Service – Sunday 26th July

Fugue in E minor BWV 555 by JS Bach
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Call to worship
Lord, open the eyes and ears of our understanding today as we prepare our hearts for worship. We want to see you with our spiritual eyes today. Amen

StF 341 – Hymn – All for Jesus
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All for Jesus–all for Jesus,
this our song shall ever be;
for we have no hope, nor Saviour,
if we have not hope in thee.

All for Jesus–thou wilt give us
strength to serve thee, hour by hour,
none can move us from thy presence,
while we trust thy love and power.

All for Jesus–at thine altar
thou wilt give us sweet content;
there, dear Lord, we shall receive thee
in the solemn sacrament.

All for Jesus–thou hast loved us;
all for Jesus–thou hast died;
all for Jesus–thou art with us;
all for Jesus crucified.

All for Jesus–all for Jesus–
this the Church’s song must be;
till, at last, her sons are gathered
one in love and one in thee.

Words: W. J. Sparrow Simpson, 1887

Let us pray together
Creator God,
from the moment your spirit
hovered over the waters of this earth,
we were part of a vision
held lovingly within your heart.
From the moment you spoke
and separated darkness from light,
you created space
where we might one day walk.
From the moment your joy
spilled out into green and living things,
your beauty was revealed
for us to taste and see.
Creator God,
for this world,
beauty and majesty,
passion and artistry,
a green and pleasant place,
we praise your mighty name.

You are the God who formed us,
The God who knows us,
The God who loves us,
The God who leads us,
The God who feeds us,
The God who blesses us,
The beginning and end
of all that we are,
and hope to be.
Worthy of our praise.
Amen. Thanks be to God

Confession
Heavenly Father,
you have loved us with an everlasting love,
but we have gone our own way,
and rejected your will for our lives.
We are sorry for our sins and turn away from them.
For the sake of your Son who died for us,
forgive us, cleanse us, and change us.
By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you,
and to please you in every way;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Absolution
Almighty God,
who has promised forgiveness of sins to all who turn to him in faith:
pardon us and set us free from all our sins,
strengthen us to do his will,
and keep us in eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reading
Matthew 13 v31 to 33 & v44 to 52

StF 507 – Hymn – O for a heart to praise my God
Click here to play the music sung by Maddy Prior(includes introduction)

O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free,
a heart that always feels thy blood
so freely spilt for me;

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne,
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone;

A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
believing, true, and clean;
which neither life nor death can part
from him that dwells within;

A heart in every thought renewed,
and full of love divine;
perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
a copy, Lord, of thine!

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
come quickly from above,
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new, best name of love.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Address
click here to listen to the Address presented by Rev Mark Barrett

A well-known story from the Gospels is the little mustard seed growing into a big tree. The first of the parables we hear today.

If we are not careful we stop at a Sunday School interpretation of the little tiny seed that grows into a mighty tree, with birds nesting in its branches.

The image alone seems straightforward and lovely, and, like the disciples, we too can say, “Yes” if someone asks us if we understand: the kingdom/reign of God, supposedly so easily identified with the church, of course, begins small, with Jesus and a tiny band of disciples, and grows into a vast, worldwide church.

The reign of God is something big and powerful and mysterious in its growth. Mysterious, like the process of leavening, when something very small creates or causes or produces a huge batch of bread.

Ordinary, homely images, everyday people and activities, things of nature…these are the tools Jesus employs to convey how he experiences God, how he hopes we might experience God. And we find them beautiful and encouraging and hopeful, even if we’ve never laid eyes on a mustard seed or baked a loaf of bread.

We understand what he’s talking about.

Consider that Jesus is saying these first two parables out in the open, outside a house, to a crowd, perhaps by the water but not in the heart of the city and certainly not in the sacred precincts of the Temple, the centre of organised religion in his day and his culture. He doesn’t talk about the Holy of Holies or the religious festivals or the “clergy” of his time when he tries to lead the people to deeper relationship with God.

Instead, he tells stories. Jesus says that “the kingdom” isn’t so much like the objects themselves (mustard seed, treasure, leaven) but more like the actual process of what happens in these little stories, the mysterious and powerful things that happen right beneath our eyes, even if our eyes can’t seem to see what’s happening.

A mustard tree/weed is a humble image indeed for something as wonderful and transforming as the reign of God. Jesus uses the very ordinary, very un-majestic mustard tree to make his point. We should be, and are, constantly taken by surprise at the mysterious workings of God in our ordinary, everyday world.

For some people around him, Jesus’ words cause offence, but it is not just his words but the places where he says them and his subsequent actions as we read these parables from the same New Testament in which Jesus outrages the religiously observant when he eats with sinners and hangs out with outcasts, including peasants and women whether they bake or not.

Jesus preached good news of a God who loves and accepts God’s own children and keeps company with those on the margins. Within the life of our churches and the society they influence, we might offer that same glimpse of possibility and promise, and see what might unfold before our eyes, if we indeed have eyes to see it and ears to hear.

We need to be aware of the hiddenness of the reign of God in these stories, and what that hiddenness may teach us: that in the most ordinary, everyday things and experiences are clues to the fact that there is holiness hidden in the everydayness of our ordinary days.  God may have decided to hide the kingdom of heaven not in the extraordinary places that treasure hunters would be sure to check but in the last place that any of us would think to look, in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives.

That is perhaps why the words of the Great Commission need to be explained and held to our hearts. It is not ‘Go!’ making a specific journey to make disciples and if we cannot make that journey we cannot take part. The phrase is ‘as you are going (along in or about your life)’.

It is in our everyday places that we are to witness to everyday people, to witness in deed, word and lifestyle of that kingdom that will burst forth to grow and become the most precious thing in people’s lives. Amen

StF 254 – Hymn – Seek ye first the kingdom
Click here to play the music (includes introduction)

Seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you;
Allelu-, alleluia:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
allelu-, alleluia!

We shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word
that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord;
Allelu-, alleluia:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
allelu-, alleluia!

Ask, and it shall be given unto you;
seek and ye shall find;
knock, and the door shall be opened unto you;
Allelu-, alleluia:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
allelu-, alleluia!

Karen Lafferty (b. 1948)

Intercessions
Almighty God,
we praise you for your creation, and all you richly provide.
Enable us to live in such a way that your majesty and mercy are seen by all.

All governments rule under your authority.
May they work for the good of those they rule,
seeking your justice and peace in every law and action.

Enable those who are engaged in industry and commerce,
the media and education, sport and the arts,
to fulfil their responsibilities with integrity and an attitude of service.

Comfort and strengthen those who are gripped by poverty,
weakened by illness, or oppressed by cruelty.
May they know your love and experience your care.

Inspire your church here on earth to proclaim the gospel of your love
in the death and resurrection of your Son.
May all people hear the call to trust you.

Help your people to display your compassion to all those in need.
May the poor and the lost of this world find in you
their true wealth and sure destiny.

We pray for those who are in needing of healing, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

We pray for all those who have suffered loss in this present Coronavirus situation.

We thank you for every act of kindness done during this time and all the imaginative ways that ministers and lay workers have used to keep in touch with their congregations.

Refresh and equip us, O God,
to be your faithful and obedient people,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The 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

MP 51 – Hymn – Be thou my vision
Click here to play the music sung live by Stuart Townend (includes introduction)

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that Thou art –
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be thou my battle-shield, my sword for the fight;
be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight;
Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, the first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, after victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heavens’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O ruler of all.

Irish, 8th century
translated by Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931)
versified by Eleanor Henrietta Hull (1860-1935) (alt.)

Blessing
The love of the Lord Jesus
draw us to himself;
the power of the Lord Jesus
strengthen us in his service;
the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always. Amen

Prelude & Fugue in C minor Op 37 No 1: Fugue by Felix Mendelssohn
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