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7th Sunday after Pentecost

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my restless thoughts. Look well whether there be any wickedness in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting. Amen.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Genesis 28:10-19a
00:00 / 02:51

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Romans 8:12-25
00:00 / 02:07

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Matthew.

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
00:00 / 02:50

Listen to David speak to this gospel

The weeds DO NOT overcome the wheat!
00:00 / 14:44

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Ordinary 16, 23rd July 2023

MAY the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

Not too long ago, I took a phone call from a young lady who had lost her job. Without income, she couldn’t pay her rent and her bills, and was worried that she would be evicted from her home. On top of that, her car had broken down, and she had no money for repairs. Without a car, she couldn’t look for a new job. One thing had piled on top of another until she was overwhelmed with hardship. She felt like the world was out to get her. “How can God let this happen?” she asked me. “I’m a good person. What have I done to deserve this?”

Such a moment is not the time to point out that actually, none of us are universally “good”, all of us sometimes deserve far worse than we get out of life. We are all broken people. It is also not a good time to go into a long explanation of “theodicy”, that fancy theological word for the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen in the world?”

People like this young lady don’t come to me looking for a sermon. They come looking for a glimmer of hope.

The people who gathered on that beach to hear Jesus tell them stories weren’t much different. They had experienced oppression from Rome. Even among their own people, they had watched the rich get richer while the poor got poorer.

Life wasn’t fair. How could God allow His people to continue to suffer, while evil seemed to flourish around them? When would a Messiah deliver them from this miserable existence, and bring judgment to Israel’s oppressors?

Where did all these “weeds” come from ? <PAUSE>

Today, people often live with the assumption that if we do good, work hard, and be nice everything should work out as we want. That’s the illusion with which the workers in today’s parable live. “Master,” they ask the farmer, “did you not sow good seed in your field?” Of course he did. They know he did. That’s why they are so surprised when they discover the weeds. The weeds have shattered their illusion. This isn’t supposed to happen.

Where did all these “weeds” come from ? <PAUSE>

Do you sense the real urgency in their question. They want to know what happened and who is responsible ..… so do we!

That’s what we want to know when we discover weeds in our fields. We want an explanation and someone we can blame, hold accountable, and even punish. Far too often we see that manifest itself in political bickering, posts on social media, and, perhaps, even our privately held opinions.

Jesus, however, seems less interested in this approach than we are. He doesn’t give it much time or attention. “An enemy has done this,” he says. That’s it. He doesn’t explain it. He doesn’t identify or name the enemy. He doesn’t give instructions to find, drive out, and punish this enemy.

Behind our desire for an explanation and the name of the culprit is a truth many of us neither like nor want to accept. It’s one of the challenges of today’s gospel and, like I have said so often, the gospel of Christ ALWAYS challenges the way we think, see, act, and live.

It’s the challenge to become more than who we think we are. It’s a challenge that arises every time we face the weeds of our life and world.

The reality, according to Jesus, is that our lives and our world are a field in which good and evil, life and death, joys and sorrows, that which we want and that which we don’t want … grow and live side by side.

The wheat and the weeds stand together in our world and in each also stands in our lives.

That, Jesus says, is what the kingdom of heaven is like.

That’s good news for us because it means that despite the weeds in and around us the kingdom is still here.

The weeds do not overcome or take away God’s kingdom. <PAUSE>

But what about those weeds? What do we do about them? Surely we should do something! Not according to Jesus. “Let them grow together until the harvest,” he says. <PAUSE> That makes no sense. How can we let them be? The weeds are bad and the wheat is good. We must do something. We need to take a stand, draw a line in the sand, establish some boundaries !!!

“Don’t you want us to pull up the weeds,” the workers ask their master. “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.” These aren’t just generic weeds. The parable speaks of a particular weed called Lolium temulentum (darnel, poison ryegrass, cockle). It grows with wheat. It looks like wheat. Its roots intertwine with the roots of the real wheat. The differences between the two grasses is not always readily apparent.

It seems the separation between the wheat and the weeds is not as clearcut or black and white as Facebook, the media, our politicians, and our personal opinions would often have us believe.

In any event, WE are not the ones to make that judgment. We’re not the ones to uproot those WE SEE as weeds. Jesus is abundantly and absolutely clear about that.

“Let them grow together until the harvest,” he says. Jesus shows more interest in growth than extermination. He is willing to wait and to be patient. If we are his followers we too will wait and be patient amongst the weeds of our life.
While we patiently wait let’s not get too excited about the end of this parable.

Let’s not revel in and celebrate the end of the age and the coming of Jesus as some divine “weed whacker”. I don’t think Jesus intended this parable to be taken literally.

So do we do nothing? Just sit and wait? No, that’s not what Jesus is saying.

There is plenty to do and it will be a challenge.

The words that are translated as “let them” in Jesus’ statement, “Let them grow…” can also be translated from the Hebrew and the Greek as - <PAUSE> - forgive them.

It’s the same words Jesus spoke from the cross in St. Luke’s account of the gospel when he says, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Even then, even on the cross, Jesus is unwilling to pull up the weeds.

There is no place in Jesus’ gospel, and therefore no place in our lives, for ‘Christian vigilantism’, by word or by action, against another or against ourselves.

Instead, Jesus commands love:

Love your enemy.
Love the weeds.
Love your neighbour.
Love yourself.
Love God.

<PAUSE>

Forgive the weeds? Love the weeds?

<PAUSE>

Remember, I told you the gospel of Christ is ALWAYS a challenge. So, yes, forgive them. Love them.

Maybe, just MAYBE, that’s how the wheat begins to disentangle its roots from the weeds and show itself to be wheat and not weeds at all.

Maybe love and forgiveness are what life in the mixed field of God’s kingdom and this world is really all about.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu. <AMINE>


In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMEN>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Almighty God, as Your people we often find ourselves growing into weeds rather than productive wheat. Send Your spirit to remind us that we are to grow into part of the plentiful harvest. <AMEN>

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Holy God, we pray for your people around the world, all who seek to live the life of The Risen Christ and to show the face of Him who came to serve and not be served. Strengthen, uplift and guide them, wherever they may be and remind us always to give thanks for the technology that we use to unite us in Your love .

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Creator God, we thank You for the example of leadership given to us by Your Son, Jesus Christ, in His life on earth. We pray for the renewal of a spirit of humility and a sense of responsibility among leaders of this world that the hungry might be fed and the oppressed might be freed to live in peace.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Father God, we worship You as the one who has given us this life and we ask that You will help us to live it to the full. At home may we be the friends and neighbours that we really want to be.  Help us to spread the warmth of your love to everyone we meet.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Mighty God, we thank You for Your love and compassion for all who suffer in body, mind and spirit. We pray that your healing presence will calm their fears, ease their pain and bring light into the darkness of all who are sick. We ask that you be with us, and all who need your loving touch at this time, and especially for those who we will name before you now:

We now raise before you those who have asked for our prayers … Rose, Mark, Fiona , Alison, David, Barbara, Lynley, Andrew, Fiona, Glenys, Paul (in New Zealand), Sam (in Singapore), Santiago (in Argentina), Dominque, Xavier, Melanie (in France), John, Geoff, Liz (in Australia) and others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you. <PAUSE>

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Merciful God, through the ministry of Your Son Jesus Christ, You have freed us from the grip of the tomb. We pray for those who have departed this life and ask You, through Your loving kindness, to have mercy on their souls.  We pray too for those bereaved by their passing.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Heavenly father, in a moment of silence we place before you our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, our friends, for all of those whom we love and, for our personal ministries.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Gracious God, hear these prayers we offer You in His name. By the power of Your Holy Spirit work within us and among us to bring Your plentiful harvest into this world. Let Your will be done so that all people may live only for Your praise and glory.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

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.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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