Thursday, 16 July 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 7 19 July 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

Sunday 19th July 2020
Pentecost 7 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 
May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship
(Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)

We wait with hope,
for God’s promises are sure.
We wait with patience,
for God’s time is a mystery.
Come and worship.
We will wait upon the Lord together.

Hymn 130: We plough the fields, and scatter
                  (Tune – Wir Pflügen)

1.  We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.

      All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
            For all his love.

2.  He only is the maker
Of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower,
He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey him,
By him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, his children,
He gives our daily bread.

      All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
            For all his love.

3.  We thank thee then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
For all thy love imparts,
And what thou most desirest,
Our humble, thankful hearts.

       All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
            For all his love.

Opening prayer

A Prayer of Confession

Declaration of Forgiveness
All is well. All will be well.
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace

Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)


A Word with the Children/Young People

Rose was 9 years old and she was well-behaved - except when she had to tidy her bedroom!  Annabel was also 9 and her behaviour could only be classed as bad - so bad that no one wanted to be her friend.  Annabel didn’t go to the same school as Rose, but she lived only four houses away, and the girls’ mothers often chatted if they saw one another in their gardens or when shopping. 

Annabel’ s mother had an idea - she asked Rose’s mother if Rose could come and play with Annabel in the hope that Rose’s good behaviour would rub off on Annabel.  Guess what happened.  When Rose came home after playing with Annabel - she was just plain naughty.  She kicked the dog, pinched her little brother, pressed her face against the fish tank and made horrible faces at her beloved fish.  She even let the chooks (hens) out, who made a beeline for her mother’s herb garden!   Not like Rose at all.  Her mother couldn’t believe the difference in Rose’s behaviour and told Rose this in no uncertain terms. 

The next day was Sunday and the lesson in Sunday school was based on today’s verses from the gospel about the weeds and the wheat growing together.  Rose listened very carefully and, on the way, home she asked her mum - have I been more like a weed than a rose?  Her mum nodded and said that when she had been like a weed she made everyone cranky and no one - not even her brother or the dog - wanted to be near her - so wouldn’t it be a lot better being Rose again?  Rose nodded and said how her Sunday school teacher had told them how Jesus’ love not only helped them to blossom but also helped them to spread love to others so that they could blossom too. 

And Rose went on to say “That’s what I’m  going to do the next time I see Annabel and if we end up playing nicely that would be just like pulling the weedy parts out of her wouldn’t it.”  Rose’s mum had to agree and gave her a big hug.  “Maybe we could invite Annabel to our place tomorrow after school” she said, as Rose skipped off happily..

You may want to speak about the imagery of the roots of the weeds and the wheat becoming intertwined as they grow together, it is almost as though they are embracing one another.  The more we learn about Jesus, the more we understand how he wants to embrace us with his love and that can happen any time - maybe even here and now through the embrace -  the touch of another person in love and acceptance which definitely helps us become less weed-like.  This would be a good time to pass the peace - taking time for young and older people to share a touch or embrace.

Offering Prayer

Hymn 238: Christ is the world’s true light
                  (Tune – Darmstadt)

1.  Christ is the world's true light,
its captain of salvation,
the day-star clear and bright,
desire of every nation;
new life, new hope awakes
for all who own his sway:
freedom her bondage breaks,
and night is turned to day.

2.  In Christ all races meet,
their ancient feuds forgetting,
the whole round world complete,
from sunrise to its setting:
when Christ is throned as Lord,
all shall forsake their fear,
to ploughshare beat the sword,
to pruning-hook the spear.

3.  One Lord, in one great name
unite us all who own you;
cast out our pride and shame
that hinder to enthrone you;
the world has waited long,
has travailed long in pain;
to heal its ancient wrong,
come, Prince of Peace, and reign.

Tune: Darmstadt
The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                       Romans 8:12-25                NEB page 878
The Gospel Reading:                  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43   NEB page 737
After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord
Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.

Readings: NRSV Translation

Romans 8:12-25

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. 18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow, good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28 He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29 But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ 36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

        Have you had any trouble with darnel lately? It seems to me that this inquiry might bring a big question to our mind. What is it? What does it look like? Does it itch? Will "Head and Shoulders" (that dandruff shampoo we hear so much about) get rid of it?

        When we read the Gospel lesson for today, it is difficult for us. Can we put ourselves in the place of the people in Jesus' time? The people of that time were part of an early society, by our standards; it was primarily agricultural. Their concepts of distance and communication were quite different from our own. As an agrarian economy, the output or crops from the farms-wheat in this parable-were critically important. It was not something that you read about in the newspapers and wondered if it would affect the price of bread. The yield from the farms had a clear meaning to the people.

        Darnel is not in our daily vocabulary. In fact, it was not even listed in two of the bible dictionaries that were consulted in the preparation of this sermon. It is a weed from my understanding. The definition that was finally located was: "several grassy plants." It sounds like something you might have in your lawn or your footy field or your golf course. However, what it translates into is competition for the vital elements that produce wheat, the "staff of life." The people understood that this was a real threat to their livelihood. While we would probably suggest a trip to the chemical shop to get "Roundup" or some other selective darnel-killer, that was not an option in Jesus' time. The reality was that he was painting a picture of a crop failure, reduced yields, and possible starvation.

        It is hard for us to relate to this story in our land-of-plenty. How many times have you gone to the supermarket and found no bread on the shelf? It just does not happen in Australia or in New Zealand the lands where there are "amber waves of grain." We would dismiss any reports we heard of darnel, get in one of our cars, and go to the market to fill our grocery needs. Pretty hard to get our attention with threats of darnel!  So, it seems pretty obvious that Jesus knew his crowd and how to get their attention. Let's join them and try to see what he is saying and how it impacts our lives today, in our time and society. There are many conclusions that we could reach in reading this parable. Some of them are:

        1. There is good and evil in the world.
2. Bad things happen that are beyond our control.
3. Jesus & God are aware of the evil deeds in our life and world.
4. Jesus blames the bad deeds on the evil presence in the world.
5. The farm in this parable is the world.
6. Jesus is the sower.
7. The good seed represents the good people in the kingdom or those in a relationship with Christ.
8. The darnel or evil ones will not be a part of the kingdom nor will they have a relationship with Christ.

        In the first place, we can’t argue with Jesus or his knowledge. He says that there is good and evil. We have to agree with this old observation that is confirmed with each morning paper. Each of us has scars in our daily lives that seem to be inflicted by others. We would probably agree that many people in our society live beyond the acceptance of the love of Christ. We see that they live without the knowledge, without the reality of the acceptance of the love of Christ. We would not and should not call them darnel! But our observation may be that their lives are damned or at least without the joy of life with Christ. In a world that can be nurtured by the beauty and love that Christ shares, they seem to be weeds, darnel. Rather than sharing and producing for the good of society, they seem to be on a different path or in a different world from many. 

        It seems that is not our concern or within our ability to determine who is and who is not in the Kingdom of God or family of Christ. Each of us has the responsibility to be the good plant, the good producer, and to devote ourselves to the many teachings of Christ. Ours is to accept, reflect, praise, and share the love of Christ, and the good life that he shares with us.

        The challenge is for each of us to live our lives as the good grain, the wheat, the staff-of-life. Let us pray for the strength, faith, and concentration to allow us to keep our course and to inspire others to join us. Let us pray that we are enabled to share the good news of Christ. Who knows--we may stamp out the darnel.

Hymn 087: You are before me, Lord you are
                   (Tune – Highland Cathedral)

1.  You are before me, Lord, You are behind.
And over me You have spread out Your hand;
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
Too high to grasp, to great to understand.

2.  Then from Your Spirit where, Lord, shall I go;
And from Your presence where, Lord, shall I fly?
If I ascend to heaven You are there,
and still are with me if in hell I lie.

3.  If I should take my flight into the dawn,
If I should dwell on ocean's farthest shore,
Your mighty hand will rest upon me still,
And Your right hand will guard me evermore.

4.  If I should say, "Let darkness cover me,
And I shall hide within the veil of night,"
Surely the darkness is not dark to You;
The night is as the day, the darkness light.

5.  Search me, O God, search me and know my heart;
Try me, O God, my mind and spirit try;
Keep me from any path that gives You pain,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Tune: Highland Cathedral

Intercessory Prayers  
Holy Spirit, rest upon the church, inspire our witness and service that the whole world may know the love and grace of God.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, rest upon creation, work healing in wholeness where there is brokenness and knit all life into a glorious tapestry.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, rest upon the broken-hearted, wrap them in the loving arms of your care and lead them to the knowledge of your presence.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, rest upon the sick and the dying, bring healing, comfort and peace at the last.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, rest upon this congregation, show us how best to use the gifts you have given us for service in the name of Christ.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, rest upon us who are still on our pilgrimage and unite us into one body with all who have gone before.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Grant that, gathered and directed by your Spirit, we may confess Christ as Lord and combine our diverse gifts with a singular passion to continue his mission in this world until we join in your eternal praise. Amen.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 626: Lord of creation, to you be all praise
                     (Tune – Slane)

        Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and might are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.

Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfill.
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song;
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.

Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind,
rich truth that surpasses man's knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.

Lord of all bounty, I give you my heart;
I praise and adore you for all you impart;
your love to inspire me, your counsel to guide,
your presence to cheer me, whatever betide.

Lord of all being, I give you my all;
if ever I disown you, I stumble and fall;
but, sworn in glad service your word to obey,
I walk in your freedom to the end of the way.

         May patience pave your path.
         May hope comfort your world.
         And may love to guide your lives.
         Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant
         and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give.    Amen.            
                  (Tune – Somos del Senor)

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.
May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.
In all your living and through your loving,
Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom.

                  Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)
Tune: Somos Del Señor

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