’s Bible Readings and Collect Prayer are read by Doreen Ward…

Doreen Ward reads Scripture and the Collect prayer
Holy Communion with Bible Readings and Sermon for the 5th Sunday of Trinity

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

The Lord be with you
and also with you

Preparation

Let us pray,
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

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Amen. Lord, have mercy

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life. Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

We say together…
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.
Amen

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Gloria in Excelsis

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen

Collect

Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The readings for today are available on this website here or you may prefer a different version in your own Bible: Genesis 25:19–34 and Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Trinity

Imaging me now…standing in the middle of the church, holding my hands cupped as though I have something precious in them. “Look! I have some seeds in my hands… it is the Word of God.”

Then I start enthusiastically miming sowing the seed – just this ridiculousness of enthusiasm. I only had a handful – but look, holding out my hands… I have more! Where did it come from?

More enthusiastic miming of seed sowing. I’m going to sow some over here… some over there… some behind my ears… some over my shoulder… some in front here, some behind the church organ… this Word of God seed keep multiplying in front of my very eyes. It is like it comes from somewhere I don’t know and keeps welling up in my hands – there is so much of the Word of God seed that I can sow it absolutely everywhere… even in some unlikely places…

Perhaps I need to go to the library, to the pub, to the café… I can sow this seed absolutely anywhere because it keeps coming back: more and more.

A sower went out to sow:

Some seeds fell on the path

Some seeds fell on rocky ground

Some fell among the thorns

Some fell on good soil

If you only had a little seed, you’d be extremely careful where it was sown. But if you had limitless supplies – wouldn’t you just keep sowing it all over the place in the hope that it would grow.

Some fell on the path – and the birds of the air came and ate it up. Elsewhere in the gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

The person whose heart is like a path… the one who does not understand and the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart – does this person’s hard heart stop the sower from sowing? What if, by even a small chance, the path is not a path at all, but rocky ground. How would we know without sowing the seed – perhaps the seed will take root?

Growth alongside a path

The person whose heart is like rocky ground, who receives what is sown with joy – but has no roots, when trouble comes this person falls away. Does this person’s shallow soil stop the sower from sowing? What if, by even a small chance, the rocky ground is not as shallow as it looks. How would we know without sowing the seed – perhaps the seed will not fall away.

Growth on rocky ground

The person whose heart is overgrown with thorns, who receives what is sown but is overcome by the cares of the world and what is sown becomes choked. Does this person’s overgrown and thorny soil stop the sower from sowing? What if, by even a small chance, the thorns are not as dense as they look. How would we know without sowing the seed – perhaps the thorns are already dead and just need clearing.

Fruit growing among weeds

In Jesus’ parable, the sower spreads this seed with such abundance. Last week we heard about the yoke being easy and the burden light… what if we were working alongside the sower of the seed. What if we were watching the sower: with ridiculously generous gestures… and felt invited into work alongside. Would we feel any pressure to get the job done right? Would we feel any pressure to be as good as the sower? No! Not at all – the sower is modelling a behaviour which a child could emulate. And we are children of God.

So we come to the soil that was good. How do we know that the soil was good? Jesus said, “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”

So, what is the soil of my heart?

Elsewhere in Matthew Jesus says, “therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

So, what is the soil of my heart?

The parable of the sower and the seed is uncomfortable isn’t it.

On the one hand we have the ridiculous generosity of the sowing of the seed on soil which doesn’t seem like good soil. On the other hand we have the uncomfortable question – is my heart good soil and can the fruits of that be seen…

The question is begged: What fruit?

Letter to the Galatians, who had the same question… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Letter to the Corinthians, who had the same question… Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

As I start each day fresh, I see the sower of the seed at work, and sometimes I join in. I know that sometimes the word is received by hard hearts and is snatched away – but I learn from the sower of the seed – that the soil can be tilled, the weeds can be removed, the rocks can be picked out – and the seed is sown, again and again and again… and the good soil yields fruit.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, till the soil of our hearts, weed the soil of our hearts, remove the stones from our hearts, let our hearts become good soil that it may be fruitful. Amen.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen

Prayers of Intercession

We hold before God the very real worries we have for those who are ill, with whatever condition, in mind body or spirit. We give thanks for all those who have dedicated themselves to helping others, and we remember those who we love but no longer see. If it will help, light a candle to represent our prayers, to shine a light in the world: a light of hope and not despair. A light to witness before God that we know we are not alone, those we love are not alone, and that we know God is with them.

You can light a virtual candle here on the Church of England website

The Peace

Peace to you from God our heavenly Father
Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace
Peace from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you

The Eucharist

Holy Communion
The preparation of the table

The Lord be with you
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.

When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.
You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.
He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.
As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven, saying:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.
Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

In St James’ (11:15am) and St Bartholomew’s (9:15am) Church buildings we will be receiving communion in one kind only. At home, taking a small piece of bread and giving thanks to God for his goodness, eating it and knowing that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God is perfectly acceptable. Eat: knowing that even in the wilderness, God fed his chosen people by sending manna from heaven.

Post Communion Prayer

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you,
that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered
by your governance,
that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Almighty God,
we thank you for feeding us
with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer you our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory.
Amen.

The Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen

© The Archbishops’ Council (2000) Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) (including the Psalter as published with Common Worship)

5 Comments

  1. Thanks to Doreen for the lovely reading and to Graeme, a really interesting reflection on the parable. Being a big Gardener’s World fan I like the idea of sowing and tending and growing being a ongoing processes with seasons of struggle and joy. Lots to think about ❤️🙏

  2. It has been lovely to share with you the sincerity of the word and it’s sharing,
    every blessing Arthur and Josephine Daker ( Golcar)

  3. Thanks Doreen for your readings.
    Thank you for this online communion service Graeme – special to join with you all from home.
    Great sermon – loved the way you described the movement of seed in people – a sermon of hope!

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