Sunday 12th July: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use if you are unable to attend church by the Methodist Connexion. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you. For Bishop Auckland Methodist Church, the slides and creative prayer from Hope, Hannah and Millie have been added as well as an audio sermon by Local Preacher, Susan Thorne and this week also a video all age talk by Local Preacher, Margaret Nodding.
Hymn: We will meet
A beautiful hymn from the Iona Community that has touched a chord with many during these times is “We will meet” by Hans-Olav Moerk and John Bell. The sheet music and video are available on the Iona Community home page, together with Hans-Olav’s account of the writing of the original words. Special copyright arrangements for the current circumstances are explained there too.
When the seeds of new life are sown, let us praise the Lord.
When crops ripen in the field, let us exalt our maker.
When the wind blows, or the snow falls, let us draw close to God.
Lord, for all your gifts in creation,
for the gift of each other
and the gift of the Church
we offer our thanks.
Most of all for the gift of Jesus
who went about among us as teacher and friend,
who lived, died, and rose again
we offer our deepest gratitude and amazement.
In Jesus’ name.
Let us take a time of quiet to bring to mind
the ways in which we feel
we have let God or ourselves down during the last week…
Lord, when we are slow to listen,
Lord, when we are hasty in our actions,
Lord, for the things we have done, that we should not have done,
Lord, for the things we have not done, that we should have done,
Let us rejoice, for in Christ we know our sins are forgiven.
In Jesus’ name.
Today’s Psalm: 119:105-112
Light from the Law of the Lord
105 Your word is a lamp to guide me
and a light for my path.
106 I will keep my solemn promise
to obey your just instructions.
107 My sufferings, Lord, are terrible indeed;
keep me alive, as you have promised.
108 Accept my prayer of thanks, O Lord,
and teach me your commands.
109 I am always ready to risk my life;
I[a] have not forgotten your law.
110 The wicked lay a trap for me,
but I have not disobeyed your commands.
111 Your commandments are my eternal possession;
they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have decided to obey your laws
until the day I die.
Today’s Gospel Reading:
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus left the house and went to the lakeside, where he sat down to teach. 2 The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the crowd stood on the shore. 3 He used parables to tell them many things.
“Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. 4 As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 But when the sun came up, it burned the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up. 7 Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants bore grain: some had one hundred grains, others sixty, and others thirty.”
9 And Jesus concluded, “Listen, then, if you have ears!”
Jesus Explains the Parable of the Sower
18 “Listen, then, and learn what the parable of the sower means. 19 Those who hear the message about the Kingdom but do not understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path. The Evil One comes and snatches away what was sown in them. 20 The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who receive the message gladly as soon as they hear it. 21 But it does not sink deep into them, and they don’t last long. So when trouble or persecution comes because of the message, they give up at once. 22 The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear the message; but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message, and they don’t bear fruit. 23 And the seeds sown in the good soil stand for those who hear the message and understand it: they bear fruit, some as much as one hundred, others sixty, and others thirty.”
Today’s Epistle Reading:
Life in the Spirit
8 There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit, which brings us life in union with Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did. He condemned sin in human nature by sending his own Son, who came with a nature like our sinful nature, to do away with sin. 4 God did this so that the righteous demands of the Law might be fully satisfied in us who live according to the Spirit, and not according to human nature. 5 Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. 6 To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. 7 And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it. 8 Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.
9 But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to—if, in fact, God’s Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.
Time to Reflect
Don’t forget that you can also tune into the website here every day of the week to listen to church friends sharing daily reflections, including Bible readings and inspiration… or get them on the telephone on 01388 436810… do join us!
As we continue to worship online, we have a pick and mix approach to this sermon slot. You can choose to listen to (1) Susan’s sermon as we have had through lockdown. Today you might also choose to listen to (2) an all age video by Margaret Nodding or instead to read (3) the pdf sheet from Roots or (4) the Connexional reflection or (5) just take time for yourself and reflect on the readings you have just read and heard.
1. If you would like to listen to a sermon for today by Local Preacher Susan Thorne, click on the file below
2. Or listen and watch an all age sermon by Local Preacher, Margaret Nodding, in the video
3. or you might choose to click on the image below to go to the pdf rootsontheweb adult sheet with further thoughts on these readings
4. or read the reflection from the Methodist Connexional Worship Resources for this week below:
Over the last few months we have begun to look at the world in a new way. Certainties are no longer as certain as they once were. This time last year no one imagined being in lockdown, although the possibility of a serious virus pandemic was not unimagined.
When I read the parable afresh the first thing I noticed was that for his own safety, and perhaps in order to be better seen, Jesus gets into a boat and puts some distance between himself and the crowd. The Bible does not tell us if it was more than 2 metres! Jesus sits down to teach indicating his authority to teach. Jesus takes practical steps to be heard and communicates in ways the crowd were used to and addressed them in ways they would understand. The image of a sower was common in first century Palestine.
And when the seed is scattered not all of it bears fruit, some falls on the path or on stony ground. Some is in shallow earth and fails to mature. Amid much bearing of fruit there is also the failure of hearing and not understanding. Jesus recognized that even with the best news in the world there would still be setbacks.
The disciples have the parable explained to them. They have the benefit of the expertise of Jesus who told this parable and was be definition best placed to explain its meaning.
As we move forward together and plan the activities of our local churches in a world that has been changed we should be encouraged by this parable.
Encouraged to work in ways that we discern are appropriate in our current situation. Perhaps an extra line on the plan for the Circuit’s online worship and resources for those not online and unable to attend a building.
Encouraged to keep trying even if the seed we cast does not always bear fruit straight away or in ways we may expect.
Encouraged to gather as much wisdom as we can from others and glad to listen to those who are called to teach and explain, even when this might move us out of our comfort zones and takes us in unexpected ways. Amen.
5. and/or sit quietly and reflect on the prayers, readings and thoughts here and listen for what God might be saying to you through them
Take a time to sit quietly…
Hope and Millie’s Reflection Slides
A time of prayer
Hannah’s Creative Prayer
This week, use your hands to guide you through prayer.
Thumb: pray for all the people serving us- key workers, NHS staff, teachers, shop workers, bus drivers, etc.
Fore-finger: pray for the people who are leading us- politicians, church leaders etc
Middle finger: prayer for the churches
Ring finger: pray for your relationship with other people, that we will stay connected even if we can’t see them
Little finger: pray for the most vulnerable
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.
Hymn StF 45: Earth’s Creator, Everyday God
Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to it here:
A prayer of blessing
When times are hard, walk beside us.
When we are unsure of which way to turn, dwell within us.
When we need to listen to others, encourage us.
When our lives and work bear fruit, rejoice with us.
So may the blessing of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with us all today and forever more. Amen.
Original Materials from the Connexional Resources by Rev E Adam Wells