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8th 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):

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.

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

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Genesis 29:15-28
00:00 / 03:02

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Romans 8:26-39
00:00 / 02:26

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 13:31-33,44-52
00:00 / 02:26

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Our priceless treasure.
00:00 / 14:29

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

Sermon Ordinary 17, 30th 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>

I am recording this message in Singapore where I just had the great joy, the great blessing of celebrating my birthday with my two youngest grandchildren - Emma, aged 12, and Eli, aged 10.

Rich or poor, young or old, everybody has treasure!  We all have something that we hold very special.  Our treasures take many different forms with either earthly value or sentimental value like grandmother’s broken broach - trash for someone else but treasure for us. Treasures are what we love very dearly.

Treasure, then, is really a matter of perspective. What matters is in the eye of the beholder.

The parables in today’s gospel complete the series of parables in Matthew 13. In these final parables our Lord talks to us about REAL treasure and His kingdom.

Today we are presented with a collection of parables of The Kingdom of Heaven. These parables do not describe The Kingdom in a systematic way, but show us a series of ‘snapshots’ taken from different perspectives. No single picture is definitive, but each provides a glimpse that builds the picture and adds to our understanding.

These parables all include the words, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like.”

There is a pairing among these parables:

• The Parables of the Mustard Seed and Yeast contrast small beginnings with their great effects, emphasising the power of God’s action. They are addressed to the crowds.

• The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl have to do with objects of great value which spark great commitment. They are addressed to the disciples.

The Parable of the Net and the Parable of the Weeds (last Sunday’s Gospel reading) emphasise the present open-ness of The Kingdom to ALL who would enter.

Today, what I would like to focus on in these final parables is Jesus talking to us about treasure and His kingdom.  First he tells us about a man who finds a treasure hidden in a field. Having found the treasure, the man goes and joyfully, sells all that he has and purchases the field so that he may obtain the treasure for himself.  The second parable is similar.  A pearl merchant looking for fine pearls finds a pearl of great value, he too sells all that he has and purchases that one pearl.

As we consider the treasures of God’s kingdom I want to look at what is treasured from two perspectives.  First, what is treasured by us; and second, what is treasured by God?

Treasured by Us

Make no mistake, we have been abundantly blessed with treasure from God. These blessings are in plain view for all to see. We have life, a place to live, food to eat and people, like my grandchildren, who loves us.  All are treasures given to us by God.

We also enjoy treasures from God, which cannot be seen, like treasure hidden in a field.  As these treasures are hidden from our eyes we may not think about or prize them as much as our visible treasures but they are treasures, nonetheless. These are the treasures of, for example, a pardon from sin, peace with God, and the promise given to us of eternal life … how blessed we are, how spiritually priceless are these treasures! 

Most of all our treasure is Christ and it is through Jesus that we possess ALL the treasures of God. In Christ is the treasure of God’s love, God’s salvation, poured out on the cross in His blood, which is more precious than anything. <PAUSE>

Why does this latter treasure seem so unappreciated by so many and how do we find it? 

So often, people REALLY are like the man who stumbles right over the hidden treasure buried in the field.  The needs and the desires of human life and the priorities we set in this life can blind us. People can be blinded by what they see, thinking that which is seen is most important.  In that blindness they bumble around in the light of the day not recognising spiritual poverty, evil behaviour, separation from God and our desperate need for a Saviour. <PAUSE>

However, by God’s grace we recognise our need, AND FIND, the real treasure - Christ.

BY GRACE … AND IT IS ALWAYS BY GRACE … that we find the treasures of God’s kingdom. God opens our eyes of faith so we see the treasure that is laid before us. Through God’s Word, He gives us the eyes and ears of faith to possess the treasure that is found in Christ. <PAUSE>

Treasured by God

So … now … what is it that is treasured by God?  We might be inclined to think that God treasures lives of sacrifice in return for the many blessings that He has given.  One might think that He would treasure a God-fearing life.  We can imagine many possible ways to please God - BUT are our imaginings what God really treasures?

The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, in His joy, he went and sold all that he had and bought the field.

In this parable we are told what God treasures. God Treasures you. You see, God so loved the field of the world because in it He found His treasure … you. Yes … YOU! For YOU, He sent His only Son, who gave all that he had, giving up His glory and majesty, becoming human, coming to live amongst us, suffering and dying to purchase YOU from sin death and the power of evil, not with gold or silver but with His precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death, so that YOU may be His own and live with Him in His eternal kingdom.

Having once been lost to sin, Jesus values us so greatly that He pays the price to buy us back again.

There is simply no price that we could ever pay to possesses the treasures of God’s kingdom and so God, in His grace, sent His only Son to do pay the price that we could not.

Jesus IS OUR priceless treasure.

<PAUSE>

So, I spent my birthday with two of my grandchildren. Rich or poor, young or old, we all have treasure.  We all have something that we hold very special. Our treasures take many different forms with either real or sentimental value.

Yet, there is only one treasure that will last forever. Jesus is our priceless, eternal treasure. In Him and through Him, God holds us very special.

The Kingdom of Heaven is being secure in the knowledge that, in Jesus our priceless treasure, God treasures each and every one of us. - - - what an ode to joy that is.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

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:

Everlasting God, may the worship of your people throughout the world be attentive and expectant, ready to be set on fire again and again with the recognition that Your Son is our greatest, priceless treasure. <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.

Creator God, may all that encourages the people of the world in goodness, honesty and compassion be blessed and grow; may all that encourages self-seeking and cruelty, prejudice and deceit wither and be exposed as the unsatisfying rubbish it is. May we learn from one another’s cultures and respect one another’s differences.

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

Father God, we thank you for the treasure of human love, and for all those among whom we live and work.  We pray particularly for loved ones who worry us with their health, or circumstances, or life direction. We pray for those among our friends and families who do not know You, or whose faith has been shaken.

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

Loving God, we pray for all whose backgrounds make belief in a loving God laughable or terrifying.

We pray for all who suffer mental or emotional anguish and those who despair. We pray for those around the world who face another day of pain, another day of hunger, another day of fear.

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

Mighty God, we pray that your healing presence will calm the fears, ease the pain and bring light into the darkness of all who are troubled in body, mind or spirit.

We now raise before you those who have asked for our prayers … Rose, Mark, Fiona , Alison, David, Barbara, Lynley, Andrew, Glenys, Paul, Sally (in New Zealand), Sam (in Singapore), Santiago, Alexandro (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, gather into Your eternal kingdom all who have come to the end of this earthly life and rejoice to see You as you really are. We remember all whom we love but can no longer see, and thank You for Your overarching love and unending faithfulness to us.

(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, we remember with gratitude all who gave up so much to bring the good news to our country and pray that with us it may continue to be spread until the whole earth knows of the treasure of Your truth and love.

(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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