Worship @ Home - Sunday 14 June 2020
Good morning and welcome to this Sunday’s ‘Worship at Home’. As you begin just take a moment to set to one side any thoughts of those other things you might have to do today, any thoughts of what you might have to do in the week that is ahead, be still for a moment and bring all of your thoughts, your full attention to our compassionate, loving God. In the stillness, be aware of his presence, his power and his might and be aware too that he looks with eyes of compassion at out helplessness and at our need. From deep inside he looks at us with love.
And so, let’s pray.
Sovereign God –
mighty and mysterious,
as we come together in your presence
we do not simply want to go through the motions of worship,
to do what’s expected of us;
we want to see Jesus,
recognizing him at work in the world and involved in our lives,
present and active through his Spirit.
Broaden our vision and enlarge our understanding,
that we might glimpse more of His grace and truth,
love and light,
power and glory,
and so catch clearer sight also of you,
our eyes opened to your awesome majesty through him.
Let’s praise the Lord. Please read, sing, or listen to and sing with (using this link), Charles Wesley’s wonderful hymn ‘Love Divine’. https://youtu.be/JGGcqhKShQ8
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav'n to earth come down:
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev'ry trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev'ry troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest:
take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
graciously return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be:
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
'til in heav'n we take our place,
'til we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.
And let’s prayer now as we come to a time of confession.
To be invited into the practice of confession is to be invited into the possibility of reconciliation that is available through the grace of God. So, to be able to participate in the prayer of confession is to admit the truth that all is not right and that we need God to make it right. Trusting in God’s grace and love, let’s make our confession, first in a moment of silent prayer.
And now pray these words. Say them slowly, reflecting upon them and all that they say.
we admit to You that all is not right – in our hearts and in our world.
We look to the darkness and not to the light.
We look for what is broken and not at what is being mended.
We look to criticize and not to praise.
We look at ourselves and not to You.
Turn us around so that we look at possibility
at healing and at love.
This we pray now in the strong name of Jesus and as we pray this prayer of confession together...
Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
and walk humbly with you, our God.
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, the mercies of God are from everlasting to everlasting.
Let us proclaim the Good News: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
Let’s praise God now as we sing, read, or listen to this hymn by Francis Rous
The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.
My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through death's dark
yet will I fear none ill,
for thou art with me; and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.
My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
and in God's house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.
Let us pray
And this prayer is the Collect of the Day for The First Sunday after Trinity
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
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.
Please now read this short passage from Matthew’s Gospel. I always like to encourage people to read a passage slowly. Pause at the end of each line. What does it say? What does it say to me? What does it mean? Read the whole passage through a couple of times and then when you’re ready move on to the reflection.
Matthew 9:35-38 New International Version
The workers are few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Reflection- written by John Crutchley
With his boundless physical energy, his natural shrewdness, self-confidence, and eternal optimism, American Dwight L. Moody could have become a wealthy industrialist – another Rockefeller perhaps, making a great fortune for himself. But instead, he became one of the great evangelists of the nineteenth century. Moody told the story of his conversion this way, he said: “When I was in Boston I used to attend a Sunday school class, and one day I recollect my teacher came around behind the counter of the shop I was at work in, and put his hand upon my shoulder, and talked to me about Jesus Christ and my soul. I hadn’t felt that I had a soul till then. So, I said to myself, ‘This is a very strange thing. Here’s a man who never saw me till lately, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.’ But I understand it now, and I know what it is to have a passion for people’s souls and to weep over their sins. I don’t remember what he said, but I can still today, feel the power of his hand on my shoulder.”
It was the concern and the tears of that godly teacher that brought about the conversion of Moody, a man who went on to see a million souls brought to Christ through his evangelistic campaigns. In short, it was compassion. Compassion like that of Christ. As we’ve just heard, Matthew tells us that Jesus ‘went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news, and healing every disease and illness’ (verse 35). The tense that Matthew uses here suggests that this was a continuing process. So, this is what Jesus kept doing. He was on the streets. Jesus’ life was on the road in and around Galilee all the time. This was where he could most easily be found - not caught up in some building - but out and about. Out and among the people, teaching and healing and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. This was the centre of Jesus’ activity. His words, his deeds, indeed, his very person, point to and presuppose the good news of the Kingdom of God.
And so, all the time, and wherever he went, Jesus’ heart went out to the people he saw. He had compassion (verse 36). Jesus hurts when he sees people. He’s moved with pity. And it’s a feeling of such intensity, a feeling of such depth that it is quite literally ‘in the guts.’ At least, that’s the proper translation of the Greek that Matthew has used to describe the force of Jesus’ compassion. It’s akin, I suppose, to our using the word “guts” for courage, when we say, “He really has got guts.” I think that Matthew meant to do exactly this. He’s impressing upon us the power and the force of God’s compassion.
And in truth, we may well know something of this for ourselves. Those occasions when a sharp pain in the guts will accompany intense feelings of compassion or pity for those we love. Jesus’ compassion is visceral. Visceral and entirely loving. There’s no anger. No grief. No loathing. Just love. What we see here is something of the emotions that were stirred in Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb – ‘Jesus wept’ John tells us (John 11: 35) – just as he wept as he walked those streets of Galilee and just as he weeps when he looks at people today, longing to roll away the stone that has been rolled on to their backs. Matthew’s choice of such a graphic word to describe Jesus’ compassion is intended, I believe, to impress upon us that God’s compassion for us is rooted in his deep love for us and in his sensitivity to our pain.
It is divine compassion for troubled people. Troubled people who Matthew describes as ‘harassed and helpless’. Words that have been translated in all sorts of ways; ‘worried and helpless’, ‘distressed and downcast’, even as ‘those mangled and thrown to the ground’! Ouch! Personally, I think that the best modern paraphrase of Matthew’s ‘harassed and helpless’ would be ‘those barely making it’. Those barely making it. And in truth, there are so many ‘barely making it’ today, aren’t there? As pope Francis has put it, the horizon has broadened from the towns and villages that Matthew speaks of here, to the world. And those helpless crowds are now the peoples of many nations who are suffering through even more difficult times. Those without resource. Those who have lost their sense of direction in life. Those who are oppressed by the lies of secular life and who are overloaded with too many permissions, too many big ideas and too many “freedoms”. Freedoms that ironically have become more like a yoke around their necks! As so often in biblical imagery, Matthew likens the lost to sheep without a shepherd. Powerful words that need to strike us powerfully. Because sheep without a shepherd are defenceless, vulnerable, even without predators they’re in trouble because they’re not good foragers. They need a shepherd to lead them in green pastures and beside still waters (Psalm 23). So, action is demanded. The need remains as urgent as ever. What’s required is a different sort of yoke. The yoke of Jesus’ exhilarating commands. The yoke that is offered by one who is gentle and humble in heart, one who will bring rest for our souls, one whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Matthew 11: 29).
So, the twelve are called up for the task, foreshadowing us and the work of the church, and told by Jesus that ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few’ (verse 37). Put more simply, because Jesus suffers with people, he forms a mission to them. It is mission that is motivated by his compassion. And I know, I know, even as I write it, that that word ‘mission’ is one that sends some people into lockdown (or back into lockdown!). It’s not for them – mission is for others! But just look at what this little passage says to us about this mission, our mission: that we are to go out compassionately, helping people, bringing, and representing the good news. Not stressing ‘sin’ – that most misunderstood and misused word – but stoking instead compassion. Compassion. What Matthew shows us here in this passage is that Jesus always sees people’s helplessness first and it is that helplessness that affects him the most and so that helplessness that must drive our mission. I’ve been so saddened that in all of the current physical lockdown and acceptance of closed churches their lurks a forgetfulness among some church leaders of the overwhelming need for Jesus and the Gospel in all of its challenging but gracious helpfulness.
So, we’re to go out with compassion. And we are to pray. Just read the Book of Acts again and you’ll be reminded that Christian mission was born in prayer meetings. Doesn’t the church today need more prayer meetings and less committee meetings? Compassion as our motivation, prayer as our inspiration and then finally, recognition that to do mission is to do a work that is in any event almost finished. It is a work that has been done entirely by another, by ‘The Lord of the Harvest’ (verse 38), by Jesus himself. He’s done the difficult work all we have to do is to use compassion and prayer to harvest the fields. Is that too big a task? Is that too hard? Is that too impossible? Well, just trust in the Lord of the Harvest and in the power of his might...and yes! Pray. Keep on praying!
Let’s affirm our faith as we say together 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.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ let’s pray to God the Father in our prayers of intercession today.
Please use these prayers, or your own or a mixture of both.
Heavenly Father, when we see a lost and troubled world,
and when we are aware of the sadness, sorrow, and pain all around us,
we pray, send your word of hope, love, and joy to bring an end
to guilt and fear and suffering.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, open our eyes that, like the prophets of old,
we may become more aware of your power,
presence and glory surrounding us on every side.
We pray, save us from despair,
fill us with courage,
join our wills to yours,
and make us channels of your grace
and messengers of your word in all we say and do and are.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we pray for Christians everywhere.
We ask for the courage to stand firm on the promises and teaching of Scripture.
In a world that increasingly turns its back on its Maker,
keep all your people faithful to you and your word.
Give us courage, the power, and the conviction,
not only to live by your word,
but to make it known everywhere and to everyone.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer
Heavenly Father, we pray for all who are abused,
ignored or made to feel as if they do not matter.
We pray that wherever there is hurt and pain,
there will be the word of healing;
where there is cruelty, violence, and oppression
there will be the word of hope;
where there is injustice, brokenness, and arrogance,
there too will be the word of peace,
And in each of these where there is still anger and bitterness that you will sow the seeds of forgiveness and bring them to fruition in the outpouring afresh of your grace.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer
And finally, Heavenly Father, we pray for ourselves.
Keep convincing us of your tremendous power.
Assure us of the height, depth, length, and breadth of your love.
By your Holy Spirit, save us from despair,
fill us with your power,
and be present with us and for us for ever.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer
In the name of Christ, God’s Word to a lost and hurting world.
Let us join all our prayers together as we pray together the prayer that our Saviour has taught us
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.
Please read through, sing, or listen to John Newton’s hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ using this link
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Closing Prayer: God of Harvest [written by John Birch]
God of harvest,
you place us at the centre,
feed us, equip us and,
having provided for us,
look to a different harvest—
a fruitfulness of lives
in service to you
God of harvest,
that our lives
might bring glory to you.
Bible Quotations: Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Prayers and Liturgy: copyright © The Archbishops' Council of the Church or England